We all know that first impressions are important. And when it comes to your website, your content is often the first thing that potential customers will see. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that your content is error-free, reader-friendly, and well-written!
Unfortunately, even the most experienced writers can sometimes make mistakes. So, it goes without saying how many mistakes a novice/amateur/beginner in writing will make without even knowing!
But don’t worry — I’m here to help you avoid some of the most common & decisive content writing mistakes.
- Content Writing Mistakes to Avoid — at a Glance
- Mistake #1: Incorrect grammar, spelling, and/or punctuation
- Mistake #2: Lack of proofreading after writing
- Mistake #3: Duplicate/plagiarized content
- Mistake #4: Lack of value addition
- Mistake #5: Writing too much or too little
- Mistake #6: Lack of thorough research
- Mistake #7: Failing to target your audience
- Mistake #8: Not paying attention to SEO
- Mistake #9: Making factual errors in writing
- Mistake #10: Not using calls to action
- Mistake #11: Being too salesy or advertising openly
- Mistake #12: Filling the content with jargon
- Mistake #13: Failing to make content scannable
- Mistake #14: Stuffing keywords unnaturally
- Closing Notes
Content Writing Mistakes to Avoid — at a Glance
Content has countless different areas to explore, and so are the possible mistakes one can make in them. That’s why, I’m covering the most crucial ones judging by their impacts — uncovered from the mysterious alleys of content writing! The topics were picked based on thorough research, discussion with fellow writers, and my own experience with content errors in writing.
Throughout this write-up, I’ll discuss a total of 14 content writing mistakes that you must avoid. By doing so, you can ensure that your content is of the highest quality. I’m adding a list of today’s topics that you can use as a checklist while reviewing content. This list will not only contain beginner writer mistakes but also the ones veterans of this field make as well!
Here are the most common mistakes content writers make (so that you can avoid making them!) —
Mistake #1: Incorrect grammar, spelling, and/or punctuation
We, the writers, produce content to add value to the readers’ lives and educate them with structured valuable information. So, ask yourself: how would YOU feel if you found out someone making silly errors while teaching/educating you? Won’t it seem unprofessional and unreliable, to say the least?
One definitive way to lose credibility while serving content to your audience is to make basic errors in grammar, spelling, or punctuation. Yes, we all make occasional typos or silly mistakes by overlooking them. But one can easily bypass these by proofreading and editing the content carefully before hitting the publish button.
Also, the lack of editing skills can be solved by hiring a professional editor to help polish the content afterward. But making mistakes and publishing them without even checking/fixing them is just not acceptable at any level.
Mistake #2: Lack of proofreading after writing
We often get lost in our thoughts while writing content. This may result in inconsistencies in writing. When we’re busy transferring our thoughts into words, small details — style, format, irrelevant parts that break the flow — are easy to miss.
Also, we’ve already covered the drawbacks of making mistakes in spelling, grammar, or punctuation. So, after you’ve written your content, it’s important to take a step back and proofread it before hitting publish. Oftentimes, we can be so close to our own writing that we don’t catch errors or typos. A fresh set of eyes (either your own or an editor’s) can make all the difference in ensuring your content is error-free.
You can also use Grammarly, the spell-checkers on Google Docs/Microsoft Word, or any other tool of your liking. Yes, they won’t be as effective as an experienced proofreader or editor. But they can still take care of the heavy lifting from the basic proofreading.
Proofreading can save you the embarrassment of handing out half-baked content pieces to your audience. Taking the time to proofread and edit your content before publishing will polish it to stand out among the crowd (psst, it means the SERPs & your competitors)!
Mistake #3: Duplicate/plagiarized content
Plagiarism is one of the major content writing mistakes that can ruin your reputation as a writer. Professional content writers are responsible for generating authentic, unique, and 100% original content. That’s why people always look for writers who’re experts in the niche/topic of the content to be written. That way, there’s less risk of getting plagiarized or duplicated content.
So, if you’re not the “expert” on a niche/topic, do take the time to research thoroughly. After that, pour what you learned into your write-ups. I can’t stress enough how important it really is. Otherwise, you won’t be able to produce quality content that’s also plagiarism-free.
Also, remember to always give credit to the original author in your content when quoting or paraphrasing their work. That way, you won’t be accused of being a plagiarizer and won’t lose your credibility as a content writer.
Mistake #4: Lack of value addition
This one should be the first lesson in content writing for beginners 101. Because failing to add value can hurt both the quality of your writing and how effective it is in engaging and converting readers.
The scary part is that there are always tons of options for the reader to choose from. If your content fails to add the required value to their lives, they’ll go elsewhere in the blink of an eye!
Here are some tips to make sure your content adds enough value:
✅ Target your audience
Write with your audience in mind. Think about what they want or need to know and make sure your content includes that.
✅ Keep it focused
Don’t try to cover too many topics/ideas in one piece of content. Otherwise, you’ll end up diluting the core message(s) of your content.
✅ Make it useful
Whether it’s providing information, entertainment, or simply bringing a smile to your reader’s face, make sure your content serves a purpose.
✅ Be original
As mentioned above, there’s a lot of content out there. So make sure yours stands out by offering something unique. There’s no alternative to being original.
Following the above tips will help ensure that your content is valuable and engaging.
Mistake #5: Writing too much or too little
A common content writing mistake I’ve seen even experienced writers make is the tendency of writing either too much or too little. This can be a difficult balance to strike, but finding a happy medium is a must.
If you write too much, you risk overwhelming your reader and losing their attention. Some may even bounce from your content just seeing the sheer enormity of it. Also, if the target audience for that specific content is looking for a brief/exact piece of info, then writing a saga won’t do you any good end goal-wise.
But if you choose to write too little, you may not provide enough information to keep them engaged. The reader may get frustrated about how little value the content offers, or how much has been left out. Resultantly, any call-to-action or the goal of content will have little to no engagement. So, yeah, size DOES matter in this case!
So, the key is to find a balance that works for both you and your reader. Write enough to provide value and keep them engaged, but don’t write so much that you lose their attention. Competitor/SERP analysis might be a great way to nail down the perfect length and scope of your content. And there’s always the factor of experience and trial-and-error.
Hopefully, with practice, you’ll find the perfect balance in all your future content.
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Mistake #6: Lack of thorough research
If you’re a content writer, it’s important to avoid anything that can ruin your credibility and make your work less impactful. A lack of thorough research is one such mistake.
When you’re writing about a topic, it’s important to do your homework and make sure you have a good understanding of the subject matter. This means going beyond a quick Google search and reading up on the topic from reliable sources.
If you don’t bother to research properly, it will be very difficult to produce high-quality, informative content. Your readers will be able to tell if you’re making things up as you go along or just touching the topics on the surface level. As a result, they won’t take your content seriously.
So, the next time you’re writing, make sure to do your research beforehand and avoid these consequences.
Mistake #7: Failing to target your audience
Thinking about who you’re writing for and what they’re interested in should be on your checklist before starting a piece. And If you’re not sure who your target audience is, take some time to think about that too.
Another common mistake that we writers often make is not knowing the audience well enough. It’s essential to research your audience and understand what they’re looking for in your content. Analyze what other similar contents are providing and make sure to include them (and some!) in your content.
In short, if you don’t take the time to understand your audience, you’ll likely end up writing content that doesn’t resonate with them.
Last but not least, writing for yourself instead of your audience is another red flag to avoid. It’s important to remember that your write-up exists only because there are people out there who need it. So, write with your readers in mind and make sure that your content is interesting and useful enough for them.
Mistake #8: Not paying attention to SEO
If you’re not paying attention to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) while writing content, your efforts have the potential of getting wasted. SEO, especially on-page SEO, is absolutely necessary if you want your content to be seen by anyone other than your mother!
Here are 6 content writing mistakes related to search engine optimization that will kill your potential to rank/convert:
1. Not doing proper keyword research
The keywords and the search queries you target help you fetch the right traffic. So, you need to find out what keywords people are actually searching for before you start writing. Failing to do so might not bring you the results you desire.
2. Using the wrong keywords
As explained above, targeting the wrong keywords (and also the wrong audience) won’t bring you the results you seek. The value in your content will not match with the searcher’s intent — ultimately failing the purpose of the whole thing!
3. Not adding alt texts in the images
Adding alt texts to your image is vital for numerous reasons, such as utilizing image search, allowing search engine bots to understand what the images mean, increasing accessibility for differently-abled people, etc.
Here’s a definitive guide on how to create accessible web content to make the web more inclusive and robust than ever!
4. Writing for the search engines instead of your audience
Optimizing for search engines is one thing, but your whole content shouldn’t be dedicated to them. The first and foremost rule of content writing is to write for the audience, and everything else comes later. If the reader is happy, then the search engine is also happy to serve the content to others.
5. Not using proper headings and formatting
Use proper headings and formatting to make your content more user-friendly. This will ensure everyone reading it gets the right information quickly and easily — while search engines can understand and serve the content properly.
6. Not promoting your content
A written piece is a wasted opportunity if nobody reads it. You should be the first promoter of the stuff you produce. That way, your content will get exposure and more ranking potential on SERPs.
You should keep these common SEO mistakes in mind while writing or editing content.
Mistake #9: Making factual errors in writing
Having factual inaccuracies is one of the most detrimental content errors in writing. Not only does it make you look unprofessional, but it also decreases your credibility as an authority on your chosen topic.
To minimize factual errors in writing, always remember to —
- Do your research on the facts to be presented
- Double-check the facts before publishing
- Include sources of the data you’re adding
- Check if the data/fact is dynamic and constantly changing which is not suitable for adding
- Cross-check facts with multiple credible sources to be authentic on your end
Keeping these in check will help minimize your factual mistakes while writing content.
Mistake #10: Not using calls to action
Asking your readers to do something at the end of your piece is a great way to increase engagement and get them to take action. Whether it’s subscribing to your blog, sharing the article on social media, or leaving a comment, a call-to-action encourages further engagement from the audience.
Also, most of the time, these calls to action and their results (a.k.a. conversion) are the core reason behind a content’s existence. So, if your content is missing one, that’ll just defeat the whole purpose!
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Mistake #11: Being too salesy or advertising openly
Being too salesy in your write-ups can seriously backfire considering the popularity of inbound marketing nowadays. Blatant and loud advertisement inside content turns off readers and makes them less likely to trust you.
Instead, focus on providing value first without expecting an instant return. Serve useful information via your content and let your readers make up their own minds about your products or services.
When your brand builds a connection with the audience with resourceful content, your product/service will sell itself. All you have to do then is nudge your audience towards an action (hey, a callback to the preceding section!)
Mistake #12: Filling the content with jargon
Jargon is defined as “specialized or technical language”. Words or phrases that only make sense to people having expertise in that particular or related field/profession are termed jargon.
If you want your content to be readable and enjoyable, steer clear of using jargon. It’s our duty as content writers to make learning easy for the readers. So, jargon is the last thing you’d want your readers to scratch their heads over.
Not only is jargon off-putting to readers who aren’t experts in that field, but it can also make your writing difficult to understand. Excessive use of jargon can seriously drop the overall readability of your content.
It’s best to use jargon wherever it’s absolutely necessary and add notes of some kind to explain the term to the audience. That way, everybody wins!
Mistake #13: Failing to make content scannable
Let’s get something straight. With a few exceptions here and there, nobody’s going to read every single word of your 2000-word article.
And according to Hubspot, a staggering 43% of readers have agreed to have “skimmed” blog posts!
So, use bolded/underlined texts, headings, lists, and anything else that makes the content scannable for the audience. The ultimate goal here is to make the content more reader-friendly and skimmable so that people can instantly find what they’re looking for.
Search engines also love these UX improvement practices and will reward you with higher rankings (according to case studies)!
Mistake #14: Stuffing keywords unnaturally
This one is quite common knowledge nowadays — regardless of one’s content writing skills. But I want to make this list a wholesome one and aim not to leave out anything.
So, repeat after me: stuffing keywords forcibly into your content doesn’t work anymore!
Yes, this was standard practice in the golden(!) age of SEO. But Google and other search engines’ algorithms are smart enough nowadays to detect this ill practice.
So, forget mindless stuffing and start adding keywords naturally into your content that actually add value to the readers’ lives. Moreover, when you cover all the topics in your write-up, you won’t have to insert keywords anymore — the keywords will place themselves!
So, what do you think? Are you guilty of any of these content-writing crimes? If so, you should stop making the common mistakes content writers make and stand out among the crowd. It’s time to reform your ways and start producing quality content that will engage your readers and help you achieve your business goals.
Feel free to comment below sharing your thoughts, constructive criticism, or any pointers I may have missed. I’ll be waiting!