There is no secret formula to optimizing your content for search engines. There are certainly good SEO content writing practices - but like anything else, trial and error with different techniques will help develop a successful approach that can be applied to any subject area.
Chances are if you come across an article about developing SEO content, that article will describe what you should be focusing your attention on.
But often times the path to the top search page becomes clearer when you’ve learned specifically what to avoid - just like Mario Kart becomes much easier to win once you’ve learned to avoid the banana at all costs.
There are plenty of proverbial bananas in the road when content writers set off to build ranking material. Unfortunately, too many content writers skid out on a banana peel and learn their SEO mistakes the hard way.
This guide will help you navigate the landscape of content writing by showing you just what kind of bad SEO habits and practices should be eliminated if you want your next article to climb up Google’s search rankings.
- Writing Your Content Like An Essay
- Writing Without An SEO Strategy
- Assuming Your Target Demographic
- Sending Lazy Pitches
- Publishing Duplicate Content
1. Writing Your Content Like An Essay
Many inexperienced content writers make the mistake of writing their content as though their college English professor will be reviewing it for a grade. The difference is, your college professor was paid to read your work. Your average internet user has no such obligation!
It’s no secret that in the digital age, marketers and content creators are taking every possible step to maintain their readers’ attention. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that big walls of text isn’t the best way to draw readers in.
You’ll notice that high ranking content shares the same basic structure. Writers will almost never create paragraphs longer than three or four sentences. And unless the content is written with business executives in mind (B2B), their grammar choices will be as simple as possible.
It’s important to keep your work as bare bones and understandable as possible. If you are thinking twice about including an extra sentence, it probably isn’t necessary!
2. Writing Without An SEO Technique
I hate to break it to you now, but being a successful content creator in 2019 means that you’re going to have to do a lot more legwork than just writing out an article and clicking send.
The best writers will apply proven strategies like the Skyscraper Technique to guarantee that their material is the most well-informed content out there for a particular subject. How exactly does this work?
Simply put, the Skyscraper Technique involves studying other content in a given subject area in order to know exactly what worked and didn’t work for other writers.
The content that you’re studying is like a nice, tall building. You are tasked to build a couple more floors and turn that tall building into a skyscraper. Here’s a step-based breakdown
A) Research relevant competition and gather the content that has proven to rank
B) Analyze this content to see what makes it stand out (use of infographics, formatting style, writing style are examples)
C) Develop your skyscraper by building on top of these proven ideas and concepts
- Search for new, up-to-date research study information
- Correct any misinformation
- Add any value-building material that was missed the last time out
SEO Strategies like the Skyscraper Technique are important to setting your content apart from other, similar content. Without the proper legwork and informed research, you run the risk of pushing bland content that only blends in.
3. Assuming Your Target Audience
Content writers must take the time to be sure exactly who they are writing for. The good news is that it’s not very hard to do. All it takes is some research relevant articles in that subject area.
This fits right in with the general idea of the Skyscraper Technique. A solid content writer will take the time to study other material under the same topic. This will help you nail down the mood of your content.
Age, gender, location, income level and other demographic information are factors in building a profile of your target audience.
An article about new beauty trends for teenage girls in a sunny, high income area of Orange County shouldn’t include a large section dedicated to the benefits of cheap, waterproof drugstore makeup brands. Wrong target audience!
Don’t take the easy shortcut by assuming what you think is the most interesting way to write for a given demographic. Take your time and nail down an approach that will speak the most to your target audience.
4. Sending Lazy Pitches
Pitching campaigns can be a challenge. Just like your readership, potential clients will have no time for a lazy or uninteresting pitch.
Whether you’re using an email campaign site or just compiling a list of potential hosts for your content, you must be sure that your pitch is worth their time. Otherwise, it will sink into an ocean of bland pitches.
Your pitches should demonstrate the value of your content and not beat around the bush!
If you haven’t told your potential publisher exactly who you are, what your expertise is, and what you have to offer in a quick and interesting way, then you are wasting their time. Read exactly what publishers have to say about pitching to see more about what to avoid when building an effective pitch.
5. Publishing Duplicate Content
Say you’ve sent out a Pitchbox campaign and received a couple of interested responses from blogs looking to publish the same guest post. Just send both blogs a copy, no problem right?
Very wrong! In fact, there is no quicker and easier way to shoot yourself in the foot as a content creator.
Among other factors, Google ranks content and websites based off their originality and accuracy. Google’s ranking algorithm won’t know which version of your content to include in their ranking index - and they definitely won’t rank multiple versions of the same stuff.
This hurts both the content creator and the host website by diluting the search factors that will bring traffic to the content, and by extension the site itself.
Moreover, by publishing the same article with separate publishers, you are signalling to every potential future publisher that you are untrustworthy and lazy. No reasonable host site will want to publish an author who has a reputation of duplicating his or her content.
Now That You Know..
Once all the banana peels have been cleared off the road, the pathway to ranking your content becomes clearer. Avoiding these common mistakes will allow content creators to focus on the strengths of their work and develop a trustworthy reputation.
More than anything, content creators must avoid assumptions of all kinds. Do the extra research and replace assumptions with proven knowledge! Utilize SEO strategies, a simple and inviting content structure, an effective pitch strategy, and always avoid duplicating content