In our online world, content is an important piece of your business strategy. Blog posts, informational articles, branded graphics and more are all used to set you apart from competitors, boost SEO and traffic, build brand equity in your industry and best case scenario: drive leads and sales for your business.
As such, it’s important that you avoid mistakes that could be detrimental to your success, from SEO keyword use to social sharing options. Use these tips to run a content audit of your work thus far and put time into fixing any of the scary content mistakes you’re making.
Ignoring SEO Keywords
Fix it: Start with SEO, then do the writing.
There are few things more important to your brand’s visibility online than SEO. In particular, SEO keywords play a critical role in helping your content rank, which leads to increased traffic, value, and visibility. With this optimized foundation in place, you’ll drive highly-targeted, organic traffic, turning your content into a valuable tool for the sales funnel.
Start by choosing the appropriate keyword, which you can find with Moz, Google Keyword Tool, or other third-party software. The best keyword has low competition and high monthly search volume.
When writing and publishing, put your keyword in all the right places, including:
- Beginning of title
- First sentence of content
- At least one H1 subheader
- Sprinkled naturally throughout
- In the last sentence
- Image alt text
Use a plugin like Yoast SEO to make sure your keyword is used effectively within the content. Yoast will point out SEO mistakes in each individual piece of content so you don’t have to remember all the details yourself. This makes it easy to optimize for SEO, even as a beginner.
Publishing Low-Quality Content
Fix it: Quality-check all content with a checklist.
Content for content’s sake isn’t going to add value to your website. Shallow content, that lacks value and is short in length, is not only bad for your brand, but is frowned upon by Google. If you consistently publish content with less than 500 words, lack of structure and little-to-no SEO optimization, you can hurt your Domain Authority (DA) and visibility in search.
Why? With so much competition online, Google wants to serve the best possible content to consumers. If their various signals (bounce rate, page shares, search engine clicks, etc.) show that your content is not providing value to those that land on it, they’ll stop serving it in the appropriate searches.
This reduces your website’s overall value in Google’s eyes, which in turn can affect everything from traffic to sales and brand equity. To ensure all content is high quality, use the following checklist:
- Assigned an SEO keyword
- URL is short, using SEO keyword
- Longer than 600-800 words
- Photos used to add value (I.E. Graphics, charts, graphics)
- Formatting is scannable (I.E. Subheaders, bullet points)
- Links to other internal pages
- Links to high-quality, external resources
Creating Just to Create
Fix it: Set goals for all content.
Yes, content is king and most businesses have much to gain by creating and maintaining a blog or other type of regularly updated content. However, creating without a goal in mind sets you up for failure. This scary content mistake could lead to hundreds or thousands of dollars in wasted money. Like any other part of your business, goals keep you on track and allow you to determine the value of your efforts over time. If something isn’t working, make a change and try again.
To develop your content goals, consider the following:
- Overall business priorities. How can content help accomplish those?
- The measure of success. What is content success? Traffic? Social sharing? Leads driven? In most cases, it’s a mix of these.
For example, the content goals for a small jewelry-making business might be:
- Drive potential buyers to product pages.
- Earn $300 in sales each quarter from content leads.
- Include at least 1 link to a product page in every single post.
- Drive brand authority by publishing one ebook each quarter.
- Each ebook should get 500 PVs throughout the quarter.
Check out the goal breakdowns in this CMI guide to narrow down what’s important for your content and what metrics each goal should be assigned.
Publishing Based on Assumption
Fix it: Use data and analytics to make informed content decisions.
Yes, you know your audience and customer base, but creating content without data is a big mistake. Holly Rollins, President of 10x digital calls this one-dimensional or non-vetted content: “Content based only on opinions or assumptions of topics the company should be generating.”
Data helps inform every content decision, from topics to a publishing schedule. According to ScribbleLive, the right data provides information about:
- Who your audience is.
- What content you should create. I.E. ebooks versus blog posts or infographics
- When to publish.
- Where to share.
- How the content will be used in your funnel and business.
“The optimal content should be based on a content analysis, including benchmarking, keyword analysis and buyer persona analysis—from both existing clients or consumers and prospective ones,” Rollins suggests. To get this information, turn to your CRM and Google Analytics, or other third-party web analytics platform.
Don’t forget to run a competitor analysis to gather even more information. Learn about how to run and analyze the results of your analysis with this guide from Alexa.
Writing Without Tracking
Fix it: Track content on a monthly basis, focus on goals and other KPIs.
If you don’t track content metrics, how do you know what’s working? You don’t. If you’re going to put time and money into content, it should be tracked—like every other aspect of your business. This data can be used, along with that from your CRM and website analytics tool, to continue improving the content you create. For example, if you see that the same three articles have received the most shares for the last two months, you may want to create more content like that.
Create and maintain a monthly data sheet that can be updated and shared with key stakeholders. Google Forms is a great tool for this. Within the sheet, track content success according to your various goals, along with standard metrics that show progress or lack thereof. Here are a few metrics to track:
- Leads/sales driven
- Total traffic (visits and page views)
- Top traffic sources (organic versus direct versus social media)
- Most visited articles/content
- Most shared articles/content
- Bounce rate
- Time on page
Add your own metrics to this list to create a document that you can refer to at any time. Use this to create your content calendar, plan better content for the sales funnel, weed out topics that don’t engage your audience, and more.
Bonus: 3 More Small Mistakes and Fixes
There are so many small mistakes new or busy content managers overlook, here are a few more to watch out for:
Lack of content strategy: All of the information discussed above—SEO keywords, content goals, tracking, etc.—should be put into a formal content strategy. This will guide your efforts, ensuring that you get the most value for the time, money, and effort used to create and market all of your content.
Lack of social sharing options: It’s amazing how many blogs still don’t offer readers a way to directly share their content. Without this, you make it very hard for people to share your work, which means they probably won’t. Everything needs to be easy for readers, including sharing. Use a popular tool like Shareaholic or Sumo Share for free.
Lack of external bloggers: Whether you want to try guest blogging or not, featuring voices other than your own allows you represent your entire customer base and readership. These bloggers also become marketers for you, as they share the work they do for your blog with their audiences. Bring a few experts on board as regular bloggers; they may be willing to write for the publicity and linking, rather than financial compensation.
Time to Get It Right
Now is the time to fix any of the scary content mistakes you’re making. When you get SEO right, set goals and track success, you’re more likely to see a positive ROI for your efforts.
BIO: Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and spent the last six years in marketing. She’s now a full-time writer and content marketing consultant and has been featured on Forbes and Business Insider. She’s written for sites such as Virgin, Manta, BPlans, StartupNation and more. When she’s not working, she’s enjoying sunny San Diego with her husband and friends or traveling somewhere new. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 and connect on LinkedIn.