Posted by Jeff_Baker

Why is everyone and their grandparents writing about content re-optimization?

I can’t speak for the people writing endless streams of blogs on the subject, but in Brafton’s case, it’s been the fastest technique for improving rankings and driving more traffic.

As a matter of fact, in this previous Moz post, we showed that rankings can improve in a matter of minutes after re-indexing.

But why does it work?

It’s probably a combination of factors (our favorite SEO copout!), which may include:

Age value: In a previous study we observed a clear relationship between time indexed and keyword/URL performance, absent of links:

More comprehensive content: Presumably, when re-optimizing content you are adding contextual depth to existing topics and breadth to related topics. It’s pretty clear at this point that Google understands when content has fully nailed a topic cluster.
It’s a known quantity: You’re only going to be re-optimizing content that has a high potential for return. In this blog post, I’ll explain how to identify content with a high potential for return.
How well does it work?

Brafton’s website is a bit of a playground for our marketing team to try new strategies. And that makes sense, because if something goes horribly wrong, the worst case scenario is that I look like an idiot for wasting resources, rather than losing a high-paying client on an experiment.

You can’t try untested procedures on patients. It’s just dangerous.

So we try new strategies and meticulously track the results on And by far, re-optimizing content results in the most immediate gains. It’s exactly where I would start with a client who was looking for fast results.

Example: Top Company Newsletters

Example: Best Social Media Campaigns

In many cases, re-optimizing content is not a “set it and forget it,” by any means. We frequently find that this game is an arms race, and we will lose rankings on an optimized article, and need to re-re-optimize our content to stay competitive.

(You can clearly see this happening in the second example!)

So how do you choose which content to re-optimize? Let’s dig in.

Step 1: Find your threshold keywords

If a piece of content isn’t ranking in the top five positions for its target keyword, or a high-value variant keyword, it’s not providing any value.

We want to see which keywords are just outside a position that could provide more impact if we were able to give them a boost. So we want to find keywords that rank worse than position 5. But we also want to set a limit on how poorly they rank.

Meaning, we don’t want to re-optimize for a keyword that ranks on page eleven. They need to be within reach (threshold).

We have found our threshold keywords to exist between positions 6–29.

Note: you can do this in any major SEO tool. Simply find the list of all keywords you rank for, and filter it to include only positions 6-29. I will jump around a few tools to show you what it looks like in each.

You have now filtered the list of keywords you rank for to include only threshold keywords. Good job!

Step 2: Filter for search volume

There’s no point in re-optimizing a piece of content for a keyword with little-to-no search volume. You will want to look at only keywords with search volumes that indicate a likelihood of success.

Advice: For me, I set that limit at 100 searches per month. I choose this number because I know, in the best case scenario (ranking in position 1), I will drive ~31 visitors per month via that keyword, assuming no featured snippet is present. It costs a lot of money to write blogs; I want to justify that investment.

You’ve now filtered your list to include only threshold keywords with sufficient search volume to justify re-optimizing.

Step 3: Filter for difficulty

Generally, I want to optimize the gravy train keywords — those with high search volume and low organic difficulty scores. I am looking for the easiest wins available.

You do not have to do this!

Note: If you want to target a highly competitive keyword in the previous list, you may be able to successfully do so by augmenting your re-optimization plan with some aggressive link building, and/or turning the content into a pillar page.

I don’t want to do this, so I will set up a difficulty filter to find easy wins.

But where do you set the limit?

This is a bit tricky, as each keyword difficulty tool is a bit different, and results may vary based on a whole host of factors related to your domain. But here are some fast-and-loose guidelines I provide to owners of mid-level domains (DA 30–55).

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