a notepad, with pen, glasses and crumpled up papers

Whether you’re writing content yourself or engaging a team of freelancers to kick off your content strategy, you’ll want to avoid common pitfalls that could seriously derail your efforts. In this article, we’ll cover some of the ways content can go wrong—everything from targeting oversaturated topics to publishing content with typos—so that you don’t make the same mistakes.

1. Ignoring your audience, industry, and analytics when writing.

The topics you choose should be informed by a few things: your target audience, your industry, your analytics, and your SEO strategy. If you don’t create content that’s relevant to your audience, instead covering only topics you find interesting, it likely won’t resonate, get seen by the right people, or drive the conversions that make content so valuable.

For example, if you’re writing for SMBs, provide content that gives practical advice. B2B research agency Bredin says, “When content is focused and actionable, and linked to other good pieces or product information, readers stay on your site to learn more. When content fails to deliver, readers are likely to turn to a search engine to learn more.”

Tip: Keep an eye on your content marketing analytics to guide ideation and to see what content performs well. If your organization has an SEO strategy, be sure your content strategy is tightly aligned. For paid traffic, you can coordinate your content with your PPC campaign.

2. Pretending the competition doesn’t exist.

You don’t want copycat content—and neither do search engines. But aside from simply avoiding too-similar content, you can (and should) learn from your competition’s content. Search for the topics you’re targeting to see where you might be competing for oversaturated keywords or where there are holes or unique angles your content could address.

3. Writing headlines that don’t grab attention or leverage keywords.

Good titles can do a lot of heavy lifting, but poorly written ones can cause your content to get totally overlooked. People have a lot of content to choose from these days, so make sure yours stands out to both readers and search engines.

Write exciting titles that make people want to click on them, but avoid verging on the clickbait category. Writing deliberately deceptive titles can frustrate readers and cause your content to come off as low-quality.

Tip: Scoping out what your competition has published can also enable you to avoid duplicate titles and help you craft different, more compelling headlines of your own.

Typos and inaccuracies can make otherwise great content a blemish on your reputation. Opt to have a proofreader or a copy editor review content for grammar and readability prior to publishing. Or run content through a proofreading tool—here are seven proofing tools worth checking out.

Once your content is polished, proofed, and ready to publish, consider if it could benefit from review by a legal consultant. You don’t want to have to pull a piece of content you’ve invested in because you missed something sensitive or received a complaint. If you’re publishing any legal or tax-related topics, legal advice can help you confirm the accuracy of your content. If you’re making certain claims, talking about highly regulated industry topics, or potentially infringing on privacy rights, consider having your content vetted and approved by a legal professional. Seek legal advice if you’re not sure whether content could be construed as false or misleading under local regulations, or before disclosing any financial, personnel, or other confidential info.

5. Assuming all content hasn’t been plagiarized.

Plagiarism is an unfortunate reality. Whether you’ve come across a piece of your own content ripped off somewhere on the web or engaged a writer who submitted plagiarized content, theft of the written word can pose serious risk. To avoid publishing plagiarized content on your site, double-check articles through a platform such as Copyscape.

6. Thinking that content is just written word.

If content is king, it’s important to know that there are more jewels in the crown than written word alone. Be sure you’re considering other elements such as

  • Calls to action (CTAs): buttons, forms, and more
  • Infographics
  • Illustrations
  • Strategic links to other relevant content

Tip: If you really want to create content that performs, don’t ignore the power of video. Consider creating short video content to supplement or summarize your articles. Learn how to create your own short video content with freelancers.

Ready to get started? Check out our guide on How to Launch Your Business’s Content Strategy with Freelancers.