5 SEO pitfalls to avoid in content marketing

Posted by Joanne Camarce on 23 Nov, 2020
View comments Marketing
We take a look at the common pitfalls that can scupper your content marketing efforts - and how to avoid them.

Content Marketing.

Content marketing is a proven way to increase traffic and generate leads. It involves creating relevant content that’s useful to your audience. Quality content you publish can establish your brand as an authority and help your rankings.

Content marketing is undoubtedly effective, but there are pitfalls that even seasoned marketers fall into.

Knowing what these pitfalls are is the first step to avoiding them.

In this article, we’ll look at five pitfalls you should avoid in content marketing.  

1. Not having a content marketing plan

You’re producing great content for your business. But your analytics data is still more or less the same. The reason is because you don’t have a strategy in place.

The first pitfall to avoid is not having a clear plan. It would be akin to going on a road trip without bringing a map. It’s still possible to reach your destination, but you’re only making things harder for yourself.

A survey from the Content Marketing Institute found that only 33% of B2C marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.

Content marketing strategy.

Image source:  Content Marketing Institute

Those with a documented strategy were more likely to report greater success with their content marketing efforts.

Develop a cohesive content marketing strategy that aligns with your goals and determine the metrics you’ll use to measure success. A coherent strategy will also enable you to formulate your SEO plan in line with your goals.

Implement SMART goal setting (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely) to bring more structure to your content marketing plan. Instead of simply saying you want to increase traffic, a better goal might be:

Increase monthly organic search traffic by 15% by the end of the year

Establishing a goal makes it much easier for you and your team to map out the exact steps necessary to achieve it. In the example above, that might be to increase the frequency of publishing new content.

2. Placing too much emphasis on the marketing funnel

The marketing funnel can be divided into three parts — top, middle and bottom.

Brand awareness is considered the top of the funnel. Prospects know your brand exists, but they’re not ready to purchase yet. Examples of top of the funnel content include blog posts, whitepapers, ebooks, how-to videos, and social media posts.  

B2C marketers say 43% (almost half) of the content they create is to increase brand awareness and generate interest.

Content marketing purpose.

Image source:  Content Marketing Institute

Conventional wisdom says to serve each part of the funnel. But placing too much emphasis on the funnel is another common SEO pitfall.

A better approach would be to create content that focuses on the problems your products or services can solve, while also considering all three stages. Then you wouldn’t necessarily have to focus on the funnel as such.

This is how Codeless approaches SEO. Their marketing team identifies the questions their audience is searching for and they produce in-depth content that answers them.

Here’s the table of contents from one of their blog posts, called Growth Marketing Explained:

Blog post explainer.

Image source: Codeless

The article does a great job at answering questions their audience has, while simultaneously raising awareness for their brand. They also include a CTA (call to action) in their blog posts encouraging readers to explore their other content marketing guides and the services they offer.

Identify common questions your audience is asking. Then you can create content that answers them, positioning your products or services as the solution.

3. Not taking account of searcher intent

Google’s algorithm is getting much better at understanding search intent. They started working on this way back with the Hummingbird update, and recently took a big leap forward with Bert and natural language processing.

Google understands that queries such as “How to lose weight”, “Shed weight fast”, “tips to lose weight”, are all asking the same thing, and would deliver results that match the searcher’s intent.

Keyword research remains important, but it now also needs to take into account search intent with a mix of keywords around your topic.

Keyword stuffing in articles may have worked before but it is certainly out now. It puts you at risk of producing thin content, and could lead to a ranking penalty.

You should always aim as a priority to provide value to your target audience. One way to provide value to your audience and build authority in Google is to build out topic clusters — pieces of interrelated high quality content that link back to a pillar page which provides a comprehensive overview of a topic.

Topic cluster.

Internal links help visitors learn more about a topic and they tell search engines they’re all related.

As cluster pieces start to rank, rankings for the pillar content start to follow.

Building out topic clusters isn’t easy, but it helps your site rank for more relevant keywords and builds your authority with Google.


4. Not optimizing user experience

SEO isn’t just about publishing content and building backlinks, though these remain important to improve your search engine rankings.

Google now factors in elements of user experience (UX) in its ranking algorithm. In fact, updated Page Experience ranking signals for Search are due to roll out May 2021.

Page Experience.

Image source: Google

Can users navigate your page with ease? Does your content match their intent?  

Does your content load quickly enough? If not, users won’t hesitate to move on.

The probability of users leaving a page significantly increases the longer they have to wait. The following data from Google illustrates the impact of slow pages:

Page speed.

Image source: Google

Luckily, Google has plenty of tools and advice to help you improve your site speed.

5. Not expanding on other channels

Blogging is a great way to get started with content marketing. Publishing quality content helps increase brand awareness and build your authority.

But keeping a blog post in only that format is a wasted opportunity. Online consumers today are more savvy. They don’t just use one channel to inform their decisions — they turn to multiple channels to conduct product research.

Multiple channels.

Image source: Smart Insights

The data points to the importance of multi-channel and omnichannel marketing strategies. You can increase your reach and multiply your content marketing efforts by utilizing different channels.

You can do this by repurposing your content, to make it suitable for different channels and extract maximum value by expanding the reach of one piece of content.

For example, you can turn blog posts into:

  • Social media posts
  • White papers
  • Templates
  • Infographics
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Ebooks

Pick and choose from the format types depending on your resources and the channels most used by your audience and potential audience.

Each piece of content you create is an opportunity for your audience to find your business online. You can even link content assets on different channels back to your site and improve your organic rankings.


Each of these SEO pitfalls can potentially lower your search engine rankings and damage the user experience you offer.

The good news is that awareness of these pitfalls means you can take steps to avoid them and mitigate their effects. Follow the marketing tips laid out here to improve your SEO and grow your traffic.

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