Edit Old Blog Posts to Boost Search Engine Optimization and Traffic

by John Soares on April 4, 2011

In addition to ProductiveWriters.com, I also write the Writing College Textbook Supplements blog, which is devoted to my specific freelance writing specialty. I started the blog back in April of 2009, right after I released the first edition my e-book Writing College Textbook Supplements: The Definitive Guide to Winning High-Paying Assignments in the College Textbook Publishing Market. (And it does pay quite well. I typically make $50-$100 per hour. See my recent post about the new second edition.)

But I was a total newbie at WordPress then, and I was still early in my blogger learning curve. So I recently took a couple of hours and went through all my old posts, rewriting many. Here’s what I did.

Edited the Blog Posts for Appearance

My first theme had lots of problems, so I had to half-ass a lot of things. Plus I didn’t really know what I was  doing with WordPress and some of the posts were on the ugly side.

So I cleaned things up and made all the posts consistent in appearance.

Edited the Blog Posts for Style

I actually didn’t do too much with this, but I lightly edited some passages.

Edited the Blog Posts for Search Engine Optimization with Thesis

I bought the Thesis premium WordPress theme developer’s license and applied it to the Writing College Textbook Supplements blog. (I really like Thesis. My web guy also used it for this blog and my Northern California Hiking Trails blog.)

One of the many advantages of Thesis is its strong ability to optimize blog posts for search engines. So, for the posts that I thought had a significant chance of being search-engine worthy, I…

1. Reduced the number of post tags/meta keywords for each post to between 3 and 5 of the terms I think are a combination of the most relevant and most likely to put me on page 1 of Google.

2. Added a custom meta description.

3. Added a custom title tag.

4. Add H2 and H3 heads with keywords, where appropriate.

5. Cross-linked posts. This was a biggie. It’s not too hard to remember relevant old posts when I’m writing a new post, but a lot of those old posts should have links to the newer posts. And that I did.

The Outcome

My traffic at the site has doubled, and that includes a doubling of visitors who found me through search engines. I’m also selling a lot more e-books, in part because of recent improvements to the sales page, but also just because of the increased traffic. And, importantly, I’m getting more clients who find me through searches.

And You?

What do you think of my process? Anything else I should do with old posts? Do you need to polish your old posts?

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    { 38 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Billy Kirsch April 4, 2011 at 7:12 AM

    Twitter: @billykirsch

    Thanks for a great summary John. I’m just beginning to become more intentional about optimizing my blog posts. Becoming aware of meta tags is so important – one has to understand what those are first!
    Billy Kirsch recently posted…Internet Cookies- Real Cookies and Marketing

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    2 John Soares April 4, 2011 at 7:51 AM

    Billy, I’m no expert at SEO, but I decided early on that I needed to be a talented amateur. I think everyone who’s serious about promoting their business and products on the Internet needs to be familiar with the basics.
    John Soares recently posted…Selling E-Books with E-Junkie- My Experience

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    3 Billy Kirsch April 4, 2011 at 7:54 AM

    Twitter: @billykirsch

    I couldn’t agree more John. In fact, I like that term; I want to aspire to become a talented amateur. I’ll make a point of staying in touch!
    Billy Kirsch recently posted…Create A Culture of Listening

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    4 John Soares April 4, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    Please do stay in touch. I just followed you on Twitter and see that you are in the music business. My brother and his wife and son have a jazz band in Redding, California and play there frequently.
    John Soares recently posted…Just Released — The Second Edition of My Writing College Textbook Supplements E-Book

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    5 Pinar Tarhan July 4, 2011 at 6:34 AM

    Twitter: @zoeyclark

    They have a jazz band? It is so cool :) I have been dancing Lindy Hop since October, and it is danced to swing, jazz and blues.
    Pinar Tarhan recently posted…9 Awesome (Free & Paid) Places to Find Market Guidelines

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    6 John Soares July 5, 2011 at 5:42 AM

    My partner Stephanie and I are finally getting serious about learning some real dance moves, likely swing.
    John Soares recently posted…8 Ways to Increase the Joy of Writing

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    7 Pinar Tarhan July 6, 2011 at 1:02 AM

    Twitter: @zoeyclark

    I can promise you- any swing-related dance is as fun as it looks in the movies:)
    Pinar Tarhan recently posted…9 Awesome (Free & Paid) Places to Find Market Guidelines

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    8 Dave Doolin April 4, 2011 at 9:41 PM

    Twitter: @doolin

    Search Engine Friendly!

    Reply

    9 Delena Silverfox April 5, 2011 at 3:28 AM

    Twitter: @delenasilverfox

    “Talented amateur.” I love that phrase. I think I’m going to borrow it in conversations. =)

    It never fails to amaze me how even the basics can be so powerful. I mean, they’re the basics for a reason, but so much emphasis is given to beefing up the basics, getting a bit fancier and squeezing a few more visitors from “new” or “advanced” methods.

    But what always amuses me is that sometimes all you really need is just to revisit the oldies but goldies.

    Delena
    Delena Silverfox recently posted…epc Belfast

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    10 John Soares April 5, 2011 at 7:30 AM

    Glad you like “talented amateur” Delena!

    Everyone who has a website wants to get more traffic. We need to put our efforts into the tasks that will give us the highest return on the investment of our time, and I think reworking blog posts meets that criterion for most of us.
    John Soares recently posted…The History of Social Networking — Plus My Story

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    11 Franticmommy April 5, 2011 at 4:31 AM

    Twitter: @franticmommy

    Great tips John! I never thought about reworking old posts to be more consistent with the new. How I blogged 4 years ago is TOTALLY different that how I blog/write now. I would love to rework them and be proud instead of shoving then “to the back of closet” like bad 80′s fashion ;) Thanks for the inspiration!
    Franticmommy recently posted…Top Ten Signs Youre Past The Baby Fever Stage

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    12 John Soares April 5, 2011 at 7:26 AM

    By reworking the posts with your current level of knowledge you can significantly increase your traffic. Linking to later relevant posts especially helps.

    And good for you, Becky, for keeping a blog going for 4 years.
    John Soares recently posted…Top Time Management Techniques for Freelance Writers

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    13 Eric Soares April 5, 2011 at 7:25 AM

    Clever tips for SEO, John. Thanks a bunch. Because of your tutelage, I do some of these things you suggest, but editing and rewriting old posts is a whole new ballgame for me.

    Reply

    14 John Soares April 5, 2011 at 7:28 AM

    For you, Eric, it would be most helpful to look at your old posts and make links to your newer posts. You’ve already done a good job with keywords, descriptions, etc.
    John Soares recently posted…How to Succeed at Co-Authoring

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    15 Fred Leo April 5, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    Twitter: @solobizcoach

    Great tips John. One thing that has worked well for me is monitoring the keywords my article gets ranked for, and then editing the article to focus a little more on that keyword. This usually allows me to move up a few spots on the search engine results pages.
    Fred Leo recently posted…How I Made Over 100-000 with Adsense

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    16 John Soares April 5, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    Really good tip Fred. I’m sure you’re careful about this, but folks need to be sure they don’t overuse a keyword.
    John Soares recently posted…Just Released — The Second Edition of My Writing College Textbook Supplements E-Book

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    17 Anne Waymn April 5, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    Yep, great series of tips… and every now and again there are major changes needed… am moving to a virtual server (!) working up new designs in Genesis which my wp guru Gary Jones (http://garyjones.co.uk/) says is what I need now… Thesis has been good to me… trust Gary and it’s both exciting and scary.

    Reply

    18 John Soares April 5, 2011 at 6:53 PM

    I hope you have smooth sailing in the migration to your virtual server Anne.

    And I’m not an expert on the premium themes. Genesis is likely very good, and I know that other folks swear by yet other premium themes.
    John Soares recently posted…Selling E-Books with E-Junkie- My Experience

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    19 Anne Waymn April 6, 2011 at 6:38 AM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    Thanks John. I’m certainly no expert either and left to my own devices probably wouldn’t be making the move either to Genesis or to a virtual server… it’s about this expert I trust ;)

    Reply

    20 John Soares April 6, 2011 at 7:10 AM

    Anne, I also go with the experts when it comes to blog design and hosting.
    John Soares recently posted…Top Time Management Techniques for Freelance Writers

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    21 Jane | Find All Answers April 6, 2011 at 8:56 AM

    Twitter: @problogsuccess

    Hi Jon,

    I completely agree with you and I have taken the same path so far with my blogging journey. After I bought Thesis theme, I really went back and edited old posts for the sake of SEO.I added custom title tag for each post, did keyword optimization and a custom description.

    That really made a lot of difference. I can see the results from Google Analytics.

    Cheers,
    Jane.
    Jane | Find All Answers recently posted…How I Managed To Get My Posts Featured On A-List Blogs

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    22 John Soares April 6, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    Jane, thanks for sharing your success story — and for backing me up!

    I also use Google Analytics, and as you point out, it will show any changes in search engine results for a given post.
    John Soares recently posted…How to Hold Highly Effective Meetings

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    23 Christina Crowe April 7, 2011 at 6:30 AM

    Twitter: @CashCampfire

    Hey John,

    I did this once before, but it hadn’t occurred to me to do it now, now that I have over 6 months of more writing on my belt. What a great idea! I especially like your suggestion to link to newer posts – this alone would probably make a huge difference on the average time a search engine visitor would spend on my site.

    I also purchased Darren Rowse’s ebook several months ago, though I haven’t finished it yet (honestly, I have no clue why – I guess it slipped my mind as time went on). After reading this, I’m definitely going to pick up from where I left off. By the way, how far into it are you?

    Also, how long did you wait until you noticed the boost in traffic (how long did it take for the boost to occur)?

    Thanks for the suggestions!

    Christina
    Christina Crowe recently posted…Goals and Achievements – April 2011

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    24 John Soares April 7, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    Christina, I’ve read through all of Darren’s 31 Days e-book, but I focused on the things I wasn’t already doing or that I could do better.

    The traffic boost at the Writing College Textbook Supplements blog took 3-4 weeks to kick in.
    John Soares recently posted…How to Minimize Eye-Strain from Computer Use

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    25 John Soares April 7, 2011 at 7:49 AM

    Another thing I do — as I write a new post, I make either a written or mental list of old posts that should link to the new post. I also look through my archives to refresh my memory.
    John Soares recently posted…Just Released — The Second Edition of My Writing College Textbook Supplements E-Book

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    26 Tom Mangan April 7, 2011 at 8:00 AM

    Twitter: @tommangan

    I did the same thing with a sub-blog I created and ran for a few months a couple years ago. Also linked to the content from my menu bar; traffic’s up 50 percent.
    Tom Mangan recently posted…Cook’s Wall revisited

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    27 John Soares April 10, 2011 at 7:33 AM

    Tom, thanks for sharing supporting evidence.
    John Soares recently posted…Top Time Management Techniques for Freelance Writers

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    28 Charleen Larson April 7, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Twitter: @bestof5rr

    John, thanks for the reminder to link old posts forward. I make a point of polishing one old nugget a day so the task doesn’t get overwhelming.
    Charleen Larson recently posted…Oodles of doodles

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    29 John Soares April 10, 2011 at 7:36 AM

    Charleen, that’s one way to do it. I usually either do it as I’m writing a new post, or I do a bunch at once. I try to go through all three of my blogs once every month or two and look for ways to enhance the old posts for SEO, or give content updates as needed.
    John Soares recently posted…Selling E-Books with E-Junkie- My Experience

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    30 Nancy Bartlett April 16, 2011 at 8:31 AM

    Twitter: @TidaLife

    Thanks for this post. I’ve started doing some linking from new posts back to old at my waterfront living blog http://www.tidallife, but had never thought of doing it the other way around. There’s just so much to think about in blogging.

    While it’s going to be a big project to go back through all those posts I can see it will be well worth it.

    Nancy
    Nancy Bartlett recently posted…The light dawns- If the pen is any indicator- the book isn’t going away completely

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    31 Mitch Mitchell April 25, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    I started doing this same type of thing awhile ago because once I found my stride and style I realized my earlier posts didn’t quite fit the model anymore. I didn’t do it for all of them but for a lot of them, and my traffic did improve. Can’t say anything else improved, but I take what I can get. lol
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…Why It’s Hard To Trust People

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    32 John Soares April 26, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    Mitch, I also just focused on the most important posts. I used traffic numbers from Google Analytics to help me determine those, and then I also chose posts that I wanted to do better in Google.
    John Soares recently posted…Time Management and Television- The Real Costs of Watching TV

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    33 Shakirah Dawud May 13, 2011 at 10:33 AM

    Twitter: @shakirahdawud

    The results you found are staggering! I’ll have go back and see if there’s anything I missed. And I’m curious, because I’ve seen Thesis (a lot), but never realized it had an SEO appeal. What does it have that other blogs don’t in that area?
    Shakirah Dawud recently posted…A Public DM- Can I Talk To You In Private

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    34 John Soares May 15, 2011 at 7:12 AM

    The SEO capabilities of Thesis are one of its main attractions. I’m not an expert on blog design, but people who do know a lot about these things point out SEO as a top quality of Thesis.
    John Soares recently posted…Freelance Writer’s Guide to Successful Interviews

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    35 Pinar Tarhan July 4, 2011 at 6:30 AM

    Twitter: @zoeyclark

    I link to my related older posts a lot. In addition to adding links to the appropriate anchor texts, I also add a “Also on….” section to the end of my articles, so my readers can access all of the articles on a particular subject all at once.

    But of course when I do some link-checking, I realize too that some of the posts were in fact half-assed, due to my being a newbie in the time. Some were not optimized, wrong anchor texts were chosen, or the blog article needs a redesign… I do infact have a lot of posts to reboost, so I try to do a couple of posts at a time. Otherwise, I could be on the blog for weeks and not be able to finish:D
    Pinar Tarhan recently posted…9 Awesome (Free & Paid) Places to Find Market Guidelines

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    36 John Soares February 23, 2013 at 6:32 AM

    Smart moves Pinar. I go through my posts every few months and do more cross-linking. I also use the related posts plugin for Wordpress.
    John Soares recently posted…50 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block and Procrastination: A Free Special Report

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    37 Marketing January 31, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    Twitter: @marketing91

    You know. I will go a step ahead and admit something shameful. In the initial days of blogging when i was an amateur, i actually did several copyright infringements and copied text from Marketing books to paste it in my blog and get search engine traffic. I slowly realised it wasnt worth it. Out of 500 posts written, the ones that get traffic are the ones i have written myself (around 200). The solution – its been 3 months and i have been rewriting all my posts just so that i can be original and i can be more seo optimized. Else these old blog posts were bringing down boh – my credibility as an author as well as my search engine rankings. Hoping that these changes i am doing have a long term positive effect on my blog.

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    38 Rafaqat February 17, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    Twitter: @technotrait

    I have also started to rewrite the old blog posts and results are quite satisfactory and seo friendly…because it will not only improve the quality of blog posts that were low in quality and may be not search friendly.This practice will also help to keep away your domain from the affect of Google Panda update penalty.
    Rafaqat recently posted…Rewrite old Blog Posts to make them SEO Friendly

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