Bad Business Blogging Habits
Two million blog posts are published every 24 hours. That's enough written content to fill Time Magazine for 770 years. This content marketing thing is getting to be a pretty big deal, and there's a reason why: it works. The humorous marketing video below, winner of SEOMoz's video content contest, illustrates some of the tactics that fail to impress modern search engines:
The lesson is clear: create original content that's geared to your readers and inspires social media sharing, and search engines will love you. Surely not all of those 2,000,000 blog posts published each day are stellar, but how do you ensure your content marketing isn't terrible?
1. Your Titles Are Deceptive
There's nothing that drives me away from your website faster than a deceptive title. If you've written a piece called "6 Social Media Statistics" and proceed to chatter about how to use hashtags on twitter, there's a strong chance your readers will go running for the hills. The key to building trust in marketing is honesty, which means your content needs to be good enough to inspire a great title.
2. Your Language is Clichéd
I know content managers aren't the only ones who are getting really tired of certain words. Killer, guru, ninja and pirate top my list. Your titles need to be intriguing and head-turning in order to gain clicks or shares, but you've got to introduce some variety. It's challenging for high-velocity marketing writers to use original language. Ask your coworkers for insight on whether you've been overusing any language. I did, and as a result we hardly ever use the word "epic" any more at Inbound Marketing Agents.
If you're not convinced, let's talk about the word "guru." Merriam Webster defines the term as "one who is an acknowledged leader or Chief proponent." But suddenly, everyone is a guru. Check it out, there's actually over 35 million Google results for the long tail key phrase "social media guru." Thanks to the miracle of self-published content, everyone can be an acknowledged leader:
The point is clear: don't overuse language, particularly when it's too extreme to believe, or overly popular to begin with.
3. It's All About You
I really don't mind business blog content about your company, as long as it's relevant to my questions. I'm not alone in this regard. "If it doesn’t benefit us, entertain us, educate us, solve our problems or advance our causes, we don’t want it," is how Marketer Eric Wittlake describes the phenomenon of the consumer versus the content marketing. Every piece of content you publish should meet all four of the following criteria:
Does it Solve Problems? Is it solution-focused and informative?
Is it Entertaining? This doesn't mean you need to compare social media to cheeseburgers or include a Twilight meme - unless that's what resonates with your buyer personas. Maybe your clients think fresh data sets are the most scintillating thing on earth.
Is it Educational? Will your clients walk away after reading with a new piece of information they weren't previously familiar with?
Is it Quick, Easy and Painless? This doesn't mean you should cut down the length or choose easier topics. Are you communicating ideas in the cleanest, best-edited language possible? Are you using paragraphs of text when a video or infographic would do? Content doesn't need to be brief, but it should never be longer than necessary.
4. It's Not Authoritative
Enough information is consumed online each day to fill 168 million DVDs. Your prospects don't have time for content that's not overtly authoritative. To make things more complex, there's no uniform definition of authority. It depends on what resonates with your buyer personas. Not everyone will react well to an in-depth, 5,000 word case study but certain personas will accept nothing less. Take a cue to avoid the tactics of the "bad" and "ugly" cowboys in the video, and make a point to use the following tactics to increase authority:
Be Social: Are social media buttons prominently displayed on your blog? When visitors click over to your Twitter, is it a dead zone or have you been actively Tweeting and engaging?
Don't Over-Optimize: Nothing turns a modern internet users' stomach faster than transparent keyword stuffing. Even if your content is actually really good, it doesn't help your authority.
Don't Stuff Your Website With CTAs: Call-to-action buttons are an essential tool for filling your pipeline with new revenue. Too many CTAs on your blog can quickly seem desperate.
It's Not Cited: Not every piece of content needs a statistic, though they certainly help in most cases. Unless you really are a recognized guru in your field, quote or source and be sure to cite.
What Are Your Content Marketing Pet Peeves?