It happens to all of us. You build a website that your stakeholders and clients love. Then, you ferociously create great content to build your authority.
But after a while, your web traffic becomes, well…stagnant.
Maybe your blog posts or service pages aren’t pulling as much traffic as they once did.
Maybe your web traffic plateaus. Or, even worse, pages that once ranked high on Google are slowly slipping to the “dreaded second page”!
It’s a situation that can leave a real dent in your content marketing strategy. But, unfortunately, it’s a sticky situation that marketers find themselves in.
Not only are you battling with Google’s ever-changing algorithm, but you’re also up against competitors in your market for keywords in your niche.
And with 97% of marketers making content a core feature of their overall marketing strategy, it’s a tough race to the top.
But it’s not an impossible one.
In this post, I’ve put together a list of 5 things you can do to improve your content marketing strategy and boost its overall performance to get you past the finish line.
Conduct a content audit
If you want to improve your content marketing strategy effectively, first you need to know what needs improving and what doesn’t. You can’t make informed choices about your content unless you know what’s working and what isn’t.
That’s where a content audit comes in.
It’s probably the most time-consuming task on this list. But trust me, once you’ve put all the work in, you won’t regret it!
There are quite a few enterprise platforms on the market that have the functionality to report on how your content is performing.
Moz, ahrefs and SEMRush are probably two of the most popular all-in-one search marketing tools on the market. All have the ability to analyse content and backlink performance along with in-depth reporting and export capabilities.
SEMRush, in particular, also has the ability to connect your social media accounts, providing you with another layer of data to understand how your content is performing.
But, if you’re not familiar with these platforms, you might want to try a ‘hands-on’ approach by conducting a manual content audit to improve your content marketing strategy.
With the manual process, you’ll need to grab web traffic and backlink data from Google Analytics and Search Console. Then, you’ll need a list of corresponding URLs from your website to analyse what pages are underperforming and if there are ways to optimise for search (pssst, see below)?
Optimise pages for search
So you’ve got a bunch of blog posts from your content audit that needs updating. Or maybe you’ve got a 30-page white paper or a bunch of case studies that aren’t engaging your audience.
How do you optimise them to get them noticed?
Improve your meta titles and descriptions
A great place to start is to write compelling meta descriptions and titles. Essentially, you want to tell Google exactly what your content is about but also describe your content in relation to the user’s query. This will, obviously, require some keyword research as well as a level of sophistication with your writing – especially for the title.
For example, writing titles in sentence case (rather than all lowers or capitals) is an effective way of crafting titles, especially if you include a power word to captivate your readers.
Have a look at the meta title and description for Pepsi below. Its compelling description details exactly what the website is about in relation to the user’s search query.
Notice that there are additional links below the description, to further direct the user to other pieces of content that might be relevant to them.
Now take a look at the description and titles before it was updated.
Now, which one would you click on? I’ll place my bets on the first!
Add external links to relevant pages
If you’re writing a robust piece of content on a particular topic, you should always consider adding external links. Typically, if you’re discussing facts, figures or paraphrasing a point from a piece of research, you’ll want to insert outbound links to an authoritative webpage with the relevant keyword.
By doing this you benefit from:
- Backing up your observations with other references.
- Distinguishing yourself from dodgy websites that have no external links at all
- Building influence online (website owners who you link to will notice your website)
- There’s evidence to show that external links to authoritative websites can help with SEO
Add internal links to relevant content on your site
Internal links are just as powerful as external ones. Maybe even more so. Linking to another service, product or blog page, using relevant keywords, keeps users on your site for longer.
Providing you’re answering their questions, users will typically feel inclined to click on links to other pages within the content. The longer users stay on your website, the better your SEO health!
Furthermore, internal linking is your opportunity to establish a more refined and structured website architecture. Plus you get to spread that all-important link equity (AKA link juice) throughout your website.
Start creating pillar content
Speaking of structure, if you haven’t started creating pillar content, get on to it!
It’s one of the most effective ways to add structure to the blog section of your website. Plus, it’s a God send if you’re running low on content ideas!
A content pillar is a long-form piece of content that can, essentially, be broken down into multiple pieces of content – also known as content clusters. Typically a content pillar covers a whole topic but with room for more depth.
And it’s the content clusters that provide that comprehensive information.
If you had a white paper that was split into 11 sections, you could create a landing page that discusses each section, in brief, with a CTA (top and bottom) to download the white paper.
Then you could write 11 blog posts relating to each section in depth.
Of course, you don’t want to write exactly what’s in the white paper (obvs), but it’s your chance to showcase your authority in the market with informative pieces of content that link back to a wider topic (the pillar page) that features your white paper.
If you’re going down the pillar content route, you want to make sure that the content pillar and its relevant cluster pages are linking to each other. Organising blog posts and links in this structured manner helps more pages on your site to get ranked by Google as well as helps searchers find information on your website easily.
Improve content value
The internet is saturated with content and businesses are vigorously competing with each other to increase their online visibility. Writing a small 400-word blog post or 1-page, surface-level lead magnet just won’t cut it these days.
And on top of all that, Google is continuously updating its infamous algorithm!
If you want to work with Google and win the attention of users, you need to bring some added value to the table.
After all, Google values content that’s high quality, relevant and unique.
So first, let’s focus on the user.
It’s important to understand why users are visiting your website (AKA user internet). They could be looking for answers to a question, finding a product, conducting research or searching for a website.
User intent typically falls under four categories:
- Navigational – to find a specific site or page.
- Informational – to find answers to a specific question or general information
- Commercial – to investigate brands or services
- Transactional – to complete an action or purchase
By understanding these categories you’ll be in a better position to effectively create and serve the most relevant content to users who visit your website.
For example, If you know users are visiting your website using the term “customer review platform for eCommerce”, it would be wise to optimise your product page with this long-tail keyword to help increase conversions.
Creating a blog page with the same term would be counterproductive and potentially lead to multiple pages competing for the same keywords.
A good place to start finding these types of queries is by digging into your Google Search Console data which collects organic search data linked to your website.
Using Search Console you can find the exact keywords people have searched for to get to your website. If you’ve linked GSC to Google Analytics, you can also find the data there.
Additionally, platforms like Moz and SEMrush can also identify what keywords your webpages already rank for. If you’re ranking on the 2nd page for a bunch of translational or commercial keywords, you’ll want to optimise these pages to get them to the first page!
If you’re stuck on time or internal resources, partnering with a reputable SEO copywriter can help you effectively create content based on the relevant keywords for your niche and industry.
Next, you’ll want to work on the content that you already have. That’s where that all-important content audit comes in.
If you’ve got content from your audit that’s lacking in page visits but has managed to gain one or more backlinks, it’s worth reviewing the content to add more value for the user.
When it comes to blog content, typically, users are looking for information or an answer to a question. And as an authority in the market, it’s up to you to produce comprehensive, easy-to-read content that satisfies their questions.
Additionally, the keyword research you’ve conducted in the previous section should be your guide for fleshing out more relevant content.
And when it comes to readability, pay close attention to the overuse of chunky paragraphs that can make long-form content harder to read.
A few great ways to break up content on the page are the use of images, videos, quotes and bullet points.
Embedded video is also a smart way to provide users with more insights without overloading them with more information and keeping them on the page for longer.
Diversify your distribution
So, you’ve got a ton of blog articles on your website and you push them accordingly on your social media channels. You get a flurry of engagement over a few days and then bam!… Radio silence!
The thing is, you can’t just rely on the organic reach of social media alone these days. You need to increase your distribution if you want the improve the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy.
Repurposing content is one of the easiest ways to increase the amount of content you have and diversify your assets without putting too much work into ideation to fill up your content marketing calendar.
Say, for example, you’ve got a blog post titled “7 most sustainable retail brands in the UK”.
You could turn that post into a topic to discuss on a podcast episode. Then, record the episode over Zoom (or in-person) and upload it to a YouTube channel. Finally, you can create snippets of video using content from your blog post for YouTube Shorts/Linkedin/Instagram/Twitter.
You could also highlight the 7 most sustainable retail brands as carousel posts for Instagram or Linkedin. Carousels keep the user engaged on your post for longer because there’s more content in the post to consume!
Et voila! One content idea. Three different formats. All distributed on multiple social media channels.
If you want to invest in ads, try committing ad spend on the content that’s performing best rather than blanket spending on multiple pieces of content over multiple social channels.
Got a white paper that’s just sitting on your website?
You could do something similar with it too. Typically, white papers, are densely crammed with information and are often gated on a website. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use the information in it to improve its online visibility.
Use the headings on the contents page as titles for blog posts, and then write a detailed piece for each title in relation to your business. Don’t forget to direct users and link back to that all-important white paper – using the relevant keyword for the white paper of course.
Then, you might want to build more backlinks to your white paper by asking other website owners, with good domain authority, to link back to it with the relevant keyword.
External links from high domain authority websites tell Google that your content is valuable and worth ranking higher.
While this form of link building is often handed over to third-party agencies, as a marketer or website owner it’s in your best interests to put yourself out there, develop relationships with other marketers and build links yourself.
Any content marketer that’s worth their salt knows that if ‘content is King’, then consistency is definitely the Queen! Algorithms on both search and social media platforms love fresh, regular content.
And if you want to maintain your organic reach, producing content on a regular basis not only keeps the algorithm happy but will keep also keeps your audience well informed and updated about your brand.
From an SEO perspective, the more blog posts, white papers and guides you produce, the more frequently your website gets indexed by Google.
Essentially, the more valuable content you publish on a regular basis, the more chances you have for Google to reassess your rankings. Furthermore, consistent publishing increases the opportunities your website has to build keywords in your niche. And the more relevant keywords you rank for, the better your online visibility.
Again, this requires an element of structure and regular assessment (go back to point two). You really want to keep an eye on what keywords you’re ranking for, ensure the keywords are related to your niche and optimise your content accordingly.
Finally, consistent publishing can attract some much-needed inbound links (backlinks) from other websites. These links are gold! Inbound links to a piece of content are signals of value to Google and have the potential to increase your domain authority. If your backlinks are coming from high-domain authority websites, the better!
It goes without saying that if you want to improve your content marketing strategy, it’s going to take some work to refine your processes. But remember, if you want to build a solid foundation, your content should, primarily, focus on the user. It’s up to you to know your audience, serve them the right content and solve the problems they have in relation to your niche.