Creating New Content vs. Optimizing Old Web Pages: Which Is Better for SEO?

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You want the overall quality of the website to be high, not just the new web pages you create now or in the future. Should most of your SEO efforts be focused on creating new content or updating old content? In my opinion, you should devote half of your SEO efforts to updating old content and the other half to creating new content. In this article, we will fully explain this issue.

Web pages create value over time

Your website content can remain valuable for years to come. Pages that have been posted for a while are more likely to have created links and visibility. This creates a lot of page value. This means that these pages can still appear in the search results for the queries your target audience uses today. Freshness is generally less important for page quality ratings. “Older” pages can have a high Page Quality Rating. “

Older content can still be relevant and considered high quality

However, other types of older content can only remain relevant if the content is considered “evergreen” and up-to-date. Over time, any website can contain hundreds or thousands of outdated web pages. Google may not trust a site that two-thirds of its pages are, say, three years or older and have outdated information especially if these topics are replenished by your competitors. You can check out your old content and see for yourself. When you posted the page years ago, was it ranked on page 1 of search results? Is it on page 2 or less? Usually, a content refresh can bring it back to page 1.

I was recently asked about the value of a webpage – specifically how to show value as an asset. Natural things degrade over time and I think so do web pages. If not preserved, it will eventually rot and become useless. But well maintained, it remains an asset.

If a Web page is designed, researched, laid out, written, edited, and enhanced—and interactive objects such as images and videos are added—it can take eight hours to produce a good piece of work. This time comes at a great cost. You can discard it and delete it, or you can keep it fresh. We prefer the latter as a content strategy and tactic.

Google says you should take the time to maintain your website to ensure quality:

… Unmaintained/deprecated ‘old’ websites or unmaintained and inaccurate/misleading content is the reason for a low page quality rating.

An outdated or poorly maintained web page can be considered low quality. This is especially true of “money or your life” pages – pages that can affect a person’s health, finances, and so on.

A web page with false information is considered low quality, period. You may need to update your web pages regularly to update your information according to your topic.

In our 2019 Business Hours session, Google’s John Mueller spoke about evergreen versus recent content:

… We’re trying to find a balance between the kind of showing the evergreen content that’s around and kind of looking at it as reference content and kind of newer content, especially when we can tell people they’re looking for newer content.

Müller might be referring to the concept of “query worth renewing” — the types of searches whose results must reflect new content. You can read more about it in a 2011 Google blog post here. In another Hours video from 2021, Mueller discusses how to manage legacy content:

… If there is something that you think is good content that you want to publish with your website, I will keep it. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s terrible. But if I look at it and say, Oh, this is embarrassing for me right now, I don’t want it to be online. “It looks so bad that’s what I’m saying, either improve it or remove it.”

what should we do? Content audit

In addition to creating new content for your SEO program, web content auditing will be key to prioritizing how to update old pages. A content audit will identify poor and weak content on your website so you can improve it. With Google Analytics and a tool like our Screaming Frog, Semrush or SEOToolSet, you can get all the data you need to make sense of your website pages. Once you have collected the necessary data, you divide your web pages into three categories. Those Who:

  •     Get the most rankings and traffic (eg those on page 1 of search results).
  •     It has the potential to get you better rankings and traffic (eg those on page 2 of search results).
  •     They perform poorly and are not in any of these categories.

So you can:

Focus on promoting content in the first two categories

What to do with the rest, which is poor content. Some web pages may need to update the content, others may need optimization. Some content may only need a 301 redirect to an existing URL in the same topic.

Grow and maintain your content

The beauty of SEO is that your web pages build value over time through visibility and links. So all the great work you do for them can still be translated into traffic and, hopefully, revenue. But you need to maintain your website during its scheduled cycle. So to boost your SEO plan, make sure you spend 50% of your content-focused time creating new content and 50% of your time updating old pages.

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