Content Optimization: Fix Underperforming Content Without Tossing It Out

Content optimization

This is a guest post from internet marketing specialist Deana Kovač at Point Visible, a digital agency providing custom blogger outreach services. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music and singing karaoke – and she just can’t start her day without a hot cup of coffee!

With millions of blog posts being published daily, consumers are exposed to more content than ever before. This is intense competition, meaning not every piece of content is going to stand out.

Statistics show that 65% of marketers rank the production of engaging content as their biggest challenge – yes, churning out quality information can really be a hard task.

The Process Street blog has been going for a while now. Since 2014, to be precise. Along the way, we figured out a pretty solid process for making the most out of old content.

It’s a kind of content optimization: optimize existing underperforming content by making small, but impactful changes.

With a few tweaks to the information and layout that is already there, you can negate the need for time heavy research required for a fresh piece.

Additionally, underperforming content harms your SEO efforts. Google has said as much.

What’s more, recent SEO research suggests that having many low‐value‐add URLs can negatively affect a site’s crawling and indexing.

But don’t worry – we wrote this post so that you can follow our process to weed out and rejuvenate your low-value content.

It’s simple really. By optimizing the same content to perform better, you convert low-value URLs to high-value resources. This can prove to be a very rewarding strategy if implemented correctly.

In this article, you will learn how to fix underperforming content through content optimization, the process of which has been split into two stages:

We also go into some depth as to how you might use Process Street to streamline your content creation workflow, by taking advantage of some of our free checklist templates!

Content optimization: How to separate good content from bad content

Content Optimization - good content Vs bad content
Good content is valuable content; it’s relevant to the reader’s search intent, it’s well-written, well-sourced, and should be optimally targeted to bring in high-volume, high-conversion traffic with low bounce rates and high dwell time.

Bad content can be defined as the exact opposite; poorly optimized, hard to read, and with zero consideration given to the reader’s search intent.

It is important to gauge the performance of your content, to separate bad content from good content. There are numerous variables that enable you to do this, and we’ll delve into the details of each below.

1. Separate good content from bad content by looking for poor organic traffic

Let’s begin with a simple tip – if your content is targeted towards acquiring leads and is still unable to drive considerable organic traffic, then it is certainly not performing well.

An important point to note is that not all content is aimed at lead generation. From educating prospects down the conversion funnel to filling out content gaps that exist within your content strategy, there are various purposes behind creating content.

However, ‘underperforming’ content, in pure marketing terms, applies to content that is aimed to target leads but underperforms in fulfilling its core task.

There is no point in discussing conversion metrics until you start receiving substantial traffic – after all, how can you educate your visitors when there are none?

If you’re looking to gauge your organic traffic numbers, consider using Google’s Analytics or tools like Ahrefs. Both are powerful solutions that can help measure how many eyes you have been receiving on specific posts.

2. Separate good content from bad content by looking for low converting articles

Content creation takes a lot of effort, time, and money; but there is no shortage of great content that manages to attract considerable traffic. However, you need to be able to convert your visitors into leads and leads into customers to have a successful and sustainable model for your business.

Hubspot’s Analytic Tools allows you to identify articles that are not converting enough. By taking a comprehensive view of your website, the tool allows you to extract valuable metrics – such as Submissions Per View.

You can even go into details to elicit highly targeted feedback, such as specifying the content types (‘Blog Posts’, for example) and time range to exclude recently published articles (using ‘Published Timestamp’).

This will allow you to highlight content pieces that have not been performing well.

3. Separate good content from bad content by identifying high bounce rates

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave the site after viewing only one page. Using Google’s Webmaster Tools, you can easily view the bounce rate of a specific page.

When talking about blog content, the bounce rate is going to be high and that is understandable because once the visitor has acquired the answer to their search query, they will leave your page.

However, a high bounce rate can also be a signal that your content does not include the right substance or tone required to convert visitors into leads. There are various types of conversions a page may target, such as acquiring visitor contact details, gaining newsletter subscriptions, or even persuading the client to download your eBook.

Lastly, a high bounce rate may also be an indicator that your content doesn’t feature as many internal links that can take visitors to different pages on your website (and thus constitute multiple page viewings).

One way of improving bounce rates and conversion rates in one go is to strategically include internal links and lead magnets that lead to your money pages (feature pages/pricing pages/landing pages).

4. Separate good content from bad content by looking for low time on page

Google Analytics allows you to observe the average time a visitor spends on your page.

Generally speaking, if readers are spending a lot of time on your pages/website, that usually means they are engaged and interested in what you have to say. On the other hand, if you have a 3k+ word guide and people are only staying for a minute, that is probably a sign that your content is lacking.

That being said, you need to be wary when considering time-on-page as a key metric. If the page you are analyzing was the last (or the only) page of the entire ‘visit’ then Google data can be misleading.

This is because Google uses the time of the next page view to determine the time you spent looking at the current page. Since there is no next page after the last, Google cannot calculate the time spent on the last page.

Nonetheless, if your content page features a low time-on-page duration, this can be a signal of potential failure to provide what your visitor’s desire.

If you’re interested in identifying the areas of your webpage that receive the most clicks, or where the pointer hovers the most – you can do so by integrating a heat map tool with your website.

It may help you identify key areas to place CTAs, help eliminate distracting elements and give you a better understanding of your user journey. Tools such as CrazyEgg, Mouseflow, and Hotjar are all great options for people who are looking to see how people behave while they are on their site.

Now that we have discussed how to identify underperforming content, let’s see what kind of improvements you can make.

Content optimization: Our six simple tips

How to write better - content optimization


Content optimization can be defined as a process that ensures written content reaches the largest possible target audience.

Here’s the truth – while you might be putting in hard work to create quality and authoritative content, you are not alone. This is why modern-day content marketers need to incorporate various tactics and strategies that complement their content and help them amass exposure and conversions, etc.

Below are some tips that can help you break through the first page of the SERPs and attract more visitors.

Content optimization tip 1: Incorporate long-tail keywords

Most of our content is composed around short-tail keywords that may be industry-relevant, but face a lot of competition since virtually everyone is incorporating them in their pieces.

Consumer searches are getting highly specific and understandably, they expect content that answers their specific needs. In addition to conducting consumer research, understanding user intent and providing relevant answers using long-tail keywords can be your key to outranking the competition.

Your content should target niche-relevant keywords if you want to drive qualified traffic to your website. With the conversion rate of long-tail keywords averaging 36%, the verdict is out: these should be at the center of your content strategy.

There are various valuable keyword research tools that can help you generate niche-relevant long-tail keywords, such as SEMRush or Ahrefs.

Content optimization tip 2: Increase your CTR through optimized headlines and meta descriptions

How can something so trivial as the headline impact how your content performs?

While you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, people analyze what you have to offer by reading the title; tests show that traffic can vary by as much as 500% simply because of the headline.

Of the 200 ranking factors used by Google, click-through rate (CTR) is very high up in the list. Having powerful, emotion-evoking headlines and engaging meta descriptions that resonate with the user is key to increasing your CTR, and as a consequence, your SERP ranking too.

A BuzzSumo study found that explicit headlines that made use of power words and conveyed emotion received the highest engagement.

As one of the first things that the consumer sees, your headlines are incredibly important in the decision of whether they will open your link or not.

Other things that catch user attention, placed right below the headline, are your meta descriptions.

Meta descriptions act to summarize your piece, inspiring the user to click on the link. While your headlines get their attention, the meta description affirms their decision of whether or not to click on the piece.

This is why experts advise two things when it comes to meta descriptions:

  1. Make it persuasive: Your meta descriptions should be focused on providing users with enough information to make them want to read the piece
  2. Include the keyword: A naturally flowing keyword that is placed in the meta description allows crawlers and users to identify the purpose of your content, helping it rank better

Content optimization tip 3: Make sure your content matches user search intent

The focal point of content marketing remains to provide information that matches user intent. If your content fails to meet user expectations, it will not perform as good as it should.

With so many options to choose from, a visitor will not think twice before abandoning a website where they cannot find a reason to keep reading.

It is important for content creators to not only deliver what is required but also present it in an easy format that suits users.

For instance, users might be looking for a step-by-step guide on a technical subject, whereas your piece may be more tilted towards tips and tricks. The result will be underperforming content.

Keyword research is one of the foremost tactics to reveal user intent. Again, tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs, marketers can quickly review what is the type and quality of the content that is outperforming yours.

If you do not have access to those tools, a simple Google search will suffice. Type in the keywords that are covered in your underperforming piece and see what top-ranking content for that keyword is. Since Google wants to give the most relevant results to their users, reading top-ranked content will give you an idea of the user’s search intent.

Lastly, popular social tools like BuzzSumo can be used to discover the most popular content pieces for specific keyword phrases. This will give you an insight into what type of content resonates with your target audience, what they found lacking in that specific piece, and what you can include to make your content stand out.

Content optimization tip 4: Include lead magnets in your content

Sometimes, it pays to be direct and straightforward. While your content must always provide high-value and actionable advice, there is no harm in including high-quality lead magnets in front of your prospects.

Ideally, most visitors on your website consist of your core target audience who is somewhat interested in your product. Placing a high quality, informative, and appealing link magnet in front of them will not only benefit them – but also land you valuable contact information.

It doesn’t have to be salesy at all, look at the lead magnet placed on Neil Patel’s website.

Content Optimization - How to write better: example of Neil Patel's website


Not only is this lead magnet creative, but it also provides high-quality information such as cheat sheets, eBooks, or even a free consultation – all in return for an email. No wonder his visitors convert so much.

However, there is one point worth noting. Broadly themed lead magnets may result in higher conversions but the leads aren’t as qualified as such leads are only interested in the lead magnet alone. The reverse is true for highly specific lead magnets that experience low conversion rate but the lead is relatively more qualified.

Therefore, it is important to ascertain your objectives of the lead magnet prior to placing it on your website. If you check all other boxes on this list, then the inclusion of a lead magnet on your website can do wonders for your conversion rate. Make sure to offer a value-based alternative in return for their information.

Content optimization tip 5: Resolve any potential technical issues

The poor performance of content can also be traced back to technical SEO issues that impact the user experience of your website, making it harder to rank and perform.

From slow loading pages that disrupt user engagement to mobile unresponsiveness – you need to resolve any potential technical issues that hinder your website’s performance.

When a user, who is visibly frustrated by a slow loading page or broken images exits the site, it sends a signal to Google that your website clearly failed to satisfy the user query. This will have a negative effect on your SEO efforts.

Hosting can often be a cause of many technical issues so you should never hesitate to invest in a good hosting service. However, you also shouldn’t forget on-site optimization techniques such as image compression, as that is the only way to ensure a seamless user experience.

Content optimization tip 6: Invest in creating content clusters

Sometimes, your blog will feature underperforming content that revolves around related topics. This might be an opportunity to build a content cluster.

As stated by the Search Engine Journal:

A topic cluster is a collection of semantically relevant content that individually covers smaller themes within an overarching topic. Search Engine Journal, Why (How) Topic Clusters Are Your Most Powerful SEA Weapon

Here’s a classic example from Cloud Elements:

How to write better - cloud elements example


They tackle their highly complex API Integrations pillar page and build an entire topic cluster around it. With 7 different topics contributing to the pillar content, this acts as a comprehensive guide for anyone eager to know more about their API integrations.

You can also form content clusters – not just to fix underperforming content, but also assert niche authority and benefit from the increased exposure.

Use Process Street as your content creator: Free templates so you can create the best content

As you can see, creating quality content is hard work. Luckily for you though, there are various tools and resources available, such as Process Street, that can provide you with a helping hand.

As a content creator, you are responsible for the contribution of information, usually via digital platforms. It can be a tricky job, making sure you are continuously producing good content.  This is why we at Process Street, have worked to produce quality resources for you.

If you are new to Process Street, then you may be wondering what it is we offer.

Let me tell you.

Process Street is a top business process management software, providing superpowered checklists that you can easily implement to increase the productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness of your business operations.

That’s right, the simple checklist approach can bring such benefits. However, we at Process Street wanted to go one step further. We wanted to make our checklists superpowered, and so we added the following features.

Want to know more about Process Street? Then check out our Monthly Webinar: An Introduction to Process Street below.

Right, now you know what we at Process Street do, let’s get to the nitty-gritty of how we can be your content creator helper.

At Process Street we believe that any effective business operation must follow a process. Don’t believe me, check out our Implementing Processes: How to Boost Success Rate by 70% post.

Today is your lucky day, as I have gathered our top resources on key processes that will help you create good content.

Below you will find our How to Create a Content Upgrade with Process Street checklist template embedded, so you can take a closer look.

As you can see, they are step-by-step guides, walking you through a given process, making sure every step is performed to the T.

Click here to access our How to Create a Content Upgrade with Process Street checklist.

Our content creation team is constantly researching top tips, tricks, and other ways to improve our process for creating the best content. We pack everything we learn into the checklist templates we build, which we give to you to use however you like – completely free.

Below is a list of some of our top templates to help you get started with content creation:

Check out these killer blog posts for more valuable information on the topic of content creation:

Key takeaways on how you can create quality content today

While quality will always remain integral, there are various other factors that can boost the performance of your content.

From resolving technical issues and managing off-site SEO, to optimizing headlines and incorporating keywords – ensuring high performing content in such a competitive landscape requires persistent hard work, and a constant focus on process management and process improvement!

How do you optimize your content? Are there any tips and tricks you use for content optimization that we have missed? We would love to hear from you, please comment below. Who knows, you might even get featured in one of our upcoming articles.

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Jane Courtnell

Hi there, I am a Junior Content Writer at Process Street. I graduated in Biology, specializing in Environmental Science at Imperial College London. During my degree, I developed an enthusiasm for writing to communicate environmental issues. I continued my studies at Imperial College's Business School, and with this, my writing progressed looking at sustainability in a business sense. When I am not writing I enjoy being in the mountains, running and rock climbing. Follow me at @JaneCourtnell.

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