How To Find and Fix ‘Almost Awesome’ Blog Posts

by 15 02/18/2013

Editors Note:  What follows is a specific process for finding good blog posts and making them great.  If you’ve been writing a blog for more than six months or so, this process is a better use of your time than writing another article.

Some blog posts are better than others.

They sound better, rank higher, and convert more visitors than the other posts. They jump out in your Analytics. You know which ones they are.

But what about the posts that are on the edge of greatness? They could do more, but something is holding them back.

They’re almost awesome. They just need a little help.

It’s easier and faster than writing and promoting a new post. It’s also a more certain way of getting results, since your next post might stink.

Two kinds of posts have the highest potential:

  • Almost awesome at getting traffic
  • Almost awesome at getting conversions

It’s almost a traffic magnet

You likely have blog posts (and web pages) that are ranking in the first or second position …on page two.

That’s not all bad. The top of page two is almost the bottom of page one. A few simple changes might improve your rank a bit and improve your traffic a lot.

Like aces in blackjack, it’s good to find 1s and 11s in your Analytics. (That’s why I call it Keyword Design Blackjack). Here’s how to find those posts with almost-awesome rankings:

1. Go to Analytics and set the date range for at least a year.
2. Go to 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.

Average Position Filter

Now you’re looking at a list of phrases. You rank at the top of page two for these.  Filter out the brand phrases (your company name), and start scrolling through. You should recognize the ones related to blog posts.

 

average-position

 

Search for them in Google to confirm which posts they are and the general rank for each. You’ll soon have a list of posts that are on the edge of SEO greatness. Now, let’s make them rank higher.

These posts probably never got much SEO attention. Maybe you never did real keyword research. But it doesn’t matter now, because Analytics just gave you your target phrase. You can just go back and edit the post for it using these best practices for on-page SEO:

1. Make sure the keyword appears in the beginning of the page title.
2. Make sure the keyword appears at least once in the H1 (header) tag.
3. Make sure the keyword appears at four to six times in the body text if possible.
4. Make sure there are at least a few links on other pages with the keyword in the links

The first three recommendations are fairly straightforward but let me explain #4 a bit further.

In SEO, we call this cross-linking and it is best illustrated by example.

In the example, we could link the term social proof examples from this post to the post that is ranking on page two.  Linking to that article with those keywords will funnel more relevance for the term ‘social proof examples’ to that page.   See what I did there?

Don’t try too hard. If it feels like keyword stuffing, don’t do it. You just want to indicate the relevance for the phrase a bit more. The post will be less awesome if you compromise too much for the sake of search traffic.

It’s almost a conversion machine

The other kind of near-awesome posts are those that turn visitors into leads and subscribers, but they don’t get many visitors. Here’s how to find those hidden gems and put them on display.

Russ Henneberry once showed us how to find which posts have the highest conversion rate. We want to do the same thing here. Here’s where to look:

1. Go to Analytics and give yourself at least a year of data.
2. Go to Conversions > Goals > Reverse Funnel Path.
3. Filter this report so only blog posts appear.
4. Sort by Goal Completions.

Screen shot 2013-01-26 at 9.19.52 PM

You could set a filter to include only pages that are, for example, in the /blog/ directory

You could set a filter to include only pages that are in the /blog/ directory

Now you can see which of your posts convert the most visitors. But the real test is the conversion rate, not the total conversions. To find this, roll up your sleeves and export this report to Excel.

Next, look up the total page views for these posts under Content > Site Content > All Pages, and filter so only the blog posts appear.

 

Screen shot 2013-01-26 at 9.23.46 PM

 

Enter this data into another column in the spreadsheet. Divide the total conversions column by the pageviews column and you’ve got your conversion rate for each post. Anything above 1% is considered awesome.

 

blog_post_views_conversions

 

Surprised? Did you find a few older, almost-awesome posts that visitors love? Already thinking about ways to drive more traffic to these? Good.

If you’re not sure how, try these ideas:

1. Go back to older posts that still get traffic and add a link.
2. Write new posts on similar topics and add a link.
3. Write a roundup of your top posts. Put this one at the top.
4. Share it again: Twitter, FB, G+, and LinkedIn.
5. Add it to your email signature.
6. Put it in your home page slideshow.
7. Use that $100 Google Adwords promotion in your desk drawer to buy some traffic with PPC.

Also Awesome: Increasing Quality

Since you’re already working on these posts, look for other ways to make them better for readers. Give them an upgrade.

  1. If it didn’t have an image, add one. If it did but the image wasn’t great, find a better one.
  2. If it didn’t have a strong call to action, add one. If it did but it wasn’t compelling, try another one.
  3. If it was longer than necessary, edit it down.
  4. If it didn’t have examples, add them.
  5. If text wasn’t formatted for easy scanning, add headers, bolding, and bullets. Shorten paragraphs and sentences.
  6. If it included options, but they were weak, strengthen them. Remove language such as “it would seem to me,” “in my opinion,” “sometimes,” and “maybe.”

All great posts meet certain blogging criteria. When it’s all said and done, this is the root of awesomeness.

More Traffic + More Conversions = Awesome

This process takes time — it’s worth it. Once you’re done, set an annotation for today in Google Analytics: “Awesome Day.”

Last step: add a reminder on your calendar to do this again in six months: “Increase Awesomeness.”

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About 

Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, a web design company in Chicago. He wrote an (you guessed it) awesome book called Content Chemistry, An Illustrated Guide to Content Marketing You can find Andy on Google+ and Twitter.

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15 COMMENTS

Sylvain Gauchet

Thanks for the tips Andy. Very practical info. I have to act on all of those, as many posts are not keyword optimized and could be easier to read (and lack images)..

Another item on my todo list ;)

February 18, 2013 Reply

Jonathan Goldford

Great post Andy. I really like the tip on how to find keyword phrases that you’re ranking for, but not ranking well enough. It’s amazing how some slight content tweaks can improve a post’s rankings so significantly.

February 18, 2013 Reply

kevin

Yes thanks these are great tips. Some very simple things to check that can really make a diffrence.

I think making sure the pages are easy to read is a big issue on a lot of blog posts. Just take this post for exmaple how small the paragraphs are for easy reading.

Just one thing I think it is “reverse goal path” not “reverse funnel path” )

February 19, 2013 Reply

    Harry Fassett

    Saying it either way is fine Kevin, i.e “reverse funnel path” or “reverse goal path” but I am pretty sure ” exmaple” as you wrote it is spelled “example”. :-) Anyway, hope that helps.:-)

    June 18, 2013 Reply

Vernon Riley

Thanks for a great post. Can really make a difference promoting the nearly posts into really visible ones. It’s surprising how many posts can languish unseen in positions 11, 12.

February 20, 2013 Reply

Sylvain Gauchet

Hey Andy, me again.

Quick question: what if I optimize a blog post that ranks 11+ for a keyword phrase in order to make it rank better for that specific phrase BUT in the process I end up desoptimizing it (?!) for another one that already performs great.

Shouldn’t we double check if any other keyword phrase works better (post rank <10) before doing anything? And optimize for the new one only if a tool like Google Keyword Tools tells us there are more requests for that new one?

February 20, 2013 Reply

    Jonathan Goldford

    Great suggestion Sylvain. It’s worth keeping in mind the other keywords you rank for before making any changes.

    February 20, 2013 Reply

    Andy Crestodina

    Hi again, Sylvain.

    Yes, remember that this report is showing you the AVERAGE position, which may be a combination of several phrases. It might rank 8 for one phrase and 14 for another. Make sure to check the rank for various keywords. If it’s ranking for more than one, proceed with caution. You might improve the rank for a phrase that gets fewer searches, and lower the rank for a phrase that gets more searches!

    Hope this helps. Happy Rankings!

    February 22, 2013 Reply

Stacey

There was some tips that I knew here, but as usual, far more that I didn’t. I’m actually just starting with my content marketing and I plan to use the tips from the increasing quality section, as a check list before I publish a new article.

February 22, 2013 Reply

Sudipto

Hey Andy,
Awesome post with great information. I really enjoyed this post while reading and i think this post is really very helpful to me and also all the newbies. These tips are really very helpful. Thanks for sharing such nice tips.

February 26, 2013 Reply

Robert Andrews

Great advice. I’m always looking for ways to improve my blog. I will certainly implement these tips as I continue to learn about blogging.

June 18, 2013 Reply

Brian

Nice post, Andy! I’ve never really thought about going back and making a blog post ‘better’—I’ll try these tips out on some older posts and let you know how it works out. Thx.

June 19, 2013 Reply

Dick

Very helpful tips and with a driving point of continuous improvement in connecting with readers

July 2, 2013 Reply

Ehsan Mahmood

Really informative post to give life to your old posts. I will try to follow all tips.

November 5, 2013 Reply


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