The Biggest SEO Mistake Content Marketers Make

This summer, I conducted empathy interviews a bunch of our clients and prospects to understand their content marketing challenges. One big pain point: SEO.

SEO remains a huge part of content marketing, as it should be. High-ranking content creates long-term value for your brand. It’s a key part of what Tomasz Tunguz calls the compounding returns of content marketing.

When you invest in content and a strong SEO strategy, you drive more and more valuable traffic to your site over time, resulting in compounding returns on your content marketing investment.

Compounding returns of content

The problem with SEO is that many companies’ content SEO strategy looks like this:

Step 1: The content team creates a pretty good article.

Step 2: They pass it off to the SEO team, who stuff the piece with a bunch of keywords that make it nearly unreadable and press publish.

Step 3: The content team cries, and the piece doesn’t perform well against search anyway BECAUSE THAT’S NOT HOW SEO WORKS ANYMORE.

Even in 2020, I see this same mistake made over and over again. Instead, marketers should:

A) Factor a target keyword into content planning and production from the beginning, so that it’s naturally integrated into the piece. Since Google has shifted to semantic search, you want to focus on long-tail keywords associated with a question that someone’s trying to answer. (i.e., “What makes good content marketing,” “content marketing tips”). By answering the question at hand, you build SEO into the editorial process and avoid keyword stuffing.

B) Prioritize quality over everything else. Nowadays, Google prioritizes backlinks and E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) ratings in their rankings. The easiest way to drive both of those up is to create interesting content with original research and reporting related to your industry. You need to create content that inspires people to link, share, and spend time on page. And you need Google to see you as an expert in the core topics you’re covering.

In 2020, this is what matters. Traditional keyword stuffing is now terrible for your SEO. And mediocre content that won’t earn links is essentially worthless. Focus on publishing original research and reporting that helps answer your audience’s big questions. Focus on quality over quantity. Bring your SEO team in at the beginning of the content planning process—and then politely kick them out of the editing room. If you do that, I promise: You’ll see greater SEO results this year.

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