There are tons of things you can do to improve an old site, like refresh the design, add more content, refresh the content that is there, add more interactive features, improve the on and off-page SEO, but this article will focus on analyzing the traffic the site is getting and finding quick and easy places to make improvements. We are talking like 20 minutes here.
When doing any kind of changes, donâ€™t go in blind. Use the data you have to find the areas that are easiest to fix and maximize traffic gain from the time you spend.
The main areas this post will focus on is building internal links. Not just building links to build links but finding where your visitors are landing and sending them deeper into your site to increase page views and decrease bounce rates.
Start out by opening your Google Analytics or whatever software you use to analyze traffic. I use Analytics so weâ€™ll work with that. Drill down to Content > Site Content > Traffic > Pages. At the bottom change it to show 25 pages. These are the most popular 25 pages on your site from the last month. You can expand it to a larger time frame if you feel the data will be more accurate. If you are short on time just pick the top 5, minus the homepage, to work on.
I usually take a screenshot and save it somewhere. Youâ€™ll need it later. Plus it is nice to look back on 3 months down the road to see how things have changed. Next check out the top Landing Pages and Exit Pages (in the sidebar below Pages). There is a really good chance the same pages will be listed for each. Take a quick screenshot of each or built a spreadsheet if you feel ambitious.
This is all the information you need to build out new links and plan a content strategy for the future.
Now it is time to look at the data you have. The list from Analytics shows a bunch of useful information: the bounce rate, exit rate and time on page. Obviously, biggest things we will focus on is decreasing the bounce and exit rate. It is actually pretty common for your top Pages, Landing Pages and Exit Pages to all be the same pages. One page that gets 40% of your traffic will also tend to lose the most traffic. There can be some outliers but that tends to be the rule.
It should be somewhat obvious what we are doing at this point. Finding where people enter the site and funnel them deeper in. Also, find where they are exiting and find ways to get them to hit at least one more page before leaving, or getting them to subscribe.
We are not looking to spend a ton of time at this, maybe 15 minutes per page. Start with your highest traffic page and skim it over really quickly. I often forget what Iâ€™ve written about. Now think about all the other content youâ€™ve written on that same subject. It may help to look at the list of pages youâ€™ve created to jar your memory.
Find the other pages that are most relevant to this page and build links within the body of the content. You can add a new sentence like: “For more information on bla-bla-blah check out our post [link]Post Title Link[link].”
You can also turn specific words or phrases in the page into link. For example: “Now that you have the [link]apples[link] cut up, spread them out evenly in the pie crust.” You have an article about apples to why not link to the word apple in your apple pie page which is getting a bunch of traffic.
I know this seems super obvious, yet you would be amazed at how many people donâ€™t do this. Just look at the kinds of traffic and authority Wikipedia gets. Largely due to their internal link structure.
For bloggers we all have those posts that we feel are great but for whatever reason donâ€™t get the initial readers. Find those hidden gems youâ€™ve written and build out internal links to them from your heavy traffic pages and they could take off.
What If No Other Pages Are Relevant?
If you cannot find any pages youâ€™ve created that are similar enough to link to, guess what, you now have ideas for new pages to create. When an old page is getting lots of traffic it tends to be doing OK in the SERPs. Which means you should be able to build out even more pages on that same subject and hopefully rank them just as well. If the new pages donâ€™t rank well, you still should be able to increase the rank of that one page by creating more content on the subject and linking to it. Building a micro-niche within your site.
Using the apple pie example you might want to create pages about other types of pies, additional recipes, pie crust ingredients, the types of apples to use, and so on.
If one of your pages is bringing in significant amounts of traffic you should build that topic into a small niche on your site. All new pages on the topic link to this strong central page, building them all up together. A lot of types of trees grow best when clustered together. The outside trees block the wind while the trees in the middle grow the tallest. Same applies to the web in a way. You build pages around your strongest content and they all grow better (in the SERPs) together.
Replacing External Links
Some people never link out. I always try to build links out to relevant content if it would be helpful to the user. Yet these links can bleed traffic away from your site. If you have the time you can build a new page that covers the same content as that external link. This way the traffic stays on your site.
Iâ€™m not recommending copying anything but put your own spin on the topic. You can reduce exit rate and increase site content at the same time.
Building these internal links will do many things for you:
- Reduce bounce and exit rate
- Strengthen your SERP positions
- Build your authority on the niche
- Increase page views
- Help funnel traffic to under performing areas
You are strengthening existing pages and in doing so should improve your SEO at the same time. A couple hours of work can have help you see some major returns.
You donâ€™t have to do this with every page. But any page getting a few hundred clicks a month may be worth revisiting.
For example, on this site I have one post that got 617 uniques over the past 30 days with a 5 minute on page and a 90% bounce rate. You better believe Iâ€™m going to spend a few minutes building internal links to if nothing else, drop that bounce rate down to a reasonable level.
Hopefully, this gives you some good ideas to help you get started. If you have any tips that have helped you improve your traffic on an old site, leave a comment below.