This is an unofficial extra task for the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook.
Today I spent the morning working on a task that I try to do at least once a month – SEO on individual key posts in my archives.
While it’s important to know and practice the basics principles of SEO in the way you set up your blogs structure and in the writing of your posts – I find it can be very worthwhile periodically going back through key old posts to optimise them even further. I’ve used the following process for a while now and in most cases where I do it I find I’m able to increase my ranking for different posts.
I’m not the world’s best SEO but here’s the process that I use in doing this (I invite you to share yours in comments if you do this type of thing) – I hope you find it useful:
1. Identify Key Posts to Optimize for SEO
Across my active blogs I have 10,000 blog posts so I need to be a little strategic about choosing which blog posts I go back to to give a little SEO attention to.
For me the way that I do this is to dig into my Google Analytics account to work out what posts are already having some success with search traffic – but which could be improved. I generally look for posts that are ranking anywhere from #2 to #10 for their keywords (although sometimes focus upon those which are #1 to strengthen them further).
If a page is already generating some traffic from Google for a keyword but isn’t in the number 1 ranking for the word and increase in ranking should also see an increase in the traffic that the post receives. I’ve seen a variety of studies over the years that show that the #1 ranked result in Google can be getting anywhere from 35-55% of all clicks – the higher you are to the top the better.
Lets look at an example:
I’ve got a page on DPS which ranks #2 (depending where you are) for the term Portrait Photography.
It is a good page to optimise because it’s a relatively good term in the amount of traffic it drives (it’s a term that get a fair bit of searching for in Google) but also because the page is a ‘sneeze page‘ which links to quite a few pages across my photography blog and as a result those who visit that page end up visiting over 7 pages on their visit (the site average is a bit over 2 pages per visit).
The page already generates some healthy traffic (a few thousand visitors a month) so I know if I could get it ranking higher it will generate more.
2. Analyze the Competition
I don’t tend to get this deep into SEO too often but from time to time it can be worthwhile doing a little analysis of what pages that are ranking higher than you for a keyword are doing.
One tool that I use for this (and other keyword analysis) is Market Samurai. It’s a tool I’ve only been using for a little while but it’s very handy. That link is an affiliate link but it does give you a 12 day free trial. I’ve shelled out for the full version as it has been so handy a tool for this type of analysis.
One of the modules in the Market Samurai system (there are quite a few more) is one that does analysis of what competing pages are doing for a keyword. Lets take a look at what it gives us for ‘portrait photography’ as a keyword (click to enlarge).
You can see that the #2 ranking is for my site but it also shows a variety of information for other ranked sites in the top 10. Some of the information given is not overly relevant to me (or at least is out of my control like the first column which looks at the age of the domain) but some of the information is useful in getting a handle on how your page compares to other sites.
Knowing this might help you work out what you need to do to rank higher – or it might also give you an indication of whether you have much chance of ranking for the keyword at all (if the site you’re trying to compete against is way beyond what you can achieve it might be an indication that you want to go and work on another page).
In this example lets compare my page with the #1 ranked page:
- DA – domain age – they have a real advantage here.
- PR – page rank – their page is a 4 and mine is a 3. Something to work on.
- IC – index count (the number of pages indexed on the domain) – they are obviously a lot bigger site. This doesn’t mean I can’t rank for the term but gives an indication that I’m up against a pretty established site.
- BLP – the amount of backlinks pointing at the page. They obviously have more (we’ll do some more analysis of this below).
- BLEG – links from .edu/.gov sites pointing at the page – they have a couple here while I don’t
- DMZ – is the site in the DMOS directory (I don’t page a lot of attention to this but some say it can be a factor)
- YAH – is the site in the Yahoo directory (again, not something that I pay much attention to but some say it can be the difference between getting a higher ranking and not)
- Title – is the keyword/s in the title tags of the post (we both do this)
- URL – is the keyword/s in the URL of the post (I have the advantage here)
- Desc – is the keyword in the meta description tag (not something that I’ve found to impact SEO much but perhaps something to consider with the way your post appears in Google)
- Head – is the keyword/s in a header tag on the page
- CA – The Cache Age (the number of days since Google Cached the page)
In this case – the analysis shows me that I’m up against a pretty heavy hitter. It’s an established site with lots of links pointing both at the domain and the page itself. I’m tempted to settle for just ranking #2 for this page but for the sake of the exercise I’ll push on.
Note: Market Samurai also gives you the opportunity to dig deeper into competing sites and can give you a breakdown of the actual links pointing at a page. I won’t do the analysis here (it might be deeper than where people are at) but what I found was that in the case of my competition on this one is that the competing site had a lot of forwarded links pointing at it. I’m not sure what was going on with it but it seems that the majority of the links pointing at my competition are from forwarded domains and not actual live pages. This gives me a little hope so I’ll push on with optimising the page.
3. On Page Optimization
The above competitive analysis might give you a few hints as where to begin in optimizing your page. For example if you’ve not got your keywords in ‘title tags’ or ‘header tags’ – you’ll want to fix that. If your keyword is not in the URL, that’s another thing to consider. Those three tweaks alone could have a fairly significant change (I’ve seen changing title tags to include keywords as increasing rankings significantly).
Once you’ve done that you might want to also look at some smaller tweaks that could play a part. Using keywords in bold, using keywords in alt tags on images etc. These are probably not going to have a major impact but could help a little.
Ultimately if you want to rank for a particular keyword – you need to be using that keyword on your page in key spots (titles, headings, URL). Don’t stuff your page full of the keyword (and whatever you do keep your content useful and readable to readers) but a few tweaks might help.
4. Off Page Optimization
You might find that with some on page optmization that your post is already increasing its rankings – particularly if the keyword you’re looking at is not highly competitive. However at times it can be worth looking at ways of generating some extra links to your page as the number and type of links are important in determining how a page ranks in search engines.
I don’t tend to do much of this type of SEO as I find my site tends to get a nice number of links pretty naturally from other sites but I know those who are more into SEO will work hard on some of the following:
- analysing where the competition is getting their links and looking for opportunities to get links there too – for example if a link is coming to your competitor from a forum discussion or blog comment you might also have an opportunity to leave a quality comment there with your own link.
- links from other blogs you own (particularly one on a relevant topic) link to your page from it
- internal links – this is something I do do – basically its about interlinking your posts. While internal links don’t count as much as an external link they can help a little.
- pitching links to other blogs – if you have a relationship with other blogs in your niche try pitching a link of the page that you’re optimizing to those bloggers.
- sharing links in social media – most social media sites like Twitter and Facebook put no-follow tags on links so they don’t count directly for SEO but I find that an occasional push of an older post on social media sites can lead to indirect links from other bloggers. I also suspect that search engines are paying more attention to what links are being shared in social media sites so getting your links into them (without spamming) could be useful if you have a network of people who will pass them onto their own networks.
Note: the generation of links can be a fairly ‘black hat’ game at times. It can also be pretty addictive and become an obsession. I personally would prefer to spend my time producing quality content than spending my days asking for links. Do be a little careful with link building – not only can it be a time suck but if you engage in tactics that Google sees as against their Terms of Service (buying links for example) you could also be jeopardizing your sites ranking in their index.
Further Reading on SEO
Do you ever go back and optimize individual posts on your blog for SEO? If so – I’d love to hear your approach to it. This is the way I do it but I’m certain that there will be many other approaches that others take.
Another well-informed post as usual. I write a food blog and at times I find it difficult to maintain the link exchanges in the food blogging world. Depending on the circles, asking for links can be viewed as a negative thing. I tend to do alot of internal linking in case one of my blog topics coincides with something else I blogged about earlier, though never really know if strengthening internally actually leads to any good results.
I think with Twitter being what it is today, link exchanges might become harder to come by, as it is much easier for bloggers to just RT things they enjoy. Just my two pennies.
Out of all the SEO products I got none of them compare to the detail you showed here. This is just one of the reasons I love coming to your blog and reading your information. I know my time will not be wasted.
SEO seems to be always changing which is why you see product after product on it anymore. Once one system becomes saturated from everyone using it someone invents some alternative way to doing things. But your post here lays out all the key components that really makes SEO happen with your site.
I found the title of your post the most motivating of all. SEO can often feel daunting, so focusing on one post at a time makes the task seem much more manageable.
Wonder why my comment was deleted? Maybe a glitch? Try Again: I wonder why this app is built on the Air platform? It runs slower compared to a native Windows app. Testing it and have found several misplaced pages with good p.r. which we are now updating,
Thank you, I am a beginner. I ignored the analysis of competitors. I now know how better to use rival.
Thanks for the tips man! I’ve been working on SEO for my blog and slowly seeing the results come out positive. Hoping for the best :)
Thanks for the Tips.. I was trying to figure out one post in one of my websites and you laid out the perfect plan for doing it.. I hope to see a jump from present number 8 to something 5 or above
Keywords in the URL is so simple, yet I always seem to forget about it. Thanks for the useful tips Darren.
frankly, i never optimize an older post since my site is fairly new…
but i’ll consider it in 2 – 3 months time….huhu
I get confused by the different google rankings in different regions. Webmaster tells me something, .com search another, .com.au different again. makes it hard to know what other users are actually getting your rank at.
For me as newbie at here, I can get great knowledge from your posts such as this post.
I begin to do on page optimization like you mention above: using keyword in my post (KW density), post titles, post description, headings and post URL.
I have done it before but now I become more confidence after reading your post here :-)
Thanks a lot.
This is a great article. I just started my own blog rchristi.com and this article really helps me.
Thanks Darren for sharing this so I know the trick to optimise keywords.
I have never seen a tool like samurai before, its currently chugging on my crappy connection but good things come to those who wait.
On my tiny niche blogs, I optimize every page/post as I build them, but on my personal blogs, I often find myself clicking the “Disable the All-In-One SEO Plugin” option as I’m not always writing for the search engines…
However, some of those non-optimized posts end up getting a ton of traffic, so I often go back and optimize them for the top three or four keywords that people use when they find my site.
Awesome, and simply-put… I’m headed to try the samurai now.
Thank you for posting this!
I think Google Analytics and Search Tool also will give some ideas to optimize single blog for SEO. Some people don’t care SEO because of robots, but all blogs get human traffic by these robots only. So, optimizing new and old posts for SEO is very important.
I had a post and I optimized it good!
I’ve seen marketsamurai in the past probably 8 – 10 months ago. I never looked into it to be honest as I have enough with seomoz and raven..
Might need to think again.
I pick out the articles I really put some sweat into that aren’t performing. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense when you put so much into writing something and it doesn’t do well. A revisit to see if I can mention keywords a few more times works wonders.
Great Post Darren. I did it somedays ago……….
I have been optimizing single posts on several of my blogs and it works quite well. Market Samurai is one of the best marketing tools today. Great information.
Excellent idea to refresh old posts, particularly for targetted keywords. Coupled with getting links in to the post they’ll fly up the search rankings. If only I had 10,000 posts across my active blogs – I’d be a very happy bunny.
I have used Market Samurai also in the past, however I never thought of using it to fluff up my old articles. This is a great tip to bring back to life some of your old forgotten work. Lets see If I can pull survey-101 to the top of the online survey food chain.
I found this post amazingly helpful. While pitching links to other blogs may not sound easy, most bloggers are always welcoming new content ideas and guest posters.
Getting creative is the key.
Thanks for sharing!~
Great post you have there but I would just like to comment on one interesting bit that has caught my attention.
I’ve never heard of the word sneeze page ever since I started my own blog. It really is a neat idea having a sneeze page and I can see what you mean, having summaries of each posts for a period of time which links back to your main page. And the website that you’ve mentioned does appear on the top 5 websites on Google.
I love your blog. I follow it everyday! As a new blogger I have to say that many of my ‘mini accomplishments’ would not be possible without your blog. Thanks again!
This is really great information because it stresses the importance of getting your blog post indexed on Google. There are many great ways to drive traffic but I’ve found that properly optimizing a blog post or a Hub page and getting a high rank on Google is the absolute best way. If you are going to monetize, search engine traffic is probably the only traffic that converts well, so it’s important to get your posts optimized properly the first time around. Thanks Darren.
Thank you for the post Darren. I’ve been trying to do some SEO lately and I always love finding tips from people that have more experience than I do. One thing I haven’t taking advantage of and that most don’t seem to is external links within a blog post to a relevant outside source. Definitely something I will be trying to implement in the future.
How do you add title tags for every post and how to add keyword to a header tag for every post
Yep. I did that for a couple of my posts and voila! No. 2 position, first page results. You can also check SEO Chat’s keyword difficulty tool to see if your keyword is rankable. Aim for 50% or below.
I what to address the note you made in the last paragraph of the post: Good content is without doubt of paramount importance but a wise blogger should also improve his skills of marketing that content. As with the case of problogger.net, the only requirement for it to remain an authority (probably the biggest in the blogging world) is to keep the high standards of content creation.
This get a little bit complicated with little known bloggers who have the talent but not the advertiser’s mentality, thus they remain virtually unknown, no matter the quality of their writing
Thanks for the post darren. I just loved the way you guided through on the whole seo optimization process for a single post. I wish i had read this article when i first started blogging, it would have helped me back a while ago. I look forward to hearing more from your blogs and applying it to my own blogs
I have never thought about going back to my archives to re seo them. Great idea though I think I will have a little experiment.
A friend of mine who is an internet marketer has the Market Samurai program. I had a lot of fun playing with it and seeing how I could improve my internet marketing results. I’m just starting to blog and think this information is really helpful. Thank You.
Many don’t realize that what happens off your page is just as important as what happens on it.
I also like you included some information on Market Samurai. I have looked into this product and looks great
That Market Samurai looks really useful. I was only looking for tips on archiving but now will be investigation the software. Thank you
I am using my free 12-Day trail with Market Samurai. I will be writing a more in depth review of it on my blog in the coming weeks so stay posted.
So far, I actually fee pretty overwhelmed with all of the things that there are to do when it comes to SEO, driving traffic, keyword optimization, affiliate marketing, etc.
I never realized how difficult internet marketing would be. But alas, I push forward, hoping for a better day :) (sigh)
I have been improving single posts on a few of my web article for the past few weeks and it works great. Market Samurai is extraordinary compared to other promoting instruments today. Awesome input Darren!
Keep it up.