Posted by Cyrus-Shepard
Seven years ago, we published a post on the Moz Blog titled “How to Rank: 25 Step Master SEO Blueprint.”
From an SEO perspective, the post did extremely well.
Over time, the “How to Rank” post accumulated:
- 400k pageviews
- 200k organic visits
- 100s of linking root domains
Despite its success, seven years is a long time in SEO. The chart below shows what often happens when you don’t update your content.
Predictably, both rankings and traffic declined significantly. By the summer of 2020, the post was only seeing a few hundred visits per month.
Time to update
We decided to update the content. We did this not only for a ranking/traffic boost, but also because SEO has changed a lot since 2013.
The old post simply didn’t cut it anymore.
To regain our lost traffic, we also wanted to leverage Google’s freshness signals for ranking content.
Many SEOs mistakenly believe that freshness signals are simply about updating the content itself (or even lazier, putting a new timestamp on it.) In actuality, the freshness signals Google may look actually take many different forms:
- Content freshness.
- Rate of content change: More frequent changes to the content can indicate more relevant content.
- User engagement signals: Declining engagement over time can indicate stale content.
- Link freshness: The rate of link growth over time can indicate relevancy.
To be fair, the post had slipped significantly in all of these categories. It hasn’t been updated in years, engagement metrics had dropped, and hardly anyone new linked to it anymore.
To put it simply, Google had no good reason to rank the post highly.
This time when publishing, we also decided to launch the post as a stand-alone guide — instead of a blog post — which would be easier to maintain as evergreen content.
Finally, as I wrote in the guide itself, we simply wanted a cool guide to help people rank. One of the biggest questions we get from new folks after they read the Beginner’s Guide to SEO is: “What do I read next? How do I actually rank a page?”
This is exactly that SEO guide.
Below, we’ll discuss the SEO goals that we hope to achieve with the guide (the SEO behind the SEO), but if you haven’t check it out yet, here’s a link to the new guide:
Rarely do SEO blogs talk about their own SEO goals when publishing content, but we wanted to share some of our strategies for publishing this guide.
First of all, we wanted to improve on the keywords we already rank for (poorly). These are keywords like:
- How to rank
- SEO blueprint
- SEO step-by-step
Our keyword research process showed that the phrase “SEO checklist” has more search volume and variations that “SEO blueprint”, so we decided to go with “checklist” as a keyword.