As you begin to deploy your 2022 content strategy, we thought it appropriate to highlight common mistakes content editors, strategists, writers and perhaps even directors, were still making in 2021. Here’s the top-five offences of the past year.

1. Not creating a content brief

A common misconception about content briefs is that they’re a tool solely for agencies, strategists and editors that assign articles to a team of writers. That’s untrue. Content briefs are essential for anyone crafting a piece of content for online publication.

Think of content briefs as roadmaps for content creation. They’re often utilized for blogposts and articles however can also be used for infographics as well as longer form pieces of content such as white papers, studies and guides. They should include the goal, synopsis, working title, estimated length, internal and external links, audience, funnel stage — and most importantly — the keyword list. A content brief is a living document that continuously evolves. Taking a rigid viewpoint on what information it may contain could limit your content and its subsequent ranking potential.

2. Ignoring the SERP

The search engine results page (SERP) has a wealth information to use when building a content brief. When an article lands on your editorial calendar, or better yet while you’re still considering the topic’s merit, it’s the idea time to visit the SERP. The key terms included in the title and description will help you determine whether the idea has weight.

Type these terms into the search bar and study the page. This initial research will reveal a variety of insights. The predictive text will provide common variations on your title. You’ll see who’s currently ranking for the topic and what angles have been pursued. If competitors are ranking well, you’ll want to input that URL into an SEO tool to gauge what keywords were used. Taking this step helps you develop an understanding of the environment your content will soon enter.

3. Dismissing competing content

Is it worth your time to attempt to rank for a topic that’s already been exhausted on the web, like “best luggage for winter vacations”? If you didn’t consider what’s already been written for a topic then you’ve put a leash on your content piece. It will enter the vast sea of similar content pieces with a diminished chance of ranking.

Google favors unique content. So those existing pieces are worth a read. Determine what are the gaps in those articles. What angles haven’t been covered? If everything else you find is a listicle, you might to consider a step-by-step tutorial or narrative format as an alternative.

Don’t forget your own competition in this regard. Consider creative ways to separate yourself from the pack. Perhaps they’ve cornered the market on a certain topic, but the information is organized haphazardly. Build on what they started by having easier to read sentences, on-page links to related articles and detailed information on categories they haven’t covered.

4. Failing to conduct keyword research

I recently came across an article on a content marketing site that referred to the “dreaded keyword list.” This attitude will never help content creators embrace SEO.

Keyword research is simple, and its value pays dividends. You’ll likely begin with a foundation of keywords already in mind. From there you’ll build out your content brief to see what potential there is to capitalize on other search terms — especially long-tail keywords.

Consider this two-step process:

  1. Identify foundational terms: Jot down a list of five to ten terms you already have in mind. From there, you’ll build your keyword strategy for those by altering the syntax, discovering semantic relations, utilizing pluralization, employing synonyms and other known colloquiums.
  2. Review monthly search volume: The highest search volume for a term is often the “top ten” or “best of” the keyword. However, when you examine the cumulative monthly search volume, you’re analyzing a more complete picture of the keyword’s popularity. If a term has lots of demand yet a competitor is ranking for it, you may want to still pursue it. If that’s not the case, you may opt for a lower-volume term that will rank more easily with your new angle.

5. Not timing evergreen content

This sounds like an oxymoron, but hear me out.

If a topic is time-sensitive, it’s a no brainer to generate a quick, yet robust content brief and then publish as soon as possible. Updating it regularly is another component to staying topical as well. But evergreen content requires a different approach. While the name suggest that these topics are suitable year-round, it’s likely that there are certain times of year they’ll have a greater chance of ranking well.

To determine this, you’ll need to conduct more research. This requires an understanding of your audience. Chatting with any client-facing team members can help shed light on when certain topics are of most interest to customers. Head over to Google Trends to examine your seemingly stable search terms. The site will produce a line graph of their highs and lows. Perhaps interest peaks around spring. Feel free to craft the article now but hold off on pushing publish until late April.

Also consider reviewing social media to see whether your topic has ever trended. You can capitalize on an annual revisit of the topic to provide people with an updated take on the conversation. In these trying times, readers appreciate nostalgia for a productive topic.

Revisit and revise your 2022 content strategy

Now is the perfect time to incorporate these tactics into your content strategy. Whether you lead a team or are an individual contributor, you can increase your clicks and conversion rates with these best practices. If you been putting them off due to lack of time or interest, you’re shortchanging your team and organization.

For expert advice on your 2022 content strategy, chat with our Digital Strategies Group.

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