Years ago, we worked with a company with several million articles published on their site. The problem was that very few articles were read, even fewer ranked in search engines, and less than one percent had revenue attributed to them. They hired us for search engine optimization (SEO) but it quickly grew into a far more complex engagement where we developed internal processes to help them prioritize, organize, and enrich their content.
I’d challenge you to review your library of content. You’d be surprised at what percent of your pages are popular and engaged with by your audience, not to mention which pages rank in search engines. We often find that our new clients rank on branded terms only and have spent thousands of hours on content that no one reads.
This particular client had an entire editorial staff with editors and writers… but they had no central strategy on what to write. They wrote about articles they personally found interesting. We researched their content and found some troubling issues… we found multiple articles from different articles on the same topic. Then we found many articles that weren’t ranked, had no engagement, and were poorly written. They even had a few complex how-to articles that didn’t even have photos included.
We didn’t immediately recommend a solution. We asked them if we could do a pilot program where we applied 20% of their newsroom’s resources to improving and combining existing content rather than writing new content.
The goal was to define a content library and have one complete and comprehensive article on each topic. It was a national company, so we researched the topic based on its audience, search rankings, seasonality, location, and competitors. We provided a defined list of content, scheduled monthly, that was prioritized in our research.
It worked like a charm. The 20% of resources we applied to build a comprehensive content library outperformed the 80% of other content that was haphazardly produced.
The content department shifted from:
How much content are we going to produce each week to meet productivity goals?
And shifted to:
Which content should we optimize and combine next to increase the return on content investment?
It wasn’t easy. We even built a big data analysis engine to identify the prioritized order of content production to ensure we got the best ROI on content resources. Every page was classified by keyword, keywords ranked, geography (if targeted), and taxonomy. We then identified the content that ranked on competitive terms – but did not rank well.
Interestingly enough, the writers and editors also loved it. They were provided with a topic, existing content that should be redirected to the new comprehensive article, as well as competing content from around the web. It provided them with all the research they needed to write a far better, deeper engaging article.
Why You Should Build A Content Library
Here’s a short introduction video on a content library and why your content marketing strategy should incorporate this methodology.
Many companies collect articles on similar topics over time, but the visitor to your site isn’t going to click and navigate to find the information they need. It’s imperative that you combine these topics into a single, comprehensive, well-organized master article on each central topic.
How To Define Your Content Library
For your product or service, your content strategy should engage at each stage of the buyer’s journey:
- Problem Identification – helping the consumer or business understand their problem better and the pain it’s causing you, your household, or your business.
- Solution Exploration – helping the consumer or business understand how the problem may be solved from a ‘how-to’ video through products or services.
- Requirements Building – helping the consumer or business fully evaluate each solution to understand what’s best for them. This is a significant phase where you get to highlight your differentiation.
- Supplier Selection – helping the consumer or business understand why they should select you, your business, or your product. This is where you want to share your expertise, certifications, third-party recognition, customer testimonials, etc.
For businesses, you may also want to help the person researching understand how to validate each of your competitors and position you in front of their team to build consensus.
- Sections that were designed well and easy to skim through from subheading to subheading.
- Research from primary and secondary sources to provide credibility to your content.
- Bulleted lists with the critical points of the article clearly explained.
- Imagery. A representative thumbnail for sharing, diagrams, and photos wherever possible throughout the article to better explain it and build comprehension. Micrographics and infographics were even better.
- Video and Audio to provide an overview or short description of the content.
In working with our client, a word count wasn’t the ultimate goal; these articles went from a few hundred to a few thousand words. Older, shorter, unread articles were dropped and redirected to the new, richer articles.
Backlinko analyzed over 1 million results and found the average #1 ranking page had 1,890 wordsBacklinko
This data backed up our premise and our findings. It’s transformed how we look at building content strategies for our clients. We no longer do a bunch of research and mass-produce articles, infographics, and whitepapers. We deliberately design a library for our clients, audit their current content, and prioritize necessary gaps.
Even on Martech Zone, we’re doing this. I used to brag about having over 10,000 posts. You know what? We’ve trimmed the blog to about 5,000 posts and continue going back every week to enrich older posts. Because they’re transformed so drastically, we republish them as new. Additionally, because they often already rank and have backlinks to them, they skyrocket in search engine results.
Getting Started With Your Content Library Strategy
To get started, I’d recommend taking this approach:
- What are prospects and clients researching online about each stage in the buyer’s journey that would lead them to you or your competitors?
- What mediums must you incorporate? Articles, graphics, worksheets, white papers, case studies, testimonials, videos, podcasts, etc.
- What current content do you have on your site?
- What research can you insert into the article to strengthen and personalize its content?
- At each stage and in each article, what do the search engine competitors‘ articles look like? How can you design better?
Writing about your company every week isn’t going to work. You must write about your prospects and clients. Visitors don’t want to be sold; they want to do research and get help. If I’m selling a marketing platform, it’s not just about what we can accomplish or what our clients are accomplishing using the software. It’s how I’ve transformed the career of my client and the business they’ve worked for.
Helping your customers and prospects drives your audience to recognize expertise and authority in the industry. And the content may not be limited to how your products and services help your customers. You may even what to include articles on regulation, employment, integrations, and virtually any other topic your prospects are wrestling with at work.
How to Research Your Content Library Topics
I always start with three research resources for the content I develop:
- Organic keyword and competitive research from Semrush to identify the most highly searched topics and articles associated with the prospect I wish to attract. Keep a list of the ranking articles handy, as well! You’ll want to compare your article to ensure you’re better than them.
- Socially shared research from BuzzSumo. BuzzSumo tracks how often articles are shared. If you can intersect popularity, the shareability and write the best article on the topic – your chances of it producing engagement and revenue are much higher. BuzzSumo wrote a great article recently on how to use it for Content Analysis.
- Comprehensive taxonomy analysis to ensure your article covers all the subtopics associated with a topic. Check out Answer the Public for some amazing research on the taxonomy of topics.
Build out a huge list of these topics, prioritize them by their importance, and begin searching your site. Do you have content that touches on that topic? Do you have content that ranks for related keywords? If it can be improved – rewrite richer, more complete articles. Then tackle content that helps your prospects and clients next.
Construct your content calendar with the priorities. I’d recommend splitting time between updating old and writing new until your library is complete. And thanks to changing business environments, technology advancements, and competition – there are always new topics to add to your library.
As you combine older articles into new, more comprehensive articles, be sure to replace the old articles with redirects. I often research how each article ranks and then utilize the best ranking permalink for the new article. When I do this, search engines often rank it even higher. Then, when it becomes popular, it skyrockets in rank.
Your Content Experience
Consider your article as a pilot would be coming in for a landing. The pilot isn’t focused on the ground… he’s first looking for landmarks, descending, and then focusing more and more until the plane has touched down.
People don’t initially read an article word for word; they scan it. You will want to effectively utilize headlines, bolding, emphasis, block quotes, imagery, and bullet points. This will let the reader’s eyes scan and then focus. If it’s a lengthy article, you may even want to start with a table of contents that are anchor tags where the user can click and jump to the section that interests them.
If you want the best library, your pages must be amazing. Every article should have all the mediums necessary to impact visitors and fully provide them with the necessary information. It must be well-organized, professional, and have an exceptional user experience in comparison to your competitors:
Don’t Forget your Call to Action
Content is useless unless you want someone to take action on it! Be sure to let your readers know what’s next, what events you have coming up, how they can schedule an appointment, etc.