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How to Increase Your Blog Traffic with Historical Optimization

Historical Optimization Allows You to Get Value from Old Blog Posts

When was the last time you read one of your company’s old blog posts?

If you’ve had a blog for a while now, then you probably don’t think much about your posts from years ago.

And why would you want to look at anything from back then?

After all, who has time to live in the past when you’re trying to take your marketing to the next frontier?

You have a point, but here’s the thing: That old content still has value. In fact, those old posts can often help your blog more than any new piece of content you could come up with.

All they need is a little tender love and care.

In this post, we’ll tell you about a method of updating your old posts called historical optimization. We will then explain the benefits of the process, the types of posts you should perform it on, and some simple steps for performing it.

What is Historical Optimization?

Historical optimization is the practice of updating old blog posts to improve their SEO, readability, and relevancy.

There are many benefits to performing historical optimization. We will discuss three of the main benefits below.

It Keeps Posts Up to Date

If you’re doing SEO right, then a lot of your monthly web traffic probably comes from old posts. Many of those posts probably feature outdated or stale content.

You might be tempted to respond by publishing a new post on the topic. However, Google could penalize you for duplicate content.

By updating the old post instead, you can improve its conversion rates.

It Saves You Time

Updating an old post is also faster and easier than writing a new one. Because of this, it can give you more flexibility for maintaining a consistent publishing schedule.

We don’t know about you, but anything that can save you time and effort is a win in our book!

It Increases Post Longevity

Finally, and most importantly, historical optimization makes your posts last longer. By taking the time to keep it fresh, your best content will produce better results over time.

How to Decide What to Do with Old Blog Posts

If you have a lot of posts, it can be hard to know where to begin with historical optimization.

There are two main questions to ask yourself when deciding which blog posts are worth updating:

  • Which blogs have performed best in the past?
  • Do readers want this content right now?

Let’s take a closer look at each of these questions:

Which Posts Performed Well?

Your first step should be to use analytics software to investigate how your past posts have done.

If you are not sure which software to use, we would recommend Google Analytics or Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider. Both are excellent tools for auditing blog content.

Once you have an analytics tool, here are top metrics to consider:

  • Traffic: Over the past few months, which old posts have the most visitors?
  • Social Sharing: Shares are a good way to identify a high-performing post with solid SEO value.
  • Inbound Links: Which posts have the most inbound links? This is arguably the most important metric since inbound links strongly indicate search authority.
  • Keywords: If you are trying to rank for certain keywords, then check to see if your posts are already ranking for them. If so, then those are the posts you will want to update.
Image of two people looking at blog analytics on a tablet
Analyzing the analytics data from your old blogs will help you decide which ones to optimize.

Is This Content Current or Trending?

Sometimes a topic you’ve previously covered becomes current again. Situations like this can trump even the metric considerations listed above.

Don’t let your readers dig for old and outdated content on a topic that’s trending.

Instead, update your past post to make it fresh!

How to Optimize Old Blog Posts

Now that you’ve determined which posts to target, you can begin the process of updating them.

Here’s a rundown of some of the things you should update:

Improve Your Readability Scores

If you use WordPress to create your blogs, then you’ve probably noticed the readability plugin beneath the post creation box. This plugin analyzes the text in your posts and gives you scores for a variety of important categories. These categories include paragraph length, amount of passive voice, and subheading distribution.

Updating an old blog post is a good opportunity to improve some of those scores.

For example, you will want to break up any overly long paragraphs or run-on sentences. You’ll also want to make sure you’re using enough subheadings to organize the text and make it scannable.

Enhance Your Keyword Usage

Did your original post have a focus keyword? If not, then you are going to want to add one to improve your blog’s SEO.

Naturally, you should choose a keyword that makes sense for the topic of the blog. However, make sure that the phrase isn’t too highly competitive and is specific enough that you’ll have a chance to rank for it.

As you update the blog, make sure to use your keyword in the title, H1, image titles, and alt text. You should also use your keyword or a synonym of your keyword at least once per every 100 words of your blog.

Replace Outdated Content

As we mentioned above, one of the biggest benefits of historical optimization is it helps you keep your blogs up to date.

So, as you revise your old content, be sure to get rid of information that is no longer accurate.

In addition, consider if there is any further information you can add to the blog to enhance it.

Chances are there have been new updates to the topic of the blog since you first wrote about it. So, try to add as much as you can to optimize the blog for today’s audience.

Root Out Broken or Irrelevant Links

One of the biggest factors Google considers when ranking a blog is the quality of its internal and external links. So, if your old blog is full of broken links or links to unrelated or low-quality content, then you’re going to want to change that.

We recommend having at least three internal links to related blog posts per blog. Keep in mind that you should never link to your site’s main pages from blogs, only other blogs. And the hypertext you use should be a descriptive phrase that relates directly to the blog you’re linking to.

As for external links, you should have at least one link to an authoritative source that relates to your post. Don’t just throw in an external link for the sake of having one. Your external links should enhance the value of your post for readers. Google will penalize you if they don’t.

Checklist of items that should be included in historical optimization
By checking off each of these items, you will make your old content better and fresher than ever!

Make Your Images Shine

How do the images in your old blog look? If they are too small or look dated, then you should take this opportunity to enhance them.

Here are some things to keep in mind when doing so:

  • Increase your image sizes, but make sure the file size isn’t so large that it slows down your page loading speed. A handy tool like io is great for keeping file sizes manageable.
  • If images aren’t doing the job, consider embedding a video instead. Videos are great for enhancing a blog’s value and increasing how long people spend on your page.
  • Make sure you also optimize the metadata for your images, including the image title, alt text, and descriptions. Try to include the focus keyword or synonyms of it as much as possible.

Add an Editor’s Note

Readers who saw the old post might be confused by the republished post and think you’re dishonesty recycling content. It may also be confusing to see comments on the post from months or years before the publish date.

Clear all this up with a simple editor’s note. A good editor’s note will include when post was originally published and that it has been updated for accuracy and relevance.

Modify the Old Post and Keep the URL

As mentioned above, publishing a new blog post on the topic could get you penalized for duplicate content. Therefore, you should instead go in and edit and update the old post.

It’s also important to keep the URL the same, even if you update the title. This way, inbound links will still work without having to lose SEO value with a redirect.

Are Your Ready to Start Republishing Your Posts?

We hope you’ve found this guide to historical optimization helpful. We use the method all the time here at Frontier Marketing to keep our old posts relevant. In fact, we recently updated the post you’re reading right now!

If you have any questions or need any help getting started with this process, feel free to reach out! You can send us a private message on our Facebook page or give us a call at 847-254-0837. We have helped many small businesses in Fox Lake, IL and the surrounding regions improve their old content, and we can do the same for you.

Happy historical optimizing!


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 1, 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance.