Blogging isn’t dead.
Blogging is still alive, and it can …
- Drive traffic to your website.
- Generate new leads.
- Establish your business as an authority.
But if you’re like many business owners or marketing leaders, your blog is probably lifeless. It no longer accomplishes the big goals I just mentioned. It’s just sitting there dormant on your website, haphazardly groaning for attention.
Before you give up hope or take your blog off life-support, there’s one tactic you should pursue to increase your blog traffic.
It’s a tactic that’s often overlooked and rarely discussed, and it could quickly and legitimately increase blog traffic.
What is this magical tactic?
It’s republishing your old blog posts.
I know this doesn’t sound promising on the surface. But I’ve used this tactic on several different sites with similar positive results.
And this is the tactic I used to increase my blog traffic to one post month-over-month by 1,548%.
Let me show you:
This screenshot, which compares monthly traffic in March 2018 versus August 2018, shows the increase in monthly traffic before and after I made changes (no, this post did not receive a boost from social media or elsewhere in August).
This increase in blog traffic didn’t happen overnight.
After optimizing this post, it took a couple of months for it to begin ranking for a variety of keywords.
Here’s a bird’s-eye view of how this post started to increase in traffic after I implemented the changes:
This post was republished at the beginning of May, which led to the short spike that month. You can see a small dip in traffic in June, a slight increase in July, and a big leap in August as the post began to rank higher for additional keywords.
As you can see from this example, the traffic had previously plateaued and remained relatively the same month after month. After optimizing and republishing this postl, it went from receiving around 200 pageviews per month to nearly 3,300 pageviews per month!
Before you get too excited and start republishing everything on your site, I have some good news and bad news to share.
Here’s the good news:
Optimizing old posts on your site can increase your blog traffic.
But here’s the bad news:
This tactic doesn’t produce the same results for every post on your site.
Since I don’t want to end on a negative note, I’m going to walk you through the process I used to identify this post (and many others) to republish, and the steps I took to optimize it to increase its ranking and traffic.
In this post, I’m going to share with you:
- 4 reasons why you should republish (some) old blog posts
- How to identify which blog posts you should republish
- 2 common questions about republishing old blog posts
- 8 steps to optimizing your posts to increase blog traffic
- How to get help with optimizing your posts
Let’s get started!
4 reasons why you should republish (some) old blog posts
Republishing old blog posts is a solid tactic you should include in your SEO strategy. It’s a proven tactic, and it’s one you can revisit every 3–6 months if you notice Google is starting to rank your content for different keywords.
Above I hinted at a few reasons why republishing old blog posts can increase your blog traffic. But here are more details about why you should consider optimizing your old content.
1. Posts that rank in the top 1–3 receive the most attention
Are you interested in driving traffic to your website?
If so, read on.
If not, feel free to save yourself time and abandon this post.
Okay, moving on.
One of the best things you can do to quickly increase your blog traffic is to optimize your old blog posts that are already ranking on page 1.
Here’s the deal:
Per MOZ, the vast majority of organic clicks take place on page 1 (71.33%), and posts that rank between 1–5 for a keyword will generally receive 67.60% of ALL clicks.
Let’s say you have a web page ranking between 6–10 on page 1 for several keywords. By spending time optimizing this page so it will break into the top three spots on page 1, you can significantly increase your blog traffic since most of the organic clicks take place at the top of the page.
2. Old posts have authority
There are really two big reasons why republishing old content works so well:
- Social proof
For Google to already rank your content on the first page, the search engine believes your material possesses a level of authority. There are a variety of reasons why this may be the case, and by making the adjustments I’ll walk you through below, it shouldn’t be significantly challenging for you to crack the top of page 1.
Regarding social proof, there’s a good chance your page has already been shared on social media, which means when you republish your content, it will maintain this social proof.
3. Quick(er) wins
As I mentioned above, optimizing a blog post that is already ranking well is one of the best ways you can quickly leapfrog to one of the top five spots on page 1. Creating new content to rank in the top 10 can take weeks, months, or longer depending upon the level of competition. However, when you optimize and republish an old blog post, you can see results in weeks or a few short months. (I’ve seen this on many occasions.)
4. Improve key metrics
Know what else is helpful about republishing old blog posts?
Improving other essential metrics, such as:
- Increasing your time on page
- Reducing your bounce rate
- Improving your % Exit
- Boosting your conversion rate
As you resurface old content to optimize, review these key metrics or other metrics you’re tracking to see how you can improve them. You might as well take the time to make this post the best it can be since you’re showing it some love.
[Sidenote: Treat every blog post you publish as a landing page. When you increase your blog traffic, determine the one step you want your readers to take, and make sure you make that one step as clear as possible.]
2 common questions about republishing old content
From conversations with friends to reading about republishing content online, here are two common questions I’ve heard (maybe the only questions). If your question isn’t answered below, feel free to ask me a question in the comments below.
1. “Will Google penalize me?”
Based upon the reasons I just shared above, evidence shows Google favors the most up-to-date content.
Think about it.
Google wants to provide the best results for the people who use their search engine. If a post you’ve published is already ranking well but it has outdated information or doesn’t really meet the users intent, then updating your content to reflect the most up-to-date information users can easily digest will entice Google to show it more love.
2. “Will my audience dislike my updated posts?”
Unless you’re continually resurfacing old content, then the answer is no.
As for your audience, there’s a good chance they didn’t even read, watch, or listen to what you’ve previously published. Besides, if you’ve been online longer than a minute, many of the people who follow you today did not follow you yesterday. So republishing old content is a great way to resurface essential material your present-day audience is not familiar with.
What posts should you republish?
Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty.
As I mentioned above, republishing old content doesn’t boast the same results for every blog post you’ve ever published. In general, it’s a good idea to optimize your content for search engines (SEO). But this tactic works best when one of your pages meets these criteria:
- Does it rank between 4–10 for any keywords?
- Does it rank between 11–20 for any keywords?
Here’s the deal:
As I mentioned above, the vast majority of organic clicks occurs on page 1 for content that ranks between 1–5. By spending time optimizing content currently ranking between 4–10 or 11–20, you can quickly improve the number of organic clicks your post receives.
For this step, it’s best to start with pages on your site that are currently ranking between 4–10. You should experience a quicker increase in blog traffic if you can increase your ranking from 4–10 to 1–3.
You can also explore optimizing content that ranks between 11–20 for keywords. When optimizing these posts, it can take longer to experience similar results since this content is not being recognized as authoritative or helpful as the material Google is promoting on page 1. But I’ve seen this tactic significantly increase rankings for content on the second page.
Finally, there’s some additional information you’ll need to collect at this time:
- Identify the number of unique domains referring to this post
- Identify the number of backlinks pointing to this post
Do you have a list of posts in hand? Great, because it’s time to increase your blog traffic.
8 steps to optimizing your old posts and increasing your blog traffic
It’s time to start building on this initial groundwork to figure out what posts you should optimize and republish. Here are the steps you’ll need to take.
1. Figure out what keywords your posts are ranking for
The first step is to identify what keywords and keyword phrases you’re ranking for. There are several ways you can get this information. Here are two ways I prefer:
Ahrefs is one of my favorite tools, and they make it super easy to find this information in a few simple steps.
Step 1: Enter your URL and click on “Organic keywords”
Step 2: Refine your organic keyword search
The second step is to refine your keyword search by choosing to look at which pages or posts rank between 4–10.
After you click “Apply,” the next thing is to identify content that can increase your blog traffic the most. The way you do this is to identify what keywords you’re ranking for that can lead to the highest amount of monthly search volume, which you can see by clicking on “Volume” in your organic keyword research.
When you click on “Volume,” just make sure you’re looking at monthly search volume in descending order (highest to lowest) and not ascending order (lowest to highest).
Possessing this information will help you to further clarify what posts you should focus on optimizing. I mean, you don’t want to spend time optimizing content that won’t lead to the highest return on investment, right?
2. Identify other relevant keyword ideas
If you have a post ranking for one keyword, then there’s a really good chance it can rank for other relevant keywords too.
To help maximize the potential of your post, you’ll want to identify additional keywords you can incorporate into your page. There are three ways you can quickly get this information.
Let’s say you’re targeting “how to write a blog post.”
In an incognito window in Google, type “how to write a blog post” in the search engine, and Google will provide multiple suggestions.
All of these suggestions may not be relevant to whatever you’re working on. But you may be able to find a few ideas to include.
Don’t close out this window—yet.
There’s some additional information Google shares, which leads us to the next step.
Google’s related searches
Again, you don’t have to use every suggestion you find, but perhaps there are a couple of ideas you can naturally incorporate into your post that will help it rank for related phrases.
Ahrefs also makes finding related keyword phrases and their monthly search volume easy.
Continuing with our example of “how to write a blog post,” Ahrefs provides “keyword ideas” in their overview:
For “how to write a blog post,” Ahrefs provides 465 additional keyword ideas. Here’s a snippet of what you find, as of the writing of this post, when you click “View all 465”:
You don’t have to add EVERY single one of these keyword ideas.
As with the suggestions from Google, you just want to find the most relevant keyword ideas you can add to your post and include them in order to increase your blog traffic.
With the information Ahrefs provides, I suggest looking at the “Volume,” “KD” (Keyword difficulty), and “Parent topic” to prioritize what keyword ideas to add to your post.
Speaking of keyword difficulty, let’s explore that next.
3. Determine keyword difficulty to rank
Alright, by now, you should have …
- A list of posts currently ranking between 4–10 and 11–20
- A list of posts you want to prioritize
- A list of backlinks and domains pointing back to your content
The next step is to figure out how difficult it will be for your post to rank in the top 10. Google uses over 200 factors to rate content. But one of the most significant factors Google uses is links pointing to your content.
Let me tell you what you’ll need to do, and then I’ll explain why.
As a general rule of thumb, you’ll need to earn more backlinks to the content you’re optimizing than the content that’s currently ranking in the top 10.
Thankfully, a tool like Ahrefs makes finding out this information easy.
Step 1: Keyword explorer
Again, let’s say you’re targeting “how to write a blog post.”
In Ahrefs, click on “Keywords explorer” in the top navigation bar, and enter your keyword into the space provided.
Then click on the magnifying glass to get your results.
Step 2: Examine the keyword difficulty
Ahrefs indicates that the “Keyword difficulty” for “how to write a blog post” is 42. You can see this information on the left-hand side of the overview.
The “Keyword difficulty” score of 42 just means this post is moderately challenging to rank in the top 10. But don’t worry too much about this number. The information below it is what you want to focus on:
If you’re targeting “how to write a blog post,” then you’ll need to plan on earning at least 60 backlinks from different websites.
If this one example feels insurmountable, don’t lose all hope.
This is just one example, and there’s something important you need to keep in mind:
Your old post may have already earned backlinks.
If the post you’re optimizing ranks between 4–10, then I bet it has already earned a decent amount of links to land itself on the first page. This means you have a head start in potentially outranking the content in the top 10.
[Rabbit trail: “Why are backlinks so important?”
Here’s the deal:
In general, the more links your page receives from other websites will help your content rank higher.
Think about it like this.
The level of authority attributed to a published research paper is not only based on the quality of the research (content). The authority of a research paper is also based upon the number of references it receives from other authoritative research.
Basically, when your content is linked to from another site, this lets Google know that someone else has vouched for your content, and they’re placing their vote of confidence in you. When this happens, your content receives a vote of confidence from Google.
4. Review your competition
I know you’re ready to start optimizing your content.
But first, you need to do some research.
During this step, you’ll need to do two big things:
- Identify what content is ranking in the top 10.
- Ask yourself why Google considers this content better than yours.
The first step in this process is straightforward, whereas the second step is more nuanced.
Step 1: Identify what’s ranking in the top 10
For this step, the easiest thing to do is open an incognito window in your browser, visit Google, and search for your keyword. This will give you the most up-to-date information as to what’s ranking for that specific phrase.
You can also get this information with a tool like Ahrefs, in addition to a ton of helpful insight, including:
- Adword ads
- Featured snippets
- Related questions
- Domain authority
- Top keyword
- Facebook shares
Here’s a screenshot of what I found for “how to write a blog post” when writing this post:
Before you start to digest this content, there are a few questions you’ll need to be ready to answer.
Step 2: Why is the top 10 content better than yours?
The previous step was pretty straightforward. But this part is a little trickier.
Before you prepare to read, watch, or listen to the top ranking content, ask yourself these questions:
- What’s the word count of this blog post?
- How is the content formatted?
- Does this post include images? Are they custom or stock?
- Is this a video? Podcast?
- Is the content humorous? Scientific? Inspirational?
With this in mind, you’ll be in a better position to ask these two all-important questions:
- Why does Google consider this content better than mine?
- Why does Google think this content better serves users than mine?
In the end, you can optimize your content and make sure it meets every Google factor known to man. But if the content you create doesn’t meet the needs of people, then it doesn’t meet the needs of Google.
5. Update your post
This is the fun part (well, at least for me).
You’ve done a ton of homework, and now it’s time to optimize your work.
In this step, you want to use the answers to the questions above to update your content.
Here are possible ways you can make updates:
- Write more (helpful) words
- Include up-to-date research
- Add images and screenshots
- Make your content more practical
- Make your content more scientific
- Reformat your content to make it easier to digest
- Add video
- Include audio
This might sound like a lot of content to add, but it’s not.
You don’t have to add everything from this list.
There may only be 1–3 things you’ll need to do to create content that will outperform your competitors.
But whatever you think will best optimize your content, make sure you take your time to make it the best it can be.
6. Republish your post
Now is the time you get to hit the publish button … again.
For this step, you will need to republish your content with a current date.
In other words, treat this content as you would publishing a new piece of content. From publishing it with the latest date to promoting it like you would a new piece of content, give it a fresh treatment.
As you republish old content, consider these two suggestions:
1. Expedite awareness
To help Google reindex your content sooner rather than later, you’ll need to request your post to be reindexed.
Even though your post is updated and live on your site, the title and other material may still show up like your old post in search engine results (SERPS). Google will automatically make updates over time. But you can expedite the process by requesting your URL to be reindexed.
Google recently changed how you make this request, but here’s the updated process.
First, visit Google Search Console and login to your account.
Second, click on “URL inspection” or add the URL you just updated to the search menu at the top.
Third, click on “REQUEST INDEXING.”
After you complete this process, you should see this pop up:
That’s all for now.
The entire process will take 1–2 weeks. But you can check your status along the way.
So sit back, relax, and wait for Google to make the changes on their end.
2. Add an editorial note
This isn’t a necessary step, but it’s a good gesture.
When you republish old content, consider adding an editorial note like this:
“This was originally published on [insert date] and it was updated to provide up-to-date information.”
Adding this type of note (or a variation) will clarify any potential confusion among your audience and it will provide context to comments that may date back several months or years.
7. Internally link to this page
There are many benefits to creating internal links that woo your readers and Google. Here are a few:
- Makes it easier for people to browse your website
- Lets Google better understand your information hierarchy
- Shares your site’s authoritative love
For the sake of this post, we’re going to focus on the last point.
Here’s what you need to know for this step:
There are pages on your site that have a higher level of authority than other pages.
Not only does your homepage possess authority, depending upon the age of your site and the effort you have exerted in building your site’s authority, but you may also have several other pages that have a significant URL Rating (UR). This is a phrase commonly used by Ahrefs, and it’s their way of categorizing the strength of a specific page on your site.
What’s the point?
To best optimize your content for SEO, it’s essential to link to the content from other pages on your site that boast a strong URL Rating. When you do this, you’re powering up your content by passing along authority from your other pages.
Thankfully, Ahrefs makes it super easy to figure out what pages on your site have a high URL Rating.
For example, let’s take a look at Blinkist.
After you place the Blinkist URL in the search option of Ahrefs, you’ll see this information below (as of the writing of this post).
On this page, you’ll need to click “Best by links” on the left-hand side beneath “Pages” to discover the pages with the greatest UR Rating.
After you click “Best by links,” you’ll be brought to the page shown below, which will have a list of the top pages on the site based on UR Rating in descending order (from top to bottom).
When you do this for your site, identify the top pages where you can naturally link back to the page you’re currently optimizing.
Be careful not to cram too many backlinks into one page. I understand it’s tempting to link to everything from your strongest page. But keyword cramming is a big no-no.
8. Build new links
I’m going to shoot straight with you:
This step merits its own post, and I’m not going to cover everything in detail here.
But don’t lose all hope. I’m at least going to point you in the right direction.
In general, the thing to keep in mind is that you’ll need to earn more links back to your page than the pages you want to outrank. This process normally takes a lot of time and effort. But trust me: It’s worth it.
Here are some of the more common tactics you can use to build links:
- Write guest posts
- Include influencers in your content
- Connect with influencers you referenced
- Find broken links on other sites
- Create ah-mazing content that’s linkable
- Reclaim broken links to your site
These tactics will get you started. But here’s a few exhaustive articles on the topic:
- How to Get High Quality Backlinks in 2018 (Backlinko)
- The Noob Friendly Guide to Link Building (Ahrefs)
- Link Building Tactics (Moz)
After thinking through the different tactics, focus on 1–3 you can use to increase blog traffic.
Over to you
There you have it …
The eight steps I took to increase my blog traffic by 1,548%:
- Figure out what keywords your posts are ranking for
- Identify other relevant keyword ideas
- Determine keyword difficulty
- Review your competition
- Update your post
- Republish your post
- Internally link to your page
- Build new links
I know this wasn’t a short post, and there’s a lot to wrap your head around.