Bad content – how to find it and fix it
Most digital marketing blogs talk about good content, but it’s just as important to talk about bad content. Success is not only achieved by creating new content. You have to keep tabs of your existing material, too.
Bad content on a webpage can have many negative outcomes. Let’s dive into why and how flawed content can sink your digital marketing. And of course, what you can do about it.
There is some interesting content on the web about this. Content Marketing Institute (who else, of course?) goes for the throat with their article 27 Reasons Why Your Content Sucks. This one is filled with bad content examples, something I won’t have in my article. Definitely a recommended read on the topic.
But let’s move on to what I think about this. Or maybe you’ve already moved on to Content Marketing Institute? If you’re still in, let’s check out the effects of bad content and what you can do about them!
About Stefan Nordström
Digital marketing consultant
7 years of experience
Expertise: SEO, copywriting, newsletters, conversions, digital strategy
Content marketing and its effect
When working with content marketing we want to create. And then we want to create even more. It’s only natural. Even if we have good intentions, this can lead to websites and blogs with massive amounts of content, where some of it simply isn’t good. Even if it once was good, content can become obsolete.
We spend so much more time planning and creating new content, and not enough on quality control. It’s a real problem. And it gets bigger and bigger, as the average quality of the content on the web rises. Content marketing through quantity does not work. At least not without quality too.
Bad content and SEO
The most common reason to keep your content in check is your SEO. Google wants to deliver the best results to their users. Their evolution of a website comes down to individual pages, as well as the site’s overall quality. This means that you could have quality articles that get bogged down by other poor pages. Or, they could just think your whole website consists of bad content.
Either way, low-quality content equals low Google rankings. Organic SEO is one of the best ways to get traffic, find new leads and sell products.
Bad content and your customers
And it’s not really much better if the potential customers actually gets there from Google. Bad content annoys readers. It makes them actively choose other results from the search engine.
When you arrive at a website, it’s often the first impression you get of a brand. Imagine the association being lackluster content, or even an overall terrible website. It will most definitely spill over on how you view the brand.
Types of bad content
Content can be bad for many different reasons. Let’s check out some of the most common mistakes on the web.
Duplicate content – a possible SEO killer
Google hates duplicated content. Sometimes, it happens for technical reasons. But there are also lazy content creators out there that copy pastes things from other websites. And it’s good to avoid doing the same thing between different webpages on your site too.
Content can easily go obsolete, especially blog posts. Facts change, new years arrive, standards go higher. A good way to avoid this is to have regular content audits. This allows for a systematic way to identify bad content. It also makes sure that you put time on quality control, and not just production.
Badly written content
The basic handy-work can sink articles. Yes, you’d think basic things like good grammar and spelling would be a given in web content. But that’s not always the case.
And spelling and grammar isn’t the only thing in the handy-work that can sink your writing. You have to be able to get your point across to make successful content. After all, it’s about informing and convincing people.
Content doesn’t have to be duplicated, obsolete or badly written to be weak. As the amount of content on the web rises to new levels, unique content gets more and more valuable. Many articles on topics feature the same information, presented in similar structures.
If you can find a way to spice it up beyond good language and solid research, you might rank higher than your competitors.
Badly purposed content
Even if your content is up-to-date, well-written and original, things can go wrong. In those cases, it’s often about it being badly purposed. A typical example is content that just doesn’t align with the business goals of the website. Another issue can be SEO failures, such as aiming several articles on a web site toward the same keyword.
Identifying bad content on a website
There are several ways to identify bad content on a website. Some of tips are:
- Site audits and site checkers
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Surfing your own website
- By using the WordPress plugin Yoast SEO
- Hiring a content expert
Site audits and site checkers
There are many online site audits and site checkers out there. Many of them analyze content quality. Personally, I’ve used Ubersuggest a lot. SEMRush and Ahrefs are two other popular options. Whichever one you choose, a site audit tends to be good at uncovering bad content and other issues with websites that need to be fixed.
Google Analytics reports are a good way to pinpoint bad content. If pages on your site get little to no traffic compared to others, there’s usually something wrong. Another important factor to look at is the user behavior. Are they converting as much as on other pages? Is the bounce rate higher? When you find the deviations, you usually find the bad content.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is very good at highlighting problems with web sites and content. My recommendation is to combine the site audit, Analytics and Search Console to get the whole picture.
Some issues you can find in Google Search Console are:
- Pages that Google refuse to index
- Lacking mobile usability
- Speed problems
Surfing your own site
Don’t forget to go back to basics! The options above are all good, but there really is no replacement for actually surfing around on your own website. That way, you truly see it from the user’s perspective.
Remember that bad content doesn’t have to be something you discover on a desktop computer. Don’t forget to check out your site on different phones and tablets.
The WordPress plugin Yoast SEO evaluates content from an SEO perspective, but also a reading perspective. If all is well, you get a green light. This is very intuitive, and you can also see the lights for many different WordPress pages at the same time.
In many cases, the pages that don’t perform are the ones with SEO or language issues. However, remember that the Yoast analysis isn’t the ultimate truth. Good and bad content is subjective.
Hire a content expert
Don’t feel like doing it yourself? Hire a digital expert to evaluate your content. Outsourcing the work is a speedy way to get an overview of the quality. Getting fresh eyes on the content is also something that leads to new insights.
What can you do about existing bad content?
But what can you do once the bad content is on your site? Well, as I see it there are three main options: deleting it, improving it or re-purposing it. What to choose usually depends on what makes the content bad.
The most instinctual reaction to bad content is to get rid of it. It’s understandable, and sometimes it’s indeed the right thing to do. Studies have shown that deleting bad content on sites can improve the overall SEO. It can be the right way to go.
However, if you delete content, don’t forget about redirecting the URL to another page on your site. Few things hurt your search engine performance as much as unexpected 404 errors.
If the content is weak, there must be things to improve, right? Yes, indeed! At least in most cases. If it’s worth writing about, you can usually fix the quality. A bad article can usually become a good one with a few hours of fixing.
Maybe you might need to redo the keyword analysis or some other ground-work, but unless everything was off from the start, there’s often something worth saving.
Re-purpose or rebrand it
Sometimes content is weak because of the way it is presented or packaged. The writing quality or the choice of topic could still be good. In these cases you can look at ways to re-purpose or rebrand your content. Maybe an unengaging article on a topic could be turned into “20 ways to..?”.
These changes can turn bad content into good content. Plus, it’s less work than creating brand new content, since you usually can use parts of what you already posted before. For more info on improving and deleting articles, check out this insightful Neil Patel post about dealing with old content.
Do you need help to improve your content?
Now that we know a lot more about bad content, let’s talk about creating some good stuff. Are you looking for someone to improve your content? You’re in the right place. I am a freelancing content marketing expert that has helped many companies to improve their digital presence.
SEO, copywriting, newsletters and social media are some of the things I can do. And of course, helping you to eliminate the bad content that bogs down your site. Get in touch with me by connecting on LinkedIn or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.