What’s holding you back from incredible visibility in Google search?
Is it your strategy?
…Or is it your execution?
The best content plan in the world won’t get you anywhere if you’re making these simple yet deadly SEO content mistakes.
5 SEO Content Mistakes Plaguing Your Marketing (& Fixes)
These SEO content mistakes are super common but totally rectifiable. If you’re committing any of them, don’t worry – I have some practical solutions to bring your content back to life.
1. Targeting the Same (or Similar) Keywords in Multiple Content Pieces
Want to know a great way to shoot yourself in the foot with SEO?
Lose track of the content pieces you’ve published, including which keywords you’ve already targeted.
Then accidentally target a keyword you’ve already tried to rank for in a new blog. If the search intent for that keyword hasn’t changed over time, the blogs will end up being incredibly similar – too similar.
Now you have two pages on your site competing for the same search intent, traffic, and clicks. As a result, neither will do very well in search engines, because you’re essentially splitting the spoils. (There’s a technical, dramatic term for this problem: keyword cannibalization.)
What to Do Instead
First, keep track of your content pieces in all stages of the creation process, from the initial idea to the final published blog, article, what-have-you.
This means a content calendar is your best friend (Airtable, Trello, and Notion are nice options). Include information on the keywords you targeted for each piece.
Second, be careful with search intent. Some keywords may be worded very differently from those you’ve already used, but have an identical search intent (i.e., the reason why a user types those keywords into Google).
For example: “Which iPhone should I buy” and “best iPhone to buy right now” only share a few words, but the search intent behind them is identical. Instead of creating two content pieces targeting each keyword, you should choose one to focus on while including the other inside the piece as a related keyword.
2. Writing Overwrought, Irrelevant Meta Descriptions
What a worse SEO content mistake than skipping out on writing unique meta descriptions for each page of your site?
Writing bad ones.
The difference between a good meta description and a bad one:
- Whether it entices your reader to click your link in the results…
- Or turns them off entirely.
- Whether it’s relevant enough to appear in Google results…
- Or so irrelevant that Google skips it in favor of auto-filling text from your body content.
Relevance, in particular, is huge.
Look at this meta description from an Eater article ranking for “best burgers in the U.S.”:
As you can see, Google auto-filled the description with snippets of the body content from the article. They often do this when no meta description is specified.
Yet, Eater did specify a meta description, as you can see from their source code:
It reads, “Introducing the burger lover’s ultimate bucket list, from classic iterations to the best bistro burgers.”
What’s the problem, here? Why didn’t Google use it? Irrelevance.
- The keyword is missing from this description.
- The description mentions a “bucket list” – but is that what the article is really about, or what people are seeking when they search for this keyword? No. A “bucket list” doesn’t necessarily signify “best.”
The above description looks pretty awful next to this one from a higher-ranking piece on the list:
What to Do Instead
If there’s even the slightest chance that Google will skip over the meta description you painstakingly wrote in favor of auto-grabbed text, what’s the point of writing one?
This: With a strong meta description, there’s a huge chance to grab your reader and convince them to click in just a sentence or two. Written well, a good meta description can enhance your click-through rate in the search results.
You just have to make sure it’s relevant enough for Google to grab, and helpful enough (and persuasive enough) to catch your reader’s eye.
A few tips:
- Meta descriptions can’t be too long – under 160 characters is the standard. To ensure you write within that restriction, use a tool. Yoast SEO is great. So is the Meta Tags tool.
- Talk to your reader. Tell them what the content is about and what’s in it for them if they read it.
- Use your keyword. Once is enough.
- Get creative with wording. Use strong verbs. Avoid useless adverbs, which pad out the character count unnecessarily.
3. Using Unhelpful, Poorly Structured Headings (Or Not Enough Headings)
I hope you’re already implementing headings in your SEO content writing. This is a basic must-do for a few reasons:
- Headings help Google understand what your content is about.
- They help users find the information they’re looking for.
- They break up long blocks of text for better readability.
- Headings help organize and structure your content (especially important for people who may not be “reading” your page at all, but using screen readers or some other assistive technology).
Think of headings as helpers. They provide additional meaning and help your reader make sense of your piece as a whole.
That’s why, if your headings are lackluster, generic, or formatted incorrectly, they’ll hinder instead of help.
Take a look at this example of a content piece with unhelpful, incorrectly structured headings:
Note the vague wording (“ones” in place of using the actual keyword, “backlinks”) the incorrect use of heading levels (H2s used when H3s were needed), and the use of headings solely for formatting purposes (a huge no-no).
What to Do Instead
Headings split your content into sections and sub-sections (and sometimes sub-sub-sections), which helps with readability immensely. They denote the most important pieces of information and how sections are related.
As such, use headings judiciously, and structure them correctly. Employ them to break up your content in the same way chapters break up a book. Here’s an example.
- H1 – Types of Cheeses and Where to Buy Them.
- H2 – The Best Hard Cheeses
- H3 – 1. Gruyere
- H3 – 2. Parmesan
- H3 – 3. Manchego
- H2 – The Best Soft Cheeses
- H3 – 1. Brie
- H3 – 2. Gorgonzola
- H3 – 3. Chevre
- H2 – Where to Buy Your Favorite Cheeses
- H3 – Online Stores
- H3 – Brick-and-mortars
H1 – The title or headline. Think of it as the title of a book. You only use it once.
H2 – The major headings that break up your content topically. Think of H2s as book chapters. If you’re covering a topic with multiple facets, each facet gets its own H2 heading.
H3 – Sub-headings that break up your H2 sections. Each H3 should be an offshoot of your top-level H2 topic.
H4, H5, H6 – These are less common, but can further break down your topic as needed. (I never use these.)
4. Creating Lots (and Lots) of Mediocre Content
Contrary to popular belief, putting out lots and lots of content, no matter the quality, will not earn you any accolades, let alone Google’s top rankings.
What happens instead?
Just what you’d think – putting out oodles of mediocre content will garner you a reputation as mediocre.
And that is not what you want.
More is not better. Better is better. Even if that means your content schedule scales way back.
What to Do Instead
Don’t post five times per week if it’s all crap or not worth reading. Do post once a week, bi-weekly, or whenever you can – as long as each piece can stand on its own against the top of Google’s search results for your keyword.
Focus on meeting search intent, answering user questions, going in-depth, and providing thorough explanations and research on whatever you’re talking about.
You don’t “need more content.” You need to create better content.
Need help with that? Let our expert content writing team handle it.
5. Linking Indiscriminately
In your content, are you linking out to any old source you can find? Are you placing those links on random text?
What about your internal links? Does the link to your service page inside your new blog read “click here”? When you mention a related blog, do you link it like this?
Stop. ✋ Stop, stop, stop.
These SEO content mistakes are a giant waste of link juice.
You see, links act as signals for Google. When you link to another page in your content, you’re signaling that the page you’re pointing to is not just related and relevant to your topic, but also has authority and credibility.
The search engine pays attention to both the text you use to link to a URL, and the content of the URL itself. This is true for both inbound links (when you link out to a separate domain from your own) and internal links (when you link to another page on your domain).
The way you link, both internally and externally, matters.
What to Do Instead
Don’t link indiscriminately. Be smart and use a strategy to give Google better signals.
- If you’re linking to a resource or reference that supports a point you made: Take the time to find a quality source with a high Domain Authority (DA), Alexa Rank, Domain Rating, or whichever metric you prefer to rely on. Or, choose one with a reputation you know is solid.
- If you’re linking to an internal page on your website: Only link to related or similar pages in your content. Don’t spam your content with links to your other pages. Place your anchor text (the text you click on to open a link) on relevant keywords, not random text or “click here”.
Be a Smart SEO Content Marketer
SEO content mistakes are easy to make. But smart marketers can admit them and learn from them.
The good news is, once you know how to fix them, you’ll never look back. You’ll build a better content strategy, too.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Need great content?
We know SEO content writing and will write to fit your vision, goals, and bring in audience value.
Trust a team that’s been writing great content since 2011. Contact us today.
Content marketing is leaving outdated marketing methods in the dust.
Feeling doubtful? The $400 billion content marketing industry is on track to explode. Overall, content marketing will grow by $269.24 billion during 2019-2024.
It’s not a new practice, but it is finally getting the recognition and respect it deserves because content marketing works. (Plain and simple.)
If you stopped cold calling right now, what would happen?
You wouldn’t get new customers.
But what would happen if you were to stop content marketing?
You’d still be bringing in leads and traffic months, even years later.
Content marketing also compounds over time, which means it’s a long-term investment that will continue working for you long after the content is published. And since 68% of all online experiences begin with a search engine, quality content that ranks on search pages is going to keep producing results and making your brand discoverable. 💥
What Exactly Is Content Marketing, and Why is It So Powerful?
Content marketing is a strategic approach that focuses on writing and publishing relevant content that will attract, educate, and engage a defined audience.
Instead of reciting the typical sales pitch, content creators are helping consumers solve problems.
That seems a little counterproductive for a marketing strategy, right? How can you increase your sales if you aren’t talking about how great your products and services are?
The answer is simple: you’re building trust and authority. Instead of adopting the sleazy salesman role, which is an immediate turnoff for many consumers, you’re having a pleasant conversation with them and providing information they need. And that will likely inspire them to see what else you have to offer.
Consider this: Google reports that SEO (search engine optimized) traffic is five times greater than PPC (pay per click) and ten times greater than social media.
Speaking of Google, that’s where 92.96% of global traffic originates, so ranking on Google is an absolute must if you want to see success. During the pandemic, Google search traffic jumped from 3.6 billion searches per day to more than 6 billion per day.
Simply paying for ads on Google isn’t going to cut it. On average, a person sees between 6,500 and 11,000 ads per day, not to mention 42.7% of worldwide internet users between the ages of 16 and 64 relying on ad-blocking tools at least once a month.
With that constant advertising bombardment, it’s no wonder people have largely become “ad blind.”
Using an SEO-first content marketing strategy isn’t interruptive like typical ads (and it won’t be flagged by ad blockers). It allows businesses to target new prospects at every stage of the purchase funnel.
6 Steps to Create Content That Generates Leads and Brings in Traffic
Your brand’s content strategy framework is your golden formula for success. It goes much deeper than simply writing articles that target keywords.
Whether you’re a content marketing beginner wondering how to get started or a veteran looking to polish your existing strategy for better success, you’re in the right place!
Below is a step-by-step look at how a rock-solid content strategy foundation works.
1. Know Your Foundations: Niche, Expertise, and CDF
When it comes to content creation and marketing, you need to be able to answer the following questions first:
- What is my niche (targeted industry)?
- Who is my audience?
- What are my qualifications/expertise?
- What are my business goals?
- What do I have to offer than nobody else does?
The last question is your Content Differentiation Factor, or CDF. Basically, your CDF is what makes you unique among your competition.
Before you can start defining your audience and writing content for them, you need to have a clear understanding of who you are and what you want to accomplish.
Is your content marketing going to be used to find new leads? To educate people about solutions (and how your product or service can solve their problems)? To provide citable data and studies? To increase the organic web traffic on your site? To create brand awareness?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you have the groundwork laid for your content marketing strategy.
2. Understand What Your Audience Wants and Needs
Part of your Step 1 analysis should be figuring out your target audience. But knowing who your audience will be is very different from knowing how to convert them into customers.
Some of the ways you can identify the needs of your audience can include:
- Reviewing online comments and conversations to identify consumer needs.
- Researching keywords that are relevant to your targeted niche.
- Studying your competition to see what they’re doing.
- Sending out customer surveys.
- Creating audience personas for your content strategy.
All of this research should answer these two critical questions: “Who am I writing for?” and “What are they looking for?”
3. Target Keywords with SEO Best Practices
Search engine optimization, also known as SEO, is the practice of writing and formatting content in a way that ranks in search engines.
When researching the best keywords to target, you should ideally look for low-competition, long-tail keywords that are three or more words in length. And, most importantly, these keywords should be highly relevant to your niche.
When writing your content, avoid keyword-stuffing, which is the outdated practice of forcing a keyword into an article as many times as possible, even if that results in the article being difficult to read. Doing so will negatively impact your ranking.
SEO rewards writing that flows naturally. For the best SEO results, you should also:
- Optimize for voice searches. 71% of consumers would rather search by voice than type their question, with a projected 122.7 million voice search users for this year. This means there is more value in optimizing your content for natural speech rather than keywords. For example, a voice search is going to prioritize pages that answer a question such as “Who was Steve Jobs?” rather than keywords like “Steve Jobs apple company.”
- Improve readability with visual appeal. About 65% of your audience will be visual learners. Images, bulleted lists, subheadings, and videos will help to make your content easier to read.
- Create your own studies, data, infographics, and imagery. This practice allows your graphics to be indexed by Google while generating backlinks when other websites cite your content in their articles. Win-win!
4. Become a Trusted Authority in Your Market
What exactly does it mean to be an authority?
The pandemic took a toll on the public’s trust. In fact, there’s an all-time low in consumer trust for informational sources, according to the Edelman 2021 Trust Barometer. And yet, the numbers show that trust in individual businesses is at a global high.
Simply put, when consumers lost faith in the government and media, they instead turned to businesses for information.
Building your authority can mean your brand is perceived as a source of trustworthy, relevant information for your consumers, or your brand is an authority website based on Google’s ranking standards.
From a content marketing perspective, you should strive to achieve both of those goals.
The way to do that is by regularly publishing content that consumers are searching for online and want to read.
Remember, it’s not a sales pitch. You’re not telling your customers that you’re an expert — you’re demonstrating your credibility to them, which is much more effective.
In addition, you’re engaging with your audience and generating website traffic, which will help Google recognize your site as valid.
5. Strategize and Schedule Your Content for Consistency
HubSpot surveyed 7,000 businesses and used the data to develop a marketing benchmark report. They found that companies with 1,000 or more pages bring in 9.5 times more traffic than companies who have less than 50 pages.
Looking at that raw data, you might assume that quantity is more important than quality. In truth, the two go hand-in-hand.
Simply pumping out worthless content for the sake of upping your page count is not going to be an efficient or productive use of your resources. The real key here is consistency. You should be:
- Using a calendar to ensure that you have content scheduled and planned in advance.
- Auditing old posts to keep them relevant and up-to-date.
- Budgeting your time and expenses to stay on top of outsourcing costs and make sure your dollars are going into high-quality content creation.
- Promoting your content with an omnichannel approach to increase shares, conversations, and leads.
6. Maintain Your Progress with Analytical Data
Relying on analytics, whether that’s Semrush, Google Analytics, or a variety of other tools, is one of the best ways to track your progress and see trends.
This data will provide a clear picture so you can see what’s working and what’s not, allowing you to make strategic decisions and ensure your long-term success by tweaking your strategy when necessary.
In order to truly measure your progress, it’s important to set KPIs (key performance indicators). You need to have specific goals to track, such as website traffic, new leads, browsing sessions, bounce rates, et cetera. This will give you targets so you’ll know if you’re actually seeing the growth you want and need.
If you’re hitting your KPIs, that’s great! You’re on the right track!
If not, it’s back to the content strategy drawing board.
Content Marketing is the Future of Marketing… and the Present
It’s not a question of if content marketing will be successful.
It already is.
Companies who committed to the initial investment and stuck with it (that’s important!) saw incredible ROI over time, while businesses who brushed off content marketing as a waste of time or started it halfheartedly but let their strategy fall by the wayside ended up at a huge disadvantage compared to their competitors.
That’s not to say you should stop investing in cold calls, PPC, and other methods. A well-rounded marketing strategy is still important.
But if content marketing isn’t a key component of your strategy, you’re missing a major opportunity.
Express Writers provides high-quality written content in any format you might need, whether it’s expert blog posts, infographics, ebooks, ad copy, case studies, press releases, social media, and more. See what we have to offer.
Let me ask you: Who would you say is the current king of marketing? Maybe ads, commercials, even brand ambassadors?
The answer is none of these.
The true king of marketing is content — and quality content at that.
The majority of businesses already understand this and are hopping on the content marketing train.
70+% of companies are now investing in content marketing (Hubspot).
And 49% of B2C marketers say their organization outsources at least one content marketing activity.
More likely to outsource are large companies. (2021 CMI Report)
75% of those outsourced content marketing activities go to content creation. 🤯 However, to see results, we know we can’t just churn out any old subject matter and expect it to succeed anymore. Content these days needs to be good.
What if you’re a small business just starting out? Do you still need to spend on content marking? Yes, you do, no matter your company’s size. Here’s why.
You Need to Spend Money on Content Marketing: If You’re Not, You’re Missing Out
We’ve known for a few years now that content marketing would be worth just over $400 billion in 2021.
The revolution underway is not to be underestimated.
But what’s truly nuts? Content marketing is going to grow another $269 billion or so by 2024, bringing the total industry worth and spend to over $600 billion in 2024.
Content marketing is here to stay. Size, and even success, don’t matter. Whether your company is small or large, triumphant or struggling, you need to be putting a portion of your money towards content marketing. If you want to grow your business, which you should, you need to create unique content.
You may think you can put only a small portion of your funds towards content especially when notoriously cheap content mills (still) exist. However, a cheap rate won’t cut it these days: not with the way Google’s search algorithm now works. Content marketing requires quality and quantity, and that costs — both time and money.
If you think you should dedicate 10, or even 20% of your marketing budget to content, you’re wrong. The most prosperous businesses spend close to 40% of their marketing budget on content strategy.
It’s worth it, though. Content marking still manages to cost 62% less than outbound marketing and generates almost three times as many leads.
And web traffic is among the top two most frequent success metrics for content marketing strategies (Hubspot).
Considering that ad ROI has spiked as low as .6x return (yes — that’s .6x), and studies have shown that the year-over-year increase in unique visitor count is 7.8x higher for content marketing leaders than for followers (19.7% vs. 2.5%)…
Want traffic, leads, and sales? You’ll need to turn to content marketing.
In sum, in business, if you put your money where your content marketing is: You’ll profit.
3 Benefits of Content Marketing
You now know you need content marketing in your toolkit if you want your business to take off. The proof is in the numbers — a study found small businesses with blogs generated a 126% higher lead growth than those without. But how does that happen?
Here are a few of the main benefits of good content marketing. We’ve also written before on the secrets to marketing planning. With well-thought-out contenting marketing strategies, you can:
1. Retain Your Audience
If your content is forgettable, predictably, your audience is probably going to forget you. If they forget you entirely, how likely is it they’re going to return? Not a very high chance at all.
If you produce high-quality content, however, consumers will consistently come back for more. The more a person comes back to your content, the more likely you are to make a sale.
We care about content. Our team has completed 35,000+ projects and counting. 100 handpicked, trained creators on staff. Try us out today and start your order.
2. Build Real Audience Trust
If someone trusts you, they’re more likely to buy from you. That’s always been true. However, these days, earning an honest image has become more difficult.
The public today is distrustful. After having not-quite true “facts” and vague euphemisms shoved down their throats, they want more. Understandably, at that.
If you want to make your audience trust you, be trustworthy. It’s as simple as that. Speaking plainly, honestly, and simply will build your brand as a dependable source.
Content marketing is very good at building trust. In fact, it’s one main reason content marketers invest in it, per CMI benchmark’s recent study.
The secret to trust-building? Content that provides value. The stats show that content marketers know this, too.
3. Generate More Leads
It’s true: content is king. That doesn’t mean content for content’s sake is the end goal when for this kind of marketing. You’re not just there to entertain. You’re there to make a sale.
And sales you will make. Simply by clicking on your content, the customer is taken to your website — your domain. They’ve already arrived on your turf. It’s time to make it count.
If someone reads your content and loves it, they are much more likely to buy from you. People want to buy from companies they like.
It also helps when you have a CTA (call to action) linking to your business at the end of your content. This drives views to the rest of your site, where readers can make a purchase.
We are a case study of this. Not only does our site attract 100,000 visitors/month, but we’ve built up nearly that much in monthly revenue, too.
Here’s a slide from my recent talk at FreelanceU’s Skills Summit that emphasizes the power of our website, built with a weekly blog for eight years (we’ve never taken a blogging vacation, and boy has it paid off!):
How to Use Content Marketing to Your Advantage
Mobile users like finding businesses online. An incredible 60% of smartphone users have contacted a business by using the search results (click to call) button. If your content shows up in search results and is engaging enough to draw in the user, you have a good chance of making a sale.
But how, you may ask, do I make content marketing working for my business? What do I need to know?
There are three primary steps you need to take:
1. Set your budget: Set a budget ahead of time and try to stick to it. Remember — successful businesses allocate about 40% of their marketing budget to content. Keep that in mind. Don’t overexert your funds, but do what you can to ensure you’ll be able to produce or fund solid marketing content.
2. Allocate funds: Make sure you use the funds you set aside. Don’t let them pile up like a hoard of gold coins in the corner. Go out and find a writer that meets your high standards and put them to work. Alternatively, if you plan on making your own content, take an online course. Do the research necessary. Do whatever needs to be done to make your business excel at content marketing.
3. Measure results and adjust accordingly: This step is by far the most important. Decide ahead of time on your measurements of success, and keep track of them throughout your progress. Everyone makes mistakes, beginners as well as experts. What sets the real winners apart are companies that can adjust and reevaluate what they’re doing based on results. Remember to bend with the wind, and you’ll still be standing even after the strongest gust.
If You Want to Succeed, Start Spending on Content Marketing
Content marketing is everything in today’s business world. The people are bored: they want exciting content to read. And they’re happy to spend money when the content speaks to their interests and keeps them engaged.
How are you going to improve your content marketing strategy? There’s an easy answer. Spend your marketing money on a content writer—a writer who, without a doubt, knows what they are doing.
At Express Writers, we’ve proven our worth. With 40,000 content projects created for our clients over ten years in business, we know what we’re doing.
You know what you need to succeed. So do we, and we’ve already proven our skills. It’s time to start a fire in the belly of your business.
Hire us today to begin propelling your company to the top.
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AI is taking over the world – not with military might, but with words. AI is taking over as a content writer, with the ability to write articles at a rate that would make humans blush.
Content is king, and the rise of AI content writers is a sign of the times. The world is changing, and computers are starting to take over.
But what does this mean for content marketers?
Well, it’s not all bad news. AI offers content marketers a way to reach more people, in a faster time frame, and with greater quality control.
The four paragraphs you just read were written by artificial intelligence, or AI.
All I had to do was provide an outline so it could “think.” With a few clicks of the mouse, it came up with such suggestions. AI wrote those sentences in a blink, and while they’re not the best, they’re not bad at all.
How AI Is Taking Over the World… of Content Marketing
The global market has its eyes on artificial intelligence. In fact, the AI market is expected to grow into a $190.61 billion industry by 2025. About 38% of workers predict AI will render their skills useless in the next three years, and they fear they will be jobless by then.
We are dealing with AI on an everyday basis. Most of us, unknowingly.
Netflix’s recommendations on what you should watch next? That’s AI.
That “person” you chatted with while inquiring about a product online? That’s AI.
Voice search on your mobile phone? Correct. AI.
Like I said, it’s already in our lives on a regular basis, far more than we realize.
The advancement of AI technologies in recent years is changing the content marketing industry. AI can be used to interact with potential customers, customize social media feeds, analyze data, and predict behaviors, among others.
In a snap, it can also consolidate data to develop a content strategy, suggest what content to create based on trending topics, and even inject search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Ah, that last one makes me imagine AI and Google dancing tango. Aren’t they the perfect combo for content marketing domination? 💃
Since content marketing is my bread and butter, AI has always piqued my curiosity.
In 2017, I published two blogs on Content Marketing Institute (CMI) that looked into content creation using AI. One article focused on content creation robots, and the second piece delved into how to robot-proof your job.
During the same year, I spent $19 to explore what Articoolo, an AI content creator, can do. It gave me this:
“The problem does not put in their ambition to embark on content marketing strategy, the issues come from 3 common areas: the intricacy of the content advertising ecosystem, too little expertise or understanding with content marketing, as well as the technical measurement issues related to how audience consumes content across different devices today.”
Ugh. I quickly realized I wasted that $19.
However, my content marketing hero, Joe Pulizzi, took notice of my CMI blog and left a comment saying that, come 2027, the majority of content will be software-generated.
Inspired by Joe’s musings, I made a point to keep track of what’s happening in the AI world and how it’s going to affect our industry. (Yes, one for the team and for the greater good of humankind.)
The AI Writing Tools We’ve Tried So Far
AI has come a long way since 2017. It shocks me.
Fast-forward to 2021. I’ve been keeping one eye on AI content creation these past few years. This April, I decided to dip my toes into two AI writing apps. And yes, I’m bringing my whole team in to experience it — after an initial test run that saw writing productivity soar through the roof.
I signed up for HyperWrite and Conversion.ai.
HyperWrite is a recently-launched writing AI by the same investors that jumpstarted Amazon. This technology uses GPT-3 AI.
GPT-3 is the third iteration of Generative Pre-Trained Transformer, a language AI developed by OpenAI, a research laboratory backed by Tesla and SpaceX top guy Elon Musk. GPT-3 is an autoregressive language model with 175 billion parameters — about twice as powerful as its predecessor. To simply explain how it works, it’s trained to use its deep learning capabilities and apply them in natural language processing.
HyperWrite set me back $10 to try it for a month, or write roughly 10,000 words on the platform. If you’re using Microsoft Word, I can say that the UI is even simpler. You have a blank slate and AI will do most of the work for you. After giving the AI the prompt to write about “5 Lessons from the 7 Highest-Paid YouTubers”, it took about eight minutes to generate about 800 words.
Here’s a portion of what HyperWrite wrote for me:
“These seven YouTubers are the highest paid, according to Forbes, and each of them has a lesson to teach all aspiring YouTubers.
1. HolaSoyGerman: $7.5 million per year.
GermanGarmendia, known as HolaSoyGerman, has a net worth of $7.5 million. He has an estimated 40 million subscribers, and his channel has over 3 billion views. His videos are not only funny, but they are also educational. He makes a point of creating an identity for himself on YouTube that is completely different from his real life. In fact, he is the first YouTuber to make a video of him opening a door. This video has over 54 million views!
Lesson: do something different in your videos, so you won’t get lost in the mix.”
I checked the output on Copyscape, a plagiarism checker online, and found that it’s 100 percent original.
About a week prior to this exercise on HyperWrite, I asked one of our staff writers to produce a 1,400-word blog covering the same topic about “highest paid YouTubers.”
If you’re curious how AI vs. human writing went down, here’s a quick comparison of their blogs:
The differences are glaring when you compare the outputs. The writing bot, to be fair, came up with a well-written piece, but there were factual errors, repetitive sentences, and a good dose of ambiguity.
The AI was not able to put the right pieces together and picked a YouTuber earning $7.5 million/year while skipping Blippi, a popular YouTuber based in the United States, who’s earning $17.5 million. If you’re a brand and commit this mistake in your content, you will have a ton of headaches and probably dollars washed down the drain.
Human writer: 1. AI writer: 0.
The second tool we’re trying out is Conversion.ai. This one does not write blogs for you like HyperWrite does, but it does generate ideas for you. It, too, wasn’t able to spot the YouTuber with annual earnings of $17 million that our staff writer included.
Just like what Conversion.ai reviews say, its interface is intuitive. You just need to start a new document, give Jarvis some description it can build on, and click “Generate” to see the suggested headlines.
To make the output of Jarvis useful for my team and me, it will take a considerable amount of work and time.
Human writer: 2. AI writer: 0.
Summing up my experience so far, AI cannot replace human writers. This is my firm belief. Here’s why:
- AI can handle tons of data, but content writing is not all about data: AI can easily collect data and process it, but it cannot handle it the same way human writers in the content marketing industry do. At least for now, AI cannot apply the best context to make sense of all the information it gets.
- AI cannot match human creativity: Humans are from the stars and our networks of neurons are far more complicated than any existing computer in the world. Perhaps AI technologies can sort of imagine things now, but not in a way that humans can appreciate.
- AI needs to outpace how humans learn: When GPT first rolled out, it could churn out loads of articles in a day. However, the quality wasn’t on par with the output of human writers. AI is still in the early phases and it must outpace human learning to dominate. However, that might be impossible, considering not everything exists in the digital world. There are human factors you cannot feed into AI.
In short, a dose of the human touch is always needed to make content writing exceptional.
However, HyperWrite as a content writing aid is a clear winner for us between these two tools. We plan to keep using it to boost writer productivity and output — with care. Let’s talk more about that. Here’s a graphic representing how we’ve worked it into our process.
Using AI for Content Generation Comes with a Warning Label
A good dose of AI can help you in the content marketing industry, but make sure you read the warning label that comes with it. Too much of it can spell disaster for your writers or your whole content agency.
Just like how Joe Pulizzi sees it, AI proves to be an incredible device for the content industry now and in the years to come. It’s here to complement our work, not replace us. While I wasn’t satisfied with the output of Articoolo in 2017, great strides have been made since in AI writing tools. (See: the results we got from HyperWrite and Conversion.ai.)
While we see improvements in the capabilities of AI to simulate human writing, there are still a ton of issues that need to be addressed.
HyperWrite and other writing AIs are primarily good at crafting shorter content, but struggle to develop decent long-form content. After 800 words for the “highest-earning YouTubers,” I decided to stop. It was just giving me garbage that won’t add value to my content. Here’s an example:
“This blog post could also be used to teach students how to create interesting videos. It could be used to teach students how to think outside of the box. This blog post could also be used to teach students how to use their own unique sense of humor. It could be used to teach students how to create a unique sense of humor. This blog post could…”
Conversion.ai also proved to have issues finding the right facts to use. After feeding it with the initial data to use for a press release, it repeatedly used incorrect facts. It can be frustrating when you’re already giving the AI writing tool the facts to use, but it seemingly ignored the human input.
These errors, if published, are dangerous for brands. Each year, brands spend over $3 billion to deal with damages. Poor writing by humans or AI can lead to bankruptcy and kill brands.
Trust plays an important role during the buying decision process these days, next only to price. It’s important that businesses share correct information because customers may walk away for good if they see wrong information.
Why and How We’re Implementing AI at Express Writers
We can’t deny AI is here to stay. It will affect how content marketing works well into the future. As a team, we need to learn how to use it to our advantage. We need to be a step ahead and use it to improve our processes.
I asked the team to try out these AI writing tools. Our staff writers have the green light with a reminder that these tools are still prone to factual errors, and plagiarism might also be an issue.
I reminded them to enjoy, have fun, and play around with HyperWrite and Conversion.ai. They can send in something the bots wrote and still get paid for it. We have also told our writers that their pay will not be affected even when they use the writing bots to complete their assignments.
Let me share the feedback from some of our content specialists.
Cassie, our writer and editor, tried HyperWrite to produce a long-form article. Here’s her take:
“While this can be a great tool to help jump-start a piece, it is vital to point out (to writers in general) that it still requires the writer to take extra time to edit the curated writing and turn it into something original. I used it for this piece on Mortgage Refinancing and The Bank Prime Loan Rate for the fun of it. This is a topic I’m not 100% familiar with. While it helped me generate a first draft (in the most literal sense of the word), it still required heavy editing, reworking, and research to make sure facts were correct and that I wasn’t creating unoriginal content (thank you, Grammarly plagiarism checker!). Even with a first initial round of edits to make it more readable and give it a human touch, it still came up with a Grammarly plagiarism hit of 19%. Yikes. I think it’s a WONDERFUL tool for generating those first drafts! But writers would need to be held accountable for making necessary changes for readability, originally, etc.”
One of our Level two technical writers, Cornelius, gave the two writing tools a spin. Here’s what he had to say:
“I fed some descriptors into Hyperwrite and then went through each sentence before selecting the ones I thought were best. I then used those individual sentences in Conversion.ai to drive the copy. Between the two I saved hours of intense research time as I could simply verify some of the robot generated content (ironically the blog topic is also about robotics) and then reworked sections to make it flow. In Conversion.ai, I could keep editing and prompting the AI to change track when I didn’t want to proceed down a certain tangent. This was highly technical content, and I did notice some facts weren’t accurate. But once I edited the sentence and gave it some extra reference terms to use, it looks like it was able to find accurate information in seconds. I will probably build an outline in the future which I will feed into Hyperwrite before going to Conversion.ai to finalize the copy.”
The founders of HyperWrite have since built more of these features Cornelius pointed out. Well done, HyperWrite! 👏
Lily, who writes general content, used HyperWrite for her long-form article. She said:
“This is game-changing!!! Thank you!! You changed my entire (professional) life with this information. Literally, I woke up stressed about deadlines. Today (thanks to Julia) I think I requested an extension prematurely. I used it to write the basis, and the rest I wrote (or rewrote) to meet the specific client’s request on voice, tone, and style, and to add specific stats relevant to the piece. Sometimes it needed direction, otherwise, it kept suggesting repetitive content. It cut my work time by nearly 50%. I found no issues with plagiarism. However, I did direct the AI throughout as the article was being created. I am writing general blogs on a subject for which I am quite familiar. I think that helps, because when the AI was wrong I knew it without having to check.”
The AI writing tools are still “learning,” but they can absolutely aid our team in the ideation process. This writing bots are still useful tools to boost productivity and efficiency.
Stepping into the Future with AI
Here’s my fearless forecast – AI will never replace human writers. Not this year and most likely not in 2027 as Joe predicted.
I’m not saying that to push AI aside and protect our writing jobs. Express Writers is built on a foundation of producing the highest-quality content for our own blog and for our clients who are well-respected leaders in their industries.
We will never publish 100% AI-written content. This will never happen, even when a better writing bot rolls out tomorrow. AI simply cannot replace our team of human writers.
However, our team is happy to experiment with how the best GPT-3 AI can give our writers a jumpstart. We want to see how the newest writing software can serve as idea fuel and as tools to help us complete projects faster and further improve the quality of our work. HyperWrite is one we’ll continue to use — the team loves it.
I asked an AI tool to help me close this post. It gave me this:
“Twenty five years ago, I was graduating from high school. I had no idea that…”
Ah. Human writer: 3. AI: 0.
Hasta la vista, baby!
Sure, good writing is essential for writers.
What about everyone else? It can’t be that necessary, right?
The answer is yes, it is. Writing, and writing well, is a critical skill for anyone — especially those in business.
The true cost of bad writing is lost profit, pure and simple. Not only has poor writing already cost companies a devastating amount, at a rate of $400 billion per year, but it could also impact your business.
At least, unless you get smart.
To attack the problem, first you need to understand the underlying issue. What is “bad writing,” and how can it be digging so deep into business’ pockets? Let’s take a closer look.
The Cost of Bad Writing: First, What Is Bad Writing?
There’s more to writing than spelling and grammar. That’s only the first step. Making sure what you write is not only technically correct but readable can make or break you. A good writer needs to be:
- Grammatically correct
- Clear and concise
- Expressive and entertaining
- To the point
- Attentive to detail
As a business owner, you need to be picky about your writers. Not everyone has the necessary creativity and attention to detail. Sure, this means you’ll likely pay more upfront. The amount you save in the end, however, is well worth it.
At Express Writers, we follow that rule. Did you know out of an average of 500 applicants a month, we only select five? That’s 1%. Phew.
But, we do it because we need to. Our standards are hella high — we live or die by the quality of our writing. One bad writer, one botched job, and a $30K monthly account could walk out the door.
We also do it because it’s not hard to run into bad writing — throw a stone, and you’ll hit it.
Bad Writing (& the Costs Businesses Pay) Is Everywhere
You’ve seen it, I’ve seen it, we’ve all seen it. Terrible writing runs rampant in the business world, from grammatical error-ridden emails to poorly worded announcements, to exhausting blog posts. Reading this type of writing doesn’t just make us tired.
It also takes time to read bad writing. It eats up our hours on the clock and saps our energy for the rest of the workday.
You know the saying — time equals money. It’s true that poor writing skills in the business world equate to a great deal of money flying out the window.
Bad Writing Costs Businesses Billions
Were you shocked by the above number? Yes, companies are losing billions per year. Up to millions per company has been lost, as well. All of it is due to bad writing.
How could this happen? At first, 400 billion lost per year sounds unrealistic. However, when you look at the history, you’ll see how simple mistakes can have devastating results.
Common Examples of Poor Writing and the Consequences
It’s incredible how one seemingly minor error can cost a company a fortune. Here, I’ve compiled a list of three prevalent examples of bad business writing and its repercussions.
1. Understating Problems and Overusing Euphemisms
A pitfall that many companies and politicians have run into is not being transparent. The refusal to admit not just the truth but the whole truth in an understandable way will always result in a downfall.
Today’s audience is both discerning and able to check facts at their fingertips. It’s easy to find out what the truth is, and someone will eventually. So, don’t lie, and don’t understate the facts.
General Motors ran into disaster when they downplayed malfunctioning vehicles. This was a mistake that not only lost over a billion dollars, but also put lives in danger.
When the company had an issue with the Chevrolet Cobalt’s ignition switch in 2014, which caused the airbags to disable, General Motors wasn’t too concerned. At least, that’s what it sounded like.
In internal communications, they called the malfunctioning vehicles a “customer convenience issue.” This understatement of the severity of the situation caused a delayed response — after all, they had other, more important things to do.
In this case, bad wording cost General Motors over $1.7 billion in total as the company had to recall a total of 2.6 million cars.
2. Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation Errors
While this is an example that seems obvious, this problem is more recurrent than you think. Attention to detail is critical, down to every last dotted “i” and crossed “t.”
Quite literally, a single missing comma can create disaster.
You may have thought the oxford comma was no longer important. Such a small detail, and a seemingly silly one at that — how could it make such a difference? Oakhurst Dairy found out the hard way.
In 2017, the company had redefined its delivery driver overtime exemptions. The new rules stated a series of tasks were exempt from overtime, including “packing for shipping or distribution.”
Oakhurst Dairy’s workers took them to court and focused on one tiny but essential detail: the oxford comma. The lack of the oxford comma, workers argued, made it seem like the two were one action (i.e., packing for the purpose of shipping or distribution) versus being separate exempt tasks.
The court ruled in favor of the workers, and Oakhurst Dairy paid out $5 million in related overtime as a result.
3. Sloppy Editing and Inattention to Detail
Another extremely common trouble in the writing world is careless editing. It isn’t just bad form. It’s a way to lose out on everything you’ve gained.
In 1999, the NASA Mars Orbiter disintegrated into the atmosphere after having missed its orbit window. Scientists at NASA were confused. How could their calculations have been so incorrect on such a crucial mission?
It turns out an obvious error ruined the NASA Mars Orbiter’s flight. Lockheed-Martin, who made the rocket system used by NASA, used imperial units of measurement. On the other hand, NASA uses the metric system. You can probably see where this is going.
No one converted the measurements when entering the data, something a quick glance at the numbers would have caught. This mistake eventually lost NASA $125 million after the mission failed.
Need carefully-written, human-edited, exceptional content for your website? Hire our writers — QA review and two free revisions included.
How to Become an Exceptional Writer
By now, it’s clear. If you want to succeed in the business world, you need strong writing skills. Or, at the least, a team of excellent writers to rely on who will propel you forward.
But in a world where mediocre has become the norm, how do you elevate your writing to the next level? The answer takes a bit of patience and a lot of dedication.
You must make your writing easy on the eyes, as well as factual and engaging. People have brains burning for new information, but no one wants to work too hard to get it.
We’ve given tips and tricks on how to produce solid copywriting before. Here’s my best advice:
- Look from your reader’s perspective: First, you need to connect with your reader. Don’t just write to write. Write to be read. If you’re churning out content and no one’s reading it, what’s the point? Remember, you’re not writing for yourself. This isn’t a diary. Imagine how your words will come across to your audience and what emotions you want to evoke. Are you successfully tailoring your writing to the reader? It’s time to pay attention to the other side’s perspective.
- Be vivid: Don’t just tell your reader what to think. Instead, describe a scenario. Go into sensory details, such as touch, smell, taste, sight, and sound. Vivid imagery pulls the reader into your writing, making them read until the end. Content these days can’t just be informative. It needs to be absolutely engaging.
- Read it out loud: Sounds silly. Doesn’t it? However, this is a trick professional writers have been using for many years. You want your writing to sound natural. When reading your writing out loud, the words should flow, one sentence into another. If speaking it aloud sounds awkward or stilted, it may be time for another edit.
- Edit, edit, edit: I cannot repeat this enough: You must edit your work. After you’ve finished, take a break. Maybe drink some coffee. And then? Edit again. Simple spelling and grammatical errors can not only make you look unprofessional, but can also cost you considerably. If you’re not quite sure you’ve caught everything, get a second pair of eyes.
Need more copywriting inspiration? Check out 57 Timeless Pieces of Copywriting Advice from industry greats.
The Cost of Bad Writing Is Severe: Don’t Let It Happen to Your Business
It may seem inconsequential. It may seem ridiculous. However, bad writing, especially in business, comes at a severe price.
Not only is there a lot of money at stake, and billions of dollars at that, but the time and mental energy spent trying to discern poorly-written communication takes its toll as well.
Fear not. It is possible to use not just good but exceptional writing to take your company to the next level. It requires some elbow grease and a bit of time, but in the end, the result is well worth it.
At Express Writers, we have a careful QA process that ensures every single piece gets humanly reviewed for factual accuracy, high-quality sources and citations, and relevancy to your business and goals.
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