How to identify content update opportunities for your Q4 plan

Hey all, and welcome back to our monthly newsletter.

Today, let’s talk about a Q4 favorite for many content marketing teams; updating content.

You’ve likely heard about the value associated with successfully updating content, whether shouted from the rooftops of LinkedIn or your SEO-focused content partners.

Update results of a single post for a client of ours:

Before the content update

Before we jump into the tactics, let’s talk about why we’re covering this topic right now:

  1. The new year means that all of those articles your team created with 2022 in the headline are about to look outdated to your readers
  2. As searchers and the search engine begin to understand that 2023 represents the current year, there is SEO value associated with making these updates
  3. Q4 is a great time for clean-up to ensure you’re rolling into the new year with updated content & the traffic wins happen within days/weeks rather than next quarter.

Great, you’re bought in. You want the results. Let’s cover a few ways that you can identify which content is most ripe for updates.

***Side notes:

When we reference updating content, we’re referring to a sincere update of any part of that content that is outdated & adding additional content that is required to best represent the topic to the audience.

When choosing which content to update first, we’ll assume that you’ll be factoring in your ICP data.

Tactic #1: Using Google’s search command for the year

For some of the lowest-hanging fruit opportunities, you can use this search command technique that your SEO counterparts are likely using.

Simply go to Google or in your chrome browser, search the following:

  • site:[yourdomain].com 2022

You can also search:

  • site:[yourdomain].com intitle:2022
  • site:[yourdomain].com intext:2022

The search results should be a list of pages in which you’ve used the current year within the content. This should allow you to create a quick list of posts that need to be updated for 2023.

Example screenshot:

Screen Shot 2022-09-12 at 12.20.27 PM

Tip: If you work in an industry where people regularly search for older years, you’ll be better off creating a new piece of content for the newest year rather than updating your 2022 post.

Tactic #2: Google Search Console + Google Analytics to win traffic/assisted conversions back

This next tactic prioritizes content that needs updating and will generate the results we care about most.

That means digging into Google Search Console to identify traffic trends and have an Excel/Sheets document to work from. Then layering in Google Analytics results (or whichever platform you use) to choose the content worth updating first.

1) Start with the big picture view in GSC

Look at your overall traffic trend on a timeline that will show meaningful decay is happening. For an initial exercise, look at a 6-month over 6-month view. Sort your pages by your blog’s subfolder name. This might be “/blog” or “/resources.”

2) Export this list of URLs to a Google Sheet/Excel spreadsheet

Do a quick export of the data into a spreadsheet. Add a column to the right of both the clicks and impressions numbers that calculates the difference in 6-months over 6-months. You’re going to sort the list in the following ways.

  • Largest click decrease → add these to your list of updates
  • Largest impressions decrease → add these to your list of updates
  • Stagnant posts that have always had low clicks but high impressions → add these to your list for further inspection of why the impressions number is so high

3) Layer in your GA data/important conversion data from your tools

This final layer is about prioritizing the pieces that have decayed the most AND previously contributed to assisted conversions/direct conversions.

This data should allow you to re-organize your list with the impactful content being updated first.


Tactic #3: Using a third-party tool

Nothing beats the power of first-party data, but if you’re limited to third-party tools for prioritizing your content updates - here are the steps to get the above done in Ahrefs (it’ll be very similar for you all that are using SEMrush).

1) Enter your domain into Ahrefs top search bar

This will generate the crawl results of your website into meaningful SEO-focused data.

2) Select the “Top Pages” option from the left-hand navigation bar

You’ll notice a tab/hyperlink on the left-hand side that says “Top Pages.”

Selecting this nav option will allow you to look at the data associated with specific pages/URLs without the duplication noise in the keywords report.

3) Set the URL filter to “contains” + [your blog subfolder name - e.g. /blog]

This will initially sort your results from the most monthly organic traffic to the least.

We recommend starting your list by sorting by a change in value. This will show you which posts have lost the most estimated value according to Ahref’s data.

After that, you can sort by the biggest change in traffic.

Again, always be sure that what you’re adding to your list is aligned with your ICP’s goals and larger content strategy.

Newsletter image

There you have it.

3 meaningful ways to generate a list going into Q4 that'll ensure you prioritize the right content for updates. If you have additional questions, always feel free to ping us on LinkedIn or respond via email!

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