Evergreen content is a staple in good SEO. A post or guide that targets a solid volume keyword, contains tips that remain relevant over time, and includes helpful images can accumulate more and more traffic to your site each year. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
But even the most evergreen content starts to show its age, and there does come a time when that content gets slightly outdated.
That being said, I’m going to share with you how to give your content a nice refresh to keep your SEO in check and continue earning favor in both Google’s and your audience’s eyes.
We’ll cover a number of easy tips and tactics to help your evergreen content attract more free traffic, including:
Targeting new terms
Adding more/newer information
Title changes, and much more
So let’s dive in.
Why refresh evergreen content?
The obvious reason behind refreshing content is because, well, you should refresh anything that expires or gets stale. But in SEO terms and with evergreen content, there is more to it.
First of all, it doesn’t make sense to write an entirely new post on the same keyword. Those two posts will then compete with one another and dilute each other’s SEO “juice.”
Second of all, if the piece is truly evergreen, it has accumulated quality traffic and backlinks over time. It’s better to build on what you have than to start a new post from scratch.
And finally, because Google prefers accurate and fresh content. This is nothing new—it’s been around since the “Freshness” Update way back in 2011.
7 ways to refresh and reoptimize old content for better SEO
There are many elements to an evergreen blog post or guide that can be improved to help you get more mileage out of your content. Here are seven of them you can try.
1. Revisit your keywords
Keyword targeting is the practice of catering a piece of content around a particular word or phrase—namely, one that your ideal customers are looking up when in search of your products or services. This allows your business to get in front of them when they have intent to learn, engage, or buy.
If your content contains solid information but isn’t targeted at a particular word or phrase, do your keyword research and identify a keyword you can target. There are plenty of keyword research tools to help you identify popular and relevant terms. Once you’ve identified a keyword to target, include it in the title, subheadings, and image tags of the post to signal to Google what you’re trying to rank for. If you’re already targeting a keyword, there are still adjustments you can make when refreshing your content. For example:
Target related terms
Search for the keyword your content is currently targeting and see if there are related or new terms you may want to include in your piece to enhance its relevance. The “People also ask” results can also provide ideas on new sections or related terms to cover.
Another way to target new terms is to make the piece more location-specific. For example, if you are an event planner and you’ve written a post on how to choose a venue, you may want to add a new section to your content that lists popular venues in your particular area.
Get more specific
A third way to strengthen the targeting of your content is to target the same keyword for different themes. For example, if you’re an accountant and have written a post on general tax tips, you could add in sections that target vertical-specific terms in line with the types of clients you serve, such as with “tax tips for real estate agents,” “tax tips for lawyers,” “tax tips for for senior citizens,” and so on.
Shift the focus onto a trend
One final idea is to make adjustments or include a new section in the post that caters to emerging trends. This idea, of course, comes from the current times. So much has changed in the last year due to the pandemic, and consumer needs are shifting, so your content may gain more traffic if it is refocused on new priorities.
2. Add (or remove) information
If your piece is already well-focused and you’re not looking to shift the targeting, you can always tackle the information stored within the body of the post. Fortunately, information is abundant in today’s digital and connected world. In fact, there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day. Let’s go over some ways you can upgrade the information in your content when giving it a spruce-up.
For tools and resources posts, double-check each resource you’ve mentioned. Some platforms go cold, get renamed, or outperformed by better ones. Do your research and see if you can take any old resources out of your list and add any new ones.
Add in new strategies
For tips and strategies posts, see if you can add a new strategy or two in. Technology is always evolving (digital and physical), and your offerings may change. For example, if you run a roofing company and you’ve written on must-have tools for roof repair, you may want to add in a new material or method you’ve added to your arsenal.
For just about any post, you can always add stats to support the information you are providing. New studies are coming out all of the time, and it can be beneficial to your site to link to other sites with solid credibility.
Include customer quotes
You can also add in supporting stories, testimonials, or reviews from customers. If you’re a wedding planner and you’ve written about the best venues in a particular area, add in quotes (with their permission) by your clients who have used those venues.
Add real results
Even better than supporting quotes is supporting data. Discussing how a particular clean energy appliance saved one of your customers $X in electricity will speak for itself.
Provide action items
One last tip is to enhance the content with actionability. If your content covers the benefits of a particular strategy or method, talk about how to get started with it. If you’ve provided a roundup of products, include links as to where these products can be found.
Two additional notes on refreshing the information in your content:
If you notice that a particular content piece has decreased in ranking, take a look at what the top ranking pieces are saying about the topic to make sure you’re covering the right concepts.
For announcement, milestone, and data posts, it’s best to keep the content as is, as a historical record. If you have new updates or announcements, you can publish them as new posts and refer/link back to the previous announcements to keep the story cohesive.
3. Check your visuals
Visual marketing is a major factor in differentiating your brand from competitors. Let’s go over some ways to refresh your content in this regard.
First and foremost, if your content does not contain images, add them! This is one of the best things you can do to revive old content. Aside from having images, you may want to try adding in a video or infographic to encapsulate the post as a whole or even one part of it. You can then update your title with (+Infographic) or (With Explainer Video) to make the content stand out. If you already have images in your content, you’re not off the hook. Read on.
Check for breaks
Your next step is to check to make sure your existing images are optimized. Are they displaying properly and correctly sized? Content management systems upgrade to new versions and sometimes images get lost in the shuffle. Large images can slow down page load speed and hurt your ranking. And also because there’s no better way to tarnish a solid piece of content with broken image icons that display only the alt text.
Also, if you threw a post up in a hurry or created it before you knew to add keywords in the file name or alt tags, now is a good time to go back and rectify that.
Updating screenshots is especially important if you’ve written how-to’s for software and online platforms, as their interfaces change frequently. When a consumer wants to know how to do something, visuals are often the first thing they seek out, and if they see that your screenshots are outdated, they’re likely to exit the post and look for one with images that matches what they’re seeing.
Of course, you can’t do this with every post. On WordStream, for example, we have countless how-to’s on Google Ads, Facebook ads, Instagram, and more—all of which are rapidly evolving platforms. In our case, we have to prioritize updating images on our top-performing content.
Replace stock images
Another way to refresh your images is to replace stock images with real ones. Whether you’re a flooring specialist, event planner, or dog sitter, start taking photos of the actual work you’re doing, of before-and-afters, of happy customers, and incorporate them into your content.
Real images will always win out over stock images.
If you don’t have real images handy (now’s a good time to start!), try a hashtag search on social media. You can find a recent and relevant image for just about anything under the sun on these platforms. Another idea is to use screenshots from your video tutorials. While video is a preferred form of content, there are still several queries and topics for which a consumer may just want to quickly scroll through some visuals to get the gist of what to do. Here are some more tips on creating better content marketing images.
Quick recap on refreshing images:
Add videos and infographics too (or screenshots from them).
Check size, file name, alt tags.
Update old interface screenshots.
Replace stock photos with real photos.
Prioritize image replacement for top-performing posts.
4. Diversify your format
The best content to create for SEO is long-form content (1200 words or longer). Having a sufficient word count of quality content gives ample opportunities to reinforce to Google that your article thoroughly answers the questions that people are seeking when they type in the particular keyword you are ranking for. However, Google isn’t just interested in how much information you provide. It keeps track of how long readers are staying on your page as well.
Readers often like to scroll through a page first to assess whether it’s worth their time to stay on it, and if it’s just paragraphs of text, they can’t do this quickly. If your post isn’t getting a lot of traffic or engagement, go back in and break up the content into sections with clear headers (that target long-tail keywords). Also, enhance each section with bullets, lists, key takeaways, and examples to highlight your main points. Not only will this affirm for your reader that this is the right page for them, but it will also keep them engaged longer. Furthermore, this type of formatting can increase the chances of your post’s content becoming a featured snippet or other rich result on the SERP.img
Even just adding a key takeaway element to each section that provides the short version or a brief list for the information provided can be helpful here.
5. Tweak your titles
There are a few reasons why your blog post title might need some work. For one (and most obvious), if you’re adding new tips or taking away irrelevant ones, you’ll need to change the number in the title. This is simple enough, but is the title of your blog post overlaid on the feature image? Make sure to change that. Is it in the URL? You don’t want to change the URL, since you’re trying to preserve traffic data and measure the impact of your improvements—but what you can do moving forward is make sure you leave the number out of the URL. This way you can prevent a mismatch of the URL and title in the SERP.
With this URL, more strategies can be added onto the post without causing a discrepancy.
Another change you may make to the title is if you’ve made significant changes to the information, you may even want to append to your title the current month or year in brackets or “updated for [the current year].” When online searchers see a date in the title, they are much more likely to click. More clicks can help raise your rank above competitors who haven’t yet refreshed their content.
Most importantly, can your title use some more compelling or eye-catching copy? Coming up with interesting titles is a bit of an art. Here are some improvements you can make when refreshing your titles for better SEO:
Make it actionable
Make the title actionable so that readers can be assured that they’ll get value from the content. For example, “8 Benefits of Green Tea” could become “8 Reasons to Try Green Tea Now.” With some action and a little bit of urgency, you can appeal to that instant gratification we all love. An even simpler strategy is to add on to the title phrases like “(+ How to Do It)” or “(Plus Tips from the Pros).”
Include a number
Whenever possible, try to encapsulate your content into something quantifiable. For example,
10 Tips for Writing a Successful Resume
How to Become a Freelancer in 5 Steps
Your 5-Minute Guide to Better SEO
Readers like to be able to have some predictability in the content they consume, and also like to feel a sense of accomplishment as they read.
Change out adjectives
Try out new adjectives to express unique value. Do you use “effective,” “creative,” or “useful” a lot? Try switching it up with “unusual,” “brilliant,” or “that you haven’t thought of.”
Additional headline words to try:
In the SERP below, the headlines contain numbers, dates and descriptive words to catch the reader’s attention.
Lastly, check over the basics. Is the exact keyword you are targeting in the title, or a slight variation? Is it at the beginning of the title or is it getting cut off at the end. The SERP will only display the first 70 characters in a title, so keep this in mind. There are plenty of SERP title tester tools to help you check, like this one from Moz.
6. Change up your meta description
The meta description is the small description of your page that appears in the SERP. It provides a brief summary of what the article is about, which, depending on the copy, can encourage searchers to either click or skip your post. If you’ve followed the steps above and upgraded your content, it’s likely that your meta description may also need a refresh.
Have you made the post more actionable? Talk about what the reader can take away from the post.
Have you added in related keywords? Add those to your description. This is especially important since Google bolds the keywords you searched in the meta description.
Is the description too short? List out a few of the bullet points in the article to give a preview of what you’ll cover.
7. Edit your links
There are a few different ways you can use links to refresh your content.
Add new links
First, if you’ve been steadily creating blog posts and guides, add in links to your newer content. Internal links help to keep readers on your site longer, and also create more pathways by which Google can crawl your site. The more easily it can scan your site and understand how the pages relate to one another, the better your SEO.
Build new links to the page from new content
Second, go through your newer pieces that are performing well and link to the post you are refreshing in the content.
Fix broken links
This is also a good time to test out the existing links in your content to make sure they aren’t broken. Google doesn’t like dead ends!
A new link we recently added to an old post with regard to the latest change in modified broad match.
Refresh old content with these 7 tricks
As you now can see, even evergreen content depreciates over time. But you can give it a facelift to preserve the value it brings to readers and the traffic it drives to your website. Let’s recap the strategies covered in this post.
Revisit your keywords
Add (or remove) information
Check your visuals
Revisit your format
Tweak your titles
Edit your meta description
Add in new links
Once you’ve refreshed your content, be sure to share it on social media and in your email newsletter to give it an additional traffic boost!