Being a content creator can feel like the Indy 500. The gas pedal is on the floor, but it’s just left turn after left turn. And every time you lift your head and look around, you’re on the same oval track, unable to punch through the pack of cars keeping pace around you.
In the world of content creation, that unending oval track is the hunt for higher Google rankings. It’s maddening to feel like you’ve done everything right, but still find yourself unable to punch through to the top three spots on the search engine results.
Today, we’re going to talk about how you can optimize your old content to improve your SEO and get onto that racetrack’s podium.
What Content Should You Update?
“All of it” is definitely not the answer. You don’t have time for that.
Instead, look for content that is already ranking for a good keyword on the first page of search results — but not in the top three positions.
It may seem counterintuitive to focus on content that is already doing well, rather than on a blog post on page two or three.
Here’s why it’s not: The jump in clicks that you’ll see by moving from position five to position three is significantly higher than the jump you’d see by moving from page three to page two.
The average click-through-rate (CTR) for a result in position one in search results is 34.2%. In position four, it’s 8.1%. By the time you get to the second page of results, CTR is under 2%.
By getting from position 4 to position 1, we can quadruple our CTR. That’s how we get the biggest bang for our optimization buck.
To figure out which posts fit these criteria, use the free Google SEO Ranking Checker from The HOTH. Type in your website’s URL, and enter your email address to get your results. (Yes, this tool is a lead magnet for The HOTH, but it’s worth handing over your email address.)
You’ll get a report of your top traffic-driving keywords, as well as where your content ranks on Google. Hover over the blue keyword to see which piece of content is driving the traffic.
We’re going to pick a keyword that meets three criteria.
First, it should be ranking in the top 10 on Google.
Second, it should have a good search volume. If you’re ranked #5 for a keyword that only gets 20 monthly searches, it’s probably not worth your time to shoot for position 1.
Finally, make sure the keyword has high value to your business. This means it should be something your potential customers are searching for. If you’re on the first page for the search term “best chocolate cake recipe” but you sell 1-on-1 coaching services, that’s not a keyword we want to focus on.
Time to do a little digital snooping.
Do a Google search for your target keyword to see which articles are beating you in the rankings. Audit their content. What do they have that you’re missing?
The purpose is not to copy. The purpose is to figure out what informational gaps your piece is missing, and figure out how to fill them. In the world of search engine rankings, the most in-depth, helpful content usually reigns supreme. So you have to provide a more complete piece of work than the competition.
Next, read through your copy carefully. What has changed since you first wrote it? In the field of SEO, for example, best practices are changing all the time. An article from 2018 could be woefully outdated, and Google will prioritize fresher content.
Is any of your information old? Are there new policies or laws that need to be addressed? New studies you could cite?
Has COVID-19 had an impact on the content? How about the 2020 election?
Update Your Content
Fill in the gaps and update your article for the current climate. By answering the query more accurately and more completely, you’ll improve your chances of overtaking the competition.
Adding images and graphics can also help with your rankings. An infographic or a few handy charts can make your content more useful to the reader, and that’s something Google looks for.
Before you hit publish, check for broken links. Use a free plugin like SEO Minion or Broken Link Checker to verify that every link is still active.
And before you go live, update the publish date. Google will crawl the new content either way, but an updated publish date will also show readers that your info is current and cutting edge.
After You Publish
When your shiny new article is updated and re-published, promote the dickens out of it! Treat it just like a brand new piece of content and push it all over your social media channels. Give it the best chance you can to climb up to Google’s coveted top three.
In a few weeks, check your keyword again to measure your results.
Now find another piece of content, and repeat!
Google likes established websites, but new content. This method lets you build on old work to keep your website fresh. With a steady routine of new and updated blog posts, you’ll keep your pieces accurate, useful, and Google-friendly.