Ten Common Content Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Content is a vital marketing asset. When you put great content on your website, you will attract both readers and search engines. And when you promote great content on social media, your content gets shared and liked, helping you engage with and expand your audience. There are additional channels that offer unique content marketing opportunities as well. Unfortunately, content is often published without emphasizing quality, or a greater strategy to why users would be interested, and how to make sure they can find it. Big mistakes.
The web is crowded, and websites that fail to instill strategy and quality into their content creation will fail to attract the attention of readers or search engines. However, a bit of time and extra attention can go a long way towards making your content stand out. That’s why we put together this list of ten common content mistakes and how you can avoid them. By following this list you’ll increase the effectiveness and results of your content efforts.
1. Typos Are the Bane of Content Credibility
Let’s start with an easy and unfortunately too common mistake: typos. Even the New York Times and other professional publications suffer from the occasional typo. Typos aren’t just an annoyance. They can hurt your credibility and impact the reader’s impression of your content, website, and even company. While you might not catch every single typo on your website or blog, you should work to make them few and far between.
It’s best to have content edited by someone other than the writer. A professional editor is great. However, even if the second reader isn’t a pro, a set of fresh eyes can still improve content quality and catch typos that slip past the writer. If you’re writing the content yourself and you have to edit it yourself, take as long of a break as possible between writing and editing.
Also, try changing the font. It can be difficult to read content that you’ve recently written. It’s simply too fresh on your mind. Often you’re remembering what you (think) you wrote, rather than what’s actually there. Changing the font can help you pay closer attention to the content itself.
2. Failing to Create and Stick to a Content Calendar
Often, people will go through short spurts when publishing content on their website or blog. They might post three articles one week, and then not post another article for a month. Consistency with your publishing schedule is valuable both for search engines and your readers. Search engines will generally favor websites that are consistently updated with fresh content. Readers value sources that are up-to-date and regularly provide new, valuable information.
That’s why it is vital to create a content calendar. At a minimum, your calendar should contain the dates and subjects of content to be published. Once you create this content calendar, it’s important to stick to it. That’s why it’s also important to make your content calendar manageable. Don’t be unrealistic when determining how much content to publish.
How often you have to publish generally depends on your industry and your competitors. You want to beat the competition, which means publishing better content at least as frequently as they do. In some industries and niches that might mean publishing multiple posts per day. In other niches, you might only have to publish a few times per month.
Remember though, quality trumps quantity. If you have to choose between publishing three short, mediocre articles, or one long, in-depth article, it’s best to stick with quality. Search engines tend to favor high-quality, detailed articles that add value to readers. You can stretch the promotion of this long-form content as well in the form of multiple social posts, and featuring major aspects in newsletters or other communications.
3. Focusing on Anyone (or Anything) Other Than Your Readers
Sometimes, people make the mistake of writing about their products, or what they want to talk about, rather than what their readers want to read. Huge mistake, readers, and their pain points should always take priority.
Yes, there are other considerations, such as search engines, but meeting the readers’ needs should remain front and center. After all, search engines are looking for content that will add value to readers. Thus by focusing on readers, you will also be focusing on search engines.
What does focusing on readers actually mean? First, it’s important to sit down and consider their point of view. What type of information might they be interested in? What are they looking for? What are their pain points, wants, and needs? Why have they visited your website?
Don’t know how to get started? Think about yourself, when you visit a website, what are you looking for? Ideally, you should create buyer personas that focus on your potential customers, including their pain points, decision making process, and other attributes.
Most of the time, customers will be looking for specific information on a subject, or product. How about visitors to your website? What information do they actually want or need? Store hours, menu, location, phone number, and the services you provide are just some of the many specific pieces of information a customer might be looking for.
Consider this article. Many of iPage’s customers are small-to-medium-sized businesses. They are looking for powerful, affordable, and easy-to-use website solutions. So we provide content that makes maintaining a website and managing digital marketing efforts as easy as possible. By doing so we speak directly to our customers and their needs.
4. Forgetting the SEO Details
Focus on readers, but don’t forget about search engines. The bots that crawl websites have certain limitations, and they don’t read web content organically like a reader would. For example, a bot can’t actually see images. Regardless, bots try to figure out what your content is about and how good the quality is so that they can determine who and what it is relevant for.
There are some steps you can take to make your content easier for search engines to understand and analyze. This process is called “Search Engine Optimization.” First, make sure you use meta tags, alt text, and sub-headings that accurately describe your content. Remember what we said about images? You can place “alt text” in images that describes what the image is about (i.e. “Our margherita pizza with mozzarella and tomato”). This way, the bots will know what the image is for, and including keywords to describe images will help to improve your search ranking.
Bots also examine titles, sub-headings (h2, h3, etc.), and bold text. Bold text and sub-headers can help indicate keywords. By strategically placing these elements in your content, you will make it easier for search engines to scan and map. There are numerous other simple steps you can take to ensure that your article is attractive for search engines.
5. Not Formulating An SEO Keyword Strategy
When people search for something, they will type relevant terms into a search engine. For example, a web user might search “automobile repair in Brooklyn”. Google or another search provider will then determine what content is most relevant for users searching these terms. This means that you have to know what terms people might use when searching for your products and should then publish content that contains these keywords and related terms.
Google’s Keyword Planner tool, as well as SEMRush, Moz and various other services can help you discover keywords. Some of these tools can get quite expensive, however. Fortunately, some of the tools are free, such as Google’s Keyword Planner. Don’t know what to do with the tools? The first step is to think like your potential customers, what might they be searching for?
There’s an entire “art” behind keyword planning. You’ll have to study up on SEO, consumer psychology, and how to use each keyword tool to gain the most out of your efforts. Another option is to consult with a digital marketing professional.
6. Not Focusing on Backlinking and Outreach
One of the most valuable SEO assets, and also referral methods, are backlinks. These are links on other websites that lead back to your website. Search engine bots pay close attention to these links and view them as “endorsements.”
Building backlinks takes time, patience, and effort. Creating top-notch content will generate backlinks over time as other people cite and share your content. You can build momentum by being proactive and reaching out to bloggers, websites, and the like. In some cases, they may be willing to share or repost your content, or will allow you to write a guest post with a backlink.
As more websites link back to your site, search engines will take note and your website will become more credible. Articles that receive a lot of backlinks may jump to the top of Google Search, while the overall profile of your website will increase as Google and other search engines come to see it as a respected source of information. However, backlinking requires constant effort. A good rule of thumb is to spend as much time promoting your content and trying to secure backlinks as you do writing it.
7. Failing to Diversify Mediums
Blogs are fantastic and social media posts are great, however, for many websites they aren’t enough on their own to form a complete content strategy. It’s important to change content up and to offer different mediums. Doing so will help you reach a larger audience.
Infographics, for example, generally have the best viral potential and are great for sharing on social media. Many people now prefer video content. Fortunately, with the proliferation of smartphones, making videos is easy. How high the quality of your video should depend on your business and its audience. A local family-run restaurant can put together a simple “home-made” video introducing the family. A VC-funded tech startup will need something with more professional production standards.
This is just scratching the surface. Emails, white papers, downloadable PDF ebooks, slide decks, there are so many options and choices. Companies and thought leaders can even put together entire online courses and online presentations to build more interactive experiences.
8. Ignoring Your Data
A properly set up website will collect data through Google Analytics and/or other tools. This data can provide many valuable insights. However, many people fail to pay attention to it and instead, go on gut instinct. Big mistake. Ignoring data means you’re flying blind.
For example, are you targeting the right audience? If you own a hair salon in New Jersey, but most of your web traffic is coming from Florida, probably not. What keywords are drawing people to your website through searches? Are they relevant? Can you adjust your SEO strategy to reap even more visitors from these keywords?
Working with data can be a bit difficult at first. The tools take some time to get a good handle on, and data is most effective in the hands of an expert. But anyone with a website should be tracking some basic metrics to understand site, and content performance over time.
9. Getting Frustrated With Slow Results
Content marketing is rarely an overnight success. Occasionally, a business or writer might get lucky and their content will quickly go viral. For most websites and most content marketers, it’s a slower, steadier process. Producing results can take weeks, if not months. It might take you six months or more to move into the top few pages of Google Search, and your social media profiles are often going to be built slowly, follower by follower, like by like.
If your content marketing efforts are not bearing fruit, don’t abandon them just yet. Perseverance is vital. Of course, it’s also important to continually check and recheck your strategies to find areas for improvement. Stay consistent, keep publishing, tracking, and keep refining your content and your content strategy.
10. Not Staying With The Times
The above tips will help you take your content and content strategy to the next level. However, marketing is a constant process, and it is important to always stay abreast of any changes and opportunities. By adapting to changing conditions, you’ll be able to tap into more opportunities. The Internet changes fast and what’s working today might not work next year.
Fifteen years ago companies didn’t have to worry about mobile websites. Few phones could connect to the web, and laptops/desktops reigned supreme. Things have changed, dramatically. In October of 2016, mobile web access surpassed desktop access 51.3% to 48.7%. Search engines will now penalize websites that don’t offer either a mobile-specific or mobile responsive website. Anyone who has a website that is not optimized for mobile use is making a big mistake.
Conditions will continue to change in the future. Search engine algorithms are periodically tweaked, new social media networks will rise, while others will fade away. User habits will also continue to evolve. The perfect content strategy for your company this year probably won’t be the perfect content strategy in three years. Staying up with the times is essential, but many managers and business owners struggle to stay on top of things.
Fortunately, experts can help you stay abreast of changes. For example, top-notch website developers will understand the most recent design guidelines. Many modern website themes are also mobile responsive. Similarly, inbound content experts can help you develop compelling content that will attract both readers and search engines. On and on the list goes. What’s important is recognizing how quickly the World Wide Web changes and being willing to adapt with to changes.
Feature image: Pixabay