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Why Content ‘Tactics’ Fail You & How to Become Relevant

Content tactics promise game-changing results. But most content still dies hard and fast. Here's how to become relevant without them.

Why Content Tactics Fail You And How to Become Relevant

Content “tactics” are constantly the talk of the town. Skyscrapers, 2.0 versions, long-form, infographics.

They all promise game-changing results.

But do they really produce them for the majority of those who implement them?


Most marketing tactics have the same, short life journey from concept to explosive popularity, culminating in a swift kick to the curb.

As more people implement “tactics,” they become commonplace guidelines for baseline performance, rather than magical growth hacks that take you from zero to hero overnight.

So, how do you become relevant without them? Here’s how.

Content Tactics Die Hard & Fast

The idea of a marketing tactic sets you up for failure from the jump.

Tactics don’t scream longevity. They signify months of success for those with first to market advantage.

Content tactics come out of the woodwork often only to be forgotten months later as thousands implement them with full force, effectively snuffing their torch before you can blink.

Case and point…

search volume for skyscraper technique

700 searches? The novelty is fading.

This isn’t a knock on the skyscraper or any other content tactic, for that matter.

The general ethos of the skyscraper is nothing short of stellar for both writers and readers:

  • Long-form
  • Tactical
  • In-depth
  • Step-by-step
  • All-encompassing, one-stop-shop for knowledge
  • Improving upon what currently exists to provide a better user experience

And Brian Dean is an incredible marketer. But this isn’t anything new. It’s just branded, labeled, and ready for the masses to consume as a packaged good.

If you even considered writing a post today without those listed factors above on any popular topic, you’d be kidding yourself. SERPs are dominated by big brands, good content, and huge social connections.

SERP overview for local seo keyword

These “tactics” aren’t going to hit homers like Hamilton “The Babe” Porter anymore because everyone is already doing them.

Like Andrew Chen says, “Over time, all marketing strategies result in shitty clickthrough rates.”

And that’s the problem.

At first, tactics are novel stimuli ready to cause cataclysmic growth. As time passes and user behavior adjusts, the novelty fades.

Once novelty fades, results follow suit:

SERP for skyscraper technique fail keyword

What can you do to keep swimming upstream without the next greatest tactic?

Invest your time, money, and energy into building a brand people care to follow.

Here’s how a few companies are doing this right now.

Branding Is the Only Evergreen ‘Tactic’ You Need

Everyone is constantly in search that evergreen post/topic at the end of the rainbow.

Unless you wrote it ten years ago when 500 words was long-form and actionable, and then constantly updated it over the last decade while slowly increasing your domain authority and brand strength, you’re outta luck.

If you want to be yet another blog that pumps out generic listicles, I’ve got news for you:

google search for 10 seo tactics

If you want to stand out, stop falling into the trap of this type of content.

Sure, it’s great to get published content on your blog and have dozens of posts up there.

It looks great, but that’s about it.

“But loyal readers will like it” – chances are, they’ve already read the same regurgitated points elsewhere.

The amount of outreach and links you’ll have to campaign for make this type of content an ROI nightmare.

Low-level content is often wasted money and time that could have been spent on real, impactful content that builds your brand.

People rarely link to XX tips. They often link to thought-provoking pieces.

Let the HubSpots of the world dominate saturated TOFU posts that get skimmed for 15 seconds max and generate a massive bounce rate.

Instead, invest your money into brand-building content that tells a story people can’t help but read.

Case and point: Drift’s Year Without Forms.

featured image from Dift year without forms

If you didn’t already know, Drift is a conversational marketing tool. Their entire livelihood is based on the future of conversation, chatbots, and live-chat.

But the jury ain’t out: forms still dominate if implemented correctly.

So by killing “gated content” (forms), they put the stake of their entire business on the line as a proof of concept.

Now that’s a hook that you’ll struggle to shake free.

It grabs your attention. It makes you curious. You can’t leave without reading how it went what happened to their business as a result.

Did they kill their product? How did it impact sales? Did they thrive with this unconventional, new approach?

You’ll have to read to find out.

Buffer is yet another shining example of brand-building content. In 2017, they released a post about Facebook organic reach.

buffer organic reach post featured image

As you can tell, this ain’t another “XX ways to get better organic reach” post.

Thank. You. Buffer.

Instead, it was another David and Goliath story of Buffer putting their brand at risk by doing the opposite of what their software encourages.

In this post, they revealed their new strategy of sharing less on social (despite their product being based around social publishing), avoiding generic blasts, and only posting the best content as naturally as possible.

The next time you go to write on a popular topic, like organic reach, don’t just reword what the top ten posts on the SERP are saying. Add a unique viewpoint that hasn’t been touched.

Otherwise, the big dogs of the SERPs will plow you into the ground with domain authority and content distribution, even if their copy and advice are worse than yours.

Produce content, in the words of Mr. Wonderful, that is proprietary.

Something that is brutal to replicate. Something that most won’t even bother with.

Example? A post we wrote at Codeless on traditional, mass-produced content services:

comparison table of content writing service

It’s unique.

It’s 13,000 words.

It’s got custom, branded images to break-down complex data.

It took a year of planning and months of execution.

It involved thousands of dollars in the budget.

We spent weeks doing keyword research and another few interviewing top content writers in the space to provide input and unbiased reviews.

The result?

Content that builds a brand and will exist years from now. Not those four tips we’ve all seen in hundreds of other blogs that any half-decent writer can produce in a few hours.

Be the next Buffer or Drift, not the next forgotten list post.

Real Connections Enable Real Reach

You’ve just written another piece of content about a popular marketing topic.

What’s the next step? Publish the link on your socials, duh, marketing 101. #Winning!

Unless you’ve already got 100,000 fans weak in the knees for your next article, this ain’t gonna do much for your reach.

And subsequently, it won’t do much for links, relevance, branding, etc.

Nobody became relevant by tweeting out their content and calling it a day.

Nobody became relevant by using the latest hashtag (they don’t even work).

And nobody became relevant without forming real connections.

Yep, I know, actual human interactions and friendships, crazy stuff.

Collaborating with other high-level publishers or marketers is a symbiotic relationship where both parties can help each other grow.

In that content services post I touched on earlier, that’s the exact thing we did.

We sought the wisdom of other like-minded professionals like Lianna Patch, having them provide their opinion and knowledge, benefiting our article and their brand strength at the same time:

picture of lianna patch quote in article

Still on the fence? Here’s what Andy Crestodina from Orbit Media said on the topic:

“You can’t do SEO without influencer marketing…These include editors, journalists and bloggers. If they don’t know about your content, they won’t include you in theirs. No mention or link, no authority. No authority, no rankings. And no rankings, mean no qualified visitors and no chance to drive leads.”

He’s dead on.

If you don’t have established connections or a DA in the 70+ range, it becomes almost impossible to get your content in front of the right people.

This isn’t a tactic, either. Sure, it’s labeled as influencer marketing, but we aren’t paying Kim K to promote us. This isn’t a one time deal and it sure as heck isn’t going out of style anytime soon.

Instead, it’s just what you know you need to be doing more of: connecting and building real relationships where both parties find value.

You will see this all of the time with top content producers in the space:

influencers tagging eachother in linkedin post

Work together with others to produce better content.

In turn, they’ll distribute it through their network and aid in both authority and links, all working to improve your brand little by little.

Where do you start?

Attend a conference that you are passionate about and connect with people.

Engage daily with others on social or email in a meaningful way that doesn’t scream “GIVE ME ALL THE LINKS.”

Cite valuable quotes and tidbits from other writers and marketers in your content if it’s relevant.

In the end, without real connections, the battle is almost impossible to win.


We all love tactics deep down.

They’re hard to shake. They’re catchy. Alluring.

I’m guilty of it. We all are.

But real success isn’t derived from one-off hit pieces.

It’s crafted on a foundation of powerful, unique storytelling, branding, and a form of brand “character development” that pulls people in for the long-haul.

It’s expanded on a footing of connections and partnerships that take your content and reach to the next level.

Get creative. Drop the stale content and trendy tactic. Start testing your ideas and form a framework that you can build upon and you’ll thank yourself down the line.

More Resources:

Image Credits

Featured Image:
All screenshots taken by author, April 2019

Category Content
Jeremy Moser Co-founder at uSERP

Jeremy is Co-founder at uSERP, an agency earning backlinks and press mentions on the highest authority sites online to boost ...

Why Content ‘Tactics’ Fail You & How to Become Relevant

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