By now you know that — technical details aside — SEO is not separate from content marketing; it’s an integrated aspect of content marketing.
Optimizing your content for search engines is part of your craft and a skill you can strengthen with practice.
But even when you rank well for search terms your audience uses, the real test is what happens when someone clicks through to your website. As Brian wrote on Monday:
“There’s nothing worse than a quick bounce.”
To avoid a quick bounce, you need to focus on content optimization. Since you don’t want to miss any opportunities to connect with your site visitors, study this list of five common mistakes — and how to fix them.
Mistake #1: Your visitors can’t tell if your content’s right for them
A row of four new houses that all look basically the same were just built on the street where I live. When a real estate agent starts taking potential buyers on tours of the houses, do you know what’s going to happen?
The potential buyers are going to examine the properties and make judgments about the differences they notice.
A woman is going to dislike the filigree on one of the front gates and select the house with the simple brown gate and extra large balconies. A man is going to love the house with the filigree on the front gate. Another woman is going to hate the house with the extra large balconies and prefer the house with additional living room space.
You get the point.
While these houses appear roughly similar from the outside, visitors quickly assess which property is right for them based on their personal preferences.
The same thing happens when people search for information about a topic. The websites that appear at the top of search results for a keyword phrase might all look the same at first, so visitors will quickly inspect your content to see if it contains the qualities that are right for them.
If your special qualities (your proverbial front gate with filigree, large balcony, or spacious living room) aren’t clear, you won’t convince the people you want to attract that you can satisfy their preferences.
How to fix it
When you stop trying to attract everyone, it’s easier to attract those who recognize and appreciate your unique selling proposition (USP).
You’re right for some visitors and your competitors may be right for others. That’s okay.
Mistake #2: Your headlines aren’t specific
The quickest way to a quick bounce is a generic headline that could appear on any other website in your niche.
Typically, these weak headlines fail to offer a benefit, or the benefit could be so vague that it fails to capture the attention of the people who you actually created the content for.
They could also be boring.
How to fix it
If you immediately communicate details about why your content is helpful, you’ll grab the attention of people who need that kind of help.
Aim to infuse your headlines with the essence of your USP and show your site visitors that you’re a match for them — faster.
Mistake #3: You don’t edit
Plenty of websites have success publishing first-draft content. If rough drafts form a bond with the people you aim to serve … cool.
But if your content isn’t striking a chord with the people you want to attract and develop relationships with, you may need to push yourself further.
How to fix it
Rough drafts often fail to effectively convey your messages. They may contain too much information or tangents that distract busy readers and make your content less useful.
Editing is about creating a content experience. Rather than expressing raw thoughts, you craft a thoughtful presentation that helps solve a problem. When you click on the link above, you’ll learn how to think like an editor.
Mistake #4: You don’t give visitors more opportunities to learn
Websites with a lot of content may still look like “brochure” websites if they don’t present a different angle or perspective that makes visitors think, “I like this specific approach to this topic.”
When visitors feel you offer them something they can’t find on other websites, they want to hear more from you and stay connected.
If you don’t anticipate a reader’s desire to learn more, he might bounce to other sites to see if they offer more resources.
How to fix it
Ideally, you want to have so much great content that when visitors land on your site they’re frustrated that they don’t have enough time to consume it all in one sitting.
They’ll have to make a note to come back. Now the question is:
Do they sign up for your email list so they don’t miss any new content?
Make signing up for your email list a no-brainer by providing an incentive that is a perfect match for their needs. Your email list could also offer exclusive content the public doesn’t see.
Visitors will feel like they hit the jackpot that day on their journey.
Mistake #5: You don’t empower visitors to make a purchase
Information is … information. It doesn’t spark the buying process.
If you don’t give visitors a taste of what it’s like to do business with you, you won’t convert prospects to customers.
How to fix it
When you convince your website visitors to keep up with everything you publish, you’re able to build the relationships that will build your business. And the right balance of content and copy helps your prospects imagine what it’s like to buy from you.
Demonstrate why your product or service will give them the transformation they desire.
Optimize your content to grow your audience
Here’s a suggestion:
Assign each of the mistakes above to a day next week, Monday through Friday, and spend a couple hours each day identifying where you might make those errors and how you can fix them. By the end of the week, you’ll have a wealth of new ideas about how you can improve going forward.
What’s your process for producing exceptional content that impresses your website visitors? In the comments below, let us know how you stand out.