You go to a doctor, psychologist and lawyer with the same problem: your back hurts. Your doctor says it’s a spinal problem; you need surgery. Your psychologist says it’s stress; you need therapy. Your lawyer just says to get a divorce. Everyone has a tendency towards myopia and content marketing is no exception; we naturally try to diagnose issues through the techniques we know best. But sometimes when our content plan isn’t working it isn’t our content to blame — it’s our website itself. Content doesn’t present itself in a vacuum, and context matters.
Clearing Away the Clutter
By far the most common problem is the tendency to try to do too many things at once. You likely have thousands of marketing ideas for small businesses floating around you, and you want to give each of them a try. But readers can really only consume one thing at a time. Bring your content to the forefront and try your best to minimize the other aspects of your site. It improves the user experience and allows you to focus on the success of the content itself first. Once you have established that your content is solid and getting the results you desire, you can then begin to experiment.
Flushing Away Any Irritants
There are certain things that readers simply hate — even if they seem like a good idea at the time. A website that automatically plays either music or video might seem great for conversion, but it’s actually prone to prompt a quick browser close. Flashy images, slow loading times and even clashing colors can quickly turn a reader off content even if they really want to read it. Interstitial ads or prompts to join mailing lists will push some to convert, but it may actually push your audience away. This is all part of testing and improving the user experience. Sometimes it’s not just about creating content that the user wants; it’s about reducing anything that could make them not want it.
Looking for External Problems
Sabotage doesn’t have to come from within. Did you purchase your domain name from an individual? Well, you may not have known that it was previously owned by someone using black hat SEO techniques. Your domain may already be suffering from a search engine penalty without you realizing it. Has someone else copied your content? Search engines may mistakenly believe that your website is the copied one and be penalizing you for content that isn’t unique! When your website is struggling and you can’t seem to determine an internal reason, it could be one of these external ones. Sometimes these issues can even crop up intentionally; it’s called “negative SEO,” and it’s used by less than scrupulous competitors. These issues will not go away unless they are addressed.
Today content marketers are more savvy than ever about web design and publishing, but even the experts can occasionally make a mistake. With social media sharing, content marketing and search engine optimization all in play, it can add up to quite a lot of moving parts to track. But sometimes the simpler answer is the best answer: if your content is fantastic but still not functioning well, it may not be the content’s fault at all. It may be the context.
Jenna I is a tech writer, programmer and space cowboy. In her spare time, she attempts to crack the Voynich Manuscript.