My Top 7 Worst Blogs and Why They Sucked

Melonie Dodaro  •  Content Marketing

My top 7 worst articles and why they sucked

Have you struggled with creating content that people both read and share?

Content marketing isn’t always a walk in the park. In fact, it often results in quite a few failures before you really start to get the hang of creating content that resonates with your target market.

Even someone who understands content marketing can make mistakes creating content that fails to become a hit. The key is analyzing the content that does well against those that didn’t to learn what works and what doesn’t with your audience.

We always take the time to analyze our results to learn what went wrong and use that information to improve our content marketing efforts. While doing this for myself recently, I thought how it might help others if they could see what I realized by looking at Google Analytics: some of my content sucks…but why?

A Few Observations

Before I openly rip apart my own work for public display, let me tell you one thing that was interesting. Each of these articles had a very high time spent on page, suggesting that readers were pleased with the quality once they arrived.

Here were some of the glaring issues that you’ll notice pop up again and again:

  • Poor performing articles generally had poor or inaccurate titles
  • Poor performing titles tended to lack a promise to readers or were vague in nature
  • Although not always immediately noticeable, some topics proved to be irrelevant to my target audience and thus, resulted in low traffic

Alright, I officially have no shame. Here are my top 7 worst articles of all time!

1. Why Tomorrow Is Too Late When It Comes To Social Media Training

This was one of my earlier attempts at trying to use fear to persuade businesses to get serious about social media. The problem was that it was clearly one-sided and I’m a bias party to discuss that topic. As the founder of a social media agency, of course I’m going to say you need to use it. That really doesn’t hold the same weight as the CEO of a Fortune 500 saying it after having a long history of opposition.

Where I Went Wrong:

  • Article is totally biased
  • The title is too long while promising nothing
  • Sounds like you’re about to be sold something

LESSON LEARNED: Don’t write to serve your own purpose. Focus on specific problems that your target market struggles with and show them solutions. Scare tactics don’t build trust.

2. Social Media For Job Seekers: Interview With Brenda Blackburn

Brenda is a brilliant woman who is excellent in her field. The problem was that my target audience doesn’t really care about finding a job because they run businesses themselves.

Where I Went Wrong:

  • Title doesn’t make a clear promise
  • Using the name of the interviewee in the title wasn’t helpful in this case because my audience had no idea who she was

LESSON LEARNED: Stay relevant to your audience’s interests at all times.

3. Why Your IT Department Shouldn’t Handle Your Social Media

We had a client that came to us a few years ago after their IT department had been “managing” their social media. The content was terrible and they were getting ZERO results. They almost shut the door completely on social media after assuming that if their IT guys couldn’t figure it out, who could?

We got it in our heads that this was a big epidemic with businesses and thought it would be the perfect angle for an article. Delusions of grandeur kicked in as we envisioned the phone ringing off the hook and our server blowing up with leads.

The article bombed miserably with getting under 500 hits total in nearly two years. Our latest articles do better than that on the first day of release.

Where I Went Wrong:

  • Overestimated the issue itself – there was no story
  • Calling out “competitors” did not increase our leads

LESSON LEARNED: Just because you think it’s a problem, doesn’t mean your prospects agree or experience the same trouble.

4. LinkedIn History: The Road To 300 Million Members

We shared an infographic on our blog a while ago showcasing YouTube history in a timeline. It was surprisingly popular and generated a fair amount of traffic for us. Given that information and the fact that we are well known for being proponents of LinkedIn, I thought doing an article on LinkedIn history would be a slam-dunk.

Although the average reader spent over 6 minutes on the page (fantastic), the overall hits were abysmal.

Where I Went Wrong:

  • Simply not interesting enough to our business crowd
  • Title doesn’t make a promise that delivers any value
  • We were too emotionally tied to the subject to see that it ultimately served no purpose

LESSON LEARNED: Ask yourself, “Who cares?” before writing about a topic.

5. Cracking The LinkedIn Code: A Modern Social Selling Strategy

I released this last week and I already know that I screwed up, big time. Quite simply, the title sucks and the article lacked any serious direction. Reaching into my pile of infographics, I thought it would be fun to “breakdown the LinkedIn Code” using an anagram to discuss the crux of my book, The LinkedIn Code.

We ended up with a measly 134 views after blasting it out to over 12,000 email subscribers, 7K Facebook fans, 52 Twitter followers and another 20K in my LinkedIn network.

Where I Went Wrong:

  • Title was horrible as it gives zero indication of what type of content the reader should expect
  • Content meant more to me than to my target audience

LESSON LEARNED: Publishing content for the sake of content is a waste of time.

6. 21 Twitter Marketing Hacks: Writing Better Tweets Faster

This one always makes me cry a bit inside because I actually think it’s a great article with solid content and I spent a lot of time putting it together. It’s not just my opinion either; this article had an average time spent on page of nearly 10 minutes!

The problem is that I focused too much on SEO optimizing for the only keyword I could think of, rather than trying to discuss what the content actually was.

The tips weren’t really “Twitter marketing hacks”, they were tips for coming up with tweets including things to talk about, places to find great content and general ideas for speeding up the process of Twitter content creation.

Where I Went Wrong:

  • Title is inaccurate
  • SEO keyword crammed in at the expense of title’s integrity
  • The phrase “writing better tweets faster” itself isn’t very compelling

LESSON LEARNED: Great content isn’t enough. You have to compel your audience with the title.

7. 5 Ways To Maximize Reach With Content Marketing & LinkedIn

Here is another really recent article that came out a mess. The content is not bad at all but the title is a confusing mess. It couldn’t possibly be more generic and stuffed with marketing buzzwords.

Where I Went Wrong:

  • Confusing title, unclear
  • Reader has no promise of value from reading the title
  • I wrote content and then fit in a title afterwards

LESSON LEARNED: Start with a great title and then write from there.

It’s All In The Title

Writing great headlines and titles is an art that I have yet to perfect entirely. For every great title, I have 5 terrible ones. That said, you need to realize that one great article can pick up the slack for several duds. There is one article on my site that’s responsible for over 10% of my total traffic…for two years running. For one blog out of hundreds to have that much weight is amazing but I had to go through the duds to get there.

Put simply, if you want more traffic, start writing better headlines. If you notice people aren’t sticking around long when they get there, you might have to address the quality of your content. In the meantime, start working on those titles.

5 Resources To Help Tweak Your Titles:

  1. How To Write Magnetic Headlines
  2. 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work
  3. A Simple Formula for Writing Kick-Ass Titles
  4. How to Create Headlines That Go Viral With Social Media
  5. How to Test Blog Post Titles With Twitter

What has been your greatest challenge with content marketing? How do you come up with new blog post ideas when you are stumped? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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