This is how to improve your existing content

You know, to me, companies tend to focus a touch too much on creating MORE content, and ignore boosting results from assets they already have.

(And no, of course, I’m not suggesting that you should abandon your content calendar at once and just focus on updating existing posts.)

But the fact remains that there’s more life in blog posts and other content you’ve already created.

And you can boost the results they deliver with just a little work.

Don’t believe me? Here’s what Hubspot found when analyzing their blog:

“[…] earlier this month, I analyzed traffic to this very blog and found that in July 2013, 69% of the blog post visits we received in July were to blog posts published prior to July.”

Now, imagine what results you’d get if you give nearly 70% of your traffic a boost?

Luckily, that’s what I’m going to show you today.

I’ll show you 3 killer strategies I always recommend to improve existing content and attract more more links, traffic, and engagement.

Intrigued? Just keep on reading.

Strategy #1: Add more research and statistics to boost authority

Look, there’s no point in sugarcoating this:

If you want your content to engage the audience, it has to sound credible.

Full stop.

But what does that really entail?

After all, your audience isn’t just going to believe any claim you make.

They want to know these claims you’re making is coming from a credible source.

And as this article pointed out — that even an unrelated source adds value. Here, let me show you…

A study published in the Public Understanding of Science Journal discovered that:

“We are significantly more likely to believe in claims about medication effectiveness when the information about it includes a scientific-looking graph.”

So, as the research reveals, even if the graph doesn’t add any new information whatsoever, it supports claims. Like this one:

Image Source

But why is this important?

Including relevant research can boost your authority but also content engagement and in turn, boosts conversion rates.

Having more content authority means your target audience will be more willing to share it with their networks.

The American Press Institute conducted an experiment that found:

“…people who see an article from a trusted sharer, but one written by an unknown media source, have much more trust in the information than people who see the same article that appears to come from a reputable media source shared by a person they do not trust.”

That means when you engage your current audience with research-backed content and they share it — it is much more likely their networks will trust your content.

Pretty awesome right?

So if your content includes claims like “HR tools help companies save money,” you better start looking for a statistic to back it up; for instance:

“Celeste O’Keefe, CEO of The DANCEL Group Inc., in New Orleans, La., found that people analytics gave her the information she needed to avoid these costs.”

Strategy #2: Increase reader engagement with visuals

Did you know “our attention span typically wanes every 10–15 minutes”?

I’m sure you already know this:

We humans have shorter attention spans than goldfish.

Crazy, right?

And this affects the results you get from content too.

After all, you really have limited time to engage your audience, and get them to stay on the page.

(And needless to say, research from great folks like Brian Dean reveals the correlation between the time people stay on the page and its performance in search)

Image Source

Luckily, there’s a quick and easy way to engage users and get them to keep on reading:

Using visuals.

For one, visuals grab our attention more than text.

In fact, as the Fast Company points:

“Without a visual component, your message might not be getting heard.”

Also, according to Business2Community, “pages with images or video draw, on average, get 94% more views than their text-only counterparts.”

Impressive, right?

But you might be wondering if any visuals will generate the same results.

As it turns out, there are certain images that will complement and make more impact on your existing content.

Consider for a moment that your existing content is on the topic of “automating daily HR processes”. Include a visual that represents the workflow:

Image Source

I’m sure you’ll agree that it makes your content so much more engaging.

Another strategy to use — emulate your reader’s emotions with gifs.

(You’ve probably noticed me doing it in this post already.)

The reason this works is because we consume the content emotionally. Logic plays part in this too but only when we consider the ideas we’ve consumed.

And so, if you really want to connect and engage with your audience, you need to target their emotions.

By including visuals, you’re also able to deepen the understanding of your audience.

Besides, the visual workflow is much more shareable compared to its text-only counterpart.

Just imagine having to list out all the steps in that workflow.

It’s no wonder that “presenters who use visual aids are 43% more effective in persuading audience members to take a desired course of action than presenters who don’t use visuals.”

Strategy #3: Boost credibility by including expert insights and reaching out for promotion

Goes without saying, doesn’t it?

One of the easiest ways to reach new audiences is by leveraging third-party networks.

And so, if your existing content was a big hit with your audience, updating it with expert insights can give it a new life.

By reaching out to known third-party experts, you can add links and sources to existing content.

But better yet, you can encourage experts that you cite to promote your content.

In many ways, when an expert is willing to share your content, it promotes third-party credibility.

John Jantsch, author of a popular book, Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Useful Small Business Marketing Guide tells us:

Trust is the currency of referrals and few things build trust more than credibility. In fact, your organization’s growth depends on it.”

When an expert shares your content, it is no longer an internal source for fans. It instantly becomes a credible external public resource.

This Salesforce blog, “Expert Insights to Improve Sales” is a great example of what it means to build third-party credibility.

The company cites a ton of experts that in turn, helps increase the trust in Salesforce as a brand.

(Plus, note that they use visual content to achieve this, merging this with the previous strategy I talked about. Clever, huh?)

Image Source

You can enhance your content in the same way.

New audiences that your content reaches will be more likely to trust and convert as a result of the credibility that expert insights bring.

A few extra things to remember when improving existing content

Focus on frequently visited content first

I admit, after seeing the results others get with updating existing content, it’s tempting to just go and tweak every article you’ve published.

Or start with the ones that generate the least engagement, for example.

But do you really have the time for this?

I guess not, right?

So, start with the content that attracts the highest views.

Why, because it’ll be quicker to generate even more results from it.

Review for your site’s “Top Pages” in Analytics, and compare that data with top ranking pages.

Look up any content that’s ranking on pages 2 or 3 but receives relatively good traffic.

It’s already close to appearing on the first page. And chances are, that by adding some extra content, visuals, and expert mentions you’ll boost the engagement enough to push it there.

Look for content gaps to know what to improve

Look, it’s so easy to just take any content and add anything you can think of there.

But again, I’m not sure if this would be the best use of your time and resources.

After all, it’s not about working hard but smart, right?

So, assess your content in two ways:

  • Compare existing posts with the strategies I outlined above, and identify which ones they lack they lack. For example, you might notice that older posts feature no stats and data.
  • Evaluate your competitor’s content paying particular attention to strategies they use. And then, compare that with what you do to identify what you have missed.

And that’s it.

Now you know it, the three strategies I recommend everyone who need to breathe some new life into their existing content.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 316,638+ people.

Subscribe to receive our top stories here.