5 Reasons Your Content Strategy Isn’t Working

Content strategy illustration with magnifying glass

Maybe engagement with your brand on social media isn’t where it should be. Or perhaps your site metrics show a high bounce rate and low conversion rate. There are any number of ways for today’s marketers to measure the success—and failure—of their campaigns. But no matter how you measure it, if you’re failing to reach or engage the audiences who matter most for your organization, it’s probably time to rethink your content strategy. 

1. You’re ignoring SEO.

With the advent of TikTok and voice search, and with paid ads topping many search results, we’ve heard plenty of people declare in recent years that SEO is dead. But search engine optimization is just as important for your content strategy as ever. One study found that landing the #1 spot in Google’s organic search results will earn you an average click-through rate of 31.7%. Your page will also be 10x more likely to be clicked than the #10 search result. Those are some game-changing numbers. 

The real trick with SEO today is to stay on top of the latest trends and approaches. Keep abreast of Google algorithm updates. Research the right keywords for your site with competition score and monthly search volume in mind. Use tools like Ahrefs to determine which keywords are heavily targeted by paid search campaigns and to analyze the health of your own site; the backlink tracking tool is particularly useful. 

And, most of all, don’t write content with keywords only in mind. Today’s content must be high-quality, well written, and truly useful to the reader. It must include high-value links and be part of a well planned internal linking structure on your website. You’ll need to follow best practices by including alt text for all of your images and completing all metadata fields. (If you’ve got a WordPress-based site, Yoast is an essential plugin for the success of any content strategy.) Keywords, meanwhile, must appear naturally within the text at regular intervals, and must be used in key areas such as H1 and H2 heads and metadata. Just don’t overuse them.

2. You’re not creating long-form content.

Not every article or blog post should be long-form—meaning 1,500 or 2,000 words minimum. First and foremost, focus on delivering the best content possible for the keyword you’re targeting. If people are looking for a quick answer to an easy question, give them that. And if they’re looking for deeper insights or analysis, make sure you deliver. 

There’s no magic number for the word count you should try to achieve to optimize your content strategy. While many have tried to match the word count of their average blog post to that of the top search results, John Mueller, a search advocate at Google, has declared that this isn’t a valid strategy:

But there are a few ground rules. First of all, try to write a minimum of 300 words on every piece you publish. And make sure you have some cornerstone content on your site that’s 1,000 words or longer. This consists of the highest-quality insights you have to offer, and it’s your chance to show off your expertise and leadership. These longer posts do tend to rank higher on Google. This is simply because it offers search engines more ways to understand what that content is about. It also helps you target longer-tail keywords and their variants, meaning you can really hone in on the audiences who you want to connect with the most. 

TL/DR: The more long-form content you have, the better. So get writing! 

3. You’re not producing a diverse range of visual content.

12–14 types of visual content for an effective strategy

All right, we just said a lot about text-based content. But even when you spend a lot of time and effort composing a great, informative blog post, it’s still likely to fall flat if it doesn’t incorporate a variety of visual elements to keep your readers engaged. 

Our attention spans are shorter than ever. Most consumers are not willing to read more than a few hundred words of text at a time—that is, unless there’s more than just text to keep their interest. That’s why every page on your site—including your blog posts—should incorporate a range of visual media, from video embeds to interactive widgets, to keep your readers engaged. A good rule of thumb is to include a visual element about every 200 words.

Of course, this type of best practice applies across your entire content strategy. Text-driven content will not keep your brand afloat. From motion graphics to interactive content to mini-infographics for social media, using a range of content—and making most of that content visual—is essential to grabbing and retaining your audiences’ interest. 

Curious what visual communication can do for you?

4. You’re not promoting on the right channels.

Illustration with megaphone indicates promotion is essential to your content strategy

Just as you’ll want to use a variety of visual media across your content strategy, you’ll also need to optimize those media for each and every platform on which they appear. And it’s likely you’ll be operating across a large variety of channels and platforms. 

You can create a slew of great content, but if you don’t go where your audiences are, you may be missing out on some big opportunities. So spend some time researching the platforms that your audiences prefer, and determining which demographics are visiting which channels and why. That way, you won’t just optimize the dimensions and resolution of your visual content based on where it appears—you’ll also optimize the messaging, tone, and visual style as necessary to be most appealing to who’s most likely to see it there. For instance, you might try to reach potential customers in Generation Z via TikTok using quirky, trendy, short-form video content that spotlights the product or service they’re most likely to use. Meanwhile, you might place paid video ads or mini-infographics on Facebook to reach your Baby Boomer audience.

Consider setting up customer personas to guide your planning and decision-making around this content. 

5. Your content strategy is inconsistent.

Illustration of a variety of visual content

If you want to boost brand recognition and earn the trust of potential customers, your content should have not only consistent messaging, but a consistent look and feel across all channels. That way, audiences will be able to immediately recognize content that’s from your brand, and can start to build positive associations with that content. 

How can you achieve this? Make sure that you have a clear and current brand book that includes guidance on content across a wide range of visual media, from illustration to motion graphics to live-action video. You might also want to create a visual workbench of assets, such as icons, data visualizations, and illustrations, that you’ll use again and again across marketing materials. These don’t just help establish a consistent, recognizable look for your brand—they also ease the content-production process so you can produce compelling branded visuals quickly and easily. 

If you’re failing to inspire your target audiences to become customers, give your content strategy another look. Apply the Visual-First Method to ensure that you’re producing the content that today’s consumers crave, and you’ll set yourself up for success and engagement.

Erin McCoy

Author Erin McCoy

Erin McCoy is director of content marketing and public relations at Killer Visual Strategies. She earned her BA in Spanish with minors in French and Russian, and holds 2 master’s degrees from the University of Washington: an MFA in creative writing and an MA in Hispanic literature. She has won nearly 2 dozen awards in photojournalism, and has dedicated those skills to boosting Killer’s brand recognition and thought leadership in visual communication. Since Erin took on her marketing/PR role, Killer has been named a member of the Inc. 5000 for 4 years in a row; has been featured in such publications as Inc., Forbes, Mashable, and the Huffington Post; and has been invited to present at such conferences as SXSW and SMX Advanced.

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