In an accelerating world, the things you know today can be untrue tomorrow. Thanks to global connectivity and technological advances, change happens faster than ever before. In addition to publishing content, you need to organize content and update it frequently. That’s why having a content library is critical to your content marketing strategy.
If you haven’t created a content library yet, the first part of this post will teach you how to do it. If you already have a documented content library, use it as the hub for setting your maintenance schedule. Maintaining your professional reputation, particularly if you work in a highly regulated industry, requires revisiting old content to make sure it’s still accurate.
Create Your Content Library
Ruth Stevens, marketing professor at the Columbia University School of Business and blogger for Harvard Business Review, gave a terrific workshop at CMWorld 2014 explaining how to build a content library. One of her insights is that documenting a content library is a great job for an intern – if you have one.
1. Make a Spreadsheet
Start by building a spreadsheet with the following column headings:
- URL or filename
- Keyword phrases, if applicable
- Date of publication
- Date of last edit (might be unknown at first – that’s okay)
- Target industry
- Target market segment
- Target persona or job title
- Sales funnel buying stage (general awareness, problem-solving, comparison to other products, post-purchase, subsequent purchase)
- Distribution channels (i.e., was it distributed via blog post, email, social media, or other channels)
- Success rate (track its effectiveness at meeting your marketing goals)
- Issues to watch (make notes of potential issues that could require updating)
2. Find Your Content Assets
You’ll find content both in the places you know and in places you’ve long forgotten.
Executive publications. Note guest posts or articles written by executives, or check their LinkedIn profiles for published links. Make sure to get permission before sharing their materials through your content distribution channels.
3. Prioritize Items Based on How Often You Need to Update Them
Add a final column to your spreadsheet with the heading “Priority.” In this column, rate each piece of content according to how often you think it will need to be updated.
4. Add Maintenance to Your Editorial Calendar
Select an owner for the task of content maintenance, such as a copyeditor or content coordinator. This person owns the content library spreadsheet and sets a monthly maintenance schedule.
During maintenance, the person assigned should pay close attention to the following:
Additionally, verify whether content created in the past meets your current quality standards. If it doesn’t, consider asking someone to rewrite it.
When Content Needs Significant Changes
It’s tempting to look at an old piece of content, decide that it’s garbage, and delete the URL. Please don’t. If you do, you’ll create broken links on all internal and external pages that link to the content.
Instead, redirect the link to a new or existing piece of content. You can use a WordPress plugin like Page Links To or implement a 301 redirect. Meta refresh redirects are easy as far as HTML, but 301 redirects are essential if you don’t want to lose the search ranking benefits of the original page.
Also, when you make big changes to a piece of content, make sure you don’t wipe out the keywords for which the page currently ranks. Review the keywords column in your content library spreadsheet, or use common sense to identify the target keywords. Avoid changing these phrases without talking to someone who works in SEO.
Great content doesn’t always stay great forever. Preserve your professional reputation and give customers accurate information by regularly maintaining your content.
Image by Roman Drits