Illustration of a person using a wrench to fix gears on a website

For a quick marketing win in the new year, look at your existing content, find the pieces that didn’t perform as well as intended (or at all) and apply a little spit-n-polish to help them shine.

It’s an easy, cost-effective way to reignite existing pieces and increase engagement, leads and conversions. And optimizing underperforming content is a fantastic way to establish marketing momentum as you begin the new year.

But first, let’s define underperforming content.

Defining underperforming content

Simply put, underperforming content is any piece of content that falls short of the goal you had for it. It’s a blog post with tons of engagement when first published, but it didn’t move your audience to act as intended. Or it had steady engagement, but you know it could’ve performed better. This content has legs but hasn’t found its voice or a way to capture your audience’s attention.

And then there are those pieces, those real turkeys, that never took off to begin with, despite your best efforts.

Whatever the scenario, a handful of common factors usually cause underperforming content. The good news is that you can position your content to perform as intended with just a few tweaks and a little TLC.

The usual suspects of underperforming content

Poor or underperforming content is usually guilty of the following content crimes:

  • It didn’t nail user search intent
  • Poor formatting – giant blocks of robotic text, no images/graphics, stuffed with keywords
  • Wonky website performance – pages are slow to load or aren’t mobile-friendly
  • It’s dated and no longer relevant to your audience or their interests
  • It tries to do too much all at once – no piece can solve ALL your audience’s problems in one gigantic post, podcast or video

Other factors can contribute to content that isn’t up to snuff, but the ones above stand out. And here are five tips to help you optimize underperforming content.

Tip 1: Match your keywords with user search intent

If your audience is searching for information on “foods that help fight inflammation,” they’ll probably ignore content that details the evolution of food, where the word “inflammation” comes from or names of local restaurants specializing in spicy cuisine. They want to know what foods will help them fight inflammation. That’s their search intent.

Your job is to match that search intention with the best content possible.

Developing customer behavior profiles (insights into your target audience’s characteristics, preferences and behaviors), monitoring your audience’s social media conversations and running a keyword analysis can help you craft your content to deliver on those intentions.

These actions help you identify what your audience hopes to find. Get crystal clear on their search intent, and then provide the best answers to satisfy it.

Tip 2: Nail the formatting and appease the Google gods

If Shakespeare was writing today, he might observe that all the world is Google’s stage, and we’re merely the players. That might change down the road, but for now, if we don’t play the game their way, our content is kaput.

Google wants to serve its users with the very best results to match their searches — best both in substance and in style. And if your content isn’t pleasing to consume, Google won’t promote it.

If you have giant blocks of text in paragraph after paragraph on your pages without visuals, white space or supporting graphics, Google won’t recommend your content to your audience.

Use subheadings, bullet points, reputable links and high-quality images to keep things interesting for your audience. It creates a pleasant experience for your readers.

Also, video is huge right now and well-liked by Google. That format might appeal to your audience for patient stories or provider bios.

However you choose to present your content, nailing the format best suited for your audience will help reduce the chance for content that underperforms.

Tip 3: Give that poor website performance a pick-me-up

Even the best formatted, thoroughly researched and cleverly composed piece won’t shine on a page plagued with performance issues. Google just won’t have it.

Websites that take too long to load will sink any piece of content created to soar. Slow, glitchy and unresponsive sites can turn off would-be consumers; they may never see your hard work.

To avoid people quitting on your content — or worse, never giving it a chance — prioritize giving your audience a seamless experience across all devices.

Try any of the many page performance tools available now (Google PageSpeed Insights is one) to help you monitor user experience and website performance. They offer analytics and tips on improving your site or specific pages.

No content stands a chance to engage an audience if it lives on an unreliable and unresponsive website.

Tip 4: Move along content that’s old and in the way

Do you still have that 1,500-word piece on “The 2017/2018 Flu Season: What to Watch For” loitering in your blog section? If so, it might be time to send it out to the digital pasture. Are there others?

If your content isn’t current or an accurate reflection of present-day problems your audience is looking to solve, it’s not going to perform, and they’re going to look elsewhere.

But good news! The start of a new year is a perfect time to run a content gap analysis and identify any differences, or “gaps,” between the content you currently have on hand and the content needed to meet your goals. This analysis will separate the winning wheat from the underperforming content chaff.

Keep in mind any content published on your website is still available for anyone to access. Identifying and either making the dated material current or archiving it will make way for pieces that perform better.

Tip 5: Focus on one topic to avoid confusing your audience

The road to underperformance purgatory is paved with well-intentioned content that tries to do too much or not enough. No posting, promoting or praying will save it.

Trying to stuff everything you know or want to say about a particular topic into one article sets that piece up for failure. Failure to convert, failure to engage and failure to establish your authority and expertise.

Instead, focus on one main topic, organize or outline ideas around that topic, provide proper supporting evidence to back up those ideas, and gently guide your audience from one point to the next.

Score quick content wins in the new year

Starting off the new year with quick marketing wins is a great way to keep momentum (and spirits!) up for the next 365 days. Delight your audience by ensuring that whatever you create matches user search intent, is formatted for a great user experience, lives on a website operating at maximum performance, and focuses on one main idea.

Following these these tips will ensure your content performs the way you intended and doesn’t miss the mark.

Optimize your underperforming content with WriterGirl

WriterGirl’s expert content strategists and writers will help you revitalize underperforming content and give it the life it deserves. Contact us today, and let’s get to work!