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Content marketing is a sticky area that has a variety of different content marketing practices to choose from. Search engine algorithms change so fast that the very tactics that were boosting your rankings one week can push you to the dregs of SERPs the next. It’s no wonder that so many content marketers are left feeling lost.
Maintaining high-quality content requires incredible flexibility and a constant willingness to evolve. While you should stay on top of the latest search engine tactics, equally important to your efforts is the visitor experience. If your page is unappealing to visitors due to disruptive or untrustworthy content marketing practices, you’ll lose them quickly, and never get the conversions you want. Make sure you’re steering clear of these unsavory approaches.
Image via Flickr by edkohler
The value of your content should always be one of your first concerns. Great keywords and smart social promotions will inevitably fall flat if the core purpose of your piece is off. Always ask yourself if your content meets the customers’ needs. Does it offer something of immediate value to the reader? If you can’t provide a concise explanation of what your content offers, your focus is probably falling short of the mark.
Readers turn away from egotistical angles that emphasize what the company needs rather than how the customer can benefit. You might need to boost your sales of Product X, but if all you do is harp on how people need to buy more of it, you’ll lose followers fast. Leave the ego behind to craft content that converts.
Today’s readers are aware of what keywords are and how they work. They won’t be fooled for a moment by a piece that’s packed with SEO at the price of real value. In fact, even Google’s algorithms are starting to pick up on content that lacks informative value while slathering on the key phrases.
While you absolutely should use keywords, you need to make sure that they’re scattered artfully throughout the piece to create truly great content. The best way to incorporate keywords is to ideate around topics that will use them naturally. If your writer can include essential keywords in a piece without thinking about what those phrases are, you’re on the right path.
Pop-Ups are annoying. We all know it, and yet many content marketing practices continue to rely on this tactic to push their latest promotion. You might get away with one pop-up, but if your readers find a new offer obstructing their view of the content on every page, they’ll get frustrated and bounce. Pop-ups are particularly disruptive for mobile viewers. When you optimize your site for mobile, make sure you nix these interruptions.
Even Google is cracking down on pop-ups. On January 10, 2017, Google began lowering the search rankings on sites that use intrusive interstitials in their layout. These are defined either as layers that cover the main content, as with a traditional pop-up, or layouts that feature above-the-fold content that appears like a stand-alone interstitial with the original content pushed below.
Gated content is any content that requires you to complete an action before you can access the piece. If you have to complete a survey, provide your contact information, or create an account and sign in to access a desired page, then you’re dealing with something that’s gated. Featuring gated content may seem like an effective way to gather customer information. After all, customers will never to get to find out what that intriguing headline is teasing about if they don’t comply.
The reality of gated content, however, is that it creates a disruptive and frustrating experience for the user. By all means, give your customers a convenient way to provide you with contact information or opinions. Entice them with entries to a giveaway or access to a freebie such an e-book. Don’t, however, make this information a requirement for accessing your blog or website. You’ll never gain loyal followers if it’s too hard to get to your posts.
When it comes to content marketing, less is usually best. While you should generally keep your content above 300 words, you don’t have to crank out consistently oversized pieces. Every market is different, so there’s no magic number that will determine the ideal length for your content. However, you’ll probably find that your readers usually don’t want to slog through thousands of words on any topic.
Dividing your content into shorter, scannable posts has many benefits. Readers won’t deal with the frustration of finding an article that takes too long to get to the point or which has the details they’re looking for hidden amid a massive collection of information. You, meanwhile, will have the opportunity to fill out your content calendar better by offering a series of short, laser-focused pieces on various aspects of the topic as opposed to one giant piece that says it all at once.
Links are good. However, excessive use of links will leave your content looking spammy. Two or three high-quality links will add value to your content. You can establish your authority in a field by sourcing your information and linking to reliable organizations and studies. You’ll serve as a trustworthy source for information by linking to high-quality content that elaborates on your topic and provides real value for readers who want to know more.
Linking goes awry when you offer an overabundance of internal links, particularly those that drive visitors to product or service pages. Unless your blog specifically references something in your catalog, there’s no need to drive your customers toward it. If you are referencing your products in the post, make sure they’re highly relevant. Clunky links that are forced into place stand out and drive visitors away.
Watch out for these unappealing content marketing practices and work to cull them from your repertoire of content creation strategies. Clean, informative pieces that are valuable, scannable, and easily accessible are your key to content marketing success. When you put your focus on quality first and strategic marketing strategies second, you’ll end up with the kind of blog people genuinely want to follow.