This article was contributed by Daniel Ross.
On the surface, content marketing looks easy to pull off.
Newsflash: it’s not.
When people read an entry or article published on a website, they don’t see the blood, sweat, and tears that have been shed. And despite our best efforts, content creators inevitably make mistakes on our way to the top of the totem pole.
Let’s have a look at some of the worst content marketing mistakes that you can make, so that you can avoid them!
Not knowing your audience
Arguably the first, and most important, step of marketing is to establish your demographic. Once you get to know who you’re writing for, it will be easier to identify what they are looking for in your content, and what they find valuable. With this information, you will be able to formulate a message that will not only entertain and engage them, but possibly convert your readers into leads and customers.
If you don’t know your audience, it only means that you’re not delivering quality content. A business becomes successful if it creates effective solutions to existing problems. Marketing to the general public is like voluntarily walking blind into a minefield.
Good content is hard to come by. So, when content creators see a potential superstar, it’s understandable that they reuse it elsewhere. When it’s done too often, however, is where things go awry.
Duplicate content is a grievous sin from an SEO point of view. Unfortunately, it’s one that is repeated over and over. Confusion will ensue once Google tries to reference your original home page and instead finds multiple hosted copies of it. The dreaded duplicate content error can be prompted by something as simple as a blog article posted twice on different pages.
In theory, the practice of backlinking helps your site show up on search engine rankings and increases the site’s trustworthiness. But when you don’t do your research and link to spam or ad-heavy websites, expect to be punished by the gods of Google.
To avoid this, make sure you monitor your backlinks regularly. And if someone wants to link to your page, don’t agree unless the content pieces are relevant and aren’t from shady websites. If you want to be extra vigilant, make use of utilities such as SEMRush or Ahrefs to make a backlink report history.
While keywords are generally a good way to get search engines to find your website, overusing them will only create more harm than good. Try to see if you can find what’s wrong in the following paragraph:
If you’re looking for the best used car deals in Tarneit, Victoria, you can only find the best used car deals in Tarneit, Victoria here at Stewie’s Used Car Saloon, where we offer the best used car deals in Tarneit, Victoria!
It might be an exaggeration, but you get the picture. You can’t just throw a handful of keywords together and expect to get good results. To be effective from both the marketing and SEO perspective, keywords should be believable and not repetitive. When you over-optimize keywords, search engines will have problems trying to identify which is the main page. This will incur a negative blow on your search engine rankings and overall SEO strategy.
Lazy writing and lack of proofreading
Not everyone can come up with impeccably-written pieces of copy. But as purveyors of content, it is our duty to churn out articles that are at the very least, free of spelling and grammatical errors.
I don’t have to explain why lazy writing is detrimental to a website or blog, but I’ll do it for argument’s sake. What is writing but a tool to disseminate information? The nature of our job as content creators includes the responsibility of making sure that the content we put out into the world is fair and correct.
On another note, if you’re the type of content writer who is very nonchalant about spelling and grammar, readers will be less likely to take you seriously. They could even be potential business partners and sponsors whom you’ll put off with inconsistent tenses and use of such words as “irregardless.” If nothing else, remember that the output you produce will be preserved online for posterity. Make your legacy count.
Thin (aka bad) content
Never underestimate the power of Google. It can see right through a website’s extensive use of keywords and spammy entries and has no qualms about doubling down on the perpetrators of horrible content. The most recent update on quality improvement for search is an attempt to do just that.
The purpose of content creation is to produce interesting and valuable information that will help solve a problem and benefit at least one person that comes across it. If the content we create fails to fulfill this basic rule, then what use is it to our readers? They should not be underestimated, either. They can tell the bad from the good, and they will steer clear of your website if you continually produce content that is of no value to them.
Page load time problems
In this era of instant everything, it is absolutely a disservice to make your audience wait unnecessarily to get to your website. A page that doesn’t load in two seconds is almost the same as a page that doesn’t load at all. Part of the job of managing a website is making sure that the user experience is as enjoyable as possible—and yes, that includes making sure their page loads ridiculously quickly.
Mistakes are just part and parcel of the content marketing trade. If you’re guilty of one or two (hopefully not all!) of the above, then pat yourself on the back and keep on trying. You can invest in a content audit or put in more elbow grease to make sure your output is as close to perfection as possible. Steer clear of shortcuts and cheating with keyword spamming. We promise, it’s going to be so much more rewarding in the long run.
Daniel Ross is part of the marketing team at Roubler — a scheduling and payroll software platform founded in Australia. Their mission is to change the way the world manages its workforces.