It’s totally human to make a spelling or grammatical error here or there.
No one is perfect, but the following five practices could be digging a grave for your content strategy. Some of these things could easily happen by accident. If you’re utilizing any of these practices on purpose, though, allow me to be a good friend and help you make lemonade out of lemons:
1. You are overly promotional.
The point of content marketing is to earn the trust of your readers.
People are bombarded with ads all day long. The last thing they want is to have another sales pitch thrown in their face while they’re trying to read a blog post and learn something.
Don’t get me wrong; I love a good shameless plug. However, there’s a way to show off your brand without being overly promotional and irritating your audience.
Avoid using language in your content that encourages your readers to buy something from you right then and there. Try showing your readers why they should buy something from you. You’re the expert, so educate them on what they need to solve their problems. Instead of saying that your product or service is the best, talk about awards that you’ve won or opportunities that you’ve received, such as speaking engagements or press mentions. That way, members of your audience still get the message that you’re successful without feeling like they’re watching a YouTube ad.
2. You’re using black hat SEO.
We’ve all put a filter on a picture to make ourselves look a little better—which is fine. However. tricking out your website to be something it’s not really isn’t a good look for anyone.
If you don’t know what black hat SEO is, it’s a way of manipulating a page on the internet to increase its ranking on search engines. It actually violates search engines’ terms of service and is mostly used by hackers and virus creators. This can sometimes happen without your knowledge if you hire someone to create and manage your website without proper vetting.
You can tell that a site is using black hat SEO if a page is covered with links that provide no value to the reader, has duplicate pages or sneaky redirects, or is consistently bashing a competitor.
If you’re creating your own content, you can avoid black hat SEO tactics by asking yourself whether every link you’re inserting serves a purpose. Are the keywords you’re using beneficial for the content, or are they a way of trying to climb the search engine ranks? If you outsource your content, make sure that the creators you’re working with have good values when it comes to SEO practices and are using your keyword list for good, not evil.
3. You’re ignoring your audience.
When creating content, it’s essential that you consider who you are speaking to and what you want them to gain from your content.
Think about your buyer personas and what they’re looking to learn about your product or service. If you need help figuring out who your audience members are, what content interests them, and how you can target them best, check out NetLine’s Audience Explorer.
Also, find out what real-life questions your leads are asking during sales calls. What do your sales reps find themselves explaining to customers frequently? Those are the kinds of topics your content should be addressing.
Though it might seem fun to create content about life around the office or the latest branding initiatives your company is undertaking, think of the value prospective and current customers could get from reading it. If the answer is “little to none,” then direct your content creation efforts elsewhere.
4. Publishing overly-short or extra-long content.
Make sure that what you’re delivering provides enough information that your readers feel satisfied and have learned something. On the other hand, you don’t want overwhelm them with more than they can handle.
There’s no one “right” length for content. Try to focus on making sure your content is clear, concise, and easy to read. If the subject you’re covering requires you to go into more detail, then let that be a piece of longer-form content. Juts don’t ramble on only to end up making a piece longer than it needs to be.
5. You’re not measuring your efforts.
One of my favorite quotes is from professional tennis player Billie Jean King: “Champions adjust.” In order to be successful, you have to make changes based on what you’re currently seeing.
Everyone with a website should be paying attention to Google Analytics. If you’re using a marketing automation platform, be sure to keep tabs on what is performing well so that you can build on successful practices and nix the unsuccessful ones.
Lauren Morrow is a content marketing specialist with Influence & Co. A version of this article originally appeared on the Influence & Co. blog.