Historical blog optimization: What I learned at INBOUND 2015

importance of historical blog optimizationRecently, the management team at AGENCY H Inbound got to spend a week in Boston learning from some of the top minds in our industry at HubSpot’s annual INBOUND conference. To say it was an incredible event would be an understatement. With more than 14,000 attendees and upwards of 170 sessions to choose from, INBOUND 2015 was a truly valuable experience for the entire team. And while I loved hearing from inspiring speakers like Brene Brown and Chelsea Clinton, my goal was to soak up as much wisdom and industry insight as I could about content marketing.

One of the most valuable sessions for me was Optimizing the Past by HubSpot’s Pamela Vaughan. I began putting Vaughan’s historical blog optimization strategies into practice almost immediately after returning to the office. Her findings from an in-depth blog analysis for HubSpot were pretty interesting: 76% of their monthly blog views came from old blogs, and 92% of their blog leads came from old posts. Also, 46% of their monthly blog leads came from just 30 of those old blog posts. These key findings led to 2 new objectives for HubSpot’s blog team:

  1. Optimize high-traffic posts for conversion
  2. Optimize high-converting posts for search

In other words, get more out of the content they already had.

At AGENCY H, we’re always looking at different ways to use our top-performing content. Do we have a series of related blogs we can turn into an ebook? Do we have a popular blog that would make a good infographic? But updating these older posts and optimizing them for conversion wasn’t a regular part of our strategy. It makes perfect sense, though: For our own website as well as for most of our clients, we consistently see the same blogs driving the majority of website traffic month after month. Instead of devoting our resources to cranking out new content all the time, what can we do to get more traction out of our existing content?

How to optimize historical content for conversion

Just because your posts are generating traffic, that doesn’t mean they’re delivering leads. To drive users to act, it’s important to use language on your page that aligns with user intent. In other words, use the same language that led your site visitors to the page in the first place.

  1. Identify your blogs that are getting the most traffic.
  2. Conduct further research to determine the traffic sources for these blogs and the keywords they are ranking for. These are the keywords you will use to optimize the post.
  3. Create new calls-to-action (CTAs) that align with these keywords. It’s okay if the CTAs point to an existing relevant landing page, but if you don’t have a relevant offer to use, make a list of offers you need to create and prioritize them so you can start working them into your campaign strategy.
  4. Add a text-based, in-line CTA within the post’s introduction.
  5. Add a slide-in CTA in the middle of the post.
  6. Add a custom CTA at the end of the post.

To measure your success, calculate and record the post’s conversion rate (leads divided by views, converted into a percentage) before and after your changes. If you don’t see a change in the conversion rate, or if the conversion rate decreases, try re-optimizing the post.

How to optimize historical content for search

Content that converts well but doesn’t generate a lot of traffic presents a different challenge. These posts will need to be updated to improve their position on search engine results pages (SERPs).

  1. Identify posts worth updating. These should be posts that have a good conversion rate or the potential for one, that rank okay for organic search but could rank better, and that are at least six to 12 months old. The content may also be outdated or may not be as comprehensive as it could be.
  2. Determine which keywords the post already ranks for.
  3. Update the content for accuracy, freshness, and comprehension. If the post is completely out of date, you may need to rewrite it. Add more content where possible, swap out your examples and images, and increase the overall quality of the post.
  4. Optimize the post for the keywords you identified above. Include your target keywords in page titles, headers, and body content. Add internal links that direct to other relevant content.
  5. Republish the blog. Update the date, but keep the URL the same so social proof and SEO equity are not negatively affected. Add an editorial note at the bottom stating the original post date and noting that the post has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehension.

To measure your success, record the number of organic views for s 30-day window prior to your post updates, then wait 30 days for the impact of your changes to take affect. Wait another 30 days to gather data before measuring organic traffic again.

It’s important to note that historical blog optimization isn’t for everyone. You should already be generating significant traffic from organic search and have a sizeable repository of content that you can optimize. Also, don’t stop generating new content in order to focus on optimizing old content. You should always be updating and adding to your site content to improve your search engine rankings. And, all that new content will someday be old content that you can refresh and re-optimize.

Need help with content creation, search engine optimization, or lead conversion? Contact AGENCY H Inbound to find out how inbound marketing can help you get the results you want!