Back when content marketing was a novelty (at least in the digital sphere), any old article on the company blog generated traffic, engagement, and kudos from your boss. Unfortunately, as more and more people have wised up to the power of the pen, the internet has become home to some truly atrocious writing.
Not everyone can produce a blog worthy of the Bard, but here are five signs your article needs an overhaul.
Spelling most foul, strange and unnatural
I can’t believe I have to point this out, but every computer nowadays comes equipped with a spell-checker. This means that at bare minimum your article should contain no obvious typos or spelling mistakes.
Not every content management system will check for errors, however, so it’s worth writing your article in Word before transferring it to your website. Even if you harbour a love for the alot, your spellcheck software should be able to cure you of it.
You don’t have to be a grammar queen (or king). There are plenty of rules you can probably throw out the window when it comes to writing in an informal tone, but you shouldn’t mix up your yours.
Alas poor structure!
There’s nothing like a wall of text to scare your audience into leaving and never coming back. It makes the eyes water, and stirs up long dormant hatred of boring schoolwork.
It’s not enough anymore to break your text up into neat paragraphs, your article should contain visual elements like photos or videos. You can also further break up the text by adding subheadings and bullet points.
Keep in mind that people don’t read on a screen the same way they read on paper. The eye tends to scan the screen, meaning that your paragraphs themselves should only be one or two sentences long.
It’s also worth carefully planning the layout of your blog. At MintTwist, like BBC News and Copyblogger, we arrange our main content on the left hand side of the page, and related articles to the right.
Constrained column width, larger font size and sans serif font type all make your article easier to read.
To write or not to write – words on a page ≠ article
With all the buzz surrounding the SEO benefits of content marketing, it can be tempting to put words on a page as often as possible, simply for the sake of having them there.
But even though extra articles might seem like the way forward, if they’re not interesting and relevant to your audience, they will have a negative impact on your bounce rate, time on page, and user journey – which will then translate into a drop in rankings so your effort could do more harm than good.
Before you start writing, take time to craft your idea. Consider who it’s written for, and write out a brief outline so you can make sure it has a proper introduction, body and conclusion.
The buzzword hath power to assume a pleasing shape
Look, we’re all guilty of overusing buzzwords to some extent. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read (and written) that something was ‘engaging’.
To be fair, depending on your industry, many buzzwords can’t be avoided. It’s normal to include some industry specific vocabulary, but try to keep it at a minimum.
It’s tempting, but peppering your text with buzzwords won’t make it more interesting. It might, however, make your audience leave and never come back.
Editors doth make cowards of us all
So you’ve carefully crafted a 500-word masterpiece, and it’s the greatest thing you’ve ever written. Congratulations, now get someone in your company to peer review it.
No matter how perfect you think it is, there will be changes you’ll need to make. Writing tends to turn us all into egoists – there’s something deeply personal about putting your thoughts on paper (even if they are about sales figures).
No one likes to see their work marked up with red pen, but if you take time to consider editorial suggestions, your article will be better and more readable for it.
If you sleep perchance to dream of a great content marketing strategy, why not drop us a line via firstname.lastname@example.org? Disclaimer: it doesn’t need to be in iambic pentameter.