9 Content Updates That DO Improve Its Ranking [+ 3 Updates That Don’t Work]
The digital landscape is changing every second. The content you created a year or even a few months ago may not be optimized for today’s SEO standards. To keep it fresh and relevant, you need to stay up-to-date with trends: to adapt to algorithm shifts, user behavior, and new industry insights. And this doesn’t necessarily mean creating a new piece to replace the existing one. Oftentimes, a few smart updates can improve the rankings. In this article, I’ll show you some impactful update strategies that do work and a few of those that can hardly help.
Writing New Content Or Updating The Old One?
The first question that commonly arises is whether you should always produce new content or revamp the old ones. My answer, in many cases, is the latter, and here is why:
- It’s often quicker to tweak an existing article than start from scratch.
- It’s certainly cheaper to update the piece than to order one written from scratch.
- If a page has already garnered some backlinks and social shares, updating it can boost its ranking potential without starting from ground zero.
9 Content Updates That Will Improve Google Ranking
Content is dynamic, not static. Everything changes and we must revisit, reassess, and reinvigorate our texts regularly. But how can you precisely elevate an existing piece to make it more SEO-friendly and relevant to your audience? Here are nine proven strategies.
#1 Refresh Keyword Strategy
Keyword trends ebb and flow with changing user behavior and market dynamics. Your task is to adapt, of course. Use SEO PowerSuite keyword difficulty checker to reanalyze your targeted keywords. It’s a really good instrument that can be downloaded for free. I always use it for niche research and local SEO competition analysis but its toolkit is much broader, in fact.
The very minimum you need to do is assess your targeted keywords’ search volume, competition, and relevance. Don’t make the mistake of only chasing high-volume keywords — often, long-tail or niche phrases can bring more qualified traffic. And, please, be wary of keyword stuffing; it’s a relic from a bygone SEO era and can now harm more than help.
#2 Enhance Meta Tags
A catchy title and a compelling meta description can mean the difference between a click and a scroll-by. Review your current meta tags: Do they reflect the essence of your content? Are they enticing enough? Always integrate your primary keyword naturally and ensure it resonates with the searcher’s intent. Avoid generic phrases like “Read this article” or “Click here.” Offer a concise value proposition instead.
If we take a more detailed look at it, your title tag should be a succinct summary of your page’s content kept within 50-60 characters. That’s what most search engines will display. Incorporate your primary keyword towards the beginning of the title, but ensure it flows naturally. Emotional triggers, power verbs, and uncommon words can all make it more click-worthy.
Remember that beyond the visible meta tags, there are tags like “meta robots” that provide directives to search engines about indexing and following links. If you have duplicate content issues, using the “canonical” tag can point search engines to the original version of the content. Plus, you can enhance your content’s visibility on SERPs with rich snippets. For instance, if you have a recipe post, a rich snippet can display star ratings, preparation time, and even an image right on the SERP.
#3 Optimize Images
Images can significantly impact page load times. When it comes to size, bigger isn’t always better. Tools like TinyPNG or Compressor.io can help you reduce image size without compromising quality. Don’t overlook this simple step. Faster-loading pages improve bounce rates and user satisfaction. One more thing I strongly recommend is to always ensure every image has a descriptive alt text — this aids search engines and visually impaired users. Think of it as both efficiency and good manners.
#4 Add Internal Links
One of the primary benefits of internal linking is that it encourages visitors to explore more of your content. A reader engrossed in an article about keyword research might appreciate a link to another post about SEO basics. This can lead to longer session durations, reducing the bounce rate — a favorable signal to search engines.
When I update existing content, I usually review anchor text. The type of text I strive for is descriptive yet natural. For instance, instead of linking with “click here,” use descriptive anchors like “understanding Google’s latest algorithm update.”
Okay, it’s clear with internal linking but what about external links? Here, I always warn SEO specialists to be very careful. That’s because you might link to external sites that, over time, become spammy or get penalized. Such “toxic” links can harm your site’s reputation in the eyes of search engines. A good practice is to use a toxic link checker to audit your links from time to time. With its help, you’ll identify potentially harmful outbound links and remove or “nofollow” them.
#5 Update Outdated Information
Did you know that Google has a freshness factor in its algorithm? So yes, keeping content current can directly influence rankings. And besides, it’s also a matter of your respect for the audience. Nothing erodes trust faster than outdated or incorrect information. With this in mind, I recommend reviewing your content for any facts, statistics, or references at least every 6 months. This way, you’ll keep it credible and will also signal to search engines that your content is fresh.
#6 Boost Readability
The digital landscape is flooded with information and, in most cases, it’s just hard to stay focused. So if you manage to organize your content in such a manner that users can quickly glean its essence, you’ll engage them. Here are a few tricks I normally turn to when updating content for better readability:
- Structure: I hate long, unbroken walls of text where you can’t figure out where one idea finishes and the other starts. Make it a habit to use short, crisp paragraphs that allow the eyes to move easily down the page. Each paragraph should encapsulate a single idea.
- Subheadings: These act like mini-titles and nicely break your content into digestible chunks. Use subheadings of different levels to guide readers to sections of interest.
- Bullet points: They are simply good, especially for users who are skimming.
- Digital tools: For a more advanced update, use tools like the Hemingway Editor. It analyzes your text for readability and highlights complex sentences.
#7 Include Rich Media
I think I don’t need to tell you that today’s user craves engagement. Videos, infographics, and interactive elements like polls or quizzes are all good for ranking. If you doubt whether to add a video or not — add it. Pages with videos can retain visitors up to 2.6 times longer than those without. But, of course, you must ensure any media added is directly relevant to the content.
#8 Expand Thin Content
Depth and length matter and it’s getting more and more relevant. I often hear from my colleagues now that their longreads, like those up to 4000 or even 5000 words, rank better than shorter articles. Although Google says they do not take length into account, I’d still recommend expanding pieces that are relatively short and those that lack a multifaceted view. Elaborate on subtopics, answer common questions, or provide case studies. But remember, every addition should offer value and address user intent so keep it wise and purposeful.
#9 Improve UX
User experience (UX) is now an integral part of SEO, especially with Google’s Core Web Vitals becoming a ranking factor. Mobile traffic dominates the web and you must ensure your page is mobile-responsive. Check the layout. Is it intuitive? Do CTAs stand out and inspire action? If you don’t want to delve in too deep, tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights can be your guide.
Content Updates Commonly Used But Not Always Effective
One thing to keep in mind is that content update is no panacea. That is, your changes to a piece do not necessarily lead to better ranking. Here are a few updates that, from my own experience, are of little or no use.
- Overstuffing Keywords
Once seen as a direct route to higher rankings, keyword stuffing is now a dated tactic. For one thing, you can simply receive penalties from search engines. But what’s even more important is that it deteriorates quality. Yes, keywords are great but no, they should not prevent your text from reading naturally. If a sentence feels forced or out of place, it’s likely your keyword insertion isn’t organic. Remember, search engines are smarter now. They prioritize pieces that offer genuine value over those packed with keywords.
- Making Superficial Edits
Cosmetic changes might freshen up your article’s appearance, but they don’t necessarily enhance its substance. If your goal is to genuinely update content, dig deeper. Address outdated information, improve the structure, or integrate new insights. Merely tweaking a few words or rearranging sentences does little to revive or boost a piece’s overall quality.
- Focusing Solely on Word Count
While I often hear that longer content performs better, I am sure this only applies to high-quality pieces. That is, if after updates, you have a long in-depth article rich in information, the ranking is most likely to improve. If you’ve bloated content merely to hit a word count target, it won’t work. Just don’t try to deceive readers or search engines. Prioritize valuable, relevant, and concise information instead.
Strategic updating of existing articles can be an excellent (cheaper!) alternative to creating new content. But if you expect tangible SEO benefits don’t just make changes — make the right ones!