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What Is Content Decay? How to Revamp Your SEO Content

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What is content decay?

Content decay is the gradual decline in the effectiveness and relevance of online content over time, resulting in decreased visibility and engagement.

Once you put a piece out there, it’s easy to forget about it and move on with content creation. However, even if your content ranks well initially, it can drop in rankings over time, leading to content decay.

Fresh content is crucial for search engine optimization (SEO). So, what causes content decay? In this post, we’ll discuss what happens to content over time and how you can make it competitive again.

Want to chat with a strategist about your content marketing strategy? Call 888-601-5359 today!

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Content decay 101

Let’s cover the basics of content decay.

What is content decay?

Content decay is a decline in organic traffic over time for one or more pages.

Your page will naturally rank lower over time as new content is published and older pages become less pertinent. This step is a normal part of SEO — most pages do not maintain high traffic forever.

How to identify content decay

To find content decay, you must consistently track your page’s key performance indicators (KPIs) to know what pages are losing traffic. If a page isn’t getting as much traffic as before, it’s experiencing content decay.

Some critical indicators of decaying content are:

You can also search for your target keywords and see where your page ranks.

Content decay tools

Now that you know how to identify content decay, you can use these content decay tools to help you identify underperforming pages:

Google Analytics

Use Google Analytics to track traffic and conversions over a select period. You can access your whole site or individual pages to see which perform best.

Here is an example report that you could see for your pages:

Example Google Analytics line graph showing page traffic increasing over time

You can also track demographics to see what sorts of people are coming to your site and consider them when refreshing your content.


The Ahrefs website lets you select a time range and note any changes in traffic to a page during that time. You can also check how many keywords the page ranks for, along with increases or decreases.

I searched the Apple website for an example graph:

Ahrefs graph for traffic on the Apple homepage

SEO Checker

Our free SEO tool will rank your page’s SEO health and give you a report. From there, you can learn from the weak points to make changes to your site.

Why does content decay matter?

You want all pages to perform well, which is where SEO comes in. However, SEO is an ongoing process — not an instant fix. When you work to have your pages rank well, it’s essential to keep up with them.

Content decay impacts SEO through:

  • Information relevancy: If your information is outdated by a few years or the search intent has changed, Google will deem your page irrelevant for its users. Searchers who click will likely bounce when they don’t find what they need.
  • Backlink performance: Content decay makes your page less likely to maintain backlinks. Other sites won’t want to link to your page if they know you aren’t updating it or if the information is old.
  • Page visibility: As competitors create new content, yours will get pushed to the bottom of the search engine results pages (SERPs). It will take more work for prospects to find your site.
  • Conversions: With fewer people coming to your site, you might see a drop in conversions — from that page or in general. You want people to stay on your site to see what you have to offer, but that is unlikely if they only find outdated content.

By staying on top of content decay, you can show Google that you’re an authoritative source with current data. You can maintain quality traffic and make sure people visit your site to convert.

How to refresh your content

We now know what causes content decay, so it’s time to fix some pages! Follow the steps below to improve your decaying content.

1. Update information

Make sure all the information in your blog posts is relevant to your industry or business. Depending on your industry, new research or advancements may have emerged since you first wrote the page.

Replace old data with newer information to help keep your readers in the loop. Check the following:

  • Statistics
  • Company policies and information
  • Product descriptions
  • Year
  • Outbound links

Be sure to remove any dated screenshots or videos as well. You want your page to look modern — an old screenshot might be off-putting to your audience.

2. Add new content

If you want to freshen up a page, try adding new content. Look at other ranking articles, see what topics they cover, and implement that content onto your page. You won’t have to start from scratch — you can build on what you have already to make the page rank better.

Say you write a blog post about security cameras. If you look at the SERPs, you might notice that similar pages include a how-to section for finding security cameras. You should incorporate that information into your piece to help match user search intent.

When you add new content, perform keyword research for any new sections to find additional phrases to include.

3. Combine posts

If you have several smaller blog posts that rank similarly, consolidate them into one master post. You can turn your short-form content into one powerful long-form post.

While short-form content has its benefits, long-form content lets you:

  • Rank for more keywords.
  • Explain topics in greater detail.
  • Create more sharable content.

If you already have the text, you can refresh and combine it to rank better as a new page.

4. Refresh the SEO data

The SEO-focused data can also help you freshen your page and reflect new changes. Look at the following information:

  • Meta description: Does your meta description accurately describe your page?
  • Title: Do you have an enticing title that separates your page from others? Does your title include the primary keyword?
  • Keywords: Does your page pertain to your target keywords? Are all the keywords inserted naturally? Can you add or replace some keywords with higher-ranking options?

5. Check links

Broken links can impact your SEO and make it difficult for users to navigate. Go through low-ranking pages to find any broken or outdated links.

Look for:

  • Links that cause endless redirects
  • Pages that no longer exist
  • Links that lead to spammy websites

Replace any questionable links with an alternative source to improve your page rankings. Be sure to look at your content map and find internal linking opportunities, too!

6. Improve user experience (UX)

An inviting UX will keep users on your page for longer and help them navigate your site. The following contribute to poor UX:

  • Slow loading times
  • Distracting visuals
  • Unresponsive images or videos

Most of these issues you’ll catch shortly after publishing your page. However, double-checking these features will ensure a seamless experience for every reader.

7. Update the publishing date

After you make changes, update the publishing date if possible. This step will show readers — and Google — the updated date and tell them that the page is up-to-date and relevant.

If your page is time-sensitive, it will appear in the most recent publications when users filter their search date:

Screenshot of Google SERPs with arrows pointing to the filter for publishing date

If you have the year in your blog post title, you can also update to the current year or the next year to show that the content is fresh.

These are real SEO results driven for a WebFX client.

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Want help with ongoing SEO?

Once you understand content decay, it’s time to implement a prevention strategy. Consistent SEO checkups can prevent your pages from falling short and boost your ratings.

WebFX offers ongoing SEO services and content marketing services to help you maximize rankings on every page.

Check out our free marketing guides for more insight, and then contact us online or call us at 888-601-5359 today!

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