How To Optimize Old Blog Posts For SEO Traffic
I made a huge mistake when I first started blogging. I completely ignored SEO traffic. I have all kinds of excuses, but none of them matter, it was a poor decision and one I really, really recommend against doing.
If you are a new blogger, take the time to read this post and hopefully you’ll avoid the mistakes I made.
I’ve been blogging for a few years, so I have a lot of old posts that needed a little bit of TLC. I’m going to walk you through the steps I take to increase the SEO optimization for my posts.
1. Review your existing posts to determine which posts have the best chancing of bringing in search engine traffic.
I do this in a couple of ways. First I check my google analytics to see what posts are actually bringing me SEO traffic.
How to check organic traffic in Google Analytics
Google Analytics Home Page
- Choose Acquisition => All Traffic => Channels
- Choose your time frame – I usually do 6-8 weeks
- After choosing your time frame, click on “organic search”
- This will bring up a list of keywords that your readers have used to find your blog
You are going to notice immediately that 95-98% of the search terms are listed as “not provided”.
This used to be one of the most frustrating things ever to me until I discovered Keyword Hero.
Keyword hero is a free program, that aggregates a ton of data from a variety of sources to give you the search terms you need to bump up your SEO game. They do have a paid version, but the free version has worked great for me.
This is what my organic search results look like in regular google analytics:
This is what my organic search results look like in the keyword Hero version of google analytics:
As you can see, I get a ton more information on my organic search terms using Keyword Hero. Having the extra serach terms available has made my SEO efforts significantly easier. So far, I’ve found the Keyword Hero results to be very accurate.
Key Features of Keyword Hero to remember
- The results from Keyword Hero are 2-3 days behind.
- Keyword Hero won’t work with old data.
- Meaning, it only starts collecting data from when it is installed, so you’ll need to install it asap and then wait 2-3 weeks before you’ll have enough data to make educated SEO decisions.
- Keyword hero has a section with reports they recommend you set up – I highly recommend setting up these reports. They will really help you utilize the data collected by Keyword Hero.
You will have a significantly easier time optimizing old blog posts if you use Keyword Hero.
Other Resources To Find Organic Search Terms for Your Blog
Another way to get a general idea of the search term readers are using to find your blog is to use Google search console.
Not all bloggers are familiar with Google search console, but it is a free service offered by Google to help website owners monitor their site’s presence in Google search results. It is awesome and has some great information.
If you have never used Google Search Console check out this post for information on setting up your account.
To find your search engine traffic result in console follow these instructions
- Go to your main search page (Google is in the middle of updating how search console works, so these directions may change)
- Choose Search Traffic => Search Analytics
- Then click each of the buttons at the top of the page that say Clicks, Impressions, CTR & Position (you want all this information)
- I typically leave it on the default date which is the last 28 days
You’ll end up with a report that looks like this:
Okay, now that you have your reports it is time to get to work.
I typically download my reports into excel for easy sorting, but it isn’t a necessary step. Now comes the fun part.
How to Review Old Blog Posts for SEO Traffic
1. Review your existing posts
When trying to increase my SEO ranking for old blog posts, I start by looking at current posts that I’m already getting organic traffic on. I’ve found that if my posts are already getting traffic, it is easier to rework them to get the most bang for my buck.
I compare the reports from regular Google Analytics, Keyword Hero, and Google Search Console. It sounds like a lot of work, but once you’ve done it a few times you’ll become very quick.
I look for overlapping words that are generating organic traffic.
If I see the same long tail keyword on all three reports then I know that I’m golden and begin working with that phrase within my blog post.
Once I’ve found a post I think has potential, it is time to do some major editing.
2. Reread and edit your blog post
Take a few minutes to read through your posts and ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this post answer a question, fulfill a need or help my readers?
- If it doesn’t, it is time to reassess the post and do some major revision?
- Would I want to read this posts as a regular person?
- Is the post title interesting and engaging?
- Does the title actually tell what the post is about?
3. Edit as needed based on the answers to your questions above
When I’m doing this portion of the editing process, I don’t stress about adding keywords or SEO. I’m just trying to make sure that my post is a valuable post for my readers and something that will help them.
I’m reviewing my grammar and spelling (I highly recommend using the free Grammarly editing tool to help this process). In general, I’m just refreshing my memory and making sure the post provides value.
One word of caution, if you are editing a post that is already ranking on Google, be very careful not to change the basic wording within the post. Even with all of the reports, you don’t know exactly what it is about the post that Google likes, so don’t change so much that you mess up your existing ranking.
4. Adding Keyword to Your Existing Blog Posts
Once you’ve edited the post and made sure it provides value, it is time to incorporate additional keywords into your existing blog post.
I incorporate keywords into my blog posts in two ways.
1. Use Existing Keywords I’m already receiving SEO Traffic for
This step is super simple since I’ve already done most of the work. I review my reports from above and try to incorporate 4-5 additional long tail keyword phrases into my blog post based on my existing search traffic.
For example, I’m currently ranking for “Financial Plan Example” so I would add an extra paragraph going into more detail on this phrase.
2. Use SEMrush to add additional related long tail keywords
SEMrush is the most amazing tool ever. However, it is expensive. Fortunately, SEMrush allows you to do 10 free searches daily. If you are careful and pay attention to your searching, you should be able to do this step without having to purchase SEMrush. That is what I do!
To use SEMrush enter the domain address for the post you are working on.
You’ll get a report that looks like this. Since I don’t have a paid membership I ignore most of the data (even though it is super cool) and choose the option in the bottom center to “view full report.”
Since you are getting a free report, you’ll only be able to see the top 10 results, but this still gives you a great starting point.
I pay attention to the following three pieces of information on the SEMrush Domain report:
- Position – This is your current position for the long tail keyword phrase in Google search results (if you look to the right you can see when this report was most recently updated)
- Volume – This tells you how many people are searching for this term on a monthly basis
- KD (Keyword Difficulty) – This is a % assigned to the long tail keyword by SEMrush that tells you how hard it is to rank for this term. It looks at the compition for you and assigns a numeric value to the total results.
Once I have this report, I review the top ten results and see if there are additional keyword phrases that I can incorporate into my blog post.
You can see why I enjoy using SEMrush so much. It makes optimizing my old blog posts so much easier. It saves me tons of time and research. In the next month or two I’m going to have to bite the bullet and get the paid version. Being limited to 10 searches a day is killing me – I need to be able to dig deeper into my keyword research.
A word of caution when revising your Long Tail Keywords
When you are revising your post to include additional long tail keywords, it is easy to get caught up in the numbers. What I mean by this is, you fall into the trap of feeling like the more keywords I incorporate into my blog post, the higher I’ll rank.
It doesn’t work that way!
Google also wants readable and relatable content. If you just stuff your posts with keywords over and over again it no longer becomes a valuable and easily readable post to your readers. You may end up getting to the top of the Google ranking system, but if you aren’t providing valuable content you won’t stay at the top for long.
No one knows exactly how Google does their ranking, but it is based on more than just keywords. One of the key metrics they track is how long users stay on your page. If you have a keyword stuffed post with no value, people may find your page, but they won’t stay long.
Your goal as a content creator is to find the balance between using keyword effectively and providing value to your readers. It is hard!
I struggle constantly with the balance but have found in the long run that my posts are significantly better when I focus on writing first and then incorporate my long tail keywords on a limited basis.
It is hard to explain, but once you’ve gone through the process a few times you’ll find it becomes almost instinctual and you’ll notice that you begin incorporating terms naturally within your writing.
Why Optimizing Old Blog Posts Is Critical
I’m still learning about SEO and how to incorporate long tail keywords into my posts effectively. However, I’ve found that when I follow the simple process outlined above I’m able to quickly and easily boost my traffic. It takes time and often you won’t see results for 6-8 months, but consistency is the key to success.
I published my post on Creating a Personal Financial Plan in late December. It was getting virtually no traffic and I thought it was a dud post.
In late February I took some time to optimize it for SEO Traffic and over the last couple of months my traffic to this post has gradually increased. It is going to take another 2-4 months to really see the impact, but I’m super excited with the small results I’m starting to see.
Optimizing old blog posts for SEO traffic takes a lot of time and can seem daunting at times. I know it is a lot of work, but personally I feel like it is a very valuable oportunity to increase blog traffic that a lot of bloggers miss.
Take a few of your posts and try out my steps. I’d love to hear from you and see how your optimizing efforts are working.
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