Now that 2017 is in our rear-view mirror, there’s no better time than now to reevaluate your business’s content marketing strategy. Old tactics that used to work may no longer yield the same results. In fact, they could backfire by hurting your business’s search rankings or online presence. To increase your chances of success in 2018, you should avoid making the following content marketing mistakes.
#1) Publishing Thin Content
The old days of ranking high in the search results with a 200- to 300-word web page are long gone. If you want to rank high, you must focus on high-quality, long-form content while avoiding thin pages such as this. According to Search Engine Land, Google’s Panda update specifically targeted websites with thin content, knocking down their search rankings.
So, what’s an appropriate length for online content? According to Backlinko, the average word count for a first-page results in Google is roughly 1,890. You don’t have to necessarily follow this same structure, but you should focus on higher quality, longer web pages. Doing so will encourage higher rankings in Google as well as other search engines.
#2) Writing for a Generic Audience
When creating online content, consider who will read or otherwise access it. Creating content for a generic audience isn’t going to yield good results. You’ll generate a stronger response by custom tailoring your content to your target audience. CMI recommends creating buyer personas. A buyer persona is essentially a representation of your ideal audience. After creating them, you can craft highly relevant content that strikes a cord with your audience.
#3) Overlooking Video
Don’t forget to include video in your 2018 content strategy. According to the information technology and networking solutions provider Cisco, video will account for 82 percent of all online traffic within the next four years. If video is a core component of your content strategy, you’ll struggle to attract customers and grow your business’s online presence.
#4) Not Defining Goals
You can’t expect to have a successful content marketing strategy without first defining your goals. Maybe you want to achieve a higher search ranking for your website, or perhaps you want to generate more leads or sales. Publishing high-quality content will help you achieve these goals and more.
According to research cited by Search Engine Journal, 74 percent of chief marketing officers (CMOs) say increased brand awareness is their primary goal. Using content, you can promote your business and its brand elements to the world. With that said, it’s perfectly fine to have two or more goals. Generating sales might be a primary goal whereas increased brand awareness is a secondary goal.
#5) Publishing Content on a Single Channel
Don’t limit your content strategy to a single channel. Some businesses, for instance, only publish content on their website or blog, believing this offers the greatest results. Even if this yields conversions, though, other channels may offer more conversions. The only way you’ll know is by publishing content on a variety of channels — a tactic also known as omni-channel marketing.
So, which channels should you use? According to CMSWire, Facebook Pages are a popular choice among content marketers. Not to be confused with Profiles, Pages are designed specifically for commercial purposes, allowing users to “like” them. Other Facebook channels to consider include Instant Articles, Groups and Facebook Ads.
#6) Not Including a Call to Action
Failure to include a call to action (CTA) is an all-too-common mistake made by businesses. Whether it’s pure text, an anchor text backlink or a button, a CTA can make a world of difference in the performance of your content. Using actionable language, it tells the user what steps he or she needs to take; thus, increasing the effectiveness of your content.
According to Marketing Land, every piece of content should feature a CTA. If you only include a CTA on your business’s homepage, visitors who access other pages won’t see it. Including it on every page, however, ensures that all of your site’s visitors see it. And you can further improve your CTA by placing it in a prominent location, such as the upper-right corner of your page.
#7) Not Engaging with Your Audience
Audience engagement is essential to the success of your content strategy. If you don’t allow visitors to comment on your content, or if you don’t respond to them, they probably want return when you publish new content in the future. This rings true for blog posts, social media posts, YouTube videos and more.
Furthermore, visitor comments offer real value. Every comment is new content for your site or web property, and it may even encourage higher search rankings. According to a study conducted by Neil Patel, 26.7 percent of keywords for which his site was ranking in Google originated from visitor comments. Patel also found that visitor comments add nearly 4,000 words to each page of his site.
#8) Overlooking Infographics
Along with video, infographics are a powerful type of visualized content. Consisting of a graphic representation of information, data and statistics, they’ve become a popular alternative to traditional text-based content.
If you’re still skeptical of the marketing power of infographics, check out this infographic by Jeff Bullas. According to the infographic, 40 percent of people respond better to visual information than plain text.
#9) Not Publishing Enough Evergreen Content
Evergreen content is essential for an effective content marketing strategy. Evergreen content lives up to its namesake by being relevant year-round, meaning users are always interesting in reading it. This is in stark contrast to time-sensitive news pieces that are only relevant at a particular time.
According to Moz, evergreen content generates more search traffic, higher search rankings and more conversions than time-sensitive content.
#10) Insufficient Research
Don’t forget to research keywords when creating content. If you’re trying to achieve a top search ranking with your content, you need to research target keywords beforehand. Keywords typically fall under the category or short tail or long tail. Short-tail keywords are shorter, often consisting of just one or two words, whereas long-tail keywords are longer at three or more words.
The content experts at CMI recommend creating a list of base keywords and plugging those keywords into Google to see what related keywords the search giant suggests. Alternatively, you can use the AdWords Keyword Planner Tool to research target keywords for your content strategy.
#11) Not Monitoring Key Performance Indicators
Finally, you shouldn’t ignore the key performance indicators (KPIs) of your content. If you aren’t monitoring your content’s KPIs, you won’t know what works and what doesn’t. Content is measurable, but it’s up to you to monitor and measure it.
The Digital Marketing Institute (DMI) offers some helpful advice on KPI analysis. According to the DMI, some key engagement metrics of content include average time on page, pages per session, new vs returning visits and referral traffic. For email content, you should monitor KPIs like open rates, click-through rates (CTRs) and conversion rates. Assuming the content is hosted on your own website or blog, you can install Google Analytics for a plethora of useful KPIs.
Avoiding these 11 content marketing mistakes will set you on the path for success in 2018.