14/06/2024 • Search Engine Optimisation

Refreshing and Optimising Older Content for SEO

Google and other search engines like to see websites which are kept up to date. Optimising older content is a great way to do this and it benefits your visitors too.

Google and other search engines like to see websites which are kept up to date. One way to do this is to regularly write new content. This can be time consuming, and you may feel you’re constantly having to reinvent the wheel. Updating older content can be just as helpful. You may already have blog posts or pages of your site which rank well for particular queries. Taking the time to refresh and optimise older content can be great for SEO – and save you time too!

In this post we’ll take you through a handful of ways you can improve older content. From writing better titles, to harnessing the power of in-post navigation. We hope you’ll take some of these ideas and apply them to your own website, further increasing your reach and drawing more customers to your business:

Write Better Titles

Writing effective post titles takes some thought, but it’s not difficult. The key thing to remember when writing titles is that your page of content is the answer to someone’s question. When we search for things with Google we’re really asking a question. Google ranks web pages based on how well each relevant page answer the question (amongst other things). A good thing to do is to write titles which are questions. The content of your page or post then provides the answer to the question.

Alongside writing better titles, you might have the option to edit the page title for your post or web page. If you use WordPress you could use a plugin like Yoast to do this. When editing the page title you need to ensure you keep the following in mind:

Titles Should Be Concise

Google likes to see page titles which are no more than 50-60 characters in length. If your title is longer than this then it will likely be re-written by Google when your page appears within search results. It’s therefore a good idea to be disciplined and write titles which fit within this limit.

Titles Should Be Keyword-Rich

Your post or page titles should contain relevant keywords. These can either be the most important words for your post, or synonyms thereof. If possible use multiple keywords or variations of them within the title to reinforce your key message.

Titles Should Be Specific

Being vague is a killer when it comes to SEO. Wherever possible use specific words. For example, instead of ‘town’ I would use ‘Whitby’ to refer to where I live. Read your titles carefully and weed out any words which are not specific. It may feel like you’re having to focus on a narrower target audience, but generally this is a better than being too broad.

Over time links within your posts or pages may become irrelevent, or even broken. Broken links are bad for SEO because they create a dead end for the user. Google wants to give its users the best possible experience, so it will avoid recommending pages which include dead links.

There are two kinds of links you can include within your website, which are:

Internal Links

These are links to other pages within your own website. It’s important to include internal links within your site as it helps keep visitors engaged and moving from page to page. Think about how a visitor will navigate around your website. They may use the main navigation bar to move from page to page. However, well positioned links within a page can help guide a user towards a particular action, such as buying something or contacting you.

Also, as you add more content to your website over time you might find that you have other pages or posts you can link between. Why not work through your older content, refreshing pages with new internal links? Internal links help Google understand how your website content fits together, at the same time as improving your user journey.

External Links

External links are links to other websites. These should be used more sparingly than internal links as you risk losing a visitor to another website. As a general rule you should only link to external websites which are not in direct competition with you. For example, if you offer holiday accommodation it’s not a good idea to link to other accommodation websites. It is a good idea to link to restaurants and visitor attractions though, as these websites compliment yours.

From time to time check your external links are still relevant. Update them with new links to better resources, where available. And make sure you remove or replace any dead links which disrupt visitor flow.

Use Bullet Point Lists

Bullet point lists help users scan content quickly. Using a list is a great way to include lots of key information quickly. Numbered lists also work in the same way.

Why not read through some older content and see if there are any paragraphs or sections of content which could be re-written as a list. This can be especially helpful in a summary section, where you want to remind your visitor of key information.

In-Post Navigation

Bullet point or numbered lists can also be used to build in-post or in-page navigation, such as we have done at the top of this post. Each line in the list is a link to a section of the page, ensuring the visitor can quickly access the information which is most relevant to them.

This method is particularly helpful if you’re writing a list post (such as ’10 Things to Do in…’). Adding a numbered list at the top of the post acts like a contents page. It gives your reader immediate access to the topics you’re covering.

Improve Structure with Headings

Heading help break up longer content into more digestible sections. It’s a good idea to use headings within your content. It not only helps break up the text, making it easier to read, but it also offers SEO benefits as Google can make better sense of your page.

When it comes to adding more headings to content there are a few things to keep in mind:

Only Ever Use 1 <h1> Heading

Your website should be configured to format the main title of your post or page as a <h1> tag. This is a HTML element which every web page should include – but only once! You should never use a <h1> tag more than once as it can make it difficult for Google to discern your primary focus.

Most website content management systems will allow you to define the kind of heading you want to use within any textarea. Given that your post or page will already have it’s <h1> tag defined by the title you should not add any additional heading 1 headings within your page. However, you can use as many <h2>, <h3>, <h4>… headings as you like. We tend to recommend using heading 2 for all section headings, and heading 3 for sub-sections.

Here’s a video about HTML you may find useful to watch, if you’re interested in learning more about this:

Keep Headings Sequential

In HTML headings should always be sequential. Given that the main heading on the page should always be a h1, the next heading within a post or page should be h2. Following this the next heading could be either another h2, or a h3. Following a h3 the next heading should be either h3, h2 or h4, depending on your content structure.

If you have older content which doesn’t stick to this format then it’s a good idea to go through it carefully and improve your heading structure. Your readers will thank you – and so will Google!

Make Your Content Easy to Scan

Headings should make a page easy to scan. You want to ensure your readers can access information quickly and simply, without having to read lots of content which doesn’t interest them. And it’s fair to say that most of the content on our websites won’t be read by everyone, or even anyone! What’s vital is that the content which is important to your visitors is easy to find. Headings can help with this as they enable visitors to move quickly down a page, pausing to read the sections which mean something to them.

It can be helpful to go through older content and apply this concept. Can you understand an entire page of content just by reading the headings? If not, you should probably add some more, or re-write the existing headings to improve this.

Add Relevant Videos or Images

Adding videos can be a good way of increasing the time people spend on your website. While this may not improve your search ranking directly, if you have visitors on your site it’s important to keep them as long as possible. Improving user experience by including videos and images is a good way to do this.

Older blog posts or pages can often be improved by adding new multimedia content. There are millions of YouTube videos on all kinds of topics, which can be easily included in any website. You don’t need to go to the effort of producing your own, unless you want to.

But remember, in a similar way to avoiding linking to competitors you don’t want to embed videos produced by competitors either. Consider using videos from ‘neutral’ organisations who provide value but don’t compete directly. For example, businesses based in the North York Moors National Park can benefit from using videos produced by the North York Moors team. These do a great job of selling the area, without focussing on any particular business or sector specifically.

People Love Video Content

It’s clear that most website visitors love video. Effective videos are engaging, informative and often entertaining. Videos can communicate complex information quickly. But don’t be tempted to just post videos. Writing up a blog post (like this one) can take time, but the written words are important, particularly for SEO. If you add videos to your website update your page or post to reference the video – encouraging your visitors to watch – but don’t skimp on the word count.

An Image Paints a Thousand Words

Likewise, photos, graphics and illustrations can communicate effectively without words. Keeping your website’s photos up to date is a useful task, as it makes an immediate impact. You may not need to (or have time to) re-write or add more content to your post or page, but adding a new photo or graphic demonstrates that the page is being managed. This is helpful for Google, but also for your visitors who may have visited your website before.

Write More Content

Probably the best way to optimise and improve older content is to write more. Research conducted by Hubspot (and others) suggests that pages which rank well often contain 2,500 words or more. This isn’t to say that this is a requirement. Pages which much fewer words can rank just as well. But in the current day and age it’s a good idea to aim for a higher word count, remembering to keep the quality high too.

Go Deeper – Be the Expert

It can be a good idea to refresh content with more in-depth knowledge. Google wants to see Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. This is most easily achieved by writing long-form posts which dig deep into a topic you know a lot about. Demonstrate your expertise by writing at length, including any relevant experience. For example, for tourism businesses you might want to write about a local attraction or activity. The best way to do this is to write from your own experience, rather than from your imagination.

Update Examples or Recommendations

It can also be effective to include more up to date examples or recommendations within a post or page. For example could you update an older post about local restaurants with current information about menus, ingredients or your own experiences? Or, if you’ve written about walking routes nearby, could you add a new walk to your list, with relevant photos, a description of the route and a recommendation for where to stop for lunch?


When it comes to updating and refreshing older content for SEO there are loads of options. The most important things are to weed our broken links or out of date information which no longer serves your customers. Once you’ve done that, consider how you might demonstrate your expertise, perhaps by expanding existing content. Improve user engagement by adding videos or photos, these can help communicate complex information quickly. And don’t forget the technical details about headings and titles. These may seem fiddly, but they’re worth getting to grips with as they offer vital SEO benefits.

As always, if you’d like help optimising your website’s content please get in touch with us for a no obligation chat.

Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash