New Content vs. Optimizing Old Content: Which has a Bigger Impact on SEO?

New Posts or Optimizing Content: Which Is Better for Improving SEO?

Marketing professionals always want fresh content for their websites, and it’s hard to blame them. 

Producing new blog posts or landing pages allows you to stay on top of trends and capitalize on emerging customer needs. New page production can also improve website SEO through the targeting of emerging search terms. Given the benefits of frequent publication, it may come as a surprise to learn an overemphasis on new posts can actually have a negative effect on your website’s rankings. 

Improving SEO requires you to not only create new pages but also focus on regularly optimizing existing content. These optimizations can include adding new relevant keywords, updating images, or managing keyword density on organically ranking terms.

But which approach is better? Should you turn the majority of your attention to updating older posts or creating new content for SEO? 

The Verdict

Do both! If you’re working on improving your website SEO, creating new pages and refreshing old pages is equally important. Your team should devote 50 percent of its time to planning and creating new pages and 50 percent of its time to reviewing and updating older pages.

The first step is understanding what’s already on your website and how it’s performing. For larger sites, this is easier said than done. Ecommerce stores may have duplicate product pages, or lead-generation sites may cover the same informational topic multiple times. At Coalition, we frequently see clients who have several different versions of the same blog post created over a few years.

If you’re not already regularly auditing the information on your company website, it’s time to start. 

Keeping Track of What You Have

Website SEO audits should focus on reviewing old pages to ensure they remain accurate while also assessing gaps that only creating new content can address. When you decide to perform a website audit, you have a few free tools at your disposal. 

The first is one you’re likely familiar with if you’ve ever worked on improving SEO for your website: Google Search Console. If you notice an older page has begun to fall in the rankings, it’s worth including in your audit. As you review the page, take note of whether the content is up-to-date and accurate and whether target keywords are included in the page’s title tag and meta description. 

Google Search Console graph showing page performance on SERP over the past three months

Source: Google

Another Google product worth using during any project involving improving website SEO is Google Ads’ keyword planning tool. This tool gives you a glimpse into which keywords are trending and which are declining in search volume. You can then incorporate target keywords into your new posts. Part of optimizing older content is paying attention to how keyword trends change over time.

To use a simple example, “New Year’s resolutions for 2023” will certainly be less relevant a few months after the calendar turns. A product collection page may have a surprise best seller, prompting you to rethink the targeted terms in the title and meta description.

Improving SEO also depends on your ability to keep track of the keywords your competitors are targeting. Keyword research tools such as Ahrefs and Moz allow you to discover the websites with which you compete most closely over keywords. Competitor analysis helps you identify gaps in your own strategy and find new, relevant keywords you have yet to target. 

Smaller companies should perform an SEO audit at least once per year. Larger organizations that have the bandwidth to do so can consider audits every six months.

Even if a page is working well, a strategy for optimizing content is just to make a few updates — change an image or write a new introduction. These “refreshes” can give your page a rankings boost.

Why It Pays To Keep Your Older Content Fresh

Only 38 percent of bloggers say they regularly update older posts. This inaction can come at a cost. Over time, out-of-date information can fall victim to Google’s algorithm updates. The algorithm will de-prioritize webpages, and even websites in their entirety if the content isn’t routinely updated. This is especially true if other companies regularly update their web pages with the same target keywords.

The stakes are even higher in industries in which inaccurate information can come at a major cost, such as healthcare and finance. An example of this is an old blog post covering out-of-date COVID-19 guidance or last year’s tax brackets.

The Myth of Evergreen Content

Improving SEO means looking at all of your content — even those so-called “evergreen” posts. Topics such as “how to write an effective email headline” or “how to make a good first impression at a new job” may seem universally relevant, but the page itself can become outdated. The design may no longer match a theme update, your page may contain broken links to pages on other sites, or the value of the page can be diminished by its failing to link to newer pages on your website. 

Out-of-date pages regularly impact ecommerce businesses. If, for example, a page doesn’t note that a product is out of stock, or if the packaging on the product in the image doesn’t match what will ship, it can lead to visitors questioning the credibility of your business. 

To underscore the impact making simple updates on older pages can have, just look at what Hubspot found when they updated and republished six old blog posts. They found monthly views on search engine results pages for these six posts increased by 106% on average

Graphs showing the number of users who saw pages on SERPs before and after optimizing older content

Source:  HubSpot

The value of optimizing content for SEO on older pages goes beyond avoiding drops in website traffic. In fact, updating older pages plays a key role in improving your SEO. For one, it takes much less time than creating new content for SEO. In fact, the average blogger takes four hours to generate a blog topic, perform the research, and write the post. Updating older posts, in contrast, can take as little as 30 minutes.

Better yet, the value of a properly-maintained page can actually grow over time. It can take months for new pages to reach the top of a search engine results page (SERP). Quality older posts can remain at the top page, assuming you continue to build on the effort. 

One reason for this is that, over time, more and more websites will link back to the page if it remains valuable. A page with many backlinks signals to the Google algorithm the information is of high quality, which will lead to it being ranked highly.

Still Publish New Pages 

If you crave new content creation, don’t worry. New posts still play a major role in search engine optimization for your website. In fact, 92 percent of marketers say new page creation is “very effective” or “somewhat effective” for SEO. 

A comprehensive optimization plan includes target keywords for nearly every page on your company website. Creating new blog posts allows you to supplement these efforts by targeting long-tail keywords. These terms may not get as many searches per month as the ones targeted on your website’s main pages, but they play a critical role in improving your SEO. Fewer websites compete over long-tail keywords, which makes it much easier to rank highly for them. They also generally take less time to incorporate into text since they require less of an explanation given their specificity.  

Creating new content for SEO  also enables you to capitalize on emerging search terms. For example, zero users searched for the term “ChatGPT” in January 2022. Year over year, the term saw a staggering 400,000% increase in search volume. In contrast, “machine learning” increased only 17% year over year — a sign of increased interest, but not a breakout topic. Any initiative focused on improving SEO needs to incorporate trending search terms to stay relevant.

Keyword search volume comparison

Sharing your brand’s commentary on the latest trends can demonstrate the ongoing relevance of the products and services you offer. It also deepens the relationships between you and your current and prospective customers by showing them you care about the issues most pertinent to them.

Most importantly, in addition to improving your website SEO,  new content can also play a significant role in your lead generation strategy. A well-crafted post can pique the interest of readers and prompt them to seek out more information about your company. You can take advantage of the precious moments in which you’ve captured the attention of a prospective customer by inserting a call to action at the end of an article, thus moving them further down the marketing funnel. 

Balance Is Key 

Improving your SEO won’t happen overnight. It requires patience, attention to detail, and a willingness to constantly experiment. 

When you need an expert opinion on your organic search strategy, contact Coalition Technologies. We have helped our client generate more than 5 million qualified leads through our industry-leading digital marketing strategies. Contact us for a free site review.

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