When you have to do something that relies on success determinants such as “relevance” and “page views” at the same time, sometimes you get pulled in two directions at once. Just how exactly do you make ends meet when you have to generate brand appeal and get numbers at the same time? While this is a question for another day, this alone is enough to tempt others to resort to “shortcuts” to get the returns they need – which is a ticking time bomb. If you end up creating bad content for the sake of numbers, you’re likely setting up your blog for a catastrophic crash.
Why, though? That’s because as much as numbers are appealing in a spreadsheet, today’s digital age is relying on more than just numbers. In fact:
- Brand image relies heavily on what content audiences read. Impact BND numbers indicate that 60-percent of consumers actually feel more positive about a company after content consumption as 70-percent of audiences learn more about a company through their content.
- Acrolix numbers point towards 19-percent of their respondent company only having produced consistent and high-quality content, with CMI data stating 70-percent of their own marketer respondents believing their content marketing isn’t effective. This is bad news, as Global Lingo numbers state 59-percent of their respondents wouldn’t buy from a company that had mistakes in its marketing materials, including content.
- If you feel as though you’re struggling to create quality content, unfortunately you’re not alone. Forrester data states that 87-percent of their B2B marketer respondents say they’re struggling to make compelling content, while MarketerGizmo states that only 12-percent of their respondent marketers are actually catering to targeted audiences, customers, and industries.
Bad Content Checklist: What To Avoid
When it comes to “identifying” bad content, it goes way beyond finding grammatical inconsistencies and/or factual errors. A content marketing whiz needs to look beyond the superficial and gaze deep into the intricate and calculated world of digital marketing – bad content means content that isn’t engaging, relevant, and appealing to both consumers and search engines alike. So what does it look like?
1.) It ignores the “how,” “why,” and “so what?” In journalism, the most compelling pieces of content are the ones that go beyond the who, what, where, when, and also make sure to include the why, the how, and most importantly, “so what?” When you write a piece of content, always make sure you answer the latter three questions as well, because being able to answer these can help put your content to perspective. Simply put, if your content doesn’t have a point, it shouldn’t be written.
- Make sure you leave room for exposition. Why are you talking about this, when you can be talking about X topic? Make sure this is reflected within the article.
- When you try to tackle a problem, try to include how you’d like it to be solved. The more specific the advice, the better as that makes the piece actionable.
2.) You flood your blog with keywords – you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever talked with a blogger or a marketer, you may have heard of what keywords are. If you’ve worked on a content strategy before, chances are you’ve already used them. Thing is, have you been using them excessively? The point of keywords is simple: you just have to make sure search engines have some way of determining what your content is about. Of course, the “logic” here is that the more of those keywords you have, that surely means you’re writing “good” content about it, right? Otherwise, why mention it many times? Unfortunately, search engines are already onto this idea.
- Keyword stuffing is something search engines have been slowly identifying because a lot of blogs have been exploiting this behavior years back. It’s when you essentially use a particular keyword you want to rank for a bit too excessively that it doesn’t necessarily make sense anymore. Readers can identify these, and so can search engines.
3.) Natural is still the way to go. If you want to integrate your keywords into an article, you have to make sure you integrate them seamlessly. This means they have to be in a place where not only are they appropriate, but they still hold the entire piece together.
- Don’t be too bland and empty. Even if your content is the most engaging piece of content anyone can find, if it lacks the substance to make it shine, chances are your readers wouldn’t even finish reading the whole thing. When we talk of “shine,” we talk of graphics and structuring that should come along with your content.
4.) Make sure your piece contains graphics and artwork, as well as photographs and even screenshots, that highlight particular points in your piece. Make sure these graphics are relevant to your content and not just repeating the points of your piece.
5.)Structure helps. Make sure you make use of headings, subheadings, bulleted points and numbered lists when it comes to segregating your piece into emphasized points, subtopics, and even enumerated lists. The more structured the content, the easier it is to read, and the likelier it is for people to stay with you until the end of the reading process.
- Below is the same version of the above points without their own structure and images. It may still seem informative, but not at all appealing.
The Bottomline: Good Doesn’t Have A Shortcut
It’s understandable – if you have a plan in motion and you have returns to push for, sometimes you’d be tempted to resort to “shortcuts” to get the numbers you need. Unfortunately, relying on shortcuts that get you the numbers you desire sometimes bite you back, and you suffer in the long run instead. Moreover, aside from the bad rep it can get you, it does pose an interesting question: if you have to resort to shortcuts to get the numbers you desire, are those numbers really the kind of goals you need?
Before you embark on your journey to write good content, it’s important to identify not just what to avoid, but what your content is for. Identifying your goals properly and setting a proper plan in motion will likely have you avoid behavior that would result in bad content in the first place. Stay tuned in this series to learn more about how knowing how good and bad content interplay when it comes to forming the right content strategy for your current industry goals.
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