”Update” is a daunting word for any SEO specialist. With Google making up to 3,200 algorithm changes per year, website owners frequently find their performance indicators and organic traffic declining without understanding why. In most cases, the natural urge is to start looking into some recent SEO trends, such as link building or setting up some paid campaigns on Google Ads to drive more users to your resource. Unfortunately, the real source of your problems may not be associated with your current promotion strategies or the materials added within the previous year. With many websites carrying thousands of pages dating back 5-10 years, few people recognize this ‘legacy baggage’ as a potential major hindrance affecting your present-day performance. However, there is more than meets the eye here.
Modern web crawlers used by most search engines index your whole resource, rather than its most recent pages. In simple words, a ton of foul fish lying in your cellar for years will definitely make your living room on the ground floor smell funny, especially if you have completely forgotten about it. Below, we discuss 5 alarming signs that may suggest that your old website pages require an update. If you encounter some of these indicators, chances are it is time for a major clean-up.
1. Your Freshness Score Is Too Low
Search engines use crawlers to continuously reappraise your website quality and adjust its position in search outputs. Content ‘freshness’ is one of the most critical characteristics, since sites that have not been updated for many months are less likely to possess up-to-date and accurate information sought by most users. If your SEO specialist says that your PageRank score on Google has lowered substantially, this is a clear sign that your materials need an update. While publishing new articles can require a lot of effort on your part, revising your old publications usually takes up less time. Hence, this is a great way to quickly boost your ‘freshness score’ without breaking the bank.
Additionally, regular updates actually increase the ‘interest’ of Google crawlers checking all of your materials every time and increasing their PageRank results. This means that the piecemeal approach of devoting 15 minutes per day to revising your old content is actually more powerful than the constantly delayed intention to change everything in one sitting. Start small and watch for improvements as you proceed to identify the optimal balance in terms of revision scope and SEO results.
2. The Keywords Are Inconsistent
When you are just starting out, you probably want to just publish interesting content. You view every new article or page as the next major step in your website creation, rather than a small element of a long-term development strategy. While this approach is fine during the initial phase, there comes a moment when you simply do not understand why you are not attracting the traffic you want despite your best efforts. Keywords are one of the reasons your resource may not be ranked in the desired categories in search outputs or get lower Google rankings. This is the moment you need to use some specialized SEO tools to explore the keyword focus of all website materials.
Imagine that you used to write about PC hardware and computer assembly tips several years ago. However, your recent materials are focused on video editing and audio production for Mac users. In this scenario, it is highly probable that some of the older pages may be producing different keywords than your newer ones. To avoid these problems, you may need to re-write your past articles and posts in order to link them with your new focus. Try changing some of these materials to see if you start getting more quality traffic in your desired search category.
3. New Visitors Are Dissatisfied
So, a popular YouTube blogger or a renowned industry expert has recently mentioned in their interview that they find your website materials extremely helpful in their line of work. Such sincere recommendations are called ‘earned media’ in e-marketing and are considered some of the best ways to promote your resource. With great traffic comes great responsibility, as thousands of new visitors will critically appraise your website. Many of them can leave dissatisfied if they find its contents outdated, its articles full of spelling mistakes, and its URL links broken. This scenario may be especially problematic if the original referral guided them to some older materials, rather than the recently published ones. If you get mostly negative reviews or direct messages from new visitors, it is clearly time for an update.
Some of the popular problems with old website pages include the lack of modern presentation instruments and limited mobile-friendliness. Have you considered recording audio podcasts for some older articles to let people listen to them while on the move? How about putting some infographics right under the page heading to instantly demonstrate the key findings of the article? You need to keep in mind that new visitors can start browsing your website from any page or choose to read all materials from the earliest date, especially if you publish some connected materials progressing in a longitudinal manner.
4. The Bounce Rates Are Higher for Old Pages
Bounce rate is a simple Google Analytics metric reflecting the share of people leaving your website after visiting a single page on it. If this problem affects both old and new posts, this may be a sign of the keyword targeting inefficiencies mentioned earlier. However, higher bounce rates for older website pages is a completely different problem. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are older pages on my website optimized for mobile users reading them from smartphone devices?
- Do they match the loading speed expectations of modern visitors?
- Do these pages contain valuable links to newer pages convincing the users to stay on your resource and continue using it in the future?
- Is the published information still relevant and accurate?
In many cases, adjusting the loading times and links freshness may be sufficient to decrease the bounce rate for your old website pages. If this does not resolve the issue, try updating their content to ensure that it is in line with visitor expectations.
5. Conversion and Engagement Rates Are Too Low
Most websites are focused on engaging their visitors and motivating them to perform some actions, such as:
- Following the company on social media;
- Providing an email for newsletters;
- Purchasing some paid materials;
- Buying paid subscriptions,
If older pages produce lower conversion rates than newer ones and have low engagement indicators, this means that they need to be updated or refreshed. Some options in this sphere may include:
- Focusing on engagement rather than information provision;
- Adding motivating phrases to stimulate subscriptions or website e-store purchases;
- Insert links to other website pages in order to link their content with newer materials.
Ideally, all pages of your website should follow the same ‘pull marketing’ plan, starting with interesting and fresh content and convincing your visitors to ask for more. A very popular idea in this field is the provision of some summary tables, short educational courses, or audio recordings of website materials via email upon subscription. If your older pages do not follow a consistent engagement and conversion plan, now is the right time to introduce greater consistency across your platform. Many website owners fail to maintain a coherent focus for all website materials and do not understand what outputs they seek to produce beyond basic advertising income. Revising your old and new posts is a great way to get some valuable insights into this field and better understand why you are running your resource the way you do and what alternative strategies you may pursue.
While many tactics can be used to address the above-mentioned problems, you need to use them in a consistent manner to minimize unnecessary expenses. To achieve good results, we would recommend applying one instrument at a time and measuring the results with the same set of metrics. If you suggest that the keywords inconsistency may be your core problem, focus on this issue for one month, and observe the differences in traffic, engagement, and other indicators. Try to also introduce changes gradually to realize the effects of small and regular updates mentioned earlier. This way, you can see if the described strategies work for your resource specifically. Keep in mind that the audience of every website is different, and your strategy should be practice-based, rather than copied from industry leaders or competing platforms.