8 Outdated Content Marketing Practices You Should Stop Doing Today

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Outdated Content Marketing Practices search engine journal

For the last few years, we’ve heard nothing but grandiose declarations of how important content marketing is and what really should be the driving force behind SEO campaigns.

Content is king, right?

Yes, 100% true. But just because content rules, that does not mean that all content is created equally or that every single bit is worth doing. Be sure you’re focusing your time and effort on what to do, instead of what not to do.

8 Really Bad, No-Good Content Marketing Practices to Stop Practicing Today

Do yourself (and your marketing budget) a favor and stop wasting time on these outdated content marketing practices right now.

1. STOP Writing Newsfeed Articles – It’s Just Not “Fresh” Content

I get it, I really do: When you look at your newsfeed and haven’t posted anything in a couple of weeks or even months *gasp* you start feeling that bottomless pit of anxiety in the very bottom of your belly. You know, that little voice that sounds suspiciously like Matt Cutts saying “hey, buddy, if you don’t post something right away people are going to think your blog is dead and Google’s going to be highly disappointed.”

8 Outdated Content Marketing Practices | SEJ

There’s a degree of truth in that. A newsfeed that hasn’t been updated in months absolutely gives the impression of an inactive website, but it’s crucial that you don’t just start publishing articles for the heck of it – and there are all sorts of reasons why.

For starters, they don’t add any value to the user and won’t help you secure queries or sales. Poorly written articles actually undermine your business’s industry authority with other users.

Secondly, it has become widely accepted that click-backs and bounce rates are indeed ranking factors in Google’s algorithm. Therefore, the less engaging your content is, the higher the bounce rate. This will, in turn, increase your site’s overall bounce rate.

Just to be clear here, a user has “bounced” if they have entered your site on a page but navigate away without visiting another page on the site.

If a user happens to navigate to your newsfeed from your homepage, this doesn’t count as a bounce, so bounce rates are only an issue with regards users who discover your articles via search engines.

(For an opposing view, check out Neil Patel’s article, “Lie #5, The higher your bounce rate, the lower your rankings”).

2. Stop Guest Blogging ONLY for Links

Guest blogging, if done right, is HIGHLY successful. I myself have witnessed inbound leads come in from a single high-quality guest blog on this very network, and convert for thousands of dollars as a customer. If you guest blog, and you are on top networks publishing only high-quality content, then you’re doing it right, my friend—keep it up.

However, this is about what not to do, so let me define that here. When guest blogging first came out, it was mostly a form of content-driven link building set to see every one of us skyrocket to the top of the SERPs with Google’s grandest blessings and just a little admiration thrown into the mix. Well, that definition is so 2013. If you’re writing guest blogs with the sole intention of earning links, you’re walking an extremely fine line.

Remember that old adage, “quality not quantity?” Keep it in mind when it comes to your approach to guest blogging. The fact is, if a site is willing to accept a post without an author, with very little guidelines, and next to no exposure for the real writer, that guest blog network is going to be offering next to nothing in terms of traffic or authority.

3. Stop Regurgitating and Rewriting Duplicate Content

Picture this: you’ve just completed an amazing article for your blog. You hit that publish button and the post becomes wildly popular very quickly and you start receiving messages from other bloggers. They’re mad about your article but instead of doing their own work and writing their own pieces, they’d prefer to copy yours and just post a link to your original piece.

Okay, on one hand, you’ll get a backlink (assuming the other site isn’t spammy), but now the search engines are confused. They just don’t know which is the original copy and which is the duplicate. So they don’t know which version to link. If you allow others to copy, they could end up getting the SEO credit you worked so hard for.

There’s somewhat of a myth around duplicate content and its impact on SEO. The main premise is that as long as your content isn’t spammy and duplicated, you don’t have much to worry about. The only other possible problem is that Google may not know quite which page to return in the SERPs if content has been duplicated across two internal pages.

If you are worried about the impact of directories, scraper sites, and other businesses copying your amazing content, don’t be! In the case of the first two, they will link back to your site. As for companies stealing your copy and using it as their own… if Google can come up with a self-driving car, they sure as heck can recognize where content was first posted.

4. Stop Writing Poor Content

Content is “numero uno” in today’s digital marketing world. Sites that continuously publish quality content that is well researched, well written, and not stuffed with keywords are a lot more likely to find themselves at the top of the search results. But it’s not always the case.

Prior to 2000, quality content wasn’t even a prerequisite for high-ranking sites. Most of the search engines didn’t care if the content was great or rubbish, and usually, the content wasn’t very good at all. So searchers would have difficulty finding great instructional and how-to articles that are so commonplace today.

Of course, we know that thin content is never going to be rewarded in search results. When Goggle rolled out their Penguin update, it rendered great content an absolute must for anyone wanting to even dabble in the SEO game. Today, poor content is more detrimental to your site’s ranking than any other SEO practice out there. To create great content, start with these tips:

  • Don’t make keywords the focus of the piece. Let your writing flow.
  • Write around 700 – 1000 words for an amazing article. If you’re just creating static copy for a business page, the 300-word mark will do.
  • Focus your content on points of interest and problems the audience may have.
  • Post engaging, fresh articles frequently if you want to stay relevant.
  • FYI: If a post is greater than 1,500 words, it tends to receive an average of just over 68% more tweets and around 22.6% more likes on Facebook than shorter posts.

5. Stop Keyword Stuffing

Once upon a time in a faraway land SEO was all about the keywords. The more phrases and keywords you could cram into your text, the more likely you were to see your pages popping up in search results.

However, this very quickly became a problem with content marketing. While there were those marketers and bloggers who were hard at work creating incredible content, there were plenty who were not. What they were doing was creating terribly-worded copy that served no purpose other than to rank higher in SERPs.

Let’s say the keyword was “carpet cleaner Melbourne,” then the copy would attempt to squeeze the phrase into just about every sentence, rendering the text completely redundant and, basically, useless.

For example: “looking for carpet cleaner Melbourne? We’re a carpet cleaner Melbourne looking to help you keep your carpets squeaky clean. Contact our carpet cleaner Melbourne company today.”

Gross… And not a lot of help, right? Despite how very useless these pages are, the tactics actually did work for a little while, until Google started penalizing sites for doing it. Today, most search engines follow Google’s lead. If you’re still trying to stuff keywords into your content, rest assured you’re not going to get very far.

Try sprinkling your keywords around the content and use them sparingly. Worry more about your content instead of the keywords. If you’re doing your best to create worthwhile content, properly targeted at your audience, then your keywords are going to flow far more naturally.

6. Stop Stuffing Meta Descriptions

When you search for something on Google, the search engine gives you a brief description of the site just under the link so you get an idea of where the link goes. This is the meta description.

Previously, it was common to stuff those with keywords, too, in order to try to raise page rankings in the search results. But 7 years ago Google announced that an update would be doing away with such a practice. Today, meta descriptions have no impact on SEO, so why bother stuffing them with keywords?

7. Stop Using Link Networks

In previous years, backlinks were a massive part of SEO. Today they are still important, but to a much lesser extent. About a decade ago, the easiest way to create these backlinks was to pay for them by signing up with link networks. This is now a highly frowned upon practice. Google even warns content marketers against it in their Webmaster guides.

When these networks used to be profitable, websites were able to pay to join them and acquire links to their site posted on other websites, creating tons of backlinks. The whole problem with this approach was that the backlinks came from some seriously sketchy websites. Even if some of the sites weren’t dodgy, they were simply irrelevant. For instance, your shoe company might have a backlink on a cigar site or any other questionable website.

Backlinks are certainly still relevant today, but you need to build them over time and only use quality websites. Google will actually start categorizing your website as spam if you seem to have too many backlinks on spam sites, so do be careful!

8. Stop Writing for Everyone but Your Audience

Writing high-quality, creative content is fantastic – but who out there really wants to read it? Doing a little keyword search to find the right content for your target audience can really be the difference between a popular blog and one that lies dormant. Keyword analysis tools can help ballpark just how many people are in your geographical area and search for the topics you’re writing about. While you may think your content is the bee’s knees, before you even spend time and money on your content, find out if Google (and, therefore, your audience) agree.

On that note, are you carefully researching the content you’re writing? Are you quoting credible sources? Are you using the right research tools? There are so many credible sources out there – use them!

Bonus: Don’t Ignore the Value of Video

Along with visual content, today’s marketing practices cannot ignore the importance of video content. So stop depending solely on your writing as the only content channel. Look into webinars, podcasting, videos, and even slide decks and start expanding your offerings this year. Video, especially, is a widely recognized tool, and arguably one of the greatest tools, in today’s content marketing toolbox.

Here’s an explainer video my team wrote and created for one of our content products last year, a business case study:

It gained us a good amount of new traffic, leads, and inquiries – even though the YouTube engagement itself looks low with no physical comments. We’ll be experimenting with more of these videos in 2016 and will be posting video shorts on our Instagram and Facebook accounts.

What are you going to be doing differently with your content marketing practices this year and going forward? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

 

Image Credits

Featured image created by Julia McCoy with Canva
In-post Photo: Alexey Boldin/Shutterstock.com

 

Julia McCoy
Julia McCoy dropped out of nursing school at 20 to follow her passion and build a copywriting agency, Express Writers; and today, it has more than 70 writers and hundreds of clients around the globe. Julia is the host of The Write Podcast on iTunes, #ContentWritingChat on Twitter, and just wrote an Amazon bestseller, So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Online Writing.
Julia McCoy
Julia McCoy
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  • Roger Rogerson

    Bounce Rate.
    I’d be careful of quoting Moz – remember, Shepard declared +1’s as a ranking signal, and was completely wrong. (Worse, if he’d bothered to have done any real research, not only would he have seen that the correlation was inverted, he’d have found a few other people that had explained how it really worked.)

    Further – Bounce Rate is not only a highly Noisy signal, it’s also far to general.
    Do you realise how many pages on Wikipedia have a high BR?
    do you see Wiki or even those pages dropping from the SERPs?
    No.
    Do you know why?
    Because basic/generic BR is Not a ranking signal 😀
    It’s far more involved and complicated than that.
    For starters, you have to segregate Source, you also have to look at Time. For sources from sERPs, you may want to look at search type and content suitability. Searching for “weather in Los Angeles” clicking the first listing, seeing the weather report image and leaving after 4 seconds is a little different than searching for “how to fix a N washing machine filter”, clicking the first link, waiting 4 seconds for first-byte, looking at the page for 10 seconds and then leaving.
    You may also want to look at Unique Bounces compared to Repeat Bounces and then look at Bouncers that returned and didn’t bounce.
    Again – BR is not a good metric – it needs a lot of cleaning before you should use it!

    Guest Blogging.
    Originally, itwas about Audience Satisfaction. Some sites had guest authors/writers long before the huge Link Boom. They followed the approach of established magazines etc. to please their audience with writers from other fields.
    Bloggers took to it too in the blogoshpere, as a legitimate method of expanding audience-reach and increasing follower count, as well as satisfying your own existing audience.
    It was after that, once the “SEO Pro’s” got hold of the approach that it became about Links and Ranking.

    Duplicated Content.
    I don’t suppose you can point to anything from G that says they rank the original and exclude/filer (or punish) the scrapers/copiers/thieves?
    As far as I’m aware, G will show the piece they deem the most relevant and from the most satisfying site (the site with the greater trust, authority, link popularity etc.).
    I know for a fact that there are numerous problems in attempting to identify “original source”, as I had conversations with several Googlers about it years ago. Unless G have introduced one of the “secret launch” options suggested, or have invested heavily into Stylometric Analysis – I assume the problem remains unresolved.
    As far as I know, you can produce a piece of content and have it crawled, indexed and ranked. It can later be scraped (6 Months later), and that piece can still be the one that G decides to include in the SERPs, whilst yours (the original) is omitted.

    Meta Descriptions.
    These have no Direct influence on Rankings.
    If G are paying attention to things like SERP CTR, then MDs can Indirectly impact rankings (improved descriptions will induce higher click rates (along with titles) – which in turn can result in a SERP Listing outperforming it’s CTR for that position and potentially moving up in the Rankings.
    (The idea of G “listening” to the SERPs is an old one, and was denied several times over the years – but since then there does indeed appear to be influence, and no-one at G has denied it recently that I know of … and there are several patents that would/could pertain.)

    Links.
    Still the most influential factor that we know of. I wouldn’t say that they have depreciated in value, but G has more factors now, so comparatively, the value of links is slightly, well … diluted?
    Links from irrelevant sites are fine – so long as there aren’t too many and the link seems relevant (that Cigar site talking about comfortable smoking slippers, or their editor making a post smoking fashion etc. etc. etc.).
    It’s more about the relevance of the content than the sites. So you need to factor in the relevance of Site Site | Site Page | Page Page, Link Text Page etc.
    G won’t kick your site out the SERPs because you suddenly got 5K links in 2 hours either. It can and does happen.
    What’s important is where those links occur, the type/quality of the site/page, the type of link etc. 10K links, with most of them coming from social platforms and long standing accounts is fine. 3K links, all coming from brand spanking new sites focusing on the same keyword … likely to trip a few flags 😀

    Okay – the technical nit-picks aside … some solid pointers and tips.
    The keys to good CM Practices boil down to knowing your audience(s), knowing what to write (and how to write it!), and knowing where to put it.
    You don’t need normal links to start with.
    If your content is good, social shares and references (the 2nd generation+ of links) will do the work you want/need.
    VIdeos are good – but depending on topic/audience, slideshares, mindmaps, infographics, short animated images etc. can all do good jobs too 😀

  • Riyaj

    One of the amazing things i am looking at this year is, repurposing of old quality contents in the forms of slide, infographics, video, etc. Giving it a breath of fresh air.

  • https://successpromotions.wordpress.com/ Benjamin Carter-Riley

    Hi Julia,

    I read through this article, and I’m glad to know that I’m not doing any of the eight outdated marketing strategies!

    If you look at the opposite of these eight strategies, you get 8 marketing strategies that you SHOULD be be doing. 🙂

    Benjamin

  • http://www.cheese.com/ John Goatbirth

    Totes agree with Mz. McCoy here. Aiiiiiiiiiie.

  • https://www.professional-cv-writer.co.uk Claire Greenhow

    Reassuring to know I am not following these 8 no-no strategies you mention. As for video, I still need to brave that one!

  • http://www.kodingmadesimple.com/ Valli

    I never bothered link building other than good on page seo. But I have to admit – content works! A quality, user-targeted content that provides value to yours readers will do magic. Nothing will happen overnight. 1000% or even 2000% traffic boost is possible in a year and I have tasted it. Great feel! Patience is the key here!

  • erickwrites

    OMG, Julia! Thank you! So much of what you wrote in this blog is exactly how I responded by email when a client asked me why their organic search rankings are dropping. They are simply using poorly written content they or the writer is using on multiple sites. I told them if they want to continue these black hat SEO practices, that’s fine, but I won’t take the fall for the drop in their search rankings.

    Erick

  • http://www.cygnet-infotech.com/ Hemang Rindani

    Great article. The importance of content marketing is increasing and it is important to know the right way to do this. Agree to the point that guides to target specific audience. Make sure to select the audience as per your business offerings. Duplicate content is dangerous that affect the credibility of your content and impression of website. The latest search engine algorithm may panelize these sites as well. Informative and interesting content on regular basis surely can boost your marketing efforts. I also recommend to use Web content management system to manage website content. Marketing on social networks and guest blogging in the right audience niche improves credibility.

  • http://niksto.com/ Nikolay Stoyanov

    Nice article Julia! How important is it for a person to be a good copywriter when it comes to creating meta descriptions? (as a way to promote your content)