In today’s content-saturated Internet landscape, it can be very difficult to deliver unique and compelling content to the web. Yet content optimization remains extremely important to ensure that it will attract attention to your brand and visitors to your website. If you are currently struggling with the content optimization process, it might help to reacquaint yourself and your team with the five simple steps of the cycle. A tweak here or there may be all that is necessary to take your content to the next level.
The 5 Simple Steps of the Content Optimization Cycle:
1. Do Your Research.
Has your big idea already been written, infographed, and slideshared to death? You might need to go back to the drawing board. Or, you might still be able to save it. Can you relate it to a recent news item? Can you take a contrarian position? Can you reframe it in an original way?
Some topics are so overdone that they are beyond the point of saving, but others can benefit from a fresh perspective. Would you want to read a new angle of the same topic? If not, it’s probably time to retire the topic and start searching for new ideas.
2. Set Goals.
What do you want this content to achieve for your business? Without goals, it’s impossible to see how your content is affecting your business. Goals can be set for customer retention, sales, lead generation, thought leadership, and brand awareness. Pick one of these goals to start with and focus on that goal throughout the content optimization cycle.
3. Measure, Measure, Measure.
If you don’t measure your content and how it performs, there is no way to make changes based on that data for improved results in the future, i.e., optimizing. If one type of content (say, a video) completely outperforms another type of content (say, a blog post), it might be smart to experiment with more videos at the expense of few blog posts. The only way to know if a test like that would work would be to, again, measure it.
Measuring content can be most efficiently accomplished by forming a checklist and then using that checklist on each piece of content. Some items to consider including in your checklist are:
- social media views
- social media shares
- organic search traffic
- average time on page
- overall pageviews
Compare the checklist data across and within your types of content, and make hypotheses as to why some content did better than other content. Then, test your hypotheses with new content iterations and allocations.
4. Spot Trends and New Opportunities
While you certainly don’t need to pursue every new content trend under the sun, spotting new trends is essential for content marketing. Trends can include both buzzworthy topics and also new forms of delivering content. For trending topics, Twitter can be an excellent resource for staying current on what’s hot in your industry. If a trending topic can help spark content for your business in a meaningful way, take advantage of it and post it right away. The faster you enter the conversation, the more success your posts will see and the more credibility you will gain as a source for future thought leadership.
Some new opportunities can come in the form of questions and comments on pre-existing content. When reviewing feedback on social media and comments sections, ask yourself if you can turn the answer to that question into a new article. More often than not, the answer will be yes. Your readers are your best source of new content ideas, so keep them engaged and answer their questions as quickly and thoughtfully as you can.
5. Generate New Ideas
It can be easy to get stuck looking in the rearview mirror as you crank out content week in and week out. However, every content marketing team must carve out the time to brainstorm new ideas that have not yet been done. This takes a willingness to fail, as well as faith in eventual success. There are always more questions to answer, and there are always new ways to use existing platforms. Every content trend must start from one team’s ingenuity. And there is nothing more valuable than doing it first.
Now, Rinse & Repeat.
Once you have made it through the cycle, begin again at the first step. Take those new content ideas and start researching them. There’s a very high probability that your world-dominating idea has already been done. Look for ways the idea can be better executed. Make your content stand out by cleaning up the design, updating the information, or reframing it for better engagement and shareability. Set a new goal, measure the performance of the content, spot new trends and opportunities, and then generate more new ideas. The cycle never stops, and it should flow more smoothly and be more successful each time.
The content optimization cycle is easy to understand, but it takes extreme diligence and creativity to execute. Once implemented, the cycle can broaden your content’s influence and have wide-reaching effects across your business.