By: Rob Tindula

Director of SEO at NextLeft

Table of Contents

  1. No Keyword Research
  2. Incorrect Topic Choice
  3. Not Understanding the Audience
  4. No Calls to Action
  5. Quantity Over Quality
  6. Producing Duplicate Content
  7. Non Evergreen Content
  8. No Link Building

We’ve all heard these common content marketing sayings.

“Content is King.”

“If you build it (content), they will come.”

Even though content is king, simply creating content, whether it is blog posts, videos, or infographics is not enough to get traction. There are steps to take and common pitfalls to avoid for it to start ranking and bringing in traffic. At NextLeft, we often see many of the common content marketing mistakes listed in the table of contents above. Therefore, in the following article, our goal is to both explain some of these common issues as well as offer solutions.

1. No Keyword Research

Even if content is rich and informative, it needs to target the correct keywords, especially in metadata like title tags, H1s and URL. Let’s take a look at this example below with three different but similar phrases:

  • How much time does SEO take?
  • How long does it take for SEO to take effect?
  • How long does SEO take to work?

These are all addressing the same topic, but one is targeting far more search volume. Do you know which one?

Using a keyword research tool like ahrefs or SEM Rush, here are the combined search volumes from versions of the above phrases:

  • How much time does SEO take? (10 MSV)
  • How long does it take for SEO to take effect? (40 MSV)
  • How long does SEO take to work? (160 MSV)

Even though search engines are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and can understand the relationship between synonymous topics, more often than not, it makes sense to target the terms that get searched more frequently. Long story short, use keyword research to find the best way to phrase synonymous terms.

2. Incorrect Topic Choice

Incorrect topic choice can mean a variety of different things. Keyword research can help discover higher search volumes, but this more means that the topic is:

  • Not searched for by users, no matter what terms are being used.
  • Not relevant to your business, products or services.
  • A topic that has low conversion intent.
    • Low conversion intent can mean that a topic is too easily answered and leads to no logical next step on your website. More often than not, today these answers are pulled out as a featured snippet without users never even clicking a link.
  • Targeting keywords that are too competitive for your site’s current authority.

No matter how good the content seems, it will not go anywhere when pointed in the wrong direction.

3. Not Understanding the Audience

One of the top reasons topics seem relevant to a business but do not convert is due to a lack of understanding the target audience. In order to craft good content, it is vital to understand both who your reader is and what they need. Some common questions to ask include:

Q: Is your reader new to the subject?
A: They need more general information and further explanation.

Q: Is your reader familiar with the subject or even an expert?
A: They need detailed and specific information.

Q: What problems does the reader need solved?
A: The content should reflect that you understand this problem and are offering a solution.

Let’s show a few real world use cases, using a B2B and B2C website as our examples.

Company A sells accounting software to large businesses. Their target audience would likely be a CFO or a manager who knows the ins and outs of accounting. Therefore, the type of blog content Company A needs to produce should be tailored to this type of buyer. This means hyper-specific and rich with detail that would be too much for the average reader.

Company B sells a food subscription box service. Their target audience is the average consumer who shops for groceries. Therefore, their content needs to be far more general, answering topics like “What is a food subscription box?” and “What are the benefits of a food subscription box over going to the grocery store?”

Knowing your audience is vital to crafting the perfect content marketing strategy.

4. No Calls to Action

Another common problem is writing content that is open ended and doesn’t use calls to action to elicit a response from readers. Every piece of content should have a purpose and should at the very least conclude with a call to action. Calls to action throughout the body content are even better.

Need help with your content marketing strategy? Contact NextLeft today!

See what we did there? This requires an understanding of both your conversion points (online sales, lead generation, etc) and the goal of the article.

If the purpose of the article is clear, then the logical step for a user to convert on your site should be too. If you get to the conclusion of writing an article and there is no next step for a user to take that involves your website, then it probably wasn’t the right topic to start with.

5. Quantity Over Quality

Many businesses and SEO agencies believe that they will see results as long as they are producing content on a regular basis. This is a common misconception. It would be better to produce one hyper-targeted, well thought out piece of content per month rather than 5 or 10 that have no strategy behind them. In fact, one of the main causes of indexation bloat is from low quality content that doesn’t rank for anything and was produced without thinking of the consequences.

This also pertains to the length of content as well. While it is true that longer, more thorough content tends to rank better, this does not mean that you should fill the post with fluff to hit a target word count. Short content can rank well if it is done correctly. Be informative, concise and organize your content in a way that is helpful for users.

6. Producing Duplicate Content

This may seem like a no-brainer but it is an issue we see ALL the time. When there is turnover within marketing teams and at companies in general, many times new employees are not looking backwards at content that has already been written and produce content on the same or similar topic. Here is an example of duplicate content:

  • /college-visit-checklist
  • /maximize-campus-visits
  • /campus-visit-options
  • /what-are-my-campus-visiting-options
  • /campus-visits-breakdown
  • /what-should-I-do-during-a-college-visit
  • /what-to-do-on-a-college-visit
  • /key-things-during-campus-visit

Think they have this subject covered yet? Instead of having multiple of the same / similar posts competing with each other and causing keyword confusion, this would perform far better if consolidated all into one, centralized blog post.

* Pro Tip – Keep an active list of all your content in one place and double check it before writing anything new!

7. Non Evergreen Content

While some businesses thrive on time sensitive articles and news, this is not an effective strategy for most businesses. Unless there is a large following of readers who come back regularly for fresh content, most news posts and press releases are a flash in the pan that are relevant for a short period of time and then turn into deadweight with no organic value.

Evergreen content, on the other hand, is going to be relevant for far longer. This type of content is not based around a period in time or a finite event, but rather questions or issues that readers will always have. It may need some slight tweaks or updates overtime, but the goal is to create content that will be informative for years. Combined with knowing your target audience, producing evergreen content can be the foundation of a very successful content marketing campaign.

While it’s true that search engines want to rank rich content that is both informative and structured well, that is not the only variable that matters. Don’t forget things like domain authority and competitors. If your website is brand new with no backlinks and the pages ranking on the first page for your target keywords are from domain 60+ websites, it does not matter how good the content is, your page will struggle to outrank the competition.

This is where link building comes into play. Building links to a piece of content can build authority and help pages rank better. The same even goes for websites that already have high domain authority. Many content marketers for large websites think that they can just produce content and rely on their overall domain authority to do the legwork. Wishful thinking! Even websites with high domain authority need a little link building every now and then. Just check out this screenshot below of a client (with good authority) that didn’t start seeing true results until links had been built.

traffic and links

* Let’s be clear here. Link building can only help if the content is worthy of a top ranking position. Backlinks are not a silver bullet!

Need Help With Content Marketing Strategy?

At NextLeft, content marketing is our specialty. From existing content audits to topic ideation and content briefs, we know what it takes to find your target audience and craft content that converts.

For more information on crafting a content marketing strategy that works, contact NextLeft today!