How to rank existing articles in search engines

Your main objective should always be to provide your readers with meaningful insights and valuable information. However, to attract potential new visitors, embracing search engines is key. This includes a strategic focus on efforts to rank existing articles higher, ensuring your valuable content reaches a wider audience.

Tips to improve existing articles to rank better in search engines

Let your customer know you are the expert

The most effective strategy to welcome new visitors via search engines is to help them understand your topical expertise.

Forget trying to “game” the search engines. Instead, make it easy for newcomers to read your content. This is also why it is crucial to regularly optimize your content to rank existing articles for better search engine visibility. You will find that it is often easier than ranking a brand-new article.

Achieving lasting success in search engines is a privilege that must be earned. There are no shortcuts. This journey requires time, patience, and unwavering commitment.

Excellent information is no guarantee for success

Anyone can achieve good rankings with hard work and dedication. You can outrank more prominent websites. But you have to earn it. And it will not happen overnight.

And it does not mean you can rank for any search term in your chosen industry.

You must be prepared to wait at least 6 months for your true ranking to show. I know it seems like a long time, but this is also why improving the ranking of existing articles continuously is an excellent idea.

From my experience, your website will jump around a lot in the search engine rankings during the first 6-12 months. 

Remember, search engines want to show your content as long as it is the best available information.

Here is my checklist to go through those days when you are full of doubt.

Checklist for search engine rankings

Use our checklist below to ensure your time is well spent when aiming to rank your existing articles in search engines.

Stay focused and avoid “shortcuts”

First, there are no shortcuts worth pursuing if you are building a website for the long term.

Over time, you will be bombarded with different shady practices. And sure, these “tricks” could yield short-term boosts. I say short-term because search engines are smart. They catch people who cheat or try to play the system.

I do not believe in using anything that is not considered good practice by search engines. It will come back to haunt you.

And, after all, you are trying to build something for the future. Why risk it?

Analyze the competition

Arm yourself with 10 keyword phrases and go to your favorite search engine. Search and make a list of the competitors in the top 10. Now, compare your website to your competition using the below criteria:

  • Age: If your website is less than two years old, you may be treated as the new kid on the block.

    However, everything else equal, it will be “easier” to rank existing articles higher.

    You should expect your rankings to jump around for the first 6-12 months.

    Keep your head down and take comfort that others may quit – but not you.

  • Content: Look at your competitors and try to rank the quality and user experience they deliver objectively. 

    Are you sure your content can compete? Would you prefer your website to theirs? If not, why not?

    Let your competitors inspire you, and learn what you could do better. But never copy, or there can be severe consequences.

  • Links: Do they have more links pointing to their website and webpage? If they are an older, more established website, they most likely have more external links. 

    Keep plugging away on HARO and outreach to find ways to build relevant links to your website.

    But you should also focus on internal links. Internal links are links from your articles. Make sure to link to your web pages where it makes sense. Here, you can make an immediate improvement.

    All it takes is time and effort.

    There are many ways to see links to a competitor’s website. Both Ahrefs and Ubersuggest offer free online backlink checkers.

Select a keyword phrase with a search volume

It is hard to rank in the top 10 in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS). The top 3 are, of course, even harder. But it can be done with careful planning and hard work.

It is also difficult to rank for any keyword. So, make sure that you target realistic keywords with an existing search volume.

  • What keyword phrases is your article targeting?
  • Can you compete? Is it realistic?
  • Should you look for alternative keywords? It could be smarter even if the search volume is lower.

There are many ways to see search volume data. There are even some free tools available. 

Ahrefs is very popular and an excellent tool. However, it starts at $99 per month, and the cheaper free trial option is no longer available. Thus, it is a worthwhile investment but a burdensome cost to stomach when you start.

The Chrome extension Keyword Surfer will also give you search volume data. And it is free.

Knowing search engine data will help you pick keywords worth fighting for.

Keyword and search intent

You need to dig deeper when you have picked a keyword with an existing search volume. 

Looking at your selected keyword, ask yourself if your article answers the question or solves the problem for visitors. Is there a way to add more value to help the article rank?

It is vital to stay user-focused and provide answers and solutions. 

An excellent user experience will lead to visitors spending more time on your website. And search engines pay attention to stickiness and will reward you. 

There are several questions you can ask yourself:

  • Would a 10-year-old understand my article?
  • Do I assume a certain level of knowledge for a beginner-level question?
  • Could a novice follow my instructions and be successful?

You should never dumb down your content. You need to be clear and paint a complete picture.

Also, always look at how other websites present their information. If they rank in the top 10, they must be doing something right.

Look closely at the top 10 search results (again)

Search for your keyword in your favorite search engine and look closely at the top 10 returned results.

Are these websites like your website? Or are they something completely different?

If you are running a blog-type website, it will be challenging to rank if the search engines prefer to rank e-commerce stores or video content like YouTube videos. 

If you don’t see websites like yours in the top 10, you should rethink your selected keyword. Search engines say they prefer answers and solutions presented differently.

You may disagree. However, you will face an uphill struggle if you target keywords for which search engines reward other media and websites.

Improve the ranking of existing articles

At this point, you have looked at:

  • keywords
  • content
  • competitors
  • search engines

You have hopefully found some reasons to explain why your competitors are outranking you.

You have to accept some factors as they are outside your control. The age of your website and external links to your web pages are good examples.

You should prioritize outreach and external link-building from day 1. And I am not talking about any links. Look for links from websites that complement your niche. If you, for example, are writing about herbs and vegetables, partnering up with a website offering food recipes would make sense.  

But there are also things you can do. Here are 3 action points where you are in complete control.

1. Write more content

Looking closely at your old articles, you may find blind spots—areas your competitors are covering but not you.

When you analyze 10 competitors, seeing 3 or 4 angles that need to be covered is not unusual.

Using your own words, write that content and make it excellent.

More content will add to the user experience and help old articles rank higher.

2. Produce better content

Are you so busy producing new content that you forget your existing articles?

That is a mistake. 

You need to revisit the articles you have already published. Add a revisit day to your publishing schedule and make it a daily routine.

You are spending a lot of time writing articles. And your writing will improve over time. 

You also learn more and get more experience as you educate yourself to stay on top of the developments in your niche.

Ensure that this experience, skill, and knowledge are reflected in your earlier articles. Better content will make old articles rank higher.

Do not be afraid to update and improve. Your website should be living and dynamic.

Note: If you have a web page that ranks extremely well you should be careful to update or change the article. Instead analyse and learn from the article.

Building external links takes time, and you do not control the process. You must wait for other publishers and potential partners to respond to your outreach.

But you are in control of internal links from your web pages.

It is far too common to write an article, publish it, and then focus all efforts on the following article.

Look at the articles you have already published and look for internal links from your web pages.

If you want to rank old articles, you must stay focused and on topic. The internal link needs to make sense and enrich the user experience.

However, when you write better blog posts or articles in a well-defined niche, you will find many opportunities to link within your web pages.

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