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I've got a new client, they have an existing website which is functional and informative but it's not very well search engine optimised. They've got years of articles in their news/blog archive. I'm wondering if there are any industry-accepted guidelines on how much you can re-work old content to improve SEO?

It's been years since I worked in a digital marketing agency, and practices have changed. I'm reading a lot about publishing actual useful content and some of the stuff we have could be more useful.

I'm aware of poor old fashioned techniques like keyword stuffing, and I'm not looking to do that. They have a bunch of "5 things you can do with an x" type posts which are only a couple of hundred words, so for example, they could be re-written to be longer-form and more valuable to the user. The question is do we re-write those, and stick an "updated 2021" on it, or do we post a new article?

What's the right way to start optimizing an established site?

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The answer is in your analytics.

You should start by categorizing old content by those who are performing well according to their position, impressions or SERP appearances and them extracting their behavioral data such as bounce rate, number of new visitors, conversions, etc.

Work on a criteria to provide some sort of point system to your pages or posts one by one (this should be fairly easy no matter the website size), pull the data and apply a relevant value to your pages and then sort them out according to which pages fulfill best your business objectives. There will be pages that will deserve a re-work and there will be others that will not be worth the trouble. Over the Internet you can find many methods or ideas on how to do this.

So for example, I will re-write or update those pages performing well in SERP and create new posts on those old ones that currently are not performing well. Look for content that is still relatable. When creating new posts you can choose to create a reference to the old ones (Google Love this) and even merge similar posts into one more attractive and long one.

Any content optimization should be oriented thinking towards the user, ranking algorithms will follow user satisfaction at their query intent. If you see pages or old posts decreasing in the number of users or audience size then it is time for a more up to date content, and in my opinion only a few of those pages not performing well today will be worth the effort of creating new ones.

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