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10 Common Mistakes that Make Valuable Content Look Amateur

Drive the Value of Your Content UP, not DOWN
The SEO copywriters here at MintCopy have exciting jobs. On any given day, our copywriting agency has a diversity of content marketing projects for all types of clients in a range of industries. The SEO content we produce includes everything from posts for CEO and CMO blogs to DIY home maintenance tips to expert advice on avoiding cyber security risks to why your printed circuit board may experience failure, and much more. Needless to say, we learn something new every day and also get to sound like so many different individuals and organizations. SEO copywriting allows us the opportunity to be ghost writers with knowledge and insights into an endless variety of subjects, but always with a distinct voice.

Clients depend on our copywriting team to fuel their ongoing content marketing requirements. Every once in a while, however, a client company or a department head or a CEO of a company decides to write something in-house. Perhaps a quick blog post about an interesting discussion they had at work, or an article that developed in the CEO’s mind during a long flight, or even a rant on Twitter by the marketing department. We love it when this happens! It tells us that our clients have completely bought into the idea of content creation being a team effort, and they are willing contributors.     

In this piece, we want to point out a few common mistakes to avoid so that your valuable content gets the right attention from your audience. The last thing you want is for a terrific idea to fall by the wayside because readers see distractions in errors that make your piece look like the work of an amateur writer.

Here is our list…and feel free to add to it—we know there are many more red flags to watch out for! 

Avoid these Common Errors in Your Online Content

  1. Incorrect Capitalization:
    The prepositions, conjunctions, and stop words in your headings and sub-headings should be in lower case. A season, unless it is at the start of a sentence does not need capitalization. Location words such as “airport”, “downtown”, “station”, “metro”, etc. are written in lower case unless used as a proper noun. So you can say “Downtown Toronto”, but not “traveling in the Downtown core”. And you can enjoy “the warm summer breeze”, but not “the icy chill of Winter”.  
  2. The Numbers Game:
    It seems completely illogical, but many writers tend to be inconsistent, flitting between spelling out a number and using the numeric form. Quite often, all in the same sentence or piece of writing. “Nine out of 10” writers are not even aware they make this mistake. 
  3. Ah the Apostrophe!
    If your elementary school teachers did not correct it, you are very likely still making this mistake. Of course, “you’re an awesome writer” but your audience may frown when they see “your making this common mistake”. That tiny apostrophe out of place or missing can cause unnecessary distraction.      
  4. Singular Vs. Plural:
    Team Canada is happy to be celebrating 150 years. We are a team. So let’s not say things like, “our team are here to make 2017 a very special celebration”.
  5. Passive Vs. Active Voice:
    Your spellchecker can very easily redline these instances, but most of us do not use this function. That is why we end up writing several sentences in passive voice. Trust our experience on this—it really is not hard to change a passive sentence into an active one, but you must be aware of the error first. 
  6. References and Citations:
    Often, you may find some research, statistics and facts that are attention-grabbing, so you want to use them in your writing. You may also link to the source to show credibility. However, when your audience clicks on the link to see more details on the study you quoted, they realize it is 5 years old. It’s not always a bad thing to use somewhat dated facts, as long as you make that clear to the audience at the outset. You can say, “Although these statistics are 5 years old, they reveal an upward trend which is indicative of…”
  7. We, Our, Us Vs. You, Your, Them:
    How many times have you come across a company’s website where every page has far too much of “we are capable of”, “we can take care of our clients’ needs”, “we want to serve our customers”, “our staff has the right training”, “trust us to be a valued partner”, and so on. If all of those sentences could instead talk more about “your needs”, “your partner”, “we want to serve you”, etc. the audience will take better note because you are speaking about them, not about you.
  8. Periods are Welcome:
    Not so much those multiple commas, semi-colons and colons. Just remember that if a sentence runs into 4 or 5 lines in your Word document, it is likely to appear even longer on a web page. Try reading it aloud and see if you find yourself out of breath reading a really long sentence. You might very easily be able to break it up into 2 or 3 sentences and the ideas therein will make a better, stronger, impact on readers.
  9. Surprise! Surprise!
    You have seen this type of writing. It’s all over the Internet. Exclamation marks in headings, subject lines, and practically every second sentence. It’s akin to seeing an individual that got a Botox treatment for an eyebrow lift and unfortunately, ends up looking constantly surprised or alarmed.
  10. The Basics You Simply Cannot Ignore:
    There is no undermining the importance of correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, consistent use of font types and sizes, page alignment, etc. These are the essentials that most audiences will notice right away and tend to be unforgiving when they appear awry too frequently.

Do you occasionally produce content in-house? Need a second pair of eyes to check that you are not making the above copywriting mistakes? MintCopy is a leading content marketing agency in Toronto serving the SEO content needs of companies across Canada, USA and Europe.

Give us a call at 1-888-646-8003 today or email us to learn about our range of copywriting services.

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