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The 7 Deadly Sins of Content Marketing

February 16, 2016 // By: Jenny Prikockis

As our Google-governed realm advances so do the marketing practices that help us better connect with our customers. Are you committing content marketing sins that are outdated, costly for your business, and punishable by the big G? Keep reading to find out.

Content Marketing Sin #1: Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing, or repetitiously filling your content with a chosen word or word set in order to rank higher in Google, is a thoroughly expired tactic and, in my opinion, the top content sin you can commit.

What You’re Missing: Keyword stuffing was a practice popular in the early 2000s when keywords were the be-all, end-all in the race to the top spot in search results. The problem? No one looking for valuable information is satisfied reading an article that just lists the same word over and over again.

If you’re privy to what Google is actually looking for nowadays, which is quality content that flows naturally (see the 2013 Hummingbird update), it’s pretty straightforward that keyword stuffing should have no place in your content marketing strategy, as it actually holds your business back from genuinely engaging with your readers.

How to Redeem Yourself: Stop stuffing keywords and start writing content that will genuinely help your readers. It’s okay to use a target set of keywords to come up with your topic, but ultimately you want to make sure that your writing adds value.

Content Marketing Sin #2: Publishing Posts Just for the Freshness Factor

It’s painful to see your blog or the feed on one of your social media sites lie dormant for a month or more—believe me, I know. But posting just to post isn’t a good idea.

What You’re Missing: Google rewards websites that make an effort to publish compelling content on a routine basis, but a fluff-filled update isn’t likely to engage and entice your customers. So posting just because is likely to yield the opposite result of what you’d hoped.

How to Redeem Yourself: There are so many ways to build a post that’s meaningful for your audience, but taking the time to do some brainstorming is crucial. A few starters: Tap into the problems your customers may be facing or check what the big players in your industry are talking about.

Bonus: If you follow an editorial calendar (see sin redeemer #5), this can help you always have fresh, quality content planned ahead of time.

Content Marketing Sin #3: Link Farming with Irrelevant Websites

Link scheming involves selling links to other websites in order to get links back to your site. It’s not only highly punishable by Google, it’s also a major content marketing offense.

What You’re Missing: Over the years, Google’s approach to the link ranking process has transitioned to favor of quality over quantity. Links still hold weight where your content shows up in search results, but paying for links to your content from irrelevant websites is a double whammy that you definitely want to avoid.

How to Redeem Yourself: The right way to share your content? Use linking as an opportunity to build relationships with the relevant bloggers and businesses in your industry.

Content Marketing Sin #4: Blog Categories, What Are Those?

Without some kind of categorical structure in place, it’s likely that your blog isn’t showing your visitors everything you have to offer.

What You’re Missing: Once readers make it to your blog, whether through searching on Google or after engaging with another part of your site, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to quickly find the stellar content you’ve created. We’re talking beyond just page 1. If your blog is a never-ending string of uncategorized posts, it makes it more difficult for searchers to continue to engage with your website.

How to Redeem Yourself: Even high-level category buckets can make a world of difference. To come up with relevant categories or subcategories for your business, put your customer hat back on for some brainstorming.

Content Marketing Sin #5: Not Using an Editorial Calendar

If you don’t use an editorial calendar as part of your content marketing process, your life may be about to get a whole lot easier.

What You’re Missing: An editorial calendar is a simple-yet-powerful organizational tool that can help you turn your content strategy of topics into successful, published-on-time, ready-to-share posts. Not taking advantage of an editorial calendar probably means you’re spending time where you don’t need to be.

How to Redeem Yourself: This sin only takes a few minutes to reverse. There are tons of free editorial calendar templates out there, and with the convenience of cloud-based sharing, you can have multiple people editing the same calendar at once. Common calendar structures include columns for blog topic, resource, author, who posts, and due date.

Bonus: There’s even a way to make your Google Calendar and your editorial calendar one.

Content Marketing Sin #6: Publishing Content without Tracking Results

In this go-go-go world, it’s easy to publish content that you think is relevant to your readers and keep on rolling. But rolling without reflecting doesn’t lead to improvements. Taking a step back, reviewing, and readjusting your approach is the path to content marketing success.

What You’re Missing: Most content marketers would agree that measuring the success of their content efforts through some form of analytics tracking is an instrumental part of their plans. If you’re not taking time to track how your content is performing, it’s much harder to improve effectiveness across your content offers.

How to Redeem Yourself: Content strategies aren’t meant to be set in stone. Monitor how well your pieces perform on a routine basis so you find out what works and what doesn’t, improving on your existing strategy through the lessons you learn.

Content Marketing Sin #7: Forgetting to Update Old Content

Content practices update, so too should the content itself.

What You’re Missing: You don’t want to send mixed signals to your searchers, agreed? Say your store’s location moves, hours change, etc., but you don’t make the change of information consistent across your site. Having conflicting information isn’t the best way to earn votes of confidence from your visitors.

How to Redeem Yourself: Take an inventory of your website’s pages and flag any that don’t match with your tone, those that list contrasting information, or any that mention an outdated year. Keep things fresh and updated and your user experience will surely improve!

If a Practice Doesn’t Help Your Readers, It’s More Sin Than Win

The key to redeeming yourself from these outdated content practices overwhelmingly points to creating quality content that will be helpful for your target audience. The old practices lack thought (some lack integrity) and ultimately push leads away from your website one way or another.

The more you can tap into your customers’ pain points and provide the helpful information they seek, the better your content marketing strategy can draw in new leads and strengthen the relationship you have with your customers.

Want more help crafting a content marketing plan for your business? Check out Stream’s free eBook Content Marketing Secrets Revealed.

Until next time,


—Jenny Prikockis is an Inbound Marketing Copywriter at Stream Companies, a full-service Philadelphia-area advertising agency.30-Content-Marketing-Ideas_Webinar-Replay

Topics: Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, content marketing, Content Marketing Strategy, content strategies, Inbound Marketing