Are you sabotaging your SEO without even realising it? Our Senior Content Specialist, Alice Murray, provides us with some key tips to ensure your content marketing strategy excels.
A content strategy only works when it’s done right. And there are several ways you could be sabotaging your content marketing strategy without even realising it. Do you want to drive more traffic, visibility and conversions to your products and services through the power of content? Of course you do.
The problem is, creating and maintaining a strong strategy is easier said than done. It will never be enough to publish and distribute a few pages of content if it hasn’t been properly researched, efficiently structured and effectively optimised for SEO. As we all know, SEO and content come hand in hand; a bit like having a shoe without laces. You can take a walk, but you wouldn’t get very far – and it certainly wouldn’t be very comfortable!
With Google updates and marketing platforms constantly shifting and improving, digital marketing as a whole has to adhere to new challenges every day. With this comes competitors – who are also working day in, day out to excel in their own content marketing and SEO strategies. As more businesses and online platforms create new content, it becomes more crucial to develop a solid strategy.
Want to ensure that you’re ahead in the race? Below are a few tips from content marketing experts.
1. Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Now, while this one might be the most obvious, it’s too important to miss. Keyword stuffing is exactly what it says on the tin. You’ve spotted a great content opportunity, there’s a gap in the market for it, it has low competition and the subject matter offers a variety of high search volume keywords. So your plan is pretty much there, right? Wrong.
The real magic trick is in the execution of these keywords, and how wisely you think about your keyword density. This essentially means how often a keyword is used within your copy. For instance, if you’ve written an 800 word blog post on ’10 places to visit in the UK’ but your primary keyword of ‘places to visit in the UK’ is mentioned over 25 times, you’ve very likely used keyword stuffing as a technique.
Not only is this against Google guidelines and risks inviting a penalty (hugely impacting your reliability, authority and your bank balance), but it also makes for extremely unappealing content. If content doesn’t sound natural and structured, you’ve made a pretty fatal error.
The truth is, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to how often a keyword should be used. But ideally, it’ll be coherent in line with how long the copy is, and it will only be used when it makes grammatical sense in terms of the appropriate syntax.
2. Producing Thin Content
If you’re a bit of a whiz when it comes to writing content, this is hopefully something that you’re already aware of – and how vital it is to avoid. Thin content refers to content that has little or no value to the user, regardless of your demographic or target market. If, as a customer, you land on a page that from the outset promises to deliver a bulk of informational content, but then is only one short paragraph accompanied by several images, ads, links or white space, you’ve made your way onto a page that is a poor victim of thin content!
Google considers low-quality affiliate linked pages, doorway pages and pages with duplicated or barely any content as ‘thin content’ pages. This in turn has a detrimental effect on your SEO. As smart as you think you are, Google is a million times smarter, and it has gotten particularly good at distinguishing between valuable and poor content – especially since the Google Panda update.
Google’s job is to deliver the best results for the search intent of the user. If you want to rank highly on Google (which face it, we all do), you have to convince it that you’re genuinely answering the question or query that the user has searched for. If you haven’t written extensive, high-quality copy on the subject topic you’re looking to rank for, this simply won’t be feasible. Thin content very rarely qualifies for Google as the best result – or even a result that falls onto page one of SERPs.
The bare minimum is giving Google the chance to understand your content and get a good grasp of the intention of the landing page. So don’t try and out-smart Google by writing thin or duplicated copy – because it’ll come back to bite you.
3. Overpopulating Links
Being super strategic with your internal linking is one of the most important SEO power techniques. Without the right internal linking, your content marketing simply won’t be as effective. An internal link connects one page of a website to a different page on the same website, meaning that the source domain and target domain are the same. The main reasons for this are to aid the user through the intended website navigation and to distribute the domain authority and page authority more evenly across the entire website.
So how does this align with your overall content strategy? Put simply, creating lots of content and landing pages means you’ll have lots of linkable content. The more links to the more places, the better your internal linking strategy will be. But there are a few stand-out do’s and don’ts.
Overpopulating is the most crucial one to remember. For a well-tailored strategy, you don’t need hundreds of links. Google’s instruction is to keep the links on any given page to a reasonable number. But as we all know, Google loves being a bit secretive and ambiguous, so knowing exactly what that number is, is anybody’s guess.
Once you include the links from your standard footers, headers, navigation bars, paid ads and the internal links, you’ve already got a pretty good amount of linking power on your page. To get more of a glimpse of this number, you simply need to calculate the total amount of HREFs on an entire page.
When it comes to the content itself, four or five links are generally recommended. But much like the question surrounding our keyword density, there is no right or wrong number. It all depends on the length of your post and whether the link is relevant or not. For the benefit of SEO and user experience, try to add as many links as you need to in order to help and guide the user to your targeted conversion page. Just make sure your anchor text is appropriate!
4. Not Prioritising a Mobile-First Design
In 2019, 52.7% of all global web traffic came directly from smartphones. If that doesn’t instantly highlight the importance of a mobile-first design for your website, then nothing will.
It’s no secret that mobile phones have become an integral part of our lives. And now that the majority of web browsing, shopping, gaming, communication and social media use is done from a mobile, it’d be a real shame to have users bounce off your website because of poor mobile-first prioritisation.
Not only is this fundamental to maintain your UX, but it also makes a big difference for your SEO presence too. Google is now using mobile-first indexing for over half of all web pages globally. This mobile-first indexing means that Google is much more likely to rank the mobile version of a website before the desktop version. By using a mobile-first design strategy, web designers can greatly increase the chances of a website ranking higher on Google.
So how does this fit in with your content marketing?
Everybody searches differently. But when you’re aiming for a mobile-first design, it’s important to consider the needs of the user who is searching from a mobile, compared to the user needs of someone using a desktop. Desktop users are more than likely looking for longer-tail information, detailed responses or doing more in-depth research on a subject. Whereas if you’re popping a search query into your mobile phone, you’re probably looking for a quick answer.
With this in mind, you need to ensure that when you’re creating content for a mobile-first design, the content must be structured in line with a user’s priorities. What do they need to know first? This is where the use for primary, secondary and tertiary keywords comes in. And it’s also a great opportunity to target your content for Google’s universal listings.
And don’t forget, a mobile has a reduced screen size, so your content has to be clear and concise – with all the essential information available at a first glance or within reach of a simple click.
5. Not Targeting a Clear Demographic
Last – but by no means least – you need to think about your target demographic. The biggest question to ask yourself when you’re marketing any product or service is: what does the user care about? The answer: themselves.
All a user wants is to find the right answer to their query, locate the right clickthrough link to the product or service they’re looking for and to eventually…convert. Sounds easy, right?
But between that entry-level stage of awareness to the crucial decision-making conversion stage lies a lot of strategy and hard work. This is where your research comes in. With Google Analytics, you have tons of metrics available at your fingertips to help you build up your knowledge and awareness of the target audience you should be aiming your content at. This in turn will enable you to create the right style and tone that resonates with the demographic most likely to convert on your website.
It’s also worthwhile looking at competitor content. While you need to create your own unique tone of voice and branding, you still need to ensure that you’re targeting a similar demographic to direct competitors. If you skip this step, your competitors could easily be doing a better job of it.
A few psychographics and ideologies to look into to pinpoint your target market are:
- Marital Status
- Hobbies and Interests
- Spending Habits
Once you’ve got to grips with the cold, hard facts, your content should almost be able to write itself! And in terms of SEO, you’ll be able to rest assured that the right demographic is clicking through to your website, alleviating the risk of bounce rates, traffic drops and poor conversion rates.
Still got some questions about making your content marketing strategy successful? We’ve got the answers.