Creating content — blog articles, content pillars, etc. — can be a challenge. Even the most seasoned writers struggle sometimes and make mistakes in their blog articles and other types of content.
As a content marketing consultant at IMPACT, I have reviewed hundreds of articles for a variety of industries, with the intent of helping our clients become the best and most effective teachers in their given industries.
I've noticed, however, that there are seven common mistakes the most well-intentioned content contributors make that erode their credibility and diminish the trust they might have been able to establish with their audience.
Free Guide: The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022
1. Focusing on you instead of your reader
Creating content for your audience can be likened to beginning a relationship. If you start out talking only about yourself, you probably won’t get very far. You need to take the time to learn about the other person. What are they looking for? What are their needs?
When you are writing, it can be tempting to tell people how great your products and services are right away. Writing about yourself and being overly promotional actually has a name. It is called “marketese” — and people hate it.
When people are searching the web, they are looking for answers. By obsessing over the way your customer thinks, acts, talks, and searches as they move through the buying process and focusing on addressing their questions, you build credibility and trust. Once you have that, you can tell them more about you.
2. Not optimizing your content for SEO
Your great content won’t help anyone if it is buried on page 10 of the search engine results pages (SERPs). While your first consideration is to write for the reader, you definitely want to give some thought to how the search engines will view your content as well.
Pay attention to your title and subheaders. Think about what people would type in a search to find your content. Is your meta description something that will interest them enough to cause them to click through to read your article? Do you have a search-friendly URL?
Have you included images or videos? If you have, are they optimized to load fast? Slow-loading media will cause people to leave your site. Decreasing the file size of your media will make it load faster. You can do this with tools like photoshop or with a free online option like Optimizilla.
Think about who will be looking for your content. Use words in your content, headers, and subheaders that people will search.
A little over 50% of all internet traffic is on mobile. Because some search engines like Google are taking a mobile-first approach to indexing, it is important that your content is mobile-friendly.
Look at your content on your mobile device. Does it load quickly? Is it easy to scroll? Is the text large enough to read easily on a mobile device? Making your content mobile-friendly also makes it search engine friendly and, more importantly, reader-friendly.
People rarely read web pages word by word; instead, studies find that 79% of people scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences, while only 16% read word by word.
Make your content easy with plenty of subheadings to break up your text. Write in short, easy-to-read paragraphs. Use bullet points and bold important text.
Using tables is another great way to make your content scannable. A table can break down complex ideas and make them easier to understand.
4. Not proofreading your work
You may be thinking this is a no-brainer, right? That doesn't change the fact that this step is often overlooked. Of course, when we proofread our own content, we sometimes see what we meant to say instead of what we actually said. One technique to overcome this is to read your content out loud. A great technique for spell checking is to read your content backward.
Also, check for punctuation. There are great apps to help you, such as Grammarly, which will check spelling and punctuation. Another favorite is the Hemingway app. Copy and paste your content there and it will check for readability.
Spelling and grammatical errors in your content can cost you credibility. Don’t skip these steps!
5. Not including a call-to-action (CTA)
Once someone has read your content, what do you want them to do next? You need to add a call-to-action to your content to help your reader take the next step.
You want your CTA to be appropriate for where your reader is in their buying journey. Do you want them to download a white paper, schedule a demo, or sign up for a course? Think about what action your reader needs to take — and create a call-to-action to get them there.
6. Not answering questions completely
Put yourself in the shoes of your reader.
They were looking for an answer and found your content. Does your content completely answer their question? Think about everything your reader may need to know about your subject and strive to be insanely helpful about providing that information.
Link to other articles that provide more information about the subject. Link to your content and also to outside sources. Not only do people find that helpful, but search engines also like to see those links from highly credible external sources.
7. Not spending enough time on the headline
On average, eight out of 10 people will read a headline, but only two out of 10 will read the rest of the article, according to Copyblogger.
When you spend the time to write a great article, you don’t want people to pass it by because of a weak headline. When you get the headline right, you have a much greater chance that a person looking at your content will read further.
Writing multiple headlines for each article and then choosing the best one is a great tip. Many content creators use this method. Include SEO keywords so searchers can more easily find your content.
Test variations of your headlines over time to see which ones get the best click-through rates and keep people on the page longer.
The content on your site can help by establishing you as a trusted expert in your space. It can shorten your sales cycle by answering the most pressing questions your prospects have — before they ever call you.
Take your content creation seriously. It isn’t easy. Good content takes time to research and write, but avoiding these seven mistakes will help you write better content that is more easily found by search engines and potential customers.