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Is Your Content Weak? 6 Signs To Look For

Updated: Mar 11, 2019

Clueless about why your content isn't working? Get rid of these definite downers.

They say content is king for a reason—it rules everything.

Your slick design and unique services may blow away the competition, but if your traffic is slow, your click-through rates are low, and your visitors leave your site without signing up, subscribing, or buying your product—nothing else matters.

Effective content involves many variables—which is why it is wise to hire someone (or a team of someones) who know what they’re doing. Meanwhile, there are a few things you can do today to increase the value of your content.

Start by scanning your site for words and phrases known to weaken content, then change them, replace them, eliminate them!

You know your content is weak if...

1. It has too much jargon. Big words and industry-ese are sure signs of trying too hard. Attention spans are short these days—people want to read your message clearly and quickly in as few words as possible.

Give them what they want. Don’t try to impress. Straightforward content always trumps fancy words.

2. It is way too wordy. Don’t use five words when two will do. Here are a few examples of some major culprits (but there are many, many more):

Wordy Words:

• is able to

• has the ability to

• Has an opportunity to

Replace with: can

Wordy Words:

• in regards to

• concerning the matter of

• in reference to

Replace with: about

Wordy Words:

• in light of the fact

• the reason for

• due to the fact that

Replace with: because

You get the picture…less is more.

3. It’s crammed with clichés. You may think your writing is the best thing since sliced bread, but it’s not even a diamond in the rough. You are living in a fool’s paradise and will face a fate worse than death if you don’t give your content the shot in the arm it so desperately needs. Maybe you need an ace up your sleeve! ‘Nuff said.

4. It’s telling rather than showing. My high school English teacher had a favorite mantra (in fact, so does my editor)—Show me, don’t tell me.

They have a point.

The stories you tell, the testimonials about you, your huge following, and your impressive sales all paint the ideal picture of your success.

You should never, ever TELL your audience you are the best; you should, however, SHOW them you are the best in countless ways. They will get the message.

5. It’s written in a passive voice. I could get all technical on you and explain what happens when you make the object of an action the subject of your sentence, but I won’t bore you with grammar rules.

It is better to use an example. Compare these two sentences:

Why was the road crossed by the chicken?

Why did the chicken cross the road?

The first sentence sounds strange, because the second is such a familiar phrase—but that poor passive chicken has tragic counterparts in everyday content writing.

Consider these offenses:

Passive: The CEO was admired by his staff.

Active: The staff admires the CEO.

Passive: The sales are considered by the board to be impressive.

Active: The board considers the sales impressive.

Active = better.

6. It ignores your audience. One of the biggest mistakes content writers make is getting lost in the details. They try to cover too much ground and end up writing complicated content that rambles on and on.

Put yourself in your visitors’ shoes.

What is most important to them?

What is the simplest way to communicate to them?

Nothing in your content should stray very far from these two anchors.

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