How Lee Wilson Fixes Stagnated Content (And Leverages Automation)


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How to Fix Stagnated Content

Lee Wilson wrote a post about stagnated content on SEJ and I reached out to him to discuss the topic in further detail. As you already know, updating old content is one of the hottest new SEO techniques because:

1.) It requires much less time than writing a new blog post

2.) Your current post will be able to rank higher more quickly than a new post

3.) It eliminates “fluff” on your website

We discussed not only his step by step approach but also how he manages high volumes of content and even automates portions of the process.


How do you approach stagnated content on a broad scale?

  • He approaches everything from Google Search Console and looks where content is starting to drop off.
  • The first indicator is a decrease in impressions (Login to Search Console > Filter by Queries )
  • Look at the commercial queries and look at trends in comparison to how a keyword performed in years past
  • Use a tool like Google Data Studios which automates your reports so that you don’t have to do everything manually. He also uses Apollo Insights
  • This connects dispersed data points so that you aren’t always having to manually do this

How do you approach automation?

  • Computers are great for automating simple tasks
  • Then humans step in and analyze that data to decide how to proceed

If you already have a large blog and you haven’t ever updated content before, how do you work refreshing into your content strategy? Do you have a percentage or ratio of new content to refreshed content?

  • It really depends on the anticipated returns on a refreshed piece of content versus a new piece of content
  • Try working on a sprint basis and adjust your schedule depending on the results of the test
  • It’s difficult to come up with a general percentage. Read the data and react to what it is telling you
  • If your current content is already evergreen, there is a much better chance that updating it will give you a higher ROI versus a website that has fluffy or news-based content
  • If you plan your content to have a longer life span, you will see a greater ROI on refreshing

How do you refresh a news related piece of content?

  • If you have a news piece that performs really well and happens annually, consider how you can make it evergreen
  • For example, if you have a page announcing speakers for Brighton SEO 2019, consider just updating that same page for the next year rather than creating a new one. From that page, you can have posts for a specific year and a post about the 2017 speakers may still be relevant and useful to someone that wants to go back and look at the speakers, but it reduces excess outdated content

If you have a post that ranks for unintentional or irrelevant keywords how do you handle that? Changing the structure of the post risks losing all the SEO value that you have already acquired, though if it isn’t ranking for the correct keywords, do you have any other options?

  • First, look at why there is a disparity between the keywords it should be ranking for and the keywords that it is ranking for
  • Sometimes you do have to reposition the content and see what types of content Google is ranking
  • This happens a lot with Google preferring to show one type of medium (video) to another (text)
  • Look at the completeness and depth of the content. Particularly focus on the quality of the writing to the quantity
  • Look at things like backlinks, social media share and general buzz around a piece of content
  • Look at things like bounce rates and click-through rates as these are quick signals to Google that you aren’t matching the intent
  • Also, consider the user experience like the readability of your content

How do you avoid the copycat content crisis and still ensure that your content is just as thorough as the other types of content?

  • It begins when you first start to create content
  • If you can get people to contribute people to the content, this creates more originality
  • If there is any question if the content is better than the competing pieces, you should address this prior to it going live
  • You may have to create new videos, generate original quotes or create new statistics and most companies aren’t willing to devote their resources to this
  • Realistically, you need to create something that is original, whereas most companies are creating safe content like ultimate guides. 
  • It really requires some external help as the most successful content can’t be produced 100% in house. The best pieces involve content marketing, SEO, social media PR and more
  • There are no shortcuts. 
  • Sometimes being first to cover a topic can help, though it usually really requires you to bring some level of expertise to the table that hasn’t yet been shared

If you have an ultimate guide that is currently ranking number 5 in the SERPs and all the positions above that are ultimate guides, would you try repositioning the article to make the angle different in an effort to increase your rankings?

  • If the article is already doing quite well, don’t reposition it. Think about what additional data points you can include to make it more authoritative
  • In addition, look at your technical SEO. Is there anything you can adjust to make it perform better?
  • Look at the Google Answers and include those answers into your content. This also helps Google see that your content is fresh and new
  • Consider looking at the main headings and subheadings as well as structured data and as well as quality signals
  • Consider updating titles for clicks which will help it move up further

If you have multiple articles on the same subject, how do combine, prune etc a website with a lot of similar content?

  • Use data to lead this decision
  • Consider using a hub and spoke model and make the most successful piece of content a static page. From there, you can adjust the other pieces of content to support that page.
  • Don’t disturb what Google already perceives as the best piece of content
  • Drive internal links from the other pages to the static page
  • Repromote the static page through PR etc
  • In some examples, you might not have to do anything if they are all contributing to the general clicks and impressions and the data is pointing towards positive results

If you have a post that never performed well, but that maybe has a link or two, what’s your strategy with posts that never performed well?

  • If the content doesn’t have any traffic, signals, etc – redirect with a 301
  • It’s easy for Google to spend most of their time on unimportant content which dilutes the valuable content
  • Put the user first – if your users are using it, don’t prune it
  • Consider also using things like chatbots to replace unnecessary content

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