If you've written one page of website content, you know that it isn't always easy. Even when you think your words are fresh and full of personality, your readers may click away from your site before they can read the best parts. If you're wondering how to keep your visitors on the page longer and you want to give your content the power to convert, you must avoid these 10 mistakes, which can render your words ineffective.
1. Focus on search engine bots instead of humans.
Yes, you want the search engines to explore your website, determine what you have to say, and recommend your pages to humans searching for information and products. Yes, you want to see your site on the first page of the search engine results pages. While it may seem like you need to write for the bots to achieve these goals, that is actually the fastest way to drive your human readers away. If you can't grab the attention of your readers, you won't stay on the first page of the search results for long.
Google and other search engines are constantly collecting data about millions of websites, and they each use an intricate formula to determine the value of each site. When visitors come to your website and leave in under two minutes, they are telling the search engines that they found nothing of value on your site. This is more likely to happen if you write for Google rather than humans. If you want to impress the search engines, focus on impressing humans. You can do this in the following ways:
- Make sure every piece of content provides valuable information that real people want to read.
- Encourage interaction by inviting your readers to leave comments with their own ideas or asking questions that spark conversations.
- Focus on making a valid point rather than talking around keywords.
- Do what it takes to present unique content that offers something more than your biggest competitors.
2. Use industry jargon and the most complex words in your vocabulary.
Many writers assume that they will sound more professional if they use big words or technical terms, but that creates stuffy content that is difficult for many readers to understand. It's best to write in a conversational manner that makes complicated ideas more accessible. If you have a valid point to make and understand what your readers want to learn or read about, you don't need to hide behind big words.
There are exceptions to this rule, especially if your target audience is highly educated on the topics that you're exploring. For instance, if your website is dedicated to practicing doctors, you may want to show your expertise by incorporating medical jargon where it fits naturally. Make sure that you have just as much expertise on those terms as your readers because they will notice if you use a word in the wrong context.
On the other hand, if your target audience includes patients or everyday people searching for medical information, you will drive them away by using medical terminology that they don't understand. If you have to use a dictionary or thesaurus to come up with the words, you can assume that many of your readers will have to do the same. Unfortunately, most readers will leave a website and find a new resource before they will spend time looking words up for clarification.
The good news is that you don't need complicated language to show your expertise. It's the overall substance and depth of your content that counts.
3. Stuff in as many keywords as possible.
There was a time when content writing was all about cramming in as many keywords as possible, but that has changed as Google and other search engines start to utilize sophisticated technology to determine the value of your content. While you may still use a keyword or two for each page of your content, make sure that you only use those words where they fit into the content naturally.
If you focus on one clear point and stay on topic from beginning to end, you will naturally incorporate keywords and related terms that tell the search engines what you're talking about. If you present your content to a human reader and they have no problem identifying the topic of your content, then you can assume that the search engines will figure it out as well.
4. Step away from your main point in order to ramble about unrelated issues.
While you may want to incorporate metaphors or anecdotes to bring life to your website and bond with your readers in a personal manner, make sure that these elements relate to the primary message of your content. Every word, sentence and paragraph should help you pull the reader toward greater understanding of a specific point.
For example, if you're writing an article with tips for speaking to a teenager, don't spend 300 words talking about your dog. Your first paragraph should tell your readers what they can expect to learn if they read the rest of the page, and the rest of your content must live up to the expectation that you set. The more you wander from your point, the greater the risk that your reader will wander away from the page and never come back.
5. Rely on personal opinion, assumptions and hearsay.
You may express your opinion if you're writing content that is personal in nature, but content creation typically requires a bit of research. You must know what you're talking about, and you don't want to lead your readers astray. Adding references to scientific studies or articles on authoritative websites and citing statistics can also make your content seem more trustworthy.
If you want to take sides on an issue or make a passionate plea through your content, research all sides of the topic first. This will allow you to make your argument with accurate information and fresh ideas that are more likely to sway your audience. If nothing else, this will prevent you from the embarrassment of passing on inaccurate, outdated or otherwise flawed information.
6. Pay no attention to formatting.
You may write in long blocks of text as you first get your ideas on the page, but that isn't the way that you want to leave your content. Your final product should use at least one or two of these suggestions:
- Separate your work into short paragraphs.
- Turn paragraph lists into bullet points.
- Use subtitles to help your readers find the information that they want to read.
- Don't hesitate to leave a question or a sentence that you want to emphasize dangling as a one-sentence paragraph.
- Use bold font, underlining and text coloring to draw attention to the most important parts of your content.
7. Ignore the comments and suggestions left by your visitors.
As your website starts to receive traffic, some of your visitors may take the time to leave comments on your content. Criticisms may sting at first, but you don't want to delete and forget about them. Praises will boost your confidence, but they don't mean that you have no room for improvement. If you pay close attention to these comments, you will learn how to improve your content while coming up with excellent ideas for future content.
For instance, if several visitors ask a particular question, you may want to create a new page with content that answers that question. If your visitors seem confused by some of your content, you may need to rewrite those pages so that your ideas are easier to understand. If a particular page receives a lot of praise, you may want to write more content in a similar style or tone.
8. Forget about grammar and spend no time consulting a spellchecker.
There is a heavy focus on creating content that speaks directly to the reader in a personal manner, and some writers have taken that to mean grammar and spelling are unimportant. The idea is that misspelled words and grammatical mistakes sound more natural than perfectly edited content, but this isn't true. Many readers turn away from content with obvious mistakes for several reasons:
If you want to your readers to focus on your message, don't allow mistakes to distract their attention.
9. Don't check the load time for each page on your website.
You can create brilliant content that is perfectly formatted and still lose visitors because it takes too long for that glowing content to load. There are many factors that can cause slow load times, so test each page of your site on a routine basis and do some research to fix the problem if necessary. Make sure that your site is responsive to tablets and smartphones as well.
10. Add as many paid advertisements and affiliate links as possible.
You may create a website or blog with the intention of earning affiliate commissions or accumulating funds from paid advertisements, but you don't want your reader to think about that as they view your content. Google may also penalize you for placing affiliate links on every page of your website.
Keep your affiliate links to select pages of your website, and fill the rest of your site with informative, entertaining content that links back to your affiliate sales pages. The majority of your content should make your readers want to click those affiliate links when they find them, but you don't want it to be so obvious that they feel you're only out to sell them on something.
It's not the number of links that counts. It's the quality of your content and how that content makes your visitors feel and think. If a viewer trusts you and wants to learn more from you, they are more likely to click a link and buy a product that you recommend. Establish your reputation first. Sell second.
Whether you're starting your first website and don't know where to start with content creation or you know that your existing content is far from effective, the writing process is stressful. If you feel overwhelmed reading through the above list, take it one step at a time. Select one improvement that you can make to your content today and focus on strengthening every page of your website in that way.
You can then select another area of improvement without stressing out about other issues. With time, you will see that your writing skills improve as your content begins to convert with ease.