Whether you are a professional writer or a regular internet enthusiast, you know good content when you come across it. Well-written content engages, informs, entertains, and enlightens. There are few wasted words, one sentence leads logically into the next, and each word has a purpose. It is refreshing and we seek it out. Sometimes we sift through social media posts, other times we share articles and blogs through tools such as StumbleUpon or Pocket. The corollary is also true.
Poor content doesn’t hit any of the four points listed above, although it falsely tries to be engaging. It has become an epidemic online, wastes everyone’s time, and is rarely sustainable as a business model anyways. As a newer writer or content marketer, here is a list of 10 mistakes to avoid. This is meant to be helpful and save time as there is so much noise around the subject.
All caps, excessive use of exclamation marks, and clickbait words.
Many of us see these daily in online ads and headlines meant to get attention similar to this: “OMG YOU WON’T BELIEVE THIS”. There may have been a point a few years ago where this may have worked on Facebook (at least to get clicks), although nowadays, users are more savvy. Go for an authentic headline that inspires legitimate curiosity. Your click-through rate and shareability will be way higher.
Short blog posts that do not have a value add for your viewers.
Many companies mistakenly think producing short, frequent content about anything will have SEO benefit. You are far better off posting less frequently, and sharing more focused and informative content with your audience. It is stunning how many large companies fall into that trap to this day.
Sharing content or media without attribution.
Aside from the fact it’s not cool, you could get busted. There are a lot of sophisticated tools that track pictures, blocks of content, and even videos. Secondly, a skyscraper article or mega guide with proper attribution may add value as a reference, increasing shareability and bookmarking of the content.
Very stock looking photos – we’ve all seen them.
You know them when you see them. Think about it. If a business posts real pictures or diagrams of their process or real customers, you are more likely to think they are sincere. If you see overly basic “success”, “thumbs up”, or other similar pictures that are generic, you will likely find the business or site less engaging.
Sentences that are filler or look like an outsourcer word stuffed them to hit a quota.
How many times have you googled “how do I…” or “how to make a…” looking for actionable advice or instructions and you come across filler content? For example, “Always research xyz well and think before you act and make the right decision…etc. etc.”; paragraphs of non-actionable filler. Google is way more sophisticated at filtering this stuff out than it used to be. They have also been known to reward content with longer time spent on the page and lower bounce rates.
Using a tone that doesn’t respect your reader.
Your readers view the ads on your site, buy your products, tell their friends about your content, and give you feedback. Don’t take them for granted. By respecting their time and being conscious of it, you are more likely to produce content that solves a problem or entertains them. Really think about what would add value to them, and the writing will be easier. It’s best to aim for a sincere, informational tone.
Re-sharing old news stories if not relevant.
One of the exceptions of short content is sharing a news blurb or story that actually is relevant, and otherwise would not have gotten in front of your readers. That is fine. However, sharing old news repurposed with a clever new title is a rookie move.
Too many hashtags on social media posts.
We’ve seen these posts on Instagram: #BuyMyProduct #Amazing #Sale #Hip #BuyMyStuff #AmazingSale #FollowMe #LookAtMe. This also happens on WordPress categorizations. Think about the few terms that accurately represent the post. Less is more in this case.
Emailing a lot of publishers if the story isn’t share worthy.
This is a form of spam and a lot of newbie bloggers and content marketers do this after following some generic PR advice online. Don’t alienate your professional network by continually hitting their inbox with requests for links. Instead, save the best articles and carefully tailor an email marketing campaign to deliver the content to industry contacts that will be most receptive to it.
Repurposing old posts with no actual additional info.
Even senior bloggers that were once passionate about their content fall into this comfort zone. I’m not naming names, but one of my favorite authors has been doing this repeatedly on his personal site. I no longer visit it and your readers will catch on. A part-2 post is actually a clever follow up to a previously engaging post. But, if there’s no new perspective or information, don’t do it.