How to Identify and Improve Underperforming Content in WordPress
Content production is booming online, and it’s not because of the untold thousands of fledgling writers and poets who are going digital to practice their craft and hopefully find an audience. Content production is on the rise because content marketing in its many shapes and forms has proven to be successful – for those who manage to do it right, of course. But if you ever wondered why many WordPress store themes have a blog, as do wedding themes or real estate themes, it’s because, when it comes to marketing, content works.
Except, of course, when it doesn’t.
The truth about content and marketing is that there are many ways to do it wrong – certainly more than the ways to do it right. It would be hard to say how many pieces of content that are online aren’t the best-performing versions of themselves. Ask a content creator or a marketer, however, and they’ll tell you that, at best, there’s always room for improvement. Some might go so far as to admit that content that downright underperforms isn’t a rare occurrence.
We’re here to address that. In this article, you’ll read about:
Do enough online searches, and you’ll quickly come to believe that the performance of a piece of content is strictly tied to its ability to attract an audience or rank well in search engines. Certainly, these are among the more common reasons why you might create content, or commission its creation. But they are far from being the only ones.
Whenever you are devising a content strategy or thinking about using content as a part of a broader marketing strategy, you’ll be in the position to consider different types of content to achieve different goals. Blog posts, if you write and optimize them well, might help your website’s rankings in search results.
But if you’re a B2B software vendor looking for some content to help you out further down the sales funnel, those types of blog posts won’t cut it. You’ll need content that performs another type of role, which often means that you’ll need a different type of content. In this case, a case study or a white paper might do better.
The key takeaway is that content that performs well isn’t just the content that brings you plenty of traffic. Content can persuade people to sign up for newsletters, buy products, or become repeat customers. You can also create content with the sole purpose of establishing brand authority or generating backlinks. You can use some pieces of content to test out things like time spent on-site or the ratio of new vs returning visitors. There are many performance metrics for content, and there are equally as many ways content might underperform.
There are many different reasons why your content might not perform according to your standards. It might be that the type of content you created wasn’t the best match for the purpose you gave it. You might be trying to achieve a goal with the wrong type of content.
It’s also possible that the content doesn’t align with the user intent. When the content creator or the person in charge of search engine optimization doesn’t understand intent types and tries targeting queries with wrong keywords, it’s easy to see how the content either won’t reach the audience or, if it does, won’t hold their attention for long.
There are technical problems that can cause the content to be difficult to reach. It might have happened that your content has been no-indexed by mistake, or something else might have happened that interfered with the search engine’s ability to index the content. Maybe it’s not the search engine’s problem, at all – maybe it’s the website’s internal linking that stopped siphoning people to some pieces of the content.
Finally, the content may be simply – bad. Poor-quality content comes in many shapes and sizes. It might be poorly written, littered with spelling mistakes. It can be thin, full of fluff, and critically lacking substantial or up-to-date information. Formatting issues can make the content difficult to read or prevent it from conforming with some standards that would make it well-performing.
Sometimes, the signs that your content is underperforming can be obvious. If your website is relatively new, so there’s not that much content to monitor, any change or deviation from the expected will be easy to notice. Then again, no matter how big your website gets, when content starts underperforming critically, you’ll notice it.
But that’s a drop in performance – what happens when content simply wasn’t performing well from the start? This is why it’s important to set goals and keep a record of them for every piece of content or, more realistically, every campaign you launch. You’ll monitor the KPIs that will tell you how well your content is doing, and if enough time passes and it fails to reach your goals, you’ll know you have underperforming content.
Every webmaster should perform an occasional content audit. It’s a great opportunity to create an inventory of the content, analyze its performance, and then take some steps towards improving it. Whichever of the methods you choose, the tools you’ll use will likely include Google Analytics, and tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, or BuzzSumo.
What you need to do to fix underperforming content will depend on the types of issues you find. If you’re thinking that rewriting the content is the worst thing that can happen at this point, you should know that it’s not – some content can’t be salvaged and needs to be scrapped completely.
Some of the things you are likely to do while mending your content and improving its importance include:
Repurpose content to match a specific goal – this is especially important if you’re trying to achieve something using the wrong content.
Search engine optimization – all of the standard SEO techniques are on the table, from metadata to making your website crawler-friendly.
Aligning content with intent – don’t create informational content for when you’re trying to target transactional intent, for example.
Optimizing it for appropriate keywords – if you didn’t have the correct keywords when creating the content, proper keyword research will help.
Make your content better – everything from improving spelling and grammar to updating content with fresh statistics and additional points of view might help.
On top of these adjustments, you might also consider looking for what led to issues with your content and addressing the problem at that point. Are you having trouble coming up with interesting topics for content? Can you efficiently proofread and spellcheck your content? Do you have a proper strategy guiding your content production? How are you at setting goals for your content? Do you monitor content performance regularly? These are all possible root causes of serial content underperformance.
Let’s Wrap It Up!
The content you create for your WordPress website can be one of the biggest assets when it comes to reaching your professional, business, or even personal goals – there are few things you can’t achieve with good content. So when content fails to perform well, you need to act, the sooner the better.
To talk about performance at all, your content needs a purpose. Next, you need to be aware of the possible reasons why content often underperforms – this will show you what to look out for. As for the action part, identifying the underperforming content can be as easy as seeing an unusually high bounce rate and finding its cause in bad keyword targeting. Or it can be a part of a process such as a content audit. Either way, you’ll know what pieces of content need your attention, and you’ll know what you can do to help it shine – or scrap it if it has to happen.