Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Content

With so much content crowding the marketplace, how can you distinguish your brand from your competitors? The answer is unique and compelling content.

The content you create has a direct impact on how your brand is perceived. When developing your content marketing strategy, ensure the content you are creating fills an informational need for your audience to keep them coming back for more. High-quality content helps audiences view your business as a trusted resource.

Everyone makes mistakes, but when it comes to content creation, knowing what to avoid helps uphold a strong brand voice and reputation. This article will highlight common content creation mistakes and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Not Proofreading Before You Publish

Nothing ruins good content more than an avoidable spelling or grammar error. Your audience may lose trust in your content if they consistently see mistakes in spelling and grammar. To avoid these errors:

  • Download apps like Grammarly to check your content for errors before posting.
  • Ask another person to proofread your content. Sometimes, a second set of eyes will catch something you overlooked.

Mistake #2: Making the Piece too Complex

Simplicity is key when it comes to content creation. An expert or a beginner in your niche should both be able to easily understand your content. Avoid technical jargon and complex concepts. Use simple words and only communicate one idea in each sentence.

Mistake #3: Your Content Lacks Readability

Your content should be formatted in a way that is easily readable to your audience. If your audience sees a huge chunk of text, they are going to click away from your content. To properly format your content, consider taking the following actions:

  • Keep your sentences and paragraphs short.
  • Include proper headings and titles
  • Ensure there’s a good amount of white space on the page
  • Use bullet points
  • Illustrate your points with relevant images that support your topic

In this example we can see how The Moz Blog breaks up their content properly by using headlines, breaking up the text into small paragraphs, and adding images that support their topic.  

Mistake #4: Failing to Write Content Your Audience Wants

Don’t forget who you are creating the content for – your audience. The content you find interesting may not be what your audience wants. Failing to write content for your audience may lead them to look elsewhere.

Create each piece of content with your audience in mind. What’s important to them? What problems do they have? What value is this going to add to their lives? Your content should provide solutions to your audience’s most pressing problems.

How do you find out what your audience wants to learn, know and read about? Conduct research to learn as much as possible about your target audience. Your research process can include:

  • Use of online tools (e.g., Google Public Data and YouGov) to collect data – from basic demographic information to your audience’s specific habits and interests.
  • Go to the source to find out what topics your audience is interested in:
    • Use an online survey tool such as SurveyMonkey to survey and gather quantitative information on your audience
    • Engage with your audience on social media. Conduct a Q&A, read comments on posts, use social listening tools to find out what people are saying about your brand.
    • If you have a customer service team, have them gather your audience’s most common questions and concerns
  • Analyze the content created by your competitors. Look at what topics they are writing about, how often they post, what keywords they are ranking for and what kinds of content are yielding the best results
  • Conduct research on keywords people are searching for over time using Google Trends.
  • Use SEMrush to help generate content ideas

Mistake #5: Not Diversifying Your Content

When you refer to content, most people assume you are talking about text-based content, but content doesn’t always have to be a blog post or article. Sticking to only one type of content can cause you to miss out on new customers. Not everyone consumes information the same way, so providing a variety of formats can keep different audiences interested.

Content can come in many different formats and types including:

  • Infographics
  • How-to guides
  • Whitepapers
  • Videos
  • Case Studies
  • Webinars
  • Checklists
  • Podcasts
  • Opinion Pieces
  • GIFs
  • Social media posts
  • Memes

I Am Networthy, which offers customers financial planning eBooks, used this as leverage to create additional content. They created infographics that included essential tips from their eBooks, making them easily shareable for their users to post on social media.  

Diversifying your content keeps your audience engaged and supports your SEO efforts.

In recent content marketing surveys, the majority of B2B and B2C marketers said they are using audio/visual content (videos, live streaming, webinars, podcasts), written digital content (eBooks, articles, blog posts) and images (infographics, charts, and photos) more than they were a year ago.

In another survey, 42% of marketers said infographics saw the most engagement when compared to other forms of content.

When creating content, think about what types of content appeals to your target audience as well as the best format to communicate your information.

If you are planning a tutorial, a video might be a great medium. If you are doing a Q&A with an industry expert or your CEO, a podcast might be appropriate.

Mistake #6: You Aren’t Incorporating Evergreen Content into Your Content Strategy

Evergreen content is a crucial element in effective content marketing. To be considered evergreen, content needs to:

  • Highly searchable, answering common questions audiences search for on Google and other search engines
  • Remain relevant and interesting years after it is first published.
  • Generate traffic consistently for months or years.
  • Have no expiration date

News articles are not evergreen content because its relevancy only holds for a day or two. On the other hand, a glossary of industry terms is evergreen content because readers will continue to refer to the content while attracting new readers over time.

Some common evergreen content formats you should consider using include:

  • Checklists
  • How-to content
  • Tutorials
  • Glossary of industry terms
  • Beginner’s guides
  • Tips
  • Product reviews

TransUnion ShareAble for Hire’s “How to Conduct a Phone Interview” blog post is a great example of evergreen content. This offers their target audience, small businesses and HR professionals, a valuable resource that will continue to remain relevant.

If you don’t include evergreen content in your content mix, you’ll lack the consistent traffic you can be getting to your business. Use both topical and evergreen content in your content marketing strategy.

Summary

Content marketing is key to building a strong brand voice. However, certain mistakes can stop your content from attracting your target audience. Follow the helpful tips in this guide to avoid the mistakes mentioned above and properly execute your content marketing strategy.

About the author: Corey Doane is a contributing editor for 365 business tips. She has a B.S in Public Relations from San Jose State University and has experience in PR, marketing and communications.

How to Use SEMrush to Generate Better Content Ideas

SEMrush

SEMrush is one of the most well-known toolkits in the SEO industry, but it’s particularly valuable for industry research — a core component of any sustainable content marketing strategy. After all, no matter how dedicated you are to producing content on a regular basis (using all the tactics in the book), you simply won’t be able to meet demand if you can’t come up with ideas that inspire you.

Using data drawn from SEMrush, you can identify gaps in the existing digital content out there, and find niches that might be worth your time. The result? A content calendar full of workable ideas, and a real opportunity to surpass your direct competitors.

But how do you actually operate SEMrush? What should you be looking for, and how should you use that information? Let’s answer these questions:

How to research keywords in SEMrush

Firstly, head to the SEMrush homepage. You’ll be met with a search bar — enter a keyword or topic that you want content ideas for, and search for it. Because SEMrush is a paid platform, you’ll need to either pick up a subscription or register a free account to get 10 searches.

While you can certainly get some value out of a handful of searches, it’s absolutely worth investing in a full subscription so you can use the tool consistently. Whichever approach you take at this point, you’ll be presented with the Overview of the Keyword Analytics section, including organic and paid search volume. In the left-aligned column, select the Keyword Magic Tool: this is where you’ll get the most information.

Essentially, it allows you to select relevant keywords (separated into “Broad Match”, “Phrase Match”, “Exact Match”, and “Related”) and add them to distinct lists to go into the Keyword Analyzer (only accessible with a paid subscription). This way, you can easily assemble hundreds of useful keyword variations.

How to use the Topic Research tool

Having done so, you might feel a little overwhelmed with all the keywords now at your disposal. How are you supposed to narrow them down, or know what’s important? Well, you can make things simpler by heading to the Topic Research tool.

Enter your topic of choice and click “Get content ideas”: SEMrush will generate a mind map of hyper-relevant keyword snippets, complete with headlines (sorted by resonance) and viable questions (sorted by type) on the right-hand side.

I suggest paying particular attention to the questions, because they’re perfect material for blog post titles and/or subheadings within the pieces you write (plus they’re vital for contending for featured snippets in SERPs). You can also go to the Cards section (listed alongside the Mind Map) to find the target pages that most commonly appear for the different keywords.

How to use the data you find

Having information is great, but you need to know how to use it. Now that you have a large set of keywords and a smaller but more highly-relevant set of content ideas, you have everything you need to start fleshing out an excellent content calendar.

The missing ingredient here is your level of expertise and interest in different niches. There may be a gap in the digital content world for a certain title, but if you don’t have anything interesting to say about it (and it doesn’t inspire you), then it isn’t necessarily worth pursuing. Similarly, there may already be plenty of results for a particular keyword, but if you can write content better than anything that already shows up, you should do so.

Ultimately, you want the following to be true of every content idea you line up:

  • There’s keyword demand behind it.
  • The specific topic isn’t completely saturated, or you have a fresh take.
  • It provides great creative opportunities.
  • You’re excited to write about it.
  • It fits in your overall content strategy.
  • It suits the planned release date (e.g. Christmas content releasing in December).

It’s a general content marketing point, but never forget what you’re marketing and why you’re marketing it (which is to say, to what end specifically). You could be marketing yourself, marketing your brand, or marketing a side business you bought at 2 am (I know the temptation of website flipping all too well) — each different scenario brings distinct challenges. If you’re just trying to produce enough content to get your side hustle a little more attention, then aim for efficiency… but if you’re producing content for your personal brand, then quality takes priority.

Returning to SEMrush itself, while the two sections we’ve looked at are the biggest research tools, the utility doesn’t end there. Once you’ve set out your ideas, you can make the process of writing and optimizing your content much easier using tools such as SEO Content Template and SEO Writing Assistant (that way, you can ensure that you’re fully prepared for the mixture of organic and referral traffic you’re targeting).

Why you must factor in other sources of data

SEMrush is extremely powerful in isolation, but that doesn’t mean you should use it that way. Instead, you should make it part of a broader ideation strategy, using it alongside other sources of data such as follower surveys and social media activity. This is for two big reasons:

  • Current trends on social media channels will affect your ability to broadly promote your content. Organic traffic may be vital, but social media referrals are also extremely valuable, and being able to associate with a hot hashtag can make all the difference. If you can line up some social media trends and link them to your content ideas, you can tee up a lot of cross-channel promotion.
  • There’s value in creating channel-specific content at times. For instance, Instagram marketing is key for growing certain types of business, but there’s little natural overlap between an Instagram post and a long-form article. You may benefit from creating an original Instagram story, in which case you’d need to get more granular about works on that particular platform. Using keywords in hashtags is a good idea — but you also need to delve deeper into Instagram-specific trends like Boomerang and use the right cultural terms in order to engage the Insta-generation.

In the end, you want to get your ideas from as many places, channels and people as possible. It may seem daunting, but you can always narrow it down afterwards — the bigger the pool you start with, the better the set of ideas you’ll end up with.

Wrapping up, using SEMrush is a fantastic way to curate a set of high-value keywords and questions that can easily be forged into viable content titles. And since it’s free to test out the Keyword Analytics tool (temporarily, of course), you might as well try it. If it suits your needs, I recommend getting a subscription — you won’t regret it.

Heard Of Dynamic Title Tags?

I’ve discovered what appears to be a glitch in Google’s algorithm and it results in two title tags showing in the SERPs for a single landing page, dependent on the search query. Is Google doing this intentionally, or is this actually a glitch in the algorithm?

The Discovery

I was conducting routine checks on some of our landing pages in the SERPs when I came across something very interesting. We were targeting two main keywords with one of our pages, and I wanted to check where and how that page was ranking for those terms. Sure, I could just use SEMrush for a quick check, but I also wanted to see competitor title tags and if our page might be a featured snippet.

When I searched for “medical inventory software” this is what showed up in the SERPs:

medical inventory software SERP

And when I searched for “medical supply software,” here’s what I saw:

medical supply software

Notice the difference? It’s the exact same page and URL, but each result has a different title tag to match the exact search term. When I saw the different title tags initially, I thought another one of our landing pages was showing for “medical supply software.” But when I double-checked the URL, it was the same. See for yourself, this is the landing page. I was baffled. I was using a Chrome incognito browser tab, so clearing my cache and cookies wouldn’t have done anything to affect the results. I finally realized and accepted that Google was showing a different title tag for this landing page, depending on the search query. I had NEVER seen this before. We all know Google AdWords has dynamic search ads, but a dynamic element in organic results? This was a new discovery and a tasty little revelation from Google’s algorithm.

Was this an old glitch or mistake in the algorithm that fell through the cracks?

Can this be replicated and exploited to more easily rank for two keywords?

Next was the fun part – the investigation.

The Investigation

The first thing I had to find out was – where was Google pulling the second title tag from? I compared the title tag and page title, and they were the same:

Title tag vs page title

“Medical Supply Software” is in the URL: https://www.fishbowlinventory.com/industries/medical-supply-software/, so that was a definite possibility. The other possibility was when I pulled up the source code and searched for “medical supply software” – this is where I found the likely culprit. “Medical Supply Software” was indeed in the breadcrumb code snippet.

medical supply software breadcrumb code

If you’re not familiar with the term, breadcrumbs (or the breadcrumb trail) are a secondary navigation scheme that reveals the user’s location in a website or web application.

Below, highlighted in red, is how the breadcrumbs look to a user on the front end:

Fishbowl medical supply breadcrumb example

I feel safe with the assumption that Google pulled the dynamic title tag from the breadcrumbs instead of the URL text. It’s just more likely for them to pull from the HTML. We had set up the breadcrumb trail a long time ago, but Google chose to pull from it this time for some reason. I checked with our Sr. Front End Developer and he confirmed it was the breadcrumb trail and that it was a bit outdated. In an attempt to find other examples, I reviewed similar landing pages where we were targeting multiple keywords. Standard findings – the title tag was the same, no matter the search query.

The Conclusion

These are the observations we can make:

Observation 1 – Google has an algorithm rule to pull in the breadcrumb title tag as the title tag instead of the set title tag for a page, if it matches the search query

Observation 2. – This occurrence is rare

These are the claims we can make:

Claim 1 – Dynamic title tags exist

Claim 2 – Google has never publicly mentioned this algorithm factor (big surprise, right?)

How Can You Benefit from This Algorithm Discovery?

Right now we’re at the point of theory and experimentation, but here’s how you could leverage this tactic. With Google only displaying the first 50-60 characters of a title tag, this can absolutely benefit you if there’s another top-level keyword variation you prefer to rank for with a landing page. Put the most important keyword as the title tag and then put the next most important keyword as the breadcrumb title tag. In theory, you could rank for both without having a diluted or lengthy title tag. However, the standing issue is the unpredictability of this occurrence.

What factors or conditions must align for Google to reproduce this? Stay tuned as we head back to the SEO Science lab…

This is a guest post from George Nielsen, digital marketing manager at Fishbowl.

How Your Business Can Incorporate UGC Into Your Strategy

Creating content on computer

Image Pexels

By now, you should know that content is king. It drives conversions, increases traffic, and boosts your brand awareness. Whether it’s a long-form blog post on how to save money for your business, or a photo catalog of your product collection, content is king.

But crafting and creating good quality content takes time. Research, typing it up, editing the final draft — it can quickly eat into your valuable time. So more and more, savvy brands are using user-generated content as a vital part of their marketing strategy.

Essentially outsourcing your content to your community can save you time and stress, so you can focus on other things. But what exactly is UGC, and how do you go about integrating it into your strategy? Read on to find out…

What is UGC?

User-generated content is basically any form of content that has been made and provided by unpaid individuals, usually customers or fans of your brand. It can include blog posts, photos, videos, tweets: almost anything that comes from people outside of your brand.

Why should I use UGC?

Let’s crunch the numbers. Why should you be using UGC for your brand? Well for a start, 76% of social media users trust it more than branded content. And why not? It’s content that’s been made by their peers, rather than those with a vested interest in the business.

Add to that the fact that brand engagement goes up by a whopping 28% when consumers see a mix of UGC videos and brand content. And 93% of customers say that UGC informs their decision when they’re considering making a purchase.

The stats don’t lie: user-generated content is an MVP in the marketing world. And you can use it everywhere and anywhere your brand is, from your website to your social media feed. UGC might not be the holy grail your business needs, but it’s damn near it.

How can I use UGC for my strategy?

You’ve got the what, you’ve got the why: here comes the how.

Create your own product

This is a super popular means of leveraging UGC used by brands the world over, from Coca-Cola’s famous #ShareACoke campaign to StarbucksWhite Cup Contest. It’s simple: you get your customers to create, design and customize one of your products. The world is full of creative individuals just waiting for their fifteen minutes of fame — and your business can give it to them. They get their design recognized and embraced by a brand, and you get any number of likes, shares, tweets and tags, and that’s money in the bank as far as your image is concerned.

One brand that deserves a special mention is video game company Nintendo. In 2015, they launched the Super Mario Maker, where avid gamers from all over the world could create their own Super Mario levels to play. When the iconic franchise opened their doors to their fans they were overwhelmed with submissions, and people really got creative!

Show your product or service being used in the real world

Or, instead of getting your customers to design a new product, you can get them to show the world how they use your existing ones. Online furniture stores like Wayfair encourage their customers to show off their purchases with the #WayfairAtHome hashtag, sharing their photos on their social media feeds for all their fans to see.

And ASOS follows a similar direction, with their fashion-conscious fans showcasing their style with the #AsSeenOnMe hashtag. It’s free publicity that their customers love to share, and works a treat!

ASOS As Seen on Me (hashtag)

Image Instagram

And be sure to like and comment when your customers use your hashtag or you tag you in a post. Use a social media management tool like Sprout Social to stay on top of your customer conversations and let them know they’re appreciated.

Show off your customers themselves

And it doesn’t need to necessarily be your own products that people are sharing. Why not reach out and find out about the customers themselves? They are your lifeblood after all, so show you appreciate them by getting them to give you insights into their own lives.

The social media management tool Buffer is killing this. Using the #BufferCommunity hashtag, they show off content from their worldwide user base ranging from concerts and wedding photos to just simple (but crazy cute) photos of their customers’ dogs!

Buffer Community

Image Instagram

Video reviews and testimonials

If your customers love your product, they want to tell people. Where in the past they would have just passed it on through word-of-mouth, the advent of the internet means they can do it online too. There are plenty of video reviews of products available on YouTube, so brands can easily incorporate it into their marketing strategy.

Head on over to skincare brand Boom by Cindy Joseph’s website, where they embed video reviews from real women on their product pages. This use of social proof is hugely effective, as it comes not from the brand itself, but from everyday shoppers who really believe in the product.

Video testimonials are easy to find, so why not integrate it into your email marketing strategy? Moosend for example lets you easily embed videos into your emails, so you can use real-world social proof of your product in your marketing strategy.

If you’re launching a product or want to bring in new leads, use testimonials from genuinely satisfied customers to encourage people to sign up or buy.

I said earlier that content is king, and that’s true. But if content is king, then user-generated content is queen. Your customers are your fans, and they love your product or service. They’re just aching to engage with your brand through photos, videos, blogs, and more — so let them!

This is a guest post from:

Victoria Greene from Victoria EcommerceVictoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. For all the hottest news from the worlds of ecommerce, marketing, and design, check out her blog, Victoria Ecommerce. Victoria is passionate about helping store owners get the most out of their online stores.

Top 10 Social Media Marketing Blogs

Social Media and Phone

With the ever-growing popularity of social media, the need to understand social media marketing has become integral for businesses. Even if social media isn’t your cup of tea, you can be certain that a significant proportion of your customers are using at least one form of it (probably on a daily basis!).

There’s no better place to look than social media marketing blogs if you’re after tips and advice for how to best connect with your customers on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you don’t know where to start, here’s our roundup of the top ten blogs you should start reading today!

Do you have a favorite social media marketing blog that we missed? Just send an email to cynthia@cornerstonecontent.com, and we’ll add your recommended blog to our list!

  1. Moz

Moz blog

When it comes to blogs with a voice of authority, Moz is right up there. Featuring “advice, research, how-tos, and insights,” from social media experts and marketers, you can be assured you’ll leave more knowledgeable. Make sure to also check out their weekly “Whiteboard Friday” explainer videos (complete with transcript) which have a cult-like following.

Three posts we like from Moz:

  1. Social Media Today

Social Media Today

Social Media Today is one of the go-to resources for those in social media – and those trying to wrap their heads around it! The blog is filled with all of the latest social media news, concepts, statistics, and trends presented in both article-form and visually-pleasing infographics.

Three posts we like from Social Media Today:

  1. ShareThis

ShareThis

You can trust that a company that’s all about social media follow buttons knows what they’re talking about when it comes to all things social media. ShareThis’ blog will teach you how to master each and every form of social media to better connect with your customers by improving your social media engagement levels.

Three posts we like from Share This:

  1. Social Media Explorer

Social Media Explorer Screenshot

You’ll be glad you started reading this highly practical social media resource. With articles organized into four categories: tools and tips; news & noise; movers & makers; and cases & causes, you’ll have all your bases covered when it comes to making an impact with your company’s social media presence.

Three posts we like from Social Media Explorer:

  1. Social Media Examiner

Social Media Examiner blog

Social Media Examiner makes it easy to catch up to speed about social media with their all-encompassing guides to platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. In each guide, there are numerous resources to develop your knowledge. You can even listen to their useful podcasts to learn more about social media while you work!

Three posts we like from Social Media Examiner:

  1. Tailwind blog

Tailwind Blog

Want to learn more about how to tap into Pinterest’s diverse and engaged audience? Look no further than the Tailwind blog, which will teach you impressive techniques and strategies for traffic generation, how to make use of Pinterest in your social media strategy, and how to grow your own Pinterest following.

Three posts we like from the Tailwind blog:

  1. Convince and Convert

Convince and Convert

Convince and Convert is an analysis and advisory firm focused on digital marketing strategies that has a mammoth social media blog to its name. On their blog you’ll find everything from case studies of brands successfully using social media, to strategies about how to develop your social media game.

Three posts we like from Convince and Convert:

  1. Buffer

Buffer

As one of the world’s most popular social media management platforms, Buffer’s social media advice is on the money. Their blog posts are known for being in-depth and well-researched, so you’ll find it hard to stop at one article

Three posts we like from Buffer:

  1. Socially Sorted

Socially Sorted blog

Written by digital content strategist Donna Moritz, Socially Sorted is loved for its down-to-earth tone and intriguing insights into social media. The posts are easy to read and well-formatted – two features which certainly help when you’re new to the game. We guarantee you’ll find something to chew on in this popular blog.

Three posts we like from Socially Sorted:

  1. Sue B. Zimmerman

Sue B Zimmerman Blog

If Instagram has always gone over your head, Susan B. Zimmerman’s blog is the answer to all of your questions. Focused entirely on Instagram, the social media application that businesses are scrambling to leverage, you’ll become somewhat of an Instagram expert if you keep updated with this comprehensive blog.

Three posts we like from Sue B. Zimmerman: