The way Google reviews and ranks websites and web pages has changed enormously in the last decade, and even in the last year or two. So, even if Google favoured your content a couple of years ago, there’s no guarantee that your site will continue to feature prominently in search results.
However, if your older content is becoming outdated and your rankings are slipping, you can improve matters considerably by refreshing the problem pages.
Increase Content Length
While shorter posts and articles were once preferred, it’s long form content that Google ranks more highly these days. Longer pieces provide you with more opportunities to include relevant keywords and phrases, and in-depth articles and blog posts are generally more useful to readers too.
Review Keyword Density
If your content follows the old-school “more is more” keyword density rules, it’s definitely time for an update. Instead of keyword-stuffed articles, search engines now prefer that those words be used organically and sparingly.
Make Significant Changes when Possible
Google in particular prefers new and recently-updated content, but it’s not enough to just change a few words here and there. Larger, more significant edits have a much greater effect. It can be a useful strategy to look at older posts and pages and see where the information itself needs updating, rather than looking on ranking factors as the goal.
One thing to be wary of is making drastic changes to a page that’s already performing well. If you’re already in the top 5 or 10 results for a particular keyword, making significant changes may not be useful. If you do want to modify such pages, concentrate on adding rather than removing content.
Check Outbound Links
For best results, your outbound links—meaning other websites you link to—should share thematic relevancy to the subject of your own page. And it’s always good practice to periodically review outbound links to make sure they’re still valid.
Add New Media
Images and other forms of visual media contribute to page rankings, but make sure that file names, captions, and alt text reflect the content of the media you’re adding.
Should you Remove Old Content?
Sometimes, you can make a case for removing old content rather than refreshing and republishing, but it’s not always an easy decision to make. If you’re not sure whether to remove a page, think in terms of what it offers, and what site visitors do on that page. For example, if it’s not ranking well, and it doesn’t contain any unique information, or if that particular page has poor visitor retention, it’s likely that it won’t be missed if you decide to remove it.