This post originally appeared on the Content Marketing Conference blog, and is based on two Content Marketing Conference sessions delivered by Lindy Roux, Tendo Communications Vice President and Managing Director.
Fair warning: You are about to read a blog post that suggests—no, actually insists—that you add another step to your content creation process. But I promise I’m not here to make more work for you.
I want you to create content that achieves your goals and stop creating content that doesn’t move the needle (i.e., goes unread). How? By taking one extra step to review content assets after they go live and finding ways to update and improve them over time.
That’s what content optimization is all about, and why it needs to be baked into your workflow. If it isn’t, you’re shortchanging your content marketing efforts and diminishing ROI. In other words, you’re working harder, not smarter.
A Bit of Context on Content Optimization and Scoring
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of making content optimization part of your workflow, let’s put the topic into context. Optimization is part of a three-step process I recommend to evaluate and improve content performance:
- Step 1: Create a content scorecard. At CMC 2019, I hosted a session on “Performing a Content Audit with Scoring.” I’m a big fan of using content scorecards to assess the performance of content, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Learn how to build your own scorecard, step by step.
- Step 2: Use your scorecard to diagnose and fix issues. At CMC 2020, my session went deeper into exploring how to use your scorecard and what to do if your content scored a C+ or worse. Lousy individual scores are no fun, but they can reveal exactly how to improve issues like content discoverability and engagement.
- Step 3: Build scoring and optimization into your workflow. That’s what we’re talking about right now! Because what good is a content scorecard if it’s just sitting on a shelf? And it will certainly go unused if you haven’t made assessment and optimization a formal part of your content creation workflow.
What Your Content Creation Process Should Look Like
Many of us think of content creation as a linear process: Plan, create, edit, and distribute your ebook, blog post, or webpage. Then pat yourself on the back and move on to the next project, right? Not so fast.
Content creation should be a circular, iterative process. The missing step is often “assess”: Plan, create, edit, distribute, assess. And that’s where scoring and optimization come into play.
Why am I so passionate about including this step? Because un-assessed content is neglected content that doesn’t achieve its full potential or help you reach your goals. In today’s competitive, content-saturated environment, you simply must revisit older content to evaluate its performance and make regular, ongoing improvements. It ain’t optional!
Adding a new step to an established organizational process should not be done casually. Discuss this change with your team and obtain their buy-in. It may take a few review cycles, but once they start seeing the improved content performance, they’ll become believers in your process.
How and When to Optimize Your Content
If your content isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do, your scorecard can quickly give you insights on identifying the problems (poor discoverability, mediocre conversion) and making the necessary updates (optimize SEO keywords, improve CTAs, etc.).
How often should you assess and optimize content? Ideally, on a quarterly basis, especially for evergreen content. You may need to plan a different schedule for time-sensitive content or assets with a shorter shelf life.
Here are a few more tips to help you fine-tune your process and make it as efficient as possible:
- Review your content in batches, on a rolling basis—not all at once.
- Divide and conquer, assigning ownership to content assets across team members.
- Use your CMS to set up review dates and reminders for each piece of content. You’ll receive an alert when it’s time to assess and optimize.
Let’s be honest: Adding content optimization to your process might affect your team’s ability to crank out more and more content at breakneck speed. But is that a bad thing? Everybody is already preaching quality over quantity.
Optimization helps you maximize your existing content investments. And here’s another key benefit: By assessing and optimizing content repeatedly, you’ll learn invaluable lessons. You’ll get better at content marketing and strategy—and faster, too.
What’s not to love about that?