How to Improve Existing Blog Content – The Quick and Dirty Guide

picture of man whilst Improving Existing Blog Content

Everyone who’s ever written a blog knows that not every post ends up being a winner. In fact, almost across the board, bloggers tend to end up with one or two superstar posts that bring in the majority of their traffic, and a much larger number of posts that attract a more ordinary amount of traffic.

The aim of the game is increase your odds of producing a superstar post — and there’s a great technique for doing this that’s right under your nose. Simply take your old, almost-made-it blog posts and give them just the nudge they need to reach superstar status!

Estimated read time: 7 minutes
Difficulty level: Intermediate

Contents

  • How to find “almost-made-it” blog posts with Keyword Explorer
  • How to actually update old blog content
  • How to republish old blog content

How to find blog posts that need updating with Keyword Explorer

Every SEO expert and content marketer has a different favourite technique for identifying which old blog posts should be updated. I’ve tried a couple of different versions and my current favourite is the one advocated by Dr Pete. I like this version because it’s easy(ish) to do and is highly keyword-focused.

I’ve summarised the technique here.

1.Head to Keyword Explorer

2.Select “root domain” from the drop-down menu in the search bar

3.Add the the root domain of the URL you want to look at to the search bar

The root domain (for today’s purposes) is just the domain name plus the top-level domain. So if the domain name is exposureninja and the top-level domain is .com, the root domain is exposureninja.com.

4.Click “search”

Screenshot of a search for Improve Existing Blog Content

This will give you a list of all the keywords that a site is currently ranking for.

5.Click “See all ranking keywords > Export as CSV”

6.Open up a new Google Sheet

7.Select File > Import > Upload > Select a file from your computer

8.Select the CSV file from earlier and select “Replace current spreadsheet”

screenshot of csv file with keyword for Improve Existing Blog Content

You’ll end up with all the pages on a website, as well as all the keywords that they are ranking for. In my example, I’m looking at a blog, so I don’t need to filter the pages. But if I were looking at a business website, I’d need to filter the other pages out.

9. Select Data > Filter

10. In the column labelled “top ranking URL”, click the green downward arrow

11. Select filter by the condition > text contains “/blog/”

12. Copy the filtered data to a new spreadsheet, and delete the old spreadsheet

13. Select the data on the new tab

14. Select Data > Pivot table…

Hold onto your hats, things are about to get a little tricky! We need to use a pivot table to sort the data more easily.

15. Selecting “Pivot table…” will open a new tab

16. In the Report Editor on the right, add “Top Ranking URL” under “Rows”

17. Click… Values > Add Field > Top Ranking URL >  summarize by COUNTA

18. Then… Values > Add Field  > Max Volume > summarize by SUM

screenshot of pivot table for Improve Existing Blog Content

screenshot of functions used to Improve Existing Blog Content

 19. Copy and paste this data into a new spreadsheet! Delete the old one

20. Label columns A, B and C “URL”, “Keyword Count” and “Potential Traffic”

21. Use Data > Sort range… > Sort by column B (or C) to sort by Count or Volume

Ta-da! We’ll end up with a list of blog posts that we can sort by keyword and potential traffic. Now we can look for blog posts that are ranking for lots of keywords (high number in the “Keyword Count” column) and have the potential to earn lots of traffic (high number in the “Potential Traffic” column).

screenshot of keyword count and estimated traffic to Improve Existing Blog Content

I can see that the post “15 best things to do in Turks and Caicos” is worth taking another look at, as it has the potential to attract a lot of traffic.

The next thing I’ll do is head back to Keyword Explorer and add the URL for the Turks and Caicos page into the search bar again, this time performing an exact page search.

The results tell me that the page is ranking about 9th to 11th for some keywords with decent monthly search volume. If the page’s owner can do some rewriting and move those terms to page 1 or even above the fold, they’re going to earn themselves a metric tonne of traffic. But how do you actually go about rewriting an old blog post?

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10 Ways to Update Old Blog Content and Add Value for Your Readers

So, we’ve got a list of blog posts that we know have huge potential, and a list of keywords that can unlock that potential.

What’s next?

It’s time to start re-writing!

1. Rewrite with your new target keywords in mind

Avoid keyword stuffing, but do use your target keywords:

  • In the title
  • In the first 100 words
  • In headings (especially anything with the h2 tag)
  • As the anchor text for both internal and external links

Also look at LSI keywords and include them where appropriate. LSI keywords are words that are semantically related to your original keywords.

One of the best things to do is add a new heading that targets one of your identified keywords and answers a related question that might be useful to your readers.

2. Consider updating the structure of the blog

Think about changing the structure of the blog, especially if you’re adding in a new heading or two. This might mean shortening the introduction or moving the paragraphs around so that the blog flows better.

3. Remove any outdated references and outdated practices

Scan your old blog post for dates and dated references. If the hottest new trends of 2012 are mentioned, that line either needs to be rewritten or deleted. The same thing applies if best practice has changed significantly in your industry since the blog was originally written.

4. Remove weak copy

Check every single line of copy. Does it a) contain valuable insights that your reader absolutely must know? Or b) make the reader spit out their coffee in a gale of laughter? If not, cut it out! (Though of course, be careful removing keywords and ideally you’ll add more than you cut).

5. Change images if needed

As it says on the tin. Are you using the best possible images? It should go without saying, but are the images compressed? Have they been assigned keyword-rich alt tags?

6. Replace old studies or statistics

As with old dates and references, old studies and statistics need to be replaced with newer versions.

7. Check old links

Go through each link and make sure that they’re all working as intended. If any links are broken or could be pointed somewhere more useful, point them somewhere more useful. This applies to both internal and external links (yes, you should have both in your blog).

8. Update the CTAs

Calls to action (CTAs) need to be updated, too! These usually go out of date, as they’re often pointed to old resources or offers that no longer apply. Make sure each CTA is doing some heavy lifting.

9. Add an editor’s note explaining the changes that you made

Add a note explaining your changes. “Editor’s note: this blog post was updated in November 2017 for accuracy”. This is especially necessary if the blog has comments that will become redundant as a result of the update.

Add this to the bottom of the post, just above the final CTA.

10. Do a spelling and grammar check

Now’s a good time to remove any typos that were in the original piece and check that you haven’t added any new ones while editing. Run the blog through Grammarly and give the piece to a fresh pair of eyes for a glance over.


How to republish old blog content

The hard part’s over, All that’s left is to actually press publish… but wait. This is a republish. So you actually need to update the original post, rather than posting the updated version as a new post. Make sure that you also do the following:

  1. Update the publication date/time
  2. Don’t change the post’s URL
  3. Promote the post again through social channels

Further reading

As stated in the introduction, the credit for the content audit outlined above goes entirely to Dr Pete of Moz. Here’s his original article, as well as other pieces that I read while researching this blog:

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