Admit it, you have this little problem. You’re not yet a full-blown content hoarder, but you’ve amassed a heap of older blog posts, web pages and assets in your CMS — most of them unreviewed, unoptimized, unloved. Some are years out of date and need to be retired. Others are performing sub-optimally and need a few tweaks to boost their SERP ranking and findability.
You understand the importance of periodic content optimization, yet you don’t do it. Why not? Because after so much neglect, the task has become incredibly daunting — essentially a massive content audit of hundreds or thousands of pages and assets. It could take weeks or months to complete, and who has time for that?
Your content intervention begins now. It’s nothing to fear. I’m going to show you how to set up a practical process for content scoring and optimization, in which you review and update web pages on a rolling basis, in manageable batches.
First, Shift Your Content Creation Mindset
Do you think about content creation as a linear process? As in plan, create, distribute/publish, then move on? That approach will shortchange your content strategy. Your pages, posts and assets won’t achieve their full potential.
Instead, approach content creation as a circular, iterative process, with an “assess” step for every piece of content, to evaluate its performance and make necessary improvements on a regular basis. Ingrain this mindset in your team and bake it into your content operations, allocating appropriate time and resources.
Choose Your Content Evaluation Criteria and Tools
Save time by developing a set of standard criteria for reviewing and scoring all content. Choose only the performance metrics and attributes that help you answer the question, “Is this content doing what it’s supposed to do?” Your goal is to set up a system that allows for speedy review and decisive action on each piece of content (e.g., keep, update, remove).
I’m a big fan of setting up a content scorecard, and there are different ways to create and manage it. You could export Google Analytics or Google Search Console data into an Excel spreadsheet, or set up a dashboard in Tableau, pulling data directly from your CMS. Or just view metrics directly within your CMS.
Here’s what is mandatory: You must assess content both quantitatively and qualitatively.
That means you don’t make content optimization decisions based solely on quantitative data like page views, downloads, or bounce rate. You also incorporate qualitative factors: Is the content well written and engaging? Does it have current information on products or trends? Does it reflect your brand’s voice and tone? Does it map to the right customer journey stage?
Questions like these must be integrated into your system or spreadsheet. They’ll help you make the right updates to keep your content fresh and improve its performance.
Determine Rolling Review Dates for Content Types
Decide how often to review your content. Different content types will require different schedules. For example, a key product or solution page that’s competing for a page 1 SERP might merit monthly or quarterly reviews and optimization. Blog posts could be reviewed every three to six months following their publication dates. Evergreen content might require only an annual review.
Next, decide how to batch your reviews. Reviewing individual pages and assets, one at a time as their due dates hit, can get overwhelming quickly. A better approach is to consolidate reviews and perform them during scheduled review sprints, once per month or once per quarter. You can also schedule dates to review pages and assets by topic, product or solution type, or website section. It’s up to you. Remember, of course, that other factors will also trigger ad hoc reviews, such as product updates or launches.
Set Automatic Reminders and Assign Reviews in Your CMS
Keeping track of review dates can be tedious if you’re using a manual process. Determine if your CMS has functionality to automate reminders. Ideally, whenever you publish new content, you can enter its review date — or its date to be automatically archived — in a custom metadata field and assign a reviewer. Your CMS will do the rest, sending out reminders to appropriate team members, who can then input the content into your system (or spreadsheet) for review.
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Strive for Content Quality Over Quantity
Regular maintenance and cleaning of your content house will deliver benefits in short order: more web traffic, higher conversion rates and overall, a better digital content experience for your customers.
But let’s be realistic: Spending time on content optimization reduces the amount of time available for content creation. And what’s so bad about that? The solution to content saturation is to focus on quality, not quantity. Let’s make the most of the content we already have.
Lindy Roux is vice president and managing director of Tendo Communications, a B2B content agency based in San Francisco. She has over two decades of experience in content and digital strategy, CMS, SEO, user experience, consumer insights, branding and analytics.