How to Optimize New & Old Blog Posts for SEO

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optimizing new and old blogs for seo

It’s become apparent throughout the digital years that content marketing is a massive resource for driving inbound traffic and potential leads, so much so that 55% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority (hubspot). Without a doubt, blogging is the quickest means of producing new content to drive traffic to your website. But that doesn’t mean you should always be creating brand new content.

In some cases your resources are better-spent recycling, re-purposing or re-optimizing old blog posts. According to this HubSpot article, over 75% of post views were of old posts and 90% of blog leads came from posts that were older than 4 months.

Creating net new content is often longer and more resource-intensive process than rehashing old content.

It all comes down what your industry topics are, what the data is telling you and what your main goals are with your content. But investing in new content should not be a bigger priority than reinvesting in old content.

This blog will talk about the different advantages and disadvantages of reusing old content and creating new content.

The Goal of Your Blog Posts

The first step is identifying what your goals are and what you plan to accomplish with your blogs. There are tons of benefits to blogging.

  • Lead generation
  • Brand Awareness
  • Authority Building
  • Direct Conversion
  • Persuade/ educate about using your solution (transition users down the sales cycle onto your solution).

These are all potential outcomes of your blog, and identifying which one to focus on overall will help you determine how frequently — and with what angle — to write your posts. It may even change the topics that you write about.

writing seo friendly blog posts

If they’re just for brand awareness or social sharing, then your topics can be light-hearted or entertaining reads that get people attached to your company’s personality. If your blogs are for the purpose of convincing people onto your solution, then the angle shifts to very technical pieces.

In some cases, you’ll find that a blog you didn’t think much of would perform incredibly well — and guess what, it’s over a year old! But who cares how old it is if it’s working?

Why Changing Poorly Written, Older Blog Posts Matters

Make sure you keep track of your old content and don’t have any that’s absolutely terrible. Old content can hurt you in a few ways:

  • Brand Image/ Authority: Old, poorly written or misinformed content can affect the way people view your brand. If you have old content with information that isn’t relevant or is just plain wrong to what’s true in the present, this will negatively affect the way people view your brand and your authority in the industry.
  • Poor SEO: Inaccurate content with a user experience that’s bound to be negative will adversely affect the ranking of that blog, but also the content it’s linked to, thus diminishing the trust factor and authority (in the eye of Google) of your domain.  (If you’re looking to hire a professional seo company for your business, you should ask them how they manage existing/old blogs on your site)

optimizing blog posts for seo

  • Lost Revenue:  A bad user experience with incorrect information and poor performance across other content will result in the loss of potential revenue.

Every visitor has the potential to lead to more revenue, but those same users can lead to further loss of revenue, especially if the content they land on is out of date and they know it. So update your stuff, don’t be afraid to delete completely useless content either.

How Can You Tell if Your Blog Posts are SEO Friendly?

The advantage of digital marketing, in general, is that there is an immense amount of detail and behavior tracking available for all of your efforts. To not set the tracking up is silly, to say the least, but it still requires manual action.

If you’re not sure of what tools to use, here’s a small list:

  • Ahrefs
  • SEMRush
  • Heat mapping Tools (Yandex Metrika, Lucky Orange, Mouseflow, etc…)

The uses of these tools can vary and can reach very deep into performance metrics, as well as help you decide what to optimize new blogs for.

Now that you know what tools you’re going to use, do you know what to actually track? The metrics you decide to track should be based on your content goals, which we talking about earlier.

For general purposes, some universal key metrics would be:

  • Traffic
  • Bounce Rate (The percentage of people leaving your website after reading one page/post)
  • Time On Site
  • Number of Pageviews (How many pages people navigate too when they land on a certain page)
  • Scroll Percentage (How much of the page are visitors scrolling through before they navigate off of it)

Carefully Analyzing Blog Performance Data

Although there are ballpark numbers like a bounce rate below 80% that you could aim for, if you’re serious about making the most of this data, then you’re going to need to cross reference the numbers.

blog historical optimization for seo

For example, a high bounce rate (let’s say 92%) or a low scroll percentage might suggest that your visitors realized that the info you had was not what they wanted, so they left.

But it can also mean that people are reading a bit, then click through to another page that they might want to read. They could be clicking to a sales focused service page or a contact page.

This is an example of needing to set up a proper metric for bounces and using a few tools simultaneously to get different angles of analysis.

Advantage and Approach to Optimizing Old Blog Content

Use your existing data to conduct a content audit. This audit, along with your knowledge of the industry, will help you determine which posts are worth re-working.

Augmenting Old Posts:

  • Increase readability/ Scannability – Break up large paragraphs, add relevant headings, add images, diagrams and infographics, add other visual breaks in the text and make the text scannable.
  • Beef up the SEO – Sprinkle the focus keyword(s) into the content and into the headings (Title, H1, H2s…) if it isn’t already, link to relevant pages on your site and away from your site, have the blog linked from other performing and related pages. Optimize images by giving them a title and adding an alt-tag so that Google makes sense of it.
  • Add content – Some posts talk about a great topic and discuss it well, but they might be missing a key point. If you can catch this, it can be a great opportunity to get a decently performing blog to really start killing it!
  • Augment for CRO – Add ‘Call-to-action’ buttons and sections. If someone likes your content, maybe they’ll be interested in learning more from you directly. Make sure to make these offers data based as well. Look at what people are searching to arrive on your post, and address that as best as you can in your call-to-action
  • Get those clicks (Optimize CTR) – When you have a post that might be performing, it helps tremendously to write a custom meta description and title tag to be seen in the SERPs. Give people a reason to click your post and give them what they’re getting into.

augmenting old blog posts

This is a comparison of roughly six weeks of traffic being compared on one of our client’s older posts that we augmented based on analysis.

better performing blogs

These are more of the metrics from that same post that increased after a big augment

improving blog performance

And even more of the metrics that went went up, post augment.

Essentially, it was an overall performance increase.

Repurposing/ Recycling Old Posts:

From time to time you’ll run into a situation where an old post performs horribly, but some info on it was actually useful and applicable to your industry. In this case, you can either:

Repurpose the post into a different piece entirely, which means you’ll delete the original and send a redirect to the new one (to pass on any ‘link equity’ it had accumulated). Try to keep the pieces overall topic similar but change the approach to it or the way the topic is handled.

This way you can make sure the topic is still a relevant and useful topic, but change the headings and content and other aspects to assist in tackling the new angle.

Or you can repurpose that useful content on another page. Not necessarily an entirely new post, but simply adding that content onto a service page or another well-performing blog that’s relevant as well.

Updating Blogs With Present Info:

  • Link out to more current information or to the updated resources that you have linked. If you reference a person in another company or a piece of technology that has since changed, make sure to update that info and the outgoing links.
  • Change text to the correct tense. ‘Is’ becomes ‘was’ for example.
  • Link to your new posts about related topics and let people know it’s an update of that page if so happens to be one.
  • Update trend information with what’s actually current for the time.

Approach to Writing New SEO Optimized Blog Content:

Writing and approaching new content should also come from some sort of existing data, in this case, it may not be yours. A number of actions have to take place before you write a new blog post, to ensure as best as you can, that the blog will perform and not be sent into the wind.

Ideating New Blogs

planning new blog ideas

This is typically a more involved and resource intensive process than repurposing/ recycling old content, as it requires more front-loaded work. This front-loading work is crucial to the success of new blogs that haven’t had a long time to gather performance data and slowly build authority.

  • Industry Research – This is self-explanatory – talk about what the industry wants to read about. Pick topics based on providing value to the industry.
  • Competitor research and analysis – If you’re having trouble spinning full blog topics to write around some of the terms you have selected, don’t hesitate to see what others are writing about. Even if they aren’t direct competitors, they can be a source of information regarding what seems to be ranking for certain terms.

Likewise, if there’s search volume for certain terms, but you don’t see competitors writing about it or using different terminology. You may have come across an opportunity to blow them out of the SERPs with content that will be more relevant to what people are searching.

Keyword research

This is an SEO process that should go hand in hand with industry research. You might think that you have a great idea in your head for a blog that would get so many clicks and it would go wild in performance metrics. But this has to be backed up with data. Guesswork will open up a black hole for your resources to fall into.

To speed this up, you can create a sheet as part of your entire B2B keyword research (a long project involving multiple members of different teams) process that has long tail keywords and use it for blogs, then simply expand upon those queries later.

Remember:

  • The intent of the words
    • Involve sales cycles and funnels
  • Decent Volume
    • Make sure the terms you consider have search volume
  • Vary your terminology (LSI terms) while keeping it clear
    • Help Google understand what you’re writing about by using terms that are semantically related.

Don’t Let Content Opportunity Slip By

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Watch For Overlapping Content

Be careful when creating new blogs that are similar to your previous posts. If you have content that is similar enough and have similar focus keywords, they’ll inevitably compete with each other. This can be a difficult thing to identify because seemingly different content can have just enough text focusing on the same topic to convince Google they’re attacking the same topic.

Competing/ duplicate content will struggle to perform, and will have a very hard time moving up the rank. Be especially careful to not have your posts competing with service or pillar pages. This type of core content that takes a larger investment of time and effort should be a much higher priority to rank then your posts.

Along with your own content, be careful when you conduct your competitor research, as it’s easy to accidentally get too inspired. You always want to have your own creative spin on content, Google doesn’t like copycats.

If you notice overlapping content on your own site, try to salvage whatever you can and split the pages up so that Google stops confusing them. But if it’s bad enough that you can’t manage to respin the content, unpublish one of the pieces and set a 301 redirect to the other piece. Pass on whatever link equity that piece had and whatever reputation it had.

Blogging Technical SEO Dos & Don’ts

technical blog optimization

  • Internal Linking & Topic Clusters 
    • Do internally link when appropriate/ relevant to the page’s content, and be mindful of your anchor text. Keep related pages clustered together as much as you can.
    • Don’t stuff a post with too many internal links and don’t internally link to the same page more than once in the content.
  • Outbound Link
    • Do chose sites with relatively high trust factors and high reputation, that are relevant to the topic of the post.
    • Don’t stuff these links excessively.
  • Headings & Keyword Density In The Content
    • Do include the focus keyword wherever you can, this will tell Google the structure of the post. Leave in whatever relevant terms you can. Pepper the focus keyword(s) into the content where it’s contextually appropriate
    • Don’t add too many headings, don’t ‘over optimize’ or ‘stuff’ headings or content and keep them concise. You still want your headings and post organization to read like natural, un-optimized text.
  • Meta Description & Title Tag In The SERP
    • Do have a title that contains the focus keyword(s), and optimize the meta description to entice a higher CTR.
    • Don’t compromise the title to force keywords into it and don’t let your post generate automatic titles or meta description tags to be visible in the SERPs.
  • Images
    • Do include them as helpful visual aids and optimize their title tag and alt attribute tags for the focus keyword(s).
    • Don’t put images that don’t align with your brand voice and don’t put so many that the flow of the post is disrupted.
  • Call To Action (CTAs)
    • Do add these to break up text and add visual elements to your posts. Optimize your CTAs based on the search queries that people land from and make them relevant to the topic of the post.
    • Don’t add too many and don’t let them be randomly assigned. This turns readers off and also will provide no value to the reader and therefore no value to you.
  • Readability
    • Do make your posts simple to read, typically a Grade 6 – 10 reading level is the ballpark to aim for. Although this can vary by industry and target audience of the particular post. (Flesh-Kincaid readability tests)
    • Don’t assume you can write the same type of post for every topic and every target prospect, the industry and topic will always guide the readability and style of the post.
  • Terminology and Keywords
    • Do use terminology that you’ve researched the volume and intent of and try to vary your related terms.
    • Don’t assume everyone uses the same terms as you do and Google’s things the same way as you do.
  • URL
    • Do make the URL related to the blog topic.
    • Don’t add too many subfolders or a dynamic element to the URL, this is unattractive and is seen as less trustworthy.
  • Navigation Away From The Post
    • Do allow (maybe even encourage) people to navigate deeper into your site and into related industry pages or contact/ converting pages
    • Don’t encourage people to navigate to another website (especially not a competitor), but allow them to gain further insight from sources that you reference.

Maintaining SEO Friendly Blog Posts

Now that you have blog ideas and have augmented your old posts, it’s time to maintain these new ones, while keeping an eye on the older ones.

This means looking for new link opportunities internally and externally, tracking performance, making tweaks according to the data and deciding eventually whether or not it’s worth keeping that content around.

Run seo content audits regularly to streamline this process and cover all the bases with one big operation.

Conclusion

It’s important to leverage all of your content, as long as you’ve left it in Google index, it’s content that deserves a touch-up. If you’re looking to write net new content, rifle through old content to see if you can leverage that first, usually, if it’s been up for long enough it’s got some sort of reputation in Google’s index, and that means opportunity.

Check up on content regularly, set goals, identify key metrics, and track your metrics! Never make a blind decision, all the tools are out there, it’s about using them properly.

We know from experience that it takes a highly trained team of people, all comfortable with the necessary software, the correct mentality, the writing skills and the analytical skills to pull this off correctly. But we have also seen the benefits of content marketing done right, and they are compelling.

Contact Us to speak with an expert and discuss your content marketing plans.

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About the Author:

Zamir is a seasoned entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience of providing expert inbound digital marketing advice to a variety of B2B clients. He has orchestrated the digital success of several organizations, with some clients getting 7000% ROI as a result. As a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Zamir also has over a decade of experience mentoring young entrepreneurs. As for his keys to success? Zamir credits everything to meditation and focus.

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