Learn how to audit your web content and generate traffic to posts that aren't performing.
Ah, Google Analytics. It’s a fantastic tool for helping to discover who’s visiting your website, what they’re doing there, and what content they’re reading—but sometimes, the truth can hurt. Did you slave away on a single blog post for days, only to find that a month later it’s still only had 50 unique views (make that 30, discounting relatives and bots)?
Never fear: Just because your content hasn’t found its audience yet, that doesn’t mean it’s obsolete. Here are some strategies for boosting blog content that didn’t hit its mark on the first try.
In order to get better context on what’s performing and what’s not, run a blog content audit and review the last year’s worth of blog traffic to see how well each post has done over an extended period of time—a tool like Moz Content can help you drill down into this at a more granular level, factoring in criteria such as author, word count, and social shares. Chances are, you’ll see some posts that regularly get visits month after month—and then the “flops,” which got a few hits briefly after publication, but have since gone silent. Look through the titles to identify trends in what’s resonating with your audience and what’s not, and start a list of the poor performers. The Daily Egg offers some good tips on how to diagnose your ineffective content (hint: It starts with not having a content strategy).
Now, visit each of those posts to investigate why they didn’t click. Was the topic too obscure, too timely, or just not that exciting? If you wrote an article about what restaurant owners can learn from The Hunger Games and it fizzled, it could be that you missed the tail end of the trend—or maybe that restaurant owners are too busy in the kitchen to know who Katniss Everdeen is. Look at the purpose each article serves: Does it include useful information that’s still relevant today, or is it simply newsjacking? Don’t be afraid to delete content that simply doesn’t work. But if the article has genuine value to share, it might just need another shot at the limelight.
Even big, successful brands can benefit from diving into their misses: Hootsuite provided some great insights on what they learned from their worst-performing content.
Now that you’ve determined which articles are worthy of a second shot at life, you have a few ways to go about it:
Think of your neglected blog posts as the breadcrumbs that Hansel and Gretel dropped to help them find their way home. Focus on building backlinks to these posts, both within your site and beyond it, in an organic and natural way. For instance, slot internal links to these pieces into some of your most popular content, inviting readers to visit the older posts for a more in-depth exploration of a particular subject. To maximize traffic to older pieces, begin guest blogging on sites with much higher traffic than your own, and include links to your own articles in the body of the post—this will help you drive plenty of new eyes to your own site and your formerly-unloved content, and give you a great boost in SEO rankings for the terms that you’ve linked.
Has your investment bank’s marketing team written five separate articles about IRA rollovers, but only seen one of them get significant traffic? A roundup post—which provides a brief summary of each post with a link back to read it—is a good way to get fresh eyes on older content. You can also capitalize on your top-performing post's popularity by adding a new CTA at the close, which invites readers to explore your roundup post and read each linked story for even more insights.
So what about the pieces with useful information, but a hook that just didn’t work? Ditch the outdated hook, and update the story with more current news that’s relevant to your audience, or take out anything timely and turn it into an evergreen resource. This may even provide an opportunity to consolidate two or three older stories with "thin content" into one substantial resource. Research relevant SEO keywords that suit the content when revising your title and headings, and incorporate backlinks to both your own content and to useful links on other relevant sites. This will give you a renewed opportunity to promote the piece through social media and your contact networks, and provide another shot for the Google bots to show it some love.
If you’d rather leave the content as is, and have faith that it’s a great story that simply didn’t find its audience the first time around, you don’t necessarily need to change it—you just need to amplify it. You’ve got a couple of different options here: Consider syndicating the entire article to a popular content platform such as LinkedIn (disclaimer: a Eucalypt client), where it will raise your brand awareness and provide backlinks to your site. Or, if you’re willing to spend a little to get some eyeballs on your content, consider promoting a social media post linking to your article on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, depending where your audience is most likely to hang out. Even a $10 or $20 boost could help you find the targeted audience you need to snowball your organic growth.
Once you’ve resurrected your older articles, the insights you’ve discovered from taking a deep look at your archives will help you in building a masterful content marketing strategy going forward. But don’t stop optimizing older posts—in order to keep your content relevant, both in the eyes of Google and your readers, it’s important to continually update your articles with new links and information. Recycling isn’t just for cans and bottles; by keeping your content fresh, your business’ online presence will thrive.
Kathryn Hawkins is principal and chief content strategist of Eucalypt Media. She has worked as a freelance journalist for media publications and managed inbound marketing and content strategy for corporate and nonprofit clients for more than a decade.
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