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How to Refresh Your Content for SEO- The Explainer Series.

Refreshing existing content on your site is a great way of ensuring the information you provide stays up-to-date and doesn’t become untimely. When it comes to optimising your site’s content, it can be very tempting to just focus on creating new pieces.

But it’s important to know that Google loves seeing content be maintained. So much so, updated pages often get a ranking boost in the search results, which can help keep you ahead of your competitors.

Here is my guide on how to update content on your site to get the best results from your SEO.

 

How to update existing content to benefit your SEO.

The Strategy.

Review your objectives.

Before touching any content it’s worth having a conversation with your stakeholders to get an understanding of what the organisation’s key objectives and priorities are. This can have strong sway over the topics and areas of the site you decide to focus on.

 

 

Conduct keyword research and benchmark your rankings.

Once you know what the content needs to achieve, the best place to start is with keyword research. At this stage, you want to compile a list of all the different search terms that are related to topics you want to rank for. Along with the keywords you also want to gather information for each keyword, such as the average search volume, user intent and keyword competitiveness. This will help you deduce if a keyword is worth targeting or not.

Once you have this data, you will want to take these keywords and get a ranking benchmark for your site and a couple of its main SEO competitors.

The benchmark will tell you where you rank, and how you’re situated against key competitors in the search results. Knowing where you rank for a keyword can help inform whether that keyword is one worthwhile focusing on.

With all this information, you then want to go through and select the keywords that best meet your needs and can be improved upon. To give your content strategy a clear focus we recommend a starting list of around 10-12 keywords; this list can be expanded upon once pages for those initial keywords have been worked on.

Tip:  Categorise your keywords whilst you are gathering this research. This saves you precious time when you want to look at all keywords you have around a specific niche, such as ‘heat pumps’ or ‘loft insulation’.

 

Map your keywords to landing pages.

You now have your list of target keywords. Through the ranking benchmark you’ll know where you rank, and which of your pages rank. However, before proceeding any further you’ll want to make sure the page that ranks is the most relevant one on your site.

Sometimes, the page Google ranks isn’t the most suitable page. This can happen when you have lots of similar content for a topic, or you don’t have a directly appropriate page live. It’s worth reviewing the page that ranks for each of your target keywords to make sure the ranking page is the right page, or to identify if an alternative is required.

Where an alternative is required you should then consider: does the right page already exist on your site, or do you need to create a brand new page? Note down in your master sheet whether you need to optimise the current ranking page, an alternative existing page, or create a completely new page. Once you know which pages you’re working with, you can start to optimise the on-page elements.

 

The Copy.

Make sure your copy is up to date.

When updating the content on your live page, you want to do more than make sure you reference your target keyword enough times. Review the copy in place to make sure all information is still relevant. Where information is no longer applicable or is incorrect, remove that copy or update it.

 

User Intent.

You want to make sure the copy in place meets the needs and intent of the user. Whilst there can be temptation to focus on guiding them to your end goal for the page, with content you need to reach a happy medium; what does the user want to know? Answer that.

 

Be direct.

Where questions are asked, make sure you answer directly and try to avoid going on a tangent. By maintaining a direct focus on the question you’ll make your content more targeted towards any long-tailed keywords. This helps group your content more and can make it more grabbable, increasing its chances of being pulled through to the search results in other search features, such as featured snippets.

 

Competitor Analysis.

To get an idea of what you need to include in order to rank well, start with some competitor analysis. Look at the competitor pages that rank in the top positions for your chosen keyword. Take note of the type of pages that rank and the content they include. This gives you an idea of what Google is looking for. Through doing this you may identify some content gaps; where content for sub-topics is missing on your page but covered by your competitors. Populating these gaps is a great step toward updating your page and building it out.

 

Consider your target audience.

You will also want to take into consideration your target audience and what information would be helpful for them. We recently reviewed a page discussing energy-saving tips for a client. The page focused on providing money-saving tips as well as energy saving, which had quite a short-term focus.

There was no information for the audience that would benefit more long-term advice. To make the content more ‘evergreen’ we adapted it to cover where they might need to invest money initially but would save money in the long term. By including that type of content as well, the page was more rounded and provided options to the client’s target audience based on situations they may find themselves in.

 

The Hygiene Factors.

Once you have the content re-vamped, you want to start to look at other on-page SEO factors to make sure the page all relevant factors are optimised towards the relevant search terms.

 

Review your URL.

As one of the first impressions users and search engines get of a page, you want your URL to be SEO friendly. When reviewing your URLs, you want to ensure they all follow a consistent format. This can include elements such as:

 

  • All characters are lowercase; avoid including any uppercase letters.
  • Use of dashes to separate words rather than underscores.
  • No number or character strings; use keywords so users get a clear contextual understanding of the page’s contents.
  • Include a clear structure, so where pages have parent pages those parent pages are referenced in the URL structure. This makes it clear where you are within the architecture of the site.

 

For example:

An SEO friendly URL:

https://www.example.com/guides/epc-rating

A not so SEO friendly URL: https://www.example.com/Hgknu4643466edgFaDjryt365g_epc_guide

 

Changing the URL can have an impact on that page’s rankings, so there should always be caution when making any edits. Generally, we only recommend changing the URL if the aim is to include a target keyword.

 

Check your meta data.

Consisting of the page title and meta description, meta data is another first impression users receive of your site in the search results. Page titles are a ranking factor, and the meta description influences the click through rate (which is also a ranking factor). For this reason, they’re key elements to get right.

 

 

Be aware of character limits – as a rule of thumb 70 characters are ideal for page titles and 155 characters for meta descriptions. Meta data that is too long will either be cut off in the search results or ignored completely. Meta data that’s too short also isn’t ideal, as it suggests you’re not utilising the full space available.

As well as length, you also want to make sure the meta data features the keyword you’re targeting. Want to rank for the term ‘how to save energy at home’? Include that keyword directly in the page title. Referencing the same keyword, or a variation of it in the meta description, is also recommended.

 

Check your headings.

Next, you want to review how headings are implemented on your page. Whilst headings can be formatted to visually demonstrate the main heading vs subsequent sub-headings, for search engines you need to add in header tags.

Header tags are visible in the backend of the page only but allow search engines to see where you’re main heading is (H1), as well as any sub-headings that follow (H2-H6). The H1 is another ranking factor used by search engines, so you want to make sure the main heading includes the target keyword (or a variation of it). By using header tags in a hierarchal structure on the page you help to break down the content and provide a clear structure for search engines to follow.

 

 

Optimise your images.

Images can make a big difference to a landing page. Breaking up the copy and offering another avenue of presenting your content. Where you use images, you want to make sure they’re accessible to all users and SEO friendly. This means making sure images have relevant alt tags in place and making sure images are uploaded in appropriate dimensions and file size.

 

Alt Tags

Alt tags help search engines ‘see’ your image. So, it’s worth having an alt tag in place. You should aim to include the keyword if you can, but only if it’s relevant to the image.

When adding alt tags to images consider their function. Images intended for decoration only do not need an alt tag. However, images that contain relevant details and contribute to the user experience do need an alt tag.

Historically alt tags were used as an opportunity to repeatedly include the target keyword; this is a method that is now detrimental to SEO. The prime aim of alt tags today, is accessibility. As assistant technology reads alt tags to users with visual impairments, you want to make sure they get a clear description.

 

Image sizing

When uploading images to your CMS, aim to upload them in the dimensions used on the page. This can help massively with page speed; large images slow down page load time as browsers download the image and then need to re-size it. Check your images. If they’re hitting the 1mb milestone they’re way too big. Aim closer to 100-300kb, but make sure you aren’t compromising on image quality. No one likes a pixelated image.

 

Review your internal linking.

Once you have the content reviewed and updated, looking at the page’s internal linking situation is the next step. This is a two-pronged approach. You want to look at where your page is linking to elsewhere on the site and you want to look at how your page is being linked to.

 

When writing the content for the page, consider if you have relevant content that can be linked to from this page. If the content is related to the topic and will provide valuable, additional information to the user, then we recommend adding a link.

 

When linking to another page, strive to use a target keyword for the page you’re linking to in the anchor text. This can help convey context of the page you’re linking to.

 

You also want to look at how your page is being linked to, and make sure it can easily be accessed. Blog content, for example, can easily get buried in the blog section under new articles.

 

Often, sites will link to important blog articles from evergreen pages to ensure they can consistently and easily be found by users and search engines alike. Make sure your page is visible within the site; this can make a big difference with the indexing and ranking of that page.

 

 

If you have anything you’d like to share regarding our tips about optimising existing content, or just want to have a conversation about how we can support your content, get in touch.

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