A few years ago we were working with a company that had several million articles published on their site. The problem, of course, was that very few of them were read and even less ranked in search engines.
We tested a pilot program where we applied 20% of their newsroom’s resources in improving and combining existing content. The goal was to have one complete and comprehensive article on a topic.
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 the topic.
Each and every article should have:
- Sections that were designed well and easy to skim through from subheading to subheading.
- Bulleted lists with the key 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.
While 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.
It worked like a charm. The content department shifted from a “How much content are we going to produce each week to meet conversion goals?” to a “Wow, our content department now has a positive return on investment that continues to grow!”.
It wasn’t easy. We even built a big data analysis engine to identify the prioritized order of the content production to ensure we were getting 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. Fixing that content first produced the greatest results.
Backlinko analyzed over 1 million results and found the average #1 ranking page had 1,890 words
This data backed up our premise and our findings. It’s totally transformed how we look at building content strategies for our clients. No longer do we do a bunch of research and mass produce articles, infographics and whitepapers anymore. We deliberately design a library for our clients, audit their current content, and prioritize the gaps necessary.
Even on Martech Zone, we’re doing this. I used to brag about having over 5,000 posts. You know what? We’ve trimmed the blog to about 4,000 posts and continue to go back every week and 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.
How to Develop Your Content Library Strategy
To get started, I’d recommend taking this approach:
- First and foremost, what are prospects and clients asking about online about your business that would lead them to you?
- Second, what are prospects and clients asking about around their business and employment success that you can provide assistance on? It’s not just educating your prospects and clients about what you know or do, you must provide them with a sense that you’re a trusted asset to their success.
Writing about you every week isn’t going to work. 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 about our expertise and authority in the industry and ability to help prospects and customers be successful with their challenges. That might mean articles on regulation, on employment, on integrations, and virtually any other topic that they’re wrestling with at work.
How to Research Your Content Library Topics
I always start with three research resources for the content I develop:
- Organic 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 then them.
- Socially shared research from BuzzSumo. BuzzSumo tracks how often articles are shared. If you can intersect the popularity, the share ability, 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 the 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 a 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’s 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 is ranking and then utilize the best ranking permalink for the new article. When I do this, search engines often come back and rank it even higher. Then, when it becomes popular, it skyrockets in rank.
How to Design Your Articles
Think about your article as 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’re going to want to utilize headlines, bolding, emphasis, block quotes, imagery, and bullet points effectively. This will let the readers eyes scan and then focus. If it’s a really lengthy article, you may even want to start it with a table of contents that are anchor tags where the user can click and jump to the section that interests them.
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.