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Keeping up with content marketing best practices is not an easy feat. In fact, it can be downright ghoulish. You see, as Google has gotten older, it has also gotten wiser to some of the old black hat SEO tricks that so many shady SEO ‘experts’ and misguided marketers used to get away with. Unfortunately, some of these tactics were so widely used that they became the standard and still exist today.

While it’s my belief that most businesses are innocently and blindly following some of these practices, the sad truth is, some SEO providers are doing so knowingly and intentionally. So beware! If you’re making any of these SEO content mistakes, Google will notice and it will negatively affect your SEO score.

Keyword Stuffing

Back in the olden days of SEO, keyword stuffing was all the rage and do you know why? Because it worked. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “keyword stuffing”, allow me to explain. Let’s say you want your page to rank for the search term, “Halloween candy”. Your keyword-stuffed content would look a little something like this:

Get your Halloween candy here! We have the largest assortment of Halloween candy in the greater Los Angeles area. We have chocolate Halloween candy, sour Halloween candy, and more. All Halloween candy is now on sale, so stop in to stock up on Halloween candy before it’s too late!

Now imagine an entire page filled with this type of thin, repetitive content… Eeeeek!

Before Google’s Panda update, marketers could trick the search engine into thinking their page was more relevant than others, and often they would rank higher as a result. Luckily, Google put a stop to that. Not only is it lazy, but it’s annoying too. Users don’t want to read boring, useless drivel. They want to be wowed. They want to get to the point. They want content that clicks with them.

My advice is that before you start crafting your on-page content, think about what your audience wants and needs, and then write content that delivers on those expectations. Yes, you want to make sure that target keywords are interspersed throughout your content, but they should flow naturally. Write for the user first, and Google second if you want your users to engage.

Duplicating Content

In my experience, the vast majority of clients I’ve worked with know that creating duplicate content is bad, but many weren’t aware that they were guilty of it themselves. In most cases, publishing duplicate content online is an honest mistake. In some cases, it’s intentional, albeit ineffective. In other cases, it’s just plain lazy. Either way, there’s no reason why in 2016, your site should get dinged for duplicate content. Now, what if you’re an ecommerce site, with thousands of duplicate product descriptions? A simple canonical tag strategy can fix that right up for you.

Existing content can certainly be re-purposed in other formats or re-written with a different angle. In fact, this is a great strategy for sites that churn out a high volume of content on a daily or weekly basis. It can save money and resources, but it must be done wisely. For example, an article could be re-purposed into an infographic or an article about “The Best Halloween Costumes of 2015” could be re-written and revised for 2016.

 Misuse of Reviews

Guess what? Companies do write fake reviews. Companies do pay people to write fake reviews. And companies do remove negative reviews. If you’re like most people, you’ve probably been suspecting this to be the case for some time, and maybe you just didn’t want to believe it, but it’s true. However, fewer and fewer businesses are getting away with this these days because 1) people aren’t stupid and 2) Google, Yelp, and Facebook are starting to come down hard on violators by providing the means to report fake reviews. Now, there is no way for Google to determine whether or not a review is fake, but it can spot duplicate content across sites. So, if you’re posting the same review on different web pages, Google may see this as suspicious and thus give your site lower domain authority, which results in a lower rank.

Another, more innocent mistake that many content marketers make is that they don’t respond to customer reviews. This is a big no-no, especially because content marketing and social media are so closely tied these days. A web page’s level of user engagement – whether it be on-site, on Facebook, or part of your blog – has a definite impact on overall SEO performance. When users leave feedback, they want to know that they’re being heard; that there is a real person behind the screen who truly cares about their satisfaction. Responding to visitors’ reviews, questions, or comments lets them know that you hear them and you value their business. I don’t need to explain how this type of attention can go a long way towards building customer loyalty. But from an SEO perspective, this practice can lead to better performance on the search engines. The more you interact with your customer, the more they will interact in return and the more they will trust your brand and share with their friends. The more a customer comes back to your site and the more people that customer convinces to visit your site translates into greater online authority and better rank.

With Google issuing endless algorithm updates, navigating the world of SEO content can be a bit scary, but it doesn’t have to be. If you follow the experts, stick to Google’s guidelines, and heed my advice, you’ll be in for a real treat!

Mary Hayes is a Manager in Earned Media at The Search Agency, where she’s worked for 10 years. She has prior experience in SEM, print and email marketing, publishing and advertising. Mary is passionate about her two children, working smart and making a positive impact in everything she does.

1 Comment
  • Alexis Gil

    I totally agree with you as for the respond to customers reviews. It’s very important to let people know, that you hear them and care about their thoughts, so far as your content was written for them. Thanks for this and other reminders and tips!

    January 20, 2017 at 4:53 pm Reply
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