Optimise your blog for SEO like a pro

Refresh and refresh online content to rank

Content creation is about writing, optimisation is all about improving it. Understanding the difference is critical to ensuring your content is delivering the biggest boost to your rankings. How can I improve my existing content for SEO? We’ll show you how…

We regularly work with clients who ask us to help review, refresh, and revitalise their content. We’re going to walk you through our editorial process and explain how we (and how you) can improve your existing content for SEO.

The art of content optimisation

The job of a writer is to create content from scratch. But behind every great writer is often and even better editor.

Editors (or in this case, content optimisers) work with the raw materials provided by the writer and shape it to deliver SEO success. Some writers are SEO experts and will incorporate all elements of SEO best practices, but many don’t.

Also, content remains static while the world changes. A great example is the shift to Google Analytics 4. If you’re working with an SEO business that’s still talking about Universal Analytics in its copy and content, would you trust them?

The rule is, however old the content is on your website, it should be accurate, relevant, and reflect current best practices.

If it’s not, you’re letting your readers down.

And Google will penalise you for it. The search engine beast is as clear as possible about its content requirements. You should be publishing 100% original content that EEAT. Don’t know what that is? Read our guide

What can you do? Commit to reviewing, refreshing, and optimising your content regularly. How? Here’s how 42group would improve your existing content for SEO in a set of simple steps:

Read the content (like a reader)

The best content optimisation comes from an understanding of what you’re trying to communicate. Instead of immediately editing, read each piece of content from top to bottom, and take notes as you do.

Think about what the readers wants from an article. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Does the article answer the reader’s question(s)?
  • Is it original, informed, and authoritative?
  • Are you linking to the best and most up-to-date sources?
  • Is the content structured logically?
  • Do all the headings make sense?

This stage is essential in helping you to assess the piece as a whole, not as a collection of individual sentences. This is the critical difference between a human editor and a machine – and it’s why you’ll always have a job if you’re an expert optimiser.

Extract it and analyse it

Editing in a CMS is madness, so we always extract content and cleanse It of all formatting, before building a brand-new document to work from.

While doing this, we may run it through a content analyser. We use SEMRush which is the industry-standard piece of software for SEO content optimisation. But if you don’t have the budget, you can use Google’s free GDoc SEO assistant. It’s not the best tool of its type, but it’s a useful add-on.

If you want to, you can also run your content through Grammarly or Hemmingway to identify errors or elements that could be improved.

Identify the focus keyword & understand the search intent

Clients will often send us a string of keywords they want to rank for, but that’s a bad approach.

Our view is that the best content has a single target keyword or keyphrase.

Yes, you can use this in different variations (and you should), but trying to rank for more than one key phrase can leave your content confused.

The title should incorporate this key phrase as closely as possible, it should be in your intro, outro and in an H2 if possible.

You should have a pretty good idea at what your audience is searching for, but it’s always a good idea to understand why they want the information (the search in

Search intent is the reason why the person is typing their query into a search engine. You could describe it as their paint point.

This post is a great example of understanding search intent. We know that businesses, writers and even other agencies want to know the process to optimise their content. It’s an ongoing battle to stay relevant and boost rankings, and everyone is searching for an edge. This guide gives away some (but not all) of our SEO content optimisation skills. We’re hoping you’ll contact us if you want to work with an agency that understands you.

Have we got the search intent right?

Analyse best performers (Google page #1)

If you want to rank, you need to know which are the best performing posts for your keyword or key phrase. Type your keyword or keyphrase into Google (or the writing assistant you’re using) and see what comes up…

Firstly, you need to understand that these are the posts Google classifies as delivering the best and most authoritative content. As well as the structure, source, keywords, and quality, it will also assess external factors including links. Some of these things you can influence, others you can’t – but it’s still essential to learn what the best performers are doing.

Google is clear that it values original content. That means while you can take inspiration from high-ranking posts, copying titles, headings and structures is a very bad idea. You’ll always lag behind the original post, so don’t try and compete. Instead, use these posts as the basis for generating ideas – and identifying gaps. If you can create better, more engaging, and more relevant content, you’ll win the battle for rankings.

Do the basics first (title, meta, etc.)

Before updating the body copy, work your optimisation magic on the page title, meta tag, and headings throughout the article. While keyword stuffing is a no, it’s important (no, essential) that your keyphrase is used in the title, meta tag, first 100 words and final 100 words of the article. Doing that should send the right signals to Google.

Another useful optimisation tactic is to use Google snippets to see the frequently asked questions about any subject. You’ll see these in a concertina at the top under “People also ask”.

These are gold for SEO optimisation. Refelcting these questions in a natural way through your content send the right signals to Google.

If you’re using a tool like SEMRush, it will provide a suggested title and article structure. This is based on a crude analysis of the highest performing posts, and while useful, it can lead to derivative content. If your customers are using the same software (and hey probably are), you’re going to produce identical content which lacks originality.

Streamline the structure

The structure of your piece matters. Instead of thinking solely about SEO impact and ranking, think like a reader.

In this post, we’ve cut down on the intro and got straight into the info that we know you’re searching for. The search intent is for answers, not an explanation of the basic terms that we assume you’ll already know.

The structure here matches the search intent. Sketch out a logical flow of information that will work for your readers and you’ll improve your ranking.

Instead of lecturing (or boring) your readers, you’ll want to engage them in a dialogue. This piece is purposefully written in a conversational way to show you how that’s possible. Put these lessons into practice, and you’ll be fine.

Go line-by-line

The best optimisation is done line-by-line and performed by a real person. You can get AI to try and do this for you, but (so far, at least) the results we’ve seen are average and easy to detect.

So you’ve got to go old school.

Work through every piece line by line, and paragraph by paragraph, building a strong narrative, improving readability, and adding keywords.

How long should it take? It can take anything from half an hour to a whoel day to edit a blog. It depends on the length of the content, the quality, and its age. Long posts with broken links and outdated information may need to be almost rewritten entirely.

Answer questions

We ask search engines questions, and they love providing us with answers. While FAQs and How-to guides are being downgraded in search results, you can still incorporate questions and provide answers in your content.


By doing what we’ve just done there…

Target snippet text

Type: “What is SEO content?” into Google, and it selects one snippet from the 1 billion (yes, 1 billion) pages that it considers relevant to the search query.

This is a snippet text.

Now, it’s unlikely that you (or we) will ever get a snippet text for SEO questions, but if you’re writing about something niche, then you just might.

Targeting snippet text isn’t just about optimisation, it encourages you to provide complete answers in short sentences. You’ll see in the example here that a complete answer is delivered in four lines. That’s SEO best practice, so follow it in your optimisation efforts.

Read again (like a reader, not a writer)

When musicians listen to a piece of music, they understand it at a different level. They can appreciate the impact of a piece and the emotions it can stir, but they understand how it works – the structure, chords, and cadences that are being used to elicit these feelings.

When writers read, they do the same thing.

Writers understand the tricks that other writers use to capture attention, convey ideas, and keep you reading.

Sometimes, you need to take that hat off and put yourself in the position of the reader. Optimisation is essential, but not if it impacts the experience or obscures the outcome.

The best – and most successful – content is that which answers search intent in an authentic, original, and engaging way. Get that right, and you’ll succeed in search, reward your readers, and boost your business.

Want an agency that’s all about optimisation?

We’re not an average SEO agency but a team of trained and experienced journalists and editors that can ensure your content is best-in-class. It’s not about keyword stuffing or using the latest SEO tools but about producing customer-first content that matches search intent.

It doesn’t matter if you have one piece, or 183, we’ll approach the task in he same professional way, and produce perfectly optimised content for your audience.

The answer is 42.

Get in touch

Your SEO optimisation questions answered:

Here are some answers to questions we get a lot. If your question isn’t here, message us, and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours with an answer. To anything.

How do I update my blog for SEO?

Err, by reading this guide and putting the lessons here into practice. If you need a helping hand, contact 42group.

Editing can appear like a labour-intensive and pointless process, but it’s essential to ensuring your site delivers the best experience for every users.

How often should I update my blogs for SEO?

Organisations in highly competitive areas (like digital marketing) should update their blogs as soon as there’s a material change to their service (the switch to GA4 is a great example). Every business should commit to reviewing content at least once a year and updating it if it’s needed.

How long should it take to optimise a blog for SEO?

The amount of time it takes to optimise your blog depends on the length of the blog, the number of links it contains, its subject matter, age, and quality. A short (1,000 words) and well-written blog can be edited and updated in an hour. A 10,000-word guide could take 2 days.

Does updating a blog post help SEO?

Updating a blog post and ensuring it’s 100% accurate will improve SEO – as long as it’s original, demonstrates authority, includes your keyphrase, and answers the searcher’s question. Instead of thinking about it as optimisation, increase readability and quality and ranking results will follow.

How do I optimise my blog title for SEO?

Your blog title should contain your keyword or keyphrase in its entirety (if possible). If you can’t do that because it reads poorly, then you’ll need to get creative.

Why isn’t my content ranking for SEO?

There are loads of reasons why your content isn’t ranking. Check out our article that answers that question directly.

Can I optimise my own content?

If you spot opportunities to update and improve content, then do it. You can do this in a structured way by reviewing all content at a set point, or on an ad-hoc or blog-by-blog basis. The principle is to continually improve your content. Do that and you’ll see ranking improvements.

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