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Written by Caroline Cox on Aug 21 , 2020

From thin content to improper targeting, these are the common content marketing mistakes you want to prevent.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Mistakes content marketers often make
  • Why creating a content plan is key
  • Tips for promoting your content
  • How to avoid some of the common pitfalls

Creating content is one of the best things you can do for your site’s search engine optimization (SEO). Not only that, but it’s a great way to educate your audience, leverage yourself as an industry leader, and let your brand’s personality shine.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a piece of cake. On the contrary, high-quality content takes planning, strategizing, time, and more. Read on to find out some of the common content marketing mistakes people make. Plus, we’ll discuss how you can avoid falling into the same traps.

1. Not having a strategy in place

These days, it’s fairly easy to set up a blog on your website and begin posting content. But in order to make the most of the time and effort that it takes to create content, it’s best to go into the process with a solid plan in place. Otherwise, you may look back after a few months of posting and see disjointed, randomly published posts that aren’t as cohesive or beneficial as they could be.

How to avoid: Before your first piece of content goes live, sit down and create a strategy. How often will you post content? Who will be in charge of the content? What is our brand’s voice and tone? Who will write and upload it? What topics do you plan to cover, and how will you promote it? These are just some of the questions you can ask to clarify your content plan.

Pro tip: For organization’s sake, it’s a good idea to create a content calendar. This way, everyone on your team can see what topics have been covered, which ones are planned for the future, deadlines, who has written which posts, and more.

common content marketing mistakes

Even the most well-written content can fall flat if it doesn’t properly speak to your audience. (Image via Unsplash)

2. Aiming for quantity over quality

When you’re just starting to build up your content library, it’s tempting to want to publish as much as you can as quickly as possible. But the truth is, you simply can’t rush good content. Just like proper SEO, it takes time, effort, and intention to do it right.

How to avoid: Even if you have an accelerated timeline or a team of content contributors, there should still be parameters in place to ensure your content is high quality. The best content is created to educate your audience and help them solve problems — not to game search engines. Publish work that’s thorough, accurate, easy to read, up to date, and informative. That way, you can rest assured that what you’re putting out into the digital world is worth standing behind. 

3. Not targeting your audience with your content

Even the most well-written content pieces can become content marketing mistakes if they don’t properly speak to your audience. If someone lands on your blog or website and finds content that doesn’t apply to them in some way, they’re likely to bounce.

How to avoid: If you haven’t already, it’s time to flesh out your ideal client personas. These personas can help you determine the common responsibilities, goals, and pain points of your audience so you can better address them in content. It’ll also help you understand what language and tone to use to best resonate with the people you’re trying to reach. 

4. Publishing thin content

As we’ve mentioned before, there’s no magic number when it comes to your content’s word count. However, it’s generally understood that content under 400 or so words is known as “thin content.” This type of content may not be as impactful or valuable to the reader as content that spans, say, 600 words or more. (We’ve found the sweet spot is closer to 800-1,200 words.)

How to avoid: When tackling a topic, make sure that you do a thorough job of explaining it. This could include insights such as how it can be applied, tips for success, and offering additional resources when it makes sense. Don’t simply write filler sentences to hit a certain word count. Rather, make sure that the piece properly addresses the reader’s question or curiosity.

5. Creating multiple posts on the same subject

In a perfect SEO world, each page on your site has its own keyword it aims to rank for. But once you’ve been publishing content for a while, it can be difficult to come up with new topics to tackle without risking overlap. Creating multiple posts that cover the same topic is known as duplicate content. This is considered a black-hat SEO technique, which could get you penalized by search engines, even though it can happen by accident. 

How to avoid: You can avoid creating duplicate content by checking your archives before starting a new piece. This helps ensure it hasn’t already been covered in the past in the same format. If it has, you can consider updating or lengthening the existing content. If the older content doesn’t provide much value, you can simply write a new piece and post it to redirect from the previous URL. 

Pro tip: Republishing content that’s been posted on another site, such as a guest blog, on your own site is also considered duplicate content. If you do this, Google will likely favor the page that was posted first, or it won’t rank either page. A page is considered duplicate if about 80% of the content is the same, so even trying to change around a few sentences isn’t enough.

content marketing mistakes

If you publish content in a forest and no one reads it, does it make a sound? (Image via Unsplash)

6. Neglecting to follow SEO best practices

Keeping SEO top of mind during the content creation process is one way to ensure that it gets the widest reach possible. That’s because priming your content for SEO makes it more recognizable by search engines. As a result, these pieces are more likely to show up in organic search results when someone searches for a related keyword or phrase. 

How to avoid: We’ve got a whole guide to creating an SEO content strategy (and a free webinar recording, too!). A few of the main ways you can work to make your content SEO-friendly are:

  • including images with alt tags
  • using subheaders
  • leveraging internal and external links
  • having a page title and meta description

7. Keyword stuffing your content

One of the most common content marketing mistakes we see is overly using keywords or location info on your site is defined as keyword stuffing. This used to be a way to try to quickly (and ethically) rise through search engine results page (SERP) rankings for a particular keyword — before Google caught on, that is. According to the search engine, “Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking.” 

How to avoid: Avoid keyword stuffing by only including your keyword and related phrases when it makes sense in your content. Don’t repeat your keyword unnecessarily. Sometimes you can accidentally conduct keyword stuffing in your content. Depending on your site platform, you can prevent this by installing an SEO plug-in (like Yoast for WordPress) that’ll alert you if your content includes stuffing.

8. Failing to promote your content

If you publish content in a forest and no one reads it, does it make a sound? By not promoting your content, you risk not reaching as many readers as you could. Significant effort went into producing your pieces, so it’s paramount that you do what you can to promote them. 

How to avoid: Depending on the type of piece you’re promoting, you can get the word out in a variety of paid and organic ways. For longer, meatier content, you can create ads that go to a landing page offering the content (such as an e-book, template, or guide) in exchange for a form fill-out. You can also organically promote on your social media channels and through your email newsletter

9. Not regularly updating your content

The longer you leave content on your site untouched, the more likely it is to grow stale and outdated. Whether it’s a timely blog about a certain year, a statistic, or a how-to guide for an often-updated platform, as time goes on, these pieces may need a second look — and perhaps a refresh — to stay relevant to your audience. 

How to avoid: Create a plan to conduct regular content audits. This way, you can easily identify which pieces need to be updated, modified, and even consolidated or redirected. This is a great way to keep your library fresh and up to date. 

The takeaway

Once you have a solid plan and the proper steps in place, you can get into a good groove with content creation. Building up a library of pieces that directly speak to your audience, fully explain the topic at hand, and feature original, natural, well-written copy will give you an edge over your competitors and help you avoid content marketing mistakes. 

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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