I’ve frequently seen great content out there that doesn’t reach its full potential because a few key technical considerations were ignored. Other times, I’ve seen people make assumptions on their content’s performance based on skewed data. Here are five mistakes I’ve seen content marketers make, why they matter, and how you can avoid them:
1. Including your organization’s IP address range in your analytics reporting.
I’m always skeptical of claims of engagement or viewership using analytics platforms whose settings I can’t verify. Authors may routinely edit their posts to keep them up to date or to respond to comments, logging dozens of views. Counting interactions on your website that were performed by yourself or other employees at your company can lead to skewed stats that don’t tell the true story!
Fortunately, you can generate more realistic analytics reporting by filtering out your company’s IP addresses (or address range) in your analytics software. Here are some guides on how to do so for the two most popular analytics platforms:
2. Having default or blank ALT attributes or title tags for your images.
ALT attributes (descriptive text for images) are often skipped when embedding images into content. However, doing so hurts your site in multiple ways, including potential legal liability!:
- Accessibility: The ALT attribute is crucial for the blind and others unable to properly see images. Screen readers will read the ALT text of images to give these users context within content. Including ALT text is not only disability-friendly, but not doing so is a liability. A recent lawsuit won against Target shows that private organizations may be obligated to make their sites accessible.
- Search Engine Optimization: Your page will rank more highly in searches involving keywords that also exist in the ALT attributes on your page. It’ll also help your infographics and other visual content show up in image searches.
- Email rendering: Your marketing game is strong. You’ve got your content automatically going out in your email marketing campaigns. Unfortunately, some organizations and clients block your images from being loaded. Luckily for you, your ALT attribute for the images in your content render so the reader at least knows what the image was supposed to be!
3. Assuming that your email will be deliverable if you use a third party service or software.
Many people use third party services to send email, including popular marketing email automation software. These services advertise that they’ll help your deliverability, which while true (since you can trust their servers not to be blacklisted as senders of spam), doesn’t mean you should blindly trust your emails to get delivered!
While the perceived “spammy” nature of a server greatly affects deliverability, your email’s recipients and content can still trigger spam filters. Use an online tool such as Contactology’s Email Spam Checker to make sure your message doesn’t sound like spam. If your email scores low, don’t take it personally; just rewrite it until it scores highly/reads like a human wrote it. While an obvious point to many, it’s also a good idea to check your deliverability by having a handful of email accounts available on major email services (gmail/yahoo/outlook.com) that you can send test messages to.
4. Crossposting identical content across multiple websites without care.
Crossposting content across multiple sites is a great way to get more exposure. However, you risk Google noticing that there is duplicate content across multiple pages. Google isn’t one to be repetitive, so it’ll often display the one copy it deems most relevant. If you blog a great article to your personal site, and then it gets picked up by a bigger site, your initial excitement of getting more exposure will likely be tapered when you find out Google no longer shows your original post in its search results, and shows the syndicated copy on the other site instead.
It’s still a great practice to post across multiple sites and channels, you just have to be conscious of falling into this duplicate content trap. Make use of canonical URLs (learn how to use these under “Level 2” in this post), or better yet, abridge or summarize your original post so it’s not duplicate content, with a link back to your original post. You’re thus not only preventing duplicate content, but also earning yourself a valuable link back to your domain!
5. Letting your content management system generate default, non-descriptive URLs.
WordPress is one of the most popular Content Management System (CMS) platforms on the web. However, many users don’t know that one of its default settings will hurt the visibility of their blog posts or articles. Every time you post something, your CMS generates a URL. For WordPress, the default URL looks like this: http://example.com/?p=N, where N is the post ID. This is not only not very descriptive (I know nothing about the topic of the article from the URL), but it also is detrimental to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Google and other search engines also don’t know what your article is about from the URL, and it’ll hurt your page’s ranking. You should put keywords in your URLs just as you’d put them in your title or headers. It’s a quick fix to change the default URL setting so it generates permalinks that mirror the post’s title, something that will pay dividends everytime you create a new article or post.
Have you noticed any other common mistakes in the content marketing world? Let us know @triblio or in the comments below!