How To Optimise Published Content To Make It Work Harder

Written by Alex Best

Sep 15 2017

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If a piece of content you’ve published didn’t see the results you expected - or has stopped seeing great results, what can you do to refresh it and extend its lifespan? 

Sometimes, no matter how much work you put into a piece of content, it may not perform as anticipated. For example, you might see good volume of traffic to your content, but a low clickthrough rate. Or you may find you’re not resonating with your target audience, or that your post is a little out of date.

But, just because a piece of content is old or has seen a drop in performance, doesn't mean you should give up on it. In fact, optimising old content is increasingly important to retain visibility, results and competitive success. As a recent thinkgrowth.org post outlined:

Content marketers are becoming farmers. [In future] content marketers will be spending more time optimising existing content than creating new content. 

Optimising content retrospectively can give a great boost of life, redress a number of performane issues, and as HubSpot have found; increase views and conversions.

Below we’ve listed ways you can optimise and improve existing content to make it work harder for you.

10 Tips To Optimise and Improve Your Existing Content

1. Start by finding content that needs improvement (and is worth improving)

This is typically content that:

  • Attracted good traffic when first published. The topic should be relevant for your audience and address an issue that remains relevant.
  • Includes keywords that have good search volume. If your topic and keywords are still being searched for, you want to make sure you can still make the most of that traffic.
  • Includes statistics or information that are now out of date. If the post is still accurate but contains references or data that can be updated, a quick way to add value back to your content is to refresh that information.

Review your analytics to determine these factors and identify posts to focus on.

2. Consider the importance of long tail keywords

Ranking for a popular keyword/term is always a challenge and can be costly, so if you’ve not done so already, consider optimising your content for long tail keywords rather than shorter terms to attract more relevant traffic. Neil Patel illustrates the different impact of head, body and long tail keywords:

  • Head keywords are 1-2 words and typically harder to rank for as they have large (competitive) search volumes.
  • Body keywords start to get more precise and are typically 2-3 words long. Again these still see fairly high search volumes.
  • Long tail keywords are much more precise at 3+ words giving more focus and niche direction to a search. While search volume for these terms is less than shorter terms, because they are so precise, the traffic is likely to be of more relevant value - and less competitive.

Essentially, using long tail keywords attracts buyers who are at a more advanced stage of their buyer’s journey and who know exactly what they are looking for; which can result in more relevant traffic to (and hopefully conversion on) your content.

3. Review the copy / substance of the content

Is the message and information given in your content still relevant for your audience?

As trends change, products get updated and technologies and theories evolve; the relevancy of your content can change. You should aim to update all relevant content to reflect this.

Creating evergreen content in the first place (ie - content that remains consistently relevant to your audience over time) can help to increase (or compound) the value of your content over time, rather than see performance decay

Related: How To Increase Traffic With Compounding Blog Posts

4. Check your bounce rates

If your bounce rates are high (which means that people are visiting your content, but leaving before progressing to any other page) this could be due to a number of issues. For example:

  • Your title may not reflect the content. If your content title doesn’t match the rest of the content, not only will be attracting an audience who are actually looking for something else, you’re likely to annoy them. Amend the title to reflect the content and you should see more relevancy.
  • Your content may not offer value. Make sure your content delivers the actionable advice your readers are looking for. Think: does my content give the information it needs to? Could it be expanded on? Equally, does your post contain too much information? Would it be better to lead your visitors from that initial piece of content to a more in-depth offer such as a webinar or eBook?
  • The content may be too wordy/ too long. Is your content clear and digestible? If not, it may put people off.

Be sure to review, amend and keep testing to see why people are leaving your content - and amend it.

Related: How Long Should A Blog Post Be? 

5. Review the length and structure of your content

Length and structure can impact how engaging content is. If your content is too long, repetitive or poorly formatted, readers may struggle to engage and click away. Equally, if content is too short, readers may not see the value.

If you have a piece of content that is experiencing issues, consider:

  • Is the topic too broad? While it’s important to deliver value in your content, don’t try to cover too much ground in one sitting. If your topic is wide reaching, especially for blog posts, it may be more digestible if repurposed as series, eBook or other format.
  • Is the content clearly presented? Consider reformatting the content of your post to make it easier for your audience to digest by using bullet points, numbers, images and other formatting

When considering the ‘ideal length’ for a piece of content, keep in mind that it must deliver value rather than meet a specific word count. If you can include all the value your reader wants in 500 words, great. If it takes 1000 (and is still clear, concise and relevant) that’s fine too.

6. Redesign old posts to keep abreast of viewing trends

When was the last time you updated the design of your site or blog? Web trends change - and if your content looks outdated, even if the information is still relevant - it can have a negative effect. Equally, you should consider incorporating newer content formats like video into written content - including a video on a landing page can increase conversion by 80%.

Related: Why and How to Include Video in Your Content Strategy

7. Update the title of your content

Your original content title may be relevant to your topic and keyword optimised, but if it doesn’t grab the attention of your reader, it’s unlikely to see great results.

If your content isn’t seeing much traffic, adjusting the title may help to attract attention. Actionable headings (‘How To’, ‘X Ways’, ‘Reasons to’), titles that offer actionable advice, and titles that align with what readers search for can all improve the effectiveness of your post.

Relevant: Why and How to Create Clickable Content Titles

8. Review your CTAs

The importance of a good CTA cannot be underestimated. If you’re seeing poor clickthrough on the CTAs in your content, it’s worth reviewing and updating them to ensure they are still relevant.

Swapping dull CTAs (‘Enter’, ‘Continue’, ‘Request’ etc) for more actionable ones (‘Get my eBook’, ‘Find out more’, ‘Watch it here’ etc) and reviewing CTA design is a good place to start. It’s also important to make sure your linked content offer is relevant to the CTA - and resonates with your reader.

Make sure you use analytics here to see what works, what converts and what doesn’t. Testing and adapting is important to get it right.

9. The importance of SEO

Once you have refreshed and updated your content (perhaps with a new title, updated stats, an added video and adjusted CTAs) don’t forget to check your SEO.

Make sure your focus keyword is in the title and headings, that any new angles to your content are reflected in your meta description, and review your headers and image alt-text.

10. Continue to publish and promote on the right channels

Now that you have updated/refreshed/repurposed your content, ensure your audience can reach it by publishing on the channels that your audience looks to for information. Continued promotion is key if you are to expand results. 

Related: How To Get The Most Out Of Content Promotion

Optimising old content is an economic and efficient way of using resources that have either already proven successful, or have the potential to do much more. Refreshing and updating good content will ensure you maximise on already successful posts and making it work harder to produce even more conversions.