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4 SEO Steps to Push a Page-One Blog Post into the Top 3 Search Results

Published: December 4, 2013

Author: Kristi Kellogg

YayHitting “publish” on a blog post does not mean a content marketer’s job is finished – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. After a post goes live, it’s time to create tracking codes for social sharing, promote the content socially, and then, in the weeks and months to come, monitor the content’s performance in Google’s SERPs and determine opportunities to make the post rank higher.
A live post is a living post, a post you can measure and improve upon. The content team at our global Internet marketing firm, Bruce Clay Inc., uses Google Analytics and the SEOToolSet to identify already high-ranking content and then optimize it so its rankings further increase.
A recent study by Compete found that 53 percent of traffic goes to the No. 1 organic SERP entry, 15 percent to the No. 2 position, 9 percent to the No. 3 position – it goes increasingly downhill from there. As Bruce Clay would say, the top three results are the new page one – so if you are already on page one, it’s in your best interest to keep optimizing until your post resides in that coveted top three. 

SEO Your Blog Posts: My Real-World Example

Again, it’s common practice for us to check Google Analytics to see what blog content is ranking well or drawing traffic past its fresh date and then further optimizing that post. Here I walk you through my process of:

-Identifying keywords/keyword phrases the post is ranking for
-Optimizing the post for those keywords/keyword phrases

The post “Calling All Local Business Owners New to SEO? Start with Google Places for Business” is a strong performer on the Bruce Clay Inc. Blog published in July 2013. The Google Analytics content report revealed that this guide to Google Places was our blog’s No. 8 highest-performing post of the year. This post is a good candidate for content optimization review.

Action Items for Optimization Review

1. Find out what keywords the content currently ranks for.
The SEOToolSet Ranking Report showed that the Google Places blog post was ranking well on Google for a list of keywords, topped by the following:

 Ranking Post

As reported by a Google API, the post ranks for the phrases “Optimizing Google Places,” “Google Places Help,” and “Google Places for Business” between the 22nd and 10th spot in the SERPs. Now, it’s unlikely that a searcher would ever end up clicking a result that far past the top three. However, the post is poised for a climb in the rankings with some intentional optimization and attention.
2. Validate keyword optimization targets.
I cross-referenced the relevant high-ranking keywords with the SEOToolSet Traffic Report and the Google Keywords Planner to determine the keywords that had high traffic volume and were therefore worth further optimizing for. Based on this data, I chose “Google Places Help,” currently ranking No. 10 on Google, as my primary keyword optimization target, and “Google Places for Business” and “Optimizing Google Places” as secondary keyword optimization targets.

keyword stats

3. Check the Heading tags and body text for keyword opportunities.
With my traffic insights in mind, I approached the content with keyword phrases “Google Places Help,” “Google Places for Business,” and “Optimizing Google Places” in mind, looking for opportunities to naturally implement this language into the text. I rewrote the H1 tag entirely, optimizing it for “Google Places Help,” my primary keyword target. I also added the keywords in other Heading tags and throughout the text.
For the purposes of this guide, I copied the text into a Word document and tracked my changes. Red/underlined text is new text I added, crossed-out text is previous text I removed, and anything shaded in gray is one of the keyword targets:

 Google Places post before and after

4. Check the ALT attributes and captions for optimization opportunities.
In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, online images must be properly described in an ALT attribute. If an image can be accurately described using your keywords, all the better! Reinforce the subject matter if appropriate. For example, the post’s first screenshot previously had the ALT text “Tae Kwon Do studio listings” and while this was accurate, it had no SEO benefit. I changed the ALT text to “Google Local Business Listings screenshot” and also saw the opportunity to add a caption that included the phrase “Google Places for Business.”

Google places for Business

How It Works: A Past Success of Content Optimization Review

How to Create an Infographic for Free (Seriously)” was published on July 17, 2013, and was receiving healthy traffic on the Bruce Clay, Inc. blog.  In September, I re-optimized the content for “create an infographic” and “free infographic,” using the practices outlined in this article. Since that time, traffic to “How to Create an Infographic for Free (Seriously)” has more than doubled. The following graph from Google Analytics shows traffic during the first nine weeks of the post (before re-optimizing the content) and the traffic during the next nine weeks (after re-optimizing the content). The results clearly demonstrate the benefit of revisiting content and identifying opportunities to further optimize it.


Sometimes with a little tweaking, content that is already earning high rankings can rise even higher – meaning more traffic for your site. By strategically identifying keywords that are performing well and optimizing them with the text, ALT tags, and captions, you increase your chances of a higher SERP position.
What strategies have you employed to make your previous blog posts rank higher in the SERP? Share your experience in the comments.

Ready to learn more? Check out our Guide to SEO in 2018, or contact the 3Q SEO team to find out how we can enhance your search strategy.

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