Content marketing techniques are safe and applauded. They keep SEO penalties at bay. Defunct practices like two-way link building never relied much on content. As a result, Google put them in the archive of dated SEO trends. 2016 is the year when content marketing will outperform other SEO techniques (the ones it hasn’t outperformed yet). The content marketing mistakes that need to be avoided at any cost are below: #1. Content curation Aka aggregated content, it has a leverage already. The rumored Project Lightning of Twitter, launched as “Moments” feature event-based curated contents coupled with images and videos. Some marketers can’t wait to use this feature. They should know content curation cannot give small and mid-size brands an edge. Since users curate content, brands first need to engage with them. And that’s precisely the challenge that small and mid-level brands face. Curated content on social media can offer visibility, though. Brands are encouraged to tilt the crowd in their direction using curated content, but over-reliance can be a problem. The effective content marketing techniques include being careful with linking, scaling content, putting numbered titles, etc. You can follow those techniques only when the content is written by you. In the case of curated content, it’s someone else who has those options, not you. #2. Not using social content Social content is a blend between social media and SEO. Creating contents separately and then sharing those contents across social channels is an outdated strategy. The fresh approach is creating content using social media. Vlogs, infographics, microblogs and podcasts qualify as such contents. YouTube and Pinterest are responsible for the growth of social content. On YouTube, you can have a channel and share videos to connect. You can add a link to your website in the description area though it’s not necessary because videos can introduce audiences to your brand without needing them to land on your website. The same thing applies to Pinterest. Graphic contents shared on this network can contain a brand signature. In short, not using social content is a costly mistake in 2016. #3. Ignoring featured snippets When you search something on Google, a snippet appears on the top of organic results offering information, with a link underneath. The link takes you to the website that features the content. It is called a Featured Snippet or Rich Snippet. Though Google introduced it quite a while ago, it hasn’t become mainstream yet. Using Featured Snippet can boost a site’s organic performance. A marketer called Ben Goodsell revealed his client’s site saw a 516% surge in organic performance after Google featured one of its pages as a snippet. Using long-tail keywords is necessary to get featured snippets, what’s even better is research done on the theme of the business preceding writing. Stuff as much information in the article as you could, so the content never appears like centering around one or more particular keywords, rather profound, informative and divulging ample industry details. Ignoring featured snippets translates to getting ignored by Google. Another costly mistake. #4. Unattractive titles Titles are powerful, so much so that 80% of online readers only read titles, the rest 20% read the whole article. Don’t believe me? See this: The title of an article determines whether readers will scroll down to read it or click on the browser’s back button. A lackluster title cannot invoke curiosity. An interesting title, one that keeps the suspicion alive can force someone to read on. Making titles interesting is not rocket-science. Apply simple techniques – give hints of the actual story in the title, but don’t tell the story. Save that for the 3rd or 4th paragraph, so readers hold their curiosity. Here’s an example: Title 1: Truck accident on I-110 highway claimed 2 lives, left 11 injured Title 2: Devastating truck collision on I-110 The first one tells readers the gist of the story while the second one only gives them a hint and nothing more. Another thing to notice is the first title lacks brevity. Titles that are short, suspenseful and exciting capture the attention while unnecessarily long titles, giving away too much information psychologically dissuade readers from reading the rest of the content. #5. Treating B2B clients differently It’s been a trend among content marketers for a long time. In 2016, they need to abandon it once and for all. The reason? Accenture Digital and SAP Hybris jointly conducted a study, which revealed B2B customers want the same treatment that their B2C cousins receive. The study categorically shows B2B customers expect the same level of personalized engagement, which has traditionally been granted to B2C customers. Content marketers need to change their old lenses to look at B2B content. B2B contents are not restricted to white papers couched with authoritative dictums or case studies full of technical jargons. If you are a content marketer in 2016, add a bit of personalization, so the content not only informs but also entertains. This is how you frame content for the B2C audiences. Do the same for the B2B marketplace as well. Such content can give you an edge in the tough-to-crack B2B industry. #6. Not having an opinion In 2016, it’s mandatory for content developers to foist their opinion into the content. Over 2 million blogs are published on the internet every day, aside from blogs, there are videos, infographics, podcasts. The chances of your blog/infographics/vlog getting lost in the crowd is overwhelmingly high unless It showcases an opinion The opinion is unique You can justify the opinion An opinion can be right or wrong. Content marketers often hesitate to express their opinion because they feel it’d meet with hostility and rejection from users. Even if that happens, it’d still be considered engagement, something that your competitors are lacking. So always write opinionated content because Google hates cookie-cutter content and you don’t want to earn Google’s wrath. #7. Long content I used to see content marketers around me writing 500 words articles, only for the purpose of backlink generation. That practice has long been dead (mentioned it already). In 2016, the priority is providing information to readers. At the same time, mere information is not enough. It requires synthesis and that’s possible when the author adds his personal opinion (mentioned it already too) to retrieve a conclusion. An article that presents information, showcases the author’s opinion and justifies that opinion cannot be confined to 500 words. In other words, the content needs to be appropriately long. What is the optimal length? Between 1400-1800 words. See the figure below: Sources The figure above shows users read 200-250 words a minute and the attention span of an average reader is 7 minutes. Hence the optimal length of an article is between (200 x 7) = 1400 words and (250 x 7) = 1750 words. It’d be a mistake not to write articles that are this long. Avoid the mistakes Avoid all the content marketing mistakes listed here. Harnessing the power of content marketing is impossible unless the seven mistakes discussed here are avoided. 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