SEO Myth: Should You Ever Update A Page That’s Highly Ranked?

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A colleague of mine contacted me who was deploying a new site for their client and asked my advice. He stated that an SEO consultant that was working with the company advised them to ensure that the pages that they were ranking for not be changed otherwise they might lose their ranking.

This is nonsense.

For the last decade I’ve been helping some of the world’s largest brands migrate, deploy, and build content strategies that incorporated organic ranking as a primary channel of prospects and leads. In every scenario, I helped the client to optimize currently ranking pages and associated content in a number of ways:

  • Merging – Because of their content production methodologies, clients often had a multitude of poorly ranking pages that were largely the same content. If they had 12 key questions; for example, about a topic… they write 12 blog posts. Some ranked okay, most didn’t. I would redesign the page and optimize it with all key questions into a well-organized comprehensive single article, I redirect all pages to the one that ranked the best, remove the old ones, and watch the page skyrocket in rank. This isn’t something that I’ve done once… I do it all the time for clients. I actually do it here on Martech Zone, too!
  • Structure – I’ve optimized page slugs, headings, bolded keywords, and emphatic tags all the time to better organize pages for a superior user experience. Many SEO consultants would cringe at redirecting an old page slug to a new one, stating that it would lose some of its authority when modified. Again, I’ve done this on my own site over and over when it made sense and it’s worked every time that I’ve done it intelligently.
  • Content – I’ve absolutely reworded headlines and content to provide more compelling, up-to-date descriptions that are more engaging to visitors. Very seldom do I reduce the word-count on the page. More often, I work on increasing word count, adding additional sections, adding graphics, and incorporating video into the content. I test and optimize meta descriptions for the pages all of the time to try and drive better click-through rates from the search engine result pages.

Don’t Believe Me?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how to identify SEO opportunities to improve search ranking and stated that I identified content library as a great opportunity to drive additional ranking. I ranked 9th for my article.

I did a complete overhaul of the article, updating the title of the article, the meta title, meta description, enhancing the article with some updated advice and statistics. I did a review of all of my competition’s pages to ensure that my page was better organized, up to date, and well-written.

The result? I moved the article from ranking 9th to ranking 3rd!

content library ranking

The impact of this was that I doubled the page views over the previous time period from organic traffic:

content library analytics

SEO Is About Users, Not Algorithms

Years ago, it was possible to game algorithms and you could destroy your ranking by making changes to your ranked content because algorithms were far more dependent on page characteristics than user behavior.

Google continues to dominate search because they weave the two carefully. I often tell people that pages will be indexed for the content, but ranked based on its popularity. When you do both, you skyrocket your rank.

Letting designs, structure, or the content itself get stagnant is a surefire way to lose your ranking as competing sites develop better user experiences with more engaging content. Algorithms will always move in the direction of your users and your page’s popularity.

That means you must continue to work on content and design optimization! As someone who is hired to help clients with search engine optimization all the time, I’m always focused on the quality of the content and the user experience over the algorithms.

Of course, I want to roll out the red carpet to search engines with site and page SEO best practices… but I’ll invest in improving the user experience every time with over leaving pages unchanged out of fear or losing ranking.

Should You Update A Page That’s Highly Ranked In Search Engine Results?

If you’re an SEO consultant that advises your clients to never update their highly-ranked content… I believe you’re negligent in your duties to help them drive improved business results. Every company should keep their page content up-to-date, relevant, compelling, and providing an improved user experience.

Great content combined with a superior user experience won’t just help you rank better, it will also drive more conversions. This is the ultimate goal of content marketing and SEO strategies… not trying to tame the algorithms.

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