Blog Optimization: How to Optimize Your Blog
Publishing a post is just the beginning. Once a post is live, the content promotion work begins. Most marketers use email marketing and social media to get the word out. After a few days, they’ve moved on to the next piece of content.
But great marketers don’t stop there. They keep an eye on older posts. They know that blog optimization is a process of continual measurement and improvement. Once you understand how to optimize your blog, you’ll drive more traffic and more conversions in less time than it takes to write a new post.
You probably know which of your posts are most successful. They sound better, rank higher, and convert more visitors than your other posts. They jump out at you in your Analytics.
What about those other posts that could be great but are under the radar? If you’ve been blogging a while, you may have many of these. They could be top performers, but something is holding them back. Here’s how to find them and optimize them.
Look for the good posts and make them great. There are two kinds:
- Posts that have high potential to get traffic
- Posts that have high potential of getting visitors to take action
The idea is to quickly find and optimize blog posts with the best potential for quick improvement.
Optimizing for Better Traffic
It’s possible that you already have blog posts that are ranking high…on page two. This is actually a huge opportunity, since the top of page two is almost the bottom of page one. It’s likely that with a few simple updates, we can improve the rank a little and improve the traffic a lot.
Here’s how to find the posts and pages that are almost ranking high:
1. Go to Analytics and set the date range for at least a year.
2. View Traffic Sources > Search Engine Optimization > Queries.
3. Sort by Average Position (rank).
4. Set an Advanced Filter so you only see queries that have a rank of more than 10.
This will show you a list of phrases for which your site ranks but are not on page one. Filter out the phrases that include your company name, and start scrolling through, looking for phrases related to blog posts.
Next, search for these phrases in Google to find the related blog posts and to confirm the rank for each. You’ll soon have a list of posts that are on the edge of SEO greatness. Now let’s optimize them.
It’s probable that some of these posts were ranking accidentally. The writer hadn’t done keyword research or used on-page SEO. But suddenly, Analytics is telling you the perfect keyphrase for each. Now you just have to optimize these blog posts using a few basic SEO best practices:
1. Title: The keyphrase appears once in the <title> at the beginning.
2. Header: The keyphrase appears in the <H1> tag.
3. Body: The keyphrase appears at least four to six times in the text of the post.
4. Links: There are at least a few links to the post from other posts. Use the keyphrase as the text within the links if possible. (We’re going to be adding links in a few minutes anyway).
Don’t try too hard. If it feels like you’re cramming in the keywords, don’t do it. You really just want to indicate the relevance for the phrase a bit more. The post was already ranking, so usually a few small changes are enough to move it from the top of page two to page one. This can easily triple the search traffic to that post.
Optimizing for More Conversions
Here’s trick #2 for getting more value from the same content. This time we want to find hidden gems and put them on display. We’re looking for the posts that are most effective at turning visitors into leads and subscribers, but don’t get much traffic.
Here is a quick way to find out which of your posts have the highest conversion rates:
1. In Analytics, set the date range to at least one year. We’re looking for a lot of data…
2. Go to Conversions > Goals > Reverse Goal Path.
3. Add a filter so only blog posts appear.
4. Sort by Goal Completions.
Now you have a list of which of your posts are converting visitors. But the real test is not the total conversions, it’s the conversion rate. To find this, we’ll need a bit more data.
Next, we need to control for the number of pageviews. Look up the unique pageviews for these posts under Content > Site Content > All Pages. Filter this data so only the blog posts appear (for most sites, this means just adding “/blog” as a filter). Enter this data into a column in your spreadsheet.
You can divide the data in the “conversions” column by the number in the “unique pageviews” column. Now you can see the conversion rate for each post. Suddenly, you can see which posts inspire your visitors to act.
Here’s the data from the Orbit blog. This shows which blog posts convert visitors into newsletter subscribers and the conversion rate for each.
Interesting. Although the bottom post on this list converted 50 visitors into subscribers, the third highest amount, it actually only converts .44% of visitors. The top post on this list converts visitors at four times that rate!
Now that we’re seeing the relative effectiveness of our blog posts, we can plan to use those topics and formats in future posts. We can also look for ways to drive traffic to these conversion champs.
Put On Your Traffic Driving Gloves
And start your engines. Here’s a quick list of seven ways to push visitors in the direction of these posts:
- Share it! Post it on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, and Friendster.
- Link to the page from other high-traffic pages and posts.
- Add this post to your homepage slideshow.
- Add a link to the post in your email signature.
- Run an ad to the post using PPC or Facebook Ads.
- Write and pitch a guest blog post on a similar topic. Link to the post.
- Write a roundup of your top posts. Make the top post a link to it.
You can use this same technique to find which of your web pages converts the most visitors into leads or any other type of conversion.
Your Analytics are telling you what visitors were reading right before they decided to contact you. Now optimize: figure out how to make other pages just as compelling, or make these pages more prominent in your navigation.
Bonus! Optimizing for Readers
While you’re working on these pages, take a minute to upgrade the content itself. Here are five ways to boost the quality of any blog post and give your readers more value:
- Images: Include at least one. Make it interesting.
- Call to action: Make it compelling.
- Proof: Add examples, evidence and quotes.
- Formatting: Make it scannable with subheaders, bolding, and bullet lists.
- Edit: Make it shorter, more direct, more actionable. Remove softening language such as “it would seem to me,” “in my opinion,” “sometimes,” and “maybe.”
Blog Optimization Takes Time…
But it will lead to better outcomes than cranking out more un-optimized posts. Once you’re done, set an annotation in Analytics so you can measure results before and after. Finally, put a reminder on your calendar to do it all again in six months!
Note: this post is an updated version of the research and advice from a guest post on Crazy Egg. You can read the original here.