How to update existing content to win back rankings and conversions [step-by-step instructions]

Hello all, and welcome back to the monthly Ten Speed newsletter.

Last month we explained 3 ways to identify content worth updating in Q4.

That’s why, this month, we’ll walk you through what updating a piece of content, specifically an SEO-focused article, looks like.

So grab your list of URLs and follow along.

***For this exercise, we assume that you’ve already gone through the prioritization phase of which content updates will impact your company goals most.

Step 1) Plug your URL into a keyword research tool

This initial step aims to get a sense of which keywords the page ranks best for and which have experienced the most significant decay.

You can do this by plugging the URL of your post into a keyword research tool (pictured below).

Screen Shot 2022-10-13 at 10.05.25 AM
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Step 2) Identify which keywords to optimize for

Look at your list of keywords from the tool associated with your URL. You’ll want to identify which are performing best and which likely need a boost.

Those keywords that are performing best (high impressions & highest rankings) mean that you’re most closely aligned with the search intent of those queries.

It might also mean that those are longtail, specific queries that are less competitive and, therefore, easier to rank pages for.

Example below:

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Take note of any keywords at the bottom of page 1 or the top of page 2. Before we confirm targeting these, we need to confirm one other important detail.

  • Can we rank for our current best-ranking keywords AND these lower-ranking keywords with the same piece of content?

The easiest way to confirm this is to Google two keywords and compare the search engine results pages side-by-side.

What you’re looking for:

  • If they don’t share similarities at the top of the SERP & the SERP hasn’t changed over time to include more of the same URLs - you have an opportunity to create a new piece of content on a different URL to better rank for these queries
  • If they do share the same URLs in large part (doesn’t have to be exact), then you’ll be fine targeting both of those queries with the same post
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Step 3) Interview an SME & do a competitive analysis

The next step is to begin understanding what your current piece of content is missing.

  • Is it missing a few sections?
  • Is it slightly misaligned with the keyword intent?
  • What are people coming to this piece of content trying to learn?
  • How can I differentiate this content with the help of an SME?

We like to do this process in two phases.

First, compare your content to the other content you see on the SERP. You’re looking for:

  • Types of content you aren’t offering → This might mean a video or image carousel is on page 1, but you only have a blog post. A video could be a helpful addition to help you gain more space on the SERP/receive more views.

  • Questions that you’re not answering → Does your content address all of the “People Also Ask” questions? Do any competitors offer information in their content that you know your audience would like to see explained?

  • Intent alignment opportunities → Perhaps you’ve done a great job matching the intent of a longtail keyword that showcases how to do something. But you notice that a lot of the content ranking for the other keyword you’re targeting mentions a tool or list of tools that help someone do that task. Adding a tool section or discussing tools might be what helps you rank.

Second, you will take your research and new sections and ask an SME if what is currently being discussed makes sense based on their expert knowledge.

  • Does the information sound accurate AND current?
  • What, in their opinion, is most important to know about the topic?
  • Is there anything missing?
  • Have they used any tools or worked on any specific examples?

These two phases will help you understand how robust a piece you could be providing your audience and how to ensure the algorithm understands that your content is better than the others.

Step 4) Build a new outline/brief

You can often start your new outline by pulling in your existing outline and modifying it.

This should allow you to keep the good information you’ve already written about, sometimes cutting down on the writing cost/time. Then pull in any new instructions for the writer based on the competitive research and the SME discussions.

Commonly an update means:

  • Add new sections
  • Remove unnecessary ones
  • Sometimes completely reorganizing the piece for better UX
  • Update any dates/time references in the body/header content
  • Ensuring it speaks to your current ICP
  • Ensuring it is aligned with the brand’s view of the topic
  • Ensuring it accounts for any pivoting/changes to the product offering (if necessary)
  • Updating the publishing date of the article (timestamp)
  • Adjust the title tag and meta description to entice more clicks and match the intent
  • Re-evaluate the internal links coming into the piece and pointing out of it
Screen Shot 2022-10-13 at 10.07.30 AM

Step 5) Build out that piece of content and publish

It’s time to let your creators/writers go to work with all of the updated information.

Three important SEO tips to help ensure you get the most bang for your buck when updating a piece of content:

  1. If possible, use the same URL that your existing piece of content is already on.
  2. If you need to move to a new URL, create a 301 redirect from the old one to the new one.
  3. Update the actual time stamp of the piece of content so users and crawlers see it has been updated

Now it’s your turn to implement this

You’re all set to start updating your content. And we’d love to know how it goes for you!

It takes significant effort to update content in a meaningful way, but the rewards are worth it!

You see increased rankings and increased organic traffic, give users the experiences they prefer, and you receive results in a significantly shortened period of time.

We see results show up in as little as 3-5 days for clients in some cases.

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Have more questions related to this topic? Feel free to ask us on LinkedIn or via e-mail.


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