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How To Optimize Existing Content With SEO Best Practices

If you’ve invested in creating high-quality content, but it isn’t performing as you’d hoped, don’t despair. You can maximize the return on your investment by optimizing existing content to boost visibility and traffic.

Aug 12, 2022

7 m read

It’s easy to hit publish and let go of the reins on a piece of content. To extract the most value from each page, though, you need to monitor its performance. This helps identify pages that aren’t ranking or driving traffic as well as you hoped so you can optimize them and boost their performance. 

Not sure where to start? In this guide, I’ll teach you how to find underperforming content, pick the right competitive keywords, and track page performance so you can improve your SEO content and reach more of your target audience.

3 Steps for Optimizing Existing Content

Your SEO and content marketing strategy is crucial to the success of your campaign. Don’t miss out on valuable traffic from the content you already have — all it needs is a little boost. 

Improve your existing content’s performance with these three steps.

1. Identify Content that Needs to Be Optimized

There are a variety of ways to find pages suitable for content optimization. Which you use will depend on your SEO strategy and your resources. The content you choose to optimize should align with your SEO goals. Not every piece of underperforming content will be ideal for optimization since not every page on your site is integral to your SEO campaign

During this process, think critically about whether a page is worth optimizing further or whether it needs to be pruned. Here’s one way to prune content that isn’t delivering (and which may actually be hurting your SEO).

Use a Paid Tool to Spot Ranking Drops

If you use Ahrefs or another paid SEO tool that allows you to track site performance, you can identify pages that have dropped in keyword rankings. Use Site Explorer to view your organic keyword position. Select ‘Compare with’ in the drop-down menu to identify changes.

find rankings drops in site explorer to optimize existing content

Look for pieces that are losing ground in SERPs. You can also find important pages that are hovering at the bottom of page one of SERPs or on page two. These pages are within “striking distance” of ranking near the top of page one. Boosting their rankings will drive additional traffic to your site. Remember, over half of searchers click on the top 3 Google results and an increase in rankings almost always leads to more clicks.

Use GSC To Assess Traffic

Your Google Search Console Performance report shows how well each of your indexed pages are performing in search results. You can use it to spot traffic changes over time. Pages that are receiving less traffic than they previously did may benefit from optimization.

2. Use Google Search Console To See How People Find Your Page

An important part of reaching your target audience is understanding how they think and what they’re looking for. Paid search tools are excellent for identifying potential keywords and their associated volume — but they don’t tell you which keywords people actually use to find your page. This is where Google Search Console comes in. 

Google Search Console is a free tool that lets you see how your web pages are performing in search and which terms people use to find you. Use it to discover possible keywords to optimize your content around.

Here’s how:

1 – Go to ‘Search Results’ on the left-hand menu.  

gsc menu

2 – Click the ‘Pages’ tab to see a list of your indexed pages. 

screenshot of top pages for local keyword research in GSC

3 – Select the page you’d like to optimize, then click on the ‘Queries’ tab. This tab shows the searches for which your page has appeared, how many clicks your page received from those searches, and how many times your page showed up in search results for that query (impressions). 

screenshot of top queries for local keyword research in GSC

This view also shows the average CTR and position for pages over the past 90 days.

metrics in gsc

4 – These words and phrases can be used as keywords to optimize existing content. Copy them into a spreadsheet so you can further investigate whether they’ll work well for you. 

For example, you can use a keyword research tool to see the search volume and keyword difficulty for your chosen keywords or find additional related keywords. This can provide insight into how difficult it’ll be to rank for a particular target keyword and whether you should continue with your optimization. It can also help you adjust your SEO strategy and reallocate resources. So if you have an industry keyword you want to rank for and see that it has a high keyword difficulty, you can adjust your link-building strategy or enlist a link building services provider to help you increase backlinks to your page and improve your chances of ranking.

3. Update & Optimize Existing Content with Keywords Identified in GSC

Great, you have target keywords to use for content optimization! Now, you’ll need to verify the search intent associated with them before integrating them into your content. Put yourself in the searcher’s shoes: are you giving people what they’re looking for?

Uncover the Search Intent

If keyword research answers the question of “what” potential customers are searching for, search intent answers the question of “why” they’re searching for it.

Start by googling the keywords with the highest number of clicks. What types of content appear in search results? Does the search intent match that of the page you want to optimize? Move on to your other keywords and continue to ask yourself the same questions about each. This process will help you narrow down your keywords and uncover which ones are best for your current piece of content.

If the search intent of your page doesn’t match that of your desired keywords, you’ll need to refine your keyword list, edit your copy to match search intent, or create new content for your desired keyword. 

Optimize Your Existing Content

Once you’ve picked the keywords you want to use, it’s time to find natural ways to include your keywords and keyphrases in your copy. Even readers with zero SEO knowledge can spot keyword stuffing from a mile away. While you’re at it, update your content to include any new statistics or information so your page is current and relevant.

Now, when I tell someone they need to include more keywords in their content, they generally ask one thing: how many times do I need to include my keyword?

Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast rule about how frequently to include a keyword. Google says it has no optimal keyword density or word count for pages to rank well. Rather, you want to create comprehensive content that satisfies the search intent of the keyword you’ve chosen. That means you should focus on providing the information searchers are looking for rather than meeting a specific word count. 

One way to gauge whether your content is thorough enough is to look at top-ranking pages for your desired keyword. If your page has 400 words, but your competitors have over a thousand, you’re probably missing something. During this process, you should naturally include your keywords and semantically related terms. 

If appropriate, also include your keyword in your:

You should also update internal links to your updated page so the anchor text includes the keywords you’ve optimized your content for. This makes the topic of your content obvious to Google and other search engines.

Featured Snippet Optimization

The featured snippet is a coveted spot in SERPs. Located at the top of the search results page — above the #1 result — the competition for this spot is high. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. All you need is the right content optimization strategy. 

If the keyword you’re optimizing for has an associated featured snippet, you can model a part of your page after the existing snippet to try capturing it for yourself. Featured snippets catch searchers’ attention by providing a quick answer to the query and drive increased traffic to the chosen page.

Not sure how to find out if your chosen keyword already has a featured snippet? It’s simple — just Google it. If it has an associated featured snippet, it’ll come up near the top of your search results. 

featured snippet screenshot in SERP

This featured snippet is formatted as a list. When I click on the link, I can see the author numbered their h2s, and that happens to be the information Google pulled into the snippet. 

Check out our post on how to get a featured snippet to learn how to create content that boosts your chances of snagging this coveted spot.

Track Your Optimization Performance

Once you’ve optimized your page, you should ask Google to recrawl it via the URL inspection tool in Google Search Console and annotate the changes in Google Analytics to track traffic changes. 

How To Ask Google To Recrawl Your Page

Now that your page is optimized, you want Google to recrawl it so it can find your new keywords and content and index your page.

Log in to your Google Search Console, and paste the URL of your optimized page in the URL inspection tool at the top of the page.

URL inspection too in GSC

Once GSC has inspected the URL, it will inform you whether it’s in Google’s index and which enhancements it detects. Click on ‘Request Indexing’ in the first box to ask Google to recrawl your page so it finds your newly optimized content.

request indexing through google search console

After Google crawls and indexes your updated content, your page should hopefully appear in more SERPs around your targeted keywords. 

How To Annotate Google Analytics

If you use Universal Analytics, you can annotate your changes to quickly identify when you optimized a page and the impact it had on your traffic and clicks. Follow these steps to annotate your GA.

If you use Google Analytics 4 and want to annotate your data, you’ll need to use a plugin like GAannotations or keep track of your updates in a spreadsheet.

Remember, be patient. It may take a few weeks for the effects of your hard work to become apparent. Keep an eye out for changes in keyword rankings, clicks, and traffic. 

Use Keyword Research To Drive Your Optimization Efforts

Uncover which of your pages are primed for optimization and the best keywords to highlight with a comprehensive SEO campaign. Our keyword research service will identify the best keywords for your most important pages based on your industry, competitor analysis, search intent, and more. Plus, we’ll help you optimize your pages as part of our SEO content writing services

Improve your search visibility with actionable SEO recommendations — schedule a free SEO consultation today to learn more about how we can drive more traffic to your site.

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