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Over the past quarter, I’ve been running an experiment based on some general content marketing advice about keeping content fresh. For the veteran readers of the blog who have been here over the past 10 years – thank you! – you’ve likely seen a few blog posts which seem greatly familiar. You’re not imagining things; I’ve been refreshing content greater than 3 years old.

The Culling

What content did I choose to refresh? Not everything, of course. I ran a report in Google Analytics to determine which old blog posts, which pages to refresh and restore.

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The specific metric I chose was organic searches, the number of visits to that page from an organic search.

The Process

What did I change on the individual pages? A whole laundry list of things:

  • Improved title/header graphics

– The old posts rendered either poorly or had no preview image

  • A click worthy meta-description

    – Even those meta-description has no bearing on SEO, it shows up in social media previews

  • New/refreshed tags and categories

– Much has changed since many of these posts were written

  • New/refreshed SEO focus

– Many keywords from days gone by are no longer relevant

  • Rewritten copy that conforms better to the PEER structure
    • My writing skills have improved significantly; refreshing posts means reflecting these changes
  • Updated publication date and URL

– Showing as new content helps take advantage of SEO and social algorithms which favor freshness

The Impact

When I look at my analytics from years’ past, the fourth quarter is always slow. This is largely due to business cycles; the holidays always diminish my traffic. However, this past fourth quarter showed significant growth:

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We see a 23% increase in sessions during this time. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that during this time, I also saw significant growth from Accelerated Mobile Pages. If we remove all mobile traffic and just focus on desktop traffic, what do we see?

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We see a 20% increase in sessions during this time on desktop devices only.

Should You Refresh?

If you’ve got old content laying around from years past that still attracts organic searches, go back and refresh the content. You’ve changed as a writer in the years since those pieces were published. Why not leverage their popularity and your improved skills to make them even better?


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