Content marketing can be extremely effective for extending your reach, driving traffic and helping you reach your business goals. However, some business owners report that content marketing just isn't effective for them - or at least isn't as effective as they'd like.
This post will outline some of the most common reasons your content marketing may be failing and what you can do to get back on track.
Your content is too short
There is no optimal word count for content. The perfect length will depend on a variety of factors, including the topic, your audience and how and where you promote it. For example, with my company Due, our readers LOVE our longer 5000+ word guides. The average person spends 10+ minutes reading them.
That said, many marketers have tested content length to find out, on average, what tends to rank best. The findings span a whole range of lengths but have generally revealed that longer is better.
Research from serpIQ found that 1,500 words is a great target for most blog posts. Searchmetrics, on the other hand, suggests somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,100-1,300 words. If your content is consistently shorter than that, you may find it doesn't get the rankings, shares or engagement you were hoping for.
How to fix it: Content quality is always more important than content length. That said, longer content tends to do a better job of comprehensively covering a topic. For most blog posts, aim for at least 1,100 words. For "evergreen" posts, aim for 1,500-2,000 words minimum.
Your content isn't distinctive.
The vast majority of business owners now engage in some form of content marketing. This means that each piece of content you create faces a tremendous amount of competition.
This is probably one reason why most content that gets published online gets few to no links or shares. The stiff competition means content needs to be unique, valuable and must fill a gap in your industry or niche.
How to fix it: Perhaps the biggest challenge in creating successful content is coming up with original content ideas that haven't been covered a hundred times before. Here's the strategy I use to find topic ideas for blog posts that consistently get read, shared and linked to.
You don't have a content plan.
Many business owners think they can post sporadically to their blog and social media and still see results. Unfortunately, this strategy - or lack of a strategy - usually ends up causing more harm than good.
Consistency is key to building trust when it comes to content marketing. If your fans and followers only hear from you when you have something to sell or promote, you may find your audience starts to dwindle, your traffic dries up and your engagement tanks.
How to fix it: Devise a simple content marketing plan or strategy, and then stick to it. Keep in mind it's better to be consistent, even if that means posting less often. Your plan should document the type and frequency of the content you're going to create and promote. It should also specify the goals for your content marketing, the metrics you'll track and a plan for measuring ROI.
Your content isn't optimized for search.
In recent years, there have been reports that social media has overtaken search in terms of website traffic referrals. However, according to SimilarWeb's 2016 Global Search Marketing report, search drives 10x more traffic to shopping sites than social media.
Even if you have a large social media following, your business will need to be ranking for popular industry keywords in order to succeed. A vital part of achieving these rankings is optimizing your content for search.
How to fix it: Each piece of content you create should be optimized for search. On-page strategies include using your chosen keywords in your title tag, headings, URL, alt image tags (where appropriate) and throughout your content. In addition, make sure your site is optimized for mobile users, that you're using internal linking to spread link equity throughout your site and that you're linking out to authoritative sources to show that your content is trustworthy.
Your content is over-optimized for Search
While it's important to ensure your on-page SEO is in place, over-optimizing can also be a big problem. Not only can it result in a manual action (i.e., a Google penalty for keyword stuffing), it can result in poorly-constructed, completely non-user friendly content.
Examples of over-optimization include: creating "thin" content simply to target a particular keyword, using irrelevant keywords within your content in order to rank, using unrelated anchor text to link to other pages on your site, etc.
How to fix it: Use your keyword research to find general topics and themes for your content. Instead of writing content for the sole purpose of targeting particular keywords or phrases, use your keywords to flesh out your topic and cover sub-topics people actually want to read about.
You don't have goals for your content marketing.
You've probably heard the saying, "A goal without a plan is just a wish". If your goal is to succeed at content marketing, you absolutely must have specific goals in place for what you hope to accomplish.
According to the CMI's 2016 B2B Content Marketing report, businesses spend an average of 28 percent of their marketing budget on content marketing. If you don't know which benchmarks you hope to reach along the way and how you're going to get there, a significant part of your budget could be going out the window.
How to fix it: Setting specific goals will ensure you can monitor both your progress and your effectiveness along the way. Some goals you might set for your content marketing can include:
- Traffic generation
- Increased leads or sales
- Increased fans and followers
- Social shares and engagement
- Increased links to your website
- Read my "Content Marketing Guide"
For a great overview of the different goals you should be setting, check out Search Engine Journal's post, The 5 Goals Every Content Marketer Should Have.
Content marketing is one of the best things you can do for your business. It's been proven to be effective at driving traffic, reach and sales, and produces higher-than-average ROI's. However, if you're not experiencing these benefits for yourself, it may be time to take a hard look at your strategies to see what might be holding you back.
Are you making any of the content marketing mistakes above? What will you do to fix them? Get started now.