Sep 10, 2021

3 Ways To Improve Content Without New Research

By: Polly Yakovich


Optimizing existing content is still prioritized behind new content creation, despite the fact that it’s the fastest and most surefire way to get better results. 

Just a few of the benefits include more frequent indexing by search engines, improved keyword search results, and an increase in your authority potential from Google. We know that Google is always looking for fresh content, and refreshing yours is a great way to improve your ranking. Not to mention the biggest benefit, which is providing content that is relevant, helpful, and valuable to your audience.


So, how should you go about this? And what constitutes a “refresh?”

We often hear that new research is time consuming and expensive (and it certainly can be), but you don’t need it to optimize your existing content. There is a lot you can do with what you already have.

Databox shared that after stagnating website traffic (despite posting regular new content), they updated just 24 of their old blog posts for a 75% increase in website traffic.

First, identify what content should be updated. Use your existing tools to identify what content is slipping. In the case study above, Databox used a free content tool built by Animalz, a content marketing agency in NYC. You can also pull your blog traffic and start with your best-read posts of the previous 6 months, or year. You should also be auditing and updating your premium content (ebooks, white papers) at least annually, if not more often.

Now you have some content to update, but how? Your updates should be contextual if possible. For instance, does the blog content match the search intent for the topic or keyword? Are there any glaring errors, broken links, etc?

After you’ve cleaned up any glaring errors, here are 3 additional updates to consider:


01_Casesstudy 2

1. Provide an annual update

If you have ever published a client case study or similar, updating this content can be so simple. If you saved the client $1m after 5 years, and $1.3 after 6, that is a story worth telling. Work with your client, or your internal client success or analytics teams to make this a really valuable update. What did you learn in the last year, how were people helped, how did they use your product or service, can you share any testimonials, reviews, or feedback?

Maybe you did a one-time survey. Are there some current applications for the same data? How are you using it? Any current events that make it timely or relevant? Is it easy to collect any follow up on one or two questions?

Don’t forget to pull these updates through everywhere. Besides optimizing your whitepaper, or blog post, use the new information for social posting, emails, or other promotion vehicles. Add some of the updates listed below as well for an extremely robust and refreshed piece.

02_Statistics 2

2. Add recent data

You may not have the budget or time for new research, but you don’t need it to be valuable to your audience’s needs. Look for timely and relevant research done by anyone else that you can link to or add to your content. 

Your additions don’t have to be statistical studies or data. Add recent quotes. Can you get a new client quote? Can you find something relevant that someone prominent has said about your topic? Is there an SME that can provide a new insight? Be creative about your sourcing. Where do you collect feedback? If you regularly collect product reviews, make sure you’re using great feedback to update your content. 

Update article links as well. Look for newly published articles to replace old ones. And when you do that, make sure to not just swap out or add a piece of data. Take a moment to write some additional content around the new information. This will help Google see your updates as substantial and more valuable. 

Bonus Tip: Take any new quotes or stats you’ve added to your content and use a tool like Canva to create some simple, compelling graphics for sharing your updated content in social media.


3. Dial up the direct response

We’ve been talking a lot about optimizing content for Q4, but here are some direct response basics to use as a checklist every time you are updating content:

  • Rewrite your headlines to make sure that they are eye-catching and move people through the content.
  • Check your scanables, making sure that someone looking quickly through your content without reading gets something valuable. This means re-reading just the headline, bolded, bulleted and number lists to make sure they still tell the story. Vary your paragraph lengths so that it’s easy for someone to scan your content. Add pull quotes, images and graphs for people who are drawn in through visuals.
  • Update photos. Make sure that you are showcasing diversity and inclusion through the photos you’ve selected. Representation matters, and I think most of us want people to feel included in our brands, so make sure your marketing reflects this.
  • Check your CTAs. Make sure that there is only one clear CTA in your piece and that you’ve repeated it a few times. Double check that it’s viewable throughout your piece and not only there for people who read all the way through to the end.

This list above is certainly not exhaustive, but I guarantee that going through your top 5-10 blog posts with each of the 3 tips above will improve your results in Q4. 

If you want to go even further down the rabbit hole, check out these 25 tips for updating old blog posts from Databox or tips and tricks for historical optimization from Hubspot.


If you want help becoming laser focused on your program success, make sure to download and read our guide Why Effective Marketers Must Embrace Direct Response Principles.

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