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Should I Create New Content or Optimize Existing Content First?

A very common question when companies want to improve their SEO is if they should optimize their existing content, or start publishing new content. The best course of action depends on how well your existing SEO performance content is working for each keyword. If you currently have a great piece of content that doesn’t seem to be getting the ranking it deserves, we recommend applying a different set of tactics to get it ranking well. In a lot of other cases, it’s probably best to publish new content. We’ll explain our Keyword Lifecycle Maturity Model, and we’ll explore when to optimize old content and when to publish new content.

Keyword Lifecycle Maturity

We can’t fully answer this question without talking about Keyword Lifecycle Maturity. The goal of Demandwell’s Keyword Lifecycle Maturity Model is to chunk out SEO strategy for a particular keyword according to where the keyword ranks and how well it’s performing in organic search. Each different Keyword Lifecycle Stage requires a different SEO content strategy.

Our Keyword Lifecycle Maturity Model has 5 stages:

  1. Keyword not ranking
  2. Keyword ranking, but not on page one
  3. Ranking on the first page, but not in the top 3
  4. Ranking in the top 3 results, but not converting traffic
  5. Ranking in the top 3 results with a high click-through rate (CTR)

Your choice between creating new SEO content and optimizing existing content works the same way. Different tactics are best for different Keyword Lifecycle Stages, just like different golf clubs are best for different distances and terrains.

Most likely, one of these statements is true for you:

Your content isn’t ranking.

If you truly aren’t ranking at all for the keyword you’re going after, it’s almost always best to publish new content for that keyword. This is a recommendation for Keyword Lifecycle Stage 1. The goal at this stage is to show Google that you have content about that particular topic so Google can rank it. Once you’re on the board, it’s all about making upward progress.

Your content is ranking, but you want it to rank higher.

If you do have content that’s currently ranking, it’s past the first stage of keyword maturity. Stages 2-3 involve optimizing an existing piece of content to gradually push it to the top of page one.

At these later stages, there are several tactics to optimize your existing content. You may just want to publish more content, whether that’s publishing supporting posts for the original content or adding new SEO copy to augment your original page. Other tactics involve evaluating important SEO ranking factors such as headers, title tags, meta descriptions, or other on-page elements. One last powerful tactic is to look at how the page is internally linked to make sure it has plenty of visibility.


Instead of focusing on publishing new content vs optimizing existing content, balance your effort between the two. Focusing on one task or the other may cause you to neglect important parts of your SEO strategy. You have to consider the content you currently have and how well it is (or isn’t) ranking for your target keywords. Use the Keyword Lifecycle Maturity Model as a guide for each keyword and nurture your content with the right tactics as rankings improve.

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