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Increase Search Traffic By Refreshing Old Posts

November 15th, 2007

increasing-search-traffic.jpgOne important factor for bloggers to consider with respect to SEO is how often their blog is updated and how “fresh” the posts are. It has been my experience that after about six months (possibly somewhat sooner if you have many backlinks), Google’s little spiders begin to give special attention to your most recent posts. In other words, after a blog becomes established and gains a certain amount of trust with the search engines, any posts from the past week or so will tend to get indexed quickly and will initially enjoy relatively high rankings and stay out of the supplemental index.

As a savvy blogger, you can use this knowledge to give new life to some of your older posts and bring in that search traffic you’ve always wanted. Here are some tips for specific things that you can do to bring more attention to your older posts and increase their rankings in the search engines:

When writing a new post, simply link to the old post in the text. This is the easiest way to get the search engines to re-crawl your older pages. It can also give you a rankings boost even if you do not change any of the content on the old page. This often occurs with Google because when the older page gets crawled again, it may be bumped out of the supplemental index and into the main one, where it will be ranked much higher and draw more traffic. Using this method does not guarantee that your page will actually remain in the main index for more than a few days, however, so you may need to consider additional factors to give it more “stickiness”.

Re-publish an old post under the current date. This little trick works very well with WordPress blogs because of the convenient timestamp feature, but it can probably be done with many other blogging platforms as well. Simply open up the old post in your “Write Post” panel, change the timestamp to the current date, proofread the text, make any desired updates, and then press Publish. This will immediately bump your old post up to the top of your blog and give you a fresh crawling.

In order to stay completely within the ethical boundaries of white hat SEO, it is advisable to add at least a small amount of updated content before you re-publish the page in this way. If you don’t update the content at all but change the date anyway, some of your posts will no longer have historically accurate authorship dates, and this could diminish trust in your blog and brand name if your readers find out about this.

Add internal links. You can always add links to more recent posts that may have content that is relevant to the previous ones. This may encourage readers to surf around your blog more, making eventual sales and ad revenues more likely.

Rewrite posts with updated content. Some pages may have information that was valuable and newsworthy a few months ago, but may need to be updated with current developments in order to hold a reader’s interest. For example, posts about upcoming elections can be updated later after the results are finalized.

Optimize posts with better keywords. If you have been blogging for a while but are relatively new to the field of search engine optimization, you may have older posts that could be improved with your new SEO skills. Often it is possible to add related but slightly different keywords to an article to pull in traffic for more “long tail” search phrases. In other cases, you may simply need to optimize your keyword density for the search term that you’re already targeting in the title.

Redo your articles in a different format. If you have some long, essay length posts that are essentially just wall-to-wall text, consider using bulleted or numbered lists to highlight the main points. Often long paragraphs can be divided up so that there is more white space on the page for readers to “rest” their eyes.

Proofread articles for spelling and grammar. Although thorough proofreading is something we should always do before pressing that “Publish” button, sometimes mistakes can still slip past us. By going back through older posts, we can often catch such errors and correct them before more traffic is sent to the page. Occasionally, readers may mention these kinds of errors in the comment section, which gives us a chance to revisit old posts and optimize them for greater traffic potential.

Fix dead or broken links. Over longer periods of time, some sites inevitably disappear, change domains without properly redirecting, or otherwise render older links to them invalid. It’s always a good idea to do this kind of “housecleaning” occasionally so that both readers and search engine spiders will have an easier time navigating your site.

Group older posts into a series. After several months of blogging, sometimes you will wind up with several posts that closely relate to the same topic. In such cases, you may be able to bring these articles together with internal links so that each one references all of the others in the same series. This can lead readers to click on multiple pages of your blog in order to read the other articles in the series.

Make a “best of” list. This can be called several different things, such as “most popular posts”, “top 10 posts”, or “featured articles”. The idea here is to create permanent links to your target pages from the home page in order to increase traffic flow. This increase in visitors to your pages can occur due to normal clickthrough traffic, but search engine rankings can be increased also because Google PageRank will be passed to these pages directly from your home page.

Update obsolete posts with links to useful information. As your blog gets older, you may have times where the information in a post is so outdated and obsolete that it cannot be salvaged by making small tweaks to the content. While many people will delete these kinds of articles, it is probably a better idea to explain to readers at the end of the post that the information is no longer valid and provide a link to another article that contains more recent information.

By following these content maintenance tips, you can demonstrate to both readers and search engines that you are actively taking care of your blog and that the information that it contains is likely to be valuable and useful. Over time, this strategy of refreshing older posts with new viewers and updated content will be rewarded with increased search engine traffic and more regular readers.

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