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Content marketing is all the rage in SEO right now. As links continue to get devalued (though they can still be potent if gained properly), optimizers and marketers are moving their focus to the actual content you see on the page. This is potentially a great shift to providing consumers with real value, but generating content on a regular basis is costly and intensive. If you slack, it can be worthless at best, and damaging to your rankings at worst.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t do it. But, content marketing has to be done right, with smart choices about how to spend your time and efforts. All it takes is some planning and extra thought that too many forget to do. If you think ahead, you can avoid most of the common content marketing mistakes far too many make. Jayson DeMers pinpointed some of those common mistakes, and if you know how to identify them, you can fix them.

1) Writing for the Wrong Audience

Every article or piece of content you put out there should be of value to someone, but that audience shouldn’t be arbitrary. As a business, you have a specific audience that you should be paying attention to. If you understand your audience, you can better choose topics and write in the appropriate tone for who you are trying to connect with. Home services such as plumbing and roofing have very different consumers and audiences than tech startups.

One of the most common ways to forget to write for consumers. We tend to get excited about the content we are putting out and the work we’ve put in – and that is great – but we also tend to geek out and write for those who are spending hours scouring blogs like us. We forget to communicate with the actual people needing their services. For every article, you need to ask, are we writing for our consumers or our peers?

2) Using the Wrong Metrics

Creating content takes a ton of time. You have to research, try to brainstorm unique topics, follow all the social media feeds. It would be tragic if all those efforts weren’t being properly measured and fine-tuned. However, getting started with the right metrics for your business at first can seem even more troublesome than making all that content.

Getting started, it is common to focus on measuring outputs rather than results. It helps ensure you follow through on your content marketing efforts and are achieving the basic creation aspect. But, once you’re in the flow of creating content you have to evolve your metrics to ensure they are actually achieving the larger desired results. You have to make sure you’re getting an actual return on your investment.

Not only do you want to make sure that you are strengthening your front on using the right keywords, you want to be checking on your conversions. You’re content isn’t successful if it isn’t helping direct people to the next step. Are you including clear calls to action? Are you getting people to make the next step you want? If not, you may want to change your strategy.

3) Failing to Focus on Branding

Content serves the purpose of making your brand trustworthy to consumers. Brand development can help build your brand as a leader in your market, or it can build the reputation of a service or product. Simply put, creating content allows you to build your brand as a leader in your industry to those who haven’t used your product or service yet. Writing as a leader or member of your business should showcase your expertise and make consumers trust you. The trick is doing it in a professional way, without being heavy handed.

Trying to make a hard sell with your content isn’t advised, so you have to achieve these goals much more subtly. The primary goal is educating and informing, but that has to be put in a package that will also strengthen your brand. It is a difficult line to walk, but with focus on your brand and the audience, you will find the proper mix.

There is no doubt that blogging is a powerful tool for content marketers and SEOs. However, the simple days of recording your daily activities in a sort of online diary has grown to become a much more complex endeavor, especially for those who intend to use it for marketing.

The reason blogging became the mess many companies see it to be is simply that too many put too much emphasis on blogging and tried to make it something new that can drive away beginners or website owners with its complexities.

Blogging can do wonders for your SEO and your business, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. If you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed with blogging, chances are you’ve reached that tipping point. You are also probably making some common mistakes that are rather simple to fix. Most likely, you just need to simplify.

A simple way to simplify is to just narrow your focus a little more. If you find yourself trying to cover vast themes and ideas in your blog, you are using the wrong format for your thesis. For every blog post, try to stick to a single idea. You may think you’re doing that, but consider it like this: while a country like Portugal may be “one topic” it can be broken down into so many subtopics. Pick one of those subtopics, and then see if you can break it down more. If you’re interested in the local culture, zoom in more on the music. Maybe pick a specific style of music that is most relevant or interesting and focus on that.

Similarly, even if you choose one fairly specific topic that you are knowledgeable on, you can still feel compelled to write endlessly, but you probably shouldn’t. Longer posts can get a little more attention and earn you some credibility if they are well done, but articles reaching 2,500 or more words should almost certainly be considered for another medium than a blog. By over-reaching on blog post size, you can throw off the scores of people who scan for information, and limit your own output possibilities.

Depending on the size of your business, bloggers can also end up in a chain where five or six people have to sign off on every single blog post before they can go to publish. In reality, you only want two to three people being the deciding council of what content is going to the public. Two or three people are enough to ensure there are no big thematic mistakes or smaller errors like typos or factual inaccuracies, but the more people you add to that process, the more likely you’ll have to deal with more arguments about what is fit to be published.

Speaking of editing, even one-person blogging teams can get stuck in the process of over-editing. Blogs don’t have to be perfect. You want to appear reputable and intelligent, so you don’t want to put out something chock full of mistakes, but web writing is informal. You don’t need to spend the time editing a blog that you would something in a newspaper or any other type of professional writing. Your audience isn’t looking for that.

For the most part, you can feel comfortable sticking to one, or possibly two rounds of editing at most for any post. You want to ensure there are no huge cohesion errors you didn’t notice in the throes of writing, but if you misspell one work, it won’t be the end of the world.

Of course, there are many more ways you can over complicate blogging as a process. Sujan Patel recently wrote about some ways that bloggers tend to make everything more of a mess than they should. You want to put out quality content, but most of the time keeping it simple will just make it easier to see the good work you’ve done.

Great content can do just about anything you want it to. You want to draw in more visitors? They’ll come for quality content. Need more conversions? Get some great content. In the best cases, it can go viral. But how do you know what great content is? How do you know what the public wants?

The internet is so insanely populated with content at this point that it is just getting harder and harder to stand out. There are many lists like this one, and they offer different opinions in different ways, but what makes one of those articles more attractive than all the others? It answers people’s needs.

That sounds so incredibly basic that many would say there’s no way it is the whole story, but in reality answering to people’s needs is much harder than you think. There are no guaranteed right answers, and the only way to truly know if you gave the public what they want it to get it out there, but you can get some hints beforehand, if you look in the right places.

Jason DeMers shared some ways you can find out what your target audience is looking for and create the content they need. If you want your content to stick out from the rest, you need to know how to understand your audience.

  1. Competitors’ Forums – This slightly controversial method is also one of the easiest ways to get in the mind of your target audience, and it is definitely one of the easiest. Just find the competitor in your field with the best web presence, and keep tabs on what their audience is interested in and responding to. Of course, some argue that this leads to blatant copying or spylike business practices, and I suggest discretion with the tactic, but if you are looking for a quick way to find out what your market wants, this will show you.
  2. Comments Sections – Just like your competitors’ forums, any place where your audience can directly interact with you offers boundless opportunities to find out what they want and need. Comments sections on your own website, as well as others out there like Reddit, are filled with people looking for solutions, and they are often vocal about looking for it. If you keep your eye on places where the public is interacting, you should be able to easily discern what is on their minds.
  3. Surveys – Where comment threads create an open forum feeling of interaction, surveys allow your audience to speak directly to you and tell you what they want and need. You don’t even have to do your own survey if you don’t have the resources. Just keep your eyes on other public surveys going on. They are everywhere, just look in your daily newspaper.
  4. Product Forums a.k.a. the Support Boards – If you have a niche product and people are looking for support solutions, chances are there is a support board going on somewhere filled with people voicing their problems and opinions all at the same time. In the best situation, you run these boards and can create some good PR while also helping customers and monitoring their interests simultaneously  but even if your customers are using a public forum, you can benefit from listening in.

The public is often very open about their feelings and desires, you just have to go where they are voicing them. The internet offers many popular options, and it is easier than ever to keep tabs on what your target audience is thinking. There isn’t any excuse to ignore their needs.

300px-Free_Content_Logo.svgContent marketing is becoming more and more of a talking point for SEO services as more people realize they can’t try to trick search engines with pages strictly for the search crawlers and shady link profiles, but many don’t realize this is also changing the standards for content.

Content has always been an important part of an SEO campaign, but it is indisputable that its status is being raised within Google and they are tightening their guidelines. You can’t just stuff keywords into a wall of barely legible text and expect Google to think your page has value. Now your content must be informational, resourceful, and actually captivating.

The biggest question for most is what type of content they need. If they’ve done any research, they might come to you with a list of types of content like infographics and webinars they “need” according to “the internet”, but more likely you will just get asked the broad question of what type of content will be needed. Once you know their business, you can probably make some good guesses, but making a wide statement for what type of content works is a farce.

While blog posts are always a good place to start with creating content, infographics or ebooks will only help relevant areas. A nursing home probably won’t be able to find a relevant infographic, because that way of delivering information doesn’t work well for portraying the complex and focused care they will be giving loved ones. Similarly, videos don’t make much sense for a photographer to have, and tutorials don’t have much place in a medical website.

Most importantly, the content has to be quality, and it has to fit your companies needs. Even if you are delivering daily blog posts and guest blogs, they won’t have any effect if they aren’t worth reading. The best way to know what type of content you need to be making is trying to think like your competitors and customers. If you can make users happy with your website, you are already well on your way to making Google happy with your content.

Speaking of your competitors, you can do competitive analysis to find out what is working for them. I don’t mean scoping out their site and seeing what they have that you don’t. Instead you can use a number of sites and tools to see what is doing well on their site compared to yours, which will give you a good indication what type of content you should be making. Josh McCoy collected a few of those for you to get the jump on your competition.

After the big shift to content focused SEO this year, a lot of the talk has been about the technical ways experts can use to try to get higher rankings behind the scenes. Everyone talks about how important is, but many are still more distracted by the ways they can mathematically manipulate that content to tailor to Google’s algorithms.

What too many are missing is that now the best way to tailor to Google is to turn your focus towards what consumers and visitors want.

The truth is, the top sites online have been doing this for years, because the most popular sites are those that provide quality content. Smaller SEO’s seem to have trouble accepting this for two reasons. The first is that it is hard to quantize how to make effective content. There isn’t necessarily a magic formula for the best blog, even for search engines.

Search engines run on algorithms, and it is an SEO’s job to adapt or even create a site to best fit those algorithm’s needs. However, trying to take advantage of those algorithms has lead to more and more using questionable practices to try to “trick” Google into higher rankings for sub-par content. This lead to Google instituting the Penguin and Panda updates, so that low-quality sites had a much harder time making their way to the top.

The other reason SEO’s often have trouble understanding that great content has ALWAYS been important is the competitive nature of website rankings and business in general. Just having excellent content alone has never been enough, and never will be, because there is a lot behind the scenes that pretty much has to be done to remain competitive for the great content to ever be noticed. The trick is finding the line between being competitive and slipping into more questionable practices.

But, there are thousands of pages worth of articles on how to tackle all of that behind the scenes SEO that you can do. When it comes to lessons on how to actually make the great quality your visitors and the search engines want to see, there’s a lot less to work with. Rebecca Garland, in an article for One Extra Pixel, gives some great pointers on how to actually improve the quality of your content, while also favoring the current search engine climate.

Yep, it’s time again for a post about content marketing! It looks like there will be plenty of these throughout the next year as content marketing stays on the tip of everyone’s tongue when talking about SEO or digital marketing.

But, pumping out quality content continuously takes a lot of time and effort, which can be difficult for a site or marketing team to maintain for a long time. This causes most to get burnt out and ideas for new content stop coming as quickly. If you’re having trouble coming up with new things to talk about and ways to present your content, Sujan Patel has some suggested formats which might help you get started at Search Engine Journal.

  • List Posts – You’ve almost certainly seen lists before unless you stay away from almost all forms of media and information. If that is the case, thanks for reading this before picking up a newspaper or looking at “the cutest 25 cats sitting on things”. Yes, lists are a super common choice for bloggers and writers of all kinds. They are easy to write, and they tend to be more shared than most blog posts.
  • Interviews – Interviews have also always been popular for media, and SEO benefits for the same reasons. When you get an interview with a subject, you will automatically gain exposure to that figure’s followers and draw traffic to your own content. Interviews are also fairly easy. Make sure you understand the technology you would be using to record the interviews, like audio recorders, cameras, etc., then all you have to do is start asking anyone you would be interested on interviewing. You’ll get a bite faster than you know.
  • Reviews – If you have writer’s block when it comes to coming up with topics, reviews are a great way to keep content coming regularly while keeping it interesting for your viewers. Try to be objective and fair with your reviews, and use specific details to keep others from thinking you are just attacking other writers and creators.
  • Link Round-ups – Similarly to reviews, this is a go-to for those who can’t figure out what to talk about. Gathering collections of links has the upsides of collecting resources you might use on your own, while also earning goodwill for other creators’ content you are sharing.

Obviously, the best way to get traffic to come to your site is to just offer quality content filled blog posts informing peers in the industry. These formats shouldn’t replace the standard blog post, but when you are at a total loss for topics, these formats are handy to have in your back pocket.

The breakout star in SEO so far this year appears to be content marketing. It was pretty talked about in 2013, but with Google’s penalties and algorithms it will only be more important as the year progresses.

Of course, just as with any SEO tactic, content marketing has its risks. Google has shown that even using the best practices too much can still lead to penalties, and the Penguin and Panda updates have made it clear that you have to put good thought into any campaign you are going to run. Algorithmic updates by their nature don’t have room for leniency.

If you want to keep succeeding with SEO, you have to follow the rules to the letter. Of course, this is complicated Google’s reluctance to give hard rules for SEO. From what we know, it seems moderation is really the key to content marketing and optimization.

Adam Mason, writer for Search Engine Journal and SEO manager at Zazzle Media, shows the best method of dealing with content marketing optimization is to learn the history and know what has changed in the past few years. If you want to know how to push your content marketing campaigns without being hurt by penalties, his article covers anything and everything you would want to know.

Getting your posts out to the masses is one of the hardest parts of writing online. Just publishing them isn’t even close to enough. The good news is, it has never been easier to share on the internet thanks to socia media.

Promoting your content is absolutely a part of getting it in front of other people, and you have to do the promoting yourself. The easiest way to think about it is to ask yourself “why should anyone care about my content, if I don’t care enough to promote it?”

There is no shame in pushing your content in front of the eyes of others. Of course, there is a line where pushing it onto others can be a turn off, but its way better than toiling in obscurity.

Jordan Kasteler, columnist from Search Engine Land, has nine different methods he uses to promote his content online. It may seem weird to put your work out there in front of others at first, but its the only way to get your content out there. In a world where content marketing is a huge part of SEO, its important to get people sharing your work.

Content creation has long been at the top of SEO, but it is leaking from the internet into the real world. One of the front runners of this change in real-life marketing is Red Bull, who has begun publishing their own magazine, The Red Bulletin, which paints a picture of a world where there are no limits.

This isn’t an isolated case. According to a recent survey, 90% of marketers believe that content marketing will only become more essential in the next year. Ronn Torossian has predictions and other instances of how companies are using content creation to reach out to their customers directly, all at Search Engine Journal.

 

Right now one of the strongest methods in SEO is content marketing. It can help you expand your brand’s reputation and build traffic if you do it right. That’s why there are tons of articles out there telling you what to do.

Of course, even if you’re doing everything right except one important issue, your content marketing plan may still be doomed. To help make sure that nothing is holding you back, Sujan Patel has a list of seven ways you can mess up your content marketing plan.

It is a lot of work to make sure you’re doing every step of your plan correctly, but just neglecting one area can lead to a lot of issues.