Compelling content can make your brand sizzle.
Bad content, however, can sink your business with astonishing speed. If you’d prefer to steer clear of creating useless—or possibly even damaging—content, here’s what’s bound to fail:
Not every blog post is going to become a viral sensation or fodder for the next great American novel, but it should be interesting in some way.
Even if your subject matter is less than thrilling, find a way to make your content enjoyable. Try adding humor, visuals or an element of interaction, such as a quiz.
Sorry, it’s all not about you. It’s about your readers.
Make sure your content focuses on your audience. What’s in it for them? What benefits, value or tangible takeaways will they draw from your content? If you’re writing simply to pump your brand, prepare to be ignored.
Content that’s written to nobody in particular
When you write content, you should always have an audience in mind—a specific demographic you’re trying to target, based on internal data or buyer personas.
Content should be crafted with your audience’s unique needs, problems and values in mind. Generic content that’s written for everyone tends to reach no one. Tailor your content to suit your specific audience.
Content that’s written for robots
Are SEO tricks and gimmicks making your content unreadable? Don’t try to game Google. Also, don’t insult your readers by dropping in keywords all over the place. Google—and your readers—will not reward your tricks.
Your content can be a bridge to sales, but no one likes a pushy salesperson.
It’s easy to spoil an otherwise spectacular piece of content with an egregious sales pitch. Readers will flee if you push too hard.
Content that’s hard to read
Who likes long sentences and endless paragraphs? Break your content up with headings, bullet points and numbered lists. Make it easy to skim and digest.
Any bit of strain on the reader will doom your content to failure, so make it short, sweet and punchy.
A version of this post first appeared on Grammar Chic.