NOVEMBER 3, 2016
Content marketing is deceptive in its simplicity; it can be explained, conceptually, in just a couple of sentences, but it takes years to truly master. All you have to do to succeed is write practical, valuable content for a niche audience.
That way, you can start reaping the benefits of higher traffic and more conversions, driving more revenue. But that doesn’t mean that you can start writing immediately and just rake in the cash.
In reality, most content marketers underestimate the complexity required of a content marketing strategy, and end up making crucial mistakes throughout their early campaigns. Alone, most of these mistakes won’t interfere with your long-term potential, but if you aren’t careful, they can accumulate and severely slow your progress.
Regardless of whether you’re a content marketing amateur or a seasoned professional, it pays to be aware of these 50 common mistakes so you can avoid them:
1. Starting without a visionWhat is your content going to cover? Whom are you targeting? How do you see your blog developing over the course of the next several years? These are big, broad questions that you’ll need to answer before you title your blog, come up with headline ideas or start writing.
The technical details of your execution matter, but they’re fully dependent on the strength and course of your vision. Take a minute to cover some market research and competitive research, and familiarize yourself with content marketing best practices, then come up with a general outline for how you plan to start and grow your blog.
2. Not documenting your strategyYou’ve got some of the big questions answered in your head, but how are you going to execute your strategy? Before you claim your blog or start writing any posts, the first thing you need to do is document your strategy. There are a handful of approaches you can take here, but I recommend treating your content strategy like a business plan.
Clearly explain your purpose, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, then delve into the mechanics of how you intend to produce, publish and syndicate your work. This is important because it forces you to solidify your goals and helps keep you accountable to them. It also makes it easier to explain your goals to others you bring on in the future.
3. Writing for too broad an audienceYou need to have a target audience for your content, but many newbies end up writing for an audience that’s too broad or too general. The motivation here is clear, and somewhat logical: the more general you are in your audience-targeting, the larger the audience you’ll target.
For example, writing for “American citizens” yields you a much larger audience than “single fathers in Wyoming.” However, the tradeoff is that any increase in size comes with a decrease in relevance; and in content marketing, you need to maintain as much specific relevance as possible. Cater to a specifically focused niche to start; you can always expand later.
4. Never identifying a brand voiceTwo factors will help you build and maintain a loyal readership more than any others: consistency and uniqueness. Uniqueness tends to draw users in, and consistency makes them stick around. One of the most powerful tools you have to fulfill these needs is your signature brand voice, which is a tone or personality in your writing style that’s unique to your brand (or even you as an individual).
If you don’t have a clearly defined brand voice, your posts may come off as inconsistent, or may fail to appeal to your target audience. So spend some time honing your voice. Are you energetic or calm? Youthful or aged? Stoic or emotional? Friendly or corporate? Politically correct or non-politically correct? Vulgar or kid-friendly?
5. Failing to identify key metrics to measureHow are you going to tell if you’re successful? That seems like an important question, but there’s an even more important one that comes before it: What is “success” to you? Some marketers use content to draw in more traffic, while others use it to convert traffic they’re already getting. Still others use it as a way to achieve higher customer retention, and of course you can blend these goals as you see fit.
But before you move forward, you need to know what goals you’re targeting, and how you’re going to measure them. Otherwise, you won’t be able to define success, let alone achieve it.
Image credit: Curata6.
Not doing keyword researchContent marketing and SEO are tightly interrelated, yet separate strategies; just because you’re engaging in a content campaign doesn’t mean you need to invest in SEO (though you probably should; you’ll be getting peripheral benefits anyway). But even if you’re not interested in an SEO strategy, you should at least dabble in some keyword research before you start writing.
Using tools like SEMRush, UberSuggest and Moz Keyword Explorer, you can generate keyword ideas, measure things like search volume and competition and eventually come up with a list of topics and keywords to focus on that have the most value for your audience.
7. Ignoring on-site search optimizationAgain, even if you’re not pursuing a full-fledged SEO campaign, it’s a good idea to learn the basics of on-site optimization. A simple wording change in your headline can make your post not only more visible in search engines, but also drive more clicks, if you know how to optimize for Google and your audience simultaneously.
You should also know how to optimize your meta tags, any images you choose to include, and your URL structures for visibility.
8. Keyword-stuffing posts for SEOOn the other hand, it’s definitely possible to go too far with optimizing for search engines. It’s a good idea to use target keywords your work, but if you use them too frequently, you’ll be considered engaging in “keyword stuffing,” a practice that could get you penalized in search engines rather than rewarded.
Even if you manage to escape from search engines with your rankings unscathed, your readers will pick up on the unnatural use of keywords in your text, and your overall user experience will decline.
9. Neglecting off-site search optimizationReaping the SEO benefits of content marketing isn’t all about what happens on your site. In fact, one of the most important components of SEO is the quantity and quality of links pointing back to your domain; and the best way to earn those is through guest posts on other sites. If you aren’t trying to earn guest spots on external publications, you could be missing out on better search rankings.
Just be aware: There’s an art to link building, so don’t start spamming links in an effort to increase your visibility. For help getting started with link building, see SEO Link Building: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide.
10. Favoring quantity over qualityEvery post you make is another page for search engines to index, another headline you can promote on social media, and more opportunities to include calls-to-action in your site. It therefore makes sense, on the surface, to create as many posts as you can. The problem is, many amateurs become obsessed with this idea to the point where they forget about the quality of their work.
They crank out post after post in an effort to get more visibility, but because their work is inferior, they end up attracting less attention overall. Your main priority needs to be the quality of your work, even if that means significantly sacrificing your quantity.
Read the rest here: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/284164
We are an idea that is coming to life and are a working progress. Because we were founded by the needs of students and our community, it is ever changing to adapt to the current demands. Please stay tuned with us through our social media channels: Twitter and Facebook.