Want to know the deadliest web content writing mistakes that turn articles into instant flops? We've rounded up crucial things you should stay away from when writing your next piece. Plus, we've included tips on how you can avoid these mistakes, so read until the end!
Table of Contents
1. Not Writing for Your Audience
If you don't know who your readers are, you shouldn't be writing content for them at all.
Web content only becomes worthwhile when it resonates with your readers. So, before putting pen to paper, do some research on your audience first.
Know who they are, what they're interested in, and what their problems are. Answering these questions helps you write about valuable topics or the kind they'll actually search for and read about.
How To Avoid: Before drafting a piece of content for your website, create a complete buyer persona or profile of your audience first. A buyer persona is a well-researched description of who your readers are. Each time you write, go back to your buyer persona and make sure your draft aligns with this profile.
2. Writing Without an Outline
One of the biggest web content writing mistakes you can commit is to write a piece without an outline.
Writing an outline might seem like a tedious extra step in content writing. But when done right, outlines speed up the writing process and gives your content clarity.
Outlines also help you align your drafts with your overall content strategy.
When you write an outline beforehand, you identify your content's main points as well as its overall flow. It's a guide you can always refer to and revise as you go along.
Your outline doesn't have to be as detailed as the ones you wrote back in high school.
Bullets of your content's main points and a quick summary of the introduction and conclusion paragraphs will do. Add more meat to the content when you're actually drafting it.
How To Avoid: Dedicate at least 20 minutes of your writing time to drafting an outline. After researching your topic, choose a thesis statement, and come up with five to six main points. These points go into the body of your outline which you'll fill up with more details as you're writing.
3. Not Using Subheads
How do you read online articles?
If you're like most readers out there, you'll skim through the content first before reading the entire piece.
One of the reasons why readers scan the content first is they don't have time to waste.
They want information in the shortest amount of time possible. So, if your piece doesn't give them answers right away, they'll leave and look for another article that will.
This is where formatting comes in. Chunking your content with headings makes it easy for your audience to breeze through your content and decide if it's worth reading.
It goes without saying that not formatting your article to look skimmable is among the most critical web content writing mistakes you can commit as a writer.
How To Avoid: Use your outline as a guide to help you identify which headlines get the H1, H2, or H3 headline tags. Titles are usually given the H1 tag, while primary and supplementary points get the H2 and H3 tags. You can bold essential statements, but don't go overboard!
4. Using Too Many Adverbs
Adverbs aren't all bad.
But when misused, adverbs can do more bad than good. If you're not careful, they'll muddle your content's original message and lead your readers astray.
Here are three reason’s why you should stay away from them and how you can edit the ones you spot in your work.
Adverbs tell instead of show.
When it comes to writing web content, it's always better to show and not tell.
Effective content uses words that help your readers paint a picture of what you're describing.
The problem with adverbs is the more you use them, the more telling you do.
Russian writer Anton Chekhov put it well when he said, "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."
The thing is, when you litter your piece with unnecessary adverbs, you end up giving too many descriptions away.
In short, you're spoon-feeding your readers and not leaving much for their imagination.
So, if you want to keep your readers on your page, choose words that engage their imagination.
With the right words, you'll be able to get your message across and still let your readers think for themselves.
How to Revise: Adverbs used to modify verbs often do more telling than showing. While it's best to delete the adverb entirely, try looking for a more precise verb instead. Here's an example:
Andrew walked quickly through the park.
If you removed the word quickly, you'd change the meaning of the entire sentence. Instead, try changing walked into something like these:
- Andrew brisked through the park.
- Andrew sped across the park.
Adverbs don't add much to your content.
If you think your descriptions are better with adverbs, think again. Stuffing your writing with adverbs only adds to your word count.
Web content bogged down by too many adverbs can unnecessarily lengthen your article.
And we all know that readers don't have time to read through a 2,000-word essay fluffed-up with adverbs.
Don't get us wrong. There are times when adverbs are necessary for your content.
However, if not appropriately used, adverbs won't add anything meaningful to your content.
How to Revise: The key is to be conscious of using adverbs. As you write your draft, be more direct with your writing. When you find an adverb in your sentence, try removing it and rereading the sentence. If it makes sense, remove the adverb altogether. However, when removing the adverb makes the sentence weak, rephrase the sentence, and use a better expression.
Adverbs muddle your content's clarity.
One of the golden rules of content is to write it with clarity.
Readers will skip over your content when it's vague and loaded with fluff.
The fastest way to scare readers off of your page is by writing vague content. Don't distract your readers from your point.
The easiest way to distract your readers is with adverbs. Peppering your draft with adverbs sets up roadblocks that keep your readers away from your main message.
Remember, too many adverbs kill your audience's reading experience.
Leading with adverbs buries your point in a ton of words. And when the point is too hard to find, your readers will grow impatient and be gone before you know it.
How to Revise: Don't use adverbs to state the obvious. For example, you don't have to say, "Angela screamed loudly." because screaming, by definition, is a loud act. Using adverbs requires purpose and intent. Don't just use any adverb. Instead, choose the right word to express what you really want to say.
5. Stuffing Your Content With Keywords
Don't get us wrong!
Keywords are a must when you're writing content for your website. These long-tail SEO keywords help you rank well on search engines and get your articles found by your readers online.
The problem with using keywords is when you stuff too many of them into your content.
Using the same words or phrases over and over again makes your writing stiff. And give your readers some credit—they will definitely notice.
If your readers can tell when your keyword stuffing in your articles, it goes without saying that Google will know, too!
Keyword stuffing will actually hurt your article's ranking on search engines—the opposite of what you're going for!
This means your readers will have a harder time finding the content you worked so hard on, and you don't want that!
How To Avoid: Don't aim for a high keyword quantity. Instead, use the keywords as naturally as possible whenever you write them into your articles. Use synonyms and related words to add variety to your word choices.
6. Skipping the Editing Process
Not editing your work is probably one of the worst web content writing mistakes you can commit when drafting content.
Nothing hurts your website's authority more than bad grammar.
When you skip the editing process and publish your draft as-is, you might end up missing a typo or two...or ten.
Another benefit of rereading your piece before publishing gives you a new perspective on the ideas you just wrote.
When you skip the process altogether, you miss out on better content ideas that would have improved your article.
How To Avoid: Don't edit your web content draft right away. Edit it the next day so you have fresh eyes when you go through it again. This way, you'll be able to spot grammatical errors and maybe even bring more value-adding content to your draft.
So there you have it! You now know the top web content writing mistakes to avoid when drafting your next piece. If you've committed any of these mistakes, don't feel bad! Once you've trained yourself to spot these mistakes, you can then work out ways to avoid them altogether the next time you write.