Creating content is a huge job … Said every business owner ever!
Whether you’re tackling content creation on your own or outsourcing it to someone else, you constantly have to be on top of every step of the process.
Every piece of content follows a timeline that includes planning, creating, editing, publishing and marketing.
There are pitfalls that you need to watch for at each step in the process, and you can’t let complacency creep in, even when you’re suffering from awful writer’s block or are stuck and unsure about how to proceed.
Performing a content audit – or taking time to review your content – is critical to keeping your online presence fresh. This point applies regardless of what industry you’re in, but it’s especially important if you’re involved in an industry that is constantly changing like tech or online marketing.
In order to stay relevant and to build trust with your customers, you have to make sure your content is current and impactful. Even if you have a great content strategy that consistently drives leads and helps you land new customers, it’s key to regularly review your approach to content and to make small adjustments.
Maybe you sense that there’s room for improvement in your content but you aren’t sure how to proceed. Watch for these five signs to figure out if it’s time for a content makeover:
1) Readers are saying your content is out-of-date or inaccurate
This is a huge one – you don’t want readers pointing out that the information you’re sharing is wrong, incomplete, not useful or deficient in any way. If you start to see customers pointing out mistakes in your content, it’s time to go back to the drawing board to improve your editing and fact-checking.
It’s no surprise that the quality of your content matter. If you’ve spent time reading blogs lately, you’ve probably noticed a content trend of quality over quantity. Some of the best-performing content pieces on the internet right now include some (or all) of these elements:
- Thorough and accurate explanations with plenty of details
- Citations for facts (if needed)
- Relevant, high-quality images
- Descriptive headings
- A table of contents to help break up especially long or detailed articles
- Links to useful external sources
- Downloadable PDFs that summarize key points
- Key words, sharing buttons and other optimised elements
- Flawless grammar and spelling
- A personable, approachable tone
- A call to action
There are many other elements that you can include to make your content stand out and perform well in search rankings. At a basic level, incorporating these essentials into your content will leave a good impression on your readers and give you more legitimacy in your space.
2) You’re “Going Through the Motions” of Content Creation
If you’re churning out articles, social content or videos without much thought, it’s probably time for a content audit. It’s a positive thing to streamline your content system to the point where you barely have to think about the next step–but it isn’t ideal to be tuned out of your content process.
You have to stay engaged in order to avoid mistakes and to anticipate the needs of your audience. This requires keeping a pulse on your industry: what questions are your customers searching right now? What new products in your space are they excited about? What political, cultural or industry changes are concerning to them right now? Is there any big news in your space that everyone is buzzing about?
Keeping track of your industry may seem like a lot of extra work, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Some of the simplest ways to stay on top of changes include:
- Reading the news
- Subscribing to relevant blogs
- Following industry thought leaders on social media
- Attending helpful conferences, events, and meetings
If you’re passionate about what you do, chances are that you have some of these habits already. Just be sure that you’re documenting all the interesting tidbits you learn along the way so that you can share them with your audience!
You also might feel like you’re going through the motions of content creation if you’re putting information out there that isn’t new or engaging in some unique way.
We’ve all been in a spot where we latch on to a great topic and spend a few minutes Googling it only to find that it’s been covered time and time again. Does this mean you should shy away from it?
The answer is no – all that coverage indicates that people are interested in the subject and looking for more information! However, a lot of coverage does mean that you’ll have to put an interesting spin on the subject to stand out from the crowd. This can be as simple as sharing your opinions on the topic and inviting others to do the same.
3) Your Audience is Disengaged
It’s tempting to shy away from analytics–spending time analysing numbers can be overwhelming, tiring, frustrating or let’s be honest, a little boring. But it can also provide you with new insights, and most importantly it helps you understand your audience better.
There’s no way to know if your audience is increasing and staying engaged if you aren’t keeping track of the metrics in the first place.
Let’s say you have been keeping track and the numbers aren’t painting the prettiest picture – your audience is starting to disengage. Readers are heading elsewhere, viewers are seeking out something different and you’re scrambling to find a solution.
You don’t need to lose hope, even if the situation looks dire. But you might need to experiment to figure out where your audience is heading and why. Is your competition getting an edge by doing something new and innovative?
Is your audience checked out because they’re finding information on a different platform or through an alternative source?
If you’re seeing less page views, higher bounce rates and lower click-through rates on your emails, it’s probably time to assess your content strategy and to make some changes.
Figuring out what changes to make depends heavily on your audience and your overall content strategy. Don’t be afraid to test different approaches to see what sticks.
4) Your Niche is too Narrow
You’ve heard it time and time again: you need to niche down in order to have an engaged, high-quality audience. Niches are great, but what happens if your niche is too narrow?
You’re bound to run out of content ideas if you don’t have a solid content strategy. If you’ve already painted yourself into a corner with a narrow niche, don’t fear: you can still diversify your content by bringing in new voices and testing out new content types.
For example, you might have an incredible how-to guide on your blog that you could repurpose into a video.
Maybe you’ve already shared your opinions on every major topic in your field, but surely you have friends or colleagues in the same industry who would be happy to share their thoughts on the same topic.
See what’s going on here? If you discover during your content review that your niche is too narrow, get creative: figure out how to put a new spin on things!
5) You Know Your Content Could Perform Better
We all get too comfortable at times. Maybe you have a strategy that’s working and you are happily coasting along.
Even so, it’s important for the growth of your business to regularly perform a content review to make sure you’re on the right track. During your review, ask the following questions:
- What aspects of my content strategy are working well?
- What aspects of my content strategy are not performing well?
- What would I like to accomplish with my content in a given timeframe (one month, six months, a year, etc)?
- How does my current content strategy fit in with my overall marketing goals?
- Is my content driving sales?
- Do I fully understand my analytics, and am I tracking everything I should be tracking?
- How can I tweak my content creation process to make it more effective and efficient?
- Am I following the basic best practices for content creation?
Chances are that you’ll discover some ways that you can improve during your content audit. Don’t shy away from these realisations – even if it takes work to change, the results will be worth it in the long run!
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