In the world of SEO, content marketing plays a pivotal role in attracting traffic to your website and broadening your search presence beyond your standard landing pages. Some companies absolutely nail their strategy, while some are stuck in an endless cycle of crapping out poor-quality content in an attempt to appease the almighty search engines.
Below I’ve covered some reasons why your content marketing strategy might suck, and if it does – what to do about it.
1. You’re not considering your format.
Before moving on to search intent, look at search engine intent. You want to write a great piece for your hair & beauty company about cutting your own hair. Easy right?
Create a step by step guide, add some pictures, BOOM. The perfect piece of content. Google’s going to bloody love this.
This could be the most awesome, in-depth, mesmerising list ever written, but does it match search engine intent?
A quick search will show you that Google instantly serves you video tutorials for this query, Google will always attempt to provide the most relevant answer (and format) for your query.
But what’s that below? A LIST? A LIST!
A list of videos.
See what I’m getting at?
Whenever you’re brainstorming a new content piece, scan the first page, which format are you being served? Videos? A list? A long-form piece?
If you don’t match this format, you won’t perform – Google won’t let you.
When planning out your content for your copywriter/videographer/designer, add a column labelled “format” to ensure you’re always matching search engine intent.
2. You’re writing content for search engines, not people.
Simple enough – write your content for people, not for Search Engines. Spending 12 hours researching the perfect long-tail keywords to stuff into your 300 word post might help a little, but are you forgetting to actually make your content useful?
Spend some time getting into the head of your customer or target demographic, what do they want to know? How can you provide the answer to this?
I like to use Answer The Public – it gives you great insights into queries relating to your content topic that people are actually asking.
Lets say you sell scented candles, really nice ones. Are you going to write 30 posts about how great your candles are? How will people who don’t know you exist…find out that you exist? Let’s have a look at some candle related queries you can use for your next content piece.
- How are candles made?
- Will candles put themselves out?
- Who wrote candle in the wind? (Joking)
- Why candles flicker?
Your job as a candle expert should be to provide the most accurate and relevant answer to these questions. Ensuring you match search engine intent (Video? List? Long-form?).
Answer these questions in the best way possible and Google will give you the nod – look at competing pieces and one-up them, more on this later.
3. You’re using multiple tones of voice.
Most brands will spend thousands upon thousands of pounds ensuring that their branding is on point, with strict guidelines to suit. However most forget to ensure that their brand’s tone maintains consistency throughout.
If your homepage and top-level pages are formal and corporate, but your blog sounds like an Instagram influencer✨, it’s sending your customers some seriously dodgy messages. Is this a life insurance company or are they going to try and sell me some weight-loss tea the moment I drop my guard?
Teamwork is key here. It makes the dream work. Some companies may use a singular copywriter for all their written content, but for those who use freelancers or distribute work to a team – everyone needs to ensure that they are on the same page when it comes to tone of voice.
4. Your content isn’t better than what already exists.
If you’re not sitting down to write a piece with the intent to make it the best in its class, what’s the point?
Kind of like the parallel universe theory – for every amazing content marketing idea that you could ever think of, someone has probably already had a go at writing it.
Brian Dean of Backlinko has a terrific piece on this and is commonly known as the Skyscraper Technique. It involves taking a content idea relating to your business, analysing the top result and doing a better job – simple as that!
Let’s use another example, I’m going to use the scented candle company again because I can’t stop thinking about them. Take the second query listed in section 2 – “Will candles put themselves out?”
Here’s the featured snippet – nicely done, Blaizen Candles (love the name).
Now, let’s check the stats:
Internal Links: 0
Throwing ourselves back to the first point on our list – Google deems this article informative enough to rank as a feature snippet.
How can we improve upon this?
It’s not simply a case of adding more words and images, but more detail. If this detail requires a video to explain, then add a video, the same with images/infographics/interactive elements.
Google wants the best possible answer – try adding some statistics, a quote from a candle company, conduct a test to see if certain brands burn out quicker?
Simply put, can you answer this question better? I think so. So, for any scented candle makers out there, you can have that one for free.
5. You’re not a copywriter
I always save the best until last, but it’s the most obvious one. Let’s rephrase it – if you’ve never touched a website in your life, would you prefer to build your own site instead of hiring a developer? Would you do your own company branding rather than hiring a skilled graphic designer?
If the answer is yes, your website probably sucks, so will your branding, if you write your own content instead of using a copywriter, that’s a hat-trick of sucks right there.
Copywriters are often undervalued, but hiring the right one can make an astronomical difference to your business. They don’t just write words, they create engaging content that regular joes can only dream of. They can make difficult topics digestible and boring topics interesting. Let’s be honest, most businesses don’t sell fun products, so get a copywriter in to turn those bi-fold doors into a bloody adventure.
Follow these rules and you’ll be piping out some spellbinding content marketing that your customers (and therefore search engines) will love.
If you haven’t got the time to sort your content out, I can help – so get in touch if all hope is lost and we can discuss your goals.