Optimize and Republish: The Key to SEO Success

The field of SEO is constantly evolving, and change is the only constant. Let's consider a common scenario: your webpage ranks in the top three positions, driving significant traffic and generating leads and customers, while your competitors lag behind in positions six to ten. However, over time, your past content starts losing its effectiveness. It no longer aligns with search intent, and new content surpasses it. But don't worry; this problem is easily solvable. In this article, we will provide you with a simple three-step content optimization blueprint to revive your previously successful content consistently.

Why Optimize and Republishing Content Yields Quick SEO Wins

We recently assisted a large finance publisher in increasing its average traffic per page by an impressive 121.9% within a year. By identifying around 30 different URLs as "optimization opportunities," we revitalized content that used to perform well but had lost its impact.

Here's an example: we republished an article on January 1, 2021, and instantly witnessed a doubling of traffic. Similarly, another article, republished on December 15, 2020, resulted in a steady stream of visits throughout the following year. The impact was remarkable.

You might be wondering why this strategy works so effectively. The answer lies in the longevity of growth. If you aim for long-term growth spanning over 24 months, publishing new content is essential. On the other hand, if you seek short-term growth within six months, republishing existing content proves to be the winning strategy.

Now, let's dive into the exact steps you can follow to replicate these results.

Step 1: Identify Promising Content for Republishing

graph LR A[Pull up organic keywords] --> B[Define parameters] B --> C[Filter URLs based on position and traffic] C --> D[Generate list of republishing candidates]

When it comes to URLs already ranking in the top 3-5 positions, minor refreshments without significant changes are sufficient. However, the real opportunities lie beyond the top five positions.

To begin, use your preferred SEO tool to gather a list of organic keywords your site currently ranks for. Define your parameters based on the position range and the traffic volume. It's crucial to focus on URLs that receive some traffic but are not optimized enough to reach their full potential.

Consider setting a minimum traffic volume and a maximum keyword difficulty (KD) to target the low-hanging fruit. Keep in mind that these numbers can vary based on your industry's competitiveness and your site's strength. Established sites with a high domain rating (DR) and topical authority can aim higher, while newer or smaller sites should start with lower thresholds.

In a matter of minutes, you'll have a list of promising URLs that represent your low-hanging SEO fruit. The next step is to separate the candidates worth republishing from those that aren't. This requires careful evaluation.

Step 2: Prioritize the Content with the Highest Potential

graph LR A[Previous Results] --> B[Top lead or sale drivers] C[Commercial Intent] --> D[BOFU > MOFU > TOFU] E[Top Traffic Getters] --> F[TOFU content] G[Top Traffic Drops] --> H[Comparison with previous year] I[Combine prioritization factors] --> J[Identify top 20% URLs]

At this stage, you may have generated hundreds of URLs, especially for larger sites. To effectively prioritize, consider the following factors:

  1. Previous Results: Prioritize content that has historically driven the most leads or sales.
  2. Commercial Intent: Rank the bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) content higher than the middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) and the top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) content.
  3. Top Traffic Getters: Identify the content that attracts the highest traffic, putting the TOFU content in the spotlight.
  4. Top Traffic Drops: Compare the current period with the same period in the previous year to identify content that experienced a significant traffic drop.

While these factors provide a general framework, it's important to adapt based on your specific industry and business type. The goal is to find the 20% of URLs that will yield the fastest 80% return.

For example, let's consider an article on subheadings. Upon closer examination, we discovered numerous keyword variations that we hadn't previously targeted. These variations had substantial search volumes and low keyword difficulties (KD). As a result, we flagged this article as a priority for republishing.

Step 3: Analyze and Update Your Content

graph LR A[Manually review URLs] --> B[Evaluate current SERP performance] B --> C[Analyze top-ranking pages] C --> D[Check content organization] D --> E[Ensure search intent alignment] E --> F[Conduct competitor analysis] F --> G[Assess content structure] G --> H[Identify keyword cannibalization] H --> I[Evaluate topic coverage] I --> J[Update and improve content]

When updating your content, it's crucial to go beyond superficial changes. The goal is not merely to refresh the "Updated on…" date in WordPress but to significantly improve the content's quality and relevance.

Start by manually reviewing each URL and its current search engine results page (SERP) performance. Analyze the top-ranking pages and their content. Yes, this step requires your expertise and experience as an SEO professional and copywriter. While AI tools exist, they are not yet capable of fully comprehending the nuances of SEO and content optimization.

During this evaluation, consider the following aspects:

  1. Content Organization: Compare your content's structure with what's currently performing best in the SERPs.
  2. Search Intent: Ensure your content aligns with the search intent and targets the appropriate keywords.
  3. Competitor Analysis: Identify overlapping search intent across multiple queries and explore opportunities for improvement.
  4. Content Structure: Check if your content's structure matches that of the top-performing pages.
  5. Keyword Cannibalization: Identify any instances where the wrong page URLs are ranking for unrelated queries.
  6. Topic Coverage: Assess if there are any gaps in your content's topic coverage.

To simplify this process, you can utilize specialized content optimization software like MarketMuse, Clearscope, or Frase. These tools can provide insights into word counts, headers, images, and semantic keyword coverage. They help you compare your content against the competition and identify areas for improvement.

For instance, if we revisit the previous example, we found that the phrase "mini headlines" was missing from our article, despite its relevance. This indicated an opportunity to enhance our content.

Remember, this is a basic illustration of the process. The key is to determine precisely what aspects of your content need updating. You should identify areas where your content performs well and build upon them. Additionally, focus on areas where your content falls short compared to the competition, and work to improve those aspects. By addressing any gaps in your topic coverage, you can establish a competitive advantage and secure long-term ranking gains.

Optimizing Content for Long-Term Success

Publishing new content is vital for long-term growth, as it contributes to the overall site traffic and SEO presence. However, the impact of new content often takes time to materialize. That's where optimizing and republishing existing content shines.

By following the three-step blueprint outlined above, you can generate quick SEO wins. Start by identifying URLs with untapped potential, prioritize the content with the highest impact, and then update it strategically. This approach allows you to outperform your competitors and solidify your rankings.

Remember, the world of SEO is ever-changing, and staying ahead requires continuous effort. By consistently optimizing and republishing your content, you can adapt to evolving search intent and ensure your website remains competitive in the long run.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


Q1: What is content optimization?

A1: Content optimization is the process of improving and updating existing content to make it more relevant, engaging, and aligned with search intent. It involves enhancing the structure, quality, and relevance of the content to improve its visibility in search engine results and attract more organic traffic.

Q2: Why should I consider republishing existing content?

A2: Republishing existing content offers several benefits. Firstly, it allows you to leverage content that has already performed well in the past, saving time and effort compared to creating new content from scratch. Secondly, by updating and optimizing the content, you can improve its relevance and align it with current search trends, potentially boosting its visibility and driving more traffic to your website.

Q3: How do I identify which content is suitable for republishing?

A3: To identify content suitable for republishing, analyze your website's performance data and organic keywords using SEO tools. Look for URLs that have previously ranked well but are now experiencing a decline in performance or not reaching their full potential. Focus on pages that receive some traffic but are not optimized enough to capture a significant share of clicks. These URLs present opportunities for improvement and can benefit from content republishing.

Q4: How do I prioritize which content to republish?

A4: Prioritization depends on various factors such as previous results, commercial intent, top traffic getters, and top traffic drops. Start by identifying content that has historically driven the most leads or sales. Prioritize the content that targets the bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) audience, as it tends to have higher conversion potential. Additionally, focus on pages that attract the most traffic and those that have experienced significant traffic drops compared to the previous year. By combining these factors, you can determine the content that will provide the highest impact when republished.

Q5: How long does it take to see the results of republishing optimized content?

A6: The timeline for seeing results from republishing optimized content can vary depending on various factors, including your website's authority, competition, and the extent of optimization applied. Generally, you can expect to see improvements in search rankings and traffic within a few weeks to a few months. However, it's important to note that SEO is a long-term strategy, and consistent effort is required to maintain and further enhance the performance of your content.

Q6: Should I continue publishing new content alongside republishing existing content?

A: Yes, it is advisable to maintain a balance between publishing new content and republishing existing content. New content helps attract fresh traffic, target new keywords, and cater to evolving search intent. Republishing existing content allows you to leverage the potential of already successful pages and improve their performance. By adopting a combined approach, you can maximize the benefits of both strategies and create a comprehensive content optimization strategy.

Q7: How frequently should I consider republishing content?

A7: The frequency of republishing content depends on various factors, including the size of your website, the number of URLs identified for republishing, and the resources available. It's recommended to republish content on a regular basis, focusing on the highest-priority URLs first. A quarterly or biannual review of your content can help ensure that it remains relevant and optimized. However, keep in mind that the actual frequency may vary based on your specific goals and circumstances.

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