How to Improve Google Rankings for Your Older Posts in 4 Easy Steps

How to Improve Google Rankings for Your Older Posts in 4 Easy Steps

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how to improve google rankings

Turn your posts from zero to hero...

Blogging is never a “publish and forget it” sort of deal.

You publish a post, you answer comments, you build links to it in hopes of ranking it high in search engines so that you can start getting organic traffic on autopilot.

Then comes the day of publishing a new post – for many of us, it’s the following day.

And what happens to the previous post? Previous 10, 20 posts? That’s right – who has the time?

Last Monday we talked about deleting, yes that’s right, DELETING your stale, outdated content that could potentially drag your rankings down. And that’s not me talking here; that’s what Google said.

Now I promised you to write a post on how to improve Google rankings for your existing content – the content that is already producing some search engine traffic, but could definitely do better with a little help.

Yesterday during my regular Google Analytics inspection, I did find a post in a good position to be moved up the Google ladder.

Right now it ranks #4. My objective is to get it top Google ranking, and these are the four steps I am going to take to get there.

Step 1. Identify the Post Via Google Analytics

The first step is discovery.

I already went ahead of myself and explained what happens in this step: I find the posts that are already ranking in spots #2-#10. Every once in a while, I will consider a post with current rankings on the second search engine page if the keyword is worth ranking for.

HOW I find out whether my post is already ranking for a good keyword is a tough question, because so far there’s only one tool I found (if you know of one, leave the resource in comments, please) that, instead of asking what keywords you would like to rank for – that’s what most of them do, tells you what keywords your post IS ranking for – and it’s not Google Analytics.

However, Google Analytics is still one of the best FREE tools to get this kind of information, although nothing is given to you on a silver platter – you need to dig for it.

So here’s my Google Analytics discovery process step by step:

1.   From your Dashboard, click on “Content” and then “Top Content” (in the sidebar). You’ll see your pages sorted by the most visited ones.

2.   Start clicking on the top pages, going down. Once you click on a page, you are looking for the phrase “Entrance Keywords”.

google analytics entrance keywords


3.   Click on “Entrance Keywords“. Here you’ll see what keywords people are finding your post through via search engines.

The only problem is it won’t tell you what position your site or that page I should say, is holding in SERPs – you’ll have to look it up yourself.

The best way to do that is described in this post:

4.   As you can see, you can learn a whole lot about any particular page this way, for instance the bounce rate (for this particular page, it’s pretty high – higher than my overall blog bounce rate; looks like I have some work cut out for me), exit rate (how many people abandon your blog from this post and not click over to check out anything else), etc.

Here’s a great post on how to decrease your bounce rate, by the way:

Identify Posts via SEMRush

SEMRush is the only (paid) tool I know that does it all.

It checks out your domain and tells you which pages are ranking for which keywords and even shows your ranking position.

Take a look at this screen shot of Traffic Generation Cafe I took this morning:

identify keywords with SEMRush


Made me chuckle…

Guess how hard I worked at ranking #1 for “seems that this” phrase. :) #1 out of close to 500M results!

Also, I am sure “Dead or Alive” fans are becoming huge fans of my blog as well since I used one of their song titles “You Spin Me Round” in one of my recent post titles. I am ranking on the first page of Google for at least 3 of the keywords pertaining to that song. Oh, joy!

Jokes aside, I am ranking for some good keywords, and this is just a sample of what SEMRush does.

Step 2. Size Up Your Competition

As I mentioned before, if my post landed on the first page without much effort on my part, the competition can’t be that bad.

But it’s always worth checking into it first.

The tool that I love using for this task and the rest of my keyword and market research is Market Samurai. If you want to check it out for yourself, the folks there will be happy to set you up with a free trial via my affiliate link above.

One of Market Samurai modules, appropriately called “SEO Competition”, let’s me spy on my competition for the specific keyword I am targeting.

search engine ranking competition

Feel free to click on the image to enlarge

As you can see, I can easily check up on my top competitors’ standing with directories, their backlinks, PR, and on-page optimization (by the way, I teach everything I know about on and off-page optimization in my free SEO report).

The most important factors I consider though are found under “PR Analysis” and “Anchor Text Analysis” you can see on the image above.

With those two queries I easily find out that my top competitor has 28 links to their post (compared to 6 links going to mine) and the PR for those links breaks down as follows:

PR 0 = 25 links
PR 2 = 1 link
PR 4 = 2 links

Not too intimidating at all.

Basically, all I need to do to outplay them is to get 3 PR 4 links, and I will try to get them all from dofollow blogs, to be on the safe side.

By the way, Market Samurai also tells me exactly where their links are coming from. So I can simply go to all the same pages and get the same links, plus find 1 additional link. Piece of cake.

Since this is not a very competitive niche, I might just do that to save myself some time.

Step 3. Improve Your On-Page Optimization

This one is easy as well.

I already know that both my competition and I use the targeted keywords in our title, URL, description, and header tag.

I can however rework my meta tags so that they include my keywords in the beginning – even such slight changes can tilt the rankings in my favor.

I can also add a few internal deep links with targeted keywords as my anchor text; that’s an easy way to add some additional links without having to hunt them down.

Step 4. Get The Links I Need

Since I now know exactly what I need to do as far as my one way link building to the post is concerned from Step 2, it takes me just about 10 or so additional minutes to complete my post optimization.

Question: do you ever perform this kind of optimization for your blog? If so, do you do it differently?

Comment to show me that you’re alive!

ana hoffman improve google rankings

traffic generation cafe comment below

Google+ Comments

55 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. Hi Anna , i’ve one question –

    If i update my old post that was published three months ago , does Google index them by itself or do i have to signal them that i’ve updated my old posts. If yes, how can i inform Gbot about the content update.

    Also, if there is any tip you can give me about my blog to improve ,please i will be happy .

    Awaiting for your reply.

  2. Hey Ana, thanks for sharing this information. I definitely have some interest in Market Samurai and I may check it out through your affiliate link.

    Question, do comments on your page help your own ranking?


    • Ana Hoffman

      No, Dale, they don’t.

      I just got back from your blog and it looks like comments on your blog might actually hurt your rankings since I see a lot of spam there.

  3. One key point to remember: those backlinks are coming from sites other than yours and google may be crawling and indexing them slower or faster than yours. Typically, it takes google a few weeks after crawling to have those links and information loaded into their search engines for use.

    If you are using Market Samurai you can include the website that you are creating the backlink on and it will tell you the last time Google crawled that site, which may be helpful in tracking that backlink.

    • Ana Hoffman

      I love link building, Doug, but I never have the time (or patience) to break it down to such details. LOL

      Good tip though!

  4. I use blogger for my blog post and the inbuilt stat do help me track the keyword am ranking for and it really has been useful.Anyway,i have armed myself with some cool tips on how to utilize the google analytics tool and semrush in discovering the goldmine in keyword one is ranking for as well as competitors.

  5. This is great advice Ana, thanks. I do believe it’s time that I splash out on Market Samurai, it seems to be the best tool for determining search engine rankings. I often go back to my pages to re-optimise the content, and being able to identify which pages need optimising more than others will be a great help.

  6. Love your website and writing style and tone. Updating meta tags is one way to keep content fresh and pulling up in search engines as is link building. Some people also put a different spin on older articles to keep the content fresh.

    Keep up the great work!


  7. Satrap

    Hey Ana,

    I do perform similar actions, but I don’t have Market Samurai. I simply do a search on Google using the keyword to see who my competitors are.

    Now, finding where and what kind of links they have is the important part. Since I dont use MS, I just stat building quality backlinks as much as I can and in most cases it does work.

    But, I am kind of interested in getting MS as it seems to cut down on search time a lot and makes thing much easier and faster.

    Any way, thanks for such a detailed post. Truly informative like always.

    • Ana Hoffman

      Thanks for explaining your process for those who don’t have MS, Satrap.

      If you can get it, however, do get MS, because it will make it much easier and more accurate.

      • I actually did download the trial version using your link last night. I am playing around with it as we speak. There is one feature in particular that I could use (seo competition). I am just trying to learn the in and out of it before committing to it. Thanks Ana.

        • Ana Hoffman

          SEO competition is one of my favorite modules, Satrap.

          Have you figured out that you can press on the little down arrow next to any website URL and pulls all their links sorted by PR and anchor text? It’s great.

          Also you can add your own URL (or any custom URL for that matter) to compare to your competition.

          • Yeah, I have learned how to use the down arrow button for PR Analysis and Anchor Text Analysis, thanks to the images you have provide in this post.

            I have been busy all day playing around with it.

            The only thing I am kind of concern about is that it slows down the computer dramatically.

            Thanks Ana.

  8. I found this article to be really helpful. While I don’t have paid plan with SEMRush, I do own a license for Market Samurai. Market Samurai contains so much good information that I really don’t think I have scratched the surface on what I can do with the application.

  9. The first step for Google ranking is to optimize the site and due to the optimization of the site are other factors considered.

  10. Ana,
    I have used market samurai and like it a lot. I am currently in the trial period with SEOmoz. They have some similar tools that I am still trying to get familiar with. You mentioned using meta keywords and moving the ones you are really trying to rank for towards the front. I am confused by whether or not they should be used. I started added them to all my old posts a few weeks ago, but then it seems the more I read about seo the more I hear not to use them, they don’t matter.

    So I recently deleted them from several of my posts and will keep an eye on my rankings to see if they fall a bit.

    I had no idea semrush would tell you what your posts were ranking for. That is such a huge no brainer thing to do.

    Up until now, I would just look at my analytics account see how people are finding my site and then go search google over the 1st page or two to see if I was there. Semrush can save me a huge amount of time.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your strategy.

    • One significant difference between MS and SEOMoz tools is a monthly fee – the latter doesn’t come cheaply.

      Meta keywords are different from using your keywords in title/description. I don’t ever use meta keywords any longer, because I believe their effectiveness is long gone.

      Adding your keywords to your title is however a very effective way to rank on Google.

      SEMRush does make my life a whole lot easier!

      Thanks for coming by, Damon.

  11. Wow, really detailed process, with great step by step screenshots for the uninitiated (which in part is me too LOL)
    Thanks for sharing such a detailed post Ana, personally I don’t worry about this so much, although I do use a similar process with Google Analytics and other tools like SEOMoz on the blog as a whole.

    Definitely some food for thought here, which is always good. Coffee tastes better with a side snack :)

    • You’re most welcome, Alex. The same principle applies. And yes, coffee is so much better with a brownie on the side.

  12. Great advice! I recently installed a great plugin on my sites that shows thumbnails and links to older posts at the end of EACH post. I thought it was a beautiful, beautiful thing until I started looking at some of my really old posts!

    What was I thinking?!

    I’ve been in the process of trying to polish some of these posts up – thanks for the permission to simply toss some in the trash!

    Thanks for all the wonderful advice and tips – this post as well as all of the rest.

    • We all learn as we go along, Joi. You know you don’t need permission – it’s your blog, your rules. :-)

  13. Hi Ana! Thanks for allowing us to see how you go about the Google Analytics discovery process. One thing I realized is that I know how to locate and understand the data, but the next step I have to do (and what you’re already fantastic at doing) is using that data to make moves on your online strategy. Great post all the way around!

  14. Hello Ana,

    Thanks for the post and the advice. It’s right on point and reminded me that I don’t revamp my posts often enough. Any advice on how to revive a post that got hit with the google slap?



    • Haha – the Google slap – nice one! Optimize the title, check your most visited articles and link it to those. Also use your best keywords and add an image. :-)

  15. Ana,

    Some great tips. I have long only done a “slight” attempt to rank posts, with the intention of going back and really making a strong push to backlink and optimize them after time if I am within “reach”.

    Unfortunately more often than not, it is something I have “planned” to do yet not actually implemented. Your plan not only gives me the clear-cut steps, but the kick in the pants necessary to get it done.



    • If your “slight” attempts put you within reach, imagine if you actually did it right! You obviously have a natural talent. :-)

  16. Hi Ana,

    Really nice post and you’ve touched a important topic as well. We usually forget about old posts after publishing it and never think how it’g working for search engines and how we can improve it.

  17. It seems so random at times what keywords we can rank well on without even trying, Ana. I like to go through my entrance keywords from time-to-time just to chuckle at how people found my site.

    I like the tip on adding more internal links. There’s been many times I thought of post ideas while writing another post. By the time I got around to writing the post, I’d forgotten about the original post and missed out on internal linking opportunities. Look likes it’s time to go read my older posts looking for places I can link.

    • I know EXACTLY what you mean, Brad – on both scores. Some of those entrance keywords can be mind-boggling.

      Try making a note as you write one post, so that you don’t forget the other.

    • Being a mother, wife and business-woman – not too often :-) But I am passionate about everything I do, so I manage to have plenty energy for everything :-)

  18. 1. How did I not know SEMrush had an affiliate program? I’ve been writing about them on and off in posts for ages. *boinks head*

    2. Love ranking for random phrases. I got a hit once for “i like at a lake and thier are no baby ducks why” to my photo site.

    3. Awesome post. I have some posts that definitely could use some updates / refreshes for more SEO potential. :)

    • 1. Did you not know? Lol

      2. That is totally weird!

      3. Thank you! And I think we all do.

      Thanks for stopping by! :-)

  19. I’m alive. My problem right now, and much needed is pr rating. I still don’t have a clear guide how to achieve that, except for related links. Care to do a post on that? Thanks.

    • Glad you’re alive :-) and glad you’re visiting.

      I have some of those posts on here about the best ways in which to do that. Related links is one of the best ways to improve your ranking.

  20. Thanks for another great post, Ana! Your site has really helped me to understand Google Analytics better. Also, I was looking for an easy way to create an archive page and the post you linked to about Bounce rate gave me the answer. I’m loving the synchronicity!


  21. Nick Stamoulis

    Just because a blog post has gone live it does not mean that it can’t be edited. It’s a good idea to go back through old blog posts and “re-optimize” them. These tips that you’ve included are important parts of the process.

  22. Mostly I focus on the long tail words which is a lot easier to rank for then those short ones. Do a little article marketing and bam..I’m in the top.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”