Neil Patel

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Successful Content Marketing: An Inside look at

An inside look at

I’ve been doing content marketing for a long time.

If there’s one thing that’s true, it’s that the landscape is always changing. Constantly. But one thing that doesn’t change? The need to be strategic with your content. The days of writing hundreds of blog posts and hoping something sticks are over (if they were ever really there).

Today, content marketers need to have clear plans in place for ideas, creation, implementation, and distribution. Curious why? When I asked my audience why content was king, here are the answers I got:

  • 47.9% of people felt it was because Google and people like it.
  • 26.2% of people felt more content meant more SERPs
  • 15.3% of people felt it helped them optimized for searched KWs.
  • 10.5% of people felt content was losing its crown.

So as you can see, while most people are still on board with content, there is a group that are feeling that content is losing its luster. And I would say with bad or outdated content, there’s truth there. Today, we need to be responsive enough to change our strategies based on data. If you’re new to marketing with content , you probably have questions about what successful strategies look like. How do you use data to build a winning strategy?

Well, let’s take a look at what works based on some first-hand experience: content that lives on this very site. We’ve always used data to guide our content strategy—from keyword targeting to topic ideation. But we recently had an opportunity to revisit some of our existing content. Tracking performance allowed us to see some potential tweaks we could make that we might not have otherwise considered.

What the Data Says On’s Content Success

I’m a big believer in practicing what I preach, which is why I recently had my team look at on-site performance metrics to explore exactly how our content and SEO efforts perform. We pulled information from Google Search Console and Google Analytics.

What we found out is that some of our content was having performance issues. It wasn’t doing badly, but it didn’t have the punch that we knew it was capable of.

With the numbers in hand, we decided to make some changes to the site. We:

  • Removed duplicate content.
  • Refreshed some of our older blog posts.
  • Redirected or removed low-performing pages that had lost relevance.
  • Created net new content to speak to emerging trends in marketing.
  • Consolidated blog posts to make one strong comprehensive post rather than smaller blogs that covered similar topics.
  • Developed data-driven blogs to garner backlinks and social shares.

What We Learned From Our Data

We didn’t just make these choices on a whim. We had strong data and case studies to support our efforts. Let’s look at what happened after refreshing some of our content.

Alternative Search Engines Post

A Neil Patel Blog about other search engines.

We took some time to refresh this blog post about alternative search engines. After our content refresh, we saw that clicks improved over the following quarter by almost 50%. In addition, impressions improved over the same timeframe by 102%.

The graph showing the impact of refreshing old blog content.

Solid lines represent data from Q1 and the dotted lines are from Q4 of the previous year.

Dealing with Changes in AI Copywriting

The intersection of AI and marketing is a quickly changing topic that sees constant innovation, but it’s something we’ve been talking about for a while now. We refreshed a blog post that specifically deals with AI copywriting and saw some amazing results.

A Neil Patel blog about the best AI copywriting tools.

We saw clicks on this page increase quarter-over-quarter by 294% while impressions increased 396% for the same period.

The graph showing the impact of refreshing old blog content.

Solid lines represent Q1 2023. Dotted lines show performance from Q4 2022.

Boosting Low Value URL Performance

Content refreshes aren’t the only way to make a positive impact. You can also examine content that isn’t doing well and make executive decisions about what to cut or redirect. We looked at content performance for February and March of 2023 and identified URLs that were low value. Maybe the content itself wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t doing what it needed to do. Or, perhaps it did its job in the past, but content became outdated, hurting performance. We then redirected them to other pieces of content that were similar to preserve our backlink profile.

What happened? We saw a lift! It wasn’t the dramatic shift in performance the two examples above displayed, but it was still growth. We improved our clicks by 2% and our impressions by 19%. Average search engine results page (SERP) rankings for the site overall went from a 25.2 to 21.8.

And while that still puts those URLs on the “second page” of search results, it’s still an improvement. As Google continues to push more content further down the page in favor of ads, featured snippets, and other dynamic content widgets, every position increase matters.

Infographic showing the value of boosting low quality URls in blog posts.

Lessons on Successful Content Marketing from

What lessons did we learn from our experiments? Well, timing matters. Refreshing and adding content around hot topics will yield results, but who knows how long those topics will trend? That’s why making prompt decisions based on data can lead to better KPIs. Our AI blog post refresh got more users to the site that may not have previously visited in the past.

Refreshing old content is a valuable tool and every content marketer needs to consider it.

Routine sitewide clean-ups and checks for duplicate content and keyword cannibalization are absolutely essential. When the August Helpful Content Update rolled out, we noticed a dip in keyword rankings. But instead of lamenting the downturn, we took action. We explored our options for updating and refreshing content, removing the blogs that didn’t work or weren’t relevant, and creating exciting new content to speak to emerging trends.

All these results paid off.

But what if you’re a content marketer starting from scratch or taking over a brand whose past content efforts havn’t worked out well? How do you build a winning strategy?

Whether you’re refreshing your current content or sitting down to make it a cornerstone of your efforts for the first time, the following tips can help.

What Makes a Successful Content Marketing Strategy?

If you’re a seasoned marketer, you know the recipe for content marketing success is about more than just producing lots of blog posts, infographics, and videos. Consistency is important, but not just when it comes to writing and scheduling your posts. You also need to be intentional about your content’s purpose, messaging, and usefulness. People want to read, watch, or listen to things they have a chance to learn from.

If being successful was just a matter of throwing things up on your site, everyone with 10,000 blog posts dating back to the early days of Google would be doing well.

So, what does it take to have a successful content strategy?

The good news is that we have verifiable evidence of some tactics that can really boost your content’s performance. The bad news? There’s no one silver bullet that’ll guarantee a win. But if you focus on the following 10 tactics, there’s a good chance you’ll see a lift in your site’s SERP rankings and—more importantly—vital KPIs.

Below you’ll find just a few of the strategies that can help you can build a content strategy that:

  • Educates your audience.
  • Builds enthusiasm for your brand.
  • Creates engagement.
  • Generates leads.

1. Know Your Audience

One of the first rules of content creation is to know exactly who you’re creating it for. You have to understand your audience to make sure your messaging is on point. The type of content you’d make for an audience of wealthy people in their fifties looks different than what you’d create for Gen Z.

If you can’t immediately recognize a defined target audience, don’t panic. You’ve got options!

One of the best ways to know your audience is to create buyer personas for your ideal customers. You can conduct surveys and polls to gather insights directly from the people who’ve already bought your stuff and use that information to create content to meet their needs. Eavesdrop on social media to see what your fans are saying and engage with them to build relationships. If you’re just getting started, you can even look at your direct competitors and see what they’re doing to reach the same audience you want.

Finally, put on your data scientist hat and look at keyword research and industry trends to create timely, relevant content for your audience.

2. Set Clear Goals

Before you even think of writing one sentence or opening up the camera to make your next viral TikTok video, ask yourself a question: What are you trying to achieve? What does success look like?

If you can’t think of a single goal you want to achieve with the content in question, it might be useful to spend your time doing something else. Like paid advertising, content should have an objective, like getting people to sign up for your email list or answering a question you’ve heard from several prospective clients or customers.

Every creative brief needs to answer this question. Don’t just write a blog post (or draw a graphic or make a video) for its own sake.

3. Master the Art of Storytelling

Storytelling’s a powerful tool to take your content to the next level, but what makes a great story? It’s creative. It’s persuasive. It uses metaphors and vivid imagery to put the reader in the center of what you’re trying to talk to them about. Stories showcase your brand’s personality and inspire the audience to take action.

Most of all, stories need to be authentic. Most people can tell if you’re not telling the truth, so don’t embellish things just because you think it’s going to get you more sales.

4. Use SEO—Your Secret Weapon

Great content connects quickly with audiences and makes clever use of current trends. It can also be evergreen enough to always be relevant. Knowing how to optimize your writing for search engines can help nudge that content ever closer to a first-place finish.

Content marketers should always write with SEO best practices in mind. That includes writing content that targets long-tail keywords and search terms. It also means using appropriate anchor text to link to content both on and outside of your site.

Other SEO tactics you might not think about include writing descriptive, keyword-focused site title tags and meta descriptions. They may not be on-page content, but they’re still an essential tool for grabbing readers’ attention.

Google recently made updates to its algorithm that prioritize content that meets its E-E-A-T guidelines. E-E-A-T stands for:

  • Expertise
  • Experience
  • Authority
  • Trustworthiness

What this means for you as a marketer is that using proven subject matter experts can bolster your content marketing efforts.

5. Be Consistent

Remember how I said that consistent posting didn’t automatically make for a winning strategy by itself? Well, it’s still a big piece of the puzzle. Excellent content marketing managers build successful programs with a constant stream of fresh, relevant content.

You don’t have to write a new post every single day or even multiple times a day. But you do have to keep a steady schedule. Stay organized, continue to work on topic and idea generation, and use powerful tools like AI to help you produce content on a routine basis.

6. Diversify Your Content

When most people think content, they’re probably thinking about blogs.

But that’s just a small piece of the puzzle. Content describes anything you can produce to help inform and educate your audience. Your audience should dictate the kinds of content you make. Sometimes brands thrive with written content. Others make excellent use of infographics. Short-form video is one of the most explosive types of new content out there.

What I’m trying to say is that you should always be willing to think outside the box. And if you write a blog post, make a video to go along with it. If you create an infographic, think about how that can translate to an Instagram carousel.

7. Promote Your Content

Speaking of Instagram and content promotion and remixing, your content is only as good as the methods you use to distribute it. Writing a blog post and waiting for SEO magic to happen just won’t cut it anymore. You need to take active steps to put it in front of audiences, and that includes a mixture of digital PR, active social sharing, and even using paid media strategies to boost content performance.

8. Make Decisions with Data, Not Vibes

If you’re creating content but not tracking its performance, you’re missing out on some real opportunities for learning and growth. How do you know what works with your audience? How do you even know if you’re reaching your intended audience?

One of the best benefits of digital marketing is that practically everything is trackable, down to device types and user demographics like age, gender, and location.

If you’re not using these tools to interpret your strategy’s success, it’s time to start. Right now.

One of the biggest mistakes content marketers make is focusing on the creative aspects of the process. But the best marketers need to be intentional with their content strategy, especially with sloppily-written AI content on the rise.

That includes tracking and making more of the content that gets results and culling the stuff that doesn’t.

8 content marketing strategies that lead to success.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes content marketing successful?

Success in this area is defined as  when you create content that resonates with your audiences. Set clear goals and track metrics to see if you’re meeting them. Build trust with consistent content that has value. Don’t miss out on promotion opportunities. Adapt and change what you need to based on data and customer feedback.


With these tips in hand, it’s time to explore how you can help build a content strategy that works. But what if you have questions about what to cull and what to promote or refresh?

As usual, take a long look at the numbers. If something is getting single-digit sessions or visits, it might be time to refresh or redirect it.

What KPIs do you look at when it’s time to start optimizing your content strategy? What are your best practices for building a winning content campaign?

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