5 reasons you haven't been successful with content marketing yet
by Brittany Taylor
published September 8, 2015
updated June 5, 2018
¶ In content strategy land, there is nothing more happy dance-worthy than when you get your first big web traffic surge or your first insightful comment or your first social media share from an influencer you’ve been following forever.
But if you’re feeling more #sadface than #happydance, there’s a reason for that. In fact, there are five.
On my personal blog, I write about whatever I want. It’s awesome in the same way a diary is awesome when you read it again 10 years later.
But here, I have a narrow focus. See the category links listed on the right? Those are the topics to which I confine my blog posts on this website. Do I have other ideas could quite possibly kick major booty? Yeah, I do. But here, I’ve spent time narrowing my focus so that I can concentrate on information I think you’ll find useful.
Before you go all footloose and fancy free over there, ask yourself one question before you start writing: Will my target audience care about this? Answer that honestly and you’ll find the right direction for your content.
I know, I know: You’re a writer. You’re focusing on the content, not the keywords. I get it! You want to express yourself and your business, and that’s great. That’s exactly what your website should be doing.
Except, if no one is reading what you’re writing, then what’s the point?
Keywords and search engine optimization aren’t the hideous beasts they once were. In fact, research has found over and over again that long-tail keywords sprinkled throughout your content perform better than single keywords dumped all over your work like sausage gravy on your Sunday brunch biscuits.
Don’t focus on adding keywords so much as simplifying your writing. Chances are the one word that can replace a complicated phrase is a word that will help you perform better (bonus: it’s almost always the less confusing choice for readers, too).
Call me superficial, call me nitpicky, call me annoying. Whatever. The fact of the matter is, if I’m turned off by something on your site, chances are good I’m not the only one.
I’m not talking about big-picture things, like your ideas or your tone. I’m talking about stupid easy things you should be getting right but aren’t. Things like spelling. And grammar. And your links not working. And site colors that literally hurt my eyes. And pop-ups I can’t get rid of. And navigation that’s obviously way smarter and hipper than I am, ‘cause heck if I can figure out how to read more of your awesome blog posts.
Why does being annoying matter? Because annoyed readers don’t keep reading. They don’t keep clicking, they don’t follow you on social media, and they don’t heed your call to action. They hit that “X” as fast as they can and move on.
If you’re seeing bounces (or zero interest in whatever you’re selling), ask an honest friend or colleague to critique your site.
Regularity is the biggest killer of content. Sure, if you’re Seth Godin, you can pop in whenever you feel like it. But if your name carries less clout, you need to publish on a schedule in order to maintain reader loyalty.
Bonus? The more frequently you publish, the greater your likelihood of converting leads and boosting your Google ranking.
What’s really helped me to be more regular with my own blogs is to set aside an afternoon once a month and to write all of the blog posts for that month right then and there. Then, I source the images, crop them, upload them to WordPress, and schedule them. That gives me a few weeks to not worry about it, which means that when it is time to write blog posts, I’m fresh and ready to go rather than seeing it as another chore.
Now, your time-frame might vary. If you’re publishing daily, try writing posts once a week. If you’re publishing thrice weekly, try writing posts biweekly.
It is so easy to blog your heart out for a few weeks and get disheartened when your views aren’t skyrocketing and people aren’t commenting on your ideas. It makes you feel like nobody cares, right?
Well, if you’re saying that after just a few weeks—heck, even just a few months!—that’s not true. Instagram and Twitter are about instant gratification. Blogging is not.
Per HubSpot, it takes about six months for search engines to start boosting your traffic. “It’s around this time,” writes Jon Bonini of Impact Branding and Design, “you’ll start seeing incremental spikes in traffic, blog subscribers, and most importantly, blogging morale.”
Just keep swimming. Stick to your strategy. Stick to your schedule. Keep putting your ideas out into the world, on both your blog and your social media accounts. Eventually, you’ll see an uptick in your traffic. And if your content strategy is hitting the right target, you’ll see an uptick in customer acquisition.
Then, you can do your happy dance.
My name is Brittany, but my friends and clients call me "Britt." Online small business owners hire me to create content strategies and write their blog posts, email newsletters, and social media updates. I work with bosses around the world from the marshes of Charleston, S.C.
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