In a follow-up to last month’s column, Stephan Spencer addresses some more common but avoidable SEO problems for content marketers to be aware of.
When you aren’t marrying your SEO efforts with your content marketing, you aren’t going to get the best results. As an optimization geek, I’m all about getting the most bang for my buck (and effort). Because of this, it pains me to see other content marketers making these simple and easy-to-fix mistakes in their campaigns.
Last month, I looked at five common SEO mistakes that content marketers make. Today, in part two, I explore five more costly SEO mistakes to avoid so that you can take your content marketing farther than ever before.
1. No systematic outreach
In a perfect world, great content would spontaneously yield loads of great backlinks. In the real world, however, you need to promote your content to the right audience.
The best way for people to see great content is to generate buzz about it. In part one, we discussed utilizing a power user to start the viral spread to get your content noticed by the linkerati. Another approach is to contact the linkerati directly, via email.
Fair warning: It isn’t as easy as sending out bulk emails to the effect of, “Hey, I think your readers would appreciate the following.” Successful influencer outreach breaks down into three stages:
A. Prospecting for power users
Ideas can come from looking at social media users that have a big presence in your niche, they can be found on social news sharing sites, or the method I prefer, crawling with a tool.
I personally love Pitchbox. It’s a crawl and outreach automation tool that allows you to scale outreach massively without sacrificing a human touch. You create the template for your outreach campaign, and then fill in the in-depth personalization fields to make each power user interaction incredibly personal. Pitchbox even allows you to look at their site link metrics, as well as social information about them.
B. Offer them value
Here’s where you are different from the other guy: You aren’t just asking for a favor and then exiting once the value to you is over. You realize that this power user likely has their own busy schedule, their own fans and readers to think about and plenty of other people asking them for links. You have to figure out what you can offer that will set you apart.
This obviously shouldn’t come in the form of link trades, link buys or anything else that may come off seedy or desperate. Instead, let them in on why you are an awesome guy to have in their community. Don’t think of these power users as “transaction partners,” but long-term business peers.
This value could be something like giving them an awesome idea for a post based on what you noticed some of their commenters saying or a hint into a site fix that they may want to check out, or asking them advice about an industry conference. The “ask” for the link, ideally, won’t even come into play until a few interactions in.
It’d be ideal if you could meet up with them by this time at an industry conference or a local meetup, or perhaps attend an event they are putting on. By now, you’ll know the kind of thing they want to provide to their audience — and you can construct it.
C. Keep up the communication
After you initially get that link that sends your viral campaign out into the stars, keep up your communication with your power user network. Send them info that could be great for a new blog post on their site, show them a hilarious infographic you saw — the relationship will pay off.
2. Using the wrong words
I see keyword research as one of the most often missed steps of content marketing, and one of the most often missed opportunities. For example, a clothes-shopping audience doesn’t search for “men’s apparel” or “men’s clothier,” they search for “men’s clothes” or “men’s fashion.” So, in all likelihood, they won’t see content nearly as much if it’s not targeted at the correct keywords. By using keyword tools like Google Adwords Keyword Tool and KeywordSpy, you can not only link you to how your audience speaks, but it can also give you crucial brainstorming intel.
For example, I love Soovle for brainstorming and keyword intel. For example, if you sell baby apparel and baby furniture, it may not be immediately on your brain to feature great baby shower games on your site. It is fifth most-searched baby term on Google.
Google Trends also can give you great seasonal content ideas, comparison searches between similar keywords and ideas that are “ramping up” in their popularity.
3. Breaking the site
Of course, no one wants to break their site with content marketing. However, I see so many people losing valuable page authority by incorrectly redirecting pages. Moving your site’s content? Make sure you are 301 redirecting instead of the 302 redirect counterpart, a temporary redirect that passes no link authority. You’ve worked hard for your links and shares; double-checking your redirects ensures that your work gets the recognition it deserves from Google.
Just as bad is when you completely decommission the URL of the content by 404ing it after you’re done with it. Especially if it is very popular, you are throwing away valuable link juice that could be instead redirecting to another page on the site.
Mentos made this error with its hugely popular Mentos Intern campaign back in 2007, a microsite where you could “schedule” the intern to do ridiculous tasks as he was filmed via live stream. The microsite got tons of press and interaction, but a later search revealed that Mentos simply dumped the site afterwards. This is a waste from a page authority standpoint, but also from a user experience standpoint. The least Mentos could do was point a redirect back to Mentos.com, so users had a better chance of finding content they want.
Intuit Tax Services struck it big with its viral video competition that asked participants to write a rap about Intuit. The winning video got hundreds of thousands of views, and the supplementary page on the site got a lot of press attention. However, once the tax rap contest was done, the page was 404ed.
4. No gathering of “intel”
Peter Drucker once said, “What gets measured gets managed.” I quote it in nearly every presentation I do. Metrics give you an invaluable look as to what works, what doesn’t and what can be expanded. Numbers don’t lie — it’s like peeking into a success manual.
Before doing anything, however, we should start by measuring the baseline. How many current Facebook fans, Twitter followers, Instagram followers, Snapchat followers and so on do you currently have? How many links to how many domains do you currently have on your site? What is your current domain authority? From there, we can get a sense of the type of response we can expect, reachable milestones and future goals.
Then, track your campaign’s changes throughout the launch and promotion process. What efforts seemed to have the most impact? Was it a sponsored post on Facebook? Was it the push from the power user? And what efforts seemed to not be worth their effort?
A/B testing within your social campaigns gives you even greater control in knowing exactly where to target your efforts. For example, test the featured image or headline. Run one of each for a day, see which performs better on social, and ditch the loser.
Your competitors can also be some of your greatest guides here. As you automate tracking for your own keywords, you can track the efforts of competitors as their new content pushes out. For example, did they just launch a new podcast, and you want to see if it would be worth your while to get out there in the podcasting world? Use their effort as a test run.
5. Buying into SEO myths
These myths are most often created inadvertently, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t causing your site serious harm. Sometimes you’ve heard a false report from a snake-oil SEO practitioner that simply didn’t get corrected.
Here are a few super-important ones I hear commonly:
- Googlebot doesn’t read CSS.
- You should end your URLs in .html.
- SEO is a one-time activity.
- Creating country-specific sites will create duplicate content.
- .edu links get extra weight.
- Google penalizes for duplicate content.
Granted, SEO is an experimental science. Doing proper A/B testing and metric monitoring can help you detect what is really making a difference in your site, but it is also important to stay informed with the latest Google updates, to stay diligent and to question everything.
Getting more done with your content marketing doesn’t need to involve extra time and effort. When you involve SEO in your content marketing strategy, you can successfully amplify your efforts to see results sitewide. Make sure you aren’t the losing out on valuable links by making these easy changes to your strategy.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.