13 Jul Top Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid – Advice from the All-Stars
Content marketing is a lot like abstract art. Many people think they can do just as well as Jackson Pollock, until they actually try. There’s much more to this art (and science) than initially meets the eye – which is why mistakes are so prevalent – and learned advice from industry experts so forthcoming. We’ve compiled the best of the most common pitfalls from our dream team of content marketing all-stars – as well as some of our own wisdom gained on the home team.
“Thin” content – If you’ve ever read a blog post that uses too many words to convey too little substance (little or no original content), you’ve seen an example of thin content. Not only is such filler content basically useless, but Google really, really hates it, and heavily penalizes websites that foist it upon innocent readers. Wilson quotes Google’s quality guidelines:
“One of the most important steps in improving your site’s ranking in Google search results is to ensure that it contains plenty of rich information that includes relevant keywords, used appropriately, that indicate the subject matter of your content.
“However, some webmasters attempt to improve their pages’ ranking and attract visitors by creating pages with many words but little or no authentic content. Google will take action against domains that try to rank more highly by just showing scraped or other cookie-cutter pages that don’t add substantial value to users.”
So there. Thin content – don’t do it. And word to the wise: if you continue reading this robust, full-bodied post, you’ll notice how everything eventually comes back to SEO.
Although Garst gives these mistakes separate rankings on her list, they’re closely related. Business owners often fall into the trap of constantly focusing on their own organization or offerings instead of determining what type of content that members of their target audience would find useful in blog and social media posts. Says Garst: “… while this can certainly be one part of your content marketing strategy, it’s certainly not what’s going to build connections and trust with your audience.
“Instead, you should be focused on providing valuable information that solves problems and addresses key issues in your industry. It should be related to your business and products, however it also needs to be engaging, interesting to read and it should meet the needs of your readers.”
Of course, Garst recommends how to learn what your target audience finds useful, including: send out a survey, ask for feedback in a blog post, monitor conversations on social media, check out what the competition is doing and test different types of content.
Also, if applicable, look at your website and social media analytics to see what type of content has been popular in the past.
We here at Virtual Stacks Systems often reference the ancient Zen koan, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make a sound?” To which we ask a second question: “If your content marketing has great content but poor SEO, will anyone find it?” Maybe not. Or, at least, not as many as who could have found it. Upon which, AJ Agrawal elaborates…
From AJ Agrawal, growth marketer, entrepreneur and content creator:
Poor SEO – “SEO is not just about stuffing keywords in your blog, but it is about using the privilege keywords at a reliable pace including titles and in passage headings.
“If done properly, SEO is one awesome tool in your content marketing efforts and you can use it to drive more traffic. SEO likewise includes social media and content marketers must know how to use the content for various platforms. It increases the odds of your site being found.”
No quality control – No matter how brief the tweet, a lack of proofreading and fact-checking immediately tanks your credibility. How can you claim that Quality is Job One if a typo gets through, or you misidentify the location of a retail store?
As Spark observes, “Simple mistakes happen all the time, but they’re avoidable if you have a review process.”
From our Virtual Stacks Systems in-house content team:
Not having a documented strategy – The popular saying “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there” applies to content marketing. Know your business objectives. Do you want to increase high-quality leads? Increase brand awareness and/or sales? Set your goals, determine the metrics by which you’ll measure your content marketing strategy ROI and document it for all in your organization to access, read and execute.
Poorly researched content – As we noted in our June 8, 2018 blog post, “What is Quality Content?” you can’t be a subject matter expert (SME) in every field, but you – or your content writer(s) should know how to research reliable, authoritative online sources to write knowledgeable blog posts and social media posts about the given topic. Pulling from click-bait sites and blogs by non-experts (which may include factual errors) won’t establish credibility for your business or inspire confidence.
Not using photos, videos and infographics – As noted in our June 29, 2018 blog post, “Get a Sharper Image for Your Brand Through Sharper Images,” the importance of photos and other visual content is ignored at your peril. In fact, upping your image game in the right way can boost SEO, build your brand and keep your business top-of-mind with your target audience. Failing to pair visual storytelling with written-word storytelling is setting up your content marketing efforts for failure.
Returning to our opening abstract art analogy, content marketing requires a high level of expertise to produce a masterpiece instead of a mess, despite how easy it initially appears. Our team at Virtual Stacks Systems is ready to put our content marketing and SEO inspiration, talent and analytical nature to work to help your organization achieve its goals. Contact us to get started!
By the way, it’s a common misconception that the Cheshire Cat delivered that famous line about not knowing where you’re going. It was a paraphrase of the exchange between him and Alice. We fact-check around here!