Successful brand experiences and bottom-line growth start with high-performing content. Content now fuels every customer experience and marketing channel, with half of businesses spending more than $10,000 a year on content marketing – up from 38% in 2019.

But with a 400% increase in content production since 2019, creating impactful content that stands out from the crowd has never been more important – or such hard work. Unfortunately, many content teams are failing to deliver emotional, meaningful content interactions.

While more content is being produced than ever before, much of it is fails to meet even basic consumer expectations. In fact, more than half (58%) of content created by the world’s leading 1,800 brands is ‘poor, irrelevant, and fails to deliver’.

So, where are they going wrong?

If that sounds familiar, the problem may not be your ideas or even your words. Instead, the blame could lie with gaps in your content production process.

Good content ideas conceived in isolation alone don’t achieve growth goals. If you don’t have a solid digital content production process in place, your content may not be driving the outcomes your business wants. So, if your content isn’t boosting brand awareness, leading to sales, or increasing engagement, it’s time to look under the trunk to examine how you produce your content assets.

The bar for digital content has been set exceptionally high. Here’s how to review your digital content production process to make sure you hit it.

Content production mistake one: You are not integrating SEO research into your content ideation

The failure of so many brands to create meaningful content is partly down to a lack of insight into SEO opportunity gaps and misunderstanding how to optimize content for search engines.

It’s absolutely essential to optimize your content for organic search. Every interaction a visitor has with your website content after a search is interpreted and acted upon by Google. Did the visitor find what they were looking for? Did they bounce back to the search engine results? How long did they spend on your site? If the visitor had a great page experience, then the search engine knows it sent them to the right place, if not – your content could end among the 91% of content that gets no traffic from Google at all. 

Yet many brands still fail to incorporate SEO into their content production processes. One of the key blockers for content creators in doing this is a lack of expertise around SEO principles.

What you should be doing: Checking Google’s list of ‘Searches Related To’ keywords doesn’t quite cut it. Truly valuable content that ranks above your competition requires getting detailed insights into your content gaps and opportunities before you begin writing. That means taking the guesswork out of content production and finding pockets of growth to exploit by always researching your SEO opportunities.

Three areas you should always research to generate SEO-friendly new content ideas and drive optimization for existing content are:

  • High-traffic keyword opportunities
  • Strategic keywords
  • Long-tail keywords
  • Competing content
  • Keyword difficulty
  • Keyword trends

Tip: One particularly fertile area for content creators to focus on in 2021 is capturing strategic keywords – rather than just high-volume ones. Winning these terms means creating truly unique content that substantively differs from what your competitors are surfacing for in the search engine result pages. Capturing these strategic keywords is a good way to create genuinely meaningful content rather than just one-upping the search competition – and that requires doing your keyword homework thoroughly and early!

While you can find keywords without help, the most foolproof method of gleaning these insights – especially for SEO newbies – is using an SEO tool to assist your research.

Content production mistake two: Digital inclusion isn’t on your radar

Around one billion people, or 15 percent of the world’s population, lives with a disability. Content teams are inadvertently excluding this sizeable demographic from consuming their content because they lack the knowledge and skills to make it accessible.    

Supplying accessible content does more than just help you engage segments of the population that have been ignored by your online competitors; it also enhances your reputation as an inclusive and ethical business, boosts your search rankings, and helps you tap into a market with more than $1 trillion in annual disposable income. And if your content isn’t accessible, you might be breaking the law too. You can learn more about global web accessibility regulations in this post.

What you should be doing: Increase your addressable market by creating a more inclusive content experience. Ensuring your content complies with internationally recognized web accessibility standards, like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is a good place to start. Key accessibility principles that content creators should know about include:

  • Adding accurate, meaningful alt text to images
  • Captioning video content
  • Using proper HTML mark-up for your content, like H1s for headers
  • Writing page titles that accurately reflect the topic on that page
  • Avoiding instructions based solely on page location
  • Ensuring links make sense when read out of context
  • Avoiding using images with text in them – screen readers can’t interpret these

For content creators who don’t see the point in optimizing content for a single group – bear in mind that inclusive content provides a better user experience for everyone – not just those who use assistive technologies to read it. And with Google rolling out its Core Web Vitals algorithm update this year, making sure your website is as user-friendly as possible for everyone is a very good idea.

It’s understandable that not all content creators understand the ins and outs of web accessibility or how they can integrate into their content production process. Utilizing the help of an automated accessibility scanning tool that includes guided steps for making your content accessible as you create it can bridge that gap.

Content production mistake three: You’re stuck reinventing the content wheel

Research from Gartner identifies a desire for perfection from content creators as one of the top obstacles to content production. But this obsession with chasing perfection combined with a lack of content performance analysis is hampering their speed and effectiveness.

Not making content analysis part of your content production process, or doing too rudimentary a job of understanding the ‘why?’ behind performance is a critical mistake. For example, while it’s useful to know that performance has dropped off on a specific piece of content, it’s much more useful to know why the performance dropped. Context is an extremely helpful friend for content creators!

What you should be doing: An agile content production strategy is vital for capturing your share of the 79,000 searches conducted on Google every single second – and that requires an insights-based approach to content production and performance. While this sounds obvious, one in 10 businesses never review their existing content, with one in four admitting to auditing it less than once a year.

Perform ongoing, detailed analysis of your content’s performance rather than just reviewing top-level figures. This process will help you quickly capitalize on emerging trends by repurposing and redeploying existing high-value content that you know resonates well with your readers.  

Rather than constantly reinventing the wheel with new ‘perfect’ pieces, try reformatting and promoting existing content pieces in different ways to expand their reach to new channels and audiences. Transform a successful webinar into an eBook, reshare blog post findings into a checklist, or adapt your most successful content to video. 

To prioritize and zero in on fruitful areas for repurposing, make sure to regularly review:

  • Your most popular pages
  • Your least popular pages
  • Pages with no visits at all
  • Pages with the highest conversions
  • Pages with a huge number of views that aren’t converting

And remember, your content production process isn’t just about having an active pipeline of fresh or repurposed content. It’s also about making sure your existing content meets requirements and works hard to achieve your business goals. There’s no use having a top-ranking piece of content that talks about a discontinued product, or that has no conversion point.

Tip: From time-to-time, you might need to remove underperforming, outdated, or irrelevant content from your site. But unpublishing a web page or piece of content can have unforeseen consequences. Mitigate the impact of disrupting the visitor journey, losing a high SEO ranking, or breaking a critical part of your website by running an un-publish checking feature first.

Content production mistake four: Not meeting customer expectations because content isn’t on-brand

Brands are constantly undergoing changes to their branding, style, and legal requirements. Upholding and executing these standards across a website often falls to content creators – and if they slip up, they could see their content falling short of consumer expectations.

What you should be doing: If your business doesn’t have existing brand and style guidelines, that’s the first place to start. Nearly half (40%) of users will click away from a website that looks messy. Who would put trust in a brand that spells its name incorrectly on their own website?

For those with existing style guides, safeguarding your brand reputation doesn’t need to involve manually scouring every piece of content to check it conforms to requirements. Setting up website policies to catch any deviations from the standard cuts back on the time needed to review each piece of content. For example, to make sure a brand name appears in the correct way, to detect an old address or logo across hundreds of web pages, or even to locate content that predates a certain period and needs a refresh.

Content production mistake five: Wasting time manually conducting content quality checks

Content must be error-free and performant from the very beginning. 88% of online consumers say they are less likely to return to a website after a negative browsing experience – so content creators need to find errors before their visitors do to avoid losing leads and tanking their SEO rankings.

Errors content creators need to comb their content for include:

  • Broken links
  • Misspellings
  • Content with confusing, dense copy that doesn’t match the visitor’s readability level
  • Broken images and videos
  • PDFs with broken links
  • Placeholder text

But checking an ever-growing amount of content manually for broken links, misspellings, and other damaging quality issues that disrupt the visitor journey is a considerable drain on time and resources for content creators. Three quarters of businesses have just one-three content marketing employees at their disposal – meaning that every moment spent combing a blog post or landing page for broken links is costing them serious people power.

Content quality checks don’t end with the content going live. Every time a piece of content is moved, updated, or edited, it can introduce potential new reputation-damaging errors. For content creators who work on large, complex sites or who have inherited masses of content in a less than pristine condition, working out how to prioritize content fixes can be a headache.

What you should be doing: Free up content creator time for experimentation and strategizing by automating these sorts of mundane quality checks. Using a quality assurance testing tool to audit your content’s quality as you write is the optimal way to consistently produce flawless, user-friendly content.

How the right CMS can help boost your content performance

It’s likely you’ve noticed the unifying thread tying these content production errors together is a lack of automated insights. But rushing out to buy a bunch of tools for SEO, quality assurance checks and accessibility compliance might not be the best solution. Many businesses already struggle with an overblown, dispersed, and consequently underutilized MarTech stack, with just one in three saying their stack effectively meets their marketing requirements.

Instead, content creators should focus their MarTech efforts where it most makes sense for them – in their CMS. Integrating a digital performance platform with your CMS cuts down on the number of tools needed to produce powerful, performing content by concentrating automated insights into one place.

So, what tops the list of content-friendly CMS features? Essential native or integrated features content creators should look for in their CMS include:

  • Prepublish checks
  • Accessibility error detection
  • SEO insights
  • Customizable policies to detect deviations from brand and style guidelines
  • Analytics data
  • Quality assurance auditing

Siteimprove offers a range of CMS integrations to help digital teams produce consistently high-performing content. Learn more about them on our integrations hub.