How to Update Old Blog Posts for Better Rankings, Traffic, and Engagement

If you‘ve been blogging for more than a year or two, you likely have a wealth of old posts that are collecting dust in your archives. While it‘s tempting to focus solely on publishing new content, you could be missing out on major opportunities to get more value from the content you‘ve already created.

Strategically updating and republishing old blog posts can deliver significant SEO and traffic benefits, while also providing a better experience for your readers. Think of it like renovating an old house—with some smart updates and improvements, you can dramatically increase the value and appeal of an existing asset.

Why Update Old Blog Posts?

There are numerous potential benefits to updating and optimizing old content, including:

1. Improved search engine rankings and organic traffic

By refreshing old posts with updated information, keywords, and formatting, you can boost their relevance and authority in the eyes of search engines. This can translate to higher rankings for target keywords and more organic traffic to your site.

Consider these success stories:

  • HubSpot increased monthly organic search views by an average of 106% for posts they updated (source)
  • Backlinko saw a 260% increase in organic traffic by updating and republishing one post (source)
  • Ahrefs increased traffic by 468% by updating a single post (source)

2. Increased user engagement and conversions

Better content leads to better user engagement. By updating old posts with fresh information, examples, and visuals, you can keep readers on your site longer and encourage them to explore more of your content. You can also optimize for conversions by adding relevant calls-to-action and content upgrades.

For example, Growth Machine saw the average time on page increase by 64% for posts they updated and reformatted (source).

3. Improved brand authority and credibility

Having a library of high-quality, up-to-date content helps establish your brand as a trusted authority in your industry. Regularly maintaining and improving published posts shows readers that you‘re committed to providing accurate and relevant information.

4. Efficient use of resources

Creating a new piece of content from scratch takes a lot of time and effort. Updating an existing post is often much quicker and allows you to build on the foundation you‘ve already laid. You can also get multiple rounds of promotion and value from the same piece of content.

How to Identify Posts Worth Updating

Not every old post is worth investing time into updating. Look for posts that meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Relevance: The topic is still relevant and valuable to your target audience and aligns with your current business goals and offerings.
  • Prior performance: The post has a history of attracting organic traffic, backlinks, or social shares—indicating that there‘s existing search demand and audience interest.
  • Keyword rankings: The post ranks on page 2-3 of search results for target keywords, and could benefit from content and optimization improvements to rank higher.
  • Quality foundation: The original post is well-written, structured for SEO, and in-depth enough to provide value to readers. Avoid posts that are very thin, outdated, or off-brand.
  • Freshness opportunities: There have been new developments, studies, or innovations related to the post‘s topic that warrant coverage.

Some effective ways to find posts to prioritize for updates include:

  • Checking Google Analytics for posts with steady or previously high traffic that has declined
  • Using Google Search Console to identify posts ranking in positions 11-30 for relevant keywords
  • Doing a manual content audit to flag thin, outdated, or off-brand posts
  • Monitoring industry news and trends for opportunities to refresh topically relevant posts
  • Listening to reader feedback and questions that could be addressed in existing content

7 Steps to Update Old Blog Posts for Maximum SEO Impact

Once you‘ve identified a post to update, follow these steps to get the most SEO and traffic value from your efforts:

1. Evaluate the post against current search intent

Before you dive into making updates, take a moment to analyze the post through the lens of current searcher intent for the target keyword. Search intent refers to the reason behind a searcher‘s query and what they‘re hoping to find.

Look at the top ranking results on page one of Google for your keyword. Note the format, type, and angle of content that‘s ranking well and resonating with searchers. For example, the intent behind a keyword like "content marketing guide" is very different from "content marketing agencies".

Knowing what your target readers are actually looking for will help guide your approach to updating the post. You may need to shift the focus, add a new section, or slightly adjust the angle to better align with search intent and compete with top ranking pages.

2. Refresh the post title and meta description

The post title and meta description are often the first things a searcher sees in search results, and play a big role in whether or not they click through to your post.

If the post isn‘t already ranking well, try adjusting the title and description to:

  • More closely match the language and intent behind the target keyword searches
  • Clearly convey the value and unique insights readers will gain from the post
  • Include numbers, power words, or compelling hooks to stand out in search results

For example, if the original title was "10 Tips for Better Content Marketing", you might update it to something more specific and benefit-driven like:

  • "How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy That Drives Leads and Sales (+10 Tips)"
  • "10 Proven Tactics to Improve Your Content Marketing Results in 2021"

Check the click-through rates of top ranking results for your keyword in Google Search Console, or use a tool like Moz Keyword Explorer to see what works.

3. Update and optimize the post content

Now it‘s time to dig into refreshing the actual meat of the post. Some potential ways to update the content for better rankings and engagement:

  • Improve keyword optimization: Make sure the post is optimized for the right target and related keywords. Use the main keyword in the title, meta description, URL, and H1 header. Sprinkle related keywords naturally throughout the post.

  • Expand the depth and comprehensiveness: Look for opportunities to dive deeper into the topic and make the post more thorough and valuable. Can you add new sections, examples, case studies, data, insights, or recommendations? Aim to make it the best resource on the topic.

  • Improve the formatting and readability: Break up long paragraphs, use short sentences, and add formatting like bulleted lists, images, and subheadings. Add a table of contents with jump links for long posts. Make it easy to scan and read on any device.

  • Add relevant examples, quotes, and statistics: Including current, real-world examples and credible data from authoritative sources helps boost the power of your advice and arguments.

  • Optimize for featured snippets: Structure the content with clear headings, definitions, and summaries to increase chances of winning featured snippets for target keywords.

  • Update outdated information: Remove or update any outdated examples, screenshots, or references. Make sure all advice and best practices are still accurate and relevant.

  • Add relevant internal links: Link to other relevant resources on your site to keep readers engaged and pass authority to important pages.

  • Improve the call-to-action: Include a specific and relevant call-to-action to drive conversions, like downloading a related lead magnet or exploring a related product or service.

4. Optimize the post images and visual assets

Visual content can have a big impact on both user experience and SEO. When updating a post, take the time to audit and optimize your image assets:

  • Replace any outdated or poor quality images and screenshots
  • Ensure all images are compressed and optimized for fast loading times
  • Add descriptive file names and alt text, incorporating target keywords where relevant
  • Break up large chunks of text with visuals every 200-300 words
  • Use original images, infographics, and videos when possible to make your content more engaging and shareable

5. Improve the user experience and Core Web Vitals

Google has made it clear that user experience is an important ranking factor. Slow loading times, poor mobile formatting, and intrusive interstitials can all negatively impact your rankings.

When updating old posts, take the opportunity to audit and improve:

  • Page load speed and server response times (aim for under 2-3 seconds)
  • Mobile responsiveness and usability
  • Core Web Vitals metrics like Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
  • Accessibility for users with disabilities
  • Annoying pop-ups or ads that disrupt the user experience

Use Google‘s PageSpeed Insights tool to check your page performance and get recommendations for improvements.

6. Update the publish date and re-submit the sitemap

Once you‘ve made your updates, change the publish date in your CMS to the current date. This signals to search engines that you‘ve updated the post with new information.

You‘ll also want to re-submit your sitemap to Google Search Console to make sure it‘s re-crawled and re-indexed quickly with the changes.

7. Re-promote the updated post

Finally, treat your updated post like a new piece of content and promote it across your distribution channels. This could include:

  • Sharing on social media with fresh hooks and visuals
  • Sending an email to your subscribers highlighting the updated content
  • Considering paid social ads to a relevant target audience
  • Reaching out to people who previously linked to the post to let them know about the update
  • Promoting in relevant online communities and forums
  • Adding a callout or CTA to your homepage or popular posts promoting the updated content

By driving fresh traffic and engagement signals to your updated post, you can help solidify its improved rankings and visibility.

Mistakes to Avoid When Updating Old Content

While there‘s a lot to gain from strategically updating old blog posts, there are also some potential pitfalls to watch out for:

  • Only making surface-level changes: Avoid just making minor tweaks or swapping out a few keywords. Aim to substantively improve the depth, quality, and value of the post.

  • Changing the URL: Try to avoid changing the original post URL, which can disrupt existing backlinks and rankings. If you do need to change it, make sure to set up a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one.

  • Neglecting to update stale CTAs: Make sure calls-to-action are still relevant and not promoting outdated lead magnets, products, or offers.

  • Keyword stuffing: Focus on naturally incorporating keywords and avoiding outdated tactics like keyword stuffing, which can harm your rankings.

  • Cloaking: Avoid showing different content to search engines than you do to users, known as cloaking. This can result in a manual penalty from Google.

  • Forgetting to update internal links: Audit and update any internal links pointing to the original post URL to preserve link equity.

  • Trying to update every old post: Be strategic and only invest time in updating posts that have the potential to deliver meaningful results. Prioritize based on relevance, search demand, and original performance.

Tools and Plugins to Streamline Old Post Updates

Here are some recommended tools and WordPress plugins to help make the process of updating old posts more efficient:

  • Yoast SEO: Offers suggestions for improving keyword optimization, readability, and internal linking. Allows you to easily customize the meta title and description.

  • Elementor or Thrive Architect: Intuitive drag-and-drop page builders that make it easy to update and improve post formatting and layout.

  • ShortPixel: Automatically compress and optimize images for faster loading times.

  • WP Rocket: Caching and performance optimization plugin to improve page speed.

  • Link Whisper: Suggests relevant internal linking opportunities based on post content.

  • Revive Old Posts: Automatically shares old posts on social media to drive fresh traffic.

  • Google Search Console and Google Analytics: Provide valuable data on search rankings, organic traffic, user behavior, and opportunities for improvement.

  • Ahrefs or SEMrush: Tools for keyword research, competitor analysis, and tracking search rankings.

  • Canva or Adobe Creative Suite: Tools for creating custom, high-quality visual assets.


Updating old blog posts is often an overlooked strategy that can deliver big SEO gains for minimal effort. By following the tips above and taking a strategic approach to refreshing stale content, you can get more traffic and engagement from the content you‘ve already created.

However, don‘t neglect publishing new content entirely in favor of updates. Aim to find a balance between keeping your existing content fresh and relevant while also creating new content to target additional keywords and topics.

The key to a winning content strategy is focusing on quality over quantity, staying tapped into the needs and interests of your target audience, and consistently demonstrating your expertise and authority. By combining strategic updates with high-quality new content, you‘ll be well on your way to blogging success.

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