Content Troubleshooting Guide
Use this content troubleshooting guide to identify and fix content-related issues in your business.
This troubleshooting guide will help you identify issues in your content that may be preventing your business from experiencing better results and presents fixes and solutions to improve your content management practices.
In this guide we’ll:
- Show you a picture of what content management done right looks like and how it addresses most content problems.
- Examine common areas where things can go wrong and present typical scenarios.
- Troubleshoot the main issues preventing your content from performing better, identify their causes, and look for solutions to correct and fix these.
Refer to our content management glossary if you need help understanding some of the terms or concepts described in this section.
How To Use This Troubleshooting Guide
This guide is divided into sections listing the main content-related problems you may run into, with links to articles that expand on the possible causes and solutions to investigate.
We recommend starting with the section below, then coming back to this index page whenever you experience issues.
Let’s get started…
Knowing Where To Tap
A boilermaker was hired to fix a huge steamship boiler system that had stopped working, causing the ship owner tens of thousands of dollars in productivity losses.
After listening to the ship’s engineer describe the problem and asking a few questions, he went to the boiler room, looked at the maze of twisting pipes, listened to the thump of the boiler and the hiss of the escaping steam for a few minutes, and felt some pipes with his hands. Then he hummed softly to himself, reached into his overalls, took out a small hammer, and tapped a bright red valve one time.
Immediately, the entire system began working perfectly, and the boilermaker went home.
When the ship owner received a bill for five thousand dollars, he became outraged and complained that the boilermaker hadn’t even been in the engine room for fifteen minutes and requested an itemized bill.
So, the boilermaker sent him the following itemized bill as requested:
The aim of this troubleshooting guide is to show you “where to tap” to fix content-related issues and problems preventing your business from achieving its goals and objectives.
As you work through this guide, keep in mind that issues experienced at one level are often directly affected by the lack of systems and processes on their preceding levels.
In practical terms, what this means is that if you experience content-related issues at the level of content production, content promotion, or content management, the underlying cause will probably be found to be related to issues at the content planning level.
In turn, issues at the content planning level are often caused by issues at the strategic level (i.e. a lack of a sound content strategy) and strategic-level issues are often caused by a lack of implementing foundational-level principles (i.e. business basics).
This content troubleshooting guide aims to help you identify which level may be causing your issues so you can implement long-term fixes.
Before going any further, make sure to also read these articles:
- What Effective Content Management Looks Like – Learn about the three levels of decision-making in a business as described in the Content Management Mindset lesson and which level is responsible for solving the issue.
- The Challenges Of Managing Content Effectively – Content management challenges abound in all organizations. Learn about the main challenges to managing content effectively and how to address these.
Content Troubleshooting Goals And Objectives
Most users engage with businesses online via their websites, so it’s important to focus on improving the effectiveness of your web content.
Common web content troubleshooting goals and objectives include:
- Improving overall website performance: This goal aims to optimize your website’s loading times, reduce bounce rates, and increase user engagement. This can be achieved by implementing a content delivery network (CDN), compressing images, and minifying code.
- Increasing search engine visibility: This goal focuses on improving your website’s search engine rankings in order to drive more organic traffic. This can be achieved by optimizing meta tags, creating high-quality content, and building backlinks.
- Enhancing user experience: This goal aims to improve the overall usability and navigation of your website, making it easier for users to find what they are looking for. This can be achieved by creating a clear and consistent website structure, improving website navigation, and making sure all links are working.
- Increasing social media engagement: This goal focuses on driving more engagement on social media platforms. This can be achieved by creating shareable content, running social media contests, and incorporating social media sharing buttons on your website.
- Boosting conversions: This goal aims to increase the number of website visitors that convert into customers or leads. This can be achieved by creating compelling calls to action, optimizing landing pages, and A/B testing different elements of your website.
- Increasing brand awareness: This goal focuses on building brand recognition and reputation. This can be achieved by creating a consistent brand voice, incorporating brand imagery, and regularly publishing high-quality content.
- Improving analytics tracking: This goal aims to ensure accurate tracking of website analytics in order to gain insights into user behavior and improve performance. This can be achieved by setting up Google Analytics, setting up tracking codes, and regularly monitoring website metrics.
- Improving mobile optimization: This goal focuses on optimizing your website for mobile devices in order to provide a better user experience for mobile users. This can be achieved by creating a mobile-responsive design, reducing page load times, and simplifying navigation.
Now that we have a clearer understanding of what the aim of troubleshooting content is, let’s take a look at the issues that can prevent you from achieving these goals and objectives and how to address these.
Content Strategy-Related Issues
This section will help you identify, troubleshoot, and correct issues with your content strategy.
Here are some of the main problems experienced at this level:
- Lack Of A Content Strategy – Your business does not have a content strategy.
- Lack Of Business Planning – Foundational steps have not been implemented
- Lack Of Resources – Your business lacks the human and financial resources to implement the content methods specified in the content strategy.
- Lack Of Direction – Your business may be creating content but it lacks a clear purpose and direction. This is reflected in poor results.
Let’s go briefly through each of these issues.
Lack Of A Content Strategy
The Executive Level is responsible for creating a documented content strategy for your business.
The lack of a well-defined content strategy is often the root cause of most of the content-related issues your business will experience.
If your business lacks a content strategy, then the Executive level either:
- Doesn’t fully understand that it is their responsibility to develop the content strategy, or
- Hasn’t implemented the foundational steps that come before it (see next section below)
For help and information on the above, see this lesson: How To Create A Content Strategy.
Lack Of Business Planning
If your business lacks a content strategy, it’s most likely because other important foundational steps have not been implemented in the business beforehand.
Make sure that your business has implemented the processes listed in the chart below before developing a content strategy:
For help and information on the above, see this lesson: Business Basics
Lack Of Resources
Your business strategy defines the overall budget of your business.
This budget determines the resources the business has available to invest in areas like hiring people for your content team and the budget it can allocate to different departments like sales, marketing, product development, etc.
The marketing strategy and marketing budget ultimately determine which content methods your business will use.
So, if your content strategy asks you to implement a specific content method (e.g. video marketing) but your team has insufficient human or financial resources to develop, employ, or promote this method effectively, then the solution is to either:
- Review and adjust the content strategy (e.g. set more realistic expectations), or
- Help your content team become more resourceful (e.g. learn to do the best you can to work within your limitations.)
For help and information in this area, see these lessons:
Lack Of Direction
A Content Strategy tells your content team where to focus its efforts and sets the destination to aim for. The Content Plan helps your team get there by specifying what to do to and how to get it done.
So, if your team is lacking direction (e.g. by asking questions like “what are we supposed to be working on now?” or “what are we going to be working on next?”) then it probably lacks a well-defined Content Plan.
As explained in the article What Effective Content Management Looks Like and the Content Management Mindset lesson, the Managerial Level is responsible for creating and delivering the Content Plan.
Before your business can create an effective Content Plan, however, the business has to have a clearly defined strategy as shown in the chart below.
As the Executive Level is responsible for creating the Content Strategy, both the Executive Level and the Managerial Level have to work together to develop the Content Plan.
For more information and help on the above, see these course modules:
Also, see this lesson: Troubleshooting Your Content Strategy
Content Planning-Related Issues
Before troubleshooting issues with Content Planning, make sure that systems and processes have been implemented in the preceding level (Content Strategy), and review the lessons and course modules below:
Your Content Plan is the practical “how to” implementation of your Content Strategy.
Effective content planning involves implementing systems and processes that will deliver better results in areas like Content Production and Content Promotion.
Unless processes are implemented to ensure that your content team only focuses on creating and promoting content that is aligned with the goals and objectives of your business, you will experience problems at the Content Planning level, such as:
- Working in a constantly chaotic, disorganized, and crisis-driven environment; having no clear understanding of business goals or objectives (poor Planning Processes)
- No clearly-defined areas of responsibility within the team leading to doubling up or missing important tasks and activities (poorly-defined Team Roles)
- Missing important content events and opportunities (poorly managed or no Content Calendar)
- Too much effort being spent on ineffective content planning or research (poorly defined Content Metrics)
- Ignoring growing problems with existing content or sweeping these under the carpet (lack of scheduled Content Reviews)
- Too much time being spent on content planning or research (lack of team member training or knowledge of using Content Planning & Research Tools)
It is important, then, to make sure that your Content Plan has implemented the processes listed in the chart below before moving into areas like Content Production and Content Promotion.
For more information and help in this area, see this course module: Content Planning
Also, see this lesson: Troubleshooting Your Content Plan
Content Production-Related Issues
Before troubleshooting issues with Content Production, make sure that systems and processes have been implemented in the preceding levels (Content Strategy and Content Planning), and review the lessons and course modules below:
Implementing effective content production systems and processes will ensure that your business can consistently deliver content on time, targeted to the right users, in the right content types and formats.
Issues related to content production are often caused by the lack of systems or processes in areas such as:
- Content Production Workflow – Different content types (e.g. articles, videos, ebooks, etc.) require different content production workflows. If you haven’t defined these different workflows, then you will run into workflow issues.
- Workflow Documentation – Once you have defined the different types of content workflows your content team will focus on, it’s important to document these. A lack of documented workflows will cause many issues and problems in your content production.
- Team Roles – Just as with content planning, unclear role responsibilities can lead to duplicated efforts and missed tasks and activities.
- Content Calendar – Again, just as with content planning, a poorly managed (or no) content calendar can lead to missed opportunities and deadlines.
- Production Team Meetings – Without a regular and structured team meeting schedule to discuss production issues, chaos ensues.
- Content Production Tools – Are your team members aware of content production tools that can save them time and increase their productivity? Are they trained to use these tools competently and effectively?
If your team is experiencing issues related to content production, such as:
- Content Output Is Low/Content Pipeline Has Dried Up – Your team is struggling to come up with new content ideas.
- Content Is Late – Your content is not being delivered on time; your content team is missing important delivery deadlines.
- Content Is Below Standard – Your content is not meeting expected quality standards
Then see this section: Troubleshooting Content Production Problems
Additionally, if your team is:
- Running Out Of Content Ideas
- Unable To Complete Projects Due To External Circumstances
- Publishing Content That Is Not Performing Well
Then see this article: What Effective Content Management Looks Like
For more information and help in this area, see this course module: Content Production
Content Promotion-Related Issues
Before troubleshooting issues with Content Promotion, make sure that systems and processes have been implemented in the preceding levels (Content Strategy, Content Planning, and Content Production), and review the lessons and course modules below:
- Digital Business Setups
- Content Management Mindset
- Content Strategy
- Content Planning
- Content Production
Implementing effective content promotion systems and processes will ensure that your business promotes content that strengthens its brand, performs well according to set metrics, delivers results that meet or exceed expectations, and that it can continue to improve and refine its processes.
Issues related to content promotion are often caused by the lack of systems or processes in areas such as:
- Marketing Plan – The lack of an overall marketing plan results in not knowing when or which content to create or promote.
- Content Marketing – The lack of a clear content marketing plan leads to focusing time and effort on content methods and activities that fail to meet your target audience’s needs and ultimately perform poorly.
- Content Metrics – Not knowing which metrics to track and not tracking important metrics means that your business cannot measure results or improve its content performance.
- Content SEO – To deliver optimal results, your content should be optimized for both humans and search engines. SEO-related issues include poor results in search engines or being penalized for failing to adhere to SEO guidelines.
- Content Distribution – Not knowing which distribution channels or the right formats to use when sharing, publishing, and promoting your content leads to poor user engagement and poor results.
- Content Promotion Tools – Not knowing about useful content promotion tools and services or how to effectively use these can lead to significant time and effort being spent on activities that could be automated or boosted to deliver better results such as wider reach, more engagement, higher conversion rates, etc.
For more information and help in this area, see this course module: Content Promotion
Content Management-Related Issues
Before troubleshooting issues with Content Management, make sure that systems and processes have been implemented in the preceding levels (Content Strategy, Content Planning, Content Production, and Content Promotion), and review the lessons and course modules below:
- Digital Business Setups
- Content Management Mindset
- Content Strategy
- Content Planning
- Content Production
- Content Promotion
Implementing effective content management systems and processes will ensure that your business can continue to grow, scale this growth, and help it achieve its goals and objectives to realize its vision.
Issues related to content management are often caused by the lack of systems or processes in areas such as:
- Content Organization – A lack of organization at this level results in your content team spending too much time and effort looking for the information it needs to get things done. This creates delays and missed deadlines, and results in wasted opportunities, wasted time and resources, etc.
- Content Documentation – A lack of documentation puts your business at risk and creates many issues, such as inconsistent standards, low-quality output, etc.
- Content Tracking – Not having tracking systems in place to monitor, measure, analyze, and review data and performance means that your business is operating on guesswork and hence cannot improve its results.
- Content Protection – A lack of content protection measures can result in copyright issues, unauthorized use of your content or content theft, etc.
- Content Linking – A lack of an effective content-linking management strategy can lead to issues like broken links, links leading to error pages (poor user experience), having to manually search and replace outdated links throughout your website, etc.
- Content Reviews – Not performing regular content reviews can lead to a growing body of content that is outdated, inaccurate, obsolete, or irrelevant to users, leading to poor user experience, loss of traffic or conversions, etc.
- Content Backup Strategy – Not having a content backup strategy in place places your business at serious risk of losing some or all of its content should something unexpected happen (e.g. loss of server, security breaches, etc.)
- Content Management Tools – Not knowing about useful content management tools and services or how to effectively use these can lead to significant time, effort, and resources being wasted trying to manage content and content-related processes that could be automated and better organized.
For more information and help in this area, see this course module: Content Management
When troubleshooting issues related to Outsourcing, make sure that systems and processes have been implemented in the preceding levels (Content Strategy, Content Planning, Content Production, Content Promotion, and Content Management), and review the course lesson below:
Essentially, your business should not outsource anything until it has the systems and processes to manage everything it plans to outsource.
Implementing effective systems and processes for outsourcing content-related areas and activities (e.g. Content Production, Content Promotion) will ensure that high-quality standards of service and delivery are maintained by your outsourced providers.
Without systems and processes to outsource effectively, your business is not outsourcing but abdicating its responsibility for managing its outsourced processes.
Issues related to outsourcing are often caused by the lack of systems or processes in areas such as:
- Outsourcing Strategy – Your outsourcing strategy determines what areas of your business should be outsourced and why. Without a strategy, outsourcing is like a rudderless ship, aimless and without direction.
- Outsourcing Plan – Your outsourcing plan defines how outsourced areas like Content Production or Content Promotion should be managed. Without an outsourcing plan, your business could be wasting valuable time and money instead of saving time and money.
- Outsourcing Management – If your business is putting external providers in control of managing the systems and processes that the business should be managing, then it can’t control or improve the quality of the outsourced work.
- Outsourced Hiring – A lack of outsourced hiring guidelines can result in spending time and money hiring people or services that can’t meet your business expectations.
- Outsourcing Documentation – A lack of outsourcing documentation (e.g. guidelines, procedures, training, etc.) can result in outsourcing work to people or services who can’t deliver work to meet the quality or standards that your business needs.
- Quality Management – Without a process to track, measure, analyze, and review what it is outsourcing, your business can’t manage and improve the quality of the work being delivered.
For more information and help in this area, see this course lesson: Outsourcing
Content Troubleshooting Articles
Refer to the articles below for additional content troubleshooting information:
Content Troubleshooting Guide
The Challenges Of Managing Content Effectively
What Effective Content Management Looks Like
Troubleshooting Your Content Strategy
Troubleshooting Your Content Plan