The blog audit basics: how to revive old blog content in 5 steps
In this five-step guide, Michelle Hill of Vertical Leap reveals how to rejuvenate old, forgotten-about content that might be harming your search ranking.
Keep, combine, kill: eliminate pages with poor engagement, and merge high-performing and keyword-rich content. / Natalya Letunova
Marketers face a lot of pressure to constantly publish new content. While it’s important to post regular, up-to-date content, you can’t forget about old pages once you hit publish.
Without proper maintenance, your blog quickly becomes bloated and relevance starts to suffer. To prevent this from damaging your SEO strategy, you should run an annual blog audit to review your content.
Why are blog audits important?
Old, out-of-date content results in fewer page visits, less average time spent on page and declining performance – all of which negatively affect your ranking in search engine result pages (SERPs).
The problem will only get worse over time as search engines like Google roll out new algorithm updates and ranking signals that your old content isn’t optimized for.
An annual audit allows you to review your blog content, keep getting value from your old content and send the right signals to Google. It also keeps you topically focused and turns your old content into an asset, rather than a liability.
1. Analyze your content
First, you want to analyze your content by collecting data on every post you’ve published. How much data you analyze will probably depend on the tools you’re using but, at the very least, you want to review the following: title, URL, topic/category, keywords, publishing date, word count, author and monthly visits.
For a more in-depth audit, you can also pull in engagement data (time on page, bounce rates, etc.) and usability insights like Core Web Vitals.
2. Review SEO keywords
Essentially, you want one blog post for each of your most important keywords, which you can keep updating and adding to. In other words, avoid having multiple pages compete for the same keyword because this splits your search ranking across each page. Instead, you want one high-quality page reaping all the SEO benefits.
Your audit will probably reveal multiple pages targeting the same keyword. This isn’t a problem so long as you review your content – and act on it. Once you have evergreen pages for your priority keywords, you can build content clusters around related keywords and sub-topics to maximize coverage.
3. Keep, combine, kill
Now you’re ready to start cleaning up your blog. We have our own tried and tested process that groups posts into three categories.
Keep content that is adding value to users and your SEO strategy. We can further optimize this by establishing expertise, authority and trust (key Google signals) and improving the content structure. Updating stats and sources, and adding videos and new sections can also improve the page.
Combine content covering the same keyword or topic (splitting your SEO rewards). This will attract more traffic to your site through better rankings as a result of improved pages and will lead to increased conversions through more authoritative and engaging content. It also reduces keyword cannibalization.
Kill low-quality content, poor engagement, generating no traffic, etc. For example, content that has no target audience and does not serve the user’s purpose is poorly written, off-topic, syndicated or potentially stolen/plagiarized. The same goes for any content that has poor performance metrics such as low/no organic page views, impressions, links, shares, conversions or engagements, or has a high bounce rate.
You want to remove all of the content in the ‘Kill’ category because these pages are causing more harm than good. For the ‘Combine’ section, you’re going to group all the related posts together and then merge them into a single, high-performing page. Once you’ve combined these pages, they’ll rank higher and generate more traffic.
4. Refresh old content
Now that all your blog posts are arranged to target specific keywords and topics, you’re ready to update and improve the quality of your content.
First, make sure all your posts are up to date with the latest information. Add recent statistics and insights with links to authoritative sources to back up the key message of your content. Also, add quality images with optimized alt-text and embed relevant video clips where suitable.
Next, revise the structure of your posts to ensure they're optimized for readers and search engines. You should end up with a consistent structure across all your posts with optimized titles, headings and keywords.
5. Optimize for the latest SEO updates
The SEO industry moves quickly. In the past year alone, we’ve had plenty of algorithm updates to contend with and Google has also updated its content quality guidelines for experience, expertise, authority and trust (E-E-A-T).
In recent years, we’ve also had page experience updates, Core Web Vitals, product review updates, and many others.
With every content audit, you need to optimize for any relevant updates, guideline changes and new ranking signals. Right now, optimizing for E-E-A-T is a priority and you need to build trust by demonstrating experience, expertise and authority for all the subjects you cover.
As you merge and update your old content, make sure you satisfy the latest Google quality rater guidelines.
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