For the beginner, content marketing might seem like something that is easy enough to do. But just like with everything else in life, there are things to do and things to avoid.
The very face of content has changed over the last decade, meaning content is no longer just about written words. Everything from audio and visual content to video content and text is now commonplace. And each of these can be divided into hundreds of subcategories.
Regardless of the types of content that you use on your website, the rules are pretty much the same. And having a solid content marketing strategy in place will go a long way with helping you reach your goals.
In today’s post we are going to take a closer look at some of the biggest mistakes businesses make with content marketing. We will also have a look at the methods and techniques that not only work, but can see your content marketing strategy skyrocket.
The Don’ts of Content Marketing
And the following section, we will focus on the don’ts of content marketing. You will notice that there are more dense than dos on this list. This is because don’ts have a negative impact on your strategy. And once you know what to avoid, your chances of success improve dramatically.
This is something that dates back to the earlier years of SEO. And unfortunately, it is something that some businesses still do… to the detriment of their online success.
In the past, this black hat SEO techniques used to work wonders. However, today it not only detracts from the overall user experience, but is also frowned upon by the search engines.
Let’s say that your primary keyword is “automatic robot lawn mower.” Stuffing this in 20 times throughout a 500-word blog post or article is going to put your reader off right away… and Google is going to pass on by.
In today’s world, there is no place for low quality content and black hat SEO tactics. You need to be able to create content that delivers value and focus on people, not machines.
The search engines, specifically Google, look much deeper than just your primary keywords. Stuffing your articles like a Christmas Day Turkey is something best left back in the early 2000’s. It’s all about context and not keyword count.
Forgetting the Search Engines
Your content marketing strategy should have a dedicated focus on the search engines. As we mentioned above, you don’t write for machines, you write for people. But that’s not to say that you don’t need to optimise your content for the search engines.
Instead of focusing on one or two primary keywords, try to throw some semantically related keywords into the mix. Google is not just looking for keywords whenever it scans your content. It is looking for LSI keywords so that it can be sure your content is what you say it is.
But optimising for the search engines goes much deeper than the different types of keywords. You should also focus on your meta descriptions, image alt tags, robot tags, and structured markups.
Each of these works in a different way to let the search engines understand what your content is all about. The more information you give, the more likely you are to rank. But as we mentioned earlier, you should never place the search engines over your audience.
Not Listening to your Audience
Here’s the thing about the internet; if people don’t like your content, product or service they are going to make this known.
As a business, you have a good idea about the direction that you want to head in. But your customers are the ones that keep you afloat.
Any content marketing strategy worth its salt takes customer and consumer opinions into account. What exactly is it that they want to know more about? How can you improve their overall experience?
Nobody likes to see negative reviews or opinions. But the idea here is to take them as constructive criticism. Don’t see them as weaknesses. See them as strengths. Once you know what it is needs to be fixed, you can deliver exactly what your audience wants.
And if you don’t deliver… they are going to head right on over to your competitors instead.
Focusing on Sales Instead of Value
One of the biggest mistakes that content marketers make is to focus all of their content on sales. People don’t need a sales pitch to make their mind up. In fact, it could have the complete opposite effect.
Whether it is an image, a video or a full-blown article, it needs to provide the user with value. You might think that the best way to sell your products or services is to dedicate blog post after blog post about why they need it.
But here’s the thing: the majority of people tend to trust honest customer reviews over a company sales pitch.
Instead of pitching to people, aim to answer their questions. How can your product or service make their life easier? What is the history behind it? What research or data does it have to back it up?
Your content should create a story that leaves the reader satisfied. If it creates more questions than answers or leaves little to be desired, it’s not going to have quite the impact you expect.
A great product or service will always sell itself. And great content that focuses on more than just sales can boost it.
Ignoring your Website Content
Social media is awesome. As a business in 2019, if you’re not on social media, you are missing out on huge potential.
However, it is all too easy to focus all of your efforts on social media instead of your website. Big mistake.
See, there is only so much you can do with social media before you need more flexibility. And this is where your website comes into play. Your website is home to your business or brand, and should always be your main focus.
If anything, social media should be used for generating traffic for your website and building your brand identity. But all of that juicy content, the content that converts, should be reserved for your website only.
If you put everything on social media, people have got no need to visit your website. Therefore, you should look at repurposing your website content for social media. Give a sneak peek. Pique their interest. Then send them on over to your website for more.
The Dos of Content Marketing
There are plenty of things you can do to improve the outcome of your content marketing strategy. The following advice can be beneficial with helping you work out a plan of action that works.
Having an Open Mind
As an online business, it is all too easy to get stuck in your ways. As people’s behaviours and the internet evolve, so should your content marketing strategy.
A great example of this is the very content that you produce. For now, you will get away with focusing on screen searches and typed searches. But by this time next year, more than 50% of all searches are expected to be voice searches.
This means that you are probably going to have to step outside of your comfort zone. SEO strategies that worked before are rapidly becoming redundant. We’ve already made this clear with keyword stuffing. But actual keywords themselves are playing less and less of a role.
Natural language and fluid paragraphs are expected to supersede standard keywords. Video content is better received than text based content. And content that provides value outweighs content that doesn’t.
A successful content marketing strategy always works best when you have an open mind. Don’t be afraid to try new techniques and embrace any changes as soon as possible.
Include a Summary
Both users and search engines love a summary. But why? The answer is surprisingly simple.
One may be a machine while the other is human, but both want to understand the context of your content from the get-go.
For humans, we don’t want to waste time reading through a huge article if it isn’t going to answer our questions. And for search engines, delivering content of value to the user is the priority.
Typically, a summary is the first paragraph of your content. It will briefly touch upon what the topic is about and what the user can expect to learn. You can throw in a “spoiler alert” to encourage the user to read on.
But why would someone carry on reading if they’ve already been given an answer? It’s all to do with the desire to learn and understand more.
And the more that people learn about your products or services, the more likely they are to convert later on in the funnel. And this leads us nicely on to the next section.
Educate don’t Dictate
Nobody likes a dictator. You might have thoughts about how people should perceive your brand, product or service… but telling them how to do so is not going to go down well.
Everyone loves to learn something. And if you do it the right way, this can have huge benefits on your content marketing strategy.
The aim of the game is to always try to educate. Let the reader know how your product or service can improve their life? Cover its back story. Find a fresh and unique angle. And most importantly, make it interesting.
As an example, let’s say that you sell organic honey online. You could focus solely on the honey. Or you could dig deeper into how it’s made, the history of honey, information about the different types of honey bees, etc.
The reader most already knows that they want to buy some honey. But what is it about your honey that makes it the perfect choice for them?
Everyone loves a story and everyone loves to learn.
Content marketing is a fickle business. What works today might not necessarily work tomorrow. Bought with an open mind, a little bit of research and an understanding of your audience, you can’t go too far wrong.
SEO is always going to play an important part in your content marketing strategy. But it shouldn’t detract from delivering valuable content that keeps the user satisfied.
After all, what is the point in ranking on the first page of Google if people don’t enjoy the content you publish? It’s all about balance. And with content marketing, that balance definitely falls in favour of the user.
Why not check out our beginner’s guide to content marketing today for step-by-step, actionable instructions.