You get only 2 seconds to convince your visitors about your relevance. If you fail, the visitor clicks the back button and leave your site for good. Here’s how you can stop it.
Content writing is the process of conceptualizing, strategizing, researching, writing, editing, optimizing, and publishing content on the web. The entire gamut of content writing requires different skill sets, and therefore, a hit content piece you read online, is usually a collective effort of several experts, rather than just one.
However, if you’re a freelance writer or blogger who runs an individual blog aspiring to make it big online, you’re likely on your own. It’s, therefore, important for you to keep in mind the following steps to make your content writing process more streamlined, informative, and compelling for your audience.
In this guide, I’ll share the details of the process I follow while writing content, making sure it ranks well on Google.
Prioritize Target Audience and Establish Search Intent
Myth: If you blog about something you’re truly passionate about, web traffic will take care of itself.
Fact: If you blog about something “your target audience” is passionate about, you have a chance to drive web traffic.
Use This Tool: Using a keyword research tool is the best way to find out about your target audience’s passion.
The goal is to choose a keyword that has high traffic volume and low SEO difficulty.
If you click on a specific keyword, you will see the pages currently ranking and the estimated monthly visits they get.
Choose your keyword only after considering the competition. If your blog is new with low DA, you’re unlikely to outrank an established website with significantly higher DA. Of course, you can always work your way up to improve your DA.
Create Content to Match Searchers’ Intent
Myth: Creating long-form content, optimized with target keywords helps you rank higher on Google.
Fact: Content that’s designed to serve your audience’s search intent, tends to rank higher on Google.
Use this Tool: Analyze the top ten results on Google for any keyword you’re targeting, and make a list of points that you like about them. Those are likely the same reasons why Google ranks them.
Analyze the pages to see how they best serve users’ intent. Make a list of those points and ask yourself if you can serve their query better.
The only way you can outperform or outrank those results is by creating better content in every aspect.
Write Data-driven, Catchy Subheadings
Myth: Write the draft first and then add the sub-headings later
Fact: Create an outline first before you commit a few thousand words.
Before you commit a few thousand words to create a long-form informative guide, it makes perfect sense to make an outline of the blog post.
This helps in two ways:
#1 – You are able to brainstorm the structure of your blog post, add and delete points that you think can add value to your topic.
#2 – In case you hit the writer’s block syndrome, you can always go back to the outline.
Use This Tool/Method: Analyze the top rankings pages for your target keyword and make a list of the sub-topics of subheadings they have used. Make sure you include them in your outline as they tend to serve the user’s intent effectively.
Make Your Content Link-worthy
Google says backlinks are one of their top three ranking factors. This is evident from the fact that sites with a significantly high number of quality backlinks tend to rank higher on Google.
Of course, there are exceptions, but if you analyze the backlink profile of any high ranking page, you can see they have a large number of do-follow backlinks, especially from sites with high domain authority.
If you want to attract such high-quality backlinks from authority sites in your industry, all you need to do is create “quality content” that is link-worthy.
You see, different people may look at “quality content” differently based on what their “search intent” is.
Here are some scenarios:
#1 – Survey Stats & Research Material
#2 – Original Images, Infographics, Gifs, and Videos
#3 – Insightful reviews and analysis
#4 – Exhaustive, Curated List of Useful Sources
Analyze the top-ranking pages and see why people are linking to those pages. If you can create that value in your content, you may also attract links.
Write Screamingly Catchy, Promising Headlines
Myth: Optimizing Headlines with Keywords is Good Enough
Fact: Write Screamingly Catchy Headlines that Stand Out on Google Search
While many believe that optimizing your headlines is good enough, it’s far from the truth. In the age of social media, your headlines must be visually appealing and emotionally charged to entice your target audience.
If your headline is the catchiest, it will attract more attention from the audience on Google Search even when it’s ranking lower than your competitors.
Great headlines make the best first impression and convert cold audiences into potential customers.
Use These Tools:
21 Proven Blogging Tips for Absolute Noobs (Vetted by CoSchedule)
Optimize Your Narrative with AIDA Formula
Myth: Keep your intro short and simple.
Fact: Your intro is a teaser of your long-form blog post; make sure it’s enticing enough.
The AIDA formula is an age-old go-to technique for copywriters. It follows a strategy (Attention – Interest – Desire – Action) that inspires passive audiences to take a desired action through a process.
While the AIDA formula works for an entire piece of content, it can also be applied to the introduction in blog posts, especially when you’re writing long-form blog posts.
Here’s how it works:
- Attention: Start with a BOLD statement (e.g: Nobody reads a blog post that starts with a cold intro.)
- Interest: Use an example of the bold statement you just made (e.g: Blogging is an important part of a content marketing strategy.)
- Desire: Share some examples of great intros. Use a screenshot of a great intro.
- Action: Show a list of strategies (table of contents) that offers quick insights into writing great intros.
Make Your Content Insanely Easy to Read
Myth: Your target audience will always read your content no matter what.
Fact: Only 10-20% of readers actually make it to the bottom of the post. (How People Read Online)
Several studies conducted on readability have found that a large percentage of online readers find it difficult to consume content on the Web. There are several reasons but nothing turns off them quite like a wall of text without any visual paragraph breaks.
Many websites overestimate their target audience and offer content in a format and pattern that are not conducive or inspiring enough for the readers.
Here’s how to avoid those pitfalls:
Use shorter sentences and use paragraph breaks for easy readability. Better still, use a supporting image, gif, or infographic to support your point.
- Understanding the reading age of your audience:
- Making content accessible for your target audience:
- Understanding online reading best practices:
Weed Out Jargons, Optimize Content for Simplicity
Myth: Jargon and buzzword add substance to your content.
Fact: Jargon overkill can drive away your readers instantly.
Jargon is essentially a language within a language, used by people within the same industry. For example, in the digital marketing industry, words such as “white-hat SEO” are jargon and marketers use them to make a statement. However, these words may confuse beginners in the same industry.
Understand your target audience and consider their industry knowledge while building content for them. Make sure your content doesn’t contain any jargon or buzzwords that may hurt more than they help the readers.
Tools to Use:
Apps like Hemingway help you analyze your content based on the readability of your target audience. Simply copy and paste your content into the Hemingway proofreading editor, and edit the content based on your suggestions.
Use Transitional Phrases and Bucket Brigade Techniques
Myth: Writing content in a formal tone is the best way to grab eyeballs.
Fact: A strictly formal tone makes the content uninteresting for the reader and prompts them to bounce away.
The online reading experience is a different beast altogether. Many readers find it difficult to keep up their enthusiasm if the tone of your content is too formal for them. Imagine reading a wall of text written in a formal tone without any paragraph breaks. Throw in some jargon and you can confuse the heck out of your reader.
To ward off such a potentially disastrous scenario, you need to use “transitional phrases” and “bucket brigades“.
Transitional phrases are essentially phrases that add a natural tone to your content, helping the content flow naturally from one paragraph to the next.
Check this out:
Here’s a huge list of transitional phrases you can use for your blog posts:
Here’s a comparison of two different paragraphs:
Have Someone Proofread Your Content
Having someone else proofread your draft helps you improve the following aspects of your writing.
- Poor Flow
- Poorly-phrased Sentences
- Unclear Points
- Logical Loopholes
While you can use Grammarly to improve spelling and grammar, it helps to have a co-worker or friend proofread your draft for qualitative feedback which you can incorporate into your blog post.
Keep a Commonplace Book
As a professional blogger, you would come across many resources during your day to day work. Those resources could be anything from infographics to stats to tweets to research materials.
Make sure to save them in a centralized repository using any tools (such as Raindrop or Simplenote) that you can use from across your devices.
These resources can be extremely useful while writing your future blog posts.
Nearly every blogger knows it’s value-driven, informative content has a chance to rank well on Google. However, creating that kind of content requires meticulous planning, research, writing, and optimization.
Once you establish a clear-cut, step-by-step strategy, it’s just a matter of following the drill and hitting the publish button. If you think these content writing tips are useful for you, don’t forget to share this with your friends. If you have any other useful strategies, please, let us know in the comments below.