Looking for a way to dramatically “up” your content marketing game without adding a single item to your editorial calendar? The answer is a content refresh, and here are three reasons why you should do it:

  1. To get results without having to spend extra money.
  2. To show you keep up with news and changes in your industry.
  3. To keep your best content at the top of Google’s search results.

What Is a “Content Refresh?”

A content refresh is a deep edit of your existing web content — from articles and web pages to FAQs and guidebooks. It may involve capturing new quotes from experts and weaving them into an old article, or it may be more comprehensive, like changing the angle of a piece or reworking it into an audio or video piece.

A content refresh doesn’t mean completely gutting your old stuff to make way for the new. After all, this could be detrimental if search ranking is important to your strategy.

Instead, think of a content refresh as a light home improvement project: when the paint is peeling, you don’t tear down the whole wall – you just repaint it. By maintaining and improving your digital content, you’re essentially building your site’s equity, and guaranteeing that everything a reader stumbles upon will be interesting, well-crafted, and relevant to what’s going on today.

Prioritizing Content for a Refresh

The web content you choose to update depends largely on your content marketing goals. If you generate a lot of business through organic search results, your refresh strategy will look different from the marketer who wants to expand into a new type of media — like podcasting or video marketing. Here are a few different approaches to a content refresh based on different content marketing goals.

Search Engine Rank

A content refresh is the perfect antidote to ever-changing search algorithms. If you’ve noticed some of your articles or pages dropping to the second or third page in search results, prioritize the redevelopment of these. They’re already ranking well, but for some reason, they’re not hitting the first page – where the likelihood that a user will click increases exponentially. Focus your effort on these pieces for the greatest ROI.

Persona Marketing

If your business has undergone a change in who you’re marketing to, your content refresh should focus on re-imagining your old pieces through the eyes of your new target market. This may call for new examples or use cases throughout your content. It may even require a tone overhaul. Whatever the case, make sure you’ve defined your personas clearly and documented their information so you can pass this along to your writers, editors, and designers.

Social Influence

The way people interact with your content online can tell you a lot about what’s working and what’s not. Look at the data from your social media management tool to rank content by likes, shares, comments, and clicks. You may only need to tweak the headlines or cover images of your weaker pieces to get more eyeballs on them, as long as the content within lives up to its promises. Social media is a land of first impressions, so when refreshing and optimizing your content for social, keep that in mind.

Lead Generation

Some of your content pieces may be more primed to generate leads than others. If you have a handful of e-books that are bringing in solid leads and several others that aren’t, target the underperformers (i.e., don’t fix what isn’t broken!) Identify why you’re not getting leads – is the purpose of the lead magnet content unclear? Is the design misaligned with your brand or unattractive altogether? Is the topic simply something your audience isn’t interested in?

Authority or Thought Leadership

If you want to show that you’re a leader in your industry, your content should be as up-to-date as possible. Any content that quotes old data, refers to technologies that are no longer in use, or references old news items should be first up when it’s time for a refresh.

Getting Creative with Your Content Refresh

A content refresh often triggers inspiration. It reminds you of the long distance you’ve traveled in your content marketing over the years, and reveals where you can go deeper with different topics.

For example, imagine you have a really strong article that’s been popular over the last several months. You could simply add a bit more content to it and re-publish, and call it done. There’s nothing wrong with that.

On the other hand, if you wanted to expand the reach of your article, you could:

  • Pull out five interesting quotes and convert them into branded graphics to use in Instagram posts
  • Compile statistics from the article into an infographic
  • Convert the article into a podcast script
  • Take key facts from the article and create a YouTube video on that topic

All of this, from one article. Imagine what you could do with an e-book!