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How to Identify and Refresh Outdated Content

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How Contextualizing Topics can Lead to Press-worthy Content for Your Brand

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

When someone regularly adds new content to their sites, they face an inevitable question: What happens to my older articles?

The way blogging works is really unfair to your past work: It gets buried in archives, losing traffic and relevance.

Is there a way to keep your content always up-to-date? Yes, but first let’s discuss the why.

Why update your content?

Keeping your content fresh and updated is more than overcoming the unfairness of your past work fading away. It’s actually a legit marketing tactic that saves money and makes your users’ on-site experience smoother.

So let’s dive into why updating old content is so important:

1. User experience

The most obvious reason is that you want each of your site pages to be an effective entry landing page: Outdated content and broken links will likely result in bounces. These are lost leads and clients.

2. Search engine optimization

When it comes to SEO, content updates offer quite a few advantages:

  • Maintaining more consistent rankings, especially for those queries that deserve freshness. We’ve all seen this before: A competitor updates a page and suddenly gains 3-4 positions. It can be a temporary boost, but unless you perform an update to your page, it may last 12-18 months. Updating your old content on a regular basis will help you avoid these situations without necessarily chasing each particular loss.

  • Creating more helpful content (see what I did here?). What we knew about COVID three years ago has nothing to compare with what we know now. So, if you wrote an article on it back then, you will have a lot to add now. Adding new facts and guidelines to your old content makes it more in-depth — and yes, helpful — and that’s a ranking factor.

  • Making the most of your already-built link equity: Your old content may have attracted some backlinks and trust signals. You can benefit from those without investing in new links to your new articles.

  • Generating higher click-through thanks to a fresher date within your search snippet. I’m not aware of any organic search click-through study that would include dates in search snippets, but it’s safe to assume that in most cases, most people would be attracted to a fresher date, so if your search snippets include dates, it’s a good idea to make sure they’re pretty recent:

How to identify content that needs updating

So how to identify outdated content (also referred to as expired content or content decay)?

Here are a few methods:

Loss of rankings

If you’re monitoring your rankings, you will be notified of any loss.

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There may be multiple reasons for rankings decline, but for content-based pages, it’s often about content getting outdated. Evaluate your target SERP to see if a more up-to-date page is over-ranking yours now.

For new keywords you’re not tracking positions for, you can analyze the ranking fluctuations using SE Ranking. The tool offers a handy SERP analytics feature that visualizes organic search result dynamics over time. It’s a great way to analyze how versatile any SERP is and how often you may need to update your target page to keep up:

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Loss of traffic

For multi-page, content-heavy sites, it may be next to impossible to keep track of all the rankings. Therefore regular page-level traffic audits will help you catch a possibly outdated article.

Google Analytics is a pretty solid way to identify pages that have seen a decline in the loss of clicks from organic search. All you need is to limit your Acquisition channels to “Organic search”, click through to the “Landing Pages” tab, and use the “Compare” checkbox when selecting dates.

You can compare clicks to the same period of the previous month, or go further back, depending on how often you do that exercise:

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Make sure to select the same days of the week when comparing, as the traffic over the weekends will likely be always lower. You can also compare month- to-month to catch more extended losses.

Once you know which settings work best for your site, you can save that report to save yourself trouble of clicking all those settings again.

You can also use Search Console to identify pages losing traffic. There’s an option to compare clicks using various time frames, but you can only go as far as 16 months back:

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Search Console lets you sort your pages by those that lost the most clicks, which is a great way to identify your biggest losses:

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Clicking any page in the chart will load a new report focusing on that page. This is when you can click to the “Queries” tab to find the actual keywords that are sending fewer clicks.

It’s also a good idea to set monitoring of your key competing pages, in order to be notified when those are updated. Visual Ping is a great tool for this, allowing you to monitor your competitors’ on-page SEO efforts and be alerted when they change anything on their sites:

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In my niche, for example, I use the tool to monitor Wikipedia and Google pages to be alerted when there’s a change there. While I may not be able to ever compete with either, it’s a good way to know when there’s an update needed for my pages on the same topic.

Link equity

You probably know your most-linked-to pages (if not, you may find them using Link Explorer):

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The logic here is that if a page is heavily (and naturally) linked but has no organic traffic, you’re probably facing one of two issues:

In both of these cases, updating and re-optimizing a page could help it gain some rankings and clicks.

Likewise, if you see links pointing to an article of yours steadily disappearing, that may mean that your content has gone very outdated and the editors have started removing the links. Linkchecker is an easy backlink monitoring tool that will help you catch that unfortunate trend in a timely manner.

How to update your old content

Simply republish to a new date (Spoiler: Not recommended)

A popular way to ensure your search snippet has a recent date is to simply republish it to a new date.

Well, according to Google, this is wrong:

“…it’s against our guidelines to artificially freshen a story when the publisher didn’t add significant information or demonstrated a compelling reason…”

It should be noted that it does help. While I cannot recommend anything that goes against Google’s guidelines, it’s really frustrating to try and explain it to clients, especially when their competitors repeatedly and successfully use this simple tactic.

Nonetheless, let’s take this method off the table.

Add “significant” information

Unfortunately, Google wouldn’t tell what amount of information could be considered “significant.”

So you will have to use your editorial judgment. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Include fresh stats or more recent numbers.

  • Update your sources (and replace broken links). Linking to articles that go back years ago will tell Google (and your site users) that yours is quite outdated as well.

  • Update your screenshots / images and embed newer videos.

  • Add new tools, mention new trends or recent events that may have influenced what is described in the article.

  • Add internal links to your newer content.

  • Add your new CTAs, link to your new (and relevant) lead magnets, update the forms

  • Optimize your page better, and in a more natural way: WebCEO offers a cool tool allowing you to identify which keywords any page can be re-optimized for higher organic visibility.

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While it’s not the only tool I tend to use, this one helps define the direction.

Next, I run my target keyword through Text Optimizer to find more angles, concepts and entities that can be used to expand my content and make it more relevant and in-depth:

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Now, republish it to a new date to push it up on top of your site’s archives. There’s also a way to display the last updated date, without republishing (there are similar solutions on WP alternatives as well). However, that way it will remain deeper in your archives. If you update content often and don’t want all of those updates to appear on the front page, this is a good alternative method.

Redirect to a new page

This makes sense only if you have a few old articles on the same topic and you’re consolidating them into a single new one.

Another valid reason for redirecting is when you have dates in URLs.

In other cases, I’m not a fan of internal redirects if you can do without them, so I’d almost always try to keep existing URLs.

Make content updates part of your routine

For well-established, content-heavy sites, updating content should be part of your content marketing routine. In other words, it should happen on a consistent and regular basis. To make it happen, try one or a combination of the following tactics:

  • Depending on your new and old content volume, make sure a certain percentage of content being published on your site is an update. For example, for every five new articles on your site, one should be an update.

  • Treat article updates as new content. Many reputable blogs (like this one) pay staff writers the same amount of money for an updated article as for a new one.

  • Allocate time every month to analyzing rankings and traffic losses and see if there’s an update opportunity there. I recommend assessing your declining organic visibility at least once a month.

  • Depending on your new content frequency, define one day in your editorial calendar to article updates. For example, if you update your blog daily, allocate every Friday to an article update.

  • Make sure your updated content is promoted as new: Create social media updates to push it using all available channels and diverse messaging. I use Creatopy for that because it makes this process extremely productive by allowing content writers and promoters to collaborate on visual creatives.

It should be noted that updating your site is not just about SEO and clicks. Many of your static pages that are not necessarily created to attract organic traffic are often left outdated. These include About us page, TOS, privacy policy page, FAQ page, and more. Keep those updated as well, based on your company’s milestones and legislation changes.

Takeaways

Keeping your existing content updated helps your user experience and SEO by letting you benefit from the past effort and already acquired link equity. Fresher content likely attracts higher click-through thanks to dated search snippets.

To identify content that needs updating, assess your losses in rankings and traffic. It’s also a good idea to update well-linked content that has never ranked, for any reason.

Republishing an old article to a new date without updating it’s against Google’s guidelines. Adding significant information – like new sources, tools, stats, images and videos — lets you republish old articles and push them on top of your archives, increasing their chances to rank higher and attract more clicks.

And finally, to make sure your content updates are really effective, make them part of your content marketing routine.

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

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So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

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  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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