One of the best ways to increase your company’s website traffic is to keep an updated and relevant blog. Your blog posts are an important part of educating your current and potential customers, and position your brand as a leading authority in your industry.
But what about blog posts that were published months or even years ago? Do they still add value to your brand, or are they simply lost in the abyss that is page 23 of your blog archive? Should you delete old blog posts that are underperforming?
As it turns out, there’s a lot of potential value in reoptimizing your old blog posts. This process, sometimes referred to as historical optimization (We at p80 call it ROPSing -- thanks, Vye Marketing!), is a common way of helping a piece of content reach its potential. Rather than deleting an old blog post that may still contain relevant information, it’s better to provide it with the TLC it needs to succeed again.
But what content should you optimize, how do you increase its value, and when’s the right time to conduct historical optimization? Let’s discuss!
Knowing What Old Blog Posts to Optimize
Identifying an old blog post to optimize is the first step in historical optimization. One of the most important things to understand is that keyword performance changes over time. This can be one of the biggest factors when updating old blog posts to increase SEO.
If a piece of your content isn’t ranking on the first page for its primary keyword, then it’s not providing as much value as it could. You’ll also want to take a close look at the traffic that the post is getting. This helps indicate the search volume that your target keyword is getting.
Let’s say that you’re thinking about updating a post that used to get a decent amount of traffic and now struggles to attract even 10 readers per month. You can automatically assume that the search volume for your keyword has gone down, prompting a much-needed change, However, it could also mean someone else has created more valuable, relevant content around that keyword
Alternatively, you may have a post with a high number of views, but is accompanied by a high bounce rate. This tells you one of two things:
1. Your primary keyword is ranking well, but your content is not strong enough to keep your readers interested.
2. Your primary keyword has a good search volume, but your content is not specific enough to answer a question that the reader has.
Whatever the case may be, these statistics help you identify which blog posts to conduct a historical optimization on.
Tip: Posts that have low traffic but high conversion rates are great for ROPSing because they offer an opportunity to generate a bunch of new leads.
How to Update Old Blog Posts
Now that you know which blog posts you’re going to reoptimize, there are a few different approaches you can take. Each one goes hand-in-hand with the other, so don’t waste your time by changing one little thing and then republishing in hopes that Google will suddenly notice it.
A good place to start is to look at your keywords and identify any long-tail keywords that you can incorporate into your blog.
Include Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are a great way to boost old blog posts. This is because they tend to be very specific and have less competition trying to rank for them.
It’s vital to choose long-tail keywords that are relevant to your content. Rather than just including terms that have a low difficulty, you should expand them to target your specific audience.
For example, if your blog topic is about the best solutions for supply chain issues, you don’t want to waste your time with a vague keyword. The phrase “best solutions” could have a low keyword difficulty, but it’s broad enough to cover a wide array of topics that will make it difficult for you to rank.
Instead, cater your long-tail keyword for your audience. “Solutions for supply chain issues” is a much better option and targets your audience.
Long-tail keywords differ from primary keywords in several ways. Long-tail keywords consist of three or more words, while primary keywords tend to one or two. Long-tail keywords generally have lower search volume but bring in more qualified traffic and leads.
Note: Make sure you don’t overstuff keywords into your blog. Keyword stuffing gets flagged by search engines and ends up hurting your ranking more than helping it.
Add Strength to Your Headlines
Your blog post titles play a big role in your overall ranking. And if your headers and subheaders are considered vague or misleading, you’ll have a difficult time ranking and getting users to stay on your page.
Using power words is one of the best ways to add strength to your headlines. These words build trust with your readers and are designed to grab their attention upon entering the page. A few examples of power words are:
Obviously these words don’t work for every headline. The words you choose will largely depend on the subject you’re talking about. However, the point remains the same: Use power words instead of weak words (Something is “proven” rather than “true”).
Update Your Meta Description & Alt Text
Once you’ve added keywords and replaced outdated information in your blog post, update your meta description to include any new keywords you incorporated.
When reoptimizing old blog posts, the overall message of the blog may need some tweaking. It’s vital for your meta description to reflect these changes. If your meta description is weak or irrelevant to your blog, then you’re going to have poor organic results.
If nothing else, the single most important thing your meta description should include is the primary keyword.
Let’s say you’re optimizing an old blog post about the importance of providing your dog with a balanced diet (yes, they exist). If your new primary keyword is “best balanced dog food,” then you’ll want to be sure to use that phrase in your meta description.
However, you want to incorporate the keyword in a way that flows naturally and doesn’t feel forced. For example:
“Providing your furry friend with the best balanced dog food is just one way to improve their overall health and happiness.”
Is better than:
“Find dog food that is the best balanced dog food for your dog to eat.”
See how painful it is to read that second sentence? If your meta description holds no relevance (or literacy, for that matter), then you’re going to have a difficult time ranking in organic searches.
You also want to make sure that your alt text is updated. Alt text, or alt attribute, is the text used to specify a photo or infographic. These should also possess your primary keyword in case the photos can’t be rendered when the page loads.
Answer Your Audience’s Questions
If your old blog post is not attracting leads and conversions, it doesn’t always mean that the writing itself is bad. It could simply be a matter of not providing your audience with the answer to a question they were looking for.
Focus on the user’s intent when entering a search term into Google. If your audience needs a simple step-by-step instructional blog, or something with visuals, they’ll likely click away if the page is just a never-ending wall of boring text..
A big part of delivering on user intent is ensuring that your content stays focused on the subject at hand.
Let’s go back to the dog food example from above. If your audience is looking for information about the best balanced dog food brands, they don’t need a bunch of information about different exercises your dog can do to improve his health. While the two subjects may be related, your readers are looking for a clear answer and don’t want to be bogged down with irrelevant information.
Read back through the blog post you're doing surgery on and ask yourself: “Does the content answer the question that led my audience to this page?”
On top of answering your audience's questions, you should also aim to provide a relevant call to action, or CTA. Oftentimes when ROPSing an old blog post, the CTA you used originally is outdated. Alternatively, you may have a new CTA that is more relevant to the subject of the blog.
This is also a good time to ensure that your CTA matches the correct stage of your buyer’s journey and buyer needs.
When to Reoptimize Old Blog Posts
Once you know what blogs need optimized and how to optimize them, it’s important to know when to optimize old blog posts.
You don’t want to go back and overhaul a blog you just posted yesterday. In the same fashion, there’s no point in trying to maintain a blog that you published 20 years ago if it hasn’t been touched since. (You’re better off rewriting the entire thing.)
Make sure you’re choosing content that has had enough time to produce accurate metrics regarding its search volume, conversion rate, bounce rate, and so on. Another good indicator for when it’s time to optimize an old piece of content is when the primary keyword no longer has a high search volume or has a significantly higher keyword difficulty.
Back to the Present
Converting irrelevant content from the past into a traffic-producing machine in the present is a great way to improve your brand. It also provides you with a great opportunity to incorporate new keywords that help you reach your target audience.
ROPSing is one of the most simple ways to achieve high ROI with minimal effort. It lets you produce new content without having to start from scratch.
If you’re looking for more great tips to boost your content strategy, take a look at our free Content Marketing Essentials guide below: