And then far too often, there are elements of content marketing that we tend to ignore altogether. This is the content that you created to have long-term value. That means creating a plan for both creation and maintenance. And that means you need to find out which posts are worth keeping around and what actions will help you keep them useful for years to come. So let’s look at some methods to help you update and maintain the older content on your site. As long as you stay up-to-date on best practice for meta descriptions, it’s worth the effort to go back and maintain this information on your older posts. This will help you know which posts have been the most popular throughout the years, which means you’ll have your shortlist of maintenance-worthy pieces with a simple search. What that means is you take an older piece of content that used to perform well and update the information to make it relevant again. And take some time to evaluate how relevant an older post might be. What do you look for when you’re evaluating an older piece that needs updating?
Content marketing is a tool that anyone can use.
It can be niche specific.
It can be in any format imaginable.
It can also be absolutely free.
But not everything about creating content is easy.
There are elements that can bog you down and bum you out if you’re not too careful.
And then far too often, there are elements of content marketing that we tend to ignore altogether.
In this particular instance, I’m talking about the maintenance phase of content marketing.
Even though updating old content has been proven to help your SEO, it still doesn’t get much attention from an Internet that’s always on.
I want to make a case for why that trend should change.
So let’s talk about the black sheep of content marketing.
Content’s unloved final stage
Content creation takes place in some very defined and often repeated stages.
It usually starts with a researching effort, followed by a period where a plan is formulated to help create new content.
Once the plan is established, writers and designers are hired and told what to do.
After the editing process is done, the content is published on blogs and shared in social media.
But then comes a phase that marketers like to include but don’t really practice.
That phase is called the maintenance phase.
And you’ll usually see the whole process broken down to something like this:
If you’ve worked with content for a very long time, you’re probably familiar with each of these stages, at least in theory.
But therein lies the rub.
Content maintenance is often discussed but infrequently delivered on in the neverending push to create fresh content.
Marketers seem to prefer to skip to the end of the life cycle where we decommission old content in favor of new ideas.
But this tendency cuts out one of the most effective cohorts of your content and leaves it hanging out to dry.
I’m talking about your evergreen content.
This is the content that you created to have long-term value.
These are the pride and joy of your site.
They’re the pieces you created years ago that still ring true and help guide newcomers to your brand.
Do you really want to neglect that content?
And do you want to neglect content that you could update to create more valuable pieces?
It doesn’t make sense to neglect maintenance when you think about it.
Because if anything, the value of maintained content can magnify over time.
Some brands have seen astronomical success, like this company whose traffic grew 1,800% when they started focusing more on maintaining their old content.
That’s a pretty impressive feat from one simple change, and I think that every brand can see similar results from their own content.
Think about some of the benefits that evergreen content bring to the table.
It drives traffic to your site over a longer period with authoritative keywords and backlinking, as this post from Lifehacker shows us.
It was originally published in 2013, and years later it’s still picking up backlinks and organic traffic.
And if you create a thorough and helpful post, it can be a backlink magnet.
It also helps create continuity in your content through the years, which is helpful for establishing authority with Google.
That means that over time the right evergreen content will even help you boost your search position.
And as I already mentioned, this type of content usually helps you attract and educate newcomers to your brand.
These are the pieces of content that Hubspot calls a Pillar Page.
These evergreen and constantly-maintained pieces act as central nodes on your site that help establish and grow your authority on a certain subject.
In turn, this mitigates any need to constantly feel like you have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to sourcing or backing your newer content.
But since maintenance lacks the urgency that creation and publishing have inherently, it’s often overlooked.
And if this is true of your content, it’s to your detriment.
Content maintenance is about creating a sustainable relationship with an ever-growing audience by keeping your posts reliable.
If they find an old post that isn’t helpful, it can show you in a negative light.
So while attempting to create expansive guides like this post of mine from Crazy Egg is a good place to start, you have to revamp your efforts to be more than just creation.
Because what you may not know is that this post actually started years ago as a guide with only six tips.
Due to changes that have happened since I created it, I needed to update and add more information.
So now, this post can stand the test of time.
But that’s the catch.
Posts like this require time, research, and frequent updates.
And the only way you can ever reach that amount of success is if you put the same amount of effort into your own content.
That means creating a plan for both creation and maintenance.
And that means you need to find out which posts are worth keeping around and what actions will help you keep them useful for years to come.
So let’s look at some methods to help you update and maintain the older content on your site.
Method #1: Update for technical issues
As with anything else, your website will start to “decay” over time.
Whether it’s an early 2000’s style background or a broken link, there will be technical issues that you have to tackle when you start going back to your old content.
Even if you published your content in peak condition for its day, I can guarantee that you’ll find at least one element that’s changed in the subsequent years.
And I bet that you’ll find more than one.
For example, Google recently made some sweeping changes to their meta descriptions.
The previous limitation of 160 characters is now behind us, which means that optimized post from years ago are now no longer as optimized as they were.
This screenshot of a post from 2011 shows how ironic this can turn for you.
While it’s debatable whether or not the length of your meta description is relevant to overall SEO performance, it’s still worth giving your older pages a refresh if it’s been a while.
At the very least, it’s recommended to treat meta descriptions as a conversion factor, and in that way, they will help your overall SEO.
As long as you stay up-to-date on best practice for meta descriptions, it’s worth the effort to go back and maintain this information on your older posts.
Even though the new description was cut off at the very end, it had more organic traffic than the original variant.
Process.st even recommends checking your meta titles and descriptions as part of your overall website maintenance routine.
So starting with a simple update of your meta descriptions is a great place to start.
Since we’re talking about meta descriptions, it can also be a good idea to experiment with new title tags to help boost engagement with a refreshed post.
But there are plenty of other areas of your site that might show some signs of wear too.
For example, your old post may have broken links or links to outdated or out-of-business tools that ultimately hurt your credibility.
The easiest way to audit your content for broken or outdated links would be to use the Chrome extension LinkMiner.
If a link is healthy, it…