Updating old content that doesn't rank. Delete original and post to new URL? Or keep original URL?

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Over the past few months I've spent hundreds of hours updating old, stale content on one of my bigger sites.

Contrary to what I've been reading, after all of these massive edits and updates (that often times involve rewriting the whole article), the content is still buried in the depths of Google. No ranking improvements whatsoever. It's almost as if Google has penalized that specific URL.

I'm thinking that going forward, a better strategy will be to delete the content in question, post the new, updated content on a new page/URL, and then update all inbound links to reflect the change.

Does anybody have experience doing this? What results have you seen?
 

Ryuzaki

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It totally depends on whether on not the Query Deserves Freshness (QDF). My experience has been, when they do require freshness, is you can add content to the pages all day long but Google won't refresh the Fresh Rank until it sees an updated "publish date" or "last updated date." That's when they say "hey I should evaluate this to see if it had a substantial content update," because otherwise they'd spend way too much processing time on it.

I went to some serious depth on my experience with it here, which was actually more of a live case study:
Publish Date, Last Updated, Query Deserves Freshness, & Google Fresh Rank

So if you haven't "triggered" the Fresh Rank refresh by updating your dates, I recommend you do that and request a recrawl of your site in Search Console.

But again, there are queries where age is more important to the search where freshness won't do anything for you.

Did these pages you're working on rank previously? Where do they rank now, in general?
 
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Thanks for the link, @Ryuzaki !

My posts don't show publish dates in the content or source code, so I'm going to add them in manually. I'm nervous about automatically inserting it into all posts because of that case study you posted saying -

"Another guy never had dates on his articles, and he added them and tanked his traffic by 40%. That's all the data we got out of it. But it's an important point that dates can hurt you where freshness is demanded."

I'm going to add the time tag at the top of all content I update from here on out (@DarkRed suggestion)

"<time datetime="2018-03-27T00:00:00+00:00">Updated on: March 27, 2018</time>"

As for your last two questions, I can't remember if they ever ranked. These are articles from 2011-2014. Nowadays, they aren't even showing up in the top 10 pages in google for their target keywords.

I'll keep this thread updated to let everyone know my results.
 

Ryuzaki

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@funlol, If you don't want to add it in the post itself, you could add it in the meta tags of the header section. And you could test it on just a handful of posts to see how it goes. But at this point, I'd go YOLO and do the whole site at once, since nothing is ranking anyways. You'll get very clear feedback that way.
 
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@funlol, If you don't want to add it in the post itself, you could add it in the meta tags of the header section. And you could test it on just a handful of posts to see how it goes. But at this point, I'd go YOLO and do the whole site at once, since nothing is ranking anyways. You'll get very clear feedback that way.
Lots of stuff on the site is ranking, just not the articles in question that I have been updating.
 
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How you do it would depend on the platform, like Wordpress, but you could write an if statement to only show the updated date on just the ones you're concerned about, or create a custom post template and move those over to it, where the template would show updated date while your others could continue to show no date.

Then you wouldn't risk disrupting your other rankings and could still do a "YOLO" style drop and see what happens across the board on the refreshed pages.