Twenty-four percent say not being able to keep up with corporate demand for updated content was the biggest challenge.
This wasn't eye-popping to me because of the percentage -- a quarter of the respondents isn't that much. What got me was that updating content was such a drag, because it doesn't have to be. Updating and resurfacing existing content are high-impact activities that can be handled by lower-level staff or completely outsourced. I suspect the biggest problem isn't people to do the task, but prioritizing the task at all. In the crush to produce fresh content, it's easy to simply forget or push off revising what you already have.
That's a mistake!
Currency is the king (sorry, content). When your content includes outdated data, discontinued products or even broken links, your credibility suffers. It’s vital to update seasonal, product- or service-centric and “best of” content regularly so it retains relevance and authority. It also won't hurt search results.
Add updating and resurfacing to your content calendar, working in advance of key dates, seasonal demand, etc. Staples, for instance, scheduled updates to its student technology content late each spring, just before graduation and back-to-school shopping for these products began. It's also a smart time to see what topics and content types perform best, and which don't. Use that data to drive your updating and resurfacing.
Reworking existing content is a smart use of resources that lets you get more value out of an already performing asset, and it's worth prioritizing!
How to Update Content
Here's the minimum you can do to update content:
- Replace broken links, add new contextual links and links to related content (internal and external).
- Update product and service mentions to reflect current inventory and offerings, or changes in technology standards.
- Example: We updated a series of articles on point-of-sale technology to include new EMV chip requirements.
- Research more recent data sources to improve relevance for readers and sustain trust and authority.
- Verify names, titles, addresses, etc., and correct as needed.
- Revise copy to include new keywords and phrases. Don't forget semantical search!
- Delete unnecessary words, phrases and complex sentence constructions.
- Rewrite beginnings, endings and calls to action.
- Create new meta titles and excerpts to signal search engines that there’s something new here, and update meta descriptions that show up in social and search previews.
- Example: We revised a popular back-to-school package, tightening each piece, writing new ledes and endings and updating meta data and key words.
- Update tags and categories as needed.
- Craft new social content consistent with current research on length, etc.
Tip: Small changes probably don't need an update notice, but if you make a lot of changes -- especially to popular pages -- add a notice to show the content is up-to-date. We usually go with something simple like "Originally published September 2015, updated October 2106 for accuracy and comprehensiveness."
If you want to go whole hog, here are two more tactics for updating content:
1. Lengthening. Data shows readers are more amenable to consuming longer content, even on their mobile devices. And search bots seems to like the longer stuff, too. Evaluate pieces in your content library that can be lengthened. Give more depth to shorter pieces by adding quotes, examples and more recent research findings. Or combine two or three pieces to create a more comprehensive longer one.
Tips: Go back to original source material to identify information you couldn’t include the first time. Check in with original or new SMEs for additional perspectives.
2. Diversifying. The Content Marketing Institute recommends giving editorial content a boost with visual content like photos and illustrations, video clips, charts and graphs and even social content.
Tips: Identify critical data points worth visualizing and images that need updating to reflect current products or cultural sensitivities. Search through existing graphic assets for ready-made items to include, or commission new work.
Example: For instance, the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center used data from an article we wrote to create visual stand-alone social content and an illustration to accompany the article and a related press release.
- Content Strategy Tip: Resurfacing
- Tips for better writing: Use your words
- How We Can Help: Our work in content operations & brand journalism
- Samples of our content work
Originally published in October 2016. Updated January 2017 for accuracy and comprehensiveness