How To Update "Impossible" Website Content

Last Update: April 22, 2019

As your website grows, "updating" things becomes a larger and larger task. For example, with new niche site that has 20 blog posts, you can overhaul your entire site in a relatively short amount of time. It might take a week to get every single article edited and expanded.

Done and done.

What happens when you have a 10 year old website and 2,000 blog posts? Well, things get more complicated. Getting your content up to date can seem like an impossible task.

Looking back on my work througout the years, I have seriously improved my writing and general blog post making. There are hundreds of blog posts on my website that I'd like to go back and improve, but how can I undertake such a gigantic project without dedicated ALL of my time to it?

I have a couple of options.

1. Don't Update

I have the option of just leaving everything as is. Honestly, that's what I did for many years, and it worked pretty well. Sure, my website wasn't "the best" out there. There was a lot of shoddy work. But it made money.

In other words, not all of your articles have to be utterly amazing to make money.

Pros:

  • Less tedious work
  • Get to sweep problems under the rug
  • Can work on more interesting projects

Cons

  • Demoralizing to have a website full of garbage
  • Lots of keyword cannibalizing (rewriting for the same keywords)
  • Feels like writing endless content with no purpose

2. Hire Help

Outsourcing is a great way to leverage money to create more time. When you don't have enough time in the day to do something, you can pay for other people's time. You can find inexpensive VAs that can do anything from spiff up your current content, to rewriting the entire content, to doing a full blog post with custom images and videos.

Pros

  • Get a lot done in less time
  • You can focus on "bigger picture" projects
  • Just do the tasks you enjoy

Cons

  • Requires training the VAs
  • Content style my not reflect your brand
  • Costs money

3. Do It Yourself

Surprisingly, there's a pretty simple way to just do it yourself. I like to create a "doable" amount of work each day and set a long term timeline. For example, if I have to update 200 blog posts, I'll do just ONE per day for 200 days.

Sure, it takes a long time to get everything updated, but it's less stressful this way, and you still make time for other work that needs to be done. It's less overwhelming this way.

At the end of that (almost) year long updating process, you'll have 200, incredible, amazing, fresh blog posts that will improve rank in search engines and convert traffic to clicks and sales more efficiently.

Pros

  • You have full control over the content
  • Cheap and effective
  • Google loves updated/fresh content
  • Signals to visitors you are active and engaged
  • Great fodder for email lists and social media

Cons

  • Takes a long time
  • Can interfere with current projects and goals
  • Very tedious at times
  • Can be easy to slip into "rush" mode and just replaces low-quality content with medium-quality content

Which Articles Should You Update?

You don't have to update every single article on your website constantly. Some articles do fine as they are for quite a while!

Other articles simply don't rank, and don't deserve to be updated. How do you know the difference?

There are two main sets of articles I update:

1. Articles that get traffic. These are the top choice for updating. They are already ranking and already getting traffic. Double down on what's working instead of trying to fix what's not working.

2. Pillar Articles. These are core concept articles within your website that you link back to frequently. Even if they don't rank, they are still a great resource on your webiste which you can leverage to promote affiliate links, collect emails, or just engage with your audience.

Final Thoughts

Updating your website content is good for both search engines and your human audience. It can be a challenge to do it regularly, especially if you have a large amount of content. With clear goals in mind and a consistent strategy, it's not an impossible problem.

The folks who update will benefit in the long term!

Join the Discussion
Write something…
Recent messages
tommo1968 Premium
Great report Nathaniell. A word of CAUTION though.

This is great for getting posts not getting traffic to be revised and start gaining but for posts already doing well it can mean putting it down the serps instead of up.

I have read that doing minor changes then leaving it for a couple of months to see hows it effects the post before continuing until the optimum position is found is better than doing an overhaul and finding it killed the post completely.

Example: A post that's sitting on page 2 for a KW you would think adding a few extra 100 words and maybe optimizing with the KW better would push it to page 1 but its not always the case.

Sometimes LSI KW's are getting ranked which are removed when rewording the post. So begins the process of trying to get it back etc.

A spreadsheet with all the changes and SERPs is required to be truly efficient but that's not an easy assignment.

I speak this way as I am undergoing the process on my website and have seen movement in both directions. With 140 posts its a bit of an exercise as you say. So the word I believe for the beginner is CAUTION.

As you get more experienced you can see where optimizing would be easy on a post and should be done but rewriting and changing basic content can sometimes provide the wrong result.
Reply
lakbar12 Premium
ummm....I was wondering how did the previous post update work. This article came just in time. I recently updated post from when I first started and boy has my writting improved. I also took the last approach; updating a post per day. It was tedious but I was very pleased once it was all over. Thanks, for sharing this interesting post.
Reply
nathaniell Premium
Good timing!
Reply
lakbar12 Premium
Yes, very good timing. Thanks again...
Reply
seconds2work Premium
Hi, Nathaniell, great post.

I had a couple of articles on my site that is over 15,000 words.
If I break them up into different pages and transfer some of the information from the old page to the new page, will it mess up my SEO and ranking?

I plan to leave the content as is but move some to a new post. I will resubmit the URLs to Goole and Bing webmaster.

Will I be ok to do this?
Reply
nathaniell Premium
If you are ranking, I advise not changing things. You could probably get away with paginating the page if the content is too long though.

What I did to one page of mine that was too long (and already published) was to actually break up the content into multiple pages, pick a unique keyword for each page (optimizing, editing content), then redirecting the old page to the new MAIN phrase.

The main keyword actually improved rank, but the others have not really recovered.

No perfect answer here.
Reply
seconds2work Premium
I've learned a lesson; don't make skyscrapers if you want your site visitor to get thru your content.

Thank you, Brother Nathaniell.
Reply
cld111 Premium
This is great advice, and I like the different options you have here. I'm certainly no where near the 2000 article range, but I've got over 160 and even now, this is getting cumbersome to try to go back to update things.

I always have it on my to do list, but it never gets done! (Seriously, why don't we have more time available? lol) And I'd love to rework some of those older cringe-worthy posts.

At the same time, they don't rank (but COULD they?), so maybe it's not worth worrying about at this time.

You always give me something to think about!

- Christina
Reply
nathaniell Premium
"they don't rank, but could they?" is a question I ask myself all the time. Decisions gotta be made on a page by page basis.
Reply
LouiseBT Premium
Thank you for this share Nathaniel
I asked the question yesterday in live chat if I have 60 published articles and 42 ranked with Google, is that good, average or bad? It's tricky to know how to measure success when you're still learning and growing your site.
I guess the answer lies in Google analytics and how the different posts perform.
I shall be starring this article to help me with some of the decisions I need to make about which to update or refresh or improve and which can remain as they are for now.
Thank you again for sharing your knowledge and experience.
Blessings
Louise
Reply
nathaniell Premium
I think that's a pretty good ranking stat Lousie! You can update them and they'll rank even higher.
Reply
LouiseBT Premium
Thank you, Nathaniel, it's really good to know. I don't know if you remember when you started how the focus is on learning and producing as much as you can and hoping it's good enough, lol. It's quite nerve-wracking "to put yourself out there"
Reply
skmorrow Premium
I have noticed this is a conundrum as my site grows. I have been doing what you suggest and as posts gain traffic, I try to improve them. The problem with that is, I don't want to fix it if it isn't broken. As I get better at this, I hope I have less updating.

If a post is pretty bad, I will make some changes, but for the most part, it's minor tweaks.

One thing I try to do is go back and see where I can create internal links. As I create more content, there are more opportunities for some Google juice.
Reply
nathaniell Premium
As you get better there will be less "massive" updating necessary. My stuff from 3 years ago needs an overhaul. My stuff from six months ago just needs a tweak.
Reply
ValerieJoy Premium
Nathaniell, when you update a post, do you leave the original date as is, and include the date that you published the updated version. Or, do you change to the date of publishing the new version, so that only one date appears on the screen.

When updating a post, I have been leaving the original date and including an updated date above the post. It's okay, but sort of cumbersome.

Thanks for your post. It is very helpful.
Reply
skmorrow Premium
Great question, I am chiming in to see if you get an answer. I have updated the dates on some and not on others, I am interested to hear what others have to say.
Reply
ValerieJoy Premium
Thanks for the support, Steve. I felt rather silly asking due to not being a newbie, so it's great I'm in good company :)
Reply
nathaniell Premium
I update the publishing date so signal that the content is relevant, new, fresh, etc. Keeping an old publish date on what is essentially NEW content might give people the wrong idea. Take every advantage you can get!
Reply
ValerieJoy Premium
That makes sense, and it had occurred to me to do just that. But, then the doubt creeps in and causes indecision. So, from now on I will do what you advise, Nathaniell. I'm very happy about that.
Thanks so much :)
Reply
Jadatherapy Premium
Thank you Nathaniell for sharing this is really helpful, much appreciated

I like your last point to update what is working first.

My websites are young websites but I do go back and update every now and again to keep it fresh and the more I am learning I can go back and improve the articles as I go along.

I find that when I do it this way it only takes a couple of focused hours. lol

Many thanks

Have a great week

Jennifer
Reply
nathaniell Premium
That's also a good strategy - to just keep up with everything a few times per week. Probably will keep you sane long term LOL
Reply
Jadatherapy Premium
Yep. lol

Have a great week

Jennifer
Reply
AmyHD Premium
Thank you for the great advice, Nathaniell. I like the #3 option. In that way I am in the full control of my website. The only thing I need is a good time management skill.
It’s hard to imagine how much work it will be when I have hundreds or thousands articles on my site. So maybe it’s better to keep things up to date.
Thanks again for sharing this with us.
Amy
Reply
nathaniell Premium
Updating thousands of articles is tough work, and I think most blogs, if they are run by a single person, would definitely slow down their content publishing schedule.
Reply
CandP Premium
We only started our current website last August but have already started 'tinkering' with our earlier posts. What you post has shown us is that we need to do this in a far more structured way, not only from a scheduling perspective but also in being more selective in the posts we choose to update. Thank you, Nathaniel.
Colette and Philip
Reply
nathaniell Premium
Awesome. Glad I could provide some insight guys!
Reply
LLettau1 Premium
Great ideas that I had not thought of.
Reply
nathaniell Premium
Hope it helped Larry!
Reply
EddySalomon Premium
I would add trying to update articles that are on page 2 that were once on page 1. The little love you give those articles can lead to great things a lot faster than articles that may deeper in the search results.
Reply
nathaniell Premium
Another great SEO strategy Eddy. Might have to send out a second email about this!
Reply
EddySalomon Premium
Glad to share. It's an easy win for most people.
Reply
sdawson Premium
Great advice
Reply
elores Premium
Thanks for this info. This is good to know. Although I don't have that many to update, I will try to do them slowly and keep them up to date. Thanks for sharing.
Reply
Talk2Ray Premium
Thanks for sharing Nathaniell. Sure will keep this information in mind.
Ray
Reply
Swangirl Premium
Thanks for these ideas. I tend to feel like I should fix my worst posts so thanks for explaining we should actually fix up our good posts. I don't have thousands of posts (or even hundreds) yet so I should be able to update all of mine. I have worked on some of them but there is still more to do.

Updating existing posts is a great thing to do if you just don't feel inspired to write anything new! That is where I am right now so I will start updating.

Jessica
Reply
nathaniell Premium
I see more and more of the 80/20 principle at work with my websites every day.
Reply
RosanaHart Premium
I update some and just leave some! Writing my memoirs as a series of books is much more fun and may turn out to pay better. Can't wait to get to "I Fell in Love with a Hippie"
Reply
Crazyhaggis Premium
A good reminder to perhaps start updating articles sooner rather than later, or at least before the number of articles becomes too large.
Reply
nathaniell Premium
Definitely. I tend to let things get out of hand, and I'm really trying to NOT do that starting in 2019 :)
Reply
MarionBlack Premium
Funny you should write about this today. I spent yesterday working on updating an article because the main plugin mentioned is now broken 👀😒 I've still got lots to do. It's a long pillar article which gets traffic.
Reply
nathaniell Premium
Sounds like a lot of WORK. Enjoy LOL!
Reply
SondraM Premium
Great post Nathaniell. As I was reading, I was asking myself how you prioritize which ones to work on. Thanks for providing that answer also.

Best wishes with your updating process. May it be well spent time.
Reply
nathaniell Premium
Glad I was able to answer your question within the article Sondra!
Reply