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Content Writing for Your Website – Start From Scratch or Rewrite?

Like many businesses, there’s a good chance that you want to make the most of your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) activities. You’ve probably been told a million different things that you should be doing, and you likely feel a little snowed under when it comes to actually making a decision. Well, in an attempt to clear at least some of those muddied waters, let’s take some time to look at the best ways to manage content writing for your website and address a debate that’s been around for a few years now. The debate is known as the fresh vs. new debate, and the question  it poses is: is it better to continuously rewrite your website content, or should you add new content and build on what you have?

Perhaps the best starting point here is to look at the pros and cons of each approach. First, let’s consider rewriting your content.

The pros and cons of rewriting (fresh content)

When a website first goes live on the web, it goes through a certain amount of ‘processing’ by search engines like Google. There’s a spider (or bot) which trawls the web for new additions and decides on what should be indexed by the search engine. Provided your content abides by certain rules, it will usually be included, but its ranking will be low. Over time, as it gets referred to by others and visited more, its ranking will grow. In some cases, you can find yourself on the first page for certain searches (this is, in fact, one of the main objectives of all SEO activities). So if you then go and rewrite that content, you may find that you lose rankings and could actually drop off the front page (because the content is not as relevant anymore). On the flipside, rewriting your pages can also help you address pages which are not performing well, and will avoid your site becoming bloated and potentially being seen as ‘spammy’ by search engines.

The pros and cons of new content

You may have already decided that new content is the way to go; after all, all businesses know that content is king, right? The more the merrier and all that. And while it’s true that new content can help you gain rankings in the sense that there will be more content for others to refer to, and to appear in search results, but there are downsides too. The phrase content is king doesn’t just refer to quantity, it also refers to quality. And as time has gone on, Google in particular has become more concerned with ranking pages on quality. So, yes, you can upload 100 pages on golf shoes, but they won’t necessarily perform any better than the site that has one really great page on the same topic (and may even perform worse). When thinking about using new content as a strategy, you need to be sure that your business has the knowledge, expertise and sheer volume of information required to fill all of the pages you want. If you can do it, it can be a huge boon, but as soon as you get into the realm of fluff-pieces, you’re risking a lot (even removal from search).

What is the right answer?

The bottom line with the content debate is that, as a business of any size, it’s vital that you focus on quality content and not on volume. Some shady SEO peddlers may advise that you go for a scattershot approach, but with so many algorithm updates, it just won’t wash these days. Perhaps the best advice is for you to analyse your existing content, confirm that it’s ranking as you’d like it to. If not, there’s an argument there to rewrite it rather than upload another similar piece. Likewise, if you feel your existing content is too thin and doesn’t really cover all facets of your business, upload some new pages and take full advantage – just make sure they’re packed with useful info and not simply stuffed with keywords!

Search Engine Optimisation is an ever-changing arena, and there are usually no right answers; however one thing we can say for sure is that quality content will never go out of style. So, in everything that you write (or rewrite) be sure that you’re focused on providing the best info that you can – and beat down your competitors in the process. Your search rankings should then reflect that positive change.

Mark Wollacott is a freelance writer and content manager.

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One Response to Content Writing for Your Website – Start From Scratch or Rewrite?

  1. maryroselyons September 16, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

    I’d be totally in the “rewrite from scratch” camp. You should be thinking in terms of personas of people who buy from you, and write to answer the needs of those people. Always write for the user first, and search engines second – not the other way around.

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