Creating quality content is a surefire way to keep your audience engaged. We’ve got some clever tips for writing great content that will impress your audience.
Creating great content is sort of like baking: a cup of this, a dash of that, mix for two minutes, ruminate for 30 minutes, add some icing for shelf appeal. More than that, it’s a science.
You see, 55% of people spend less than 15 seconds on your website. Which means you need to work some magic quickly if you want to hold their attention.
Luckily for you, we’re breaking down the 10 things you need to create quality content every time.
1. Web Visitors Want Certain Information
The most important first step in creating great content is understanding how your visitors search the web.
Even when people scroll through the web while bored, web searchers are always looking for something.
They do this in a specific way. They hunt for content on your site by skimming for the information they want and answering two questions:
- Does your site have the information they want?
- How hard will it be for them to find it?
So if your content looks complicated, or isn’t clearly laid out, your visitors have a choice to make. Chances are, they’re not going to choose in your favor.
As such, you want to create content designed with visitor behavior in mind. Any content you create should be easy to pick apart–think sections broken up by headers, visual, bulleted lists, and short paragraphs.
2. Create Original Content
Listen, we get it. Creating original content on a regular schedule is hard.
Here’s the thing: if you copy content or offer shallow pages, Google will punish you.
Google is, after all, a business. They’re interested in marking sure their customers (users of the search engine) have the best user experience possible. As such, they’re going to punish copycat content because it diminishes their user experience.
So, you can’t publish scraped content and expect to rank well. But it’s a little more than that–original content is about, well, originality.
Even if you write good content about, say, women’s shoes, if you keep rehashing the same points about high heels over and over again, your customers (and Google) aren’t going to thank you for it.
When you set out to write content, you want something that’s as fresh as a new daisy. More than that, you want content that’s useful.
What do you type into Google more than anything else? Usually, you ask a question. If you can create fresh content designed to answer a user’s question, you stand your best chance of writing great content that performs well.
3. Choose Your Topic Wisely
With this in mind, let’s talk about a tricky phase of the process: choosing your topic.
You can be ridiculously passionate about early Persian poetry, but if no one else actually cares about early Persian poetry, no one is going to read your website about the subject.
The same basic principle applies to writing your blog posts.
That said, it can be hard coming up with new blog posts all the time–you’ve got a business to run, and after a while, well, you start to run low on ideas.
This is where a system is your lifesaver. Like a running list of content ideas that you can add to and refer back to when you need inspiration.
Whenever you choose a topic, though, keep these factors in mind:
- Who is your target audience?
- What is your target audience searching for?
- What specific aspects of that search are they interested in?
- How can your business address their need?
- What kind of content would most effectively address the questions they have?
Once you know the answers to those questions, you can start researching.
4. Research, Research, Research
Researching for online content isn’t quite like researching your high school English paper. There are a few phases you have to go through before you can find the information you need.
First, you need to research what you’re going to write about. There are a number of ways you can do this.
The easiest way is to open a search bar and start Googling. Google can tell you a lot about what your customers are searching for based on how it completes your search queries.
You can also take a look at Quora, which is an online forum where users can ask pressing questions and have them answered by industry professionals and knowledgeable folks. Spend some time digging on areas that are relevant to your business–it will quite literally tell you what your potential customers are asking.
You can also check out a tool like Buzzsumo, which allows you to see the most shared content for a topic or domain.
5. Create Actionable Content
Once you know your topic and you’ve done your homework on how to answer the right questions, you need to focus your efforts on creating actionable content.
Think of it this way: when you write advice for your customers in a blog post, do you tell them how they can immediately apply what they’ve learned?
See, your readers are coming to you looking for answers. If you can give them answers and show them how to use them, then you’ve provided content they see as valuable.
If you’ve done your job right, you’re also giving them advice that leads nicely into the services you can offer to help solve their problem. It’s actionable, and it’s actionable in a way that converts, which is even better for your bottom line.
A word to the wise: whatever you do, don’t fall victim to the used car salesman effect. You know, the one where you’re trying so hard to sell someone something that they’re certain they’re being conned.
Your customers know you’re trying to sell them something. They just don’t like to be reminded of the fact every third sentence.
6. Write the Right Way
Now that you’ve gotten to the writing stage, things are going to get a little more fun.
However, you need to make sure you’re writing the right way. Otherwise, your would-be customers won’t skim past the first paragraph.
For example, you should write your post like a news article, not an English paper. And by that, we mean you should put your most important information first.
The recommended length of the content is debated, but in general, longer content ranks better. Fun fact: if you’re barely scraping out 500-word posts, you’re not writing long-form content.
Think more in the family of 2000+ words.
This has a few benefits. For starters, Google is more likely to interpret your content as a useful resource, since you have to be pretty in-depth to write 2000 words or more. Second, readers are more likely to see long content as a good resource, which means long content tends to garner more backlinks.
7. Provide (Accurate) Answers
Now, within your writing tasks, you have a few specific boxes you need to check.
First, you need to provide answers. Accurate answers, to be precise.
It seems pretty basic, doesn’t it? So basic, in fact, it shouldn’t even merit its own point.
Here’s the thing: the ultimate purpose of a search engine is to deliver answers. You can joke about the validity of the information you read on the Internet, but the basic goal of all search engines can be summed up in these terms.
Search engines are businesses, and their business is providing their customers with good answers. They rank sites according to how well they provide answers.
So, you have two jobs here:
- Provide answers
- Provide correct answers
While nothing is stopping you from saying that meteorological shifts are affected by how often people eat strawberry jam and writing a post that argues the scientific validity of the point, you’re not going to rank very high.
Plus, bad information reflects back on your company. If your company can’t be bothered to research accurate information, your customers aren’t going to trust you with their hard-earned paycheck.
With that in mind, do your homework. Consider who you’re linking to–stick with authorities in the field, like news articles, scientific articles, or industry leaders. It’s also good to link to more content because it shows you can back up your claims.
8. Be Engaging, Not Clever
Now, while you’re writing accurate information that would make your former teachers shed a tear of joy, let’s talk about writing style.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re Joe Schmo or Stephen King. On the web, readers rarely ever read every word you write. Most of them don’t read an article from start to finish, even if they like the content.
So, in the spirit of the point: keep it simple. Be engaging, not clever or creative.
Clever phrasing makes people think. And people online usually aren’t reading content to think–more often, they skim. Which makes sense, considering that the average person now has a shorter attention span than a goldfish.
Write as if you’re writing for a 12-year-old. In fact, most American adults read at an 8th-grade reading level.
You can moan about what that means for the future of humanity, or you can make the most of your knowledge.
Keep it simple, and if you must be funny, make sure your audience will understand your jokes. Save the Proust references for your English professor.
9. Include Images and Video
People have loved stories since humans first started telling them. That’s true of web content, whether you’re looking at a Buzzfeed listicle, a Facebook post, or an analysis by the New York Times.
The fun thing about the web is that it gives you space to tell stories in more than one format. You can use images, graphics, and video to tell a story in greater detail, which makes your content accessible to auditory learners.
And here’s the thing: even if you’re talking about your new product, you still have a story to tell. Which means that you can use images to better tell your story (and break up blocks of text).
However, a word of caution: only use images, videos, and graphics that are relevant to your content. Otherwise, you’re cluttering up the page for no good reason.
10. Write for Scanners with Familiar Words
Did you know that only 16% of people read online content word for word?
In other words, almost nobody actually reads web content. They scan it for the information they want.
Because of this, truly good web content is designed with scanners in mind. This content makes it easy for scanners to find the information they want as quickly as they want to find it.
- Do your headlines communicate your point?
- Do your images support the message?
- Do your sub-headers summarize the key points?
- Do you have bulleted lists or numbered lists to break up long text blocks?
If you can honestly answer yes to those questions, congratulations: your content is scanner-friendly.
But remember that humans aren’t the only ones scanning your content. Actually, search engines read your content before humans ever do.
As such, you need to include keywords that will allow search algorithms to scan your content and index it appropriately. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to see what people are searching for (and the wording they use to search for it).
Marketing Your Great Content
Now that you know how to write great content, it’s time to get down to business.
Of course, once you have great content, you need to market that great content. That’s where we come in.
We offer a variety of services to businesses looking to boost their web traffic, including lead generation campaigns, backlink building, PPC campaigns, and yes, even content generation for those who are still struggling with their content.
Ready to take your website to the next level? We’re ready to help. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help.