I hear it all the time: “We tried content marketing and this ‘SEO copywriting stuff.’ But it didn’t work for us.”
When I dig a little deeper, I unearth an important fact: The campaign didn’t work because the marketer got in its own way—and unfortunately, this fumbling caused its campaign to fail.
Let’s face it, marketers don’t mean to set themselves up for content marketing failure. Their intentions are good … but then something (politics, confusion, a “bright idea”) stops real results dead in their tracks. Instead of moving forward, the marketer inadvertently destroys any chances of search marketing success. As a result, it finds itself back at square one. With nothing to show for it.
If this sounds vaguely familiar, you’re not alone. Here are five of the most common ways I see smart marketers mess up their content marketing campaigns:
1. Not including a content marketing specialist in your online marketing meetings.
If I had a dollar for every time I asked, “How does this piece of content fit into your overarching content marketing strategy” and heard the answer, “Um, we just thought it was a good idea,” I’d be driving a shiny new Bentley instead of a well-loved Volvo.
I ranted about this in the post, “Just Hire a Content Marketing Strategist, Already,” on my SEO Copywriting.com blog. Content marketing experts can help you “see” your copy in a different way, so you can make smart, strategic choices. Can certain articles be repurposed? Can you “optimize” some content rather than rewrite it? These are questions to ask every quarter … and there’s an expert for that. Besides, if you’re going to spend the time and money it takes to build out content, shouldn’t you be sure that it supports (and doesn’t hurt) your other marketing efforts?
2. Writing copy solely for the purpose of search engine rankings.
Once upon a time, I created what I thought was a well-written article series for a client. The marketer loved the copy, approved it and proceeded to add 500, keyphrase-stuffed additional words. When I asked why, the response was, “Well, we added that for search engines.” Ouch.
Neither the search engines, nor your prospects, are going to reward you for nonsensical, keyphrase-stuffed content. Not to mention, how comfortable are you with having obviously bad copy on your site? Content marketing (and SEO copywriting) means writing for your prospects first, and the search engines second. Remember, the search engines don’t pay your bills. Your prospects do.
3. Deleting large chunks of content without checking with the content strategist.
Ah, the content review process. It’s not uncommon for marketers to make some tweaks to a Web page proposed by their content marketing specialist; many times, those tweaks improve the messaging. It’s a good thing. Unless, it’s … not.
The caveat here is that SEO content is written in a highly strategic fashion. Sometimes, a keyword really does need to be in a certain place for maximum search engine benefit. Rather than uploading edited copy that may not be effective after the changes, check with your strategist first. You can decide if the copy “tweaks” are worth it, and develop a solution that satisfies both search engines and prospects.
4. Not uploading pages.
Although this seems like a “no duh” tip, it’s amazing how many companies “forget” to upload their Web pages. Maybe it’s because IT got swamped, so adding new pages become a secondary priority. Or perhaps there was a staffing change, and the person spearheading the SEO initiative was transferred to another department. Sadly, spending the time (and effort) to create copy and not uploading it is a very common issue for many marketers.
If this has happened to you (or you’re afraid it will,) create an internal editorial calendar. Get everyone together who is involved in the content campaign (including IT people, since they’re the ones responsible for uploading the content), and set up some firm deadlines. Sometimes, what looks like inaction is only because other tasks seem more urgent (not because they really are). When you can attach a deadline to tasks, that urgency level is increased.
5. Tweaking titles without checking with your content marketing strategist.
This. Point. Is. Huge. Tweaking optimized titles without checking with your consultant first literally can unravel your SEO content efforts. Why? It’s because the page title is crucial for two reasons.
From a search perspective, the title helps the search engines understand what the page is about. If there aren’t keyphrases in the title, you’re hobbling your chances that the page will position well. And from the marketing perspective, a well-written title is like a headline, temping folks to click on your listing instead of the nine others on the search engine results page. Upsetting that “keyword and marketing balance” can have repercussions, so don’t title tweak (or make any other content marketing changes) without really knowing what you’re doing, m-kay? The health of your campaign depends upon it.