Why Optimizing Content You Already Have Matters: A Case Study

Posted on in Case Studies

If you work at a bike shop, your own bike is the last one to get fixed. It’s the same story when you’re a team of dedicated, hardworking digital marketers; client work always comes first. Still, our team worked extremely hard to make time to update our site content in a few months.

Content optimization improves the SEO value of existing blogs, service pages or product pages and provides a better experience for the user. The Oneupweb content marketing team carved out time to optimize blog content dating back to the early days of oneupweb.com to see how much of an impact it would have on organic performance.

Before we get into the results of this project, we’ll cover how and why to optimize existing content.

First, What Is Content Optimization?

Content optimization is the process of improving a piece of website content to better achieve its goals. Depending on the type of page, those goals might include:

  • Ranking for a specific keyword
  • Driving conversions
  • Gathering contact information
  • Directing users to other on-site resources or information

How to Optimize Blog Content Effectively

In most cases, blog optimization is about improving rank for specific keywords. Blog content will often target interesting topics closely related to a brand’s product or services without cannibalizing keywords from core pages that drive conversions. There are several ways to breathe new life into existing content; each piece will need unique tweaks.

(WARNING: Jargon ahead. Pop open this glossary of SEO terms in another window for easy reference.)

Prep Keywords and Basics

Start with our 12 SEO Tips for Blogs, which includes guidelines for links, title tags, meta descriptions and more.

Then get into the keyword research. Targeting the right keywords will position the blog to rank for those terms. Using a tool like Semrush, determine whether your current blog ranks for any keywords. If so, look at related or similar keywords or phrases to add to the piece.

Avoid overoptimizing, or keyword stuffing; this is an old SEO tactic now thoroughly frowned upon (and no longer rewarded) by Google. Don’t force it if you can’t squeeze in a keyword naturally!

Prioritize Blog Structure

Formatting blog content effectively makes it easier for search engine crawlers to quickly determine the blog’s topic and sub-topics, improving organic rank for all keyword targets. It’s also an opportunity to enhance user experience (UX) by organizing content with concise headers, bulleted lists, images (with alt text) and videos.

Updating Existing Content: Knowing Where to Start

If your domain has hundreds of blogs dating back over a decade, it can be hard to know where to start. First, establish how much time you can invest in blog optimizations. Set aside a block of hours per month (or talk to us about a marketing retainer) to optimize as many blogs as possible without rushing through the process.

Make a List (Checking It Twice, Strongly Encouraged)

Start from the top by optimizing your top-performing posts first. Why optimize them if they’re already driving organic sessions, you ask? Because you’ll be able to see what an effective blog looks like and make subtle changes that may improve your blog’s secondary or tertiary goals, such as moving users to multiple pages per session or filling out a form.

As you optimize your best blogs, look for ways to:

  • Increase natural internal links.
  • Organize content more efficiently.
  • Push users to related product or service pages.
  • Improve page rank for keywords the page already holds position for.
  • Look for related or similar keywords to include on the page.

The Thick and Meaty Middle

Between your top 15 blogs and your 500th-best blog lies a thick, dense patty of blog-meat ripe for shaping. As you move deeper into your blog folder, your goals will shift toward other priorities, such as:

  1. Reducing keyword cannibalization – If you’ve written about the same topic several (or dozens) or more times, your pages may compete against each other on the search engine results page, or SERP. Be sure to group keywords on a specific page and avoid using them repeatedly across multiple pages. You may be able to consolidate several blogs into one or find you have the keywords to write two or three distinct blogs.
  2. Rewriting content – Sometimes, one or two points in a blog post aren’t quite clear. In other cases, the information on the topic has changed so much over time that the blog needs to be rewritten from scratch.
  3. More linking – Working on existing content also surfaces internal linking opportunities. When it’s a natural fit, link to relevant blog topics that keep the user on your site and further establish your brand as a reliable and authoritative resource.

The Proof Is in the Pudding

And who doesn’t love pudding? Blog optimization has been a proven part of Oneupweb’s client strategy for years, but we hadn’t made it an internal priority for some time. So we decided to put our money where our mouth is and track our progress as we made updates.

The Challenge

Oneupweb noticed a gradual decline in organic landing page sessions for pages in our /blog/ folder. This downturn mirrored a general drop in organic traffic sitewide, primarily attributed to increased competition in the digital marketing space and general macroeconomic conditions.

Still, there was room for optimization! We could cut or update blogs that were no longer relevant. Older blogs that no longer fit our brand could be pulled from the site. We had an opportunity to improve our user experience and fight against negative external ranking factors with targeted optimizations.

The Process

Our content marketing team conducted an in-depth audit to organize hundreds of blogs into three buckets:

  1. Tweak it – These were relevant, quality blogs that just needed some love; a keyword there, a new page title here, and perhaps some updated links. Easy!
  2. Salvage it – Some blogs needed a lot more work. Sometimes, our salvage jobs turned into complete rewrites when we determined that the topic and content were valuable to our brand and audience.
  3. Kill it – We found old blogs that provided no SEO value and didn’t reflect our current brand identity or standards. We created a list of 301 redirects for dozens of blogs and effectively removed this content from our site. Sayonara!

The Nitty Gritty

Our content marketing team conducted an in-depth audit to organize hundreds of blogs into three buckets:

  1. Tweak it – These were relevant, quality blogs that just needed a little love; a keyword there, a new page title here and perhaps some updated links. Easy!
  2. Revamp it – Some blogs needed a lot more work. Sometimes, our salvage jobs turned into complete rewrites.
  3. Kill it – We found old blogs that provided no SEO value and didn’t reflect our current brand identity or standards. We created a list of 301 redirects for dozens of blogs and effectively removed this content from our site. Sayonara!

The Results

We started implementing optimized content in the last week of August 2022 and finished most of the work by late November. In that time, our team evaluated a total of 589 blogs(!), of which:

  • 176 were left alone, tweaked, or rewritten.
  • 413 (or most blogs written before 2014) were removed and redirected. We called it “The Cull.”

Cool Numbers. Did It Work?

It sure did. We compared organic blog landing page metrics between December 1, 2022, and February 17, 2023, to the previous period. In that period, our organic blog content performance improved – a lot.

  • Sessions: +138.74%
  • Users: +144.6%
  • New Users: +143.46%
  • Average engagement time per session: -26.03% (While this may seem bad, it could just as likely be due to users finding what they need more quickly instead of digging through the chaff. Especially when the increase in conversions is also considered.)
  • Conversions: +152.38%

During that period, eight of our top ten organic landing pages (by session count) were blogs. Seven of those eight blogs were optimized as a part of this project; the eighth was a new blog about a trendy topic, advertising on Reddit.

The Takeaway

Blog optimizations provided an adrenaline shot to our organic website performance in a surprisingly short period. We continue monitoring the project’s impact on our blog performance and applying what we’ve learned to guide our blog optimization process. This type of project gives us more data and tools to drive similar results for our clients.

Don’t Have Time to Audit and Optimize Blogs? We Do!

Few marketing teams can dedicate 10-15 hours a month to optimizing blogs or service pages and still create new, engaging content. Oneupweb will serve as an extension of your internal marketing department and take things off your plate.

Let’s get started. Reach out or call 231-922-9977 today. Tomorrow is cool, too.

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