How to improve SEO on older blog posts
So you have some older posts on your blog that aren’t getting the SEO juice you hoped for.
Modifying your older or lower-performing articles isn’t difficult provided you’re focused on the right things.
While this article deals primarily with improving older articles, the tactics covered here applies to writing new ones as well. I also include an infographic at the end of the article that you can take with you.
Before we delve into the steps you should take in boosting your blog’s SEO, let’s start with what to avoid.
What WON’T help boost your blog posts’ SEO
Google’s algorithm can sniff out the usual tricks that publishers use to try to boost their rankings for older posts and determine if the changes are enough to validate SERP advancement.
Here’s just a sample of some of the usual go-to’s that just don’t work.
Changing the date published
Sure, changing the date the post was published shoves the article back to the top of your archive, perhaps even your home page or footer if you’re serving recent posts there.
There’s no real value in terms of SEO by doing this.
Google’s John Mueller made it clear during a Google Webmaster Central Hangout:
I don’t think you would see much of a change with regards to search – like crawling, indexing, or ranking-wise – if you changed the date or the timestamp on a page on a regular basis.– John Mueller, Google (2019)
So, no, changing the published or last updated dates does not directly affect rankings.
The number of (quality) backlinks to your site has an impact on your SEO but be careful when seeking them out.
Link buying is a black hat SEO trick that is done in an effort to boost rankings but can actually get your site penalized, even removed from SERPs altogether.
Avoid link buying at all costs.
Keyword stuffing and increasing keyword density
Another tactic is to edit the post by cramming it with more keywords in an effort to increase rankings for the keywords used.
This can actually backfire on you because overuse of keywords means losing the use of them organically, making it read unnaturally and that’s a great way to red flag search engines.
Keyword density, that being the idea that your content should include a certain percentage of your keyword, is a myth.
Keyword density, in general, is something I wouldn’t focus on. Search engines have kind of moved on from there.– John Mueller, Google (2014)
Apart from the natural use of your keyword in your post content, where where your keyword matters most is in your page title, URL, and header tags. You could also make a case for using them in your meta descriptions but I clarify that a little more later in this article.
Carpet bombing social media
Social media posts that link to your articles are treated by search engines like any other link to your blog.
In that sense, there’s value in terms of backlinks, but try to think of social media as more of a tool for brand building, improving trust, and connecting with others whether it be customers, influencers, or partners.
What CAN help improve your blog posts’ SEO
When it comes to SEO, you can cover your technical bases and still fall short because the one thing that matters most is what search engines are looking for above all else:
Content! Content! Content!
The most likely scenario with lower-ranking articles is the content is just not resonating with your audience, which comes down to quality and value.
Search engines know this.
When updating older articles, focusing on improving the quality of its content takes some effort but it’s well worth it.
Doing a full re-write
If you want to improve the ranking of a blog post, adding a sentence or two or otherwise doing minor tweaks isn’t enough for search engines to care.
You need to make substantial changes to the article’s content to have a shot at increasing its ranking.
I explain it a little further in a recent post.
Don’t be afraid of long-form articles if you know what you’re writing about. They’re great for search engines and users.
If your post is already lengthy, there may be other reasons why its content isn’t resonating with your audience.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I writing in my natural voice and not using surface-level marketing speak?
- Does the content provide value to the reader?
- Is there a flow to the article or does it jump all over the place?
- If I’m being critical, is it done constructively and with as little bias as possible?
- Am I writing for search engines or my audience?
Whatever the case, try something different and focus on producing the best quality you can.
Also, don’t rush your re-write. Take the time you need to do more research, writing, and reviewing.
Add more rich content
Users love eye candy, especially when it’s educating and/or entertaining and can really add some meat to your articles.
Just some of the options that you can use includes:
- Cartoons, memes, or humorous pictures
- Data charts
- Audio clips
Also, don’t forget that people search for images as well, so it’s vital that you use accurate, descriptive text in your images’ ALT attributes. This is also important for Accessibility.
Be smart (and don’t be greedy!) with your keyword integration
Choosing your focus keyword for your articles can be pretty challenging, especially if you’re casting a wider net when it comes to audience reach.
Use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Ahrefs to help you fine-tune your keyword strategy.
If you’re a new blogger or your writing for an organization that’s relatively new, chances are your site’s authority is too low to compete with the keywords you’re choosing.
My domain is still relatively new and I don’t have a ton of content compared to a lot of older blogs. This impacts my rankings but the good news is that, over time, it will get better provided I’m focused on writing solid content and doing the right things with my on-page SEO (plentiful copy, headers, internal linking, strong image ALT text, etc.) while keeping tabs on technical SEO (page speed, meta data, URLs, etc.)
Add internal links
Look for opportunities to link your other articles or pages on your site when writing.
Internal links helps search engines determine relevance and value with other pages and can help increase rankings for those linked pages as well as where you’re linking from.
Internal links also helps keep users on your site, which is great for improving metrics like page views, time on page, and bounce rate, to name a few.
Modify your meta description
You want your post’s meta description to catch a searcher’s eye so they select you instead of someone else when they’re conducting a search.
Effective meta descriptions have no direct effect on your rankings, but they do play a role in converting searchers into readers.
I go into more detail on this in a recent post on meta descriptions and on an episode of my podcast.
Engage your audience
Admittedly, I don’t do a whole lot of audience engagement and I know very well that my own rankings would be better if I did.
But I don’t have a whole lot of time to commit to engagement because it’s one of those things that, if you’re going to do it, you have to be prepared for the time investment and consistently respond to questions and even requests for assistance.
Connecting directly with your audience can improve not only your site’s authority but other aspects of SEO like page views, bounce rate, time on page, or through increased backlinks. It’s also a good opportunity to learn from others and get direct feedback on your content.
If you’re running a blog for an organization, it’s easy to let engagement slide, so make sure writers or someone on your marketing team is prepared to allocate the time to making sure the ball isn’t dropped when responding to comments and queries on your article pages or share threads.
The biggest tip for improving your blog’s SEO
Of course getting things right with your technical SEO is important. So is your on-page SEO.
But if there’s one tip that probably matters most of all, it’s this:
Write about what you know and stick to your niche.
This directly influences the quality of your content as well as your potential for building authority.
Back when I started this blog, I was also writing about my personal experience with low carb eating and sharing some of my songwriting.
I was also writing about my personal experience with dietary changes back when I began with keto and intermittent fasting.
Three totally different topics for pretty much three different types of audiences.
This was confusing to users and search engines because of the disconnect between those articles and the main purpose of the blog. It might not be much of an issue if this was a general, personal blog, but that’s not quite what I’m going for here.
So, I nixed the songbook and food posts and the first thing I noticed when peeking into Google Analytics a couple of weeks later was that my bounce rate started to drop and the Time on Page average increased.
No shocker there at all.
By keeping your writing focused on your niche you’re in a better position to help your site’s rankings and authority.
Bonus: Blog writing for SEO infographic
Here’s a quick cheat sheet for you to refer to when updating your older articles or writing new ones.
Wrapping it all up
When fine-tuning your older blog posts, keep in mind that there is no silver bullet that will magically boost your SEO for those pages.
SEO take time, persistence, and patience.
Keep at it, focus on writing the best content you can, and the results will come.