Refreshing existing content is a trusted, cost-effective way to improve your content’s ROI, expand its reach and extend its lifespan. According to a recent Contentoo-HubSpot study, 70% of leading digital marketers consider content refresh one of their top priorities.
Refreshing content starts with analysing your existing content’s performance, updating information and applying the latest SEO best practices, including new keywords. This method has been proven to increase traffic and conversion, while lowering content production costs by over 80%.
If you’re like most digital marketers, you’re always on the look-out for ways to get more impact and reach out of your existing content. That’s why 70% of the expert digital marketers we recently surveyed said content refresh is one of their top strategic priorities. In fact, many experienced content marketers devote up to 80% of their time to continually refreshing and optimising their existing content. It’s a proven strategy for maintaining a stronger performance for your content – without having to devote more time and budget to creating all-new content every time.
In this ultimate guide, we look at the benefits of a content refresh and how it helps keep your content ranking high. We’ll also cover some of our top tips, tricks and tools for executing a successful content refresh strategy. And we’ll share some insights from our own market research, as well as success stories from our clients who are reaching new heights by refreshing their existing content.
What is a content refresh?
As you know, creating new content is often a time-consuming and expensive process. In fact, the average marketing team devotes 25% of its budget to content creation alone. At the same time, these efforts are extremely rewarding, since studies show that:
- Content marketing delivers the same amount of new business as traditional advertising, but costs at least 62% less.
- Content marketing generates at least 3 times as many leads as traditional advertising.
- Compared to paid ads, content marketing is far more versatile: it helps brands achieve a much wider range of important goals, such as brand awareness, enhancing the customer experience and boosting customer loyalty, just to name a few.
A content refresh is all about enhancing those benefits by expanding the lifespan of your content. This results in a much greater return on investment and ensures that the same piece of content continues to perform consistently well, potentially for years to come.
When we talk about content refreshing, we’re referring to the process of strategically updating your existing content to ensure it remains relevant, valuable and engaging to your audience.
In short, it’s all about enhancing what you already have. Instead of allowing old content to simply fade away and gradually slip down the search engine results page (SERP) rankings, you continually breathe new life into it.
Why should you refresh your content?
There are many good reasons to refresh your content. The 200+ marketers who took part in our recent survey listed these as their top 3 reasons:
- Saving time and budget: Refreshing or even repurposing existing content generally enables you to go (back) to market within just a few days, compared to the 100 days it takes on average to originate, create, edit and publish all-new content.
- Addressing changing customer concerns: Your market is constantly evolving. Your content needs to remain aligned with what’s on your customers’ minds today – not a year ago.
- The ability to provide the same content in multiple formats: You’ll get much more out of your content investment if you can repurpose the same content in multiple formats which reach multiple segments of your audience (for example, repurposing insights from a popular blog post to create a snappy infographic or pull quote for social posts).
In addition to these important content refresh goals, here are some other important things you can achieve by refreshing your content:
1. Improving user experience
Offering up-to-date content enhances the user experience by instilling trust in your audience. No matter what industry you’re working in, information is constantly changing. What’s considered a best practice today will likely be out of date a year from now. When readers see that your content is updated, they’ll be more likely to trust it and gain value from it.
2. Increasing SERP rankings and traffic
Google prioritises content that is user-focused, especially since the launch of its “helpful content update” in August 2022. Part of being user-focused (as mentioned above) means offering accurate, up-to-date information. Regularly refreshing your content helps boost your website’s search engine rankings. In turn, you’ll attract more organic traffic, since up to 92% of all organic traffic goes to sites that rank on the first page of Google’s SERP.
3. Staying relevant in search results
Refreshing your content helps it remain relevant in the eyes of your readers. Search intent and relevant keywords change over time. By continually auditing and adjusting your content, you can ensure it’s a match for what your audience is actually searching for.
When to refresh content?
Timing is an important factor for getting the most impact out of your content refresh strategy. Here are two general signs that tell you when your content will benefit from a refresh:
1. When the content is outdated or irrelevant
Outdated content can harm your reputation and deter your audience from engaging with your website. Anytime key information changes, it’s essential to update it to maintain credibility. That information can include factors like new products or features, or changes in your industry or the economy as a whole.
2. When you want to target new keywords
Top digital marketers are continually researching to identify the best keywords and monitory search intent. Since these factors evolve over time, your content needs to be refreshed to align with the latest keyword trends.
How to identify content that needs refreshing?
To get more specific about how to determine when it’s time to refresh your content, let’s look at a number of factors that you can continually monitor.
1. Analyse your content’s performance
Refreshing your content is all about maintaining or improving its performance. So, tracking your content’s performance is a must.
To identify underperforming content, monitor key metrics, such as search rankings and page traffic. Use your preferred web analytics tools to gain valuable insights into which pages are lagging behind, or which pages have reached their peak performance and are now starting to decline.
2. Lead generation
Use your analytics and marketing attribution tools to continually monitor how many leads your content is generating. If specific content pieces aren’t generating leads or conversions as expected, it’s probably time for a refresh. Realign your content with relevant keywords to help drive engagement.
3. Authority or thought leadership
As a marketer, you also have a range of tools at your disposal for tracking your domain authority. This is an accurate reflection of how trustworthy your content appears to your audiences and competitors. When you see that your domain authority starts to decline, it’s a sign that your content is losing relevance. Revamp your content by realigning it with relevant keywords and incorporating new insights that enhance your thought leadership.
4. Social influence
Marketers often overlook the importance of refreshing social media content. This is important however, as social posts drive as much as 25% of organic traffic. Your social content’s engagement metrics give you a strong indication of which posts are relevant and which are not. Edit underperforming content to tweak its performance. For example, try adding a (new) image or infographic, updating the headline or revamping the hashtags to match the latest trends.
Types of content that should be refreshed
Since Google loves accurate, frequently updated content, basically any content you publish will benefit from regular monitoring and refreshing. However, most digital marketers focus their refresh strategy on specific types of content.
When choosing which types of content to refresh, some important factors to keep in mind are:
- Which types of content take the most time and effort for you to create from scratch? You can save time and money by refreshing those pieces of content rather than starting over from scratch.
- Which types of content are most important to your content marketing strategy?
For most digital marketers, the following content types are ideal for refreshing:
1. Blog posts
Blog posts are often the backbone of a website’s content strategy. Among the digital marketing experts we recently surveyed, 59% said their blog is their most valuable channel. Regularly updating and enhancing your blog posts helps keep your content relevant and engaging. It also lowers your workload: instead of writing all new posts, there’s probably loads of existing content on your blog that can be reworked to improve its performance.
2. Landing pages
Landing pages play a vital role in conversions, because they’re often the first impression that a potential customer experiences when arriving on your site. That’s why it’s very important to keep your landing pages up to date. This means:
- Refreshing the content to ensure accuracy.
- Applying the latest technical SEO best practices to improve the pages performance, such as optimising for mobile and ensuring a fast load speed.
- Maintaining a clean, welcoming look and feel that makes your audiences want to explore your site further.
3. Product pages
No matter which industry you’re working in, your company’s products probably change from time to time. It’s essential to keep product descriptions up to date with the latest features and developments. This includes adjusting keywords to reflect the latest trends, since your customers’ needs, preferences and interests are continually evolving.
How to refresh content?
If you suspect your content could use a refresh, but aren’t quite sure where to begin, follow this step-by-step guide to help you get the most of your content refresh activities:
1. Conduct a content audit
As with any part of your content marketing strategy, it’s important to take a data-driven approach when performing a content refresh. Start by reviewing your analytics and marketing attribution stats for the past 12 months. This can help you spot which pieces are falling short of your expectations and content marketing goals.
Prioritise content types that have the greatest potential for improvement or play the most important role in your overall content marketing strategy. Often, these are assets that have performed well in the past, but have started to slip down the SERP rankings more recently.
2. Update with fresh information
Working with a content creator who is well-versed in content refresh strategy, start revamping the content. Focus on these elements above all:
- Replace any outdated product information: Ensure all references to your products reflect the latest, most up-to-date information, such as newly released features.
- Replace outdated references: If your content contains references to current events (such as the COVID pandemic), this can reveal their age and send a signal that the rest of the content is stuck in the past. Replace those references with more up-to-date references or turn them into more “evergreen” content that never goes out of date.
- Update headings: For example, add the word “updated” or reference the current year in your blog post’s refreshed title.
3. Optimise for SEO
Be sure to apply the latest SEO best practices when refreshing your content, just as you would when creating all-new content. This includes:
- Adjusting the keyword focus: Apply the latest keywords, including in the post’s title and meta data. Ensure a strong distribution of powerful new keywords, but be sure to also retain keywords that are still performing well.
- Update internal links: Always audit to ensure all your internal links are still working. Add links to new content that you’ve published since the old content’s original publication date.
- Update external links: Be sure you’re citing the latest, most authoritative information available. Check all links and replace them (along with any statistics you cite) to ensure you’re linking to accurate sources.
- Focus on user experience: Remember to keep your content user-focused in all ways. Part of this is to ensure a modern look and feel. Use lots of headings and white space to make your content attractive and readable. All content must be automatically optimised for mobile.
4. Add visual elements
Visual appeal is a key component in enhancing the user experience. When refreshing your text, it’s probably also a good moment to switch to new images and metadata, especially if your old images are looking a little out of date.
Try adding multimedia elements like images, videos, infographics and charts to make your content more engaging and shareable. Just ensure your images are compressed to avoid slowing down your page’s load speed.
Content refresh strategies
Selectively refreshing key assets in your content library is a good place to get started. But if you want to get the most out of your content refresh strategy, it helps to take a more systematic approach. That’s why experienced digital marketers rely on a number of different content refresh strategies to help guide their activities. Here are some of the most recommended refresh strategies for boosting your content’s performance:
1. Expand existing content
Instead of simply publishing content and considering it “finished”, view your content as a “living document”. This means setting regular intervals for reviewing and refreshing your existing content. Always be looking for ways to add new depth to your existing content.
For example, if your company performs new market research (or if important new market insights become available), ensure all your content is updated to reflect the latest knowledge. This way, you avoid contradictions between multiple pieces of content on your site
2. Retarget old content
Revive older content by promoting it through social media, email marketing or other channels. This helps raise visibility and direct traffic to your existing content. Just ensure that the content you’re promoting is relevant and accurate. You might need to refresh it before retargeting it.
3. Merge similar pages
If you have multiple assets that cover the same topic, consider consolidating them into a single, comprehensive resource, such as an eBook or ultimate guide.
This can improve user experience and boost your authority ranking, both of which positively influence your SERP performance. It can also help you avoid “keyword cannibalisation”, which occurs when you have multiple assets competing against themselves.
4. Repurpose old content
Once you have a strong content asset in your library, you can expand its reach by repurposing it. This means converting the same content into multiple formats which cater to the media preferences of different segments of your audience. Repurposing helps you cast a bigger net, so you target potential customers at various stages of the buyer journey.
For example, try reformatting information from your blog posts or news articles into podcasts, videos, infographics or eBooks. You might also take insights and testimonials from customer success stories and incorporate them into other assets, such as blog posts or long reads.
Successful content refresh in action: How PropertyGuru successfully refreshed 100,000 pages with Contentoo
We’ve seen many successful examples of content refresh strategies in action over the years. One of our clients, PropertyGuru, a leading online real estate platform, successfully refreshed 100,000 pages of content with the help of Contentoo.
PropertyGuru maintains millions of property listings as separate pages on its platform. It carefully monitors the SERP performance of these pages to ensure maximum visibility. After analysing its content’s performance, PropertyGuru identified around 100,000 pages that were underperforming and failing to attract the desired level of traffic.
Manually refreshing that many pages would have been too costly and time-consuming. So, PropertyGuru turned to the content refresh experts at Contentoo. We applied our state-of-the-art AI solution to automatically update the content at scale. After that, each page was efficiently reviewed by a team of human editors to ensure the refreshed content was accurate, optimised and fully on-brand.
As a result of our content refresh collaboration, PropertyGuru experienced:
- A 14% increase in organic traffic
- A 16% increase in on-page conversion
- An 80% reduction in content production costs per page.
“Contentoo delivered spectacular Marketing ROI improvements with its use of augmented AI. It has given us a sustainable edge over the competition,” said Bjorn Sprengers, CMO at PropertyGuru.
To learn more, read our full report on how Contentoo helped PropertyGuru refresh 100,000 pages of content at scale, delivering a major boost in ROI and performance.
Content refreshing: Key takeaways from Contentoo’s joint report with HubSpot
To learn more about the latest content marketing best practices, including the most effective content refresh approaches, Contentoo recently conducted a survey in collaboration with the inbound marketing pioneers at HubSpot.
We surveyed over 200 leading content marketers and found that 70% consider refreshing their content to be a key pillar of their content marketing strategy.
One of the experts we spoke with, Meredith Odgers, Founder at BambooWorx, said: “Quite simply, refreshing and repurposing content is an essential part of a content strategy in any market condition if content teams are to execute efficiently and effectively. Content production, distribution and measurement are resource-intensive and expensive, so who wouldn’t want to get more value out of every bit of content if it can continue to be optimised or be evergreen?”
This is especially true in tough economic times. “A recession period puts extra strain on resources such as having reduced headcount and budget, so it’s a smart move to double-down on refreshing and repurposing existing content as it’s less time and cost than creating all-new content,” adds Meredith.
Another expert we spoke with, Jocelyn Chan, Global Marketing Communications Manager at Truspace, had a solid piece of advice for all content marketers when it comes to balancing new content production with content refreshing: “Always apply Pareto’s rule: spend 20% on creating something new and 80% in repackaging and distributing.”
As you can see, leading content marketers consider content refresh not to be a “secondary” activity, but a top priority in its own right. So, it’s a good time to ask yourself: are you putting enough emphasis on refreshing your own content?
What if your content’s performance doesn’t improve?
Although the experts largely agree that content refresh simply makes good sense, it’s important to remember that there’s no guarantee for quick success in the world of digital marketing.
Some refresh activities may fail to make a clear improvement in your content’s performance. In other cases, your content’s performance may even continue to decline after a refresh.
Do not despair. Always look at your refresh activities as a learning opportunity. If you find that a piece of content cannot be salvaged by continual optimisation, then think about what this tells you about your audience’s interests.
Performance is the only way to determine a successful refresh. But even a failed refresh can still provide valuable insights like these:
- Your keyword focus is not actually aligned with your audience’s search intent. Return to the research stage and keep experimenting.
- Your chosen topics are no longer relevant. It’s time to originate new content.
- Your chosen format is not resonating any longer. Try repurposing your content into new formats to see what works better.
It’s never too late to start refreshing
As you can see, revamping your existing content is a practical, cost-effective solution for getting a better ROI on your original content. It’s a trusted method used by leading digital marketers and brands all over the world. Best of all, it’s never too late to start refreshing your content. Even legacy blog posts and other assets are likely to still have some valuable parts that can be brought to the next level with a strategic update and a retargeting campaign.
If you’re interested in learning more about a content refresh, or considering applying AI tools to perform a large content refresh at scale.
Contentoo has the experience and expertise to help, book your free demo today!
Are there blog posts you should not update?
Always follow your performance metrics to determine whether a page should be updated. In general, most digital marketers follow the rule “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” Wait until an asset shows signs of declining performance before refreshing it. Some pages may benefit more from being merged with other, similar pages, or repurposed into a new format.
How often should you refresh your blog posts?
There is no one-sized rule for how often content should be refreshed, but it is important to update your content regularly. Aim to audit your content once every 6 months at least, and apply updates as needed. Prioritise updates based on your content’s performance data. Always apply updates whenever your brand releases new products and features.
Why is a content refresh important for SEO?
Refreshed content is more accurate and up-to-date, which means it is more user-focused. This is a key factor that influences your content’s SERP ranking. Google prioritises content that is helpful, high-quality and accurate. At the same time, many readers prefer to click on and engage with content that is recent. This helps boost your domain’s authority, which also positively influences your SEO ranking.