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Maybe your content doesn’t perform the way you hoped it would, or maybe it initially did but then its performance declined and so you just keep putting out new content in the hopes that the traffic it generates will make up for the old content that seems to be withering away.

But what about reviving that content?

Lots of SaaS companies have built a weath of valuable content yet they keep focusing on creating more, rather than refreshing content they already have. Content refreshing can lead to quick traffic and conversion wins and is often less resource-intensive than creating new content.

Here is one example from Flow’s work with Betterworks. 

“This article used to rank for “performance improvement plans” but was not reflecting the company’s point of view. Additionally, the article was slowly degrading and not bringing in relevant traffic. In August 2023, we published a major overhaul and re-wrote the article to include SEO best practices as well as a counter-narrative opinion: “Performance Improvement Plans: Why They Don’t Work and What to Do Instead“. Since then Google kept rewarding us for our work.”

Viola Eva, Flow Founder

What Is Content Refreshing?

Content refreshing is the act of updating and optimizing existing (website) content to improve its performance and relevance to your target audience. The goal of refreshing content is to make it both rank and convert better.

The Importance of Refreshing Content

Content refreshes should be a core part of your content strategy. Here’s why.

Increase conversions

Sometimes, pages continue to draw in lots of traffic but they don’t convert. This happens when a page still ranks well or keeps getting shared on social media, but its content is outdated and/or unoptimized for conversions.

These types of pages are great for getting some quick wins. Update the information on them and add new calls to action (or replace your old ones). Make sure to track the results of your work so you can adjust if necessary. You may need to try a few different CTAs before finding a winner.

Improve rankings

In other cases, pages have dropped in the rankings or they simply never made it to the first page of the search results. In this case, refreshing their existing content with SEO in mind can help improve their rankings and get you more organic traffic.

Stay relevant

If prospects come to your site looking for information and after reading a page or a post realize that the information you provided them is outdated, that reflects badly on your brand. While it’s good to give all of your content a look-over annually, seasonal content deserves your special attention in this regard.

Betterworks’ list of 10 Core HR Challenged in 2024, for example, will need to be updated annually so that it stays relevant. Note how the year can easily be changed in the title and how it’s not included in the URL.

Beekeeper’s post on HR Trends for 2024 is another example of content that needs to be updated every year.

Aside from seasonal content, you also want to keep a close eye on content that informs the reader about your product. Over time, features get deprecated or changed and your pricing may change as well. Your content should always reflect accurate information about your product so prospects don’t encounter unpleasant surprises when they decide to sign up.

Keep backlinks

A popular SEO strategy for gaining backlinks is figuring out who is linking to outdated content by competitors, and asking the owners of those websites to replace the link to the competing site with a link to the own website.

If your content is outdated, you are the competitor who will lose a backlink to someone who has written (or refreshed!) an up-to-date article.

Additionally, by regularly refreshing your content, you can generate new backlinks to it and even set up new link building campaigns for that content.

Provide a better user experience

We’ve already touched upon it, but refreshing old content is also important for providing a good user experience. It helps ensure that the information users find on your site is accurate and relevant, and that it clearly guides them to the next action you want them to take.

Save resources

Creating new content takes a lot of time and money with no guarantee that this new content will perform. When you refresh old content that already has value, and that has already ranked in the past (even if not very well), you can get quick wins in performance for – usually – a lower investment.

How to Refresh Old Content

1. Create a list of your content and how it performs

First, you need to figure out which content requires a refresh. To do that, put together an inventory of all of your existing content and combine it with the performance data for that content. 

At Flow, we use SEO tools cush as Google Analytics 4, Google Search Console (GSC), and Ahrefs to track and download the following data for each of the URLs of the site we’re auditing:

  • Organic users to a page.
  • Organic sessions to a page.
  • All sessions on a page.
  • The page’s engagement rate.
  • Conversions from a page.
  • How many clicks it has received.
  • Its top keyword.
  • The position of that keyword.
  • How many keywords the page ranks for.
  • How many backlinks the page has.
  • The page’s word count.
  • How many incoming and outgoing internal links a page has.
  • What the page’s crawl depth is.
  • How long it’s been since a page has been crawled.

We don’t just track SEO performance metrics such as organic users to a page, but also the total number of sessions a page gets. After all, a page may get a lot of converting visitors through social sharing but not through Google. That’s a sign for us to refresh the page so it can rank better.

We’re also adding the word count for each page to our inventory as that helps us easily spot thin content which is more likely to underperform and be fleshed out into something more in-depth and valuable.

2. Set your content refreshing criteria

Content refreshing is usually part of a larger existing content optimization project that also includes pruning content and merging articles. Ideally, you’ll audit all of your content in one go so you can decide on a course of action for each page.

However, it is also possible to just focus on content that is in need and worthy of a refresh. In that case, you’ll just set your content refresh criteria and any piece of content that falls outside of those criteria, you leave for later.

So, which pages do you refresh?

Any that page that is 6 months or older and that has outdated and/or underperforming content but that 

  • Is about a topic that still matches your business goals.
  • Is about a topic that is still relevant to your target audience.
  • Has declining rankings and/or organic traffic or has never made it to the first page of the SERPs.
  • Can be turned into a piece of high-value content that has a chance of ranking high.
    Note that this criterion is mostly relevant for old blog posts. While it’s a good idea to try to rank your pricing and feature pages, for example, other pages such as your About page don’t need to rank but they are necessary to provide a good user experience. In this case, the page is worthy of a refresh even though it might never rank.

Once you’ve filtered out these pages, start with the ones that have the most potential for quick wins first. Those tend to be the pages that are already ranking on page 2-4 of the SERPs.

This is an example of Flow’s work for Simpro. The article was first launched in 2023 but never really got traction in Search. However, Women in the Trades remains an important and trending topic. A content refresh in March 2024 allowed for rankings and performance to take off.

3. Follow our content refresh checklist

Once you’ve established which content requires a refresh, do the following things to optimize each best as best a possible for both the search engines and your users.

Improve on-page SEO

First of all, you’ll need to decide the target keyword for the page you’re refreshing. In some cases, you’ll want to re-optimize the page for its original target keyword (assuming it had one). In others, you’ll want to do new keyword research to determine the most relevant keyword that you have a good chance of ranking for.

Most relevant in this case means:

  • Aligned with the information you want to share.
  • Aligned with your business goals.
  • Aligned with your target audience’s buyer’s intent.

Use tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Google Search Console to see which keywords your page is already ranking for. You can also use the former two to do new keyword research.

Once you’ve settled on your target keyword, use our SEO checklist to make sure you properly optimize your content. You can also use an SEO tool such as Surfer SEO or Clearscope to perform an on-page content analysis and further optimize your content so that it incorporates all that competing pages do, and then some. Just make sure to always use common sense and not blindly follow the guidelines these tools spit out.

What when you have multiple pages targeting the same keyword and/or specific topic?

In the case that you have two or more pages on the same topic or targeting the same keyword and only one of them fits your criteria for a content refresh, you can merge whatever valuable content there is on the other page(s) onto the page you’ll refresh, and then draft the other page(s) and redirect it/them to the one you’ll keep.

The result will be a more in-depth piece of content that has better chances of ranking and wow-ing readers.

A note on relevancy and ranking high:

it is not because a page has keywords ranking between the second and fourth pages of the SERPs that it deserves to be refreshed, and it’s not because it ranks lower that it shouldn’t be refreshed.

Sometimes, a page ranks for keywords that, upon further investigation, turn out to answer a different search intent than that of your target audience. Another possibility is that those keywords are not in line with your brand.

An example of this would be a SaaS that helps publishers share their content on Apple News may have a page on issues that can occur when publishing on Apple News that ranks for “Apple News not working”. Upon further inspection, it turns out that all the articles ranking for this keyword are focused on helping Apple News end-users figure out why the app isn’t working for them. 

In this case, the SaaS shouldn’t try to rank better for “Apple News not working” but, instead, should:

  • Do new keyword research to see if there is a keyword they can target that does fit their messaging.
  • Refresh its content so the article angle (how publishers can handle issues with Apple News) is super clear.

Refresh the content

  • Check that all the information on the page is up-to-date and still relevant to your audience. 
  • Check if all the internal and external links are still working and add internal links to new pages. 
  • Fill in informational gaps and further develop weak sections.
  • Remove content that doesn’t fit the focus of the page.
  • Update statistics, add sources, and make sure the message of the page is still in line with your current brand positioning.


The latter is especially important for SaaS companies. Many SaaS companies change focus over time and by doing so, their old content doesn’t match their current offer and/or target market anymore but it might still rank well and draw in traffic. In these cases, the content needs to be refreshed to reflect the brand’s current positioning.

An example:

Flow client Betterworks started as an OKR software provider. The company then acquired and incorporated a tool to perform employee engagement surveys, and has since turned into a holistic performance management suite. Content that was written in the early days of the company isn’t aligned anymore with what the brand now stands for and needs to be updated. 

In 2023, Flow won the European Search Award for B2B SEO for their work to reposition Betterworks in Search.

Enhance the reading experience

Refreshing content gives you the opportunity to enhance the reading experience in a variety of ways:

  • Improve the readability of your text.
    • Turn long, compound sentences into shorter ones.
    • Read the text aloud to make sure it’s easy to understand.
    • Add bulleted lists.
    • Don’t use words you wouldn’t use in a conversation.
  • Add a table of content so the reader knows what to expect and can easily navigate your text.
  • Add images to illustrate your content, to break up large walls of text, and to keep the reader engaged.

You can even take it a step further and redesign some pages to better fit their purpose. For example, visually turn a pillar page into a beautifully laid-out guide instead of having it look like any other regular blog post.

Optimize for conversion

Add CTAs to pages that don’t have them yet and make sure they are in line with the page’s content. Someone reading your topf-of-the-funnel blog post will be more likely to sign up for your email list than for a free trial, while someone checking out your features page will probably be interested in that product demo.

If your page already has a call to action, run a few A/B tests to see if you can improve its performance. Some things to consider:

  • Having just one clear CTA for each page. You don’t want users to be confused about which action to take.
  • Changing CTA text links into buttons or the other way around.
  • Experimenting with colors and font size.
  • Testing new copy for your CTA.

Update the blog title and excerpt

Don’t forget to refresh the title of your page or post as it’s displayed on your website, and to rewrite the the blog excerpt shown of you blog feed page if needed.

These two things are what users see when they’re browsing your site and what may make them decide to read an article or scroll past it.

Update the meta info

You also want to refresh the meta title and meta description of your posts and pages to stand out in the SERPs and generate clicks. Now, Google will often not show the meta description you’ve prepared and, instead, show its own creation, but your meta title and description will still show when someone shares your page on social media, for example.

That being said, if you’re using a website theme or plugin that allows you to specify which title and description are shared for each of your pages when they are posted on social media, you’ll want to check if those need a refresh as well.

Lastly, update the publication date of your page to the current date once you’ve finalized your refresh. This will make blog posts appear at the top of your blog’s feed again and it will indicate to Google, both for posts and pages, that you’ve published something new.

Repromote

Promote refreshed content the same way you would new content. Add it to the Featured section of your blog, share it on social media, mention it on your newsletter, and build fresh internal links to it.

You don’t need to worry about promoting it to people who may have already seen it because 

  1. The chance that they’ll remember after more than 6 month is small,
  2. You’ve improved the content and so you’re doing your audience a service by providing them with updated information,

and think of all the new prospects you could reach!

Don’t do this

There are a few things you want ot avoid when refreshing content:

  • Don’t change the URL of a page. Yes, you could change it to match your target keyword if it doesn’t already, but you’ll have to create a redirect which can make your site slower and the chances of the optimized URL having a significant impact are minimal.
  • Don’t optimize content that isn’t relevant to your business anymore. You’ll attract unqualified leads that won’t convert, which isn’t just sad but also negatively impacts your bounce rate.
  • Don’t panic when you don’t see instant results, or when you see an initial drop in search traffic. The search engines need time to crawl your refreshed content, reanalyze it, and rank it where it’s supposed to rank. This can take some time. Wait at least a month, preferably a bit more, before you decide that the changes you made haven’t been for the good and you re-refresh content.

4. Measure your results

As with any content marketing efforts you undertake, measure your results so you can learn lessons for future content refreshing projects and adapt where necessary. To do this, you need to record all of the changes you make to a page. A spreadsheet is a good place to keep track of things.

When it comes to measuring the results of your content refresh, at the least track:

  • Overall increase in page sessions.
  • Organic traffic increase.
  • Conversion rate.
  • Search rankings.

But do stay realistic when it comes to tracking rankings. Ideally, you’re targeting keywords you actually have a chance of ranking for given the strength of your website. Those will be less available to you if your SaaS site has a lower domain authority and all of your competitors have long-established, authoritative websites.

That being said, it’s not impossible to rank better than strongly established brands. Our own article on content brainstorming ranked above the likes of Search Engine Journal, HubSpot, and Content Marketing Institute – all highly authoritative websites in our industry – while our website has a significantly lower domain rating and the article, at the time, only had one backlink.

How Often Should You Refresh Content?

Update seasonal content every season. In most cases, that means every year. Examples of seasonal content are:

  • State-of-the-industry reports
  • Trend reports
  • Articles related to a specific time of the year (Christmas, tax season, summer holidays, …)

An example from the wild: In the automotive industry, car brands regularly update car models, relaunch old ones, and launch new models.

Working for a marketplace, I deliver content to help users select the type of car and brand that will best suit their needs and preferences,”

Isaline Muelhauser, SEO Consultant

Car models have characteristics (category, dimensions, performance, pricing, and, in the case of electric vehicles, driving range, charging functionalities, etc.). Articles such as ‘Best cars for …’ and ‘All [car brand] EV in 2024’ need to be updated yearly with a) an accurate list of car models, and b) correct characteristics and pricing. 

“I find that prioritization and content requirements help to be efficient:

Listing all the URLs with their last update and status helps to have a clear overview of the work needed,

Defining a prioritization method according to the business needs for example a focus on a specific vertical,

Defining different types of content updates: not all texts need the same degree of care, time can be attributed according to the priority of the text, 

Finding out a smart organization of the content for each product, for example, if specs are integrated in the text, it takes longer to update and is more prone to error than if some specs are listed with bullet points,

Monitoring per article and comparing the results per trimester to prevent losing performance: when one creates a lot of new content, drops in existing content can be hidden because the overall performance is positive.”

Isaline Muelhauser, SEO Consultant

For other content, you’ll ideally run an audit at least once a year to identify content that needs to be refreshed. If you publish high volulmes of content and/or are in an industry where there is a lot of competition in the SERPs, content refreshing should be an ongoing part of your content strategy. 

Once you have a certain number of pages on your site, it’s almost impossible not to refresh content on an ongoing basis without creating a backlog or needing to run a resource-intensive content refreshing project at a later point in time.

When refreshing content is part of your overall content approach, it is a lot easier to stay on top of things and you won’t ever have to fear that someone will land on that article you published back in 2018 that is now completely outdated and unaligned with your brand.

Content Refreshing = Continual Content Performance

Refreshing old content is not only a great way to get boost your website traffic and conversions in a relatively resource-efficient way, it’s also crucial when it comes to keeping your website relevant and up-to-date. Content refreshing helps you safeguard your authority within your industry and ensures that the content you so heavily invested in keeps performing for you in the long run.


And for SaaS companies that experience an evolution in their branding and positioning, it’s an indispensable tactic to keep your content aligned with your messaging so you keep attracting the right users.

But what do you do with the content that doesn’t seem worthy of a refresh? When content isn’t usable anymore and has no chance of being of value again, you need to get rid of it. Our post on content pruning explains exactly when and how to do this. Check it out!

Not sure where to start?

Our post on content pruning explains exactly when and how to do this.

Check it out!

Author

Sofie Couwenbergh
Sofie is an SEO-savvy content strategist, consultant, and writer. She helps brands generate more qualified leads and keep customers engaged with engaging optimized articles like the one you’ve just read.
Flow SEO Blog

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