Submitted by webmaster on April 30, 2018

Today I want to go over some simple, but often times overlooked strategy that could help you skyrocket your website to the top of Google's search results, with just a few changes and updates to your existing content.  As you know, over time the effectiveness of your content and traffic it sees can diminish or stop altogether, this is due to the nature of the web (see an illustration of this in action on Moz). Instead of letting that effort put into creating that content disappear, follow these fourteen steps below to breathe life back into your old post and possibly boost it to the top of Google's results.

1. Improving Your Clickthrough rate

Just doing a quick search on Google for any term, you will notice the top results are typically published in the past year or so. For an example, check out this search on "Best SEO Strategies":

As you can see the oldest post on the results list had a date of July 28, 2016, while the newest was published in March of 2016.  The truth is that for many topics, including SEO, information changes quickly.  Things that were true a few months ago may be completely different now.

This is not limited to just a topic like SEO, however. Imagine searching for things regarding Drupal Development.  The processes of creating a custom block in Drupal 8 versus Drupal 7 are completely different and the older posts are no longer relevant.

This is why folks will tend to click on newer articles over older ones.  The truth is that almost all users who are looking for a topic are more likely to click on the newer articles and this means that the click-through rate of an article you publish will increase when you update the article.  This is, of course, assuming that you have your site set up to show the Updated date and not just the created date. If so then, it should be a simple matter to have your developer update your theme to display the correct dates on all articles. 

The reason this is important is that Google's is more likely to rank your page higher if more people are clicking on your content from the results list.  So keeping your content updated will make it more appealing, and that appeal will let Google know that it is a better resource and should be ranked higher.

Update your Content's Title

In addition to updating the overall content of your page or post, you can also reword your content's title.  What may have worked before may not work now, or you may have a better experience and can update the title to reflect the content and make it more attractive to someone searching for a topic on google.  

Some basic rules for a great title:

  • The title should give your readers an Idea of what you will cover, but without giving away too much information
  • The title should be around eight words or 70 characters in length
  • Make your point clear, and clever to avoid confusion.

Above The Fold Content

Once the reader is on your site you want to keep them there, in order to do that you should grab their attention by telling a story using descriptions, as well as using some images to help break up long sections of text.  You want to have enough of a lure for your readers when looking at the above-fold content on your page, avoid advertisements in this space if you can.

2. Correct grammar and spelling mistakes

This is an easy one but sometimes missed on the first pass.  Unless your team includes a proofreader that checks content before publishing it can be easy to miss grammar or spelling mistakes.  Often times the best way to catch these is to read the article in reverse.  This will help make those grammar mistakes stand out more. Another useful tool is Grammarly. It will highlight grammar mistakes and misspellings as you type them into your browser.

Having poor grammar and spelling mistakes can have a negative effect on your user's experience and can lead to higher bounce rates.  Your site's bounce rate does have an impact on it's ranking so this is something to keep an eye on and try to reduce as much as possible.

3. Let Google Know you have an Update

As I mentioned earlier it is important to let Google and the other search engines know when your content is updated.  It is as simple as changing some content for the post and changing the Publication date.  The next time Google crawls your site, you should see a boost in your search engine traffic for that page.

When we create evergreen content instead of content that was meant for a short period of time, we started seeing massive spikes in views and visits.  Regularly updating these pages meant that we could keep the traffic levels up, with minimal effort.  You should be able to do the same for your content.  You can do an overview of your current content library and then regularly revisit it and update the content to keep it relevant and on top of Google's results.  We recommend checking back every 3 - 6 months to make sure that your evergreen content is still relevant.

4. Making sure your Content is Accurate

All of the things we have talked about so far have been leading up to this one.  The majority of the updates that Google has done to its search algorithms have focused on improving the user experience.  One big component of this is content that is up to date and accurate.  This is even more important now with the big push against Fake news.  

If your site is designed to help make the user's experience great, then you will be able to succeed with the multiple changes that Google's algorithm has gone through.  One way to do that is making your content more usable and helpful to your visitors.  Updating it regularly to reflect the current trend or facts around the content you were writing about.

Take this Gizmodo article about Google Abusing its power, the original article has been updated a couple of times, and now includes a statement from Google in the original content of the article.

Abusing Power Google

This helps visitors by providing additional context about the article and events that have taken place and are relevant to what was being discussed. Thus improving the value of the article as a whole for your users.

Even if your audience is not big enough to get a direct response from Google or someone else you are writing about -- you can still implement the same strategies.

All you really need to do is look to find any new or updated information about the article you have written and then include it as an insert, quote, callout or at the end of the article.  Also mentioning at the top of the article that you have updated it since it's publication is a good way to let users know that something has changed.

As you do this the value of your content will surely increase as will your search rankings for that topic.

5. Keeping your site Fresh

This is kind of a repeating theme for this article, but it cannot be stated enough that making sure that your site is kept fresh is important.  Sites that are minimally updated or not updated at all will quickly sink to the bottom of the results.  This goes for most pages on your site.  

To help keep your site fresh it is best to use a Content calendar to remind you when you should update the various evergreen articles on your site so that you can let Google know that you are still active and that your site deserves to be ranked higher.  Just updating a few key articles that relate to your target keyword will help let Google know that you are still relevant.  This ranking boost will be applied to all of the pages on your site.

6. Keep links alive

The next most important part of keeping the value of your article, and reducing the frustration of users visiting a stale article is to update your links.

Many times, the helpful resources you first linked to when you first created your article are no longer around anymore.  Maybe the website is no longer around, or possibly the URL has changed.

Regardless of the reason, having dead links on your article will have a bad effect on your Google ranking, causing your page to be pushed down further on the results list. Remove broken links and replace them with other relevant resources (or if you must use the Wayback machine to link to an archived version). 

This can be accomplished using a couple of easy and free tools that are available.  My preferred tool is the Broken Link Checker plugin for Chrome. This free plugin lets you check the current page for any broken links on your current page and return the number and those that are missing.  

Using this tool is quite simple, just navigate to the page you are looking to check, and then click on the icon.  It will display a small box on the top of the page with the total number of links along with how many are broken. All of those that are broken will be highlighted Pink, those that are still functional will be highlighted green.

If the resource truly is not available online anymore there are a couple of steps that you can take, the best is to update your article and reference a newer and more relevant resource.  Another is to reference it via the Wayback Machine, an internet archiving website.  Finally, if there is nothing available, its best to remove the link and rework the article accordingly.

7. The Newer references, the better the reference

While you are updating your links, it may be worth looking around to find some newer content to use for your links and references off-site.

During this process, you should include experts, statistics, infographics, events, and any breaking news or updates regarding the subject matter. 

As you go back over the old content, you can easily add links to this new content.  Since these resources may not have been available at the time you wrote your article, it can add a lot of new value and depth to the content.

Additionally, it will help make your content look much more valuable to Google. This is because outbound links are an important ranking factor, you can create a more valuable resource by linking to other hubs of information that Google recognizes as authoritative.

Linking to the best possible content on the web and Google will start to notice. Instead of just linking to those resources, your page can slowly become a go-to hub for information others will link to.

The last thing you should consider when updating your content is linking to your own content.  If you have related articles that can provide more insight on the topic of your article, then it is beneficial to update your article with links to these other articles.  This is especially true if you created them after the original post was published.

Update CTAs or Call to Actions

If you have any call to actions on the page, it would be good practice to update these as well.  Some good rules of thumb when you are updating these are:

  • Place CTAs in the sidebar, header, or footer
  • Keep your ask low
  • A good CTA is providing Ebooks, Infographics, Tools, or other resources in exchange for an email address

8. Add Multimedia to boost ranks

Another great way to improve your rankings is adding various types of media.

As the content online gets more diverse, a special privilege is placed on new content that works to include different types of images, audio, and video.

The types of media you want to include in your articles depends on your preference and the relevance they have to your content.

As a general rule of thumb, it is good to include an image for every 350 words or so, I tend to try to include them where they fit best and break up the content so it is easier to be consumed.

For more tips to help increase your search traffic, watch this great short video from Neil Patel: