How Can We Improve Rankings For Older Content? Ask An SEO – Search Engine Journal

Faith has content sitting stagnant on pages four and five of Google. How can she improve rankings now? Ask An SEO’s Adam Riemer responds.
How can you help existing webpages get new traction and move up in search rankings?
That’s the question posed by Faith in this edition of Ask An SEO. She wrote:
“I have a few keywords ranking on the fourth or fifth page of Google.
It’s been a year ranking at this position. What should I do to improve the rankings now?”
Adam Riemer from Adam Riemer Marketing shares his response with Miranda Miller, Writer & Editor, in this edition of Ask An SEO.
Evaluating internal pages that may be competing against your candidates for optimization is an important first step, he says.
Improving Page Speed and Core Web Vitals may also give you new opportunities to improve rankings.
Adam shares a step-by-step process for finding opportunities to improve existing content with local schema, improving a user’s on-page experience, getting links from relevant media sources, and more.
You can watch the full video here and find the full transcript below.
Miranda Miller: Hello, and welcome to Ask An SEO. … This week, we have with us Adam Riemer from Adam Riemer Marketing, AdamRiemer.me.
The question that people have for you this week comes from Faith.
Faith has a few keywords ranking on the fourth or fifth page of Google. They’ve been stable there for about a year, and she would like to know: What can she do to improve those rankings now?
Adam Riemer: Okay. That’s a good question and comes up way too often. I have to deal with that with a lot of clients. Well, not deal with it, but I get to solve that problem for a lot of clients.
Adam Riemer: And basically, the very first thing I do is, I’ll take a tool, whether it’s Authority Labs or Semrush; I think Ahrefs does this too.
And I’ll look to see: Do we have competing pages in those positions?
And is there one with an indent after it, maybe? And from there, I’ll be like, Okay, well… do both of these pages need to exist?
If there is nothing competing and it’s just one page there, I start to look at the page experience, and I say, Okay, why is this not the best experience for the user or for the search query?
And then we start to address, and you can look at, Do we properly explain the concept?
Is the article as good as it could be?
Is it formatted correctly? Could it use some bulking up?
Sometimes, one thing I’ve had to do a lot recently… there’s a case study on my website right now recently, I have to delete most of the copy because people just wrote copy to hit a minimum word count by actually reducing it, and just sharing the actual information.
We’ve been able to pop our clients up to the top positions from there.
Another option you can do, if everything’s perfect and your copy’s great… you can start to look at Page Speed and Core Web Vitals.
That’s not going to move the needle much, but when it does, it’s going to help you convert more traffic and decrease your bounce rate.
Another thing you can try to do is build some internal links from contextually relevant content.
You don’t want to just link to that page off of keywords for the sake of doing it.
Build out your content strategy. Look for previous articles.
If you’re on WordPress, for example, you can log in, click on posts, and then click on pages.
You do this twice and type in the keyword or a similar version of the keyword. And that’ll pull up a list of the actual pages that mention this. And you can start building words that way.
You can also use search operators. We’ll do site, put your URL in, and then in quotation marks, you’ll put in the keyword phrase, and it’ll scan through your website for mentions of that specific keyword or phrase throughout the site.
And now you have a list of pages you can build internal links from.
You can also try doing PR work. So if your content or if your page is genuinely good enough, then you can probably attract backlinks from major media, possibly bloggers.
Adam Riemer: If you’re local, go for local websites and complementary companies, and try to do it that way. It won’t be an immediate result, but you will start to see climbing if it’s good.
If it’s a product page and you’re not the manufacturer, it doesn’t make sense to give you an anchor or a backlink.
So what you want to do then is you want to create content that’s worth linking to and get backlinks that way, and pass the authority to the page.
Those are all different ways you can pop up from position or page four and five to the front page of Google and possibly overtake it.
The last thing to look at, and probably should be done earlier, is the schema.
A lot of people forget that schema.org does update its libraries regularly. So you’ll want to go in and say, Do I have everything here? Did I add a video?
And is there video object schema?
Do I have FAQs on here?
Or did I add some, and is there FAQ schema?
If it’s listed as an article, because maybe you’re a publisher, there’s probably a part, and you can nest it in the has part portion of the schema.
And those are always… you can actually take your page from the fourth and fifth page of Google and bump it up to page one while achieving some featured rich results.
Miranda Miller: That is awesome. That’s great information, Adam.
I have a couple of follow-up questions for you.
I was wondering – when you’re evaluating page experience, the experience that any given user is having on that website and on that specific page, do you use tools to help you with that?
Or is it a largely manual process, and what are you looking for?
Adam Riemer: Depends on what I’m looking at on the page, specifically.
If I notice it’s just going really slow, then I’ll use webpagetest.org. That’s my first go-to tool because the waterfall is very easy to dissect, and they’ve now added Core Web Vitals – that’s similar to what you’ll see in Search Console.
So that way, I can say, Okay, this is rendering first. This is coming, or this is being pulled in first before we actually start to render the page, and we can move it to the end. It doesn’t need to be there.
We can identify all the fonts and everything else that’s slowing down the page.
We can also look for scripts and code that aren’t being used anymore – because it’s all just right there in front of you.
Another thing I’ll do is, a lot of time, branding teams will come in and say, “No, this is the messaging that we have to use.
And this is what we want for our thing, for our product or our service or our content.”
When in reality, that’s what they want. That’s not what the end user or what these search engines think.
And if you’re not going to give the proper words and the proper message to your users, then you’re not going to get those users.
So what I do is I make that same branding team go on a video call outside, both of us, and we will start saying the H1 tag and the top blurb to random people or the students, saying, What does this mean?
What do we offer? What do we do?
Nine times out of ten, people can’t answer, and they have no idea. And it really drives it home.
I’ve made a fortune 500 CEO actually stand outside and say what his branding team made us put on the website – it did not go well.
But it drove the point home: That nobody knows what it is we do or sell or what the content of the article’s supposed to be.
And this is a great way to start to make it resonate; okay, let’s keep the messaging while keeping branding and tax. So there’s a good balance. So really, it just depends on what the goal is and what we’re looking at for page experience.
Miranda Miller: That’s great. And the other thing I wondered about is when we’re talking about link building and getting in front of news media and, you know, people who might give you a relevant link.
What tips do you have to stand out in a jam-packed inbox?
Adam Riemer:
Avoid “MeWe” syndrome and compliment them.
And I actually did this with a client yesterday. I said, “Your email was not the best it could have been.”
They were like, “Why? We covered everything.”
That’s the problem. Let’s go through and read this.
And every time a sentence starts with “I,” ”We,” “Ours,” or “My,” I put a finger up. And if those words appeared in the sentence again, they get two fingers for each one.
So within the first three sentences, we had already hit 10 fingers pointing up.
How is this about the journalist? They were like: “Because they write about this topic.”
But it’s not about the journalist. “About the journalist” means you’ve read two or three of their articles and probably visited their social media.
So what I do is I look for an older article that they’re probably proud of and a recent one that are both topically relevant.
And then I say,
“Hey, thank you for your article about this, this and this. The point about halfway down where you mention WordPress versus Wix versus GoDaddy, for example, and the way that you called out the brand new features that launched, I had no idea that you could do this with X, Y, and Z CRM systems or CMS systems.”
So then you want to say, “I also notice you updated here where you have WordPress versus Squarespace. Have you considered doing a comparison chart and maybe adding X, Y, Z in, and X, Y, Z would be the new client?” Just to introduce and say, they have these features, including the ones you personally enjoyed in your review under the pros and cons list here.
And now what you’re doing is you’re showing you actually read it, and you’re giving a reason to include, and you’re saying, this is the only one.
Or you can say, “X, Y, Z company has this feature just like this company. And just like that one, but it’s not available there. And they’re actually doing this. I work with them. I would be happy to give you a complimentary account if you’d like to review it.”
If it’s just a product page… like, we’re both wearing T-shirts. So maybe it’s the top 30 T-shirts or the best 30 T-shirts for interviewing on Search Engine Journal.
So we go in, and we see Cosmopolitan and Refinery 29 and Rolling Stone and all these other publications – one, you’re going to need an affiliate program because they’re all affiliate sites now.
And two, you’re going to also need to cater to the journalist. Well, that’s actually not true because the journalists in those publications specifically do have editorial control, and not everything on those lists has to be an affiliate link. It just helps, which means you don’t get your backlink because it’s gonna go through a 307 redirect.
But this is me rambling. And I’m sorry, please keep me focused.
Miranda Miller: You’re good.
Adam Riemer: Good for hours.
Miranda Miller: That is a lot of great advice. And as an editor, I can tell you, we can smell it a mile away if you’ve just dropped our name in there and didn’t actually, like, put any homework into what the publication is about and why we would link to you.
And yeah. If… what did you call it? “MeWe” syndrome – if you’re just talking about yourself. You’re just that guy in the corner at the party. Nobody wants to talk to you, nobody wants to give you a link.
Well, thank you, Adam. I really appreciate your time.
Adam Riemer: Can I finish the one part real quick? Sorry. So, yeah.
So when you’re going through that list, it’s not enough. You can click on the author’s name, and you’ll see all of the articles they’ve written.
So what you want to do then, because we’re going to be pitching our T-shirt, is we want to say: “Okay, your article here, I had no idea that Lululemon produces T-shirts.”
And then say, “In your recent one, the third one down where you featured the green T-shirt with XYZ prank is stunning. Thank you for the link off to Nordstrom. Our company offers this type of T-shirt, which is missing. It’s made from an eco-friendly thing here, which I notice may be a big topic for you because you wrote about eco-friendly hair ties and eco-friendly telephones.”
I’m just looking at stuff that’s on. And it sounds weird. I have hair ties. I just bought them for my neighbor.
That’s how you get in front of them: You show that you actually paid attention.
You thank them for their advice, and you cater to what matters to them and take out the mentions of “I, we, and our,” and talk about them to them and compliment their work. That’s how you do it.
We get about… out of every five emails we send, we get about three responses, and usually, at least one of those turns into a yes, because we take the time. We don’t have as much outreach, but it’s more effective outreach.
Miranda Miller: Nice. I love that. There’s no spray-and-pray happening. Exactly. Well, thank you, Adam,
Adam Riemer: I’m sorry for interrupting.
Miranda Miller: No, no, you’re good. And thank you, Faith, for the great question.
We will have a transcript and some highlights from Adam’s advice and the tips that he shared on searchenginejournal.com. So check that out, and you’ll find a link there to submit your own questions for Ask An SEO. Until next time. Thank you.
Adam Riemer:
Bye, thanks for having me.
More Resources:
Editor’s note: Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by Search Engine Journal. Got a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!
Writer, editor & marketing professional; digital nomad, feminist and mother bear. 15 years of experience planning & executing engaging digital …
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