Until it happened to me, I didn’t realize how much of a hit your traffic can take when a post that brings in a big chunk of your audience falls just 5 places down the ranks.

The thing is, the post – Dropbox vs Google Drive – deserved to fall. It was written in 2014 and not keyword optimized in the slightest. Yet, as if by chance, it was ranking high for a selection of popular keywords, including #3 for ‘dropbox vs google drive’. See this data with Ahrefs’ Positions Explorer:

Ahrefs Positions Explorer

Before we had a real keyword research or on-page optimization strategy in place, we’d write without any regard for SEO, and hope something sticks. In the harsh jungle of page 1, even if something sticks, it won’t stay there forever unless it’s updated.

For almost 2 years, our post wasn’t updated, and here’s what happened to it:

low on google

Sad isn’t it?

If you think that’s sad, check out the plummeting traffic:

google analytics

Since that post was one of our great top-of-the-funnel lead generation pieces, our overall traffic took a hard hit, too.

Fortunately, shortly after noticing the decline, something very handy landed in my inbox.

It was email #5 of Tim Soulo’s 100k Blog Framework, which included advice on how to push your old articles to the top of Google. The steps Tim shared went like this:

  1. Update your article with fresh information (rewrite sections that are out of date; fix broken links);
  2. Make sure your On-Page optimization is absolutely perfect;
  3. Give your updated article a round of good old promotion (build some links to it).

And now I’m going to show you exactly how I applied that, and what happened as a result.

Step 1: Rewrite Tiny Sections Of The Article

First of all, I changed the title from ‘Why I Moved from Dropbox to Google Drive’ to include the keyword we wanted to claw back: ‘Dropbox vs Google Drive: Which Should You Choose?’.

I made sure to include the keyword in the first section of the article.

wordpress edit

I added a new paragraph of content (55 words), frankly only to get a deep link in there.

After correcting a few spelling errors and changing the slug from /why-i-moved-from-dropbox-to-google-drive to /dropbox-vs-google-drive, my extremely lazy content edits were complete.

Step 2: Change The Publishing Date And Bump It To The Top Of Your Blog

Changing the publishing date to the day you edit it is a way to show Google that it’s an updated page, and make it visible to people who land on your /blog page.

In WordPress, change the date here:

wordpress change date

Step 3: Update Your SEO Metadata

Just like all of the other things that were out of date, the SEO metadata wasn’t optimized at all. Using All in One SEO, I made sure that ‘Dropbox vs Google Drive’ was in the meta description and keywords box. Nothing complicated.

all in one seo

Step 4: Promote it like a new article

After making these optimizations — which took a grand total of 15 minutes at most — I added the post to our usual content promotion process, which you can steal HERE. (Bear in mind, it’s pretty involved but works like a charm.)

We sent an email out to our blog list, posted it on Reddit, and shared it to our social media accounts with Buffer.

And, within just 4 days, the page climbed from #8 to #3 in Google for its target keyword and traffic to that page increased by 486%.

big boost in traffic

*explosion sound effect*

So, you have a ton of old pages, what do you do?

The best way to track rank dropping over time is by using the Ahrefs positions tracker. Checking your weekly digest email will show you which of your pages need more effort if they’re going to keep bringing you in the same traffic.

Remember, there’s new content being churned out all the time, and some of it is bound to be optimizing for the same keywords in the hope of dethroning you.

So, make sure to set up Ahrefs to check your pages for rank changes, and take a quick look at the weekly digest emails as they come in to make sure that your content isn’t getting pushed into the dark underbelly of page 2.

If it is, take action with the steps above and your old, unoptimized content should revert back to being relevant again.

Here’s what a drop from #3 to #8 can do to you:

traffic recovery

So if you see a drop of even just a few positions, remember that it will exponentially reduce the traffic to that page. If that’s one of the top 10 most trafficked pages on your site, it’s cause for alarm.

Your Quick-Action Checklist For Switching From Unoptimized To Evergreen Content

To sum things up, here’s a quick checklist you should run through each time you get that worrying report telling you you’re steadily becoming irrelevant:

  • Rewrite out-of-date paragraphs
  • Add links to your new content (so all the links aren’t pointing to ancient sources)
  • Update the title to include the keyword
  • Update the slug to include the keyword
  • Include the keyword in the first 100 words
  • Mention it in at least one sub-heading
  • Edit your metadata to include your target keyword
  • Change the publishing date to today
  • Bump it up onto the first page of your blog
  • Email it to your subscribers
  • Run your promotion process (post to Reddit, share to social media, etc.)
  • Keep a close eye on the rank over the next few days

(Grab a re-usable copy of this checklist HERE)

There Is A Better Way…

Now that I’ve said all of this, I want to just add… this is not the best way to do it. Scrambling to claw a rank back when you’ve already lost traffic because of it isn’t a situation anyone wants to be in.

To avoid losing traffic (even if you do re-rank the post), updating old content to keep it evergreen should be part of your weekly routine, prioritizing the old content that’s already performing well.

So, I hope you’ve found this guide useful, and that it helps if you find your high-performing content fading into non-existence.

Any questions or comments, just leave them below.