I’ve written about how to update SEO content, but not when to do it.
If you wait too long to update your content, the delay could affect your site’s performance. Update content too frequently, and you may spend too much time making revisions and not enough time publishing fresh pieces.
Based on the reports you get and how you monitor your SEO results, there are a number of indicators to watch for that can help you to identify when an update is in order. Let’s take a look at the best times to update your content to enhance your site’s natural search performance.
Update your content:
- Once a year
- As new trends roll out
- The keywords change
- Before new marketing campaigns
- When the facts change
- If you have broken links
- If the content is sparse
- When it’s been a while
1. Once a year
Your highest-performing pages are worth reviewing at least once a year. This ensures that you stay on top of trends and get ahead of any potential issues like sparse content, broken links, or outdated information. If the content is subject to change on a more regular basis, consider reviewing it every six months instead.
Annual SEO content reviews will require time and effort, but they’re one of the best ways to make sure that you don’t see a dip in performance.
Take a look at everything from your content’s formatting to the primary and secondary keywords within the webpage. Ensure that the content on the page still aligns with search intent based on the phase of the SEO sales funnel it’s in.
The more frequently you update your best content, the less intensive the changes will be. If you leave it for a couple of years, chances are you’ll wind up having to make more extensive and time-consuming revisions.
2. As new trends roll out
You don’t have to jump on the bandwagon every time a new trend emerges (like emojis in title tags). But, once a trend becomes commonplace — or it’s endorsed by Google — you need to make sure that your content follows suit.
For example, this time last year, clickable tables of contents and jump links were rare. Now, they’re all the rage. Chances are if you have a website, you’ve already updated it to include an interactive table of contents in each of your blog posts or articles. And, if you haven’t, you should be making a plan to.
Pay close attention to both visual trends (like images, colors, and styling) as well as technical trends (like alt text in images and web accessibility) to keep your site fresh and relevant.
3. The keywords change
Keywords change, morph, and fluctuate all the time. If you conduct regular keyword reports, use them to keep an eye on which pages could use a once-over. For example, if you notice a page that used to rank well suddenly take a nosedive, or the keywords your site typically ranks for start to change.
Pro tip: Make sure that you see a consistent trend before making any major changes. If you change your keywords too frequently, they’ll never get a chance to rank.
4. Before new marketing campaigns
If you’re running a new marketing campaign and plan to link to pre-existing organic landing pages, review them before your campaign goes live. Look for consistent messaging, language, pricing, etc. so that users who click through aren’t confused or disoriented when they get to your landing page.
Obviously, this isn’t relevant if you’re creating new pages for your campaign. However, in that case, you need to ensure that you don’t accidentally create or index any duplicate content.
5. When the facts change
Any time you know there’s been a change in factual information on any of your pages, they need to be updated.
Mini case study time: I worked in content marketing for a legal tech firm. Any time a law changed, we would have to update not only the content but our products as well.
For example, when same-sex marriage was legalized in the US in 2015, we had to update our content to reflect inclusive language. Instead of saying “husband and wife”, we added variations such as “you and your husband or wife”, “you and your partner”, “you and your spouse”, and opted for the gender-neutral “they/their/them” when possible.
This ensured that our products, landing pages, and articles were legally accurate and up-to-date. And, it allowed us to experiment with new keywords and terms.
While that was obviously a major change that required a lot of work to implement, the same goes for small factual updates as well, like statistics, studies, pricing, etc. If you have any content that is heavily based on research, flag it for review at least once a year to ensure that it doesn’t include any inaccurate or incorrect information.
READ MORE: Gender Pronouns in Digital Content
6. If you have broken links
Many SEO reporting tools include a list of broken links on your website. Pages that have broken links need to be reviewed and updated ASAP to ensure that they provide a high-quality user experience and follow Google’s best practices.
Broken links include:
When possible, replace broken links with an up-to-date alternative. When none exist, remove the link from the content altogether. Rewrite the sentence or paragraph in question if necessary.
7. If the content is sparse
If you have a page that ranks relatively well, but that doesn’t have a lot of content on it, it’s time to give it an update. Adding content and including more keywords will boost its performance and increase its longevity. And, if it happens to have any good backlinks from a previous link building campaign, they’ll be maintained since the URL is unlikely to change.
8. When it’s been a while
Lastly, if you have a feeling your content could use a review, go with your gut. Not everyone has time or resources to review their content on a cyclical basis. But if you start to feel like a page is out of date, or you come across a piece that makes you cringe, add them to a list and prioritize as you see fit. The important thing is that you don’t let your content get too far behind in terms of keywords, trends, and Google’s best practices. Or you might see a negative impact on your site’s performance.