How to Increase Traffic to Your Blog by Optimizing Older Posts

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How to Increase Traffic to Your Blog
Image from Flickr by szeke

Want to know how to increase traffic to your blog – specifically to your older blog posts? Does the following statement sound like something you could say?

I have a blog with a ton of old content on it that never seems to get viewed anymore. When I first published many of these posts, the reaction was great. I got a whole bunch of comments and engagement from readers and fellow bloggers. After just a few short weeks, or even days, the number of page views for these posts dropped dramatically to almost zero. It’s a little bit frustrating because I spent so much time writing these articles. Some of them are really great and are the type of content that could benefit readers for years to come. I wish there was an easy way to attract new readers to my blog and back to some of my older articles.

There definitely are several different ways. Since this is a passive income blog (I’m assuming you want to make income with your blog), I’m going to focus on what you can do to your blog posts just one time in order to attract and keep traffic flowing to them in a passive manner.

How to Increase Traffic to Your Blog by Optimization

One of the best ways to get new targeted traffic to one of your blog posts is by simply optimizing it for words or phrases that people are searching for in the search engines. This is known as search engine optimization (SEO). Many bloggers completely ignore this strategy for one or more of several different reasons or myths. Do any of these sound like you?

  • SEO is too complicated and I don’t want to learn how to do it
  • SEO seems scammy and I would rather keep it natural and play by the rules
  • I don’t want to take the extra time to implement SEO on all of my blog posts
  • my traffic is fine without doing SEO, so I have no use for it
  • SEO is for geeks, and I’m just an average Joe with a blog

Speaking of average Joe’s, I am going to feature an actual “Average Joe” in this post. Joe has a blog called The Free Financial Advisor and he has admitted that SEO has been a struggle for him. I’m going to help Joe by showing him how he can re-optimize one of his existing (older) posts in order to drive organic search traffic to it. If he wants to, he can use this same technique on several of his older posts. Not to mention, these same strategies can also be used going forward on many of the new posts he writes. Hopefully you, the readers, will also benefit from what I am about to teach Joe.

The concept is fairly simple and goes a little something like this… Browse through your older posts and find timeless or evergreen content that would be relevant for readers for years to come. Conduct some simple keyword research around the topic of the post. Find a specific keyword to target that gets at least a few hundred searches per month, but should be easy for you to rank for in the top 10 in Google. After you have found that golden keyword, insert it into your post in a search engine optimized manner. Now sit back and wait for Google to notice your changes and start ranking your post in their search results. Don’t worry. I’m about to use an example from Joe’s site and show you each of these steps in great detail.

Note: A slightly more advanced method is to find keywords that your site is already ranking for and re-optimize (or better optimize) your post(s) with those keywords. I explain exactly how to do this method in my “…What Keywords Do I Rank For?…” post.

Finding a Blog Post to Optimize

In my e-mail conversations with Joe before I started writing this post, I asked him to suggest an evergreen-type post from The Free Financial Advisor that might benefit his readers well into the future. He suggested a somewhat recent post about How Colors Affect Your Investment Decisions. I started doing some keyword research on the post and came up completely empty-handed. Literally nobody is searching for any relevant keywords that had anything at all to do with this subject. The post was good though and I do believe that future visitors to The Free Financial Advisor would benefit from reading it. The next best ways to drive traffic back to this post that I suggest would be to link back to it from newer posts and/or possibly add it to one of you autoresponder newsletters to send future subscribers back to.

So, with that post out of the question for this example, I took it upon myself to find a good post to optimize from Joe’s blog. I came across a post titled, College Savings Simplified: The Best Places to Save Money For Education. I did the keyword research and quickly found a great keyword that fits this topic perfectly!

Keyword Research for Optimizing Blog Posts

Doing proper and effective keyword research is by far the most important step of this entire process. I cannot stress this point enough. For example, I could have showed Joe how to optimize the original post he sent me for keywords that have something to do with the way colors affect investment decisions. The problem being that these keywords get almost no searches in Google (or any other search engine) per month. A previous post I wrote explains in great detail why optimizing for a bad keyword would be a huge waste of time.

Finding a good keyword can be easy or difficult, depending on how you do your keyword research. I’m not going to go into great detail about that here. I’ve already done this in one of my first epic posts on this site about how I previously did and how I currently do keyword research. That post basically tells you that I previously only used the free Google Adwords Keyword Tool (the difficult way). It was great for finding the number of searches per month that keywords get, but very difficult for a beginner like me to determine how easily I would be able to rank for that keyword. The process is manual and you really have to know what you are doing.

I now use Long Tail Pro -the Platinum version (affiliate link) for all of my keyword research. This is a paid tool that has allowed me to conduct keyword research much more quickly and far more effectively. There are other paid keyword research tools that could get the job done effectively as well. One of the best that was very popular for several years is Market Samurai. After trying both of these tools, here is why I chose to purchase Long Tail Pro over Market Samurai.

Here is how I used the Platinum version of Long Tail Pro to do keyword research for Joe’s post. I typed in three seed keywords: saving for college, college savings and college savings investment. I chose Exact for the match type and applied a filter to view only results that get at least 200 local (U.S.) searches.
Long Tail Pro campaign settings for search

I hit the Generate Keywords button and came up with 257 results. I started scanning the results and hitting the Calculate button in the KC column (keyword competitiveness) for the keywords that intrigued me. To understand how this KC feature works for Long Tail Platinum owners, please read one of the keyword research posts I linked to above. Basically, the lower the number the easier it will be to rank for.

Long Tail Pro Keyword Results
Click on image to enlarge

The golden keyword I found for Joe’s blog post is college funding solutions, with 390 local searches per month and an average KC score of only 26!

I now have several months of experience using Long Tail Platinum and optimizing posts for certain keywords. Using my on-page SEO tactics only, I have found that it is usually pretty easy to rank on the first page of Google for keywords that have a KC score under 30 if posted on a site that already has some domain authority. Keywords with a KC score in the low 20’s are ideal for ranking a single blog post.

By clicking on the keyword itself within Long Tail Pro, I am able to take a look at the current top 10 results in Google. Google’s results are constantly changing. As you can see, the average KC score actually dropped to 25 from the time I took the screenshot above to the time I took the screenshot below (within a couple of days timeframe).

Long Tail Pro Competitor Analysis
Click on image to enlarge

Analyzing the current top 10 results in Google, we see that the top 4 results have KC scores in the 30’s. Joe might not be able to beat these with just a single blog post and some simple on-page optimization. He should be able to pretty easily crack the top 5 though! And who knows, if he gets some quality links pointing to his post he might even be able to beat out some of those sites currently in the top 4.

Insert Keyword Using Best SEO Practices for Blogging

Now that we have our keyword, college funding solutions, we need to insert it into the older post by using best SEO practices for blogging. This tutorial is geared towards WordPress users. I use WordPress for most of my sites and I happen to know that The Free Financial Advisor is a WordPress site also. If you use a platform other than WordPress, you may have to modify these strategies a little bit, but you should be able to basically do the same thing and get the same results.

If you’re not using it already, the first step is to install a FREE WordPress plugin called – WordPress SEO by Yoast. This awesome resource is an absolute MUST HAVE if you care about SEO at all on your site. And you can’t beat the price – FREE! You can easily find it by simply searching the Plugins from your WordPress dashboard or you can download it from the link above and install it manually. Check out some of the screenshots and descriptions of this plugin to see why it is vital to have for SEO purposes. The real-time Snippet Preview and keyword location and count tracking are just a couple of my favorite features. Not to mention that the plugin has a built-in XML sitemap generator – so you no longer need a separate plugin for that.

Now that we have our SEO plugin installed, we need to insert our golden keyword into our post using best SEO practices. Using our example from Joe’s site, we’ll need him to insert the keyword – college funding solutions – into the following places:

  • In the post title – College Funding Solutions: The Best Places to Save Money for Education
  • In the URL – http://thefreefinancialadvisor.com/college-funding-solutions/ see important guidelines below for changing the URL of an existing (older) post
  • In the META description for the post – easily edit within WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin
  • In the first sentence of the first paragraph – (highlight it in bold here)
  • In at least one sub-heading with an H2 tag (Heading 2)
  • In 1% or less of the content. (If the post is 700 words, the keyword should be used less than 7 times total) – more than 1% is considered “keyword stuffing,” and you could get penalized by Google
  • Somewhere in the last paragraph – (again, highlight in bold)
  • In the ALT tag of an image on the post (I usually make this the same as the image title)
  • Add the exact keyword (phrase) as a Tag in WordPress

Inserting a new keyword into all of these places on an existing post may take a little bit of creativity. You might have to do some light editing on some of your content to make it fit and sound natural. After you complete this step, hit the Update button in WordPress (hit Save Draft if you are using this method on a New Post) and then look at your WordPress SEO by Yoast box to make sure you’ve done everything right. Click on the Page Analysis tab to see even more detail about your post and how well it is optimized.

In Joe’s example, he should have college funding solutions set as his focus keyword. Everything will be lit up in green if the SEO components are properly in place for that keyword. If anything is red, he will know that he needs to fix that area. Here he will also see exactly how many times he used the keyword within the content. Make sure that number is 1% or less than the total word count for the post.

Important: Guidelines for Changing the URL of an Existing Post

There is a good chance that the older post you are making changes to already has certain rankings and external links pointing to it. Simply changing the URL won’t change your pages stats or rankings, but it will create broken links for other sites that may have linked to your article. You don’t want this to happen. Broken links on other sites caused by something that happens on your site is bad – for both parties involved. Plus, if you change the URL, you will now have zero links pointing to this post. It won’t be long before it loses all of it’s rankings. So how can you get your golden keyword in the URL without creating broken links or affecting your page rankings?

Let me show you in a step-by-step kind of way:

Step 1 – Open up a new window and create a brand new post in WordPress on the same site as the URL you are changing. It doesn’t matter how you Title this post. Just use something to remind yourself what it is so you don’t accidently delete it later. For Joe’s example I would suggest something like, Redirect for College Funding Solutions.

Step 2 – Manually change the permalink on this new post to the exact same permalink on the old post. See screenshot below for an example.

Redirect post for old URL to new URL
Note: I did this example within matt76allen.wpengine.com. Joe’s URL should read – http://thefreefinancialadvisor.com/simple-college-saving/

Step 3 – still on the new post – go down to the WordPress SEO by Yoast box and click on the Advanced tab. Change the Meta Robots Index setting to noindex. Change the Meta Robots Follow setting to Nofollow. (Note: this step is optional and simply makes it so that the search engines don’t really notice this page.) See screenshot below.

Step 4 – go back to the old post now and change the permalink to include your golden keyword. In Joe’s example, his new permalink on his old post will make his URL look like this – http://thefreefinancialadvisor.com/college-funding-solutions/ – Hit the Update button in WordPress and then view the post. Highlight and copy the new URL.

Wordpress SEO 301 Redirect

Step 5 – go back to the WordPress SEO by Yoast box on the new post now and Paste that new URL into the 301 Redirect box at the bottom of the page on the Advanced tab. See screenshot above.

Step 6 – hit the Publish button now within WordPress. You now have a new post with your exact same old URL that simply redirects to the old post which now contains the new URL! Note: there is NO content on this new post – it is just a redirect to the old post which contains all of the content.

Make sure to do these steps in this exact order. It is especially important to Update the original post with the new URL first. Yes, this will create those broken links on other sites, but only for a moment. Immediately after you Update the original post, go to the new post and fill in the Redirect box and then hit publish.

Conclusion

And that is how it is done! I hope this explanation doesn’t seem too complicated for you. After you do it once you’ll see that it’s really pretty easy. Just remember that the keyword research is by far the most important step. If you get that part wrong, doing the rest of this stuff won’t really matter.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot that this is a passive income blog. So what does any of this have to do with passive income? Well, that part is entirely up to you and how you choose to monetize your website or blog. Generally, more traffic leads to more income. In Joe’s case, from our example, it appears that he uses Adsense to monetize (at the time this post was written). More search engine traffic coming to this post equals more Adsense clicks over time which equals more passive income for Joe! If you monetize with affiliate links, you can see how powerful this method can be if you are driving buyers to your post based on killer keywords that you find and optimize for.

I hope this post was very useful and helpful in teaching you how to increase traffic to your blog by optimizing your content that already exists. Hopefully you can use this technique to bring some life back to those epic posts you wrote so long ago that don’t get any attention anymore. Please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions in the comments section below.

Disclaimer: I am not an SEO expert – but I have learned a thing or two via trial and error over the past year or so. Everything explained are things I have learned through my own experiences and I cannot guarantee results.

Resources Mentioned

Remember that there are several dumb ways to create passive income online, but only one site that is blogging about it! Dumb Passive Income… dot com.

-Matt