In this episode of our brand new content marketing podcast, Wilson goes through some of…
The truth is that no matter how great your content is, you’ll eventually experience content decay. In order to stay on top of the rankings, you would need to do a content refresh often in order to stay consistent with Google’s new ranking factors.
Any content that develops through the use of organic search eventually undergoes decay. Meaning that over time and for a variety of reasons, those posts begin to lose traffic.
Decay is something that occurs slowly enough that no warnings are given off.
All posts eventually reach their plateau before they start to decay. When a posits reaches its plateau, it’s because it has either reached its max amount of search volume for the targeted keywords or maxed out on rankings.
Another reason is if the post is outdated and other competitors have more backlinks, shares etc.
The best fix for this is by doing a content refresh. You can think of this as a content update by updating the article with the latest keywords, changing the titles, and more importantly editing and adding more relevant content.
The reasons behind content decay
Knowing why a post decays should let you know how you can perform a content refresh. Here are a couple of reasons why traffic declines for your content over time.
As the industry continues to transform and grow, competition for a massive swath of keywords has increased significantly. Reader demand for many of those keywords has not increased.
Furthermore, large companies with superior domain authority have also begun investing in content marketing. There was a moment when content marketing was a leaner, faster growth channel.
Blogging was previously known as a free method for early-stage companies to gain attention. At this point, big companies have dedicated teams and plenty of resources. Competition has grown fierce.
People are getting smarter. People know the basics of SEO now.
This is the most seamless way to search for changes in search engine results pages and keep a close eye on your competition.
Little bits of changes on a SERP can have a huge impact. Sliding from a #1 ranking to #2 ranking could lead to a 50% drop in traffic. Dropping to #7 means that you’ve possibly lost more than 90% of your traffic.
If you read our guide on ranking factors, then you should know that all content must be fresh and updated in order to rank well on Google.
Google factors originally into its ranking in a few vital manners:
- Google prefers that individual pages be updated on a regular basis.
- Google prefers sitewide originality, i.e., new content being published regularly.
- Query deserves originality is a ranking factor that favors new content based on search intent such as queries for 2019 marketing trends or Tool’s new album.
- Backlink decay over a period of time as well. If a page is newly refreshed but hasn’t gotten new links in while, Google may not consider it to be up to date enough as you do.
There are a couple of other factors that can cause decay, including:
- Content quality: Competitors develop a much superior resource. Is it in depth? Are links broken within the article?
- Technical issues: Your site’s loading speed, structure, indexing and a host of other technical issues can negatively affect your site’s performance.
- SERP changes: Google is always experimenting with their search results and at times doesn’t divulge any data on traffic.
- The Search Algorithm Black Hole: Search algorithms change at all times. Search volume and keyword tracking cannot be perfectly measured. People won’t always be able to determine the exact cause of content decay.
Now that you’ve got a clear understanding of why content gets outdated, let’s see how you can handle this issue.
Keeping content fresh
First of all, you need to search for content that needs to be updated. We recommend updating any piece of content:
- Previously had or currently has recurring organic traffic
- Has been experiencing a decline for the past three months
- Accounts for at least 1% of content traffic
It possible to update content along with a few mutually inclusive parameters. A content piece may need one of these following strategies or even all of them. Select your approach based on the reasons for the decay.
This is the first step you need to take in order to implement a content refresh.
Expansion for a content refresh
This is one of the more common methods for updating a piece. Shift it into something bigger, longer, broader and comprehensive.
There’s plenty of information that has suggested that content only needs to be longer in order to rank even higher. It’s encouraged though that you don’t give in to the urge of making content longer for no reason than because the average word count of a Google first page results is 1,700 words.
If you’ve decided to expand upon a post, consider the dimension on which you decide to do so. Perhaps there truly are twenty ways to optimize Ads on a website instead of just the ten you previously posted. Furthermore, it’s possible that those previous ten may have lacked context and could use supporting information to make them more helpful. Maybe you left a section out of your guide on content marketing, but maybe the section on slides was too light on content to be useful.
Carefully scrutinize your piece to assess why it should be expanded on before simply adding more words to it.
Advice never really ages quite well. At times, this can be obvious due to change trends.
Strategies that may have been useful five years ago may have fallen out of popularity due to change in the industry. Other times it can be something less predictable than that.
You may need to update your outreach guide or adjust your office productivity post because of the growing numbers of remote working trends. Consider going over your posts and make a list of what needs to be updated regularly.
- Any post that has a date on it ( The 2019 Marketing Guide)
- Any post with tons of screenshots ( 10 Awesome Facebook Ad examples)
- Coverage of ever-changing topics
Make sure to always keep an eye out for any change in trends and the effects it has on other content.
Optimization for content refresh
At certain times, content can decay because of less informative posts are better optimized for search. You can run old posts through an on-page SEO checklist to make sure they’re properly positioned to rank:
- Ensure the title tag has included the targeted keywords with matching font.
- Write an easy to read H1 that also includes the target keywords
- Implement a detailed meta description based on the standard character count
- Use alternative forms of your target keyword in the article’s subheaders
- Input keywords in the URL and keep the slug short.
- Make sure images are optimized for the internet and have relevant alt text.
- Verify that technical issues such as loading page speed and click depth aren’t the ones causing your problems.
If you’ve duplicated or overlapped any topics, consider combining them. ( or possibly even pruning the obsolete one).
Look at it this way. Your keyword research will reveal related keywords. If you build content for each and every keyword, you’ll end up with tons of duplicated information. Merging content within the framework means you should prune content less. It also means will end up with less, but higher quality articles on your website.
At times, a new round of promotion and link development is all that’s needed.
If a post has decayed in the past couple of years, you’ve most likely published a lot of newer content during that moment. Begin by searching through your new content for opportunities to connect back to a decaying article. A simple site search will showcase all kinds of interesting bridging text opportunities.
Let’s say I wanted to integrate new internal links to our content marketing guide, I can easily search through the site to implement where I’ve mentioned strategy but not linked.
It’s also possible to send old content to your email list, write a guest post to develop external links, share them on social media as it were new content and generate paid traffic for it. Promoting old content works quite well when you’ve expanded, updated optimize or combined it.
The only way content gets updated regularly is if it is developed into your daily workflow. Ensure that updating your content on a daily basis is placed on your editing schedule. Take the time to plan our resources and budgets to make sure this gets done to prevent the potential impact of outdated content.