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What hurts the SEO of existing content when you make edits?

  • 2 October 2019
  • 3 replies
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Userlevel 4
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We have events that happen annually, that we want to have UTD content on. I’m sure this is very common with other CS communities.  

 

To avoid an ever increasing pool of duplicated content, would it be better to edit the existing content? Choose one topic as the go-to, and link other older duplicates to this new topic. We can add a clear time stamp so customers know it’s relevant (alhtough is that enough… is the old publish date, at the top, enough to risk the content being disregarded as old…?) and edit the title as well. 

 

But does this effect that content’s SEO? What hurts content’s SEO when editing? Is changing the title worse then only changing the content copy? Is changing the content category a big no no? 

 

Maybe a duplicate and a good archieving system is better. At least the publish date makes it clear that it’s the right topic to look at? Thoughts welcome! 

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Best answer by Julian 4 October 2019, 17:20

Hey Tim,

Thanks for sharing your questions here with us! :)

I also discussed this with a colleague of mine, as updating older content can have both positive and negative effects:

  • Google likes new content, so in general it is not bad to update old/outdated content
  • However if your update results in less powerful keywords in the title / body, it could actually also damage it’s value long-term

Maybe you want to check first how much value you get out of that specific topic - GA can tell you how many clicks you get and if it is ranking high for certain search queries. Should that be the case, I would suggest to not remove too much from the topic title and the body which could harm the performance in the future.

As this is about events, I would assume that more people will be searching for this years’ event than for last years’ event. So probably you should be able to improve / maintain a good SEO performance by updating the title and details to the current event.

I personally choose to publish a new topic each year, for several reasons:

  • some users might want to check back what happened last year, updating content would wipe that info from my community
  • I think it is more important to keep the user experience high of users browsing my community - however I am talking with a B2B background where organic search performance is not a high prio, while that is much more the case for a B2C community
  • You also mentioned timestamps - I see the risk as well that content is not “trusted” as much when the timestamp is showing the topic has been published a year ago. In general users will continue to read and learn that it is new content, however I get that it might cause a bit of confusion.

And to answer your question if a title edit is worse than a content edit: both have their impact, I personally do not think that one is worse than the other. Of course it also depends what you do with it - an edit to a super long title could hurt the SEO performance, just as removing all keywords from the body… If you maintain the level of keywords or add more to it, you should be safe.

Also, speaking about the content category: In the end this should be fine as well, as far as I can see it: The topic ID is a unique identifier of your topic, so Google will follow and update the location. I am not aware of any negative impact on your SEO value.

I hope that this gives you a better feeling for how to tackle this challenge. I think in your specific case it might be a good idea to update the older topic and then “bump” the topic by adding a new comment. It should not hurt the SEO performance in this context too much. Should you still not feel sure about it or should you have more questions, just let us know! :)

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3 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Hey Tim,

Thanks for sharing your questions here with us! :)

I also discussed this with a colleague of mine, as updating older content can have both positive and negative effects:

  • Google likes new content, so in general it is not bad to update old/outdated content
  • However if your update results in less powerful keywords in the title / body, it could actually also damage it’s value long-term

Maybe you want to check first how much value you get out of that specific topic - GA can tell you how many clicks you get and if it is ranking high for certain search queries. Should that be the case, I would suggest to not remove too much from the topic title and the body which could harm the performance in the future.

As this is about events, I would assume that more people will be searching for this years’ event than for last years’ event. So probably you should be able to improve / maintain a good SEO performance by updating the title and details to the current event.

I personally choose to publish a new topic each year, for several reasons:

  • some users might want to check back what happened last year, updating content would wipe that info from my community
  • I think it is more important to keep the user experience high of users browsing my community - however I am talking with a B2B background where organic search performance is not a high prio, while that is much more the case for a B2C community
  • You also mentioned timestamps - I see the risk as well that content is not “trusted” as much when the timestamp is showing the topic has been published a year ago. In general users will continue to read and learn that it is new content, however I get that it might cause a bit of confusion.

And to answer your question if a title edit is worse than a content edit: both have their impact, I personally do not think that one is worse than the other. Of course it also depends what you do with it - an edit to a super long title could hurt the SEO performance, just as removing all keywords from the body… If you maintain the level of keywords or add more to it, you should be safe.

Also, speaking about the content category: In the end this should be fine as well, as far as I can see it: The topic ID is a unique identifier of your topic, so Google will follow and update the location. I am not aware of any negative impact on your SEO value.

I hope that this gives you a better feeling for how to tackle this challenge. I think in your specific case it might be a good idea to update the older topic and then “bump” the topic by adding a new comment. It should not hurt the SEO performance in this context too much. Should you still not feel sure about it or should you have more questions, just let us know! :)

Userlevel 4
Badge +3

Thanks @Julian 

 

As you might tell, I am an SEO amatuer! From your reply, it sounds like edits to titles and content text only effects SEO if there are more or less key words present then before.  A few follow up questions from this.

 

  1. Does editing the content trick Google into thinking it’s new UTD content, presumably boosting SEO?
  2. Does editing text and moving the content into a new category result in Google needing to index the page again? From your reply, it sounds like it doesn’t - good to know!

I am also clearly a GA amatuer. I can’t find where you can view website or page Google search ranking or CTR. Any help on that would be appreciated!

 

In general though, it sounds like when deciding to make new or edit old content, SEO considerations are minimal, as long as key words are present. What we need to think about is how useful and valuable that content is, and go from there!

 

:nerd:

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Hi Tim,

yeah, I think I also would not deserve a SEO-Badge for the knowledge I have, however I have verified these things with my colleagues who have more knowledge around this than I do. :)

About your follow-up questions:

  1. Does editing the content trick Google into thinking it’s new UTD content, presumably boosting SEO?
  2. Does editing text and moving the content into a new category result in Google needing to index the page again? From your reply, it sounds like it doesn’t - good to know!
  1. Yes, Google recognizes that the content has been updated. And as Google likes UTD content, it will also have a positive effect on the performance.
  2. Well, technically it can be called a new indexing (as it will receive a new rank within search results pages). However, as the Thread ID is a universal identificator of the topic, Google will recognize that it is the same topic. But it will also recognize that it has changed. So it will only update the url, the page title and the preview text (only if it has changed of course), there is no risk of e.g. having the same topic listed twice.

To help you further with Google Analytics in general, but specifically page ranking info and CTR:

I can recommend the Google Analytics Academy which will help you understanding how Google Analytics works and how you can generate value for your community out of it.

As far as I remember you will need to link your Google Analytics with the Google Search Console (if that is not already the case) before you can learn more about ranking and CTR. I will start working on a tutorial which will explain how to check on these items and share it with you here once done, hopefully within a couple of days.

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