1. Spelling errors and grammar gaffes
It goes without saying that your content should be free from typos and other grammatical blunders. Not only will these errors irritate your readers, but they could mean the difference between winning and losing a customer in the long run. Nobody’s going to take you seriously if your communications are consistently riddled with mistakes.
The solution? Proofread, proofread, and proofread again… and if you know you’re prone to copy errors, it might be worth forking out for a professional proofreader’s assistance. This attention to detail is well worth it; your content will flow better, it will be taken more seriously, and you don’t have to worry about anyone smugly pointing out you’re m9stakes.
2. Content that’s too short
Forget about updating your blog five times a week with quick bits of copy and pretty pictures. Though you might think any content updates are better than none, you’re probably wasting your time. These articles might be short, but they’re certainly not sweet!
The average first page result on Google contains 1,890 words (Backlinko, 2016). It’s clear that long posts are more likely to rank because they’ve got a better chance of answering questions, delivering information and offering a better reader experience. Of course, that’s not to say that you should stuff in words for the sake of it. Spend more time planning, researching and creating your posts, developing a sophisticated piece of content that hits the nail on the head. Aim for at least 500 words, and make sure it’s well structured and easy to read.
3. Trying to please everyone
Many brands fall down when they try to aim their content at everyone. In an ideal world, your products and services would benefit a whole host of demographics, meaning all your marketing communications should be lapped up by teens, retirees and everyone in between. In fact, you’ve probably got a maximum of three of four buyer personas in your target audience, so you need to cater your content to these specific people.
Consider the wants and needs of your customers and develop your content around this. Think about the best way to reach them, the most appropriate tone of voice, and the type of language that’s most accessible. Accept that not everybody will benefit from it; some will consider it boring, some will find it complex, and others will think it’s way too basic. So you should focus on the core audience that will find value in your content, and in turn, they’ll drive more value for you.
4. Keyword stuffing
When you’re a freelance copywriter, keyword stuffing can be all too tempting. But everybody knows it’s poor practice, especially if you’re a writer in Yorkshire. Google is wise to this spammy tactic, and will happily penalise pages that are clearly jam-packed with unnatural keywords. If that’s not reason enough to avoid it, consider that fact that keyword stuffing makes your content unpleasant to read. A freelance content writer like me is well aware of this.
5. Getting the facts wrong
A great content strategy will help to establish you as an expert in your area. Your readers will continue to come back, and many of them will develop into customers and brand advocates. But to be considered a great source of information, you need to get the basics right.
Just one small factual error can hinder the trust of your readers. That’s why it’s so important to check the facts before putting your content live. Research everything thoroughly, then check, double check, and triple check if needs be. Include official statistics and quotes if possible, which will support your claims and prove you’re a professional that takes things seriously. Accuracy is so important in content, and those extra few minutes spent researching and fact-checking will be well worth it in the long run.
6. Poor formatting
Your content might be relevant, engaging and brimming with useful information, but if it’s badly formatted, your readers are going to suffer. I talked about titles, subheadings and white space in my previous post, but there are a couple of other key aspects of formatting that need considering.
- First, the power of bullet points.
- Bullets allow you to structure your thoughts in a logical order, creating digestible chunks that are more accessible to your audience.
- Bullet points also make text easier to scan through, so readers can pick out the bits that appeal to them and return later for additional information.
Secondly, the benefits of visuals. Complementary imagery is always worthwhile, and if possible, video content. Visual aids will support your words and make data easier to understand, as well as offering intervals between chunks of text. Make sure you’re mindful of the layout, though; your visuals should add to the flow of your content rather than drawing attention away.
7. Not proofreading
As I mentioned before, you need to be proofreading your content a good few times before it goes live. And that’s not just to spot spelling mistakes or typos, but to ensure it actually makes sense. Repeating certain words or phrases, going off on tangents and using inconsistent language will all impact on the readability of your content, making it harder for your audience to understand. You also need to make sure that that you make the point you set out to make.
People love to spot mistakes, and they’ll be much more likely to bash a brand for an error than praise them for success. Don’t let the luxury of post-publication edits make you complacent – your content should be perfect before you hit ‘publish’.
8. Forgetting to call to action
The whole point of a content strategy is to bring value to your business. So what’s the point in creating content that doesn’t drive results?
Every piece of content you create should call your readers to action in one way or another, even if it’s just a simple ‘like’ or comment. Consider your end goal. Do you want them to buy a particular product? Subscribe to your newsletter? Follow you on social media? Pick up the phone? Encourage your audience to take the next steps by making the process as simple as possible, such as a link, a button or a phone number at the end of the post.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the first instalment of Common Content Mistakes here. And if you’d rather someone else handle your content strategy, you should check out my content services at Naturally Content!