5 Signs Your Content Development Process Needs an Update

Jessica Thiefels on Tuesday, May 25, 2021

content development

Content development isn’t an easy process. It requires research and creativity, as well as knowing the mechanics of writing, SEO, and proper promotion. Even if you think you have a handle on it, the digital marketing landscape is constantly evolving, so you may need to adapt and shift your workflow to keep visitor numbers high and search engines happy. 

If you’re not seeing the results from your content (I.E. traffic, leads, and email subscribers) look at your content development. Here are five tell-tale signs that your content development needs an update. Don’t miss our tips on how to redesign your workflow and strategies to see better results from your content.

1. You’re Not Publishing Consistently

One of the hardest things for companies to do is consistently develop fresh content. It takes time, resources and money to not only create the content itself, but do all the work needed to make sure it’s worth creating in the first place, like SEO research and keyword planning. 

However, consistency and frequency are key factors for content success. As Michael Brenner explains in his article for Marketing Insider Group, consistent content: 

  • Boosts engagement as online audiences crave consistency.
  • Increases brand credibility and trust. 
  • Leads to better quality content (practice makes perfect). 

If you leave content development to “when there’s time,” it will always be on the back burner, and you’ll continually see poor results.

How to Update Your Process

Organize your team and get your resources in place. Who’s involved in the content development process? What approvals are necessary? This will set the foundation for an effective workflow that allows everyone to work efficiently and effectively.

With a team in place, you need a calendar and schedule to keep track of your publishing plans.  According to CMI, 60 percent of the most successful marketers have a documented strategy and 80 percent use an editorial calendar. Use the template in our quarterly content calendar bundle to create your calendar.

If you don’t have the team, time, or resources to create content, consider outsourcing. For example, you could hire a ghostwriter or outsource the entire process to a content marketing agency like Jessica Thiefels Consulting.

2. Users Aren’t Reading or Converting 

Metrics like time-on-page and new vs. return users can show you whether your content is resonating with readers. If your time on page is low, or decreasing readers may not be hooked by your intro or the article itself isn’t providing value.

This means it’s time to tweak your content development plan and focus on improving your topics and writing. Yoast confirms that readability is a Google ranking signal. Backlinko also explains that content quality, usefulness, and uniqueness all impact your ranking. 

Not only will poor writing and irrelevant topics hurt your conversion but also your site’s overall SERP ranking, which has long-term effects if not addressed. 

How to Update Your Process

Audit your topic selection and writing mechanics. When you do, consider the following questions for yourself or with your team:

  • Are you doing competitive research and SEO keyword research to find the topics your audience actually cares about and searches for?
  • Is your content unique? If you Google your headline, are you simply repeating what others wrote or offering fresh insights? 
  • Are you providing value to your readers, like teaching them a new concept, solving a problem, or explaining a process?
  • Is the writing itself interesting and well done? 
  • Does the writing lead to thought-provoking questions with natural transitions that move readers to the next section? 
  • Do you have an editing workflow in place so more than one person is seeing the article before publishing?

If your answer is “no” for any of these questions, those are the areas of content development that need to be updated.

Use these website copywriting tips to create more compelling content. Remember that even with technical topics, you need to tell a story to keep your reader’s interest. Refer to my guide to brush up on your storytelling strategies.    

3. Your Organic Traffic Isn’t Increasing

Organic traffic is one of the most important KPIs for determining content success. One of the most valuable aspects of creating content is being found in search for keywords that your audience is searching for. If organic traffic is increasing, you’re doing this right. If it’s not, you need to consider your SEO strategies and how SEO is built into your content development process.

Ultimately, if your organic traffic decreased or plateaued, your content isn’t doing its job. This means you need to update your process to address on-site SEO. 

How to Update Your Process

Don’t let your hard work go to waste. No matter how great your content is, if you aren’t using the right SEO framework, it won’t show up on the SERPs, and your target audience won’t find you. Ensure to build enough time into your content development workflow for SEO, from keyword research to on-page optimizations.  

Use our keyword research guide to develop and maintain a list of high-volume and low-competition keywords that you can target with your content. Don’t forget to optimize all other aspects of your content. Follow our comprehensive SEO checklist to confirm you’re hitting keyword placement, header usage, internal/external links and more. 

Don’t forget to look at page speed (mobile and desktop) and use data from your Google Console to determine if there are other issues holding you back.

4. Your Social Media Posts Aren’t Getting Shared

Strategizing and developing content is only half the battle. Promoting is the other half. While organic traffic will help your content rank in search, social media promotion also ensures your content is reaching your audience. 

In assessing your content development process, look at whether your content is actually getting engagement, like shares, likes, and comments. This is a signal that your content is either resonating or falling flat with your target audience—the people you want to attract the most.

Vanity metrics such as likes aren’t accurate KPIs of content success or audience interest. Likes are lazy, whereas shares and comments show that your content resonates enough to drive them to take an action.

How to Update Your Process

If you want to increase authentic social engagement, you need to create and share the right type of content. To figure out what your social audiences want, do audience research analysis. This will give you a clear understanding of your target customer or client. 

Social listening also goes a long way in determining what your audience wants to hear about. If they’re talking about it, they’re probably interested in it. 

Finally, turn to your Google Analytics metrics. Which content has driven the most traffic back to your site in the last six to 12 months? See what patterns you can find to determine topics of interest. 

Remember that audiences may want different content on different platforms. Your Facebook followers may click through to very different blog posts from your Twitter community. Keep this in mind and choose promotion tactics that account for those shifts.

5. You Don’t Update Your Content 

Best practices in any industry typically change over time. Your content needs to evolve with those trends and consumer desires as well. If you consistently publish content, you’re eventually left with a library of content that doesn’t always reflect the latest and most applicable advice to readers. 

What’s more, Backlinko confirms that content recency and website updates are both ranking factors. They explain: “Many SEOs believe that website updates—and especially when new content is added to the site—works a site-wide freshness factor,” explains Backlinko. 

This is why content updates are critical to successful content development. You need a mix of new content and refreshed older content to continually see results in traffic, conversions and SEO increases. 

How to Update Your Process

Start by doing our 5-step content audit on your blog. This process helps you discover what content works and what doesn’t. Update the content you identify with fresh information, data, or sources, then promote to drive new traffic. Don’t forget to consider how you can better optimize the content both for SEO and a conversion. Can you add a free download link or a CTA form?

Once the content is updated, you don’t need to actually republish it with a new date. Simply resubmit the link to Google for review—and even that isn’t necessary. Their bots will crawl your page and find the fresh content themselves. If you think the date is important for the information being shared, include “Updated [insert date]” at the top for readers.

Don’t Ignore Content Development

Many companies, large and small, hesitate to put time and money into content creation because they’re skeptical of the return. The good news is, when done right, you can see significant ROI from content—but this all comes down to content development.

If you’re not writing content your audience cares about, doing SEO research and optimization, or sharing content to your channels just to check a box, you’ll struggle to see that ROI. Use these tips and strategies to create content your audience actually cares about. In turn, you’ll get more from the work you put in.