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8 Old-School Blogging Tactics That No Longer Work

You feel misguided.

When you started your blog, you thought you could just follow in the footsteps of your favorite blogger, right? Just publish great content and maybe spend some time on social media and you thought the readers would come.

But in reality, you find yourself grinding.

You stay up late after your 9-5 to write articles. You hustle for every single visitor. And you feel as if you’re spinning your wheels in a rut, not getting anywhere with your blog.

You wonder if it’s your writing. You wonder if it’s your topic. You wonder if maybe blogging just doesn’t work anymore.

But I have good news for you:

It’s not blogging that doesn’t work anymore. It’s these old-school blogging tactics that somehow still pop up online as effective methods of growing your blog.

Instead of throwing in the towel on blogging completely, throw in the towel on these outdated strategies and start upping your game (and your traffic) with what works today.

Tactic #1: Hoping “Great Content” Will Save Your Sorry Ass


You’ve been told that “content is king” and “if you build it, they will come.”

So you’ve spent countless hours building a hub of awesome content on your topic, and you just know it’s what your target audience is looking for.

Once upon a time, that might’ve been enough. People would’ve found you and spread the word about you.

But these days, everyone is writing amazing content. There are hordes of carefully crafted, ruthlessly researched, expertly written blog posts on every topic.

Readers won’t come looking for you. You need to go looking for them. You can’t do that if all you do is write, write, write.

What to Do Instead

Instead of spending all your time writing and publishing content, you need to spend more time getting that content in front of readers.

In fact, Derek Halpern suggests you should only spend 20% of your time creating great content, and 80% of your time promoting it.

So build relationships with influencers. Develop an outreach strategy to get links and shares. Repurpose your articles for maximum exposure.  

If you don’t, it won’t matter how amazing your content is; you’ll keep struggling to build an audience.

Tactic #2: Guest Blogging on Huge Media Sites for Traffic


It was July 2015, and I was so excited.

I had only launched Unsettle six months prior and Huffington Post accepted me as a contributor.

So I got to work. I researched Huffington Post’s business section to find the perfect topic. I stayed up late to write an article that I thought would resonate. Then I logged into my contributor dashboard, loaded the article, and pressed “publish.”

The next morning, I woke up early, excited to check my stats, and … crickets. I saw maybe 20 visitors from the article I’d worked so hard to write.

What happened?

The problem is that these huge media publications keep on growing in size and staff. And the more they grow, the less chance you have of drawing significant traffic from them. After all, it’s much harder to stand out when they publish thirty or more posts alongside yours.

Sure, if they happen to feature your post prominently on their front page, you may go viral and draw more traffic than you can handle. But you’re more likely to lose the traffic lottery than win it.

When it comes to guest blogging, you have much more reliable options.

What to Do Instead

Guest blogging is still hugely beneficial for bringing in traffic, email subscribers, and social proof.

But instead of targeting huge media sites like Huffington Post, you should target more specific, topic-based blogs. For example,if you’re a finance blogger, instead of guest blogging on MSN Money, you would target Budgets Are Sexy or The Penny Hoarder.

These blogs usually have large, engaged audiences specific to your topic.

Also, these kinds of blogs are often run by a single influencer. Guest blogging for them will help build your relationship, which can lead to them sharing your posts in the future. (This could end up sending you more traffic than the guest post itself.)

As for those huge media sites, the only reason to write for them is if you’d like to add your logo to your “featured on” list. You may not get a ton of traffic, but having written for these big websites does lend you credibility in the minds of many readers.

Tactic #3: Asking Readers to “Subscribe for Free Updates.” (Is It 2009?)


Listen, you can no longer expect people to give you their email in return for “free updates” or your “free newsletter.”

Subscribe for free updates

Yes, you’re supposed to grow your email list, but if you’re asking for emails without giving anything in return, you’re ignoring an important psychological societal norm: reciprocity.

This tactic may have worked in the past, but everybody knows the power of email marketing today, so every blog, website, and shop is vying for your visitor’s email address. You’ll see pathetic opt-in rates if you’re not offering anything concrete.

What to Do Instead

Instead of just asking outright for email addresses and hoping your readers are generous enough to cough them up, you need to give them something valuable in return.

That means creating an opt-in offer your visitors can’t refuse.

An opt-in offer is a free resource you provide related to your topic that you give away in exchange for an email address to incentivize email subscriptions (and rapidly grow your email list).

With the right opt-in offer, you’ll see your subscription rate go from a measly 1%–2% to an encouraging 5% or more.

Tactic #4: Trying to Build an Ad-Driven Media Empire


Back before the days of affiliate marketing and product creation, there were the days of advertising — one of the only ways bloggers of yesteryear could begin to monetize.

The idea was that you’d build a huge site with lots of pages ranking in Google, slap ads on them, and you’d see profit.

Now, even back in the day, the gains you’d get from ads were modest. Even then, you’d need a whole lot of people clicking your ads to make a decent living. But if you had enough pages ranking for profitable keywords, you could make it work.

These days, it’s even harder than it was before. Not only do you face a lot more competition, but most people have developed “banner blindness,” which means they pay so little attention to the ads on a page that they don’t even notice them.

Advertising is an ineffective (and unprofitable) means of monetizing your blog. Fortunately, you have much better options.

What to Do Instead

Blogging is more of a viable career than ever before.

But now, instead of relying on tacky display ads to earn you pennies for the hard work you do, you can earn much more by creating products, offering services, or selling online resources and courses.

Turn toward treating your blog as an actual business, and away from scammy monetization practices like advertising.

Tactic #5: Lurking in Comments Sections Looking for Traffic


Back in the day, the way to guarantee traffic was to leave comments on articles posted on other blogs in your niche.

If you left your comments in enough places, they could bring you significant amount of traffic. You’d just leave a link in the URL section of your comment, and wait for the traffic to roll in.

Why do you think you still see so much spam in comment sections? Because this used to work like gangbusters.

But now this no longer works. Nobody has time to comb through the comments section of an article and click the links to see if commenters have a blog they might want to follow.

What to Do Instead

Commenting on other people’s blogs is still an effective way to build relationships with other bloggers. If you connect with other bloggers in their comment sections enough, they learn your name and will recognize you.

Then, if you want to send them a pitch, or a link or share request, they will already have warmed to you. They will be a lot more receptive.

Of course, leaving half-hearted comments (“Nice article!” “I totally agree with your fifth point!”) isn’t the way to do it. You’ll actually have to read their articles and share which insights you gained from it, and if you have any additional ones to offer, mention those too. (Just make sure you don’t outright contradict them, if you want to build up your relationship with them.)

You want to be more like this:

Leave insightful comments

Tactic #6: Writing Y.A.R.P (Yet Another Roundup Post)


It seems as if every time you open your browser, you see another headline like this:

“32 Productivity Experts Reveal Their Morning Routines!”

This type of post is called a roundup post, where the blogger has reached out to several influencers and bloggers, asking them the same question to use their answers in an article.

This used to be an excellent strategy for getting your blog on the map. The influencers who contributed would get a backlink and a feature on your blog, and in turn they’d share the article with their social media followers.

But because they worked so well, everybody started doing them. So influencers’ inboxes are now flooded with the same old roundup questions from everybody and their dog. If they even respond with an answer (because a link is a link), they’re far less likely to share it today.

What to Do Instead

Featuring influencers in your niche is still a good way to put your blog on the map. Instead of asking a generic question and making a list post out of the answers, you can take one of two other approaches:

  1. Using influencers as case-study-style examples (without bothering them for their input). This is what I did with my Buffer guest post that ended up being one of the top pieces of content on the Buffer blog that year.
  2. Getting extremely creative and interesting with your question. Instead of just asking what the influencer’s favorite superfood is, get more creative to capture their interest and rise above the rest of the roundup questions in their inboxes. Bonus: this also appeals to more readers.

Both of these options allow you to reap the benefits of a roundup post without ending up on influencers’ hit lists (or being completely ignored).  

Tactic #7: Writing for Rankings (Rather Than Readers)


Not that long ago, bloggers could “game” the search engines.

You could write short, keyword-rich articles for your blog and actually rank. The more content you published, the more keywords you had the opportunity to rank for.

In fact, I wrote a blog called Suburban Finance, and because I wrote several articles about buying a house, I ranked in the top 50 for the search term “house.”

True story.

But since then, Google’s algorithm has become much more savvy.

See, Google’s business model relies on its users getting the search results they want — relevant, valuable content about whatever topic they’re searching for. So instead of valuing content based on quantity, Google uses measures of quality.

That means that it looks at factors like:

  • Dwell time” (how long a user will spend on the page)
  • Bounce rate (the percentage of users who leave your site after visiting one page)
  • Content richness (the length and depth of the search result)

These factors all show Google (and other search engines, not that they matter) that the result they displayed to their user was relevant and valuable.

What to Do Instead

Cranking out five 300-word blog posts per week so you can rank does not lead to relevant or valuable content.

Instead of becoming a content mill, hoping to rank for keywords, focus on creating quality content for the keywords you’re looking to rank for.

You must write for people. And people are looking for answers. When you write detailed, long-form content, it is more likely to have the answers they seek.

Tactic #8: Being a “Jack” of All Social Platforms (Instead of a Master of One)


It used to be standard practice to have a social media presence on every platform possible to cover your bases. But that’s no longer effective.

With the introduction of algorithms for many social platforms, your posts reach fewer of your followers than ever before, so blasting your blog posts to every social media platform won’t bring you much traffic at all.

If you have 1,000 likes and follows on your Facebook page, that used to mean you promote your blog posts in front of most of those followers, but now only 6% (and often far less) of your fans will even see your posts in their newsfeeds.

Facebook newsfeed
Facebook reach

Facebook isn’t the only social platform that has taken this approach. Instagram is the latest platform to follow suit.

To get your posts in front of more people on these platforms, you need to drum up engagement so the platform trusts that your followers want to see your posts.

But that’s nearly impossible to do unless you know the platform intimately and build up a strong presence. And it’s tough to do so if you are spreading yourself across every social network out there.

What to Do Instead

Focus on just one social media platform and promote your articles more heavily.

The only way to get more people to see and like your posts on social media  is to develop a deeper understanding of each platform and post on a regular basis so you can conquer those prohibitive algorithms.

How regularly?

CoSchedule says that it depends on the social platform, but here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Post to Facebook 1–2 times per day
  • Tweet 15 times per day
  • Instagram 2–3 times per day

Develop a deeper, more intimate knowledge of the social platform to truly benefit from social media marketing.

Wake Up and Ditch the Outdated Blogging Advice  

I bet you’ve thought it.

I know I have.

“If only I’d started sooner.”

You know, back when professional blogging wasn’t so popular. Back when the blogosphere wasn’t more competitive than the restaurant industry. Back when all you had to do to get traffic was post on Facebook every time you published a new post.

It’s tempting to write blogging off as one of those things you had to start back before it became popular.

But I have good news …

You can still make in the blogosphere. You just have to ditch the old-school blogging tactics that no longer work and lean into the new strategies.

And sit back and watch the traffic, readers, and subscribers roll in.

About the Author: Sarah Peterson writes insanely useful guides on marketing and entrepreneurship at Unsettle.org.  Get her report, 10 Free Tools That Reveal the Product Your Audience Is Begging For to finally start making money from your blog… the right way.

 

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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5 SEO Mistakes Killing Your Content Performance and a Fix for Each

Common SEO Mistakes

Common SEO Mistakes

Even the most seasoned content marketers make mistakes. In the world of SEO-driven content, with constant algorithm tweaks and changing search patterns, it’s nearly unavoidable. However, those same mistakes can often lead to discoveries that enable even better content performance.

The key is being able to recognize those easy-to-fix SEO mistakes and address them. As a result, your content will become an optimized, integrated network of metaphorical highways, leading searchers to best-answer content in a strategic and purposeful way.

So, what are the most common SEO mistakes, and how can they be addressed? Below, I’ve singled out the ‘usual suspects’ along with guidance on how to fix them while setting yourself up for long-term SEO success.

SEO Mistake #1 - Choosing Target Keywords Based on Volume vs. Relevance

How Keywords Affect Content Marketers: Great content isn't great unless people see it. But when content marketers overemphasize high-volume keywords, they miss out on meaningful engagement.

It’s tempting to plug into your keyword research tool of choice and select keywords with the highest search volume as your focuses for new content. But if the content you’re creating doesn’t match the search intent for that high-volume keyword, it’s unlikely to perform to your expectations.

The Fix: Google it! All jokes aside, evaluating the first ten search results for your target keywords can help you understand what searchers are trying to find, and what supporting content you should provide to truly be the best answer for that query.

While you’re analyzing those top results, pay attention to key factors that will shape your content creation and promotion strategy:

  1. What type of information is NOT included in top content, but is topically related? This can help you inform how you differentiate your content.
  2. What’s the content demand for that keyword? For example, are mostly top of funnel blog posts ranking, or are you seeing mostly product or service pages?
  3. How many backlinks and referring domains are pointing to the top search results? This can help you understand how competitive the first page of results is, and whether or not ongoing link building should be part of your content promotion strategy.
  4. How long is the top-ranking content for that keyword? This will help you determine ideal content length for your own post.

SEO Mistake #2 - Targeting the Same Keyword with Multiple Pages or Posts

How Same-Topic Targeting Affects Content Marketers: Pressure to create comprehensive content on a topic can actually result in dilution within search.

The conventional wisdom that more is better doesn’t apply universally — especially when it comes to SEO-driven content. Creating multiple pieces of content that target the exact same keyword is a surefire way to stand in your own way of success. There’s enough competition out there for B2B marketers without having to compete with your own content.

For example, a B2B technology company that wants to rank for B2B software consulting should optimize their service page for that term based on what is currently being served in search results. But, if they also create a series of blogs or resources that are targeting that specific term, search engine bots will be confused about which page is the best answer for that query. This could result in none of the content appearing in the top 10 results, in favor of competing sites with a more clear ‘answer’ to that query.

The Fix: Determine which of your pages or posts is the best answer for that particular query by analyzing ranking and analytics data. Which post or page sees the greatest amount of engaged organic traffic for your target keyword, and most closely matches the associated search intent?

Once you’ve determined your target page, it’s time to evaluate the remaining content targeting that keyword. Look for opportunities to:

  1. Remove or prune low-value or outdated content. Is there a blog post full of stats from 2009 that’s hindering your priority page’s chances of ranking? It might be time to consider removing that post and implementing the proper redirects.
  2. Optimize existing content for related, but different, keyword targets. For example, if you have a priority post for Chocolate Chip Cookies, and another post that more closely relates to ‘Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies’, consider optimizing that post for the latter and implementing internal links back to your priority cookies post.
  3. Combine closely related content. For example, if you have several blog posts around your targeted keyword(s), consider combining those posts into a longer, more robust piece of content.

SEO Mistake #3 - Ignoring Internal Link Structure

How Internal Linking Affects Content Marketers: Links are like electricity on the web, lighting up content for people and search engines alike.

Content is discovered by links. Your site’s internal linking structure tells bots (and users) which pages are most important, and which pages are most relevant to specific keywords. If you link to several pages from the same anchor text, for example, there will be some confusion about which page is truly ‘about’ that topic. Other times, you could have pages or posts on your site that are orphaned, with no internal links directing users or bots their way. This can confuse your site users, search engine bots, and even your own team. Confusion is not a ranking factor!

The Fix: Make sure you develop and continue to update your site’s keyword map. It can be as simple as a spreadsheet that lists your page’s URL and associated target keyword(s). This keyword map will help you determine what anchor text should be used to link to your target pages.

Next, conduct a site audit to determine:

  1. If there are orphaned pages that need internal links
  2. If you are linking to multiple pages with the same keyword-rich anchor text
  3. Where there are opportunities to create additional supporting content
  4. Where you might have opportunities to reduce and prune existing supporting content

Next, you’re going to want to crawl your site to find any orphaned pages. Then, map those into your overall keyword strategy and implement internal links.

SEO Mistake #4 - Ignoring Data from Other Digital Tactics

How Marketing Data Affects Content Marketers: Inspiration often drives ideation for many content marketers, but data drives optimization for ideal content performance. Marketing performance data can provide both.

Any data you can collect about how your audience engages with your content has the potential to be an SEO gold mine. For example, analyzing the keywords from your paid search campaigns can give you insight into which keywords are your best converters, and what content best suits searchers for those terms. Social posts that get the greatest amount of engagement can tell you which topics your audience is most interested in. Ignoring data from your other marketing and sales channels means missing out on an opportunity to better engage your prospects.

The Fix: Meet with different teams or departments to find out what kind of content performs best on their channels. Look at the data each platform or channel provides and compare that with your site analytics data for a full picture. And, be sure to share your channel performance data with the rest of your marketing team. The more information available related to content and marketing performance, the better equipped you are to optimize.

SEO Mistake #5 - Giving Up

How Persistence Affects Content Marketers: Content performance in search is a long game and persistence is essential for success.

SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes a lack of results can feel demoralizing, but giving up is simply not an option. You wouldn’t stop building your house just because the nearest lumber yard ran out of wood, right? You’d find another lumber yard and keep plugging along.

The Fix: Take a step back. Re-evaluate the search landscape, your competitor’s organic presence, and your site’s overall health. Being able to remove yourself from the frustration can help you find opportunities you may have missed and additional whitespace to tackle.

Next, seek out advice from other SEOs. Ask questions on social media, in specific groups or forums, or send a question to your favorite SEO blog. If budget permits, enlist the help of a consultant or SEO agency that can help you break through your roadblocks.

Finally, we have two big SEO bummers that are tougher to fix, but absolutely necessary to address.

Bonus SEO Mistake: Migrating Your Site with No SEO Plan

How Migrating Without a Plan Affects Content Marketers: A bad migration can effectively undo your hard work, reducing content visibility and creating more user friction.

If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of SEOs cringing around the globe. A botched site migration can wreak havoc on your organic positioning and torpedo your results. It can take months, even years to recuperate organic visibility to pre-migration levels.

The Fix: Always, always consult your in-house SEO team or SEO agency when you’re considering a website migration. Before you move forward, it’s imperative you have a plan for technical, on-page, and off-page factors.

If you’ve already migrated your site and have experienced a loss of organic traffic and rankings, start with a site audit. Check for the basics, like whether or not your site is being indexed, first. Then start to evaluate technical factors like broken links, crawl errors, and duplicate content.

When in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Recovering from a site migration is a challenge for even the best of SEOs, and sometimes those big challenges call for a little teamwork.

Bonus SEO Mistake: Not Optimizing for Mobile

How Not Optimizing for Mobile Affects Content Marketers: Even the greatest content can’t stand up to a bad mobile experience. Users will bounce, reducing engagement and sending negative signals to search engines.

Mobile accounts for about half of web traffic worldwide. Knowing this, in March 2018 Google started migrating sites to mobile-first indexing. Providing a seamless mobile experience is no longer optional, especially when you’re living in the wild world of search.

Sites that didn’t properly prepare for this can and will likely see some declines in organic search traffic and rankings as a result. And, as more sites follow mobile best practices, more users will notice and become frustrated by poor mobile experiences. This leads to declines in other pivotal ranking factors like on-page engagement. In short, if not properly addressed, a poor mobile experience can wreak havoc on your search visibility.

The Fix: The first thing to do is to conduct a mobile audit on your site. Understanding your site’s mobile performance is step one toward making improvements. Look for things like:

  1. Mobile site speed. A couple great tools for this are Google Page Speed Insights and Pingdom. These tools can tell you where to look for issues like slow-loading code, images that aren’t optimized, and other technical issues.
  2. Mobile experience. Visit your site on your phone. Ask someone who doesn’t use your site regularly to do the same. Record your experience, take notes on where you get stuck and why. Click on everything. Turn your phone into horizontal mode. Try to think of every single way a user could browse your site. And, don’t forget to try a site search on mobile.
  3. Look at mobile analytics. This will tell you key metrics like mobile bounce rate, mobile time on page and pages per session.

These steps will help you build a hypothesis to test against. Is your mobile bounce rate crazy high? Does your site take a long time to load? Is your time on page way out of line with desktop traffic? Then, use A/B testing to root out the discrepancy. Use these same metrics to test if the fix is working. Then, repeat with another element.

So, What Does This All Mean for You?

Ultimately, following SEO best practices as a content marketer can reduce performance-related headaches and set you up for long-term success.

For example, when Innovatech Labs decided it was time to make major changes to their website, they worked with our team at TopRank Marketing to implement a safe website transition strategy, minimizing their risk of reduced content visibility on Google. This assessment involved avoiding many of the big risks mentioned above, including linking, use of data and keyword research which allowed us to act quickly post-migration to combat organic traffic declines. The result? Double- and triple-digit increases in organic traffic (and increased conversions, too!).

A best-answer content strategy focused on creating content with the most relevance to their audience was the ticket to better marketing performance for a martech SaaS company. Working with the team at TopRank Marketing, long-tail and hyper-relevant keywords were researched for a comprehensive content strategy to help the brand content become the best answer for those queries. The “best answer” approach and topics were applied across organic and paid efforts. As a result, the volume of both paid and organic MQLs increased, leading to better content performance and spontaneous proclamations of love from the client’s sales team.

Fixing these big SEO mistakes aren’t only for short-term wins. Our longtime partner Antea Group USA has achieved amazing triple-digit growth over three years by avoiding these big mistakes and implementing an ongoing commitment to SEO-driven, best answer content.

As I mentioned earlier, even the most experienced content marketers can make these common SEO mistakes. But, with the right SEO strategy driven by diligent execution and monitoring of results, you can get back on track. The key is to be intentional about your site’s architecture, as well as the content you create, and to never, ever give up.

Still feeling stuck? Or maybe your team doesn’t have the resources to take on this battle alone? Check out our SEO services, tweet us your thoughts @toprank, or drop me a line in the comments. We are here to help!

The post 5 SEO Mistakes Killing Your Content Performance and a Fix for Each appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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