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When Should You Update Long-Form Content?

Tue, Feb 4, 2020

Topics: Content Marketing

When Should You Update Long-Form Content?There’s no doubt about it: When it comes to the information you know related to your industry, you’re an expert. 

And at this point, you’ve probably generated a great deal of long-form content and made it all available on your website: From extended blog posts to downloadable guides and informational PDF booklets, you’ve done everything right. There’s a wealth of information available to your audience.

But the next step is making sure your information is current. In the world of a 24-hour news cycle and having a wealth of data available at our fingertips and on our phones, it’s vital to have the newest and the most accurate content.

It’s easy to create long-form content like a booklet or guide and then leave it alone. But that content needs to be updated to ensure that the information you are presenting is current. It’s how you establish trust with your readers. It’s what keeps your content alive and breathing.

I’m passionate about keeping information current—there are so many reasons why having up-to-date information accessible to your potential clients is so important. 

Let’s examine what makes having updated content so necessary to the vitality of your website.

To Boost Your SEO

You can do a lot to boost your search engine optimization just by updating your old long-form content. 

Generally, your long-form content carries the bulk of your brand’s informative content; it’s the thing about which your company is the leading expert.

But here’s the problem with creating your long-form content and just leaving it as-is. Google’s search algorithm values content freshness. This is known as the Google Freshness algorithm, and it was created in 2010, but as more and more content is created each day (more data was created in 2017 than in the previous 5,000 years of humanity), Google caters it’s search results to provide the most current content.  

This means that the more recently your long-form post was updated, the more likely it is to show up higher in relevant search results.

And Improve Your Click-Through Rate (CTR) at the same time: Updating your long-form content doesn’t just boost your SEO. Think about your most recent search. You probably didn’t click on an article if you saw that it was published more than several years back or even a few months ago. Depending on the subject matter, chances are that older post is too out-of-date to provide you with the best answer to your question.

It’s the same for people browsing for answers in your industry. You can improve your CTR just by having a more current publishing date.

Also? This is a cyclical, self-fueling process. A higher CTR feeds directly back into your SEO; having a higher search ranking will give you more opportunities to have a higher CTR.

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To Edit and Improve Your Content

If you have a great post, but a less-than-stellar title that’s not getting the attention the post deserves—or you’ve found errors or sections of a particular post that drag—an update to your long-form post is a great opportunity to make necessary improvements and polish up your content. In the world of content, editing is everything

Need to improve your title? The title of your content is like a first impression. Not only should each title hook your reader, but it’s also a chance to include a keyword for SEO and make your post seem more engaging to read. If your title isn’t capturing the attention of your audience, it may need an update.

If you aren’t blessed with the gift of impeccable grammar, then perhaps you should consider hiring an editor to review your posts. Why? Grammar matters to your readers. And poor grammar can keep your content from spreading. And with a long-form article or downloadable content, many readers may eventually become frustrated by repeated examples of poor grammar and stop reading, meaning you’ll effectively be losing a customer.

Poor grammar damages your credibility and can make your writing feel clunky. Here are a few common mistakes you might be making that can really affect an otherwise excellent post. 

When editing the overall content of your post, you should consider editing in the following ways:

  • Substantive Editing: Is your post cohesive and clear? Do you effectively make all the arguments you set up in your article? 
  • Copyediting: Copyediting refers to editing or fixing all errors within your content. This includes grammatical errors, any poorly worded sentences, as well as the tone and clarity of each thought. Is the text grammatically correct? Is it understandable and aligned with your brand? Is your content necessary, convincing and captivating?
  • Fact-Checking: Updating a post is a great time to ensure all the facts are not only correct but current.
  • SEO: Does your content align with the most recent SEO guidelines? 
  • Proofreading: This is one final read through to ensure that all of your content is free from errors. This takes place when copy is in its final proof--the designed, on-the-page copy. It’s copyediting after it’s in its final physical (or digital) form.

To Update Out-of-Date Information

Do you have a long-form post that details an old product that you no longer offer? Or a version of a software program that has since gone through updates or improvements? Perhaps the references, date or statistics are old? 

Outdated content is bad content, so if you are looking to update some of your long-form posts and are unsure of where to begin, you can start by just making sure information is current. Even if the information you are posting is bringing in traffic, you still want to have correct, factual information available.

For example, for several clients, I pay attention to popular but older blog articles or whitepapers, so we can stay on top of any changes that need to be made.

Readers who come to your blog seeking information may find an old, out-of-date post that provides unreliable information or data that is no longer accurate. Providing these readers with poor content reflects badly on your company. It may seem that you don’t care to give your audience accurate information or even that your company itself is outdated. Yikes!

Another important thing to look for? Whether or not your links are all current. A dead or broken link within your content essentially fails your reader—it’s a dead end. With older content, there’s a chance that a website you’ve linked no longer exists. Checking that all of your links are live and accessible establishes you as a current, credible database of information for your audience.

Outdated information and links damage your credibility,  but accurate, current, up-to-date information establishes your brand as an expert at the forefront of what’s new and what’s now, so start editing those dated posts today!

To Add Images or Video to Your Post

Fifty-one percent of marketing professionals worldwide name video content as the kind of content with the best return on investment (ROI). Another staggering statistic? When people hear or read information, they are likely to remember ten percent of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with the same content, people retained 65 percent of the information in three days’ time. 

Image and video content works. If you want your content (and your brand) to be memorable, you can’t beat the effectiveness of pairing it with a relevant video or image. If you have a quality long-form post, but it’s dated or not gaining the traction you’d like it to gain, consider adding a video or image and re-sharing the post on social media. 

Chances are the added visual elements will garner the attention you are seeking, without much added effort from you at all.

And speaking of sharing your newly updated long-form content on social media, there’s a great deal of power in adding visual elements. How much power?

  • Your audience is 80 percent more likely to read your content on social media if it is paired with colorful visuals.
  • Adding visuals to your post can gain you more sharing power. Visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared on social media than content without a visual element.

You can’t underestimate the benefits of adding visuals to your content. It’s a simple way to boost the effectiveness of an existing long-form post and re-share it to your followers. 

But also? Beware. Fifty-four percent of U.S. consumers have delayed or decided against a purchase because of unhelpful product photos.

Updating Content Is Effective

If there’s any doubt that updating your old long-form content is an effective way to drive traffic and improve your website, here’s an interesting turn of events that proved that updating older content is beneficial to your business. 

According to Search Engine Journal, Vox.com decided to conduct an experiment: It asked its team to update and re-publish 88 old articles over the course of five days.

Employees streamlined articles, updated the facts and statistics for accuracy and relevancy, changed clunky headlines, and added some new information. Some articles underwent minor tweaking, and others transformed into brand-new materials, but all 88 articles received some kind of refresh.

The result of these “renovations” to these 88 articles? They received 500,000 page views on these “new” articles. Wow. It was definitely worth it to make those updates.

The best part about the changes to these articles? They didn’t have to completely reinvent the wheel. Generating 88 brand-new articles over the course of five days might be next to impossible. But giving a refresh to some existing content and making improvements to what was already there still drove new traffic in a major way.

Your long-form content can be a fantastic business tool to connect with your audience and offer them the kind of information that only you can provide. But only if it’s timely, relevant and alive. 

I help business owners and marketing professionals build powerful, automated content systems, which increase sales and boost customer happiness. Here’s how it works.