With over 2 million blog posts published every day, it’s getting harder than ever to stand out with your content. In a game of quantity over quality, everybody’s trying to get some views on their written content. However, much of the articles, eBooks, whitepapers and other written pieces are just not read.
It’s not enough to simply post and pray any more – in order to get some eyeballs on your content, it needs to be engaging. Today’s readers have so much to choose from that they simply won’t waste time if your content is just not good enough. Here are a few elements to writing content that engages and converts.
Table of Contents
Write a Killer Headline
Did you know that 80% of people will only read your blog’s headline, without taking a single look at the body? Instead of thinking of this as bad news, take a lesson from it – your headline needs to demand attention and invite users. Here are a few elements that make a headline great:
– It makes visitors read more
– It uses keywords in the right way
– It makes people share the content
– It appeals to the readers’ emotions
Granted, it’s not easy to think of an amazing headline each and every time. Luckily, there are tools available to help you in this endeavor. One that I personally use is CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer, which is extremely useful and completely free to use.
Once you enter the headline, you will get a clear breakdown of how effective it is. Some of the stats include the ratio of common and uncommon words, how emotional and powerful the words are, as well as if the length is adequate. This is by far one of the easiest ways to judge whether your headline will pop or not.
When writing a headline, it’s important not to rush. Depending on the source, you’ll hear that you should devote anywhere from 50 to 90% of the total writing time just for the title. Since it will make such an enormous difference, this is a sound piece of advice.
Finally, don’t use clickbait titles. Although it’s tempting (and it works, for the most part), your readers will quickly see through it. A good headline will tell what the article is about, but without revealing too much. On the other hand, clickbait tricks the reader into opening an article that often doesn’t have much to do with the title. Don’t be that guy.
Write Something New
Let’s get one thing out of the way – a lot of the content online is pretty stale. Some other ways to describe it would be unoriginal, copied, regurgitated, rewritten, spun… Whichever the expression, lots of people simply take others’ thoughts and sentences and rewrite them in their own way. While this is not necessarily a bad thing (as long as you steer clear from plagiarism), it will hardly make your brand stand out.
While it’s sometimes impossible to reinvent the wheel and come up with something new (especially in saturated fields such as content marketing), you don’t necessarily have to do this. It’s enough to take your own, unique angle at a topic and tell a story from your perspective. Your readers will appreciate it much more than seeing the same old re-written article about how content marketing improves your ROI.
Don’t use Text only
Your readers can judge the quality of your article by not even reading a single word. It’s simple – they just glance over the text and see what it appears like as a whole.
If you keep writing walls of text – long paragraphs without a single break – your readers will tune out as soon as the first couple of lines. In order for the reader not to get bored, you need to break the monotony and vary the content.
Try to keep your sentences different in length so the piece is more dynamic to read. Additionally, create a new paragraph every 3-4 lines so the text is more scannable. Here are a few other things readers love:
– Bold text
– Bulleted lists
See what I did there? Sometimes, a bulleted list is a great way to break the monotony in a large piece of text. With a bit of imagination, you can list pretty much anything.
Don’t forget the subheadings either. For a written piece, they’re like icing on the cake – they help the readers get a glimpse of the article structure, and they can scan them quickly to get the idea of what the article is about, without even reading it.
On top of this, choosing the right subheading (H1, H2, H3…) will help search engines determine what’s relevant on your page, which in turn helps you rank better in search engine results. WordPress’ Yoast plugin suggests a new subheading for every 300 words, and we’d suggest following this advice as well.
Then there are the images. Did you know that content with an image inserted every 75-100 words gets the most shares out of all content types? That means an average of 15 images in a 1500-word article, which some may consider too much – but an image or two are always a good addition.
Just as with the written content, there’s plenty of freedom in choice here. You can stay on the safe side and insert infographics, pie charts, tables – anything with data to back up the claims from your article.
On the other hand, you can just insert images related to your article. For example, a piece titled The 10 Cheeses you must try in your Lifetime definitely needs a shot of camembert. For these cases, it’s best to use professional photos you either took yourself or you have permission to use. Otherwise, a carefully selected stock image will do. You can always use screenshots to back up your points as well.
Finally, you can just let your imagination go wild and insert some memes, comics, gifs or cat images. It’s great to engage your readers, just try not to go too far and distract them from the main point of your written piece.
There’s a hidden benefit to images – you can sprinkle their alt description data with relevant keywords. This is yet another chance to get on Google’s good side – so why not use it?
Write Longer Content
Bigger is better, and this mantra has been proven repeatedly throughout ages and industries. In our case, bigger articles are definitely better for both the writer and the reader.
Let’s pose a question.
What’s better, two 500-word articles or a single 1000-word article?
The answer is, one longer article always wins, as long as it’s on topic and written well.
In the era of quantity over quality, many business owners spread themselves too thin and post dozens of blogs monthly, each only a couple hundred words long. However, it was proven that longer content is preferred, both by readers and Google, who tends to rank longer pieces better in search results. Some of the reasons why longer content wins:
– More room to list relevant data
– More space to tell a story
– More opportunities for backlinks
– Readers spend more time on your page
– Google favors content-heavy pages
– Longer articles get more shares
– More opportunities to get long-tail keywords
Some of the most successful blogs in the marketing world have the longest articles. For example, some articles I read myself include Crazyegg, Ahrefs, Moz and Neil Patel. All of them have articles with several thousands of words each.
Read Engaging Content
Here’s a thought. In order to pump out some quality writing, you need to fill your mind with quality writing first. You can’t expect to nail your latest piece on how small businesses benefit from content strategy by reading Buzzfeed articles.
No hate for Buzzfeed, but it’s a great idea to stay up to date with hot topics and trends in your industry. For this reason, you need to stay up to date with the latest trends. For example, in the world of SEO, it’s always a great idea to watch out for the latest pieces on Moz, Ahrefs or SearchEngineJournal. If you’ve been in your industry for a while, you probably know whom to follow as well. Otherwise, you can use tools such as Buzzsumo to figure out what’s hot at the moment.
Use these sources as ideas for your upcoming articles. Chances are, your readers are probably spending time on those blogs as well, so they will expect similar quality content from you too.
Do your Research
Although content writers for the web aren’t full-blown journalists, they’re the next best thing in the online world. As such, it’s our duty to ensure that what we write is based on fact and not hearsay.
In this day and age, it’s not hard for your readers to check if something you wrote is made up – they can simply do a Google search. Always fact-check your sources and list the proper link where necessary. There’s two reasons to do this:
– It brings more credibility
– It prevents plagiarism as you quote the original source
Sometimes you may be tempted to quote somebody who quoted someone else. While this is a neat shortcut to take, it’s always recommended to go straight to the source and quote the original author.
If you’re writing an in-depth article and making a statement, your readers will often want to read more and find out what it’s based on. This is a great opportunity to link to your own content (if you can) or link to an expert you are quoting.
Make your Content Grammatically Perfect
How many times have you ran into a fantastic piece of writing that had such stupid grammatical and spelling errors that you just had to close the window? The truth is, if you take hours to write a superb article, it will still flop if you neglect the technical aspects such as grammar, syntax and spelling.
Luckily, there are tools out there that can help you out as you write. For example, this text was written in WordPress, using the Yoast plugin. It can scan your readability and check for things such as use of passive, sentence length, paragraph word count etc. Although not perfect, it’s a great indicator if your article needs some polishing before you hit the Publish button.
Then there’s everyone’s favorite – Grammarly. This neat plugin for Chrome scans all your writing for errors, suggesting changes as you go and highlighting what needs fixing. The free version is immensely helpful, but you can spring for the paid one if you need even more assistance.
Then there’s one that gets quite a lot of press – the Hemmingway App. This web-based app scans your text looking for phrases that can be simplified, shortened or just made easier to understand. This is a tool I use the least, as it sometimes makes the copy so simple that it sounds plain bad.
Have Content Written for You
Did you know that you don’t have to do all the hard work and write content on your own? At ADSpirine, we have a team of talented writers at your disposal, ready to jump in and write engaging content for your business and website. No matter the topic, we have what you need to keep your readers coming back for more. Reach out to us today to find out how we can help your brand grow through great content!