More isn’t always better; sometimes it’s just — well, more.
That’s the case today in terms of online content. With more than 2 million posts published daily, it’s no wonder your latest blog post might have a hard time gaining traction.
Using fresh keyword research and optimization to update existing blog posts can lead to quick organic traffic gains, rather than struggling to come up with new, relevant content from scratch every time. Stephen King once said, “Sooner or later, everything old is new again.”
He wasn’t referring to inbound marketing, but the principle still applies — and it can get you blockbuster SEO results from content you already have.
Feeling skeptical? Let’s take a deeper look.
Why Should You Optimize Old Blog Posts?
The most obvious answer is because they’re there. You may be sitting on a vast trove of buried content marketing treasure, and the analytics can prove it: Traffic, time on page, conversions, and social media shares all demonstrate value, and just a little work can help you increase organic traffic.
Historical optimization works.HubSpot reported an increase of more than 100% in organic search views of old posts by taking an ongoing approach to blog optimization. Optimizing breathes new ROI into work you’ve already done.
Optimizing ensures your content is updated and relevant. If you’re committed to inbound marketing principles, then you care about providing value. Updated information delivers on that promise to your visitors.
It’s easy and low-cost. This may be the best part. Updates are simple, like refreshing stats and links, adding images, working the keywords, revising copy for clarity and simplicity, and replacing old calls to action.
Optimizing Old Blogs Gets Results
Here’s an example to answer the question. We work with a technology provider that has been blogging for several years and has built a solid online content library. Overall, their search engine results are fairly robust, but we identified topics and blogs that could use a refresh.
We assessed their blogging strategy and determined, based on our analysis and the current ways search engine algorithms rank content, that rather than crank out only brand-new blog posts, it made greater sense to write fewer new posts each month and supplement their content calendar with optimized blog posts.
Using analytics and a couple of SEO tools like SEMrush and Google Search Console, we pinpointed target keywords that were already driving traffic to our client’s site and focused on boosting articles that ranked for those keywords. We also discovered some articles that resonated with readers in the past but fell off the radar over time.
Starting with the lowest-hanging fruit, we selected and polished blog articles. Here are some of the steps we took to improve existing content:
Updated relevant information and included current statistics
Incorporated additional related keywords
Increased overall length to make the post more exhaustive
Added current internal and external hyperlinks
Included additional visuals to keep readers interested
So, what about those results?
To give you an idea, consider the data on one blog article that ranked fairly well for the long tail keyword “best file sharing software for business.”
Organic search traffic increased by 121%
Time on page increased by 1,271% in the first 2 months
Total number of clicks increased by 83%
Click-through rate increased by 50%
Overall average SERP position improved by 7 spots
The results speak for themselves. But how did we get there? Here are a few simple steps to follow.
Find the Low-Hanging Fruit
Knowing which content is due for — and worthy of — a refresh isn’t always cut-and-dried, and making the determination requires both art and science. First, start by making sure you understand your target audience.
Too often, certain industries rely on “insider” terminology rather than words their ideal buyers would typically enter into a search engine. If you want your website to provide relevant answers, then you need to know the questions your potential customers are actually asking. A tool like Answer the Public can help.
Next, assess which blog posts currently drive the most traffic to your website and whether their monthly search volumes warrant attention and optimizing to rank higher.
Many tools, including Google Search Console, SEMrush, HubSpot, Keywords Everywhere and others, can help. Below, you can see a report on a blog article about file sharing software. We ran it through HubSpot’s integrated Google Search Console to see which search queries received the most clicks.
A Few Tips to Improve Your On-Page SEO
Once we knew which articles were worthy of optimizing, we had to update the blog posts in line with our keyword findings. In particular, SEMrush is a handy keyword research tool that provides search engine optimization recommendations. Its on-page SEO checker and writing assistant make it easy to identify where to make improvements.
Optimizing can be as simple as copying your blog post into a Google document and installing the SEMrush Writing Assistant add-on tool. Once you implement the tool, you can get recommendations and writing tips for your article, including:
Recommended additional keywords
How long your post should be
Whether your paragraphs are too long
Whether your language is too formal or hard to read
And a host of other writing tips
One ranking factor we’ve discovered as we optimize older posts is a need for more depth. Instead of an overview that may be about 300–500 words, many topics actually call for a minimum of 800 words — and some need as many as 1,200 or more to improve rank in Google and other search engines. That’s because more exhaustive, long-form content may be more relevant to the reader and can serve as a one-stop resource.
Other Questions to Ask As You Analyze Blog Content
Once you’ve worked through the post using an optimizing tool, ask yourself: Is the on-page SEO as strong as it can be?
Consider simple details other than keyword data that you may have overlooked when you initially published the content. Do you need to improve the meta description, HTML code, title tags, and/or alt text? On-page SEO is in your control and can make a difference in your SERP position and click-through rate.
Is the blog linked to and from other related content on your site? This content strategy, using internal linking between topic clusters and pillar pages, creates a directory of sorts for readers, can strengthen your authority on the topic and may keep visitors on your site longer.
Does the post need higher quality backlinks to boost page authority and score better for keyword difficulty? When other trustworthy websites backlink to your content, it earns more authority and Google will reward you for it.
Don’t just take our word for it — give these blog optimization tips a try, and test the results for yourself. We’re interested in hearing how it works for you too, so be sure to come back and comment below. And check out our handy SEO Survival Guide for even more in-depth information on how to optimize your content. Just click the button below.
Posted by Stephen Fischer Stephen was an Inbound Marketing Consultant with account management experience with both commercial construction and industrial manufacturing clients. His expertise included search engine optimization and website project development, particularly in complex business industries.