How to Update Old Blog Posts for Improved SEO

update old blog posts seo

The “2nd page SEO strategy” can be an AMAZING way to update old blog posts in an attempt to gain SEO rankings. And NO, it’s NOT just “adding more words.” That’s a useless strategy without important context!

For the past 48 hours, I have been holed up in a hotel room in Atlanta, GA.

By myself…

Studying blog SEO…

Kinda sad, isn’t it?

So while I’ve gotten a ton of work done here, there is one strategy I’ve learned that I REALLY needed to share with you.

There’s a ton of SEO content written about keyword research, backlinks, etc–but there’s not enough of this strategy.

Here’s what I did in less than 30 minutes yesterday:

before the seo strategy
Where I stood originally

The above image is for a random post I wrote targeting the keywords “blogging tools for beginners,” showing it at the #10 spot.

After about 20 minutes of work, I sent a “Fetch as Google” request (we’ll look at what this is in a second), and promptly jumped up 3 spots.

after updating old blog post seo
And after!

Woot!

Update: It’s now rank #1 ?

How to revamp SEO on your old blog posts:

Please allow me to introduce what I call “The 2nd Page Strategy.”

The reason I call it this is simple: If an old blog post isn’t even on the 2nd (MAYBE the 3rd) page of Google, don’t bother with this strategy.

What we’re really trying to do is find something that’s doing well, and help it do really well.

Step 1 – Track your SERPs and actually recognize how you’re ranking 🙂

So, I use Ahrefs, which is pricey, but you can also useSERPWatcher (comes with the KWFinder suite), which is pretty dang awesome at $30/mo (waayyy cheaper than Moz, Ahrefs, SEMrush, etc).

I track my rankings in Ahrefs (weekly!)

However, you can totally track your SERPs for free!

Yes, this will feel very “manual,” but hey, it’s free.

Here’s the free Google template used in this example.

  1. Whenever you publish a piece of content, write down the name and the keywords you’re targeting.
  2. Leave it alone for a few weeks.
  3. Periodically check back in, do a quick Google search for the keywords, and check to see where you’re at….
  4. If you’re NOT on the first 3-4 pages….don’t go searching further. Just put down “N/A” in the rank column 🙂

That’s it.

Remember, the goal is to find the posts that are doing well…and go back and turn them into really well!

Step 2 – Analyze the SERP (Search Engine Results Page)

What’s that you say?

You’ve got a post ranking in the top 30ish for your targeted keyword?

Congrats! Now let’s get to top 5ish ?

  1. Google your keyword.
  2. Open the top 10 or 20 results in new tabs (depends on how thorough you want to be!)
  3. BROWSE (not read all the way) through the results, one by one, taking notes.

Before we talk about what notes to jot down specifically, it’s incredible important to understand the following.

Google in 2019 is all about user intent.

More than ever before, Google understands the actual user intent behind users’ search queries. “What is this user REALLY looking for with this particular search query?”

When you browse the search results for your keywords, you are trying to find a pattern of user intent topics.

  1. Browse through the top 5-10 posts that are ranking already.
  2. Note the different topics and sub-topics they talk about.

For example, if we were targeting “blog traffic strategies,” we might look at page 1 of Google and determine that…

  • 9 out of 10 posts include topics relating to guest posting
  • 3 include mentions of Quora
  • 8 include topics relating to improving SEO
  • 0 mention listening to the DYEB podcast 7 days a week. ??

What you’re after is a pattern. More specifically, a part of the pattern YOUR blog post might not have…or could use more of.

Re-read that ?

If all the top 10 search results spent a HUGE amount of time writing about guest posting in the example above, and mine only has 1 sentence….what do you think Google thinks?

That my content is not comprehensive?

Step 3 – Adapt your content to the pattern, making it more comprehensive.

You’re already on page 2-3, so the GREAT news is you won’t have to do hours and hours of work!

In fact, if you’ve spent 10-20 minutes analyzing those other blog posts, chances are you’ll be in a great spot to update your own blog post in a matter of minutes.

It shouldn’t take an extra 1,000 words (unless you just want to?)

Add in any missing components of “the pattern” you hopefully discovered in part 2.

update wordpress publish date
Don’t forget to literally update the date published/updated in WordPress

Remember the SEO goal here: Satisfy the USER INTENT for your keywords.

That’s what that pattern represents, at least in Google’s eyes, right this second. Thosetopics found in the top 20 search results.

Here’s what to add to your old blog posts:

If you’re lazy…or otherwise didn’t find the first few steps very fruitful, there are a few other things you can do to update old blog posts.

1 – Update outdated information.

Some examples, times, dates, etc, may have been relevant when you first published the post, but aren’t now. Update them.

2 – Add more media!

For real totally. Add more revenant pictures and/or video embeds! Google loves these.

Whenever I see Neil Patel’s high-ranking content, I’m always blown away with the amount of images he has in his posts.

3 – Make the intro quick and readable.

It’s always a good thing to

  1. Keep people scrolling down the page
  2. Get people engaged with the MEAT of the content quicker.

While these may seem like they’re at odds with one another, they aren’t.

Keep your intros nice and snappy.

With one liners like this.

Or…

  • bullet points
  • short catchy images
  • etc

All designed with one purpose…

To get em scrolling.

brian dean intro
Brian Dean’s intros always contain images

4 – Add more, ya know, words.

As long as whatever you write is in line with user intent? And is relevant?

Go nuts.

Add an extra 250 words. An extra 2,500.

That whole relevant thing is the tricky part though. You can’t just add more random words about the PB&J sandwich you’re currently obsessed with.

(Unless you run a PB&J blog, in which case shoot me your URL!)

No, you’re gotta keep it on-topic.

5 – Check for broken links (and remove them)

Head to https://www.brokenlinkcheck.com/ , which is my preferred free method for scanning your blog for broken links!

If the software spits anything back at you–just head into that content and fix/remove the broken links!

broken link check update seo
Broken links = lower rankings!

Psst – If you just want to check your old blog post for broken links specifically–you can use the free Chrome extension Check My Links ?

Use “Cmd/cntrl-F” to search your content for old dates, etc.

  • Mac = Command-F
  • PC = Control-F

This brings up the “find” function, and you can use it to search for outdated information–such as “2018” if you want to update the year, etc.

updating dates in old blog posts
This post could obviously use some updating!

My challenge to you…

Do this this weekend, but set a timer.

Give yourself 30 minutes MAX.

(To be fair, let’s say 30 minutes AFTER you’ve found a post you’re ranking for in the top 30-40).

Also–if you enjoyed this post, you might wanna check how this one: SEO Category Pages – What are they and how to update them!

Join the Conversation

25 Comments

  1. Wow, this is so simple, yet I never thought of doing it lol. I’m glad it’s easy to understand and I can do maybe 1 post a day for a week or so and see how it goes? I use semrush to get the top 10 keywords with the highest ranking for my site. But it was more of a cool amusement factor than trying to improve it haha. I have about 20 keywords that are in the first 2 pages, but I guess I just assumed they’d rank higher eventually if my site got more views? Clearly, I am so wrong and know nothing about SEO.

    If it goes well, maybe I can use the paid subscription of your tool :). 30 minutes a day doesn’t sound terrible if I can rank in the front page.

    1. CLEARLY NOTHING. No, just kidding of course.

      Any given ranking could go up over time as your traffic increases, but if it’s been out a while already, it’s unlikely to jump up magically; you’d have to go back and update the content a bit!

      Definitely do this for a few posts and let me know how it goes. I’d be super curious to know 🙂

  2. Thanks for this information Pete! I am going back to some of the posts I’ve written lately to re-vamp my SEO readiness!!

    Jessica ||Cubicle Chic

  3. Hi Pete, great article. I’m just about to break for the summer holidays (I’m a teacher in England). My blog has only been running for 3 months, am trying to learn as much as I can about SEO. I have 2 questions that I’m struggling to find answers to.
    1. I use Yoast as a guide for SEO and it always wants a focus keyword which I research and put in but should I be putting other keywords within the body of my blog posts?
    2. Should H2 subheadings be keywords I’ve not used as my focus keyword?
    Sorry if these seem amateurish but I want to get my posts working the best the can.
    Could I drop my url here for some feedback?
    Thanks. I love the podcasts!

    1. 1 – Probably, but it needs to be 100% organic and natural writing. Check out LSI Graph to find some related KWs.

      2 – For H2, you can include your main keywords (once maybe), some LSI KWs (see above), popular questions about your topic (found by searching google or from Answer the Public (google it)), etc. These should hit the major sub-topics and questions about your primary focus keywords–if that makes any sense.

      Hope that helps!

  4. OOOhh, this is a good strategy. Planning on trying this next blogging batch schedule instead of producing fresh content. Thanx for the tip!

  5. hello .
    i have a question . i have published a post about 10 days ago . and after that started to link building in social networks like twiter, linkdin and … .
    after 10 days in destination keyword its appear in last result of page 5 . do i need to wait for more days ?
    and after that if my post did not appear in first 3 page, what is the plan B ?
    THANK YOU FOR ANSWERING ME

  6. I loved reading it! My blog section was almost died, I’ll be working with these tips to give it a new life. BTW, Pete, a quick question, as you’ve written in this article that if you’re not ranking on the 2nd or 3rd page of Google then don’t bother.

    What if my main keyword is “Marketing Strategies” and I am nowhere on this keyword but I am ranking on a 2nd/3rd page for other long tail keywords such as “Marketing Strategies that you should follow” with less volume.

    Should I still be working on improving these articles? Hope I am making sense lol!

    Thank You

    1. Great question–totally your call!

      I’d say “yay” or “nay” based on the combined traffic of those long-tails (ideally grouped together).

      If you don’t have access to that info (via ahrefs or SEMrush or something)–go back and update/make better anyways 😉

  7. thanks a lot .. was going to buy PBN for my site to improve my position for one keyword..but likely Your site give my post the required push.. Now I am at 6th position for a keyword.. quite competitive.. from few days traffic has increased to 450 visitors from just 80 visitors before.. got couple of sales too.

  8. I’ve updated one of my posts when I read this article. It was on the second page of Google, specifically at the #21 spot.

    I just rechecked the Google (after 10 days), and I’m on the first page of Google, spot #10! The update took me like 30 minutes at max!

    Thanks, Pete!

  9. I’ve been blogging for the past 200 years, and have been pretty much run out of ideas. Your post is the first in a long time to give me a new direction. Thanks.

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