Write great content that works

Good content can be an excellent marketing tool and a way to educate others about your business. These tips will teach you how to write content that gets noticed and remembered by readers for all the right reasons.

Make it original

If your content isn’t original, why would anyone stop to read it? Why would they want to share it with their friends? You need originality to make your content stand out to your readers. Original content offers a point of difference that readers love.

Search engines will also reward you for your efforts. Popular search engines like Google penalize sites with duplicate content by ranking them lower than those with original copy. If you want to be seen, your content must be unique.

Remember, being original is about doing more than resisting the urge to cut and paste press releases. Original content is creative content that tells readers something they didn’t know before or delivers an alternative point of view. Original content entertains, makes people think, or otherwise moves them. It’s shareable, which is a real benefit to your business because it gets the word out to a much wider audience than you might imagine.

Make it actionable

Great content inspires your readers to do something. In this way, it stays with them after they’ve read the last sentence. It might offer tips about how to do something or tell them about an issue that they might want to pursue with their local or national politicians.

While calls to action can be appropriate, they can also seem forced or cheesy. Some of the best content lets readers make up their own minds about what to do with what they’ve learned. This approach shows that you respect your audience and trust them to use your content appropriately.

Engage your audience

Great content leaves your readers hanging on your every word. It doesn’t make them want to skim or skip bits. Instead it compels them to keep on reading and take it all in.

Engaging content begins with a great introduction. This is the hook that starts your readers on their journey through your content. If your piece doesn’t grab them in those first few lines, they’re unlikely to read on.

Anecdotes, whether about real people or imaginary figures, can add color to a piece of content. People are naturally drawn to human stories so they can be a powerful method of engaging an audience.

Questions are a great tool for engagement because they encourage independent thought. They inspire readers to think about what they’ve read and apply it to their own experiences and understanding.

As an added bonus, it’s worth noting that search engines notice when content inspires a lot of comments. It understands that this piece is engaging and prioritizes it in its search results.

Give your readers answers

The purpose of any search engine is gathering content that delivers the answers to questions that users have. When someone visits your content, you want it to answer questions.

Studies suggest that most readers spend just 15 seconds or less reading a piece of content. That suggests that they don’t just want to find answers to questions. They also want to find them fast. The onus is on you to help them.

Your content should be easily scannable so that readers can find the information they need quickly. Breaking your work into paragraphs and subheadings is helpful. You can also use tools like bold type and bullet points to improve scannability.

Content writing strategy

To write content that works, you need a good content writing strategy. Follow this plan to create the best content for your organization.

Focus on your headline

The headline is the first element of your content that most people will see. In fact, studies suggest between 60 and 80 percent of people get no further than a headline. You can increase the chance your readers will look past your title if you make sure it’s good. Also note that when content is shared on social media, other users see little more than the headline. If it’s not compelling, social media users won’t want to click through.

Your headline creates a first impression, helping readers judge whether they’re interested in reading on. A good headline makes the reader curious about what the rest of the article will reveal. They engage readers in just a few words so they can’t help but continue.

Copyblogger suggests copywriters consider the “four Us” when writing headlines. Your headlines should convey one or more of the following:

  • Usefulness: Why is the content valuable?
  • Ultra-specificity: What will readers learn from your content?
  • Uniqueness: What makes this content special?
  • Urgency: Why should readers stop what they’re doing and read your content right now?

Writing several headlines and asking for opinions is a great option. Ask people in your office or a collaborative workspace like a WeWork office which headline would make them most likely to read an article. Select the one that gets the most favorable feedback.

Research for accuracy

Ideally, the content you write will reach an audience of thousands or even millions. That’s great news unless what you’ve written is inaccurate. If your content contains untruths, it will reflect badly on you and your organization.

You can make sure your content is accurate by doing careful research. Be wary of citing statistics that are significantly outdated or listed on websites without attribution. Consider your sources carefully, as there are many untrustworthy websites online. Academic websites and high-end media outlets are considered reliable sources while clickbait websites and small blogs may be less dependable. Links to authoritative sources will help your readers trust what you’re writing is true and assist search engines that are attempting to categorize your content. But on the flip side, linking to less credible sources can make readers feel wary of your claims.

Add visual content to accompany text

When people think of content, they typically think about words. However, visual content is vital. Good visual content can help illustrate your points, break up your content, and enhance its aesthetic appeal.

Visual content might be in the form of photos, diagrams, tables, or videos. Wherever possible, use original images rather than stock ones. Stock images typically look staged and cheesy, so they can actually detract from the quality of your content.

Edit ruthlessly

The best content is concise and to the point. Once you’ve written your content, you should edit it. Then edit it again. The best articles are brief but brimming with information. This type of content is much more compelling than a longer article filled with fluff. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that bigger is better.

Look for filler words that don’t add value. Identify passive expressions that can become more engaging and more concise. Keep your main idea in mind and edit sections that don’t support your purpose for writing.

It’s easy for writers to become so close to their content that they struggle to edit it as thoroughly as they should. If you find it difficult to assess your work objectively, ask a colleague with strong communication skills to lend a hand.

Take your time

Great content isn’t written in a rush. You need time to select your words carefully and make sure they have maximum impact. When you leave your work for a time, then come back to read through it, you can review it with fresh eyes. This helps you see errors you’ve made and pick up on word choices that could be improved.

Write regularly

The best way to learn how to write content that works is to practice writing content. Write regularly and you’ll find the process becomes less daunting and more natural. As an added bonus, the more content you write, the higher your search results are likely to be. Search engines frown on websites that aren’t updated regularly. Most people will stop visiting a website if it’s not regularly updated, too. Creating regular content keeps everyone happy.

How often you’ll update will depend on the time you can devote to content creation and what you have to say. However, experts suggest you should create and publish new content at least twice a week.

Don’t let content be a headache for your organization. While crafting good content can be tricky, using proven strategies can make the words you write great.

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