The meteoric growth of web content has come with a crop of experts, who range from totally qualified to less than able to give sound advice. It’s truer than ever to take advice you find online with a grain of salt, particularly when the health and success of your small business is on the line. There’s blog marketing tips out there that can revolutionize your company, and there’s pieces of advice that are sure to hurt more than help.
Here’s the truth: the business of web content is really new. So new, in fact, that leading experts like Joe Pulizzi and Ann Handley are the first to admit they’re essentially students of the practice. Any content marketing expert who offers blog marketing tips without advice to look at your metrics is probably full of baloney. Here are 23 of the least helpful pieces of advice floating around that could actually harm your SMB’s inbound marketing strategy:
1. Blog Every Day
But, wait. Why shouldn’t I blog every day? Loads of the world’s best blogs publish content daily, like HubSpot, Content Marketing Institute, and Marketing Profs! Here’s the difference: each of these brands have multiple staff members committed to creating content. Significant resource allocation can result in really great content, and lots of it.
The average SMB can’t always afford to dedicate an entire staff member to content creation. Trying to squeeze 7 blog articles a week into your already-full schedule probably won’t result in the type of content people or search engines want to recognize. In fact, Google’s quality guidelines state that your web articles should be as high quality as print publications. Anyone who suggests you publishing often, regardless of whether the final product resembles anything good or not, is probably not a content marketing “expert” you should follow.
2. You Don’t Need SEO
“If you write great content, people will come.” If you know how this piece of advice works, please enlighten us, because we’re downright confused. 89% of consumers begin performing product and service research on a major search engine. This means that unless your blog is SEO-optimized, they’ll probably land on your competitors’ website instead. Blogging without attention to SEO is certainly possible, but it might not yield the results you want.
3. An Optimal Keyword Density is 4%
Yikes. This particular whopper among blog marketing tips is so 2008. Google’s Matt Cutts has never actually said that keyword stuffing is penalized, but he has said that the search engine rewards natural writing. It’s pretty hard to create quality content with such a high keyword density.
4. Keep Posts to 300 Words
Be very, very afraid of absolutes which can’t be verified. 300 words probably isn’t the optimal length for the majority of your blog posts, because it’s pretty darn hard to provide value in just two paragraphs. Small business expert Jeff Korhan addresses this issue perfectly, writing that optimal blog post length “is not the number of words, but achieving a complete message with nothing more to add or take away.”
5. Exchange Links with Other Bloggers
Why shouldn’t you trade links with other bloggers? It’s free, easy, and results in great SEO, right? Well, wrong. It’s actually against the rules, and websites which excessively trade links can be banned from Google’s index. There’s certainly a chance that you won’t get caught, but it’s probably a risk that’s just not worth taking.
6. Any Image Online Is Fair Game
There’s some content marketing practitioners out there who truly believe that as long as you credit the website where you obtained an image, its fair game for use.
Image courtesy of PhotoStock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
While we’re in no position to be handing out SMB legal advice, stealing someone else’s intellectual property can land your company in some seriously deep hot water and steep fees.
7. Subscribers Are the Most Important Metric
Here’s the thing: there is no single blog marketing metric that matters more than others. In fact, if there were a perfect inbound marketing metric, it would be closed-loop analytics, a measure of the campaigns and contents which result in closed customers. You’ve got to examine your page views, call-to-action (CTA) click-throughs, and subscribers in tandem to determine the overall health of your content marketing. Subscribers are a measure of how well your content engages your audience, but it’s no measure of whether you’re even engaging the right people to begin with.
8. Be Controversial
There’s a difference between taking a stand on issues that matter when it reflects well on your company, and haphazardly stirring up controversy to get attention. Being controversial for the sake of being controversial will certainly get you attention, but it’s not professional, and the spotlight can fade pretty quickly.
9. Newsjack Often
Should you address breaking news items that have a direct impact on your industry? Absolutely. Should you leverage national tragedies to get some attention, links, and readers? Nope, a million times. As David Meerman Scott points out, frivolous newsjacking of tragedies leaves a bad taste in people’s mouth. When people are suffering, limit your media to positive thoughts, and helpful information.
10. Comments Are King
Advice to sprinkle your comments far and wide over the internet may have once worked, but it surely doesn’t anymore. View commenting on other blogs as a means to network with other bloggers, not build links to your website.
11. Content Marketers Aren’t Social Media Marketers
Your content marketing strategy will suffer if you hit publish, and sit back to relax. Content marketing and social media can’t exist in silos, and this is becoming one of the worst blog marketing tips as social signals continue to matter more to SEO. A promotion strategy matters in an era of content abundance. Can you think of a single content marketing expert that doesn’t do social media well? We can’t, either.
12. Strive for Page Views
No one knows the formula for viral. If your entire content marketing strategy revolves around emulating BuzzFeed or Upworthy in hopes of getting 20,000 hits, your actual prospects are going to be left pretty confused. Going viral is certainly fabulous, but if these prospects don’t convert into leads, there’s little value. Write content that’s life changing to your buyer personas, whether that means you’ll get 200 or 200,000 page views.
13. There’s No Such Thing as Black Hat SEO
Oh yes, there definitely is. Negative SEO is a real phenomenon, and relying on optimization tactics from 2007 is likely to get your blog banned faster than you can say “spam.” While this list isn’t comprehensive, the following blog marketing tips are definitely in the black hat realm:
- Keyword Stuffing
- Article Spinning
- Hidden Text
- Excessive Internal or External Linking
14. You Can Outsource for Cheap
This isn’t the biggest lie among blog marketing tips. You can outsource content for less than a penny per word, but it’s probably not going to be very good. More than likely, it won’t help you generate leads, subscribers or revenue. You can pay for experts and reap the rewards of being recognized as a thought leader, or you can fill your site with cheap content.
15. Don’t Write to an Audience
Well-meaning marketers may try to write in order to please everyone. The problem with this candidate for the worst blog marketing tips is that it’s a great idea in theory, but rotten in practice. By trying to write content which appeals to everyone, you’ll manage to capture the hearts and minds of no one. Besides, Gleanster Research has found that engaging with highly-targeted content is correlated to sales, not engaging with general articles.
16. Don’t Collaborate With Competitors
Ignoring your competition could definitely qualify as one of the most dangerous blog marketing tips. The ancient adage “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” could have been written about content marketing. Perform competitive analysis regularly, and write amazing guest posts for blogs in your niche. You’ll win in the end when you capture their audience.
17. Content Calendars Inhibit Creativity
Content marketers are creative souls. However, creativity doesn’t supersede organization, and there’s no excuse to ignore the benefits of an editorial calendar. Use a content calendar as a tool to ensure you’re providing sufficient variety, and targeting the right keywords over time. When the creative urge strikes you, there’s no law that says you can’t ignore your editorial calendar. Anyone who tells you otherwise is giving out silly blog marketing tips.
18. You Can Edit Your Own Work
You can edit your own work, but you can’t type directly into Wordpress or Blogger, spell check, and hit publish. You’re going to make mistakes, and your readers will call you out on it. Have a colleague check your work before you publish, or at least give yourself a few hours to step away and proofread with fresh eyes.
19. Variety Doesn’t Matter
Even brilliant content marketers can get stuck in a rut. It isn’t pretty, and becoming boring can wreak havoc on your blog subscribers and social shares. Anyone who tells you that you should identify a very narrow niche is guilty of handing out bad blog marketing tips. Strive for variety within your industry, and avoid becoming stagnant.
20. Don’t Consider Lead Generation
No one wants to be a pushy marketer. One of the most devastating blog marketing tips involves not using CTA buttons at the bottom of your content, and assuming your prospects will become leads on their own if they’re interested. Think about it for a moment. You’re really expecting a reader to dig through your website until they find a landing page, and then convert? With rare exceptions, CTAs definitely aren’t pushy. They’re just good business.
21. Don’t Use Sources
Let’s be clear: using sources does not mean you don’t know your stuff. It just means that you performed a research, and were kind enough to give credit where credit is due. Google and your readers will appreciate the fact you looked deeply into the topic before publishing. Even the world’s brightest minds writing PhD dissertations provide tons of credit to sources.
22. Repeating Topics Is Just Fine
Repeating topics is fine, if you’re providing updates or a new level of value to something you’ve already covered. Otherwise, republishing or spinning content can look pretty spammy.
23. Be Consistent, No Matter What
This isn’t the most unfounded of blog marketing tips, but it can certainly be misinterpreted. There’s a research which indicates blog readers react well to consistency in publishing, but any marketer would be foolish to stick with something that just wasn’t working. Review your metrics, remain on your toes, and be prepared to pivot when something isn’t yielding the results you want.
What are the most dangerous blog marketing tips you’ve encountered during your content career?