How to Stop Content Decay Before It Rots Through Your SEO

Peter A. Liefer II | Posted: May 30th, 2024 | Updated: June 21st, 2024

You know what really hurts about running a website? Giving your all to a piece of content, seeing it perform exceptionally well, and then all of a sudden—it begins to lose traffic, backlinks, or conversions. It stings, especially ROI-wise.

At PrimeView, we understand this frustration firsthand. High-quality content can drop in search rankings due to broken links, optimization issues, or becoming obsolete. We’ve helped ourselves and our clients identify these problems, ensuring to revamp and maintain the relevance and helpfulness of online posts. After all, good content is and will be king for a long time, plus it’s key to SEO and AEO.


The Problem: Content Decay

What is content decay, you ask? It’s the gradual decline in the performance and effectiveness of a blog, product or service page, and basically any web page on your site. If content decay were a disease, its symptoms would include a painful drop in organic traffic, social shares, backlinks, or conversions.

Identifying and addressing content decay is essential for maintaining the positive impact of your digital content. If not, your pages would suffer from poor online visibility, resulting in fewer visitors and a further fall in rankings.


What Causes Content Decay?

Understanding the causes of content decay can help you fix the problem and win back your SEO traffic.


1. Content Irrelevance

Content created years ago loses “freshness” as new information emerges, industries evolve, and trends change. For example, data related to market insights or consumer behavior can shift over time, rendering previously published content obsolete. Unhelpful, inaccurate content turns away users seeking up-to-date information.


2. Link Rot

External links within content can break or become outdated as websites change or pages get removed. For instance, referencing a study with a broken link weakens your content’s credibility and usefulness in readers’ eyes.


3. Falling Behind on Updates

Algorithm changes, such as Google’s people-first content update, can leave static content in the dust. Content tailored for outdated search engine algorithms may lose visibility, as it no longer aligns with current ranking factors.


4. Evolving User Preferences

Like how many of us are far from the person we were years ago, your target audience’s behavior and interests can change, too. A shift in consumer preferences toward minimalist, eco-friendly product packaging may diminish the relevance of content promoting excessive, environmentally detrimental packaging.


5. Stiff Competition

Your content can drown in the depths of search engine results pages if your competitors publish better, more informative, SEO-friendly content about the same topics.


6. Internal Competition

Publishing multiple pages about similar topics can lead to keyword cannibalization, meaning several pages on your site compete for the same keywords. This internal competition can confuse search engines, lower rankings, and reduce visibility for all conflicting pages.


7. Topical Interest Decline

Time-sensitive content, such as those covering current events, loses relevance as time passes or interest shifts. For instance, articles about COVID-19 or things that went viral during the pandemic (remember dalgona coffee?) are no longer as popular in 2024 and are in the decay phase.


How to Identify Content Decay

Freshening up content that may be suffering from decay is an opportunity to maximize ROI from existing content. But how do you determine which of your many, many pages are rotting?

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Here are some of the most effective tools for spotting content decay:


1. Google Analytics (GA) and Google Search Console (GSC)

As expected from the world’s leading search engine, Google’s tools generate the most accurate data on content performance by tracking traffic from various sources. GA and GSC can assist with the following:

  • Analyze organic traffic: Use GA or GSC to monitor the organic traffic of your articles over specific periods. Compare and assess different dates to see if traffic is increasing, plateauing, or declining.
  • Query analysis: GSC gives you access to the search queries that lead to your pages. This feature allows you to see the specific terms users are searching for when they find your content, which helps you understand how your pages perform in search results and identify opportunities for optimization.
  • Monitor CTR and impressions: A decrease in click-through rates (CTR) and impressions can be a clear sign of content decay. These metrics can drop due to better content from competitors, changes in search intent, or lack of depth in your content.


2. Semrush and Ahrefs

SEO tools like Semrush and Ahrefs are excellent for tracking changes in your content’s position on search engine results pages (SERPs). Here’s how they can help with content decay:

  • Track position changes: Both tools notify you when your pages begin to drop in rankings, signaling potential decay.
  • Estimate performance metrics: Semrush and Ahrefs help identify which pages might be underperforming by tracking trends and changes in rankings. However, they only provide estimated data, not exact figures.


How to Fix Content Decay and Restore Your Authority

When high-performing content begins doing the opposite, you need to act fast before decay kills your organic growth. Here are surefire ways to address content decay:


1. Refresh Existing Posts

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Updating your content with the latest information, statistics, and trends will keep it relevant and valuable to your audience. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Revise outdated facts and figures: Ensure all information is current and accurate.
  • Add new insights or developments: Incorporate recent trends or new industry standards.
  • Fix any issues with internal and external links: Check if all links are working properly to minimize bounce rates and prevent losing out on potential conversions.
  • Improve overall readability: Refine the structure, add visuals, and make the content easy to digest.


2. Expand and Repurpose Old Content

More comprehensive content can rank better in search engines since it provides more value to readers. Consider the following:

  • Add new sections: Introduce additional subtopics that add depth to the original content.
  • Include multimedia: Use videos, infographics, or images to improve clarity and engagement.
  • Increase word count thoughtfully: Ensure the additional content is meaningful and adds value.


3. Combine Cannibalizing Content

Content cannibalization happens when multiple pages on your site target the same keywords and compete against each other in search engine rankings. Merging such content can consolidate your authority on the topic and improve SEO performance.

  • Identify similar articles: Use SEO tools to find overlapping content.
  • Combine the best parts: Create a single, comprehensive article from multiple similar posts.
  • Redirect old URLs: Use 301 redirects to guide traffic from the old posts to the new, consolidated article.


4. Delete Unsalvageable Content

If your website has been around for decades, you’ve probably published a few articles that are no longer useful or relevant today. Taking down such outdated content keeps your content library clean and helps search engines understand your site better.

  • Identify low-performing pages: Use analytics tools to find content with little to no traffic.
  • Determine relevance: Assess whether the content still serves any purpose or value.
  • Delete and redirect: Remove the obsolete content and set up redirects to relevant pages.


5. Repromote Old Content

Repromoting previously high-performing and recently updated content can breathe new life into it and attract fresh traffic. Consider the following repromotion strategies:

  • Share on social media: Schedule regular posts highlighting your updated content.
  • Include in newsletters: Feature the content in email newsletters to reach your subscribers.
  • Engage in guest blogging: Mention or link to your content in guest posts on other websites.


6. Publish More Evergreen Content

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Evergreen content remains relevant and valuable over time. It’s less vulnerable to decay and can become a go-to resource for industry information.

  • Choose timeless topics: Focus on subjects that have ongoing relevance in your industry.
  • Regularly update evergreen content: Keep the information current to maintain its value.
  • Optimize for SEO: Well-optimized evergreen content can rank high on SERPs.


Addressing content decay involves refreshing, expanding, combining, deleting, and repromoting content. Focusing on these strategies plus prioritizing evergreen content can help you bounce back from SEO traffic decline and maintain a stronger-than-ever digital presence.

Contact PrimeView for professional web content marketing that attracts high-converting traffic and boosts organic search ranking. You can trust us to produce, maintain, and promote content that provides value, engages audiences, and stays above your competition on SERPs.

Avatar of Peter A. Liefer II

Peter is the CEO of PrimeView, the leading Arizona Web Design and Digital Marketing Firm. A veteran in the Web Development and eCommerce industry, he is focused on delivering data-driven results. Learn more about Peter and PrimeView on our Profile. You may also reach us here.