Why you should write less and fix more.
As a marketer, you know professional writing comes with a level of creative conviction: Your passion for the idea, the content, and its execution.
Sometimes you know you have a great article topic — it ticks all the boxes — but despite all the evidence, it doesn't perform. At all.
But when that content is founded on both data (hello, buyer personas) and a team geeked out about quality implementation, your craft is also guided by a level of strategic honesty. For our marketing team at Solstice, that means having the frankness to say, "I don't know why, but this post isn't performing like it should."
How We Doubled Organic Traffic in Less Than a Year
We’re a small marketing team with limited time and resources, so making each piece of content count is important. We’re also in the very exciting industry of dental insurance, where drumming up new and relevant blog topics for our buyer personas each month was becoming a challenge.
We had to find a way to elevate our existing content and get the most out of each blog post. There was a clear divide between our high-traffic posts and our underperforming posts that baffled us — why weren’t some articles seeing any traction while others were soaring?
After our team attended a session at Inbound ‘16, the lightbulb came on: We should create less new content and work with what we have to make each blog post as successful as possible.
But what did that mean? It meant making a monthly commitment to enhance and repurpose existing blog posts with low readership and rework those underperforming posts to increase traffic and conversions. Here’s how we did it.
Step 1: Identify the underperforming blog posts with high potential.
We’d been blogging for nearly five years, which meant we had a lot of content. It was an impossible task to overhaul all our underperforming content at once.
We decided our strategy was to target three to five posts per month to enhance. Our team used the HubSpot blog analytics tool to identity low-performing posts, which meant low traffic, low conversion, or both. We also chose the posts that had either high-ranking keywords (using the HubSpot keyword tool) or topics we felt were relevant to our buyer personas and worth the investment of repurposing. Month by month, we chipped away at our list, making it manageable and attainable.
Step 2: Less is more — scale back the blogging.
The advice we were given at Inbound highlighted how a successful content strategy doesn’t have to mean all new content all the time. That was a hard one for our team to embrace because we had data to prove that the more we publish, the more traffic we see, and thus the more leads we convert. It was uncomfortable to scale back, so we decided to dedicate a few months to testing the “less is more” theory. But it worked. Big time. We doubled organic traffic to all our website domains in seven months.
We reduced our blogging output by about 25 percent and funneled those resources into identifying and refreshing our existing blog posts. We also spent time cleaning up our keywords database, because if we weren’t tracking the right keywords, this strategy wasn’t going to work. It came down to building a solid foundation and rebuilding on top of it.
Step 3: Give the blog posts a boost.
The tips we picked up at Inbound pointed to four key areas for blog repurposing.
1. Add in-line, above-the-fold CTAs to increase a blog post’s conversions.
- In-line CTAs can be more effective than having only one CTA at the bottom of a post. And sometimes during this process, we discovered that the CTA itself wasn’t a good fit for the post. In those instances, we swapped the CTA for a more relevant offer.
2. Update headlines to increase a blog’s organic traffic.
- Testing headlines can be done in a few different ways. Sometimes, we plug ideas into the Google search box to see if the predictive text yields any interesting headline variations that might be more in line with what prospects are searching for on a particular topic. We also tap into free tools like CoSchedule’s headline analyzer and Hemingway Editor (this is also great for body text). The HubSpot Content Marketing Certification has a lot of great insight on headline creation, as well as blogging best practices.
3. The power of the metatag.
- Metatags pack a mighty punch in impacting organic traffic and clickthrough rates. Whatever changes we made to our underperforming blog content (the headline or targeted keywords) needed to align with the metatag. And since metatags are your blog’s Google sneak preview, review the old metatags and update them to be more consistent with the content, your target keywords, or your buyer personas. Think of metatags like your invitation to a party — it should make people want to come.
4. Bringing it to back to your persona.
- Sometimes we had a great idea, but the content wasn’t written in a way that touched on a persona’s pain points or addressed the topic in a manner that resonated. In these moments, we re-examined our personas and plotted how to refresh the content, tone, and action items.
Step 4: Make sure the needle moves.
Each month, our team sets aside time to audit our efforts. We track it all in an Excel spreadsheet (it’s not fancy, but it works) to measure each enhanced post’s organic traffic, clickthrough rate, and conversion rate each month. We start with the month it was boosted and track onward so we can see if the changes we made led to an increase in organic traffic.
Since starting the repurposing project, our blog’s organic traffic has grown by 35% in less than a year, and most of our repurposed/enhanced blog posts have seen triple-digit growth in organic traffic.
Here’s an example. We had a blog post geared toward the B2C audience for dental insurance. It was called “How do I know if I have a cavity?” We’d published it in March 2016, and for the following year, it garnered just 487 views. This is an example of a relevant, useful topic that just wasn’t going anywhere.
On April 18, 2017, we enhanced the post, revisiting the keyword strategy, headline, and photo. We added alt tags to the image. It didn’t take long. In three short months since enhancement, this post has seen 5,942 views, 1,120% growth, and we went from not ranking to ranking fourth for the topic’s keyword. That’s a huge improvement, and it took perhaps thirty minutes to implement the post’s enhancements.
Other blog posts we repurposed experienced 590% growth in just one month after their enhancement. So for us, this strategy worked.
If you’re looking to make the most out of your blog content, enhancing underperforming articles is a low-cost, easy-to-implement digital marketing strategy that can have a big impact on your marketing efforts and revenue.