10 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Underperforming Blogs

In Business Strategy, Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Marketing Strategy by Robb FahrionLeave a Comment

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Are you about to trash your old, non profitable blog posts?

The latest statistics reveal that about 4.4 million new blog posts are published per day across all platforms.

The handle of my favorite mug broke recently. It was a birthday gift that had my face printed on it. Instead of throwing it in the trash, it sits on my work table playing another role entirely - a lovely pen holder. This way, I still get to enjoy my precious mug for a while longer.

What are you doing with your old or underperforming blogs?

Search engine result pages are so full of content that a blog post that ranked high last month may not rank tomorrow.

(Source: Sprout Social)

When last did you create shareable content?

How can you make your once great blogs rank again?

This comprehensive guide has all the necessary content marketing tips you need to get value out of your underperforming blogs

It covers:

  • A brief introduction to underperforming blogs
  • How do you determine which blog posts need updating?
  • 10 Content marketing tips on how to update old blog posts and content-centric websites
  • How long will it take before you see results after updating your underperforming blogs?
  • 3 Mistakes to avoid when updating old content

Alright. Let’s get started!

An Introduction to Underperforming Blogs

Underperforming blogs are contents that aren’t performing as well as expected. These blogs might have once attracted lots of organic traffic or never attracted any.

According to Shonavee Simpson-Anderson, SEO strategist at Firewire Digital, “Old content that is underperforming are SEO opportunities in waiting.”

“If you want to get some quick wins under your belt, updating or reviewing old content is the perfect opportunity for this, because it’s much easier and quicker to improve the rankings of pages that are already indexed by search engines, than it is to get new content indexed and ranking.”

How can you differentiate between old and underperforming content?

Old blogs, according to Tom Bangay, director of content at Juro, are “posts you published ages ago, have pretty much forgotten about and aren't monitoring for traffic; while underperforming posts are those posts you worked hard at and thought you got right, but aren't attracting traffic.”

How Do You Determine Which Blog Posts Need Updating?

“The easiest way to determine which blog posts need updating”, according to Tim Clarke, director of sales at SEOBlog, “is through their rankings and traffic. Use Google Analytics and Google Search Console in checking for the data.”

“Here is how you check for rankings and traffic using Google Analytics and Google Search Console:

  • “On the Google Analytics account, click Behavior → Site Content → All Pages. You'll see the top 10 viewed pages for the timeframe you set.”

  • “If you want to check the page visits, click Behavior → Site Content → Landing Pages.”

  • “To check organic traffic, use Google Search Console's Performance page. Click Performance → Search Results → scroll down to QUERIES table → click PAGES.”

“Google Analytics and Google Search Console can help you determine which blog posts are underperforming because of content issues and which you'll be updating. This strategy will help you save time to rewrite and repeat efforts that took more time and energy.”

10 Content Marketing Tips on How to Update Old Blog Posts and Content-Centric Websites

“Before we go and update posts, we gather as much data as possible. Sometimes you update a post because it is popular but not evergreen, other times it isn't performing and requires rethinking the strategy around the post,” says Erin Payne, SEO & Content Specialist at Iterate agency.

“If the data shows a blog isn't seeing click through, the issue may be with the title. This is where A/B tests of varying titles with different keywords or arrangements can help. “

Shane Pollard, CTO of Be Media, adds that “before updating any old content, take a look inside Google Analytics top pages to know how much traffic the pages are getting and what the user experience is for the pages you are looking at updating.”

“Look at these metrics inside Google Analytics:

  • Pageviews
  • Average time on page
  • Bounce rate 
  • Exit
  • Page value

(Source: Databox)

“In another tab on the browser, open up Semrush and run your website through the organic research tool. When that loads up, look at the top pages feature to see a list of your top pages.”

“In Semrush, look at these metrics:

  • Traffic
  • Traffic %
  • Keywords”

But how do content marketing experts update old blog posts and resuscitate the underperforming ones?

To resuscitate underperforming posts, Tom of Juro suggests you first “be honest and read it with a fresh pair of eyes. Is the content good? Google's algorithm is complex but above all, it's looking for good content that matches the searcher's intent.”

When you create shareable content and notice it is still good, here are 10 key content writing tips to get it to rank higher:

1. Check for ‘Keyword Cannibalization’

When you discover blogs that are cannibalizing your page or making your content look plagiarised, Tom  further opines that you “incorporate and redirect competing blogs that might be cannibalizing it.”

(Source: UniKLLibrary)

2. Optimize the Page's Content for a Topic the Page has Started Ranking For

Chintan, a content marketer at elitecontentmarketer.com, believes that “it often happens that an article not written with a keyword in mind initially can rank for some keywords, but its content is not optimized for them. Or even if you wrote with a certain topic in mind, Google doesn't recognize the page for your chosen keywords.”

“In such cases, find out the keywords it's actually ranking for through your Search Console reports (or use an SEO tool like Ahrefs for the same). Then update the content trying to satisfy the intent for the new "main keyword" (with the highest search volume) as comprehensively and efficiently as possible.”

“While rewriting, also try to sprinkle as many other related long-tail and related keywords the article is already ranking for because Google already considers the page relevant for these terms. Don't go overboard and sacrifice readability here for the sake of keywords.” 

3. Delete the Old Blog Post and Redirect its URL to a Related Article

Also, Chintan adds that “as old pages might have existing authority through links from external websites, you don't want to delete the page and lose out on the "link juice" your website gets from it. Consider setting up a 301 redirect to another blog post (or page) related to the subject of the original article.”

“Such redirects will strengthen the new page's authority. If you don't have a relevant page to redirect to, then you can also redirect it to your homepage — which is not an ideal user experience but will do the job of retaining link juice.”

“Even if the blog post doesn't have any incoming links, it would be a good idea to set up a redirect to your homepage for avoiding users bumping into 404 errors accidentally."

4. Use SERPs

Google SERP, according to Akinduyo Eniola, content marketer and blogger at Guruscoach, “is another source of inspiration. On the SERP, look at Google's suggestions. Examine the “People also ask” and “Related Searches” sections to identify areas for improvement in your piece.”

“Your competitors can be a source of new ideas as well. Everyone wants to create the best content possible on a given topic, so you can bet your competitors have built on yours to improve theirs. You should also use their piece as inspiration for your next content update.”

(Source: Buffer)

“However, you should be able to tell the difference between gaps that require new content and those that simply require a patch into existing content. Sometimes, the new content opportunities (queries) you discover may yield a better result if you create an entirely new article to answer that query rather than updating an old one.”

“So, look at the SERPs for each query your content is already appearing for, as well as the search volume, to determine whether it is worthwhile to create a new piece for it.”

(Source: Plagiarismsearch)

5. Improve Readability

According to Shonavee of Firewire Digital, you can also “create a story or logical flow of information with digestible chunks of information for better readability and to target SERP features.”

6. Match Searcher Intent

The Chief Marketing Officer at Better Proposals, Petra Odak, says “if we’re underperforming, there’s a good chance that the main search intent changed and that the people searching for this term expect to see something different than what we wrote.”

“We then investigate why a dip in rankings happened and how to make our post climb back to the top of the rankings. We may decide to do one or all of the following:”

  • “Adding new content

  • Refreshing older content, with new images, sources, links, post structure

  • Adding FAQs

  • Building additional internal and external links

Depending on the cause of the dip in rankings, we’ll choose the appropriate strategy for climbing back up.”

Marketing Consultant, Bethan Vincent,  gives a generalized, but good example from the pandemic. “Let's say you're a medical company specializing in providing PPE. Your old articles on "how to wear a mask safely" may be targeted at healthcare professionals, as this was your main market pre-COVID-19.”

“However over the past year the audience has shifted to include the general public who may now also be typing in "how to wear a mask safely" - but the intent behind the query has changed, as they are looking for advice that includes non-medical contexts.”

“This understanding could prompt you to update the article to include a section on "how to wear a mask safely on public transport" which is aligned to the change in user and intent.”

To do this, Tom Bangay chips in that you can “adjust the H1 and H2s/3s.” In addition to helping you to “match searcher intent better, you will align more closely with those pages with the top rankings.”

7. Check Traffic Figures

Nelson Jordan, Head of Marketing at Obodo, said the first steps is to “identify which blog posts used to be performing well, but no longer bring in as much traffic by using Google Search Console and Google Analytics to see traffic figures, and Ahrefs to look at which pages are ranking for which terms. The 'compare date range' feature is great for this.”

8. Optimize Each Page for the Main Keywords

Nelson added that the use of “ClearScope to optimize each page for the main keyword gives additional keywords needed to make sure they are included in the text, and suggestions for headlines and meta descriptions.”

9. Make a Singular Page to Answer a Specific Query

Joe Sinkwitz of Intellifluence points out that “except for somewhat rare exceptions, the goal is to have a singular page that answers a specific query as an authoritative source – we want to avoid confusion and keyword cannibalization. We want to collapse anything out of the index that doesn’t have at least the potential to become the best authoritative source on a query.”

“If a page is the best result from the domain for a specific query, can it be improved with recent data to make it more authoritative? Are there any videos that make sense to embed? More data to explain?” 

“Improve only as a means to make it the most definitive page possible.”

“If no other page is good from the domain for a specific query, the page can have its content combined with another page. 301 the weakest page into the strongest and update all navigational references. Improve the combined piece with video and data tables as needed.”

10. Promote on Social Media

According to Nelson Jordan, another step is to “promote the articles using social media and by posting in relevant forums. This helps to give Google additional signals that the articles should be shown for these keywords.”

You can then “track progress over a three-month period to see how these changes have affected ranking, and then make improvements based on those results.”

How Long Will It Take Before You See Results After Updating your Underperforming Blogs?

As Brendan Hufford of SEO for the Rest of Us puts it, “seeing gains from updating that content can take 24 hours or it can take 12 months.” According to him, “it really depends on these things:

  • What the roadblock is
  • How old the website is
  • How many backlinks the  page/overall website has”

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Updating Old Content

Liam Carnahan of Inkwell Content lists 3 mistakes to avoid when you want to update old blog posts:

1. Failure to Change Publishing Data After Reuploading

“One of the biggest mistakes you can make when updating content is to fail to change the publish date once you reupload. You can pull all the hard work into updating the blog with fresh content, but if you fail to change the date, you're not going to get the SEO returns you deserve."

2. Adding Zero Value to Updated Content

“When you're updating an old piece of content, you need to be focused on adding value to that article. Adding fluff just so you can update a piece of content won't cut it. Ask yourself - what can I add to this piece of content to make it fresh and more useful than ever before?”

3. Not Planning Ahead

“To truly master the art of updating old content, you need to plan ahead. While you want the first edition of an article to be well-rounded and thorough, it's not a bad idea to leave some wiggle room for you to update the content piece later on.”

Let’s Draw the Curtains Here!

If the idea of digging through your website and blogs for old or underperforming content feels time consuming and doesn’t appeal to you, you can let our organic SEO agency help you.

We at FlyingVGroup are eager to help you with content marketing strategy, consulting, and execution that will grow your traffic and conversions. Give us a call!


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Robb Fahrion
Robb Fahrion, Partner
Flying V Group