So You Think You Can Blog? 3 Common Content Don’ts

Has anyone ever told you they know the secret to writing a killer blog post? Every content marketing site claims to know the recipe for creating the most delicious posts imaginable. But they’re probably wrong.

There isn’t a sure-fire formula to creating a viral article. There are too many variables – from audience to timeliness, popular posts can’t be predicted. Creating quality content doesn’t result from hitting every box on a writing checklist; it’s more than that. It takes practice. For example, have you ever watched old reruns of Growing Pains, and suddenly you notice a young Leo DiCaprio that you never noticed before he was famous? Writing viral content is similar. You have to keep trying, even if no one notices at first. You might just need some Titanic tips to get you there.

While there is no ultimate secret to viral content, here are a few don’ts to help you increase traffic and engagement.

Too Many Links

Links, links, links. From blogging to SEO, links are a hot topic. But as Google evolves and users consume more media each day, links are losing their SEO advantage. Google hasn’t forgotten about links, but the relevancy of a link is now of utmost importance. Google can recognize spam, so make sure you are only including the most relevant links.

When considering adding links to a post, think like your readers. Is that link going to take them somewhere useful? Also, blog posts weighed down with 20 links appear cluttered. Over-linking loses readers’ trust. Remember, human beings are emotional and intuitive; so if Google reads links as spam, it’s because people do too.

Too Much Text

Today, Americans spend nearly 12 hours each day consuming media. With so many images, videos, and text flying at us each day, what’s going to make us slow down and read your post? Well, many things contribute to this answer – a humorous meme, a controversial title or a viral video. One notable missing item: an abundance of text. With the popularity of Twitter and video sharing channels, our minds are being programmed to hold attention for shorter periods of time. A thousand words of plain text can be intimidating to our ever-shifting minds.

Think of yourself as long-winded? Don’t worry, a few quick fixes exist to solve the “too long; didn’t read” problem – and they don’t all involve cutting words. Try these the next time you find yourself staring into a sans serif abyss on your screen:

  • Active voice – Can you reword a sentence using an active verb to cut down on word count?
  • Imagery – Sometimes you need 1000 words to prove a point. Readers are willing to slow down and read quality content. But you can still draw them in with charts, infographics, illustrations and photos that break up large text blocks.
  • Break it up – Inching toward text overload? Consider splitting your article into two posts. If it’s well-written, you’ll entice readers to re-engage with your blog; plus, you’ll get two posts out of one idea!
  • Peer editing – We all did this in high school and college, and we rolled our eyes at teachers every time it was required. But, hey, it works. Let a fresh pair of eyes scroll through a long post to eliminate unneeded words.

Too Much Soapboxing

Addressing public concerns, offering solutions to problems, and bringing up little-known issues often result in successful blog posts. Taking on the negative shows a writer’s opinion and passion. It also gives users the answers they’re looking for. Unfortunately, many writers have gone too far. Constant soapboxing drags readers down. It can even cause you to lose readers. Instead of whining your way through 500 words, address an issue and move on to a solution. Remember: It’s always better to be a Positive Polly than a Negative Nancy (unless, of course, you’re using humor).

The next time you venture to your keyboard, avoid these three recurring missteps. Preventing bad habits and developing an effective writing style will get you on the road to cyber-stardom.