B2B Content Marketers: Are You Making These 5 Common SEO Mistakes?


Dear Content Marketers,

Have I told you (lately) that I love you?

Seriously! Content marketing has taken the elusive concept of “thought leadership” and transformed it into a prescriptive, clear-cut process. You equip prospects with the helpful information they need and, at the same time, deliver quality, high-value leads for your companies.

But friends (we’re friends, right?), can we be content marketers who are also savvy about our SEO? Can we squeeze a few more delicious drops out of all our content efforts? Can we be brave enough to look back and honestly ask, “Did I get all of the possible SEO benefit out of my content?”

As someone seated in the intersection of SEO and content, I want to make sure my content marketing friends aren’t missing any (or, dare I say, all) of these often-missed SEO opportunities.

Mistake #1: Gate All The Content!

I know you know this, but it has to be said: Gated content has minimal SEO value. (You’ve heard it before, but you’re still gating most of your content. Yeah, I’m looking at you, and you know who you are.)

There are good reasons and solid benefits to gating content — from collecting leads to implying value — and initially it seems unwise to give away so much of your knowledge, research, and insight “for free.” But there are also huge benefits to sharing as much information, and as many resources, as you can.

None of that matters, however, if buyers don’t find your site in the first place. If bots can’t index your best content, because it’s all tucked away behind forms, they can’t rank your site as highly as it deserves, and your rank is Step 1 for getting new audience members into your funnel.

Watch how fast the traffic share drops as you scroll down a Google SERP:

Google Rank Average Traffic Share
1 32.5%
2 17.6%
3 11.4%
4 8.1%
5 6.1%


If you’re not on the first page, just forget about it. There are too many SEO implications involved to justify trying to gate all of your content. I’m begging you: Build a smart keyword strategy and deploy awesome, ungated content to make it happen.

Mistake #2: PDF Content Can Only Be PDF Content

Congratulations: you’ve created a deep, insightful, stunningly beautiful, gated PDF, and it’s getting tons of downloads. Well done! It’s tempting to pat yourself on the back, move on to the next PDF, and keep all of that hard work exclusive to the document.

But what if your e-book material can be taken one step further to provide additional value, and draw more SEO traffic? There are many opportunities to create (ungated) keyword-themed content that spins off of gated PDFs, including:

  • Rewrite one chapter from your PDF — maybe thin it down — and make it a blog post.
  • Repurpose the main points and some key quotes/stats as a SlideShare or Checklist.
  • Create a YouTube video summarizing the content of the PDF. (If you don’t have professional video capabilities, consider using recordings from webinars/conferences or even Animoto, as appropriate.)
  • If your PDF has a unique visual theme, use that same theme to increase the visual appeal of related resource/article pages.

And if each of the spin-off content assets link back to the PDF, you will drive even more downloads.

Mistake #3: Keywords Are All About Keywords

Simply doing some cursory research and sprinkling a few keywords into your content is a waste of your time.

Google is hard at work improving their user experience, which is directly impacting your content creation experience. User intent, even inferred user intent, is shifting the way websites are ranked and what results are delivered to each search at each IP.

In other words, Google isn’t a dumb robot just counting keywords and comparing keyword density.

Daunting as it initially appears, user intent is a potential gold mine for content marketers. Analyzing the user intents for each keyword you’re targeting can revolutionize your content strategy as you design content for every combination of keyword + intent.

But if the content perks aren’t enticing enough, the SEO threat should be. Google makes no secret of their continued effort to mine audience information in order to deliver the best responses to every search, and a lot of that has to do with their study of user intent. Keywords are no longer just about key words.

Mistake #4: New eBook? No Big Deal

Maybe you do launch a new eBook every month. Maybe your audience knows what to expect, and when. Or maybe you’ve spent so many hours writing, editing, designing, and revising the thing that you’re just ready to cut it loose and kiss it goodbye.

Not yet. You’re wasting a huge SEO opportunity!

Your eBook is awesome! (Even if it’s your 37th one!) Make a big deal out of it. Build some anticipation, and build some SEO strategy at the same time.

  • Create clean, shareable images and/or infographics based on your data.
  • Schedule a short series of blog posts leading up to the release.
  • Get key influencers involved in the eBook, and then reach out with content when it goes live.
  • Put together a snappy webinar to go live after the eBook is published.

Weave that eBook — its content and the simple fact of its existence — into your brand narrative to tell its story. Then tell your brand story, and then tell your audience how the eBook’s story is part of your brand story.

You know how people enjoy and respond to narratives. The more your narratives are out in the limelight, generating online activity and building your audience, the more links, social and brand activity Google sees, thus boosting your SEO profile.

Mistake #5: Content Is One-Sided

In addition to PDFs and eBooks, all of your content can serve more than one goal. Instead of planning one article for a blog post to attract inbound attention, a different study for a PDF that will generate leads, and a separate media campaign to start conversations on social, squeeze all of that value out of each piece of content.

Think about how each piece can do at least most of the following:

  • Drive downloads and new leads.
  • Earn social shares.
  • Attract SEO traffic
  • Build new prospects into your audience
  • Nurture your existing audience

A well researched and written blog post, for example, will be designed for and targeted to a specific combination of keyword + user intent to optimize organic traffic. Its data can be turned into an infographic for the following week, or include a shareable image of a profound/inspiring quote from the piece.

Finally, it should end with an unobtrusive call to action — a link to download that eBook for more information, or links to other landing pages or blog posts on either the current topic or the buyer’s next step.

Best Of Both Worlds

Content marketing is the lifeblood of inbound, and inbound is driving conversations in the new marketplace. Savvy marketers have done an amazing job of responding to a buyers’ revolution in a relatively short period of time.

The new face of internet marketing, however, doesn’t mean that everything about traditional SEO is dead in the water. While traditional SEO marketers need to be catching up to the strength and strategy of inbound, new content marketers can still learn a thing or two from modern SEO techniques.

Where the tools and techniques of SEO are thoughtfully applied to the new philosophies of content and inbound, marketers will find a steady stream of new targeted audience members and qualified buyers.

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