Content Gardening

How to cultivate your content

Susanne Holzer | © punkt & komma
Susanne Holzer
Content editor

What do gardening and content marketing have in common? At first glance, not so much. However, if you take a closer look, there are quite a few similarities. In our article, we tell you everything you should know about Content Gardening – including some valuable tips on how to make your content garden come to life!

The best thing about it: This article is also suitable for those without a green thumb …

Flowers, bees … and content marketers!

Have you heard the one about a gardener and a content marketer … and no, it’s not a joke! We’re actually talking about some valuable expert knowledge here! Because gardening and content marketing have more in common than you might think.

Picture this: a lush garden with all kinds of plants, where visitors can enjoy flowers, fruit and cool shade throughout the year. Provided that the gardener takes proper care of the plants! To be rewarded with colourful flowers or juicy apples, he or she needs to prune and clip, to fertilise and water the plants.

The same is true for content marketing. Because your content garden needs some TLC before you can reap the sweet fruits of your labour. Your Content Gardening endeavours should be based on the following questions:

  • Is my content still fresh (and relevant for my users)?
  • Should I use some “fertiliser” to make the soil better?
  • Are there any dead plant parts that I should remove?
  • Are there any plants that need repotting?
  • Is it time to sow new seeds?

Content is not a cactus

Before you put on your gardening gloves, let‘s make one thing clear. Yes, there are some plants in every garden that survive even though they are neglected. That thrive and bloom although you haven’t watered them for months.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about content marketing. Granted, there is evergreen content that practically always remains relevant. However, even this type of content needs some loving care – or updating – from time to time, not least because it’s good for your Google ranking.

So remember: Content is not a cactus – so don’t rely on it surviving without water. Instead, nurture and grow every little content plant!

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Content Gardening ≠ Content Farming!

If all our gardening metaphors have you confusing Content Gardening with Content Farming, you have another think coming! Because Content Farming is practically the opposite of professional Content Gardening.

A quick recap: Content Farming refers to companies employing freelance writers to produce large amounts of text, videos, images and charts. Their main purpose is to drive traffic, achieve high rankings in search engines, monetised by online advertising. Usually, the produced content is of very low quality.

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Content produced by content farms …

  • … is usually short and superficial.
  • … is usually of poor quality.
  • … often is duplicate content.
  • … usually offers a poor user experience (“keyword stuffing”).
  • … contains lots of online advertising.
  • … is mainly about driving traffic.

And what does Google think about it? That you should rather go for high-quality content! After all, Google ranks poor-quality content (= content produced by content farms) lower – tough luck!

Why is Content Gardening a good idea?

Like we said, high-quality content is the key to a good Google ranking. And how do you achieve this? Exactly, by clipping and pruning your plants/content – with the help of professional content gardening!
The best thing about it: Taking good care of your content garden will allow you to reap other benefits too.

Content Gardening …

  • … gives you the opportunity to re-use existing content.
  • … provides your users with more relevant content.
  • … lets you use your content on different channels.
  • … makes it unnecessary to create new content as often.
  • … helps you to increase your traffic.
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How does Content Gardening work?

For starters: Content Gardening is about more than just re-posting old articles. Instead, you take existing content and adapt it to current user needs. That way, you can grow “fresh” content from old plants. This content is not only more relevant to your users but also gives you the chance to reach new audiences with new formats.

Content Gardening – how it works

Content Gardening involves three major phases:

Phase #1
Plant your content seeds
  • Get an overview of which content pieces have generated the most traffic in the past.
  • Have a look at the keywords that have brought the most users to your website.
  • Take this content as a basis and use it as new content seeds.
Phase #2
Let your content plants grow
  • Take good care of your content seeds to make them sprout.
  • Rework successful content and adapt it to be used in new formats. There are plenty of opportunities: How about taking an old article and turning it into an infographic, a podcast or a webinar? As a rule of thumb, you can usually get three new formats out of one existing content piece.
Phase #3
Be a bee and distribute the pollen
  • Now that your content plants are in bloom, it’s time to distribute the pollen!
  • Just like a bee, take your content pollen and carry it to other flowers/platforms: a little Facebook infographic here, a little Instagram video clip there …
  • The good news: If you have done your work properly in Phase 1, your content will practically spread by itself. After all, you have based it exactly on the topics your target audience is most interested in!
  • And hey presto: You have just sown new seeds for the next gardening season!

5 tips fresh from the content garden

You have lined up your gardening tools and are ready to turn your content garden into a flourishing paradise? Then you might be interested in the following practical tips:

Tip 1

Keep your content up to date!

Even the most successful article needs an update from time to time. After all, nothing stays the same – and that’s also true for even the most traffic-generating content. Facts and figures quite literally quickly become yesterday’s news – whether it’s statistics, vaccination rates or population estimates.

So before re-posting an article, always make sure that the details are still correct and up to date and adapt them if necessary.

NB: Sometimes this may mean that you have to rip out your favourite plant. After all, even the most topical and relevant article may simply be outdated a few years later. For instance, do you still care about the technical details of a mobile phone that was launched ten years ago?

Tip 2

Adapt your keywords!

When it comes to updating your content, it’s also a good idea to have a look at recent search trends. This helps you to find out what your target audience is currently interested in and what users are actively searching for.

If you have an article that deals with a similar topic, you can add new keywords to make it more relevant for current searches. However, only do this where it makes sense – because mindless keyword stuffing will be punished by Google!

A little reminder: Also don’t forget to adapt the title and description of your articles!

Tip 3

Freshen up your imagery!

It’s not just the words that make an article a good one – it’s also the images you use! Pictures and charts help to emphasise and explain your message. Plus, they greatly contribute to the overall “mood” of your post.

Consequently, your images also need a little refresh from time to time. An example: Not so long ago, you probably used photos of people wearing a face mask in articles about hotels or restaurants – depending on the current COVID situation, you might now prefer other pictures.

The added benefit: New imagery will automatically make your article look a little “fresher”.

Tip 4

Create new possibilities!

From one to many or all-in-one: Anything’s possible in Content Gardening! Because even if an article needs zero updating and could theoretically be re-posted just the way it is, you can still make something new out of it.

For instance, how about a listicle of your five most successful posts (“The 5 best tips for …”)? Or a little e-book of articles with a similar topic?

Tip 5

Leave room for something wild!

In a beautiful garden, small details create an overall concept. Whether you prefer a perfect trim or creative chaos: Together, your plants make up one big blossoming picture – and the same is true for your content garden.

However, make sure to reserve room for something wild! Be bold and surprise your users with funny, creative and unexpected content from time to time – of course, always in line with your brand identity. This keeps your garden fresh and interesting and makes visitors want to come back for more.

Do you need a helping hand in your content garden?

You are not a talented (content) gardener? Don’t worry! The punkt & komma teams is happy to help you scan and optimise your content during the course of a professional content audit.

Would you like to know more about the topic first? Then have a look at our online magazine! For instance, you can find an interesting article about Content Recycling there.

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