Refresh, revive, retire: the importance of nurturing content

Sophie Wilkinson

Senior Content Manager

If content creation is part of your marketing strategy, chances are you’re sitting on a back catalogue of published pieces.

Nurture this and your content can continue to attract and convert traffic. But let it go to seed and at best you’re wasting money; at worst it could undermine your hard-won brand visibility.

According to a 2019 study by Databox, nearly 90% of marketers found repurposing content more effective (in results as well as time and cost savings) than creating new from scratch.

So, how sustainable is your production programme? Take some time for reflection…

What are the benefits of reviewing content?

A little attention to refresh and revive content can go a long way to extend its lifespan.

Build on what you have and…

  • You’ve got a head start. Updating and promoting evergreen pieces will save you valuable time (in production and sign-off) and money.

  • You’ll avoid duplication. Keeping track of what you have will prevent topic repetition, which can confuse both readers and search engines.

  • It’ll keep your content relevant. Reviewing evergreen content regularly gives you the opportunity to update sources, references and stats, making your content so much more appealing (and useful) to your readers. This also signals to search engines that you’ve checked in to bring things up to date with the latest information and advice.

  • It’ll keep user journeys fluid. Are all links still working? Are there new pages to signpost to readers?

  • You’ll reap SEO results:

    • Re-optimising and structuring content according to up-to-date keyword and SERP feature research could increase your search engine visibility.

    • This could lead to a traffic boost.

    • Building on page relevance and authority by updating an existing page, rather than creating a new URL which will have to work harder to gain authority, will build on any amassed value.

  • You’ll see other business benefits. A combination of sitting higher in the SERPs and content relevancy could increase engagement and conversions.

What are the risks of not reviewing content?

Regular sweeps of your existing content catalogue will also help avoid the pitfalls of once-and-done approaches...

  • It could go stale. Whether due to a two-year-old timestamp, an out-of-date source or a Google update, old content can drag down your E-A-T (expertise, authority, trust) score – the set of guidelines that Google uses to determine quality content.

  • … And that could impact connected content, or even your entire site.

  • You might misrepresent your brand. Even if you’ve forgotten about it, if your old content is on the web, it can still be found. So if you’ve updated your positioning or brand guidelines, you’ll need to bring existing content in line to avoid giving the wrong first impression.

How to approach a content review

The best way to prioritise existing content for attention is by auditing based on a measurement framework. Generally, you’ll want to know:

  • How are people engaging with your content? To inform copy, structure and UX changes.

  • What content isn’t getting the attention it deserves? Particularly evergreen pieces that can be easily refreshed.

  • What’s ranking and driving traffic? So you can build on success and make sure content on popular pages is up-to-date and fulfilling its potential. And that broken pages or old content can be redirected or archived.

Note: If you have a top-ranking piece of content, chances are your competitors will eventually try and better it. Keep an eye on what others are publishing in this space and revisit your best performers regularly to hold those top spots.

One-off content audits can do the job, but building on this and maintaining an inventory will bring greater benefits. Not least when slicing and dicing by pillar, topic and editorial strand to spot trends in performance.

Within this work, mark evergreen content and last publish/review date to help populate production and promotion plans. And highlight specific types of content that will need a regular refresh.

What kind of content needs regular refreshing?

Pay particular attention to:

  • Your money or your life (YMYL) pages. Google classifies these as any page that could impact a user’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety (where low-quality content could negatively impact users’ lives).

  • Fast-moving product content. If a product or range has sold out, is there an alternative you can direct users to?

  • Bios. Has your roster of staff or expert writers changed? Making sure your bio page is up to date will help you build trust.

  • Stat-heavy pieces. People are relying on, and possibly quoting, these stats. So keep on top of the latest updates, refreshing when things change. Alternatively, make sure time-sensitive pieces such as reports and news are date-stamped so it’s clear when they were written and that all info was correct at that time.

Next steps
  1. Make sure your content catalogue is up to date, recording existing content as well as proposed pieces. Mark evergreen pieces, promotional periods, pillars and topics, and assign each a refresh date if necessary.

  2. Keep track of results. Decide on your content measurement method and build reports around your goals and KPIs. Any movement may hint that you need to refresh or retire existing content. If you have content grouped and well tagged in your catalogue, it should be easy to identify pages that need attention if a particular topic is affected.

  3. Build updates into your BAU. You’re saving production time by reworking existing pieces – use those hours.

Need help combing through your content? Get in touch.

Refreshed on: 5/5/2022

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