A company’s website is often its most important asset. Generating the right quality and quantity of traffic to the site and, of course, the ability to convert that traffic is the difference between success and failure. Having great content that ranks well in the search engines, keeps users engaged and entices sales or enquiries should be one of your top priorities as a marketer.
However, creating fresh new content is a time-consuming pursuit. When that time could be spent building backlinks, making sales calls or managing social media; creating a new blog probably doesn’t always appeal. There are numerous benefits to having a thriving company blog and it is a free form of content marketing (other than your sweat, tears and time!) so don’t discount it. Revamping and repurposing old content is much more time-efficient than starting one from scratch.
Before we get stuck in, which content should you look to improve? Here are some tactics:
Choosing blogs to repurpose:
The oldest first. Take a look at some of the oldest blogs on your site. Are they still relevant? Are they still factually correct? Are they still good quality?
It’s likely that your knowledge has expanded, your style and opinions evolved and the facts changed. Blogs that are altogether out of date are in need of a revamp.
Lowest ‘time on page’ metrics. Use Google Analytics to rank your pages by time on page. Find the ones with a low time on page (anything less than two minutes for a blog that’s 500+ words long would flag up to me) and check them out. They’re likely to have something that’s alienating users and we’ll take a look at some of the solutions to this later on.
Short, poor quality or draft blogs. If a blog has received zero hits, there won’t be any ‘time on page’ stats from Analytics. This means you’ll need to manually go through blogs to find ones that are generally good-for-nothing. You might also find some drafts that are 70-80% finished but were never made live. Again, it is easier to dust one of these off than start from scratch!
Now you’ve identified the content to work on, let’s look at the ways you can improve it!
Ways to improve your website’s written content
1. Proof, proof, and proofread again.
Any typos, spelling and grammatical mistakes, and sentences that simply make no sense are a sure-fire way to get people to leave your website. They also totally undermine your authority and trustworthiness. Install Grammarly on your browser or even write your blogs in Microsoft Word first so a decent spell checker has the chance to flag anything obvious.
However, this is simply not enough. These tools will not always pick up errors like using a word twice in a row or using an ‘it’ instead of an ‘in’ or ‘you’ instead of ‘your’.
Get someone else to read your blogs. Fresh eyes nearly always pick up errors or things that might make sense to you, but not to anyone else. If there is a glaring typo in the first few lines of a key blog or page, you are sabotaging your success.
2. Pile on the value
A blog is only useful if you are adding some kind of value to your audience. Don’t use your blog as an excuse to vent your opinion on something people don’t care about or to update people on generally uninteresting endeavours.
Write content people want to consume, not content you want to write.
If there’s nothing of value to your readers in your blog, there’s no value to you.
What will someone have gained from reading your blog? Are they more knowledgeable about a topic? Did you entertain them or make them laugh? Have you given them anything actionable so they can improve their life or business? Giving people actions gives them tangible value – ensure there are three or four of these in each blog.
3. Break up the text more
There are dozens of ways to break up your text. You could have a masterpiece of a blog but if it’s a big block of text, users won’t take the time to wade through it. Use titles, subheadings, images, graphs and tables, lists and short paragraphs to break up the text.
Many users will stumble upon your content after a Google search or scrolling social media – ease them into longer form content with smaller sections.
4. Add more copy (in general!)
Now, this isn’t to say a longer blog is a better blog – there are plenty of examples of short blogs that rank exceptionally well for competitive search terms. However, in my experience, many business owners and marketers have, at some point in time, produced several blogs that stumble over the “300-word minimum” wordcount that tools like Yoast SEO advocate.
You still need to prioritise quality and value, but if you can add more quality and value through additional copy, you create a better blog. In the same way that a journalist looks for more angles and details for their story, you need to explore your topic in sufficient depth. ‘Thin’ content can damage your site so find it and rectify it. Points 5, 11 and 13 will help with this.
5. Combine similar or overlapping blogs
By going over all of the previous blog content, including your drafts, there’s a good chance you’ll find several related blogs.
Merging this content helps you turn thin, average or even unusable content into something of value. This tactic can reduce the amount of duplicate content on the site and give your new blog much more ranking potential.
Ensure any disused URLs are 301 redirected to the new one.
6. Avoid repeating yourself
If you find yourself rehashing a point you made higher up the page, move on swiftly or dress it up as an entirely different point. As soon as a user realises their time is being wasted by duplicate copy (or near enough duplicate), they’ll leave.
Keep adding new value.
7. Don’t labour points
Unless you’re giving detailed technical instruction or are writing an opinion piece, stick to the facts and actionable advice. Give your readers some credit and trust they can join the dots – avoid condescending them by hammering home basic points.
If you feel the need to provide more detail, consider linking to an external resource. There is a fine line between adding relevant value (see point 11) and digressing. If you go too far off topic, it can be difficult to get the reader back into the flow of the main theme.
8. Use better imagery
Amateurish imagery is something else that could undermine an otherwise solid blog. There’s no excuse for having poor images with the wealth of professional-standard images on sites like Unsplash. Set yourself up a Canva account if you want to make content more personalised and keep everything on brand.
Sub out low-quality, irrelevant pics for high-res engaging ones.
9. Fix your page title and meta description
One of the reasons you might be failing to attract the right traffic could be down to these two key elements. Firstly, a good title and description will ensure it ranks for the right search terms and attracts click-throughs. Secondly, it signposts users as to what they’re going to read. From a user experience (and, therefore, SEO) perspective, ensure the title and description match the content of the blog itself.
If users are being jarred because the blog doesn’t deliver what the title promised or simply what they expected, they’ll bounce. If this is the case, you are attracting the wrong type of clicks – so fix it.
10. Ask for feedback (in real life)
Sometimes studying your site’s user metrics is not enough – you need more qualitative feedback on your posts. Ask people in your network what they think about your blogs and make sure you get constructive criticism. You can’t improve your blogs if your friends are politely saying “yes, I like them all”.
Find people who are vaguely in your target audience and get them to be super critical. Get comments on your content and writing style. What else would they like to know about? Was there anything they disagreed with? Did they get bored? This is a great way to find out if you’re delivering enough value to readers and where you can improve.
11. Update content with topical issues
Both Google and humans value fresh, relevant content more highly than old, stale content. Adding a new section about something relevant that has happened recently is a perfect way of doing this. If you have a piece about how US presidents dress for the media, for example, add a section about the new president or about something controversial they just wore to a press conference.
If you have content about a certain sport or athlete, update it with a paragraph about the latest competition or performance. It’s not just the blog’s date that Google and people take into account when deciding if a post is relevant. If they see it discusses something that has happened just a few weeks prior, the piece is clearly kept up to date and is relevant.
12. Add outbound and internal links (or refresh them!)
The ability to link to other web pages came about because users believed it would be useful to be directed to related content. Since the hyperlink was born, it has had a huge influence on the internet. Firstly, check that all the links on the page are live. Broken links (those that direct users to a 404 or non-existent site) hammer user experience and search engine performance. Use a broken link checker to give your site the once over.
Some of the articles you’ve linked to might be outdated and there might be much better content to recommend to your users. Similarly, you may have internal links pointing to pages you’ve neglected or that are not as relevant as other pages you’ve since created. Both internal and external links are key for usability and SEO. Ensure your pieces have several outbound and internal links where appropriate.
13. Add more related areas of content and relevant words
Branching out into closely related topics is a simple and effective way to add value to your blogs. Remember that we do not want to arbitrarily add copy to a blog without adding value. However, in a post about, say, how to optimise your LinkedIn profile, it would make sense to have a paragraph on LinkedIn Premium and what that offers to its users. Think about a natural branch for your content; something that users are genuinely likely to want to know about.
By adding related topics and even relevant words to your blog, you may make some search engine gains. For example, if indeed, you’ve written an entire 1500-word blog about LinkedIn profile optimisation, but not once have you mentioned ‘recommendations’ or ‘summary’, you might be missing a trick. There is a trend between high-ranking pages and some of the words they mention, known as latent semantic indexing (LSI). In short, Google appears to prioritise pages that mention closely related words so go ahead and cover your bases.
14. Revisit your site’s typeface
This is something that very few people spend time on. However, if you’ve ever visited a website with copy that is difficult to read, you’ll know how irritating it is. Having copy that is too small, too close in colour to the background, or has insufficient line-spacing can totally undermine great content.
There is also a body of research about the way people interpret typefaces – it is a very key feature of communication. Baskerville typeface, for example, is usually regarded as the best for making someone believe statements – perfect if you are trying to portray yourself as an industry authority. More on the psychology of typefaces here.
This is another feature of your site that you should get feedback on – it’s very easy to be blind to your site’s layout and styling so get some outsiders’ opinions. It is also worth checking out how your site renders on mobile and tablet devices as well as different web browsers.
15. Edit your blogs
No, this isn’t the same as proofing them! One of the most noticeable differences between a professional writer’s content and an amateur’s content is the editing. Remember that even the world’s greatest writers have editors so do not underestimate the importance of editing, nor how challenging it can be.
Editing your blogs involves being succinct with your words, sentences, and paragraphs. If a word or line does not add value to your audience, consider removing it. Your goal with each line should be to provide information, instruction or entertainment. If it doesn’t achieve anything, lose it.
Never use two words when one will do.
~ Thomas Jefferson
These are tips for editing a book but the majority carry over to blog writing. Once you notice some of these tricks, you’ll very quickly see the difference between edited and unedited works.
16. Ensure there are visible calls to action
Depending on what the purpose of your blogs and website, as a whole, are, you should have calls to action in place to ensure they are effective. As an e-commerce business, you should make sure users are aware there are products for sale. As a B2B business, make sure there is a contact form in the sidebar or footer or have a sticky navigation menu so users can always see a phone number or “contact us” option.
17. Revisit the fundamentals of writing and hone your skills
Just because you’ve graduated and have joined the world of work doesn’t mean you can’t possibly keep learning. Unless you have a degree in a subject that requires a lot of high-quality writing (English, journalism, etc.), you’re likely to be able to improve your style and vocabulary.
Clunkily written copy or the overuse of certain words or phrases make readers aware of your writing ability. Using the word ‘good’ or ‘nice’ in every paragraph? Use a thesaurus.
The art of effective blog-writing is in engaging the reader to such a degree that they almost forget they’re reading something a mere mortal has written. They should be entirely focused on the content and information you’re providing – not how it is written.
Read more blog content and analyse the literary techniques used in the ones that fit your brand. Here are some more simple tips.
18. Conclude swiftly
Rounding off a blog post is a worthwhile endeavour. A strong conclusion can leave a reader satisfied that they’ve spent their time wisely and make them likely to read your other content. It’s also a perfect place to add a call action or link to a related blog they’ll enjoy.
However, don’t fall into the trap of summarising all the points you’ve made in the body – you’ll be repeating yourself. Readers often switch off once they see “in summary” or a “conclusion” sub-heading. Try “The bottom line” instead in order to signpost that you’re signing off with a succinct snippet of wisdom.
These are some of the top tips I use to keep the JC Social Media blog fresh and up to date. Always keep in mind what each blog is achieving for the reader and its role in your business’s marketing endeavours. I recommend setting a monthly or quarterly reminder to look at the page metrics and work on the weakest blog content first. This is an ongoing task but you can certainly apply these techniques now to those pieces that need some TLC to bring up the overall standard of your site’s copy.