Mistakes to avoid with content and digital PR

There is no doubt that content marketing is a major player in the quest for better SEO rankings. Get it wrong however, and you can negatively impact your SEO and subsequently throw money into a digital hole.  The opportunity cost on lost or missed visibility in search engines can literally be in the thousands, if not millions for a brand online.  Getting content right can have a significant impact on the bottom line, along with its sister, technical SEO of course.

Let’s have a quick run through of some content marketing strategies far too many online companies employ and pick up on a few things you might want to drop from your content marketing strategy altogether.

Don’t forfeit quality for quantity

Whilst it is true that the more content you publish the more visitors you attract, if you are not publishing good quality content end-users want to read, they leave. This bumps up your bounce rate percentage which many in SEO believe gives a signal which search engines use to imply you are not providing good user-experience. It’s important to remember though that Google has vehemently denied that bounce rate has an impact on search rankings, and of course a low bounce rate might mean your visitor landed on exactly what they needed, read it, then simply left.  Pogo-sticking (bouncing back and forth from one result and back to search and then into the next is much more of an issue, but that’s another story).  Either way, make quality content your top priority.  There’s also argument that if users visit and are less than delighted by the information provided they’re unlikely to be tempted back for more.  Regardless of whether bounce rate / percentage is a ranking factor or not, a dissatisfied visitor is a dissatisfied visitor.

Don’t fish for backlinks just anywhere – be picky

Publishing content on low-quality sites is perhaps not such the issue it was two years ago, but we still get clients asking for backlinks. But link-building strategies have changed now. Rather than looking for backlinks, explore avenues of attracting earned media through influencers and industry commentators, and by pushing out your content amongst your industry peers (if you’re a business).  One of the most successful strategies for gaining links is amongst those who you network with at offline events who may be keen to share your content because it’s actually very relevant to them. To run a successful inbound linking program you need top-quality content (see point one!) which people in the industry you’re targeting can relate to and will feel empowered by emotion to share.  This is an important part of digital PR as public relations should be a key part of your strategy overall, which involves your relevant industry peers.

Stop publishing content you’ve copied from other websites

We appreciate it is often difficult to think up content ideas, but regurgitating content from competitor websites is not the answer. There is no harm tackling the same topic of course, but at least put a different spin on it. You need to show you are an expert in your field and have something interesting to say – so don’t be a parrot.  Of course, there’s also the argument for the ‘Sky Scraper’ approach to content, which essentially means looking at content which has been successful for others and replicating it (with a new spin of course), but going beyond what was there before.  i.e. you’re adding a bit extra on top to surpass what has gone before.  You’re adding another floor onto the ‘Sky Scraper’.  If someone successfully built the ‘Ultimate List of Digital Marketing Events’, go right ahead and build the ‘Ultra-Epic Ultimate List of Digital Marketing Events’.  Add an extra layer of added-value.  Sky-Scraper content marketing adds a good deal of positive value to the industry overall, because the bar is constantly being raised with the next piece to target a particular subject.  We fully approve of this approach.

Avoid using generalisations and clichés

Clichés have long been the scourge of writers and can make even a novice reader wince.  You need to be creative and unique when writing content. Which also means avoid generalisations such as “We all know…”, or “I think….”  This statement is not always true and has become an internet cliché.  Double whammy!  Some of the best content online is supported by evidence in what is being claimed.

Always look to support any claim with quality research you’ve either carried out yourselves (primary research) or with research from high quality secondary sources.  Don’t forget, most of the time very few people want to know your opinion, and there’s never a shortage of opinions out there.  We all have them.

Stop publishing 500-word blogs exactly – It’s not the number of words, it’s what you say that matters

Whilst it has become customary to publish content of 400-600 words, rigidly sticking to this word count is not a strategy that will always work.  Some topics need more than 500-words to explain fully and some need less to avoid fluff.

if you’re on a mobile device, short form content might be much more useful to you than long form content for example.  If you have an urgent problem to fix, it might be much more helpful for you to find a short answer very quickly, over having to read 2000 words of content before you find the answer to your emergency.  Furthermore, you have to consider your audience and SEO performance.

Every piece of content should serve a purpose and be curated towards your audience, what they’re searching for, and the context and search mode they’re in when they come looking for useful information to meet their need.  Therefore, if you are targeting a mobile audience, publish images, videos or short written pieces.

When publishing content aimed at industry readers, or consumers that want information, the number of words you use should be adequate enough to explain everything in detail.  Longer articles about an area which is considered that of a subject matter expert may also perform better in search engines because they are considered in-depth and by a specialist.  Particularly so if these are cited by many other experts in the same field.

There is little point splashing your marketing budget on a content strategy that does not work for you.  Although content marketing can be slow paced in the initial stages, if you publish in-depth content that offers value, you will engage readers and improve your SEO (search engine optimisation) visibility and rankings over time.

There is certainly no silver-bullet when it comes to building up engagement via content marketing, but as with all other aspects of search engine optimization related marketing strategies and tactics, the impact is really more akin to a drip, drip, drip effect which builds up over time, rather than a huge tidal wave.  Content marketing takes time and effort, as well as an element of patience and perseverance.

If you need help with content creation and ideation, get in touch.