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6 Essential Tips For Keeping Your Content Relevant (And Ranking)

Date published: September 30, 2019
Last updated: September 30, 2019

SEO isn’t something you do once and forget about. It’s a perpetual priority, and there are two major reasons for this: firstly, the standards by which pages are judged continue to change (there will never be a perfect ranking formula), and secondly, your competitors are always fighting to displace your rankings - if you stop moving forwards, they’ll overtake you.

And while there are plenty of technical elements to consider, one of the biggest parts of outperforming your rivals is having better content. So what makes one piece of content better than another?

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If Google doesn’t consider your content relevant to a particular search term, it won’t matter how good it is, because it won’t be given a prominent position in the results. Keep your pages relevant, and you’ll earn stable rankings. Here are 6 tips for doing just that:

1. Start with evergreen topics

There is value in writing about ephemeral topics (those that get a lot of searches for a brief time), but the long-term value is in evergreen topics — they get attention throughout the year. For instance, if you were writing about cookery, a recipe for a Christmas cake would be good around December, but a recipe for a basic sponge cake would be useful at any time of the year.

By making the bulk of your posts about evergreen topics, you’ll ensure that the traffic from search will remain solid for as long as you can keep your content relevant. The alternative is dire: there’s not much use in ranking well for terms that aren’t getting any searches.

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2. Focus on actionable tips

Google’s algorithms can’t parse things as humans do, but they are increasingly capable of identifying structure, so you need to take advantage by making your content as easy to process as possible. This is why you need to focus on actionable tips in sequences or lists — the clearer the format is, the more likely it’ll be to get selected for high ranking positions.

Note that you don’t necessarily need a numbered list. If you have a telling heading (e.g. starting with “6 Essential Tips”) and the right number of subheadings, there won’t be any mystery about what each of the sections involves.

3. Future-proof your resources

It’s often useful to include images and videos in a post, and Google will consider those resources when ranking it, but keep in mind that baseline standards are going to keep rising. What do I mean by this? Well, think about the quality and resolution of the average website image today, and compare it to the average website image of even 5 years ago.

Most websites that looked good just a handful of years ago would look quite bad on a lot of modern devices, due to low-resolution images, outdated videos, and design elements that don’t scale well. Structure your site well (use a great hosted CMS, ideally), polish your homepage to most effectively serve as your content hub, and keep full-size versions of all the images you use so you can make them bigger when needed.

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4. Avoid dated references

It isn’t necessarily a problem to include dates in a post, but only in reference to particular events. Don’t talk about “today” or “last month” in combination with the topic, and certainly don’t build the entire piece around a specific year. Note, however, that there is an exception when it comes to your post title: there can be value in including the year there as a keyword, but don’t make it a cornerstone of the whole piece.

Why? Because once that year passes, people will stop searching for it, and you want that piece to have a chance to rank for years to come. Either use the year in the title before swapping it out when necessary, or simply don’t mention it at all.

5. Pay close attention to trends

Even though you’re largely creating evergreen content, you need to know what people are currently expecting from the content they consume. Are they looking for FAQs? Instructional videos? Interactive infographics? Format preferences change over time, so there’s often value in taking an established topic and presenting information in a new way.

In addition, you can take the information you acquire through looking at trends and use it for our final tip. Let’s get to it.

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6. Update old pieces periodically

I already brought up changing a post’s title, but that’s not all you can do. Content doesn’t need to be static - you’re completely free to update it over time, and if you can adapt a post over the years, it can do extremely well.

Here’s why: if the URL stays live, then all the backlinks the page has ever picked up will continue to be relevant for ranking it, but the content of the page will have changed radically to suit current search activity.

So instead of deleting a page that’s become outdated, or simply ignoring it entirely, you should rehabilitate it. Don’t just keep making it longer (a long post isn’t inherently useful), but update it to be accurate for the present day. That way, you won’t be throwing away all of the ranking potential the URL has built up.

Wrapping up, you need to keep your content relevant to what people are searching for today, and you can manage it by making some simple changes to your content production process, thinking about the future, and being prepared to refresh your old content to give it new life.

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