In the quickly-evolving digital marketing space, it can be so easy to get distracted by all the shiny new strategies, tools, and tactics. It’s so easy to get lost trying to decode the latest Google algorithm or try a new SaaS tool, and then, we forget to spend much time going back through our best posts to optimize, re-publish, and refresh the content.
So, last year, when the idea of topic clusters and content pillars hit center stage in the marketing world again, it got my wheels turning. See, in the past several years, having overlapping content has become a bigger problem, and it can really hurt your rank in search results.
So, I set out to analyze and audit our content to make sure we were getting the best performance possible. After three months of auditing, optimizing, and testing, the results were pretty astounding:
Our site saw a 27% increase in visits over a six-month period.
This was a major boost over the 12% and 14% increases we saw in the previous two periods.
So, how did we get such impressive results? Check out the process below.
Step One: Clear Out the Dead Weight Posts
Having multiple blogs on the same topic confuses search engines about which ones are the best to serve up in organic search. If you are like us, you probably have years worth of content that covers the same topics from a different angle. It's important that we understand which of these posts are still driving value and which ones are dragging us down with the ship.
Start by doing an audit of your lesser-performing content. Look for older posts that haven’t had any new visits or views in the last year. Pay closer attention to topics and articles that are outdated or no longer central to your company or your target audience. If you haven’t updated the industry standards post since 2014, it’s probably not very much use to you or your audience.
Make sure to watch for duplicate topics that you DO still want to be writing about, check the content and see if there is anything worth keeping. Start a spreadsheet and make note of the best content in a document. Then, group them by topic categories.
When you’ve identified content that’s not doing your website any favors, unpublish it. Seriously, I’ve found that lower-quality and outdated content was just confusing search algorithms and giving our site less clarity.
Think of this like spring cleaning for your blog. If it’s not bringing value now and it can’t be updated or optimized to bring more value, you really don’t need it.
Step Two: Optimize for Your Best-Performing Content
Now that you’ve done your spring cleaning, spend some time analyzing the posts that are driving some traffic. Specifically, look for content that has exact match keywords or articles that are topically similar.
For example, we produce video content, and over the years, we had written about six different posts that were about pricing out a video project. Every post has a slightly varied take on almost the exact same content.
Under old SEO best practices, it might have been a good idea to have a wide variety of blogs on this topic. But today, the focus on topics over keywords makes this practice less effective. Once you’ve identified pages and blogs that are good candidates for an audit, follow these steps:
Evaluate the content and traffic analytics for each post. Identify which post is driving the most consistent traffic to your website and use that piece as your starting point.
Take that best-performing post and look for ways to use the content from your other posts to create one robust and thorough blog. (Don’t worry about duplicating content, we’ll take care of that with a later step)
Revisit your page title, URL, and meta description. Make sure they are following best practices for SEO. If you have a lot of backlinks, you will want to keep your URL the same.
Publish the changes to your updated blog post. Consider adding an update note to the bottom of your blog if the content has changed drastically. (ex. This post was originally published on December 17, 2014, and was updated on February 22, 2018.)
Archive and unpublish all the other blog posts with competing content and create URL redirects to your updated piece.
If you use Google Search Console, be sure to submit your updated page to be crawled by Google to ensure your content that appears on search gets refreshed as soon as possible.
Step Three: Show Google the Way
Google looks for the linking strength to a certain page on your site’s internal links as well as external backlinks. It’s important to spend time making sure that your site is consistently linking your targeted keyword phrases to the appropriate page or post.
Perform a site search around the keyword(s) that your blog is optimized around. Type [site:storytellermn.com “video production process”] into Google. The search will bring up every page on your website that uses that specific keyword phrase.
Edit your pages with links to your newly updated blog post URL. Note: there’s no need to link to the same page more than once from a single blog because Google will only count the first link.
Step Four: Maximize Your Click-Through Rates
If you haven’t set up a Google Search Console account for your blog, now is the time. This free tool from Google has a wealth of information about your website’s organic performance.
It takes a few days for the data to start coming through, so get your site authorized as soon as possible. Then, set a reminder to come back and look at the data in a few days.
Once you have data, here are some ideas to help you increase your click-through rates (CTR) from search.
Sort the results by the average rank and then look for pages that stand out with a low click-through rate.
Perform the keyword search in Google and take a look at the other highly-ranking content. Look for ways that the content is out-performing yours? Does it have a better title or a more compelling meta description? Does it include examples or provide a definition that ranks for the snippet? Is it significantly longer than your post or more thorough?
Pro Tip: Do the search in Incognito Mode to see if you get different results without your location and browsing preferences.
Once you have a good sense of why a searcher would click on other results on that page over yours, spend time updating and optimizing your content to try to increase your CTR.
Remember, the lower your content is in search results, the more you may have to do to help boost the average ranking and CTR.
Creating high-quality content that resonates with both your target audience and ranks highly in search results is not something that you can just publish once and never look at again. It’s important to revisit your best performing posts often and make sure they are still driving the most traffic possible.
Don’t forget to pair these revision tactics with a killer topic cluster strategy along with a consistent blog process for publishing new content because no single tactic is enough to drive results.