You put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into your con­tent, and it would be a shame not to reap its ben­e­fits.

Often it will serve you a lot more if you touch it up just a lit­tle. It’s the low-hang­ing fruit that’s often for­got­ten!

So let’s set out to fix that. I’ll explain how to opti­mize your exist­ing con­tent and raise its ROI, in three sim­ple steps:

  • Cat­a­log your con­tent
  • Score your con­tent
  • Improve your con­tent

Step 1: Catalog Your Content

The first step to opti­miz­ing your con­tent is to get a bird’s‑eye view of it.

Crawl your whole web­site with a tool like Scream­ing Frog or Con­tentK­ing (dis­claimer: I work at Con­tentK­ing), export all the URLs, and drop them into a spread­sheet like this one.

Keep your key­word research handy: you’ll need it in the next step, where you’ll be scor­ing the con­tent.

Step 2: Score Your Content

Fill your website’s entire con­tent into a spread­sheet. Now for each page fill in:

  • Your intend­ed tar­get audi­ence.
  • The goal of your con­tent.
  • Its stage in the sales fun­nel (pick from Aware­ness, Con­sid­er­a­tion, Con­ver­sion, Loy­al­ty, or Advo­ca­cy).
  • The keyword(s) that you want it to rank for.
  • How hap­py you are with its:
  1. Organ­ic traf­fic and con­ver­sions (in the last 12 months).
  2. Social traf­fic and con­ver­sions (in the last 12 months).
  3. Usabil­i­ty (pick from Bad, Needs Work, or Good).

Those traf­fic and con­ver­sion num­bers should be right there for you in your web ana­lyt­ics suite.

This can all take quite some time, so focus on the most impor­tant pages to tidy up first.

You’ll soon vivid­ly see how there’s plen­ty to do!

Here are some things we see going wrong often:

  • Pages where the goal or audi­ence aren’t clear. If you don’t even know who you wrote a page for and what you want­ed to achieve with it, then how can you expect its con­tent to do well?
  • Pages that have been opti­mized for too many key­words. These pages run in cir­cles. Also, pages that weren’t opti­mized for any key­words. These go nowhere at all!
  • Pages that are hyper-opti­mized to the point where humans can bare­ly read them. Oops! 2006 called, and it wants its key­word-stuffed pages back.

Go and fill out the spread­sheet so you’re thor­ough­ly clear on what role each page plays with­in your web­site, and how it per­forms.

Step 3: Content Optimization

Your lit­tle “con­tent inven­to­ry” has shown you which pages need your atten­tion most. So let’s get to work!

Bringing in More Organic Traffic Through On-Page Optimization

Increase the organ­ic traf­fic dri­ven by your exist­ing con­tent: inte­grate the right key­words and raise your click-through rate (CTR).

The Right Keywords for the Right Pages

It almost goes with­out say­ing, but let’s stress it any­way:

If you don’t incor­po­rate the right key­words on the right pages, those pages will rank poor­ly for those key­words.

But how do you do that effec­tive­ly to make the pages more find­able?

Pri­or­i­tize these ele­ments:

  • Title: Embed your most impor­tant key­words at the start of your title, and aim for a title length of 30 to 60 char­ac­ters (and 285 to 575 pix­els).
  • Meta descrip­tion: Incor­po­rate sig­nif­i­cant key­words into the meta descrip­tion. When peo­ple seek these key­words, they’ll be bold­ed in the snip­pets. This makes your result more eye-catch­ing, which leads in turn to more clicks. Keep your meta descrip­tion length at 70 to 155 char­ac­ters (and 430 to 920 pix­els).
  • H1 head­ing and H2 heading(s): Place major key­words into these head­ings.
  • Body con­tent: Make sure the key­words you want to rank for are in your body text. It’s a no-brain­er, but even expe­ri­enced SEO experts for­get this some­times.
  • Inter­nal links to pages: Build inter­nal links from rel­e­vant pages on your site to the page in ques­tion, with impor­tant key­words as their anchor text.
  • Image opti­miza­tion: Don’t for­get: images are con­tent too. Be sure to incor­po­rate your key­words in images’ file­names, alt tags, and title tags.

Impor­tant: Be sure to use both the sin­gu­lar and plur­al forms of your key­words. Don’t be afraid to use relat­ed words and syn­onyms on the same page. That’s nor­mal, so search engines expect to see it.

An exam­ple of BAD body con­tent:

Car insur­ance New York
Are you look­ing for car insur­ance New York? Don’t look any fur­ther! Insur­ance provider X can offers the best car insur­ance New York against the best car insur­ance New York rates.

Request a quote for car insur­ance New York
Want to know more? Feel free to request a quote for car insur­ance New York

Don’t force key­words in! If incor­po­rat­ing (too many) key­words hurts read­abil­i­ty, then always choose the user over the search engine.

Improve CTR

Your pages rank well in organ­ic search results, but you’re get­ting a low CTR. You’ve already put in all the effort need­ed for rank­ing well, but now you’re not reap­ing the ben­e­fits.

It’s crazy that we spend so much time craft­ing the per­fect PPC copy, but we don’t think near­ly as much about our titles and meta descrip­tions.

Fol­low these best prac­tices for high­er CTRs:

  • Exper­i­ment with the title and meta descrip­tion: Are they too long, or too short? Do their key­words fit in well? Are they easy to read? Do they have a clear call to action?
  • Stand out: Make sure you stick out among your com­pe­ti­tion. Think out­side the box and use struc­tured markup – such as reviews. Google shows stars for pages with reviews. That’s a major dif­fer­en­tia­tor: it makes you look dif­fer­ent and bet­ter!
  • Google’s Fea­tured Snip­pets: Many users send Google a lit­er­al ques­tion. If your con­tent answers that ques­tion, then Google may try to answer the ques­tion direct­ly from the search engine results page – all the way up at the top of the page.

More Social Media Traffic

Do you know how your pages look when they’re shared on social media? Most peo­ple don’t, and they also don’t know they can influ­ence their page’s appear­ance on social media plat­forms. This is great news for you: it’s a way to get ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion.

How do you do this? Use Open Graph (for Face­book and LinkedIn) and Twit­ter Cards (for Twit­ter).

This looks pret­ty sweet, eh?

To stand out on Face­book and Twit­ter, pay close atten­tion to three things:

  • Title: Make sure it’s catchy, and exper­i­ment with cap­i­tal­iz­ing each word, like in the above exam­ple. Keep your title under 80 char­ac­ters. (For Twit­ter, the mag­ic num­ber is 55.)
  • Descrip­tion: Write one that keeps ‘em read­ing. Keep it under 200 char­ac­ters on Face­book, and under 130 char­ac­ters on Twit­ter.
  • Images: Pick eye-catch­ing images. Exper­i­ment and research to find what works best for you.

The great part is that Open Graph and Twit­ter Cards are sup­port­ed by many con­tent man­age­ment sys­tems.

Many SEO plu­g­ins already sup­port them, too – adding them is as easy as fill­ing in a title and a meta descrip­tion.

It’s annoy­ing to man­u­al­ly check whether you filled in your Open Graph and Twit­ter Card data cor­rect­ly, so automat­ing this is a huge time­saver.

Better Usability

Search engines will nev­er buy from you. Users will, so focus on users. Make sure they leave your site with a smile.

Answer the Search Query

Does your page actu­al­ly answer your audience’s search query? Search engine users are often seek­ing the answer to a spe­cif­ic ques­tion. If your page doesn’t answer it (fast), they’ll hit the “Back” but­ton and check a dif­fer­ent site.

Clear your bias­es, check your page, and ver­i­fy that it answers a typ­i­cal visitor’s search query quick­ly and sim­ply. If it doesn’t, adjust the page. If it does, then see if you can make it even more use­ful for users through any of the con­tent ideas below:

  • Info­graph­ics
  • Videos
  • Fre­quent­ly asked ques­tions
  • Reviews
  • Links to exter­nal web­sites with more back­ground infor­ma­tion

Prune Your Content

Some­times less is more. This is true for con­tent, too.

Deflat­ing bloat­ed con­tent is called “con­tent prun­ing”. The idea is that remov­ing dis­tract­ing and irrel­e­vant con­tent increas­es focus and read­abil­i­ty.

Keep the user in mind, and prune away!

Rewrite & Update Your Content

Rewrit­ing and updat­ing your con­tent will bring you great val­ue. Think about impor­tant trends and devel­op­ments that may obso­lete your con­tent. Then rewrite and update it to pre­serve and increase its val­ue over time. This also gives you a good rea­son to pro­mote it again!

Take this exam­ple: in The Nether­lands, the min­i­mum wage is adjust­ed twice a year, on Jan­u­ary 1 and July 1.

How valu­able is your old con­tent about the min­i­mum wage after it’s been adjust­ed? Min­i­mal­ly valu­able! So slate that con­tent for two updates a year and put them on your edi­to­r­i­al cal­en­dar so that you don’t for­get.

Also, take these updates as oppor­tu­ni­ties to re-eval­u­ate the con­tent. For exam­ple, you might think about adding a cal­cu­la­tor that fac­tors in age and con­verts the min­i­mum gross wage to net wage. Wouldn’t that make your wage page more valu­able?

Be Readable & Inviting

Imag­ine this sit­u­a­tion: you’re seek­ing some­thing on Google, you click a search result, and the next thing you know, you’re squint­ing at a huge chunk of text, with no para­graphs, head­ings, or images. Would you want to read that, or would you quick­ly jump ship and go to some oth­er result?

Pre­vent this reac­tion by:

  • Apply­ing a visu­al hier­ar­chy with­in the con­tent using (sub) head­ings. A lot of users scan con­tent, to find the sec­tion they care about. Hav­ing head­ings sup­ports that.
  • Form­ing sep­a­rate para­graphs to make the text more read­able.
  • Sup­port­ing your text visu­al­ly. Use pic­tures and videos wher­ev­er you can, to make your con­tent appeal­ing and your point con­vinc­ing.
  • Mak­ing sure that your web­site is mobile-friend­ly.


It’s an absolute waste of good con­tent to let it sit with low ROI. With a lit­tle effort, you can turn it around and have it work for you.

Opti­miz­ing your con­tent from the SEO, social, and usabil­i­ty stand­points lets you get a lot more out of it. That’s the part that can be ful­ly con­trolled.

Pro­mot­ing your con­tent plays a key role in its suc­cess. When there’s buzz about your con­tent, that helps immense­ly with get­ting links to it from oth­er web­sites and build­ing that content’s audi­ence on social media, too.

Opti­mize. Ana­lyze. Repeat.

Opti­miz­ing and pro­mot­ing your con­tent is nev­er just “done.”