Some people still labor under the mistaken belief that content marketing is easy. The idea that all you need is a vague concept of your audience and a few topics in your mind.
These people inevitably experience a rude awakening after purchasing their first content site and realizing they have no idea how to monetize it.
That may sound like an absurd idea—who buys a business without any idea how that business works? In my experience, it happens more often than it should. And even those with an understanding of content marketing can sometimes wander astray with a recent purchase.
With that in mind, here are eight signs, some subtle and some not so subtle, the content on your site is misaligned with its audience.
You Have No Idea What Niche You’re Targeting
There are two questions every content marketer needs to answer at the outset.
In what industry and niche does my content site operate?
Who is my target audience?
You need a clear concept of your niche and your demographic—this knowledge is the foundation of every effective content strategy. If you recently purchased your content site, the original owner should have provided you with this information. If your goal is to establish a content site to eventually sell, you have some work to do.
You Aren’t Doing Any Keyword or Topic Research
For any content site to truly succeed, search engine optimization is a must. The original seller should have provided a list of keywords and topics relevant to the site’s audience when you finalized your purchase. If they didn’t, then that’s something you need to do immediately.
Start by brainstorming everything you know about the industry and niche your site targets. What is your target demographic looking for, and why? What broad, overarching topics are most relevant to that audience?
Once you’ve written down as many broad keywords as you can think of, it’s time to start drilling down to specific topics related to each keyword; these will form the basis of your content moving forward.
You Haven’t Considered Intent
One of the most common mistakes I see first-time owners make with a content site involves intent. The brainstorming process for keywords and topics needs to account for what your audience is searching for and why they’re searching for it. Even if your content targets the right keywords and covers the right topics, it could still fall flat if it’s not created with your audience in mind.
Ask yourself the following questions:
What does your target audience want from your site?
How can you provide that to them?
What do you want your target audience to do on your site?
How can you inspire them to do that?
What does your target audience value or care about, and why?
How can your content reflect those values?
The Metrics Aren’t In Your Favor
Although metrics can be misinterpreted if measured without context, the numbers ultimately don’t lie. They’re the surest sign that your content strategy needs to be revised. In particular, pay attention to the following:
Are your traffic numbers stagnating or declining for your site? What does the traffic look like on your best-performing piece of content? Your worst-performing content?
Bounce rate. How many visitors to your site leave immediately after accessing it? A high bounce rate could signify performance issues, but it may also indicate that your content isn’t properly targeted.
Time on page. How long does each visitor spend on your site before leaving?
No One’s Talking
Even if people are consuming your content, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re engaging with it. Have a look at the comment sections on both your most recent posts and your best-performing ones. Are there lively discussions taking place, or are they functional ghost towns?
Look at your social presence, as well. How frequently are people sharing your content, and what are they saying in their discussions of that content? Does each of your posts have a decent ratio of shares to likes to comments?
Finally, evaluate your backlinks. Do other sites frequently link back to your content without direct encouragement? Are people treating your brand as a thought leader, or linking back to explain to their audience what you’re doing wrong?
All Sales, All the Time
Given that your core goal is content monetization, it may seem like a good idea to focus exclusively on pushing for sales. It’s not. Whether your goal is ad revenue, mailing list signups, or subscriptions, focusing too much on monetization is nearly guaranteed to backfire.
Just look at how many news publications are currently struggling—and then look at how many of those are locking their content behind a paywall in a failed bid to save their bottom line.
You need to focus on how your content can provide value to your audience more than anything else. Calls to action should flow naturally from each post’s conclusion. The idea here is that you can’t convince people to convert through forcible sales tactics—you have to show them why that’s beneficial to them first.
It’s Not Generating Any Conversions
People are engaging with your content, and your site’s traffic numbers are excellent. You’re receiving plenty of social shares and backlinks. There’s just one problem.
It’s not leading to any conversions. Your content is pulling people in, but it’s not closing the deal. For one reason or another, your audience is simply ignoring your calls to action.
There are several possible reasons for this:
Your calls to action aren’t obvious enough—people are missing them.
You’re either focusing on too many different conversion metrics or focusing on the wrong ones.
You’re not giving your audience enough opportunities to interact.
Your content is inconsistent.
Better Content, Higher Revenue
Content marketing isn’t necessarily easy. But it can be rewarding. A content site can generate impressive returns with the right strategy and focus, more than enough to justify an investment.