So you already have content but it’s not ranking well anymore or helping you achieve your business goals. What gives?
Maybe your content wasn’t thoughtfully planned out. Maybe the landscape has changed since you published it 10 years ago. Or maybe you built it for SEO but forgot all about converting readers, improving their experience, and all the other important elements of optimization!
The good news is you can overcome all of these obstacles by reviewing & improving your old content. Lock down on-page SEO, align the quality of your current pieces to today’s standards, and start ranking again with this content optimization guide. Take your content marketing to the next level!
We’ll explain what key terms like content optimization really mean. We’ll also give you all the steps you need to take to improve conversions from the content you’ve already created. This way, you'll maximize the return on your existing content strategy. Keep reading to learn more about how to optimize your page content and boost traffic through a content optimization system.
How Do You Optimize Content?
Content optimization in SEO is a system or a checklist of tasks you can do to make sure your content can be found by as many people as possible on the internet. If you’ve ever added an alt tag to an image or put a keyword in a webpage URL then you may already be familiar with this technique.
In order to optimize content, you have to first take inventory of what content you have already. To get started, make a list of all the content that is live on your website. Then, decide whether or not it’s worthy of being updated or if it should instead be archived or removed from the index. If you’re not sure which to choose, consider what your target audience is most interested in and which topics you want to lean into more heavily moving forward. Also consider which content is performing best for you - in terms of traffic, links, and conversions (for goodness sake, don't forget CTAs!) That is the content you’ll spend the next section of our article optimizing.
Also, look out for pieces that naturally lend themselves to an update. For example, if you did a blog post about industry trends last year, you can reflect on what made the biggest impact and which trends you expect to carry over to the following year.
If you’re stuck between updating old content (like pivoting a popular article towards a more relevant offer) or content creation (creating another piece from scratch), you should know that there are pros and cons to each.
Pros for updating old content:
It’s more cost-effective to update old content since it takes less time and effort.
Updating old content will help take advantage of your current rankings while also improving conversions.
Cons for updating old content:
You may be missing out on new keyword opportunities.
The keywords you rank for now may be attracting audiences who aren’t interested in what else you have to offer.
Pros for creating new content:
You can choose to rank for longtail keyword phrases that compliment the keywords your content ranks, for now, creating a clearer picture of what your website is all about to Google’s algorithm.
You have the opportunity to rank for new keywords you haven’t previously targeted.
It costs more to create a new piece of content from scratch than to update an existing piece.
Whether you choose to do one or a mix of both, all of your content put together should consider the appropriate balance - that’s right for your business - between target subjects, audience engagement, customer funnel stage, and user intent. That means your SEO strategy needs to use the keywords that are most relevant to your focus areas. And your focus areas need to appeal to a demographic that will benefit from whatever products or services you’re selling within that content.
It all works together in an SEO content ecosystem, with one part of your content optimization plan simultaneously fueling and being fueled by another.
How Do You Update Old Content?
Follow these simple tips to optimize your existing content for SEO and improve your conversion rates through each of these major categories.
Adjust your titles. Shorten them to 10 words or less, include a primary keyword in each, and make sure they are compelling yet relevant to what’s on the page.
Make sure you include skimmable subheadings, bite-size paragraphs (up to three sentences max), and bulleted lists whenever possible.
Use images, video, and other rich media, as your budget allows, to “show” - not just - “tell” - the story. Place these throughout the content of the article to “break it up” into smaller, more digestible sections.
In general, the user experience of your content matters - so make it delightful!
Consider what new features are available in search for your target terms - e.g. is there a featured snippet? A YouTube video carousel? People Also Ask questions? These are new opportunities you can attempt to "claim" through a clear structure and potentially adding markup to the page.
Add, edit, or improve CTAs to match the user's intention and their stage in the customer funnel.
Improve Content Substance
Update any outdated information (such as statistics older than three years old) or images that are no longer relevant (such as screenshots from product menus that have since been updated).
Edit all sentences down to 14 words or less.
Use relevant statistics that are less than a year old to support your arguments. Not only does it make your content more interesting, but it also associates your webpage with expert resources, making your site appear as an expert too.
Find your anchor content - pieces that are unique and drive the most traffic to your website already. Make sure to capitalize on its success by sprucing them up a little with updated data, images, or ideas.
Always fact check the information you include in your content. If it doesn’t align with other top search results, it might fall in rankings.
Compress and re-upload images. Smaller file sizes help page speeds load faster, a big factor in search rankings.
Infographics and illustrations that use a lot of text appear as regular images when your site is indexed by search engines. Since Google can’t read the words on images, put your keywords elsewhere on the page by always pairing these with longer text.
Do additional keyword research as needed. Look to Google Search Console (GSC) to see what you are already ranking well for, and what you are close to performing well for. Look at competitive content & keyword research tools to see if there are new, related keywords that apply now, but perhaps didn't exist (or you just couldn't find them) before.
Add your primary keyword to at least one header. Put secondary keywords as headers if they make sense.
Double-check that you’ve chosen the best possible keyword for that piece of content by reviewing the keyword search volume and difficulty. Ideally, each target keyword should be highly searched but with low difficulty.
Keep in mind that even if a keyword makes sense to you, your Google might show surprising results based on the user intent. For example, a search for “what is bone broth” shows more bone broth recipes than actual bone broth definitions. Research the search query and see what’s ranking to ensure you understand the “big picture” intent.
Avoid keyword stuffing by only using keywords where they naturally fit into the text. If you do need to add additional words or phrases, go back in after you draft the content and find spots that make the most sense.
Local SEO will give your content a boost. Just add the name of your town, city, and/or state to your page, if it’s relevant to the content.
Don’t put the date in your URLs since you’ll likely update it later.
Update your title tag and meta description as needed, to reflect any keyword targeting changes, and/or changes in the positioning on your content. Consider your CTR (click-through-rate, via GSC) and bounce rate (via Google Analytics), and identify opportunities for improving it via your meta tags.
Improve Your Internal & External Link Building Setup
Make sure that all sites you link to are relevant to your own either in topic, title, or content.
Include a mix of internal and external links to improve the depth of your content, a key factor in search engine rankings.
Only link to credible sites that appear to have high-quality content, links, and images of their own.
For internal linking, anchor text matters; ensure you are helping the other content on your website rank better for their target keywords by linking to them from those terms. And vise versa, look for opportunities from other website content to link to the page you are currently optimizing.
More Content Things to Consider
First, keep in mind that your website should be updated regularly - ideally once per week+. That means you can either post new content or update existing web pages. If you choose to optimize existing pieces, remember to track your results using a web analytics tool. Remember that tools are your best SEO friends. Have at least one for website analytics, SEO analysis, and content revision so you get the full picture of what’s going on with your search rankings and how you can improve them.
Next, prioritize adding or upgrading time-sensitive topics (such as holiday-related posts) and content that is showing signs of decay (anything that has fallen in rankings) first. For the latter, try tools like the one offered by Animalz to find and prevent content decay. Then, add these selected posts to an editorial calendar. Fill in the rest of your calendar gaps with keyword-inspired content you know your audience will engage with.
Finally, use your website host tools to optimize your website for mobile by adjusting text sizes, image sizes, menus, and content structures. Add social sharing buttons to the sides, top, and/or bottom of each webpage so visitors can help grow your audience for you.
Bonus: Don't forget about content distribution for your new & improved content! Share it on social media again, email, and any other relevant digital marketing channel.
Turning existing assets into great content can help you convert more leads and rank even higher in search with a little updating. Find which pieces of content deserve a makeover then follow our steps above to make sure the substance, structure, images, keywords, and links of all your webpages are working together to improve your search engine results. Now that you know how to optimize your content, you can get started with improving your assets. Or contact us today for help executing an expert-level SEO audit and plan of action tailored to your goals!
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