Chances are, if you’ve had a website for a while and have been doing any sort of content creation (blogging, podcast shownotes, etc), you’re already ranking for old blog posts on Google for something … but it might not necessarily what you expect!
(I once had a yoga teacher client who ranked for “how to conjure werewolves,” oddly enough!)
You can use Google Search Console to find out exactly which queries people are searching for and what position you rank for each of them … but then once you get that data, what do you DO with it?
If you’ve been blogging for a while, you probably have a dozen posts that are doing ok-but-not-great for specific keywords. You can use this 3-step process to update your old content, breathe new SEO life into them, and bring in new search traffic in a fraction of the time it would take you to write something new.
3 steps to SEO optimize & repost your existing content
Step 1: Find the post’s underperforming keywords
When you log-in to your Google Search Console, click on the “Performance Report” (it’s usually the first on the dashboard or second on the sidebar).
Your default settings will show the queries that people have looked for over the past 3 months, and the blue box will show “Total Clicks” and the purple box shows “Total Impressions.” If you’re trying to figure out what to rank for, also click the white boxes that say “Average CTR” and “Average Position” until it turns Orange.
Now, in this rows below the line graph, you’ll see every single search term that anybody has seen your website show up in their Google results, and the position that you showed up for.
As you’re looking through those queries, look for relevant keywords that you have a position between, say, 5-20. (Notice i say “relevant” — if this is your first time looking at your search terms, you’ll probably have a lot of irrelevant terms based on random topics you’ve discussed; I used to rank pretty well for the term “Don’t half ass two things, whole ass one thing” because I quoted Ron Swanson … but those searches aren’t actually bringing in people curious about SEO!)
But I digress. What you’re looking for are keywords that people are searching for, but your rank isn’t high enough to get people to see and click on your results.
Here’s an example: I worked with a client named Ethan who writes all about tiny houses. And he had this great blog post called “How To Avoid Having A Ladder In Your Tiny House”; the idea was that if you have a vertical tiny house, and you have a loft space, and you don’t want to have to climb up a ladder, what are some alternatives to that?
When we looked at Ethan’s actual search terms, we saw that people were looking for tiny house, Sara’s tiny house staircase, tiny house loft letter, tiny house steps; they were looking for not just what he wanted to avoid with the ladder, but what they wanted to have instead.
Step 2: Update the old blog post’s key SEO areas
So we used that information to updated the blog post; in this case, all we had to do was change the SEO title & meta description from “How To Avoid Having A Ladder In Your Tiny House” to “How To Have Stairs Instead Of A Letter In Your Tiny House,” it still fits into that 67 character limit, it still is something that people want to click on.
By including the word “stairs” in the SEO title of the blog post, it both increased where that blog post was showing up in those searches for tiny house stairs, tiny house staircase, etc and it made people more likely to click on it because they weren’t necessarily looking for how to avoid a ladder, they were looking for how to include stairs.
So in Ethan’s case, when we made that adjustment of just changing out the SEO title, the part that shows up in the search engine results, that one little change was able to triple his traffic to that blog post in the span of a month without changing anything in the actual blog post copy.
Because the post itself was great — it had all the information that people needed about stairs, that just didn’t show up in the search results — the only things we changed were the Title & meta description.
But if the post itself had been missing that information about stairs, we would have also swapped out the post image, intro paragraph, subheadings and permalink (with a 301-redirect of course!) … everywhere you can insert keywords for an SEO-friendly blog post.
Step 3: Add any additional info, then re-publish
As long as you’re updating your old post, this is a great time to re-read the post, make any changes for accuracy, include new examples, and add some internal links.
If there are things that have actually changed since you originally published, you can make a note of that, “ie When I first wrote this in 2017, the situation was X; this post was updated in 2021 to include change Y.” This happens a lot in the tech & healthcare industries, where new changes are constantly being rolled out and mentioning the updates can help your reader AND Google trust you more.
However, if nothing structural has changed in the content, don’t worry about putting an update disclaimer here. You can just go back into the old post, make changes, then change the date on the post & press “publish” again.
No, you don’t need to make a new post for today! Re-publishing the old post with a more recent date is totally fine … plus you can resend it out to your audience like it’s brand new content. Win-win!
Will this also work for updating your pages, or is it just blogs?
Nope, this doesn’t just apply to blog posts! This type of optimization can be done on any page of your website — homepage, about page, product listings, portfolio displays, etc.
For example, my Attract & Activate student Kim positioned herself at first as a copywriter for interior designers. And then once she started going into her Google Search Console, she realized there were also a lot of architects who are looking for this. So she shifted the value proposition on her homepage and said, copywriter for interior designers and architects. And then after that happened for a while and she was able to get that Google feedback loop, we’re also seeing “Home Services copywriter” showing up in her search results.
As she finds this information in her Search Console, she regularly changes the value proposition on her homepage to make sure that Google will share her website with the people who are looking for her specialization.
Bonus: Get ideas for new content from Google Search Console
Sometimes Google Search Console can even give you ideas of things that you hadn’t really considered!
Here’s another example from another Attract & Activate student who is a personal finance & budgeting coach. Shannon wrote a blog post, How Much Should You Spend on Groceries?. One of the search terms that showed up after she published that post and Google started to pay attention was budget grocery lists for families:
And so from there, she figured out Oh, there are a couple 100 people a month looking for a budget grocery list for families, so she wrote a blog post, Budget Grocery List: How to Feed a Family Healthy Meals on $128 a Week with a downloadable PDF of a budget grocery list for families, because she knows they’re already searching for it.
So sometimes the information that’s showing up in Google Search Console isn’t just about what you can do to improve your content that’s already there. But it can give you really great ideas for opportunities that people are searching.