Businesses want SEO optimized content. The goal? Use Google as a traffic channel and get indexed for selected keywords and ideally placed on the first page. So let’s move on to keyword research and content creation. But wait a minute, isn’t something missing?
Content in SEO Control: Determining the Status Quo
We focus so much on creating value-added content that we often overlook something important: the “old” content. Why is this so important? Experience shows: Even today, many companies decide to tackle a new topic based on keyword research without first thinking about existing content. The fact that this can have a negative effect on one’s own ranking is often overlooked. Or in the words of Sven-Olaf Peeck:
Online content is not a rare commodity. Since social media has taken off, there is already more digital information than humanity can consume.
There is certainly already content indexed on Google that has what it takes to rank well. In order not to cannibalize you in the organic search results, an SEO check is advised. In this context, it specifically means getting to the bottom of the following question: Do I already have content that ranks for my keyword/keyword combination?
Google site query for specific keywords
This question can be answered easily and quickly. A query on the site is recommended to have a first overview of all the pages indexed by Google. This shows which pages the search engine crawls, includes in its index and is displayed on the SERP (search results page). Pages must not be blocked, forwarded or incorrect. Or contain other attributes that prevent each URL from being successfully crawled.
To perform the site query, simply enter your own URL or any “site:domain.de” URL plus the targeted keyword in the usual search slot. As a result, Google displays the count of all indexed results for exactly that keyword.
Scan all index pages
If you want to have an overview of all pages indexed by Google, you can simply omit the keyword after the URL. The indexing status (indexed and unindexed pages) of an entire website can also be viewed and further analyzed in the Google Search Console. But back to the real question:
Optimize or rewrite the content?
If there is still no content on a specific topic that directly relates to the desired keyword or combination of keywords (also: long-tail keyword), the way is clear for something new. But what if there is already a similar article on this topic? The following questions automatically arise:
Now is the time to get down to business! Let’s get to the really fun part. To make those same decisions. In principle, these decisions are on a case-by-case basis and must therefore be taken individually. But of course, there are criteria that speak for one or against the other option.
Optimizing old content is especially worthwhile if the content is already on page two or three of the SERP. And assuming the URL segment can be left or kept exactly as is. The organic ranking URL or domain, which is often powered by the SEO title, should be understood as DNA. It’s usually best not to touch it. Changing them is possible without hesitation only if there is no good ranking. If the URL segment already contains the main keyword, consider revising/expanding the content, then adapting the editorial title and meta description. In addition to the actual content, this data is the main component of SEO DNA.
What content is worth optimizing
There is already a half answer to this question: to see realistic rankings away from the filter bubble, just open the browser in incognito mode and enter the keyword in the search engine’s search mask . Now manually check which search results page the content is placed on. Of course, the conclusion is that content that appears at the top of the first page is also a good traffic generator.
Speaking of good traffic generators! The Pareto principle, better known as the 80/20 rule, will help you decide which messages to tackle first. In terms of traffic productivity, it also makes it easier to prioritize when it comes to your own content strategy. This indicates: 80% of the results are obtained with only 20% of the total effort. Sounds good, right? In terms of SEO content, this can mean: 80% of your traffic comes from 20% of the content. And it is precisely this content that you must let work for you.
To determine the top 20% of its content, it’s worth looking at Google Analytics: Below Behavior → Website Content → All Pages → the Specify the desired time period and display individual page views (unique visitors)..
What should be achieved with optimization?
A possible example of optimization would be to further expand one’s expert status. A content review is the right measure for this. Is the content suitable for social media? Does the preview image appear when you press the share button? Otherwise, it could increase social shares.
What do users and Google have in common? You follow the links. Are all text links in the article still working? For example, the bounce rate could be improved. Anyone looking for more conversion (e.g. newsletter sign-ups, downloads, increased subscribers) could take a look at integrating their own offers. Are they placed high enough on the site? Does the CTA create a click stimulus?
The site’s query can also sometimes reveal that issues are being addressed in a more nuanced way. An example: if there is a ranking for the keyword combination “First Aid Tips”, for example, a new article on “First Aid Measures” is quite possible. It is less advisable to have many articles that all target the same keyword. This leads to its own competition in search results. This is also known as keyword cannibalism. What’s going on: the juice from the link doesn’t flow into good content, but into several half-baked pieces. The consequence? classification of losses.
If a domain is still indexed by Google, but the page has been deleted in the CMS, both the bot and the end user will receive an error message. The infamous 404 error page – who doesn’t know it? In short: this is not a good SEO signal. But the good news is that the existing but “broken” leaderboard can still be clicked. Especially if it is listed on the first page of the SERP.
Regardless of ranking, in order to work properly in terms of signaling, it is advisable to redirect to an SEO-optimized target URL. This is done using a so-called 301 redirect. From a technical point of view, the web server passes the HTTP status code 301 (Moved Permanently) to the Google bot and points to the new URL “domain.de /X Y Z”.
When should I use a 301 redirect?
Using the 301 redirect always makes sense when a website’s URL structures change or even the entire domain name changes. Other cases include merging one website with another, or when content from one website is accessed through two different URLs, as in the case of an additional campaign landing page.
This not only leaves the bot unresponsive, but also the users and their interest in clicking. All’s well That ends well. Or even better!