Do you ever cringe when Facebook pops up with pictures of you and your friends from one year ago? Or, (for those of us old enough to have lived when actual photos were still a thing), when was the last time you flipped through an old family photo album? We all know the horrors of looking back on awkward past versions of ourselves, with our misguided hairdos and out-of-touch style choices. Isn’t it great that our present-selves are so much smarter, more experienced and better dressed (at least for now)?

The exact same logic applies to your content marketing. Look back on some of your company’s blog posts or other content from just one year ago. There’s a good chance you’ll find information that is outdated, no longer relevant or maybe even simply off the mark.

Yet, just like your early-90s perm, that content was really hot stuff back in the day. When it was at its peak, it was bringing all the leads to the lawn: generating traffic to your site and raising awareness about your brand. But now, it’s starting to look a little raggedy.

So, should you throw it out completely and start all over? No way! What your content needs is a refresh!

Here’s a quick look at how you can breathe new life into your content and set up a sustainable, cost-effective content refreshment strategy.

Why should you be refreshing your content?

Refreshing your content makes sense for a lot of reasons. Above all, it helps you save time and money. Instead of devoting resources to building all-new content, you can update your existing content and reuse large amounts of text that you’ve already got on hand. That’s quick and cost-effective.

Another benefit of refreshing content is that it adds more value for your readers. Good-quality content needs to be up to date. The last thing you want is for a target reader to come across outdated, inaccurate information on your site.

Plus, refreshing your content helps it to perform even better. Search engine algorithms are known to favour newly updated content over older, outdated pages. So, refreshing your content automatically helps it climb search engine rankings.

According to content marketing researchers, it takes about 100 days on average for a piece of content to reach its full potential in terms of traffic generation. During that crucial period after launching a piece of content, you need to do all you can to make sure your content performs as well as possible.

Think about it this way: SEO is a process, not an event. Instead of optimising your content before publishing it and then simply hoping for the best, keep optimising it even after publication. That means regularly doing your keyword research and playing into ever-changing trends.

Which content should you refresh?

Text is definitely the ideal content format for refreshing. With relatively little investment of time and money, you can update a piece of text to add relevant new insights or shift focus onto trendy new keywords.

Here are some things to consider when picking which content to refresh:

  • Performance:
    This works two ways:(1) If a piece has performed well, but is past its peak in terms or page views, consider giving it a refresh to see if you can perk up the performance again.(2) If a piece is failing to perform as you expected it to, don’t simply write it off as a missed opportunity. Research the keywords and see how you might be able to reframe the existing content so that it’s more relevant to your target audience’s needs.
  • Relevance: Some content is simply always going to be relevant to your target audiences. For many companies, tutorials, how-to guides and other informative content is some of your best-performing material. Keep that stuff up to date! Make sure you’re incorporating all the latest factual information so that this evergreen content stays fresh and relevant.
  • Refresh or create?: Some content is so “in the moment” that you really cannot expect it to age well. And that’s fine too. No one expects an old news article to be updated each time the story changes. New stories call for new content, and you’ll want to be sure to release plenty of new content on a regular basis anyway. Refreshing content shouldn’t be seen as a substitute for creating new content when it’s necessary. You need to do both.

How do you refresh content successfully?

So, let’s start refreshing. Once you’ve spotted those pieces in your content archives that could use a little polishing up, follow these best practices to help make sure your refreshment hits the spot.

  • Keyword research: It can’t be stressed enough: keyword research should be the driving force behind your content-refreshment efforts. Valuable resources like Google Trends help you compare keywords and see which ones are driving the most traffic right now.Start by comparing your content’s existing keywords with similar keywords that may be performing better now. Then update the keywords in your text accordingly.
  • Follow a content-refreshment calendar: Content refreshment may be quicker than creating all-new content, but be careful not to underestimate the amount of time it takes. It’s a good idea to make content refreshment a standard item on your company’s content calendar. That way, you can devote it the attention that it deserves.Set periodic dates to review the performance of your content and check them for signs of ageing: lagging keyword relevance, dropping performance, outdated information. You may want to set reminders for specific pieces, especially those that deal with topics that regularly change (like compliance, regulatory issues, price information, etc.). That way you can audit regularly to see if things need sprucing up.

    Once you’ve spotted the outdated bits, refresh, refresh, refresh and get that content ready for a new peak in performance.

  • Promote refreshed content: Often, your refreshed content deserves the same amount of promotion as you would give to all-new content. If you overhaul an article to introduce significant new changes, don’t be shy about promoting that through your company’s social media platforms, just as you would with a brand-new piece.

Let relevance be your guide here: if you’re “just” adjusting keywords to make the content more SEO-friendly, then you can keep that to yourself. Only promote refreshed content when the revisions create genuine added value for your readers.

A refreshingly effective content marketing solution

As the common saying goes, “hindsight is 20/20”. When it comes to content marketing, this is actually a benefit, not a flaw. We have the luxury of being able to go back and apply all our latest insights, trend analysis and keyword research, so that we can keep our old content as fresh and strong as ever.

Your content never has to stay stuck in the past. Think about it exactly like you think about your audience and your market: it’s always changing and adapting to the times. Sometimes, it just needs a little nip and tuck to get it back on the right track. So, be sure to apply the best practices you’ve learned above, and start reaping the benefits of refreshing your content.