I think that you would agree when I say: writing great content is hard.
There are many things to do before we even start writing. A lot of research needs to be done, then concentrate the necessary time on writing, next is editing, and it goes on until you publish.
What if I tell you that these 13 content writing tips I’ve learned will significantly improve yours?
Let’s find out how we can do that.
1. Always start with your Audience
Before you begin to write, there’s a couple of things you must do. One of these is knowing for who you are writing this content. It’s the easiest thing to forget, but it’s the single reason why we are writing content on the web; to make other people read our content and take actions from it.
In web writing, we should never forget that we are writing to a reader, another human that tries to find answers reading our content.
Knowing the perfect reader for your content can make you focus on the pain your reader tries to solve and deliver the solution the best way possible.
One way to do it is to create a Persona of your audience with questions like :
- What pain my reader wants to solve with my content?
- What are the keywords they will use on Google?
- Who does my reader trust on the web?
- What is the content format that will help her the most?
Questions like these can uncover a lot about our readers and how to help them best, but that will not be complete until you do…
2. Keyword Research is everything in web content
New York Times Bestselling author and top marketer Neil Patel calls keyword research “the most important part of digital marketing.” Keywords are how the reader expresses their problems and intents on Google, Amazon, Linkedin…
You can understand what content strategy your competitors have just by looking at the keywords they are trying to rank for; it can also give you hints about what you could do better.
There is much advice on how to find the perfect keyword. Some say the search volume is all you need and others, focus on long tail keywords. Reality is not that white and black, pick a keyword strategy, and follow it. What’s essential? Review your results to know if your strategy is somewhat working, if not, try another.
In Saia, there’s a keyword tool right in the content writing tool where you can find keywords your audience is using and the search volume by month.
There are many tools online you can use to find your keywords like forums like Reddit or Quora. They are great ways to discover what words your audience is using when they talk about their issues.
3. Content curation must become a habit
A web writer is different than a book writer.
Writing for the web requires that you deliver the best content that can help your reader, but…
It doesn’t mean that you have all the answers, that’s why curating content from the web is an excellent way to perfect your knowledge.
In the book Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath, talks about content curation in these terms “A great content spotter will always beat a great content creator because you can never be as creative as all the content creators in the world.”
It doesn’t mean that creativity in writing web content isn’t essential; it means that it’s improbable that the issue you are talking about is totally unique. Book writers read a lot of books to get inspired. George RR Martins, the author of Game of Thrones, is a big fan of Lord of the Ring. A great deal of what’s in GoT is inspired by Tolkien’s world, or other fantasy book authors.
Doing research through content curation then writing about what you’ve found can be way more valuable for your reader than your knowledge alone; it’s doubtful that what you know is better than everyone in the world.
Using platforms like Sci-hub, Research Gate, or Google Scholar is an excellent method to find scientific studies that could help you in your writings. The best content writers try to verify what they say not to give false advice. Even famous writers like Malcolm Gladwell, who compiles a great number of studies in his books get criticize for bias and false claims. We are all subject to biases and tries to generalize too much of our personal experiences
When doing so, never forget to…
4. Link to your sources
Never steal content, please…
If you have used other materials to create your content, giving a link to the source materials is excellent practice. You’d want the same if someone used your content as a source of inspiration to write theirs. If it bothers you that the reader leaves your website you can use the HTML attribute target=”_blank” on your links so it will open a new browser tab instead of directly redirecting them.
Giving a link may also help you gain a backlink if the owner of the website likes your content and the effort you are making.
Sometimes you can’t directly give a link to it, like books, conferences, video live and other media or events. Just give the name of the one who talked/wrote about it and where. Some people may Google it, buy the book or stuff.
5. Write for an emotional impact
There are many differences between book writers and web writers, but creating a story is not one of them.
Stories, when well used, can capture attention like no other — This is the reason why storytelling is a very sought after skill in nearly any job. Stories talks directly to our emotions(the limbic system)
A research done by Harvard tells us how emotions and decision making are linked. They go back on 35 years of studies done on how our emotions help us make better decisions. We start to know why our emotions are paramount in our everyday decision making.
Emotions drive action, to trust, to support… Using that power when you are writing a blog article is a fantastic method to engage, retain, and convert a reader.
It’s not easy to do… and there’s some personality preference that can stop you from doing it. Some friends can get in touch with their emotions easily and put it in writing, and others(like me) fear their own emotions and get very analytical.
One morning, I spent some time analyzing all posts on my Linkedin feed. 99% percent of the posts with the most engagements were those with emotional triggers.
There were videos, small posts, articles all had in common the emotions they made people feel.
6. You go faster when you have a goal
We, as humans hate uncertainty.
Neuroscientist and author Marc Lewis says that “uncertainty is even more stressful than knowing something bad is definitely going to happen”.
Uncertainty creates a high degree of stress in our brain, and we are afraid like prey, not knowing when a predator will jump on us. In blog content writing, before we write the first letters, we have to set goals, because what content writers will gain from it is huge.
What kind of goals should a web writer have?
The number of words in the content is a great way to start, and it creates an aim to which everything in your brain will be focused on reaching.
When I created my first blog, it was something that I didn’t have, so I was postponing the time for publishing the content because I never knew when it was “done,” I always felt that it wasn’t good enough. Having a clear focus on the number of words removes that kind of stress.
You can also write 500 words each day, and it drives you forward with a small goal each day to write a piece of content of 2000 words.
Aiming for Reading Time is another way to have a goal; if you know your audience very well, you can create content for the time they want to spend on content. Not every piece of content on the web should be a long form.
Some people I’ve met give themselves a Time Frame to write a piece of content, like 4 hours to write then they will publish no matter what. It does work depending on how you react to deadlines.
Sometimes if you want to create the best article out there about a subject, and also want to rank #1 on Google about it; the number of words, quality, and depth are often better than a time frame.
7. Invest in tools to reach your goals
Here is a big one; Web content writers must use tools that can help them achieve their goals faster! Some people use no tool at all.
We can ignore new technologies, but everything will continue to advance. I think It’s good to keep things simple, but it increases significantly the likelihood to make many mistakes we can avoid with the best tools.
Some tools help you in keyword search Ahref, SEMRush. There are content curation tools like BuzzSumo or Pocket.
Investing in your tools save you time & money because they are here to prevent you from making horrible mistakes and increasing your chance of success.
If your competitor invests in the right set of tools, they can easily see what keywords you are ranking for and outrank you with higher quality content.
8. You must engage the reader from the first sentence
First impressions count. We all know it, we judge a book by its cover because we need to save time. There are many biases in our decision making every day, and that’s why we expect writers to grab our attention fast, or we quit.
Brian Dean from Backlinko created a very powerful formula for article intros called APP. It stands for Agree, Promise, and Preview.
First, we have to Agree. It’s all about an idea that your reader when he comes on an article will agree with. Because you know your Persona (Step 1), you know that they will agree with you on the idea.
When they have agreed with you, give them a Promise. It’s all about what you have discovered, something they don’t know yet that could change their world view.
After the promise, you give a Preview of how that will play out or what you’ve gained from it.
It’s a simple formula, you can have your own, but if you have to start somewhere, the APP is excellent, to begin with.
9. Learn to use Bucket Brigades
In the book industry, there’s what authors call a page-turner. A page turner is a book that captivates the curiosity of the reader to read more and still goes on page after page. It’s crucial for book writers because the content is very long; most people buy a book and never finishes it.
Web content writers need to captivate the curiosity of the reader to read not the next page but the next line, that’s the job of bucket brigades.
So what are they?
Here are examples of bucket brigades :
- That’s when everything went wrong…
- Here’s the deal
- Want to know the best part?
- But here’s the kicker
- The problem?
You can even create your own bucket brigades, but always remember that their primary job is to refocus the reader on your content using their curiosity.
Make your best to help the reader go to the next line.
10. Search forums to find the keywords your audience is using
There are many places where your audience meets online. It could be a Reddit channel, Quora, Public forums, or even a Facebook Group. These are the places you can find interesting keywords, questions they have you could use to create your content.
What’s important, is understanding why they are asking these questions ? what keywords they are using to describe their issue?
Framing the issue in the same way your audience does it has tremendous value, for search engines or the reader alike.
11. Power words are your best friends to increase your page title CTR
We have said in Step 5 to write for an emotional impact.
There’s one moment where this is paramount when the reader has a choice to click on your headline or one of the other 10 competing headlines.
Power words touch our emotions; they give us a feeling, grab our attention. Used correctly, you can do wonders.
There’s more, and they are often used, in advertising, social media posts, blog article headlines, newspaper…
12. Choose the right format for your keyword
When a searcher uses a keyword on Google, he has an idea of what he wants from this query. Some marketers call this Search Intent.
It’s crucial to meet this intent because they won’t even read your page if you don’t understand not only what they are searching for but also how they want it to be presented. If your keyword is “how to cook paella”, the reader is anticipating a Guide that will walk him through steps on how to cook a paella because he will have some friends at home tonight.
Imagine someone not taking this into account, writes an article about “5 facts about paella”, it may be an excellent piece of content, but it’s far from the searcher’s intent, so it will never rank on Google for this keyword.
There’s one way to know your audience’s intent. Use their query on Google and see the first results. There’s one issue with that; it’s that your results may not be the same for everyone, but it’s a great way to start.
13. Don’t forget to call your reader to action
Don’t forget it!
Many web writers are afraid to put a call to action in their content, thinking that the reader knows what to do next.
Call to actions are a copywriter’s best friends, it’s here to tell the reader here’s the next step you can take if you want to go further.
What kind of call to action?
Well, there’s different types of call to action :
- Download a resource: Cheatsheet, Tips, eBook, Infographic
- Subscribe to newsletter: Get exclusive content every week or months
- Get a demo or free trial: Ask the reader to test your product
- Get to buy: You can directly ask the reader to purchase from you
- Social media share: Get more visibility for your website
It should drive the goal of why you are putting writing the content to help you reach your goal. It can be direct like asking to buy or indirect like subscribing to the newsletter to build your audience.
You’ve read all the 13 tips, and now it’s time to put that a work for you!
If you need help in your content writing, leave a comment or contact me social media.