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How to Optimize Old Content for SEO: 3 Steps for B2B Marketers

SEO performance is a combination of many factors, including website design and content creation. But what about the content you already have on your website… before improving SEO became a top priority? In this blog, we’ll walk through how to optimize old content for SEO.

If you want to generate more traffic and more leads, you need as much of your content—new and old—to show up on the search engine results page (SERP for short).

Being at the top of the SERP is like a golden ticket. Users actively searching for the answer you provide will see your page near the top of Google. And they will click.

And even better, those clicks don’t cost you a dime.

Here’s a “stat” for you – about 75% of Google users don’t scroll past the first page of results. This number may not be the most reliable. It’s just the one I saw first. See what I mean?

Think about it. How often do you ever click past page one in Google? Not very often. And that’s the takeaway. You need to improve your page rank, so your content is front and center where your audience will be.

So, optimizing old content for search engine optimization (SEO) is a necessary step B2B marketers must take to breathe new life into your website and finally get those keywords you’ve been targeting. It’s also a great first step to take if you recognize a keyword opportunity, but you’re too pressed for time and resources to write a blog.

How to Optimize Content for SEO

There are many ways to improve your page rank. But they mostly come down to a simple sentence: Create content people want to read.

There are two ways you can go about delivering great content to your buyers:

  1. Create new content following best practices.
  2. Optimize old content that you already have sitting around.

We write about how to create new content all the time. So, let’s dig into the second option: Optimizing old content for SEO.  

Why Optimize?

If you’re deep into your website’s life, you probably already have a lot of existing content that may or may not be serving you. Now’s the time to put those pages back to work.

With a few simple steps, you can identify those old pages and their respective keyword opportunities, optimize them for SEO and watch the traffic pour in.

Step 1: Run an SEO Audit

First thing, you need to take inventory of all your pages on your site. You can scroll through your sitemap, but that might not tell you enough.

A great way to see all your pages along with useful, actionable data is to run an SEO audit using a tool like Screaming Frog. These audit tools are great to get a quick report on common SEO issues, like broken links, page titles and meta descriptions. This is low-hanging fruit for instant SEO improvements. It may not boost your page to the top, but you’ll have trouble ranking higher moving forward if you don’t address these problems first.

Step 2: Research and Prioritize Content

At the baseline, you should have any and all technical SEO issues fixed. Now it’s time to look for critical keyword opportunities.

To do this research, you’ll want to use a tool like Google Search Console for a (free) top-level view of keywords and competition. SEMrush will give you a lot more data, but it’s not free.

These types of tools will show you page by page what search terms you’re ranking for and how well you’re ranking for those search terms. You’ll also see your organic visibility, impressions and click through rate—among other things.

From here, you can then find and focus on old pages that need to be optimized. To prioritize, start with pages that rank poorly for a high-priority search term your business needs to rank for. This is where you will need to add and edit content as well as resolve any technical issues.

You might also find pages that rank for a keyword that is different from what the page is actually about. In this case, the page can’t rank any higher because it is not accurately aligning with what Google thinks the searcher is looking for. So, you need to edit the existing page to either match the keyword that it ranks for or make the page about something else.

In both cases, look for pages that rank between 8-20 (or anywhere from page 2 to page 5). Those are ripe to move up to the first page with a little bit more care and work.

Step 3: Optimize

Now that you have better idea of what you need to do, go through the following checklist to optimize old content for SEO:

#1. Add Keywords

You’ve identified the keyword opportunity. Now, your website page needs to reflect said keyword. To do this, make sure your headers, meta description, image alt text and body text all contain the keyword you’re targeting… within reason.

You still need to avoid underhanded tactics like keyword stuffing. Google is much smarter these days and keyword stuffing simply won’t cut it. Plus, text stuffed with one search phrase comes across as clunky and inauthentic—which readers won’t like.

#2. Add Images

If you don’t have images on the page, add them. Don’t forget to include alt text to make the image readable and accessible to Google crawlers and readers who have chosen not to view images.

Again, if they aren’t already there. External links are links that take users to an outside resource, while internal links take them to another page on your website. Both are important and show Google that you are a knowledgeable, trustworthy source. Just make sure the external links are also trusted sources (and not competitors).

#4. Organize Site Structure

You’ll also want to make sure that your site structure is set up for SEO. An SEO-worthy site structure does three things:

  1. Makes it easy for users to find what they’re looking for
  2. Encourages search engine crawlers to dive deeper into your website
  3. Highlights and promotes your most important content

While you shouldn’t go back and edit existing URLs (too much redirecting is a bad thing), there are some basic structural changes you can make to give your website the organization it needs to please Google and your users (read more about how to do this, here).

#5. Focus on Readability

Readability is an important SEO factor.

Nobody likes reading a big block of text. So, keep sentences short.

Add whitespace to draw the reader down the page. Like this. It makes it easier for readers to skim and get what they need, faster.

Grammar and readability checkers can help with this step. (I like the Hemingway Editor.)

#6. Make Sure the Page Answers the Question

If you take one thing away from this post let it be this: Answer the question.

This is the most important thing to remember as you optimize your old content for SEO.

You should optimize headers and tags as much as you can, but at the end of the day, you’re writing for people.

Find your old pages that may not be as useful to your audience. Edit them so they become more useful. Always answer the question, and the search rankings will follow.

Conclusion

Optimizing old content for SEO is simply good housekeeping.

Your site will be easier to navigate and more useful to your readers, driving up your site rankings for the search terms that are essential to your business.

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