Content is a business asset, just like any other. It should be inventoried, tracked, and fixed if it’s not functional. Despite this commonsense idea, businesses tend to produce content without a plan for its future.
We Have a Problem with Excess and Unregulated Content
With all the talk of the need for quality content in our industry, many marketers react by going into what we call a content frenzy. That is, they produce as much content as possible and hope it gets traction, but there is no systematic targeting or measuring in place. If the content gets visibility and traffic, that’s great. If not, it sinks, forgotten, to the bottom of the blog roll or unvisited portions of the site.
These companies end up with an iceberg — they have a little bit of content that is visible and recognizably useful, but the vast majority of it is out of mind and out of sight. The content grows outdated and loses relevancy. It becomes hoarded excess that they should either throw out or revitalize.
The image below is a view from Searchlight’s Content Insights. The deep green color is the top of the iceberg — content with high visibility. The gray portion represents content that has no traffic at all. The proportions here (the gray being many times the size of the green) are common for a site that has not been systematically optimizing content. As you can see, most of the content on this site is not delivering value.
This problem is complicated by a growing number of ways we can look at content. Your device and location affect how visible your content is. You might have content that ranks well when you type a query into your desktop, but the same piece doesn’t appear on your mobile device.
The strategy “If I write it, they will come,” isn’t enough to get ahead in your digital vertical. Social promotion and syndication help with that initial push, but they don’t give you tactical insight into the content’s lifecycle. So what do you do?
Make Sure Your Content Is Found
If you’re starting with a backlog from your content frenzy days, the first thing you need to do is to get your bearings. Determine what content you have and measure its efficiency.
What pages are receiving traffic, and how much of it? In what instances (consider the effects of different search engines, devices, and locations) are they visible in search, and for what keywords? You’ll want to know the status of your content on an ongoing basis in order to protect the successful content assets you have and optimize the ones that are faltering.
If you have content that is not being found, you’ll want to diagnose why. Likely, it’s one of the three following problems.
- Technical issues. Your pages have missing or unoptimized page elements like title or alt tags. Perhaps they are optimized for an irrelevant keyword, and users are bouncing off the page and sending negative signals to engines. Perhaps the keyword is too competitive or its search volume is too low. (In Searchlight, you can determine the issues and fixes in Content Insights’ Opportunities tab.)
- Low quality. Is your content well written? Is the page optimized with usability best practices for content in mind? People want to read great, original, and useful content, so make sure you’re stepping up to the plate.
- Aimless content strategy. If your content is not aimed at a target, it will be pure chance if it makes an impact. Make your content a proactive and intentional piece of your marketing strategy. Consider: Is your content mapped to a buyer’s journey? Is it targeted at a specific customer persona?
You can learn about content targeting in the following articles: