Content marketing is a frustrating world. Every year, the rules change.
Write short posts.
No, write uber long ones!
Use keywords 2.5x in an article.
Don’t copy a previously published article!
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting whiplash from all these Google algorithm updates and experts changing their minds about the best way to get content looked at online.
Allow me to whine for a moment. Because my business is content marketing. So these rules? I kinda have to pay attention to them, both for my own company and for my clients. But I’m grown tired of playing by these ever-changing rules. And so I’ve decided to take a stand and make my own anti-rules.
Feel free to follow them … or make up your own.
Anti-Rule #1: Use Common Sense
So many experts have given detailed information to eager online readers about how many times a keyword should be used in content, how long a blog title should be, and what you should and shouldn’t link to in an article.
But what it all boils down to is having common sense. Look, you’re smart. You know that stuffing keywords into every sentence of your content is just going to anger Google and push you down search results.
So don’t do it.
You know that you should use words and phrases that relate to the services or products that you offer. They should be words that people who you want as your customers will search for.
You don’t need to be a search engine optimization expert to simply apply common sense. Forget keeping up with the latest Google algorithm that tells you the same thing: make your content relevant to your audience, and Google will applaud. Just write what makes sense. Write what you’d want to read or, as Media Shower’s John Hargrave suggests, what a 5-year-old would want to read.
Anti-Rule #2: Write Something Interesting
When I got into the content marketing game (it wasn’t called content marketing way back when), anyone savvy enough to figure out how to write articles and publish them online was considered a genius. That meant that a lot of what was on the early internet was terribly written.
As more people joined the fray, there became more noise and less value.
Fortunately, that’s starting to change now that Google basically rules the world. Write bad content and it will get a concrete brick tied to its toe and sunk to the bottom of the Potomac.
The focus now is on value and relevance. Content that rises up search results and is read and shared by many is useful to its audience. It says something that hasn’t been said countless times on other sites.
So don’t try to strategize. Simply write something interesting, that has value to your audience. If you’re not sure what they want to read, ask them. Look at your competitors’ blogs. Scour social media. Look at the subjects you’ve already covered on your blog and see what’s been the most popular. Then find new angles and updates on those topics for future content.
Be the red domino.
Anti-Rule #3: Write Content as Long as it Needs to Be
Over the years, I’ve noticed my clients asking for longer and longer blog posts, thanks to them reading articles by content marketing know-it-alls who keep telling them the sweet spot for articles is 400 — 800 — 1,500 — 5,000 — words long.
Unfortunately, this decree has simply made longer bad articles. Look, I don’t know about you, but I am able to say what I need to say very concisely. I very rarely need 3,000 words to get my point across. And yet those that ascribe to the longer-is-better school of thought simply stuff fluff into a longer article that could have sufficed at just 600 words.
Certainly, sometimes you need more to really go in-depth, and that’s totally justified.
Let’s get away from word count requirements, shall we? Instead, let’s focus on saying what we need to, no matter how many or few words it takes.
Anti-Rule #4: Pay Attention to What Works
Let’s stop letting search engines and marketing pros who get paid to tell you what they think guide our content marketing strategy. Instead, let’s look at what we’re doing and measure what works. Then lather, rinse, repeat.
Spend some time getting to know your analytics dashboard. See which blog posts are getting the most clicks, shares, and reads. Expand upon them.
As for what hasn’t worked? Move away from it.
You might find that what’s successful to your brand is antithetical to what the experts say will work. So ignore them and trust your own instinct.
Look, I’m not saying Google and these experts don’t know their stuff. They do. But they create unnecessary havoc for the little folks like you and me who are trying desperately to not only manage our own marketing but also everything else in our business. I’m simply saying that maybe we don’t need to put quite so much stock into their every prediction and edict. Instead, we need to put more faith into our own ability to do what’s best for our brand.