The road to a high-trafficked blog is long and winding. Many writers, content creators, media outlets, and organizations struggle for years to attract a consistent readership.
Whether your goal is to funnel high-intent traffic to your small business website, or to reach the broadest audience possible, it’s important to consider what you can do to boost your numbers without resorting to buying ads or refreshing your own page over and over.
One of the biggest questions in online marketing is whether creating new content or revising what you’ve already written is more effective—meaning, more likely to result in more readers.
There’s an argument for both tactics. And they intertwine: You can’t revise something without having already written it first. But let’s say you’ve been writing for a while and feel you’re at a crossroads in terms of how you can spend your time. What’s the next step?
The benefits of revising old posts
If you’ve got a back catalog of blog posts that pull in varying amounts of traffic—maybe some appear near the top of Google search results for certain keywords, but others languish further down or off the first page entirely—you might think it’s time to move on and seek other topics that you can perform better on.
If you can find a way to improve your post’s search result positioning, however, you’ll see outstanding traffic gains. According to Backlinko, the number one organic result on Google receives about 10x the clicks than the number 10 spot does. Even moving your page up a few key spots—say, from number six to number three—can earn you 3x the clicks.
How can you improve your ranking? By revising your post and making it a more valuable result, according to Google’s algorithm. Why make that push with existing content, rather than try again with another idea and set of keywords? Two reasons:
- You’ve already identified a winning topic: It’s not easy to rank on Google’s first page! If your post is in the top three, or even in the top 10, and you don’t know why it’s not number one, it may only take a few fixes or improvements for you to reach the mountaintop.
- It takes less time to revise than to start anew: If you can double the traffic to one of your pages by making a few tweaks—putting in, say, an hour of work—that’s a super-efficient use of your time. Writing new content is a worthy endeavor, but it takes much longer to achieve a similar result.
If you’ve settled on making some revisions, there are a few key things to keep in mind that will bring you the most bang for your buck.
Add up-to-date, relevant, accurate information
Even more important than fixing grammar and spelling errors (which, according to Google’s webmaster team, doesn’t affect ranking) is making sure all your information is accurate.
Posts published just a couple of years ago can already feel outdated in the world of the internet, where torrents of information rain down upon readers on a daily basis. Adding the most up-to-date information (statistics, advice, quotes from experts, etc.) ensures that people will find your page valuable, and that Google will consider your content truly “fresh.”
Include optimized keywords and phrases
Maybe back when you first started blogging, you weren’t as knowledgeable about what made a page rank as you do now. We all know that keywords around a certain topic are what powers a post within Google search results.
His post on “What Is Affiliate Marketing?” is the top result for the keyword “affiliate marketing.” On the other hand, his post on alternative search engines is number seven for the related keyword.
I won’t pretend like I know how to rank for search terms better than Neil Patel, but if you find yourself in a similar position, you should look to include more instances of your main keyword, as well as alternative keywords and long-tail keywords (such as using your keyword in specific, repeatable, oft-searched phrases) in your post, to boost the rankings. If you have a well-performing page on a certain topic, make sure that you’re using your keywords effectively. Try a plug-in like Yoast to help you perform your best.
Add multimedia and other top resources
A great way to improve your time-on-site is to include videos (YouTube videos are easy to embed) that pertain to the topic you’re writing about. Photos are also useful for breaking up large chunks of text and making for a more dynamic and interesting page.
In their infographic on the perfect blog post, Salesforce recommends some kind of multimedia every 350 words or so to balance the page and keep readers engaged.
Remove broken links, add high-quality ones
Your final quick fix is to remove any links to pages that no longer exist, and to replace them with links to even better resources. Quality outbound links are an important ranking factor, and Google will take notice if you take the time to link out to trustworthy news organizations, rather than sketchy blogs.
You can and should also link to your own content, strengthening your blog post’s connection to your website at-large.
What’s the total amount of time it might take to perform some of these tasks? Adding a few photos and videos—10 minutes? Checking the status of your outbound links and including a few new ones—five minutes? Optimizing keywords and adding a few paragraphs of new information—half an hour? Few new posts that you write will be as effective in generating traffic.
The benefits of writing new posts
As mentioned earlier, there is no revising without first writing—and so, no matter which route you take, you’ll have to start here, with writing new posts.
There are some obvious benefits to writing brand-new posts for your blog—namely, if all you do is just revise old posts, you won’t be able to break new ground, cover new topics, and speak to what’s happening currently.
So let’s review some of the other ways that writing new posts can boost your traffic:
Follow up on a well-performing post
At certain points, there’s only so much you can do to revise and improve an existing piece of content. It’s been SEO-optimized, proofread, and packed with information. Maybe it’s the top-ranking post for a certain keyword, or as close to the top as it can get within a crowded field.
A great way to build additional traffic around a topic is to create a brand-new post that takes what was popular about your last one and goes in a different direction. Maybe there have been updates to the topic you can delve into, or you can take the time to answer questions from readers and critics in building a comprehensive response piece.
By writing another piece on a traffic-generating topic, you can grab even more traffic and box out competitors who might look to write on the same idea and take your spot in Google’s rankings.
Strengthen connections between all of your content
Creating new posts is a great way to build bridges between your existing content. If you write on a topic that overlaps between several topics, you can use that opportunity to naturally include links to your existing posts.
Inlinking to your other content is important because when Google crawls different pages, it follows links that you leave and crawls those pages too. You can help build up traffic to a new post by linking to it from your existing content—and then continue to pass that link equity on to even more pages when you drop links into your new content. It’s a virtuous cycle of distributing page authority that keeps on giving.
Develop as a thought leader
By continuing to create new quality content, you build your brand as a thought leader in your space. People will know to come to your blog on a regular basis if you write new posts frequently, rather than just update posts they’ve read before.
Your site may not see immediate, causal traffic spikes by writing a new blog post every few days or weeks, but you will begin to develop a reputation as a site worth visiting. Overall traffic, over time, will improve as a result.
The bottom line on new vs. old
There’s no one perfect way to generate readership for your blog, and focusing on one tactic means you’ll let other sources of traffic fall by the wayside. It all depends on your current goals at the moment. Looking to improve your standing in a few key areas? Revisions to existing pieces is the way to go. Want to see a lift across your entire site? Keep writing new and engaging content.
Personally, I think writing new content is more fun than swapping out links or adding videos. But both routes have their time and place. Go with what makes sense for you, right now.