I’m the digital marketing space since early 2012. From the point where I am right now to the point I was in the past, there’s a huge difference. The learning curve has been huge. Furthermore, the point I want to reach is clearly visible to me but it will take a huge amount of efforts & time to reach there. I have everything I need to reach there, all I need to do is – START(which I already have)
This May’19, I will be 7 years young in this space and all these years, I’ve seen trends change, check hundreds of to-do lists along with a ton of coffee. I’ve seen tips & tricks go out of date and seen new tips & tricks evolve with time. I’ve seen social media evolve as a major arm for marketing(& only arm for marketing in so many cases). I’ve made hundreds of dollars online and I’ve made zero dollars online. But few things didn’t change until the last 27 months.
While I was working towards becoming better at what I am today, I realized those mistakes that I was committing consistently and almost every other day. This post is my story of the top mistakes I was committing until late 2016 & how am I fixing them right now.
I have a lot to cover, so without any delay, let’s dive in.
Digital Marketing Mistakes I Committed
Note: Before I sharing the mistakes I committed, I’ll assume that you are a budding & aspirant digital marketer. If you’re an experienced marketer, there’s no harm in learning from someone else’s mistakes. Life is too short to commit all mistakes & learn from them.
Mistake #1: Not Having a Content Strategy
The biggest mistake I committed was not having a content strategy in place. The reason behind this was I wasn’t aware of who my target audience is, or I’d say ‘was’. I’m talking about know exactly who to target, like laser-sharp focus on the target audience.
Who are most likely to consume my content? What are the most common problem they face in day to day life. Where do they live? What are the alternatives they use? and a ton of such questions come to my mind when I think of writing a piece of content today. That’s after I designed a content strategy for all the blog posts. Before the strategy, it was all haphazard. My content would run like a headless chicken with no definite target to achieve.
I am active on Quora since early 2015. For the first 18 months or so, I didn’t realize how powerful this platform is. Quora has not helped me discover myself, but also help me realize my own strengths and more importantly, my weaknesses.
It’s one of the best sources of my target audience. Its the place where I interact with my target audience or know more about them, most importantly figuring out the issues they’re facing and how can I help them fix it with minimum efforts. That becomes my topic for my next blog post.
50% of my blog topics are inspired by Quora, real people ask real-life questions with real-life scenarios. What else you need as inspiration to design your content marketing strategy?
What about the remaining 50%?
Now I caught you curious.
The remaining 50% is a mixed source with Reddit being the top rank, google search suggestions, ‘people also ask’ in Google search, other blogs where my target audience probably hangs out, their comments and what not. This second half is the most tedious one, takes the most of my research time and returns the most.
That was on my process, you’d ask how can I build a content strategy?
1. Have a Business Goal
Having a clear business goal helps you find the target audience with ease. Google’s business goal is to organize the world’s information. It’s simple and very clear to build products & services that help them bring the goal to reality.
The best part of having a clear business goal is that it helps you understand who you shouldn’t target. That’s way more important than knowing who to target. I see a lot of people ragging about social media ads not returning anything fruitful.
In most cases, it was this reason – they were targeting the wrong audience. The major part of their target were people who weren’t even interested in their content. Furthermore, most of the social media ads ran on geographic location based and not based on interest.
I ran ads on Facebook in the past. Obviously, it didn’t return me anything but sure I earned a lot of experience running it, which is priceless.
It was then that I realized the importance of the business goal and I created one(at least a draft version)
Since then I was able to find the right audience to target and guess what, it resonates 8 out 10 times.
2. Round Down Your Target Audience
This is a sequence to the previous point but in detail. When you finalize your business goal, you encircle a very specific group of people who’ll reap the benefits of your business solutions. As you know, a business is nothing but a solution serving the organization.
The firm that serves the best solution, wins.
So when you finalize a goal, you also finalize people who’re most likely to buy the product of business goal.
3. Study Your Target Audience
This one is both easy and difficult. There are various tools in the market to know your target audience, obviously not their names and bank details. But their interests, geography, sex, movies they like, places they’re interested in and a bunch of such hard cold data.
This can be the arrow you can mount on the bow of your content and hit the bull’s eye.
The best example I can mention here is Google Analytics. If you have a website, you can integrate Google Analytics, wait for a couple of days and let the data flow in.
Once you have the data loaded in the dashboard, you can get insights of the target audience.
Apart from this, you can even consider using Google Trends to see what’s trending in your target audience’s country/region. This way, you can pinpoint specific content in a specific country/region. If your content is good(which I believe firmly in) your content is more likely to reach the target audience with ease and it won’t stop there.
It’s will rail forward.
Now that you have a highly specific target audience, it’s time to place the next foot forward.
4. Cator Content According to The Target Audience
If you’ve done your homework on knowing the target audience, this step is easy. The only thing you should keep in mind is brainstorming the content ideas with your target audience in mind.
Speaking of brainstorm, here are some tools that will come handy
Coming up with blog ideas needs a lot of observation & patience. With this tool, you can have great topics to blog about. All you have to do is add some keywords you want to blog about, and the tool will spit some great topics you can write about. Say you are a fitness pro and want to blog about the paleo diet. Simply put this keyword in the tool and let the tool do the magic, as shown in the image below.
A popular RSS feed where you can find trendy topics in your industry. You can find content from top publications, YouTube channels, blogs, RSS feeds and what not.
This is a social media wizard, especially for those businesses who’s audience hangs out mostly on various social media platform. BuzzSumo helps you find topics that are highly shared on social media. This tool doesn’t only give you insights about highly shared content on social media but also have various digital marketing tools like Brand Monitoring, Influencer Marketing, Content Curation, Content Research & Planning, and so many such tools to nail your content development stage.
CoSchedule is a tool where you can organize your digital marketing activities. It’s basically calendar but with a ton of features that helps you run the marketing activities like a smoothie. One of the tools CoSchedule provides is Headline Analyzer. Simply put in your title and see the tool do its magic.
Mistake #2: Poor Keyword Research
This is very important. Even if you have a great content marketing strategy, if your keyword research isn’t to the mark, your efforts are gonna fail big time.
I knew about Yoast SEO since the beginning of my career, so all I did was have all greens. And I thought it will reach the masses.
But that doesn’t work anymore.
However, if you are a beginner like I was once, I understand the longing for keyword research tools that free. Don’t worry, there are tools you can utilize without spending a dime. Here’s the list
Google Keywords Planner: Keyword research tool for traditional Good Adwords turned Google Ads. This tool is actually for those who run ads on Google network, but marketers have adapted to use this tool to feed their content marketing needs. Thanks to Google, to make this tool available for everyone. However, Google Keyword Planner has started becoming pretty useless of late. The main reason being the keyword volume it used to show is no more available. But still, the tool is helpful to a very large extent.
Google Trends: My personal favorite and have had my back so many times for so many articles I produce. Once I decide the target audience, I look up the trending keywords in the target audience’s location. I generally, check global trends of my target keyword.
In my previous blog post on Chrome Extensions for Digital Marketers. I initially chose ‘best google chrome extensions as my target keyword, but digging google trends I found that ‘chrome extensions’ has way more search volume. And that became my target keyword.
KeywordTool.io: If there any tool that’s one of the best keyword research tool available for free, it’s KeywordTool.io. Simply enter your target keyword and the tool will spit out new keyword ideas you can use in your blog posts. This tool fetches data from the Google autosuggest feature in the search engine. Needless to say how updated Google’s autosuggestions are. It free and it helps you optimize your content by suggestions from YouTube, Bing, & App Stores.
UberSuggest: This is another keyword research tool I rely on in my day to day life. This tool is the most advanced keyword research tool for beginners. You get the keyword overview that tells the keyword overview, SEO difficulty, paid difficulty, keyword ideas(both suggested & related). You can enter a domain and get the top pages and the keyword that page ranks for. You can also get top keyword the domain ranks for.
The tool will also show backlinks data soon.
These are the tools I use for my keyword research. Of all these, Google Trends, UberSuggest & SEMrush is used every time. Apart from this I also have keywords everywhere extension installed in my browsers.
I’m very strict when it comes to keyword research for my blog posts. Off-late it is paying off well.
Here are some best practices I strictly follow
Depending on the audience I create the blog post on, I find all variations of the keyword from Google Trends. That becomes my target keyword and I also include that in the URL.
Next, I use SEMrush to find what pages are ranking for my target keyword and how optimized the top ranking pages are. This data helps me find the loopholes I can fill and increase the chance of ranking above the already ranking for.
I keep the keyword density less than 2%. This gives me space to include more LSI keywords & make more sense to the end user.
Target keyword in H1 tag and only one H1 tag in the whole blog post.
Target keyword doesn’t ‘have’ to be in URL every time. Write for users & not for search engines.
Short & simple URL that includes keyword, but not always.
These are some basic best practices that I follow ritualistically.
Moving on to third & last mistake
Mistake #3: Relying on Backlinks
When my digital marketing career was slowly grasping grip, backlinks became an eternal part of SEO. Suddenly, everyone started talking about it and it became a stereotype to include backlinks in every other blog post, and I followed.
But later I realized, backlinks are not that important. I had all my focus on generating backlinks leaving behind my content, on-page SEO, social media presence, list building and many more such highly important aspects of digital marketing.
I’m not denying the fact that backlinks are important, it’s the number one signal algorithms use to rank webpages. But I have webpages on my blog that ranks top 3 for multiple keywords, that too without a single backlink.
I’ll admit, I tried raising backlinks from Quora, but it’s not a significant referral source. And now, I’m not even spending any time on building links anymore.
It’s pure & high-quality user-friendly problem-solving life-saving content that is optimized with keywords are the core.
Just solve a problem that your target audience is facing, blog about it in plain and digestible English and give me one reason search engines wouldn’t rank your content higher.
Instead of focusing on backlinks, I shifted my focus on coverage of content. If I decide to write on ‘How to Prepare a Cup of Coffee” I’d simply not restrict my content to pour hot milk in a cup add coffee & sugar to it.
That’s not what the end user is looking for. Instead, I’d include everything a user would need to make a cup of coffee. Maybe more than the users need. Like what are the type of beans available, how long should you brew it, what are the type of coffee machines that are available, which coffee machine is best for which type of coffee, the temperature of the coffee beans needed.
Now that’s a perfect cup of coffee. With this type of content, I cannot figure out any reason why search engines won’t rank your content on top of everyone.
That’s what has changed, I rank backlinks after top quality content. I believe, top-quality content will automatically get backlinks from people who’re looking for such information.
I again want to clear some air that I don’t recommend to spend any time on building links. It’s definitely very important to build links, it’s gold. All I’m saying is before you spend any time on building links rather spend that time on creating content worth linking to.
I’ll be bold, backlinks are not my priority now. I’ll create awesome content and leave the choice of linking to it on the netizens.
I hope my mistakes has helped you learn & save time that I lost doing it. Feel free to share this piece with other bloggers too. Also, join my mailing list & Btricks Telegram Channel to get fresh updates.