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The Most Common Blogging Mistake I've Encountered .
Whenever I’ve been required to give a Content Audit, or simply asked to “check out” a blog and tell people what I think, there’s one big mistake I find more often than any other.
Rather than getting into a big pre-amble and burying the lead, lets just get into it. Here’s (in my experience) the most common blogging mistake: Targeting the same keyword over and over and over again, across multiple blog posts.
For example, whenever you upload a blog post, chances are you're doing so because you want to rank for a certain keyword. You'll make sure that this keyword is present in your Title, URL, H1 and possibly H2, Meta Titles & Descriptions, which are all good practices. However its not a good idea to repeatedly do this for the same keyword. In fact, doing so actually harms your SEO, rather than help it.
Read on and we'll explore why this happens, and what best practices you can implement to improve.
Who Typically Makes this Mistake?
Years ago, during my first fledgling marketing role, I did. It’s a very easy mistake to make, so don’t be disheartened. A little education and tweaking can go a long way.
I find this issue most often with small businesses who are looking to improve their SEO. They’ve gotten the idea that they need a blog (great), but not quite sure why, or what the best practices are (not so great).
In fact, after I’ve usually looked over a blog, about 70% of the time I’m asked the question “Why do we need a blog in the first place?”
That usually tells me that they’re not seeing any results from their blog posts (no rise in rankings, no rise in traffic, but a whole lot of time and money spent), which means we need to go back to basics.
Think About Why You’ve Got a Blog in the First Place
There are two big reasons a business might need a blog:
1. To help rank in search results for questions or queries when a potential customer makes an online search
2. To create exceptionally interesting or useful content designed to be shared online organically, without relying on searches (think Buzzfeed, online news, influencer thought pieces)
Most businesses lean toward the former, and that’s usually the best choice for them.
Let’s say you sell pens – the best, most elegant and fanciest fountain pens. Your blog might feature 15 posts about “the best fountain pens”, all talking about how great they are, in the hopes that a reader might be inspired to buy one from you.
Sound logic. So why doesn’t it work?
Even if you’ve got a top-notch writer who is an expert on fountain pens, his talents and passion are sadly going to go to waste.
The problem is, by creating 15 blog posts all targeting “the best fountain pens” as a keyword, you’re hurting your SEO, making your content rank lower, and limiting the number of readers who will actually see your content. This means less traffic, which ultimately means less pens sold.
Plus your expert writer will probably be sad no-ones reading his wonderfully passionate articles about pens.
There’s a very simple reason as to why this happens: When someone searches for “the best fountain pens”, Google’s robots crawl the web and bring back the best, most-relevant results. In most cases, it aims to bring back the single best result. As you know, you’ll be fighting against other pen selling websites to rank highest for that keyword and be considered that single best result.
Here’s the thing: If you’ve got multiple pages all targeting the same keyword, Google simply doesn’t know which one you’d prefer to rank highest, and so decides not to rank any of them. Remember that Google’s robots are looking for the single best result, and your site is giving them 15.
In other words, you’re not just competing against other websites, you’re competing against yourself.
This is known as Keyword Cannibalisation, and should be avoided.
Without a doubt, Keyword Cannibalisation is the most common blog mistake I’ve come across, but fortunately it is one of the simplest to avoid.
Defeating Keyword Cannibalisation is simple, but will require a rethink of your blog/content strategy going forward. Simply put, you need to get more specific and varied with your targeted keywords, and eliminate the possibility that you’ll compete against yourself again.
Commit to some in-depth Keyword Research, discover more specific questions or searches that people are searching for, and tailor each individual piece of content to be the single best answer to that query. For example, you might find people are searching for the "best fountain pen for retirement present", "best fountain pen for secondary school", or "best fountain pen for £100".
Repeat after me: aim to provide the single. best. answer. This is your mantra, and will deliver a boost to your traffic, and more pens sold, if utilised correctly.
Plus, your pen-loving expert writer will be much happier.
If you’re unsure about how to move forward with this knowledge, or if you’ve got a question you’d like to see me cover in another blog post, send me an e-mail at email@example.com. Alternatively, check out my guide to deciding which digital social media platform is best for your business.
Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.
A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.
So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance.
What is a Content Strategy?
It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.
But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business.
Who are my Audience?
You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.
So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context.
Do I need to tailor content?
As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.
Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:
What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?
Who are they most influenced by?
What voices influence their behaviour?
What type of content do they consume?
Where do they consume content and engage with brands?
Different Content, Different Objectives
All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.
There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.
Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale.
Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels.
Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.
Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.
Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.
How do I manage all this?
Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.
Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.
Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.
If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.