Years ago we were working with a company that had several million articles published on their site. The problem was that very few of the articles were read, even less ranked in search engines, and less than one percent of them had revenue attributed to them.
I'd challenge you to review your own library of content. I believe you'd be surprised at what percent of your pages are actually 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 a full editorial staff with editors and writers… but they had no central strategy on what to write. They simply 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 a ton of 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 in improving and combining existing content rather than writing new content.
The goal was to define a content library – and then have one complete and comprehensive article on each topic. It was a national company, so we researched the topic based on their audience, their search rankings, seasonality, location, and their competitors. We provided a defined list of content, scheduled monthly, that was prioritized on our research.
It worked like a charm. The 20% of resources that we applied to build out 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 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.
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 the competing content from around the web. It provided them 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 what a content library is 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 in its entirety as well as the pain its 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 understand how to fully evaluate each solution to understand what's best for them. This is a great 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 competition and position you in front of their team in order 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 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.
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 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 10,000 posts. You know what? We've trimmed the blog to about 5,000 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.
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 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 is what 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 that 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 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 the 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 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.
Your Content Experience
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.
If you want to have the best library, your pages have to be amazing. Each and every article should have all the mediums necessary to fully impact the visitor and provide them with the information they need. 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.