Blog SEO: An Expert Guide to Ranking Your Old Content for More Keywords
Few things are more frustrating than watching your content sit on a digital shelf after you spent hours writing it.
Epic blogging requires a lot of time and effort – and whether you’re new to it or just starting out – you kind of live for that bump in page views when you publish a new post (even if you don’t admit it!).
Watching the graph go up in Google Analytics just feels pretty great.
It makes you want to do a happy dance and keep on writing.
But hold up!
Before you start brainstorming new blog ideas, take a look at your older posts first. Are they ranking? Is there a tweak or a nudge you can do to improve their performance?
The easiest way to rank on Google for more keywords is to update and optimize older posts. You’ll be surprised at the impact a few quick edits can have on your rankings.
So every time you start a new post, take a minute to “refresh” an older post.
Here’s how to optimize your existing content so that you show up for more keywords on Google:
#1: First, perform a content audit
A huge part of SEO is knowing what’s working for you and what’s not.
Many techniques that worked well before Google’s last algorithm update (like page tagging, on-page content, keyword research and targeting) no longer carry the same weight. Plus, what works for one site won’t always work well for another.
So to audit your content, export your keywords from Google Search Console and look for three fundamental things:
- “Low-hanging fruit” keywords (aka: easy to rank)
- Your most valuable keywords and landing pages. Find those keywords already ranking at the bottom of page #1 or the top of page #2 (positions 6-15). These can be your quick wins and it likely won’t take much effort to improve their rankings.
- Underperforming keywords are not ranking at all
#2. Take an inventory of your content
Look at your existing content and make sure you’re happy with it. Are you targeting the right audience and keywords? How much traffic do the posts get?
You’re just looking for an overview of your content so you know what you’re working with and where to place your focus. From there, you can start optimizing.
#3: Optimize your blog posts
This one is simple and arguably the most important step.
The trick is to know where to start!
There will likely be a handful of keywords – probably more – that you should be ranking for but aren’t. Focus on those keywords first.
First, look at the keywords for which your competitors are ranking. Your competitors are websites that sell the same products you do or offer the same services. More importantly, they’re ranking better for the keywords you want.
Make a list of their keywords and highlight the ones with low competition. Remember, we’re looking for quick wins and those will be easier to rank!
Next, add the keywords you aren’t ranking for to your blog post. Here’s where to add them:
- The title and subheadings. Aim for 30-60 words in your title.
- The body of your post. They should sound natural. Don’t make it seem obvious or forced. If adding a keyword affects the readability of your post, don’t use it. Always choose your readers over search engines.
- Your meta description (main keyword). This isn’t a direct ranking factor but can help with your click-through rates.
- Anchor text. The text you use to link to other posts on your website.
- Image alt text, tags, and names. Yep, Google can read image keywords too!
#4: Update your content
Rewriting and updating content has tremendous value. Trends come and go quickly and information changes over time. Your content might be outdated in months, or even weeks.
Make sure your blog post is up-to-date. Check that any stats you shared are still accurate.
It will take some time but a lot less than writing a new post. Plus, it gives you a good reason to promote your content again.
#5: Add more “content layers”
Now that you’ve sprinkled your blog post with the new keywords (ones that your competitors are ranking for), updated your stats and checked for typos, it’s time to check your visuals.
Content layering is the practice of adding visuals, images and multimedia to give readers a new way to consume your content.
Some people prefer reading, others learn better through video. That’s the idea here: Layer on multiple content types to enhance the experience and keep people engaged.
Your goal is to create a post that is so valuable, they can help but share it!
Here’s how to layer your content:
First, check your paragraphs and sentences. Is your text easy to read and digest? Are the subheadings short and explicit? Does each paragraph pull readers deeper into your content, or do they make them want to run?
Next, look at what you’re competitors are doing and make yours better. If they’re adding GIFS, include one plus a video. Think about what images you can add to explain your content and make it more interest. Stay sober and don’t overdo it, though.
Now take it a step further and add more content. If your competitor’s post includes “10 Tips to Improve Your Google Image Search”, your post should include 12 tips (make sure added content is hyper relevant and useful).
Include helpful tools. Tables, calculators, generators and other tools allow readers to get quick results and take action.
Point is, go way beyond plain text and think value, value, value. Always ask yourself, How can I make it easier for my audience to understand the information and act on it?
Step #6. Improve your CTR
Once your post is ranking for a keyword, you want people to click through and read it. Otherwise, you won’t get traffic!
So tell people what’s waiting for them on the other side of the link, and make them want it!
Here’s how to improve your click-through-rate (CTR):
- Check the meta description. Is it too long or short? Is your message super persuasive or is there another one people should see? What about keywords? Did you include a call to action such as “Click through…”?
- Test your title. Is it the best you can do? Would you click on it over someone else’s? If not, keep editing until you would.
- Triple check your content. Does it answer relevant searches? Most people will ask Google a question. If your content answers it, Google will use it as a direct answer and push it to the top.
Wrapping it up!
Can you see how much things have changed with Google? Improving your content goes way beyond keywords these days.
Think of your blog posts as resource guides that address specific problems and searches, with helpful details, examples, images, videos, and tools to help them understand the information.
Keywords may get readers in the door, but your content will keep them reading.
When Google sees that people are finding answers to their problems, it will rank your posts higher. And you’ll show up for more keywords on page #1.
Going back to modify your older content with new and relevant information is a great way to improve your rankings. Great post!
Such a great article! There is a lot of time and effort that goes into optimising older content but it’s so worth it when your site starts to rank higher for specific keywords. I particularly love your comment about always adding value. Because isn’t that the point of all this content writing?! Thanks for the great read.
Always ask yourself, How can I make it easier for my audience to understand the information and act on it?