The web is awash with advice on writing good content. So much advice, in fact, that you may actually get slightly different advice depending on who you speak to! Like winning an election, writing good copy isn’t about pleasing everyone all of the time – it’s about giving one specific core demographic what they want whilst at the same time trying to keep the others as happy as possible. Today we will detail some of the more universal guidelines to writing good copy that will help get better engagement from your web visitors.
First: understand your visitors!
There are a couple of characteristics you can expect web reader to have which are very different to other readers:
- Most of the time, they will scan the text, rather than read properly! Keep things concise and to the point. Make sure key information is clearly visible where needed.
- Visitors will typically be like a hunting animal; they have arrived your your site in search of something specific i.e. a product, a service, an idea etc. They will not necessarily read all the text you give them, but will keenly ‘follow the scent’ to track whatever they came for. This is why it’s always a good idea to re-enforce your internal linking between blog posts, especially if they digress into different topics and trails.
Identify your topic
This may sound obvious: be specific about what you are writing about. As mentioned, the visitor is like a stalking animal, if you try and be all things to all people, you will confuse and throw them of the scent! When reviewing visitor stats, you may find some topics suddenly attract quite a bit of interest – if so, could this be a ‘multi part blog’ that continues to build on the successful topics you’ve written about?
Do your research
Try searching for the topics you plan on writing about to see what others have written. The first few results in Google are those that came the highest valued (in terms of social sharing, backlinks and so on). Read these and see if you can identify what made them such as great answer to your search query. Are there any points you could further build on? Are there any additional angles you might write about?
Knowledge is universally appreciated. Be sure to research the topic you are writing about. By bringing references, facts and figures – whether the reader agrees with your points or not, your facts will stand in their own right and you may even find it attracting links from others who are also making points that rely on this information.
Write original content
Do you offer something unique in information or style? In some cases it may simply be presenting a well understood topic in a new light or with a unique spin. This is especially important since the Panda Google search update, designed to weed out ‘thin’ content and content farms. Be sure all your writing is your own and written in your own style!
Create a strong headline
An award-winning headline will help your content stand out. For most people, in almost all cases the headline of your blog is the first thing people will see (whether in the search results or a link from another website). What you write here will affect your click through rate (CTR) and also bounce rate. You can bring both SEO and creative writing skills to bear in this. Many find it best to jot down a handful of ideas, and simply mark off those that are particularly good to further refine ideas. So what makes a good headline? We recommend considering the ‘four u’s of headline writing:
- Make it Unique – your headline should stand out in some way from all the others
- Make it Ultra-specific – remembering the analogy of the hunting animal, your headline should be specific enough the visitor can decide in an instant, whether this is something they’re interested in or not.
- Make it Useful – the headline should in some way, give the reader a clue about what the page includes and let people know the benefits of reading.
- Make it Urgent – your headline should put pressure on the reader to not risk missing out by not reading the post.
Make content actionable
Do you give visitors useful information they can apply right away? If the reader feels you are giving them valuable information throughout your blog which they can use, they are much more likely to continue reading.
The challenge is usually that, at the time of writing, you never truly know how your visitors will react. Following these guidelines will ensure you always write copy that is fairly engaging and you can never go far wrong. But as with every creative industry, your milage will vary be sure to try new angles and explore the possibilities.