Along with the concept that “content is king,” came an extremely flooded landscape. A harmful misconception was born that the sheer amount of content being produced is key.
Thinking about the recent algorithm updates that we’ve seen, it’s clear that Google is trying to tell us something – to choose quality over quantity.
I’d argue that content actually isn’t king anymore. Quality is.
By this, I mean that having fewer extremely valuable content assets is much better than having an abundance of low-quality assets.
As content marketers, we must focus on offering readers value in everything that we write and publish. Sometimes this means recognizing when you’re creating irrelevant content.
Here are 10 warning signs that it’s time to revamp your content strategy.
1. Organic Traffic Is Minimal
It may go without saying that if no one is searching around the topic that you’re writing about, the chances of it driving significant traffic are slim to none.
In order to create valuable and relevant content, you need to know what information your audience is searching for.
Spend time getting to know your audience(s) – what their daily roles and responsibilities are like, the challenges they are facing, how they find information and consume content, and their business needs.
This will give you plenty of insights and, ultimately, help guide your keyword research.
2. Keyword Research Isn’t a Part of Your Process
Keyword research is absolutely essential to align SEO and content efforts.
Building an editorial calendar that will drive organic visibility is nearly impossible without having a clear understanding of:
Using keyword research to guide your content development efforts will ensure that you’re writing about terms or topics that are being searched for, that you have a chance of ranking for, and help you reach the right audience.
3. Content Is Being Found, but Not Read
By looking at metrics like bounce rate and time on page, you can get a solid feel for how engaged readers are with your content.
If you’re seeing high bounce rate and low time on page, this indicates that users aren’t finding the content especially valuable, or it doesn’t provide the information they need.
Typically, this problem can usually be traced back to different search intent; however, it could also have to do with the readability or format of content.
High impressions and low click-through rate could also be a sign that your content is missing something. In this case, there are likely ways you can adjust page tagging elements like the title and description to make it more relevant and encourage users to click into the page.
4. The Wrong Keywords Are Being Targeted
Search intent is something that content marketers should always keep in mind.
Remember, just because a term is highly searched for, does not mean that it is relevant to the information you are providing or your business objectives.
One of my favorite examples of this was a client who wanted to rank for the term “AIM.”
To them, this term meant “artificial intelligence marketing.” To Google, this acronym meant a variety of things including American Imaging Management, AOL Instant Messenger, Automatic Identification and Mobility, and more.
Note that none of this included artificial intelligence marketing related content. For this reason, we chose to go with a longer tail term (“AI marketing”) that was better aligned with their business objectives.
As part of the keyword research process, before you start drafting content, make sure that you’re familiar with what’s ranking in the top search results around the phrase at hand.
What information does Google think is most valuable to display to searchers? Can you create an asset that aligns with what’s ranking and your business objectives?
5. You Aren’t on Top of the Latest
Coming up with new ideas and topics to write about is a constant challenge for content marketers, especially when you’ve been writing on a website for a couple of years.
This is one of the many reasons why it’s absolutely essential that you’re staying on top of the latest news and trends within the industry.
Simple tasks like subscribing to key publications, setting up Google Alerts around your keyword set, reading Google News stories, and participating in forums will help with this. But, I also suggest getting involved in industry events and reaching out for insights and feedback from SMEs and customers.
Doing so will help you better understand your audience, come up with timely and relevant content topics, know the most recent trends, challenges, and needs, and even keep an eye on competitive activity.
6. Traffic Is Declining
If you’re noticing particular assets (that were once performing well) have experienced a decline in traffic, there are likely some really great refresh opportunities ahead.
Start digging into those assets and looking for ways to make them relevant again.
Consider the following questions:
- Did the asset lose visibility around any valuable terms?
- What’s showing up in search results for those keywords?
- Did those search results shift at all? Is the search intent aligned with your asset?
- How can you update the asset to make it more aligned with top search results?
- Could certain statistics or information be updated to make the asset more relevant?
Not only will this type of analysis lead to some quick traffic and keyword wins, but it will also help offer readers the most recent and valuable information.
7. The Content Experience Is Inconsistent
The overall experience of your content can certainly impact its performance. For example, bounce rate, time on page and other key engagement metrics will suffer.
It’s important to offer a consistent experience across different types of content including blog posts, landing pages, strategic resources, and even social media channels.
When a user clicks from the main website into the blog section, they shouldn’t feel like they are on a completely different site with a different experience.
When a user jumps from one blog post to another, they shouldn’t feel like the content belongs to separate brands. Although different authors will likely write the content, simple consistencies can make all the difference.
Consider the following elements:
- Top navigation
- Overall design
- Logo usage
- Format style/headings
- Tone and personality
- Topics that align with your identity
- Image style and alignment
- Font colors and styles
- Bottom navigation
8. Engagement Is Lacking
Social media shares and engagement can also be a good indicator of how relevant your content is.
If your content is receiving very minimal shares on social media, start looking into what content is performing best on your site and competitive sites.
BuzzSumo can be a really great tool for this since it allows you to look at content that is driving the most social media shares around a particular topic.
There could also be ways to help boost engagement like making your content easier to share and more social media-friendly or incorporating clear calls-to-action to encourage readers to share it, comment on it, or subscribe to your blog.
9. You’re Always Promoting Something
The good old 80/20 rule. While there’s no secret sauce to engaging your audience through content, the 80/20 rule is a good foundation.
The rule suggests that 80% of your content should be informational and educational, while only 20% of content should promote your offerings.
If you’re constantly promoting or pitching your products or services in content, there’s a good chance that you’re losing valuable readers.
Instead of creating content that is basically a datasheet or list of product features, focus on solving your audiences’ challenges.
You will not only gain trust and build thought leadership, but you can also avoid annoying readers with irrelevant and promotional content.
10. There’s Nothing Unique
Curating content can be valuable, if you’re offering readers something unique – whether that is new information, unique perspective, advice or opinions.
On the other hand, if you’re simply sharing something that has been published elsewhere already, you’re only contributing to the current content flood and not offering much value to readers.
Even when writing about something that received a lot of attention online recently, try offering a new take, look to share unique findings, or provide evidence backing it.
Are there case studies on how the strategy actually helps businesses? Are there specific examples of how it’s been successful in the past? What noteworthy results have you seen?
Overall, it’s important that you’re not only writing at a high level but diving into concepts and providing evidence to back up your points.
To recap, the majority of these warning signs can be resolved by simply knowing your audience and putting them first in everything that you write.
Yes, it requires doing your homework. And, there’s certainly no definitive end for this research. But, the payoff is real.
By knowing the information that your audience is looking for, you can provide even more valuable and relevant information that will give your content the momentum it needs.
In-Post Image: Created by author, May 2019
Screenshot taken by author, May 2019