#122 – Creating New Content vs Optimizing Old Content: Which One Should You Do Right Now?

What you will learn

  • Why you should maintain at least a basic spreadsheet of all your content
  • Simple tricks we used to increase traffic and user engagement for AuthorityHacker.com
  • When it’s a good idea to write new content and when it’s better to re-optimize
  • Onpage and off-page SEO tips for re-optimizing your content

We are in Chiang Mai this week! Join us for an Authority Hacker meetup on October 31st. Location: TBA. For more information, go to the Facebook event here.

As mentioned last week, the new Authority Hacker site is up. As we were migrating our articles, we had to take an inventory of the content we had.

This was partly due to mistakes (broken YouTube videos anyone?). But also to identify low hanging fruit for improvement.

One thing we didn’t account for when getting started was Content maintenance.

As is the case with our other sites as well, we produced hundreds of articles. Some do really well. Others so so.

There’s a choice we need to make here: Do we find more keywords and just accept that some existing ones don’t rank? Or do we update existing content and “try again”?

You get into a mill of creating new content that replaces old content’s falling ranking, and when your churn rate = new traffic, you stagnate.

It takes less resources to update existing content than starting a new piece from scratch, so the point of breaking even is higher.

Why Some Content Fails and Some Succeeds

On one hand, only 1 in 20 articles do really well. On the other hand, content is freakkin’ expensive, especially if you actually try.

Thus increasing your article hit rate is one of the most significant profit margin gains you can make.

All of this is largely dependent on Google’s secret-sauce complex algorithm of course.

Here’s a simplified version of important factors:

  • Factor #1) Relevant + quality content
  • Factor #2) A site’s authority
  • Factor #3) Competition

Factors 2 + 3 are constantly in flux. Also, most people don’t update or edit their existing content too much once it’s published.

When Should You Re-Optimize the Old vs Create Something New

You already have a bunch of content on your site. So Make a spreadsheet including:

  • Page URL
  • Main keyword ranking
  • Organic traffic from the past 30 days


  • Let’s say over 60% of your content is not on page 1 for it’s main keyword
  • You rerun keyword analysis for target keywords and still believe you can rank for it
  • Time to re-optimize!

Re-Optimizing: What to Do to Rank Higher


  • General keyword density stuff. There’s a bunch of on-page tools coming out:
  • Internal linking
  • Improving user metrics
    • Add videos / audio on page
  • Adjust content length
    • It’s usually not recommended to make content shorter
    • Kyle Roof from Page Optimizer Pro said in some cases it helps
  • Cover relevant sub-topics
  • Play with your page layout

Quality of Content

There are measurable ways like covering certain sub-topics or hitting certain keywords. But there are harder-to-measure ways too.

Increasing General Quality

If you’ve gotten your content from Textbroker or something, consider getting a higher quality writer to write your content.

Really look at what else is out there and ask “How can I do better?” If you are doing reviews, look at sites like The Wirecutter. Ask questions like:

  • Am I serving the different use cases of a product?
  • Am I providing value? – not just rewriting amazon listings, but real value (i.e how to choose x product)
  • Am I doing real research? – find out what hardcore users are saying on quora/reddit/niche forums
  • Images/video? – buy the product yourself, take screenshots, or use services that photograph your product (yes, these exist: https://onlineproductphotography.co.uk, https://www.productphotography.com)


Build moar linkz!!!

  • Skyscraper
  • Guest Posts

Build more links like the top ranking pages

  • Identify links the top pages have
  • Try to copy them or get the same type

Do a 2nd round of content promo.

Creating Something New: When Should You Pick New Keywords

When You Have a New Site / Low Authority

  • You likely don’t have enough authority to rank for much.
  • Generally the first 6-12 months will be like this.
  • At this point, you can’t assess whether your content is a hit or a miss.
  • Therefore any decision to re-write is based on an incomplete picture.

When You Haven’t Covered a Niche Very Thoroughly

  • You may find certain subtopics are hits and other are misses

For Subtopics You Are Constantly Getting Hits On, Go Deep

  • Kind of like playing battleships.
  • Randomly throw stuff out there.
  • Once you get positive feedback – zero in on it.
  • This mistake people make is trying to carpet bomb an area on day 1.

When There’s a Big New Content Opportunity

  • New product reviews
  • Big skyscraper opportunity
  • Newsjacking for links


As your site matures, more and more resources will be allocated to updating content.

Don’t make the mistake of getting into a new content mill without processes for updating existing content.

Building a good content update checklist/process is a good idea. At the very least, keep a spreadsheet with all your content:

  • Categorize it
  • It will help you make decisions about what to work on
  • Use a tool like Supermetrics to grab detailed analytics data
  • Avoid hitting the same keyword twice
  • Content grouping in analytics is a good idea too