A Data-Driven Method for Finding Out Whether Your Content Sucks

Sometimes, you have to show some tough love. You’ve got to be brutally honest.

Because I value you (yes, you!) as a reader, I don’t want to lie to you or sugarcoat things for you. You deserve better.

I want to give you the best advice possible so you can go out there and succeed.

If I’m being brutally honest: Your content might suck.

It’s not your fault—my content was downright awful for years. It took me a long, long time to get really good at blogging.

Blogging is hard. Coming up with awesome content is hard.

You might know your content isn’t as good as it could be, but you probably don’t know where you’re going wrong.

And if you don’t know where you’re going wrong, you’ll never improve.

That’s why I’ve put together this data-driven method of finding out whether your content sucks. There’s no guesswork here. I’ve laid out everything for you here, step by step.

I wish someone would have given me a guide like this when I started blogging. It would have eliminated years of mistakes, and I’m not exaggerating.

Let’s get started.

Get into the right mindset

When I started blogging, I didn’t really know how to make my content better.

For a while, I thought I was just an awful blogger.

If you feel that way, let me reassure you: You’re not a bad blogger.

Writing is a skill anyone can develop, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I wasn’t born with the ability to write. I had to hone my writing for years.

I know from experience that it can be difficult to see exactly why your content sucks.

Thankfully, there are several tried-and-true methods I’ve learned during my career that will help you identify and fix problems in your content.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, I want to point out two things.

First, you need to be your own worst critic. Don’t be too harsh on yourself, but try to detach yourself from your writing.

There’s a famous quote in writing that applies here:

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When you’re writing, don’t get too attached to anything. You’ll need to be honest with yourself during the editing process, so try to look at your own writing as if it’s someone else’s.

Second, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even today, I work with editors all the time. My writing still isn’t perfect, and I’ve been blogging for over ten years.

If you get stuck along the way, there’s no shame in finding a writer or editor to help you out.

Better yet, email a blogger you really admire, and ask for their help. It sounds crazy, but most bloggers (yes, even the big names) are more than happy to help up-and-coming bloggers.

Now that you’re prepped, let’s make your content shine.

Specifically, let’s talk about diagnosing bad content.

Often, if your content is bad, you’ll just know. Other times, it’s more difficult.

Here are some of the most common flaws of bad content.

Problem #1: Keyword stuffing

If you can use up both hands to count the number of keywords in a paragraph, you’re witnessing keyword stuffing.

Keyword stuffing happens when someone uses a keyword several times within a short amount of space.

Moz made up a great example:

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Keyword stuffing has been around for years, and people still use it today in an attempt to enhance their SEO.

But keyword stuffing is really only good at one thing: annoying your readers.

Keyword optimization can be a powerful tool, but stuffing ruins it. Plus, Google doesn’t like it. If you have keyword stuffing, you need to fix it pronto.

How to fix it: Fixing keyword stuffing is a two-step process.

First, let go of your keyword obsession. Remember, you’re creating content for human beings—not for search engines.

Try writing an entire post without thinking about keywords at all. You don’t have to use the final product, but I do recommend this exercise to get you out of the keyword stuffing habit.

Second, get up to date with keyword research. It’s still a vital part of SEO and online marketing, but you need to do it right.

I recommend spending a lot of time investigating insanely specific long-tail keywords for your niche.

Then, learn how to seamlessly integrate your long-tail keywords into your posts. It might take a while, but it will reward you many times over.

Problem #2: Reader unawareness syndrome

I’ve said it countless times before, and I’ll say it again: Blogging is all about creating awesome content for your readers.

That means you have to know who your readers are.

I’ve read lots of blog posts that were well-written with excellent research and examples. The only problem? The content wasn’t aimed at the blog’s demographic.

Let me tell you the story of a failed startup called Patient Communicator.

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Patient Communicator’s goal was to provide a CRM for doctors and patients. But, as founder Jeff Novich realized,

We had no customers because no one was really interested in the model we were pitching.

Many product ideas fail because the company doesn’t understand what their audience wants. It’s the same for blogs.

If you don’t understand what your readers want and deliver that type of content, your blog will be quickly forgotten.

How to fix it: To relieve reader unawareness syndrome, you’ll need to do some thorough research to find out who exactly your audience is.

This is a great opportunity to look into both demographics and psychographics of your readership to understand who your readers are and why they read your content.

A good method of obtaining both demographics and psychographics is to survey your readers. SurveyMonkey is a great tool for this.

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You’ll get direct feedback from the people you’re writing for, and you can’t get much better than that when it comes to marketing.

Problem #3: Bad writing

When I first started blogging, I was a bad writer, to put it lightly.

Over the years, I’ve learned a ton about copywriting, but for a long time, my content suffered.

There’s no denying that well-written content can take you from 0 to 60. If you can write well, you’ll command your readers’ full attention.

More importantly, excellent writing sets you up as an authority. Being able to communicate your ideas clearly is an invaluable skill to have, no matter what industry you’re in.

Likewise, bad writing can harm you. People won’t see you as an authority, and they might even doubt your credibility.

You could have the best content in the world, but if it’s not written well, it will flop. That’s why it’s a great use of your time to study writing.

If you struggle with writing, don’t worry—it’s easier to improve than you might think.

How to fix it: In short, study copywriting from authoritative resources. Here are a few to get you started:

Next, become a regular reader of the most popular blogs in your niche. For example, in marketing, Hubspot, Inbound, and Inc are three popular blogs.

A simple way to find the top blogs in your niche is to run a Google search.

If you’re in finance, for example, search “finance blogs.” Find 5-10 popular blogs, and read them religiously.

Finally, put what you’ve learned into practice. Compare your content to that of the blogs you read. Do you see similarities? If you struggle, where is the problem?

This 3-step process will help you become a better writer, but it won’t happen overnight. You have to be dedicated and keep it up every single day.

Keep practicing, and, like I said earlier, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Problem #4: Lack of value

People love value.

Jay Baer from Convince and Convert surveyed 25 popular blog posts and found that people love tips and tools. Many of those 25 posts featured actionable advice that readers could use almost instantly.

Sadly, many blogs withhold value from their readers. Many bloggers are afraid to give too much away.

What those bloggers don’t understand is that people read content in order to get something valuable.

Think of it as a transaction. The reader is spending time and energy to check out your content, and they’re looking for something in return.

It seems counterintuitive, but giving away a ton of value will make your readers more devoted to your brand. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true.

That’s why I write super-long articles that are packed with advice. It’s a tried-and-true method that’s never let me down.

If you’re worried about giving away value, don’t be. It’s worked for me and countless others, and it’ll work for you too.

How to fix it: Start creating content with the sole goal of providing value. Don’t worry about doing SEO or writing clickbait headlines. Just focus on value.

Strive to provide at least one helpful takeaway in every piece of content you write. (Longer content should have more takeaways.)

These takeaways should be pieces of actionable advice that readers can use in their lives. Ideally, they should be able to implement the advice immediately.

Make sure to let your readers know what value they’re getting. Start with the title.

Here’s an example of a great title from Brian Dean at Backlinko:

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You can tell right away what you’ll get if you read the article. That’s what you want to accomplish.

You can also create infographics like this one we published on Crazy Egg:

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Whatever media you use, pack it full of value. You won’t regret it.

Conclusion

Let me reiterate this: If your content sucks, it’s not because you suck.

Writing awesome content is hard. It’s taken me years of practice to get where I am today, and guess what? I’m still learning.

But it’s important to recognize when your content does suck.

There’s a huge chance that your content will make a lot of first impressions. People who have never heard of your brand before could stumble upon one of your blog posts, and they’ll judge your brand based on your content.

And if your content is bad, you’ll lose potential customers. But if your content is amazing, you’ll win people over.

What kind of data do you use to figure out how effective your content is?

Comments

  1. Seriously, I think the content in your blog is top notch. Will follow these steps and try to improve the content on my blog.

    Thanks

  2. Exactly, sometimes content gets stuck in different ways. This article really open my mind to view and work on other things. Thanks Neil, for sharing a such a beautiful content.

    • Awesome.

      • The simple way to find out if your content sucks or not is to use headline analyzers and find out how good they are.

        CoSchedule and Hubspot tools let you do that easily.

        No doubt, headline plays a key role. In fact, they can make or break your overall content’s success. So make sure you are spending time on crafting powerful headlines such as yours, Neil.

        It’s also important to find out the overall social shares of a post. If your content lacks them, people think your content sucks.

        Great insights btw!

  3. uthman saheed :

    Yeah… Writing valuable content is hard, but the result worth it. Since thats what most readers want. Thanks for this post

  4. What qualities would you want to see in a content writer if we are looking to hire one for our blog?

  5. This is Valuable information about Data-Driven Method. Looking forward to seeing your notes posted. I loved the way you discuss the topic Find Out theContent Sucks with Data-Driven method for me. The post is explained clearly so that we are able to understand it clearly. I’m truly grateful and really impressed. Absolutely this article is incredible. It gives us lots of interest and pleasure. Their opportunities are so fantastic and working style so speedy. I have enjoyed reading many of the articles and posts contained on the website, keep up the good work and hope to read some more interesting content in the future. Thank you for this valuable information.

  6. Will follow these steps and try to improve the content on my blog.

  7. Keyword stuffing is an outdated ‘technique’ if you would like to call it that. It has always been viewed as spammy and will just get more and more frowned upon over the years.

  8. Hey Neil,

    Generating the content worthy reading requires the time. To become a better writer, it’s important to keep going.

    No one can be an awesome writer within a month. It takes years to attract more readers just because of your writing skills.

    I have suffered a lot and still trying to put the quality together.

    No sugarcoating, no flaunting, no fake guides. That’s what people should do.

    Keyword stuffing can be the pain in the head. Many beginners try to index their content by adding more and more keywords.

    It’s time to learn, practice, craft and promote.

    ~Ravi

  9. It is also important to track the traffic going to your content. This is the only real metric to know if it works.

  10. Hi Neil Patel,
    You always love the way you explain each and every thing in your article.
    Great fan of your, keep on sharing informative knowledgs.

  11. Great fan of your, keep on sharing informative knowledge.

  12. property portal in kolkata :

    Very useful Information.
    Thanks for Sharing.

  13. Great tips! I have to make it work for me!

  14. Louis Schoeman :

    Nop Notch blog again.

  15. Thanks Neil,
    Before reading this post i always realise that no one like my post because of writing .BUT I SE TOO MUCH SAME WORD AS YOU SUGGEST.This article is going to change my writing

  16. MadHat San Diego :

    Wow. That was a great read, very informative. Just like you, wasn’t born a writer either. I realized that my writing style was boring. Thanks for this article. I’ll hone my writing skills.

  17. mursi kembang :

    Thanks. really helped me

  18. Anubhav Aggarwal :

    How is this data-driven?!! The only data driven point you’ve given is “If you can use up both hands to count the number of keywords in a paragraph, you’re witnessing keyword stuffing.”
    None of the other things have any data backing or data based solutions!

  19. Kaarthik Shrivastav :

    Hard to find such an in-depth article about writing skills on the internet focused on Search Engine Optimization. I have been wanting to write new blog posts but found it to be difficult since I had no idea where to start, which keywords to target, etc. As said by William Faulkner “In writing, you must kill your darlings” applies to everyone of us bloggers. Nobody would have a hard time coming up with new content after reading this. Thanks Neil for the valuable information, appreciate it.

  20. Writes very good for us always remains closed. I thank you from the heart. God give you long life you will always be happy to help us continue like that.

  21. Thank You for helping brother is very good article.Ali Khan is very good, really great Thank you so much.

  22. 2017 is the year when I start getting serious about my brand and my website. I’m looking to improve everything, from my content, through design, user experience etc. so I’m so glad I’ve found your website and it seems PACKED with great info. Thanks a lot 🙂

  23. Flats in Ultadanga :

    Nice Information.
    Thanks for Sharing.

  24. Hi Neil, I feel that lack of value is the biggest bottleneck any content faces. There are so many me too rehashed pieces of content floating around like debris clogging the world wide web.

    It’s difficult to add value to content but experience and testing can help a person come up with unique insights and value driven content. Of course, great copywriting, great headlines, limited usage of keywords, everything adds up.

  25. This is an amazing set of post, wonderful

  26. Hi Neil, this is great information.

    Thanks

  27. Vick Strizheus :

    Great article, I like it.

  28. Writing a valuable and awesome content for customer satisfaction is really hard, but with these tips, it can help you to make a good content that can bring your brand on the top and to be well known by people. You can use these tips to enhance and develop your writing skills. It is important to have good content in order to win people.

  29. Some really thoughtful analysis there. And I think when done this way, one can really make out whether or not their content is up to the mark. As with most of the writers, including myself, judging your own content is really hard, and tough to make out whether or not it is solving the purpose and fun to read. This should be of great help.

  30. Hi Neil,

    I m a great fan of your article .Your aritcle is very informational and valuable. Wording of this article is very understandable. Thanks for sharing this amazing article.goo.gl/r4Kg0dj

  31. valuable information about A Data-Driven Method.

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