Rewriting your pages is not as simple as just switching up your content and waiting for it to rank.
If your pages are new or aren’t really ranking for anything, then sure, you can do that. But if you want to preserve the keywords you’re already ranking for, you need to be careful with how you switch up your content.
In fact, the only reason to change pre-existing content is if your traffic has dipped or you’re not getting conversions on the traffic you’re already getting.
That said, if you have to rewrite ranking content, here are some iron rules to keep in mind:
1. Don't change the heading
The H1 heading indicates to Google what your page is about. It is the second most important topic indicator, following the actual coverage (content) of the topic itself.
Changing your heading will result in a loss of rankings since it indicates to Google that your post is no longer covering the topics it was previously ranking for.
Which is not to say you can’t update the date of your post and change it from “X reasons to… ” to “X reasons to….”, but the lesser the changes, the better.
If you need to make significant changes to the heading, you might as well write up a new post because your new heading and old content aren’t going to match, which is bad practice for conversions and rankings.
2. Don't change the URL.
Do this, and you’re toast.
The only way to change the URL is to redirect the original URL to the new URL through a 301 redirect.
A 301 redirect will ensure Google can still find the content on the new URL, which will help preserve the “link juice” that the original page had.
Not to mention, any referral traffic you were getting on your previous pages will continue to follow through to your new page.
The only thing to remember with this redirection is that traffic/rankings will temporarily dip for a few weeks/months whenever you do a 301 redirect.
How long it takes that traffic takes return will depend on your:
- Page and domain age: If your page and domain have been around for a few years, your new URL will recover the old page’s traffic pretty quickly.
- Similarity of the new page: If there’s not much difference between the topic coverage of the old page and new page, it helps your new page recover your rankings faster.
- Backlink profile of the old page: The higher the number and quality of backlinks on your old page, the longer it will take for your new page to recover rankings.
- Crawl frequency: You can’t control this. How frequently and deeply Google crawls your website depends on a lot of factors, but once again if you have a high authority domain, you’ll see a faster crawling process, which will speed up your traffic recovery.
- Topic competition: If you were ranking for difficult keywords before changing your URL (in which case, I have to ask why you would want to change it in the first place..?), it will take longer for you to reclaim your rankings.
3. Do not scrap the pre-existing content
There’s a lot of confusion around what to do with the “old content” when you’re rewriting a page, so let me clarify what you need to do.
Do not remove the pre-existing content because that is what is driving your page’s current rankings and traffic. What you CAN do, is paraphrase the content slightly if you think the writing is not persuasive enough to drive conversions.
Remember though, the more text you change, the more likely you are to confuse Google about whether you’re still covering the topics it’s ranking you for.
Even though Google has optimized its algorithm for semantic search, it still needs a helping hand.
The better way to improve your conversion rate and rankings is to add new, relevant content to supplement the pre-existing content.
Now that you know what not to do, here are some tips on how you can rewrite your pre-existing content.
How to rewrite content that is not converting
If your content is not converting It is because your content is straight-up boring your readers.
Now, it could be that there’s no demand for your product and that’s why you’re not seeing any traction from your posts, but if that’s your problem, you need to take a much deeper look at your business than content marketing.
However, if you’re getting customers offline but not through your digital footprint, it is usually because you’re posting boring, safe, plain, or irrelevant content.
To get your readers to convert to paying customers, they need to trust you, and your content must inspire faith in your expertise.
Here’s how you do that:
- Understand your customers in-depth – A deep understanding of your customers will reveal to you their life experiences, desires, and wants. For my clients, I personally use a mix of statistics websites and Reddit to create audience personas. This puts a face and name to my customers, which makes it easier to create content that connects them to my client’s product. You can use whatever method you deem fit, but make sure you understand your customers well enough to know why they would really want your product.
- Don’t be fluffy with your writing – Make sure you’re not just writing to write. Each sentence should convey a relevant thought.
- Commit to your customer – People are averse to being sold to, so make sure your content doesn’t talk about how great your product is. Instead, focus on your customer’s needs.
- Polarize – Once you understand your customers well enough, create content that is only for them. Don’t try to market to everybody. This gives your content a clear stance and strong tonality. At the very least, polarizing will keep you from sounding boring.
How to rewrite content for traffic that has dipped
If your traffic has dipped, that could be because of a google update, technical issues with your site, or a lack of seasonal demand. Here’s a guide on how to rejuvenate your traffic if you think it’s any of these reasons.
However, if you think it’s none of those reasons, then your content is the culprit.
If your content is not generating traffic, it’s because it’s not ranking for keywords. And if it’s not ranking for keywords, that’s because your keyword coverage is falling short compared to your competitors.
Google has now prioritized topics over individual keywords. That means, the keywords you were previously ranking for have now become part of a larger topic, and if you’re not covering that larger topic, Google doesn’t want to rank your content.
This is the concept of search intent, where the larger topic is the underlying reason your customer wants information about the subset of queries your content is covering.
For example, if someone searches “Should I sit opposite or beside my date on a first date?”, what they really want to know is “How to make a great impression on the first date”.
And an article, covering how to make a great first impression on the first date is the article that will rank.
So, to rank for keywords you were previously ranking for:
- Identify the search intent and the individual queries that comprise it. This means clustering your keywords. Creating keyword clusters will reveal both, individual LTK queries, as well as their underlying search intents. You will need a solid keyword clustering strategy to do this (PM me for ours). You can also do a SERP analysis to supplement your keyword research. If you don’t have a solid SERP analysis template, spend some time creating one, it will pay heavy dividends in the long run.
- Cover your keywords and search intent in depth and detail. This ties back in to deeply understanding your audience and your niche. The more information you can provide, the higher the likelihood that Google will reward your content. The logic is simple; more content gives Google more query coverage to index.
Keep in mind though, you can’t just fill up your posts with low-quality content because, just like your customers, Google wants you to put out content that is super-interesting and relevant. That is why they keep optimizing the algorithm to this end.
Neither can you create a single 100,000-word page with tons of search intents thrown into one post.
That’s called a book.
And google is not in the business of ranking books.
How to update your post
I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you how to update your posts. There’s not much to talk about here except that you need to ensure everything in your post is up to date.
- Statistics: In case your content includes any stats or data that have become outdated.
- External links: Check the webpages you’re linking out to in the post you’re rewriting. If there are any broken links, links with redirect chains, now irrelevant links, etc., replace them or get rid of them.
- Visuals: Make sure your illustrations and other visual media is up to date. For example, if you’ve included screenshots of an app’s UI, make sure they reflect the current version.
- Products or services: Make sure any products or services you have mentioned are up to date. For example, if you wrote a buying guide and included a review of a product that has since been discontinued, make sure you replace or remove that product from your content. Especially if your content is going to say something like  or “updated. 2023” in your title.
- Industry trends: If there have been any significant developments in your industry in the context of the topic you’re rewriting, be sure to mention them. For example, if I was writing about speeding up blog content production, I carve out a section to address chatGPT.
- Any studies you have referenced.
- Any new info in your industry that challenges what you have written.
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