Now more than ever, content is one of the most important factors in search engine optimization (SEO). There is an incredible emphasis placed on content now as it relates to ranking factors. This is likely why underperforming content has come under such scrutiny in recent years. It is essential to understand what underperforming content is, how it occurs, how to identify it, and what you can do to improve your content to do well online.
What Is Underperforming Content?
Underperforming content refers to any content that is not doing or resulting in what you expected it to do or hoped for it to accomplish. The content may be on transactional, commercial, or editorial pages. The problem exists because it is not performing up to its full potential. When content does not generate online traffic despite the efforts you put in, we say it is underperforming.
Common Causes of Underperforming Content
There are many reasons why content underperforms. In some cases, the hard truth is that it just is not good enough to rank at the top. Some additional reasons include the following:
- Content doesn’t have the depth it needs compared to what is ranking among it. This does not necessarily have to do with word count or length, as much as it has to do with the actual bones of the content. Compared to other pieces, yours is not as relevant or comprehensive. You must focus on quality above quantity, especially when trying to rank for competitive informational keywords.
- Content is out of date. The relevance of your content is almost always a factor but is even more so depending on the topic. Content should be fresh and current, as well as accurate, especially if the topic is fluid. No one is interested in reading out-of-date content; therefore, current or recently revised content gets the reward.
- Content format differs from what Google is ranking at the top. Even if your content is good, if it does not match the format Google is prioritizing, then the visibility just will not be there. Don’t try to rank with an “all word” blog post if video content is prioritized.
- Your choice of keywords is poor. Content should be curated to the visitors you currently have viewing your site.
- Content contains grammatical errors and poor formatting. Even if the meat of the content is good, if it’s poorly written or not visually appealing, it likely will not be read. Fixing typos, using subheadings and bullet-points, and quality images and links will increase your content’s readability and attract visitors.
How to Detect Underperforming Content
There are several ways to determine what issues are affecting your content page. Here are a couple worth looking at:
1. Conduct a content audit
This will help you understand how you will eventually improve your content by looking at both the past and present to see what was once performing well and which content pieces perform poorly. The audit can even determine which started high and dropped off. A content audit is a great place to start as it can help identify some issues on the surface and provide you with the direction you need to start looking deeper.
2. Analyze the status of your page by using the URL inspection tool
Look closely at the indexing section. If the user-declared canonical and the Google-selected canonical are different, then you may want to investigate further.
How to Improve Underperforming Content
By now, you know what underperforming content is and how to identify it, so fixing it seems like the next reasonable approach. Let’s look at a few ways you can improve underperforming content and take it to the next level:
1. Be sure to always understand the search intent
This means you must fully understand what the search engine results pages (SERPs) should look like for the content you are writing. In turn, you will gain better insight as to what content will best match what the search engines are targeting.
2. Create metadata that stands out
Focus on title tags and SEO keywords as they are important on page-ranking factors. Also, do not forget about ad copy. Learn what copy works well with your site and use it to your advantage.
3. Add to or revise current content instead of starting over
Do not feel like you must completely scrap underperforming content and start from scratch to improve it. Simply add to existing content or make revisions to enhance what you already spent time on.
4. Write good content
Ensure your content is interesting and appropriate for your target audience. Read your content out loud to assess how it sounds to others. Format your content with the notion that people have a noticeably short attention span and will probably skim your content rather than read it word for word. Keep your voice and tone relevant to the topic and your audience. Remember, content should always provide value to your reader. Do this by answering the question they are searching for. Cite sources and provide statistics that back up the information you provide.
As you can see, content is of utmost importance when it comes to ranking factors in 2021. It can set you apart from your competitors. The concept of underperforming content is common and harmful, but the good news is, it can be fixed! Once you can identify underperforming content, then you can understand the cause and finally figure out ways to fix it. Making changes to your content and improving it to match SEO is when you will see changes in your site and begin to reach the goals you set in the first place.