In the recent B2B Content Marketing Report by CMI, it's no surprise that 88% of the companies surveyed implemented Content Marketing in 2015. What's surprising is how only 30% of these companies perceive their Content Strategy as effective, and only 32% have a documented content strategy. So what are the others doing with their Content Marketing strategies then?
Sadly, if you're not tracking your progress, measuring performance metrics, and documenting your strategy (or not asking help from the experts who offer inbound marketing services), you could be churning out content in vain. Even more frustrating, you could be spending an unreasonable amount of time and money on strategies that don't work anymore.
Whether you're figuring out what's wrong with your content strategy last year, or developing your content strategy for the first time, here are some old school Content Marketing tactics that you have to consider leaving behind.
I mean, let's be honest guys. I see some marketers and bloggers do some of these, still. (Okay, myself included. Sometimes.) But it's the year 2016, and bear with me but I've been waiting for a chance to say this—out with the old, in with the new!
I like calling this "Content Un-Marketing", where, as Pablo Picasso would say, we "learn the rules like a pro so we can break them like an artist."
1. Stop keyword stuffing your content
In the early days of SEO, a landing page that focused on a specific keyword worked like crazy. We called them "doorway pages", where a page served nothing more than to attract search engine bots and improve rankings in the results pages.
Needless to say, keyword density and doorway pages are so 2005! Google has become more sophisticated in identifying the quality and authority of a page.
To be clear, Keyword Research and Analysis is still an integral part of the content marketing process. However, while it's important to know these opportunity keywords and to incorporate them into your overall strategy, stuffing a page with your target keyword is not going to help your search visibility either. You may even get your page penalized and banned from the SERPs altogether.
That being said, let your content flow naturally. Look at your list of keywords, think about how these key phrases are relevant to your target audience, and write your content in a way that will answer questions, evoke emotions, and relate to your audience in a personal level.
Remember, you want your content to be reader-friendly and not search-friendly. Stop focusing on keywords and focus on discussing ideas, tackling topics, and answering questions instead.
2. Stop creating short and easy blog posts
This is applicable mostly for B2B organizations. In this age where we face a massive outpouring of content of all types daily, it's easy to think that short, easy and scannable content is the type of content busy and mobile readers would appreciate. Indeed, this has worked for many of us in the past years.
Posting quick blog posts daily, no more than 500 words, is not only easier to accomplish but also seems to be more effective. Our tendency is to keep our content as straightforward and as short as possible so as not to "bore" the readers to death.
We have seen a shift in Content Marketing trends this past year, as more and more experts prove that long-form content shows greater and more long-term results in terms of search engine visibility, traffic, overall performance, and ROI.
Neil Patel summarized it well, the reasons why 1,500-3,000 word content is the way to go:
- Majority of blog posts published are 500 words or shorter. You can stand out in the noise by putting in extra an 1500 words worth of work.
- Longer articles generate business leads for longer timeframe. Because they attract backlinks and organic traffic from Google timelessly.
- You’re perceived as an authority in your industry. Your audience appreciates comprehensive posts that delve into intricacies of their pain points. They won’t need to jump on 10 different websites to get the same information.
- Long-form is sustainable. You can launch a marketing campaign solely by repurposing these epic content pieces.
As a disclaimer, this practice is ideal for B2B companies, particularly those who provide services that require technical skills. By building long, comprehensive content, as Neil said, potential customers will perceive you as an authority in your industry and therefore gain their trust.
Different scenarios may be present for B2C companies, where visual content or quick posts are more effective. This is why it is wise to begin with understanding your business goals and buyer personas first.
3. Stop taking the timestamp off your posts
One reason why blogging is such a valuable tool for marketing is that, it keeps old posts archived in your website, making them visible to search engines and potential clients 24/7. How many times have you encountered old posts going viral or attracting traffic one year later?
As someone who study other blogs on a regular basis, I like looking at the date (or at least the year!) the article was created to know if it’s still relevant. Specifically, blog topics that are time-sensitive and technical, such as this Kissmetrics post right here:
11 Ways You Can Improve Your Business with Google Analytics.
If you're a non-marketer and would like to know how to use Google Analytics to improve your business, you might find yourself landing on this Kissmetrics blog post. Don’t get me wrong. I love Kissmetrics. I’m a blog subscriber, and I digest EVERYTHING they say on that blog.
But Kissmetrics' blog doesn’t have a time stamp, so when you’re coming to their site for the first time through a dated blog post, you get misinformed.
This article was posted so many years ago. You can guess the date by way of the comments, in this case, there's one from 2008 and one from 2011. Therefore, the above blog post was most likely published in 2008.
Last year when I wrote this post, I noticed that Copyblogger hid the date from their posts too. I'm glad to see that the dates are back up on the newly redesigned Copyblogger blog and readers don't have to guess anymore which blog posts were written when.
Many blogs have taken the date off their posts and URLs. This makes the blog posts look evergreen, and optimizes the site's URL structure (a known SEO on-page optimization practice). While this may serve a purpose, it can also deceive and misinform readers.
In that note, I particularly appreciate BackLinko for having a date stamped on its blog posts. Brian Dean, the genius behind Backlinko, does a good job at updating posts to make them more relevant, and makes it a point to show the date they were last updated.
Case in point, I like checking this Skyscraper Technique once in a while. I remember reading it for the first time in 2013, and it's good to know that the article was yet again updated in December 2015, which means I can be assured of its relevance.
For whatever reason you took the timestamp off your posts before, I say, it's time to put that date back on!
On a relate note, one good strategy to do this 2016 is to repurpose and reupdate old blog posts. Time-sensitive topics can use some freshening up and can be made relevant again. A timestamp on your last update (like Backlinko's) is a good gauge for readers to know whether the content is still relevant.
4. Stop showing only partial posts on your rss and/or email feeds
Some bloggers only show excerpts on their RSS feeds to force readers to view the full post on their blog. On the other hand, showing the full posts on their feed allows subscribers to read from their feed readers and email inboxes without having to visit the blog.
On a personal note, I find partial feeds really annoying. I like reading while in transit, and scrolling through Feedly with my smartphone is very convenient. Sometimes, when a blog is only showing partial feeds, I don’t bother to click through anymore. I skip the post and move on.
I understand that showing partial feeds is a strategy to get your readers to your site. I say, it’s the year 2016, and getting page views is not anymore as relevant as people being able to access your content anytime they want, and however they please.
You will lose some traffic but trust me, you’ll gain more readers.
5. Stop blogging daily
I think we've heard and seen too many debates and arguments about this already, and now we can say with conviction that blogging daily is not as important anymore as blogging high quality (hello, 10x!) content.
If you're managing a news site or heck, if you're Seth Godin, sure, blogging daily is essential to your business. But for corporate blogging, there's more you can achieve from creating comprehensive content weekly than blogging so-so content daily. Don’t burn yourself out by forcing to blog daily. Instead, commit to a regular blogging schedule that you can manage and stick to it. Commit yourself to write less but more relevant content.
Less is more, guys. Consistency, not daily, is the key.
6. Stop being afraid of being personal and transparent
For years there has been this notion that, to be perceived as "professional" and to be taken seriously, one has to keep his/her personal stuff to herself and simply talk business online. But readers are tired of the corporate mumbo jumbo and last year we have seen content marketers choosing to be more brave in sharing their life and their story online.
Transparency has become a huge thing too, and we have seen one too many startups documenting their journey online, including the fails, successes, wins, loses, including actual data and sometimes even an accounting of their income.
Case in point, Neil Patel shifted his blog to something like this (screenshot below) at the start of 2015, and wow. This guy is such trailblazer in the online marketing industry, he doesn't want to keep his learnings to himself. He shares what he knows and gains people's trust this way.
Pinch of Yum, this one food blog I follow, even goes as transparent as detailing their blog income every month on the page, their way of educating other food bloggers on how to monetize their blogs online. Pretty awesome.
Authentic and honest storytelling is, dare I say, revolutionizing the industry this 2016. It's time we all practice a little honesty ourselves and allow our personality to shine through in our content strategy.
I do understand that being personal is a predicament for us marketers. We are wired to think logically and strategically. And so we create content “that works” based on data, and we miss out on striving to make a connection and evoking emotion. And while creating content strategies that are based on data is still important, I say it's time to spin off our articles to have more heart, and personality, and maybe even honesty this year and beyond.
Who's with me? :)