You inherited crap legacy content. Now what?

Does your company's site content make you cry?

Does your company’s site content make you cry?

Good news: You were just hired as the content manager for a well-established site.

Bad news: The content is horrible, it hasn’t been optimized for SEO and every page makes you want to cry.

This scenario is extremely common. Maybe it’s because the company has had various people overseeing the site’s content. Or, no-one “owned” the content before – so there’s no strategy, no cohesion and everything is a big, fat mess.

If this sounds like your company, take a deep breath and relax. The key is to tackle your site in baby steps. Here are some places to start:

Review the site’s analytics.

Even crappy pages can convert – maybe not to their full potential, but they can do it. Determine the pages that contribute the most to the conversion process. These top pages will probably be the ones you “touch” first. You’ll also want to review bounce rates and time on site. If people are clicking into your site and not taking action, you know you have a problem.

(As a side note, if your company doesn’t have analytics and goals in place, get those set up first. You can’t manage what you can’t measure.)

Review the existing customer persona.

Is it still relevant? Do you need to create a new one? If your company is serving a new vertical market, is there content just for them?

Check out your existing keyphrase document (assuming there is one.)

Do the keyphrases represent all phases of the buy cycle? Or are they mostly brand-specific terms that are only relevant when someone wants to make a purchase? Just to be safe, I’d re-run the data. You may find opportunities the previous person didn’t see.

Determine the overarching primary and secondary issues.

For many sites, the core issue is that the pages haven’t been optimized. This means poor Titles, and inconsistent (or no) keyphrase usage. Other sites may suffer from a variety of different writing styles that don’t fit the customer persona. Once you determine what the main problems are, you’ll be able to focus your efforts and get more done.

Are the pages written to sell? Or do you have a “meh” response?

A huge problem many companies (especially B2B companies) face is their sales copy is boring, benefit-free and basic. Tightening up the top sales pages and rewriting them can often result in an almost immediate “win” (that is, you’ll make money.) Consider testing pages with services like Optimizely. That way, you’ll KNOW what works rather than making an educated guess.

Can you find any easy wins?

Rewriting sales pages can certainly be an easy win. So can optimizing existing blog posts that lead to conversions. If you know a page is important to the sales cycle and it’s keyphrase-free, making it more SEO friendly can often have a huge impact. You’ll be able to drive more qualified traffic that should result in increased leads or sales.

Get organized – not overwhelmed.

Remember those top pages that drive conversion rates? Tighten those up and make those shine first. After that, have a plan for going through the site in organized, sequential chunks. That may mean focusing on your “easy win” pages next. Or focusing your efforts around a particular site section. Tie your efforts back to what you know makes your site money rather than doing a little bit of everything. You’ll see better results, faster, if you do.

Reviewing your site is something you can easily do yourself. Or, if you need an outside opinion, it sometimes pays to bring in a content expert who can develop an action plan. That way, someone with a fresh perspective (and perhaps a better understanding of the latest SEO content techniques) can help you along your path.

The good news is – even crappy legacy content can be transformed into a top-converting asset. It may take some time and you’ll be working in baby steps. But the end result will be a site that you’re proud to be associated with (and won’t make you cry when you look at it.)

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Thank you, migasun, for the great photo!