It's no secret: Companies publish tons of content every year. Some of it attracts readers, some of it even goes viral, but, unfortunately, most of it falls flat.
Over time, it's easy to end up with a large logjam of mediocre content. At my company, we call it the "content graveyard."
You may think it's not a huge concern; unfortunately, though, all that mediocre content is doing actual harm.
With all that dead content out there, it's very possible you have multiple articles on the same topic essentially competing with each other for search rankings. Also, stale blog content can confuse your readers because it's likely not aligned with the current direction of your industry, and maybe even your own company.
Ultimately, stale content breaks trust with your audience, hurts your reputation, and doesn't position your company as the go-to resource in your industry.
The good news: you can do something about underperforming blog content.
You can take simple steps to update your blog content and get more ROI from existing efforts without having to publish anything new.
Three Steps to Refresh Your Content
Stop adding headstones to your content graveyard. Take these three simple steps to recapture your audience's attention and turn your dated, low-performing content into something that drives results.
1. Consolidate posts to create content pillars
What are the most important topics to your audience? Which topics do you want your brand to lead the conversation on? Pair that information with keyword research to identify where the biggest opportunities are for your company to show up on search.
Once you pick your topics, sift through your current blog content and list everything you already have that touches on those areas. Look for opportunities to consolidate posts together, optimize for keywords, and turn the combined content into a "pillar"—one strong, up-to-date piece that combines the strong points of several related pieces of content into one.
Don't delete the posts that you combined. Instead, set up a 301 redirect that sends all of your shorter, less in-depth pieces to your pillar. Doing so will ensure you don't have any duplicate content on your site, and it will allow you to capitalize on any backlinks to that content that you might have earned.
As a result, you will have built a smaller number of strong pieces and also eliminated internal competition for attention to help you push your very best content to the top of the search rankings.
2. Refresh dated content using a knowledge bank
Knowledge banks are essential tools for content creation. Think of it as a customizable knowledge management template for storing information—about your company, about its leaders and their industry insights, and about your customers.
If you don't have one yet, start building one now so you can easily house insights, expertise, data, personal stories, information, and more from your team.
Having that stored content on hand will help you easily fuel your content efforts; and when you have a robust backlog of knowledge, you'll always have enough information to create (or refresh) content you identified in the first step.
To launch your knowledge bank, start by interviewing the experts within your company. Ask specific, open-ended questions of your executives, developers, salespeople, and other team members, then store and organize their answers.
As your knowledge bank grows, so will your ability to refresh old content in interesting, relevant ways.
3. Find opportunities to optimize for lead generation
Finding opportunities to optimize your content for conversion makes it easy for people who are reading your content to take the next step and engage with you further. Also, it can turn a low-performing piece of content into one of your best pieces almost instantly.
If you have a store of in-depth gated content on your site, make sure to include relevant calls to action throughout each blog post that you publish, as well as at the end of each article.
If you already do this but are not seeing the lead-gen results you want, try mixing it up by promoting a new offer.
You could also consider changing up the design or even the format of your CTAs to see whether that increases your click-through rate.
Don't Forget Distribution
You just spent all that time looking back at old content that was falling short, updating it, redirecting old links to new ones, and so on. After doing all that, don't forget to reboot your distribution tactics, too.
Make sure that every new pillar you created or every new, updated article you reworked has a distribution plan that puts it in front of as many eyes as possible.
If you don't build and implement a content distribution plan that gets your updated content off the ground, you'll have wasted all the effort you spent on your refresh. So get creative with your tactics, but definitely promote any new pillar content on your social media channels and build relevant, high-quality backlinks to it.
One of the most effective ways to build those backlinks is to guest-post on websites where your audience is already engaged.
If you aren't sure where to start with guest-posting, or if you're having trouble getting editors to hear your pitches, check out our report—The State of Digital Media 2018—which is full of information on what editors are looking for in their guest posts.
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Your old content doesn't have to sit unused in a forgotten corner of your website. With a bit of effort and a lot of consolidation, you can transform your past content casualties into a series of high-traffic assets.
Follow the tips in this article to identify your goals, organize your content, and execute a refresh that delivers new results from old material.
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