Informational

5 Ways to Prevent Outdated Content

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by Adam Wright

Building a library of content on your website can work wonders for your business. 

It positions you as experts in your field, provides numerous opportunities for organic search with simple SEO practices, and increases your ability to earn external links. 

But a commonly overlooked part of this is that your content can become outdated.

Why do I need to update my content?

Knowledge of products and services can often have a shelf-life. Imagine the journey of a customer coming to your website for the first time and they are searching for a solution to their problem. Your SEO best practices have brought them here, but then they see that the article you have written is dated from two years ago. 

It’s highly likely that there will have been developments or progressions in the subject that would deter them from believing this is valid content.

Worse still, the customer might not even be aware of this and they continue to absorb potentially irrelevant information. This can leave them feeling confused, or worse, with a sense that they have been misled. Neither of these is the outcome you want.

By keeping your content up-to-date, you can make huge strides in increasing the trust factor of your information that will keep customers coming back to you.

How do I know if my content is out of date?

Of course, you can just go back to your first pieces of content and start looking through them manually, but this will take a lot of time you most likely don’t have. 

Fortunately, Google has two free and powerful tools that will allow you to see which of your content is leading to a large amount of traffic, and which is doing nothing for your site. 

The first option is to assess the performance of your content using Google Analytics. It provides a detailed and broad overview of how your website is performing so you can easily spot posts that are failing to hit the mark.

You can check this by logging into your account and navigating to Reports > Behavior > Overview. In this window, you will want to view the full report and show rows, being sure to toggle the dropdown to 5,000 and viewing the past 90 days. 

Now you will be able to clearly evaluate your content based on page views and bounce rate. Pages that have a high bounce rate can potentially be deleted, and more engaging content should be updated. 

One thing to stress here is that you should not delete content purely because you don’t have the resources to update it. You should only ever delete content because it’s of low quality and not relevant – with zero engagement in the past 90 days and no important backlinks to it.

You can also evaluate your content based on clicks and impressions by logging into your Google Search Console. In the left panel, you need to view your Pages and you are best off comparing the results from the last three months to the previous period. 

The low-performing content should be easy to spot, and if you have noticed a dip in performance of previously popular content, it could be a prime candidate for updating.

Five ways you can prevent outdated content

Now that we have addressed the best ways to identify which pieces of your content need to be updated, we can get on to what usually needs to be updated in the content. 

These are the five main areas where your content can go from being ahead of the game to totally irrelevant in a very short span.

Language

I’m talking about way more than just typos here – although in all seriousness, checking for spelling and grammatical errors can make a huge difference. 

The content that you are creating needs to be aware of the increase in social awareness, particularly in the language being more inclusive and inoffensive. You don’t want any of your visitors to feel excluded from the conversation. 

There could be a joke or cultural reference from a few years ago that would not be appropriate now. Equally, it could even be an idea to pivot your content to speak to more audiences. 

The lesson here is the more generalized and wider audience you can reach, the more likely you can retain a reader.

Dates

Dates are a surprisingly important part of all website content, and it is often overlooked. Not only is it important in your website content, but it is also important in your business’s information. 

Think for a second. When was the last time you checked the copyright date below your website footer?

If any of your blog content has references to timelines or milestones, check if anything has changed. Another place to look is whether you have any offers or competitions that are out of date. 

Most importantly of all, when you do update any of your content, adjust the date of the content accordingly and include a clear note that the content has been updated – ideally below the title so that it is visible as soon as a visitor reads the content. Remember the trust factor!

Blog posts

If you have identified any particularly high-performing content in your analysis, or you know that you have something that is especially relevant, why not highlight it!

It is very common for businesses to feature specific bits of content on their website that they know will attract more visitors. Of course, we need to be genuine here. Click-bait will only tarnish your reputation, so think about the biggest problems your customers are facing and feature that content. 

You can also use this as an opportunity to internally link your other (relevant) content from the feature piece. If you do want to do this, remember to keep it natural and set a link from an important sentence rather than a more obvious “link”. Using keywords in this scenario will also score you some SEO points. 

So this would mean that instead of talking about a supporting idea and linking it here, you are explaining the problem with a keyword and encouraging people to click it.

Links

As we are already on the subject, let’s talk about links. More specifically, it is hugely important for you to check back through your content for outdated or broken links. 

The last thing you want is for one of your customers to click through only to find out that the link no longer exists. It doesn’t reflect well on you or the business you are linking to.

This can happen frequently and you can easily fix it by checking to see if the link still exists because sometimes something as simple as a typo will break it. And if the link is no longer active, just delete it. 

If you are trying to repair a broken internal link you can use a 301 redirect which is the recommended method from Google. This means that you will instead redirect the link to a page with relevant content. As an absolute last resort, you can link back to the Home page. This isn’t ideal though, because it’s not a destination many people want to go back to unexpectedly.

News

As business owners, we need to understand that industries are always changing, and it is our responsibility to keep up to date with new developments that may impact our products and customers. 

More than just a responsibility, it makes sense from a business perspective. 

This is simply because every customer wants to know that they are working with industry experts who not only offer great products and services but are also constantly improving their offerings. 

In the same train of thought as being aware of industry changes, this can just as much apply to content that you are linking to. So be aware that whatever content you are recommending to your visitors is also up to date. 

The solution to outdated website content

Updating old content can have as much of an impact as new content when it comes to SERP (Search Engine Ranking Position). This is because by updating your old content, you can tell Google your content is fresh which boosts your “freshness score”.

The most important part here is that you are telling Google. 

This is something Google will do all on its own, but you’re going to have to wait for it. You should manually ask Google to recrawl your URLs so that it knows your content has been refreshed. 

There is also a very simple and effective solution to fixing all of your outdated content, and that is to never let it get outdated in the first place! Reach out to AWD today to get help with regular updates to your website.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adam Wright

Adam is a California native, now living in Middle Tennessee. A long-time creative at heart, his passion for design and growing his small business, AWD, is always evident. When he's not writing code or sketching logos, he enjoys spending time with family, playing basketball, or watching just about any motorsports. Find him on LinkedIn.