how to fix underperforming site content

How to Fix Underperforming Website Content

You put a lot of work into your website and the content marketing efforts you use to get more out of it. And yet all that work just doesn’t seem to be adding up to the kind of results you’d hoped for.

On the one hand, you understand that getting attention online is competitive and content marketing is a long game. But on the other, you don’t want to keep throwing time and money at something that’s not working. At some point, any business doing content marketing has to step back and analyze if your website content is underperforming.

This post walks you through how to find your poor-performing content, so you can fix it and start enjoying SEO wins again.

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How to Identify Underperforming Content

Whether or not your content is underperforming has everything to do with your expectations. It’s worth checking that your expectations are realistic and in line with what you really want your content to do before you assign it that “underperforming” label.


First, Clarify Your Goals.

Different content items should be developed to achieve different goals. For most businesses, a solid content strategy will include content meant to achieve three main types of goals:

  • Driving traffic and raising awareness of your website or brand. This includes much of your blog posts and other educational or entertaining content you create for your audience.
  • Driving leads and conversions. This includes your landing pages, webinars, and any gated content you create.
  • Promoting your products or services more directly. This includes product pages, video tutorials about your products, and demos.

Make sure to match the results you judge to the goals of the content to get an accurate measure of its performance.

  • For the content meant to drive traffic and awareness, you should focus on metrics like number of visitors, search engine ranking, and how long visitors stay on your website after they click through.
  • For content meant to drive action, the most important metric is how many people took the action you’re encouraging, whether that’s signing up for an email list, downloading an ebook, or setting up a sales call.
  • For your promotion-focused content, your goal is getting new customers and sales.


Next, Research Content Marketing Benchmarks.

Even once you’ve clarified your goals and the metrics to track for your content, knowing what counts as success can be tricky. Is 500 views of a blog post good, or should you be aiming for 5,000?

Unfortunately, there’s no one right answer to that question.

It depends on factors like how long your website has been around, how long you’ve been doing content, and who your audience is. If you’re just starting out and targeting a really niche audience, then expecting huge numbers is unrealistic and may not even be necessary. But even recognizing all the factors that make a difference here, it can be helpful to have some idea of what’s considered “normal.”

Organizations like Brafton and Pressboard Media have researched averages for some common website metrics like bounce rates and average reading time. With some digging, you may be able to find similar research that focuses more specifically on your industry or type of business.

average bounce rate by industry average session duration by business type
What’s average may not be what’s right for you, so don’t let benchmarks be the only measure you use here, but they can be a helpful guide to setting realistic goals for over time.


Finally, Analyze the Relevant Metrics.

Now that you know what metrics to watch for each piece of content and some idea of what’s realistic to hope for, start analyzing your content pieces to determine if they’re performing as well as you want them to.

This isn’t as simple as looking at a number and labeling a piece a failure. You want to take time to understand what’s going on with each piece of content. Consider individual factors that play a role, like the quality of the headline and the different promotion tactics you used.

A lot of different elements go into what makes a piece of content successful or not and you want to analyze what specifically contributed to this one not working.


How to Fix Underperforming Content

Identifying your underperforming content is just step one. Now you have to do something about it.


Diagnose the Reasons.

The analysis you performed above should be a big help with this, but also step back and look at the larger trends in what works and what doesn’t for your website. If you’ve found that a lot of your content is underperforming, it might be worth doing a full content audit so you can better see the big picture trends.

It’s not always easy figuring out why something did or didn’t work and unfortunately, some of this process will involve guesswork. But use the analytics you have and consider doing A/B testing or customer surveys to fill in the gap in your knowledge and get a better handle on what your audience does and doesn’t respond well to.


Make Improvements.

Obviously, this is where this was all headed. When you’ve figured out why a piece of content isn’t working, you’ll know whether or not you should scrap it altogether or make strategic changes to turn it into something that your audience is more likely to appreciate. Based on your analysis, it could be as simple as coming up with a better headline, or it could involve a more extensive overhaul of the whole piece.

A lot of the time, you’ll find you don’t have to start from scratch to turn an underperforming piece of content into something that does a better job of achieving your goals. You just need to identify that it’s not working and why so you can turn it into a better preforming piece of content.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.