Content Marketing

Content Refresh: Addressing Content Decay to Boost SEO

19/08/2021

Developing excellent content with in-depth topic research and market relevance can drive tremendous organic traffic to your site. But that doesn’t mean you have to pour your resources into producing new content all the time.

It’s true that old content may eventually lose traffic and value. However, updating old pages will restore their value and even deliver positive SEO results with less effort.

Besides, content fresh is among Google’s many ranking factors that directly influence a website’s quality. 

Read on to find out more about how restoring old content can help boost SEO rankings and improve website quality.

What is Content Decay?

Regardless of your industry or the size of your website, your content’s value will most likely follow 5 phases. Jimmy Daly and Ryan Law from Animalz.co elaborated on these five stages and stated how your traffic behaves in every phase.

  • Spike Phase: High value right after publishing the post
  • Trough Phase: Period of low and stagnant traffic after the spike phase
  • Growth Phase: Gradual increase in traffic over a considerable period
  • Plateau Phase: A noticeable peak of growth that lasts a few months
  • Decay Phase: Period of gradual decrease of traffic and page value

All content and pages reach a stagnant plateau phase before gradually decaying. Hitting the plateau phase can mean a lot of things. You either maxed out your keywords’ search volume or search rankings due to content relevance, domain authority, or backlinks.

That said, refreshing your content is one way of keeping it in the plateau phase for as long as possible. If every single one of your pages drives consistent organic traffic on your site, you won’t need to research and develop new content every time.

How does Content Decay Happen?

More often than not, your content decays due to several factors. Factors may include market trends, Google’s core algorithm updates or the timeliness of the content topic.

Freshness Factor

Google includes content freshness in ranking pages, giving more weight and value to new content over years-old pages.

It’s also worth noting that Google indexes sites and evaluates content freshness through on-page and off-page engagements. That’s why pages that are years old will still belong to Google’s good books if they still attract backlinks or social engagements.

Direct Competition

With more and more brands jumping into digital content marketing, competition over organic traffic and keyword ranking has become tighter than ever.

Your direct competitors may use better tools and invest more into developing relevant content that may result in you losing some traffic and keyword rankings along the way.

Loss of Topic Interest

If you’ve written a few pieces of content about obsolete topics, your traffic on those pages will inevitably fall as people lose interest in them. The same is true for short-lived social media trends or hot topics with little-to-no relevance or insights in the long run.

How to Identify Content Decay?

Spotting content decay over a few months can be impossible since arriving at the decay phase takes several months up to years in the making. But with Google Analytics and various other tools, you can monitor organic traffic for particular pages over long timespans.

You can track your online engagement and traffic for three months and longer so you can adequately benchmark which phase your pages are currently in and spot decaying content.

But it should not end with tracking down content decay. After that, you need to determine the reason to minimise decay on future pages.

Identify Causes for Content Decay

Finding out why your posts are decaying will help you learn how to fix them and improve your content quality in the future.

Looking at how well your content is doing before and comparing it now should give you insights into its most probable cause. Maybe it’s due to the rising competition or a market trend/update that pulled your content behind.

You can also try aiming your focus on the following questions to narrow down the causes of the decay:

  • What does your content lack from the top-rated content?
  • How comprehensive and in-depth does the content cover?
  • Do you use up-to-date statistics and research?
  • Do you have more backlinks than the top competitor?
  • Which channel is your content topic more popular?

If your content page still ranks in the same spot but exhibits a traffic decay, your keywords and topic may just be outdated.

Determine what content refresh to maximise SEO

You can boost your SEO without producing new content by refreshing old or decaying pages. By tracking down content decay, you might even find plateau pages that can use an SEO boost.

Having an SEO agency on your back can speed up things, as they can determine which pages need a refresh and perform keyword optimisation in the process. That’s like hitting two birds with one stone.

How Addressing Content Decay Helps SEO

Build Links to Newer Posts

Looking through old content allows you to link them to updated pages and resources. Those include the latest whitepaper, infographics, market trends, and events relevant to your brand.

That way, you can increase the content’s value since newer resources were most likely unavailable when you first published the content. Doing so also improves your page rank in Google’s eyes since you’re developing a more valuable resource on your site.

Maximise Your CTR

Most of the time, the top-ranking sites in Google SERPs have been published around a year ago. That’s because new and refreshed content will look more appealing for Google’s core algorithm.

With up-to-date resources and a remarkable headline and meta description, you can attract your target audience to your site and secure a strong position in Google SERPs.

Fixing Broken Links to Improve Value

One significant benefit of refreshing old content is that you’ll find unchecked issues such as broken links from deleted resources.

If you have external links on a three-year-old article, there’s a good chance that the page you linked to was deleted, redirected, or archived.

Regardless of what caused the broken link, leaving it unattended can hurt your page rank and pull you down Google’s SERPs.

Streamline Keyword Optimisation

You can find old content that can use a keyword boost and raise them from the dead. Maybe you have a couple of pages published with flawed keyword research or expand the topic itself to cover more keywords.

However you want to do it, don’t miss the chance of improving your old pages to rank better in competitive keywords and increase your overall brand value by taking proactive steps.

Other Benefits of Refreshing Old Content

Repair Spelling and Grammatical Errors

Grammar and spelling mistakes can be outright harmful to the user experience and SEO, not to mention cringe-worthy for the site owner.

So instead of ignoring minor grammar errors, consider taking your time to repair the mistakes and improve their overall readability.

Ramp-up Your Content Quality

Search engines aim to deliver the most accurate and best answers to search queries. In other words, it focuses on the user experience above all else — that’s why you should too.

You can continuously develop new and better content for UX, but you can also refresh the old ones to cope with Google’s user-centred algorithm updates to climb the ranks.

Moreover, ramping up your content quality for old pages makes them more useful for users looking for updated information or better content.

Incorporate Fresh Value into Old Content

You can also improve your content’s overall quality by plugging in the latest information and up-to-date resources to preserve its value.

If you’ve published a top ten list for 2019, you should consider refreshing it and inserting updated resources to stay relevant in 2021. If it’s a blog post discussing statistics, now’s your chance to step up and include new numbers from your research.

Besides, if you’ve managed to publish an authoritative article that gained several backlinks, you don’t want to waste it the next few years, do you?

Final Thoughts

Every piece of content you publish on your site stays there for a long time. Releasing evergreen content is one way to stay on top. But refreshing old ones is also an efficient and proven way to extend your traffic’s plateau phase and improve your keyword ranking.

If you only have so much time on your hands to refresh old content, we have you covered. Our SEO specialists are able to appropriately determine where content decay is occurring and put in place a bespoke strategy to address the issue. 

Speak to us today to find out more about what we can do for your business.

Hans Andrew Consuegra
Written by

Hans Andrew Consuegra

Hans Andrew Consuegra is a Content Specialist at Red Search. Andrew has over 2 years of experience producing creative content copies for various major industries including finance, health and media. He plays a core role in assisting the senior SEO team and is instrumental in the success of all his clients.

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