How To Update Old Content For SEO

Brandon LazovicApril 24, 2020

This article will walk you through how to update old content for SEO to boost keyword rankings and improve the organic visibility of that content. Here are the following pieces to consider when updating content:

  1. Find the right pages to update in Search Console.
  2. Perform keyword research using the right tools.
  3. Do a competitor analysis and page audit.
  4. Improve your header/subheads.
  5. Analyze search intent for target pages.
  6. Update and refresh your content.
  7. Add/update internal links.
  8. Improve Calls to Action on page.

To begin, let’s decide which articles should be prioritized for revamping.

Identifying Pages To Optimize In Google Search Console

The first step is identifying pages that are relevant to our industry. For example, with your website, articles most relevant to your vertical should be prioritized over other loosely related articles that aren’t going to contribute to a potential conversion or desired action. We also want to showcase to Google that we’re experts in our related industry, which is why we should prioritize articles that are closely related to our site’s target niche.

To identify which pages to revamp, we’ll be using Google Search Console. Under the Performance Tab, click on Search Results. This report will automatically pull data from the past 3 months, which is a good date range when looking at page analytics. Click on Pages, which will show you the organic clicks and impressions for articles on our websites.

Clicks are tracked by the number of clicks on our website’s URL from a Google Search results page. Impressions are tracked by the number of times our website’s URL appeared in search results and were viewed by a user.

Updating Old Content Using Google Search Console Photo

When revamping content, we can go one of two ways: optimize content that is performing very well with low-hanging opportunities (keywords ranking on the 2nd and 3rd page of Google), or optimize content that isn’t performing well. For this guide, let’s focus on re-optimizing a high-performing article. For our purposes, we're going to take an article that dives into detail regarding lines of credit and generates a decent chunk of traffic.

Performing Keyword Research Using SEMRush

Updating Old Content Using SEMRush For Keyword Research Image

Next, let’s use the SEMRush tool to see what this page currently ranks for. Log in and click on the Organic Research tab to look up the URL. If you don't have SEMRush, you can check out Keysearch as a cost-effective SEMRush alternative.

Based on the SEMRush graph, it ranks for a decent chunk of keywords, with half of them in the top 20 positions on Google. Our next step will be to view all the organic keywords this page ranks for and pick out which ones generate volume that we want to rank higher in the search results.

Out of the 67 keywords this page ranks for, here are a few that we could target:

  • How many lines of credit should I have – 170 volume, Rank #3
  • How to open a line of credit – 170 volume, Rank #29
  • What is an open line of credit – 260 volume, Rank #51
  • How does a line of credit work – 1300 volume, Rank #66
  • How many credit cards is too many – 3600 volume, Rank #67

Now that we have a decent selection of keywords to retarget, the next question should be “Do these keywords fit the topic of this article?”

Because the article’s focus is on “how many lines of credit should I have,” we want to use that as the primary keyword we’re going after for this piece. By default, the other keyword phrases are secondary keywords we’re going to target (which I’ll explain further in the outline).

As a quick check, make sure that our primary keyword isn’t in competition with other pages. To do this, click on the keyword in SEMRush. It will show you pages that also rank for this keyword. If there are competing pages, it may be ideal to delete and redirect them to avoid what is known as keyword cannibalization (this hurts your ability to rank when multiple pages are competing/targeting the same keyword).

If you're struggling to navigate SEMRush, check out my latest guide on how to do keyword research using SEMRush for SEO.

Checking For Keyword Cannibalization In SEMRush Photo

Performing Competitive Analysis To Identify Other Keywords

Next, we want to take our primary keyword, “how many lines of credit should I have” and see which articles are showing up ahead of ours in the search results, which are:

  • https://lifehacker.com/how-many-credit-cards-should-i-have-1658094283
  • https://www.creditkarma.com/credit-cards/i/how-many-credit-cards-does-the-average-american-have/

We’re going to plug these articles into the organic research tab in SEMRush and look at their keywords for more opportunities. Here are a few examples that I found:

  • How many credit cards should I have – 8100 volume
  • How many credit cards can I have – 480 volume
  • Is it bad to have a lot of credit cards – 320 volume

SEMRush’s Keyword Magic Tool

Next, we’re going to use the Keyword Magic Tool under the Keyword Research tab to look for more keywords that we can target in our article. Typing in our primary keyword will generate a list of Related Keywords that we can also incorporate into our content. SEMRush will highlight how related those keywords are to our primary keyword; I would stick to anything with a related score of 35 or higher. You can also toggle the results to show keywords in the form of questions, which is a great way to have content appear as "People Also Ask" rich results.

SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool

Using Google Trends For Content Ideas

Next, let’s search our primary keyword in Google Trends. This tool will show user interest over time, which is a great way to see if people are still using the same search terms to find specific topics on Google. It will show related topics and queries that are displaying an increase in user interest, which we can use to further expand our content.

Google Trends Dashboard
Google Trends Dashboard 2

For our primary keyword “how many lines of credit should I have,” the top related topic for this query was “line of credit.” When clicking that, Google Trends offers other related queries that are rising in popularity that we can either use for this revamp, or when creating content in the future. One keyword that stands out is “What is an open line of credit”, which we already plan on using as one of our secondary keywords.

Final Competitive Analysis With SEMRush

Finally, in SEMRush we are going to use the SEO Content Template under the On Page & Tech SEO tab to look for other improvements we can make to our page. First, let’s plug in 5 of our target keywords and click “Create SEO Template.” Then, we will click on Real-time Content Check. After that, let’s copy and paste all the content from our existing article into the Quick Checker.

Using SEMRush For SEO Content Template Audit and On Page SEO Recommendations Photo

The SEO Content Template tool pulls an aggregate for the top 10 search results of our target keywords and will show us the average readability score, average number of words on page, and related keywords that the top 10 results share, as well as other suggestions to improve on-page content. This is a good check to determine what we can improve based on what our competition is doing. 

From this content check tool, we want to pull all the keywords from the “Recommended Keywords” tab to ensure that we’re integrating them into our content. Here are the words that we don’t have included in our content that we need to include:

  • Equity line of credit
  • Auto loans
  • Unsecured lines of credit
  • Home equity line
  • Cash advance
  • Business lines of credit
  • Number of credit cards
  • Personal loan
  • Personal lines of credit

Next, let’s move onto on-page optimization recommendations using the keywords that we found for our keyword research.

Analysis & Meta Elements Examples For SEO Content Update

URL:

First, let’s list the current URL for the page we’re optimizing:

Note: I don’t recommend changing URLs when optimizing articles; the benefit is negligible for a more established piece and can create a lot of unnecessary work such as changing internal and external links to match the new URL.

Title Tag:

Next, we’ll use the Google Chrome Extension SEO Minion to pull the Meta Title and Description for the existing page. Click on Analyze On Page SEO to see the length of the title and description. For Title Tags, the rule of thumb is about a 60 character-length, or else it’ll be truncated in the search results. However, Google actually uses the title’s pixel count, or the amount of space letters take up on a page, rather than an actual character count, so use this tool to check for length (you can also use SEO Minion’s SERP Preview Tool). Also be sure to place the primary keyword as close to the beginning as possible in the meta title.

 Meta Description:

When specifying the meta title, we should aim to include the primary keyword, and possibly a secondary keyword if we can fit it. Also be sure to place the primary keyword as close to the beginning as possible in the meta description.

The general rule of thumb is 150-160 characters for the meta description length, but use this tool to check for the preferred pixel count (you can also use SEO Minion’s SERP Preview Tool).

H1 Header

The H1 is one of the most significant ranking factors for on-page SEO. As a result, it should always be optimized with our target primary keyword, which needs to be placed as close as possible to the beginning of the H1.

Target Keywords

Primary Target Keyword(s)

The primary keyword is the main word we’re trying to get ranked for this article. It needs to be included in the meta title, meta description, URL, H1 header, and first 150 words of our article for the best chance at ranking.

How many lines of credit should I have – 170 volume, Rank #3

Secondary Target Keyword(s)

For our secondary keywords, we want to make sure we’re including them in the subheads (H2’s, H3’s) of our content, as well as mentioning them at least once in our content paragraphs. These are the other keywords that we’re targeting that are important with decent search volume but aren’t the primary focus of the article. Secondary keywords should compliment the primary keyword.

  • How to open a line of credit – 170 volume, Rank #29
  • What is an open line of credit – 260 volume, Rank #51
  • How does a line of credit work – 1300 volume, Rank #66
  • How many credit lines is too many – 3600 volume, Rank #67
  • How many credit lines should I have – 8100 volume
  • How many credit lines can I have – 480 volume
  • Is it bad to have a lot of credit lines – 320 volume

Related phrases to include

These phrases aren’t as important, but we should include them to improve the relevance of our article in relation to our primary/secondary keywords.

  • Equity line of credit
  • Auto loans
  • Unsecured lines of credit
  • Cash advance
  • Business lines of credit
  • Number of credit cards
  • Personal loan
  • Personal lines of credit

Interlinking

To pass authority between pages, we should always aim to interlink existing and relevant articles. Interlinking from higher authority articles to our revamped article is a great and easy way to pass additional SEO juice for keyword ranking improvements if we’re struggling to move the needle. Beyond referencing our internal linking sheet for high-priority pages, look at Search Console to identify 3-5 articles that draw traffic and we can link to/link back from.

You can also do a site search like site:example.com “lines of credit” on Google to find other related articles to link to. Also be sure to use keyword rich text variations for interlinking; in this example, if we wanted to link back to this article from a different page, we would use a variant of “how many lines of credit should I have”, so an example sentence might read, “Check out our latest article that dives into how many lines of credit the average person should have.”

Readability Score

This is from the SEO Content Template in SEMRush. This metric grades the article’s reading difficulty; if the article’s readability score is low, then we should aim to write in simpler terms, make sure paragraphs aren’t long, sentences are short and are broken down into appropriate subheads. For this article, the readability score is 68.5, while the aggregate for our competitors is 59.7, which is good.

Words

This is from the SEO Content Template in SEMRush. We should always aim to make our content longer/more comprehensive than our competitors. Our word count is 1203, while the competitor aggregate is 994 words, which is good. 

SEO Article Checklist:

Audience: Who is the intended audience for this article? What are we trying to get them to do when they visit this article? What is the anticipated behavior for this audience?

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Topic: Does this topic closely fit our industry? Are we trying to be informative and answer a question? Are we trying to create seasonal/trending content that isn’t evergreen? Are we trying to drive readers toward a conversion? Is this a high or low-funnel topic? (high volume of searches, but low conversion potential vs. lower volume of searches, but higher conversion potential).

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Impressions: How many impressions is this article receiving in the Google search results? If the number is low, does it make sense to revamp this article?

Reference keyword search volume in SEMRush (Keyword Magic Tool)

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Clicks: How many people have clicked through to this article in the Google search results? If the number is low, does it make sense to revamp this article?

Reference keyword search volume in SEMRush (Keyword Magic Tool)

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Keyword Total: How many total keywords does this article rank for? How many are in positions 1-3? What about positions 4-10? Positions 11-20? Does the search volume for these keywords necessitate a revamp, or would there be minimal return despite an improvement in keyword rankings?

Reference keyword search volume in SEMRush (Organic Research, Keyword Magic Tool)

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Primary Keyword: What’s the main keyword we are trying to focus on for this article?

Is the primary keyword included in the meta title, description, H1 header, first 150 words of content, and URL?

Pull Using SEMRush.(Organic Research)

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Secondary Keywords: What other keywords, or subtopics, are we including for this article?

Are all of our secondary keywords included in the H2’s and H3’s?

Pull Using SEMRush (Organic Research, Keyword Magic Tool, SEO Content Template)

Pull Using Google Trends

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Related Keywords: Are these keywords included in the content body for this article?

Pull Using SEMRush (Content Template)

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H1: Does the article title (h1) include the primary keyword?

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H2’s, H3’s, H4’s: Are our secondary keywords being included in these subheads? Does the hierarchy for H2’s, H3’s, and H4’s make sense? Can we break down our H2’s further into H3’s and H4’s? From a reader’s perspective, does the sub-topic breakdown for this article make sense?

Meta Title: Does the meta title include the primary keyword? Does it include the brand name? Does it meet Google’s length limit?

Pull Using SEO Minion Chrome Extension

Meta Description: Does the meta description include the primary keyword? Does it include the brand name? Does it meet Google’s length limit?

Pull Using SEO Minion Chrome Extension

Readability Score: Is our readability score better than our competitors? What is the competitor average?

Pull Using SEMRush (Content Template)

Word Count: Is our word count longer than our competitors? What is the competitor average?

Pull Using SEMRush (Content Template)

URL: What is the URL of the article we’re revamping?

Internal Links: What links should we interlink with? Are they relevant to our article? Did we link back to this article from those other pages?

Pull Using Google Search Console

Pull Using Google Search (site:website.com “primary keyword”)

Keyword Cannibalization: Does this article directly compete with other articles for its primary/secondary keywords?

Pull using SEMRush (Organic Research)

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