The Writer's Resource: Tips, Tricks & Strategies for Becoming a Better Writer

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How to Write Content That Gets Shared

 

So you're a blogger. I'm a blogger too. Walk into a single coffee shop and I'm sure you would content marketingfind a handful of more bloggers. With all of the hundreds of thousands of blogs on the Internet, how can any of us expect readers to find ours?

It's not enough for us to simply write content and then share it on our personal Facebooks or Twitters. We need to create quality, engaging content that makes our readers want to share it for us. That is how we can expect people to find our blog. It's not that hard to do, either--just follow these steps for writing content that basically shares itself.

1. Create an eye-catching headline.

Your first step is to create a headline that someone is going to see and immediately think, "I have to read what this article is about!" Create a headline that draws people in so much that they couldn't even imagine life going on without reading your article first.

How can you do that? Well first, forget about the search engines. Forcing keywords to fit into your headline can cause it to become drab and boring. Think only of your audience and what kind of headline will make them need to click to your article. Good headlines trigger emotion and curiosity in the reader. Including the words "How To" or a number in the headline also tends to provoke readers to click over to your article. No one can resist a good how-to or a list.

2. Write what people want to read.

No offense, but you're not going to attract many readers with a 10,000 word chronicle of what your cat did this morning. People want to read something that is relevant to their lives. More precisely, people want to read something that is useful or helpful to them in some way. People want solutions. They want to read something entertaining. They want to laugh and they want to relate to what you're writing. Bring your writing to life. Be funny and be engaging.

3. When in doubt, make a list.

As I mentioned previously, no one can resist a good list. Write about "5 Ways to Brush Your Hair" or "10 Tips to Taking Your Cat to the Vet Without Getting a Single Scratch." Why do we love lists so much? The New Yorker says, "lists tap into our preferred way of receiving and organizing information at a subconscious level; from an information-processing standpoint, they often hit our attentional sweet spot."

Our brains process lists easily, so we like to read them. Who can argue with that logic? 

4. 1,500 is the magic number.

While conducting research on how to write the perfect blog post, Buffer found that the most shared content are articles of 1,500 words or more. So contrary to popular belief that the Internet has made our brains lazy and we don't want to read anything other than short, sweet, and skimmable blog posts, it's quite possible that longer blog posts actually have the upper hand. As long as your information is useful, important, and of quality substance, you can write as much as you need in order to get your point across.

5. Make it easy for your readers to share your content.

There are several different plugins that you can choose from to offer buttons for your readers to click and instantly share your blog post. Although you don't want to include share buttons for every single social media website out there (stick with the two or three that are most important to you), it makes it easy for your readers when you give them an option to share your post right from the source.

Ending your post with a call to action, such as, "If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends!" is a popular way of asking readers to share your content as well. If someone stuck around to the end of your post, chances are they enjoyed it and will have no problem posting it to their Facebook or Twitter.

6. Be conscious of what time you publish posts.

Many people have done studies on what time of day web content gets the most views, and posting during those prime times can really help your blog traffic. This infographic will give you all of the information you need to know about when your audience is reading blogs.

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Making Your Content Work In a Mobile World

 

To help your clients succeed in digital marketing, it’s crucial that your content works in the mobile content marketingmobile world. Since I started writing for content marketing purposes two years ago, I’ve seen the consumption—and the demand—for content of every type growing in leaps and bounds. One of the fastest-growing methods of consumption is through mobile devices, with usage expanding at an astronomical 400% between 2013 and 2014. If users aren’t reading your copy when it hits their mobiles, your client isn’t generating leads.

Recognize User Differences

Mobile users might be the same people as web users, but their mobile habits and expectations are different in a number of ways:

  • They’re on the go: Mobile users have short attention spans and limited time to read lengthy blocks of copy, so content needs to be brief and easy to absorb. Twitter is popular with mobile users, particularly because the 140-character limit tweets are quick to read and get straight to the point.

  • The screen size is limitedEven using a tablet such as an iPad, the screen is smaller than a laptop or computer. Smartphone screens are even smaller and users typically scroll vertically, not horizontally, which limits the width available.

  • It’s harder to read:  Reading text on a mobile device, particularly a smartphone, takes more concentration and better eyesight than a computer. If you want the user to read it through, it needs to be enticing enough to get him to do so.

  • Download size matters. To make your content marketing work on mobile devices, users need to be able to view it. Anything that takes more than a few seconds to load is bound to lose your reader’s attention. Neither does the average person want to use up a precious data allocation downloading content that’s not optimized for size and speed.

  • Animated content is out. If you’ve ever checked your phone during a boring meeting only to have a video clip start playing unexpectedly, you’ll know how awkward it can be. Users don’t want animated content that embarrasses them.

  • Simplicity is paramount. You just can’t fit the same content that you’d have on a computer onto a mobile device. Besides, the user might be walking and talking when they view your material, so simplify it to eliminate on-screen noise and interference. By displaying one thing at a time, you can present the single most important message you want the reader to take away with them.

Tips for Mobile Content Marketing Success

So, how do you deliver on expectations so that your client gets the desired mileage from your marketing content? By implementing these crucial criteria:

  1. Keep your copy concise: This doesn’t have to mean short. It means presenting the content in a digestible, reader-friendly format that enables users to scan-read using headings, bulleted and numbered lists so they can easily identify what they want to consume.

  2. Get to the point quickly: Tell the reader what you’re talking about in the first 100 words. That’s about all the time you have in which to capture their attention and avoid losing them to the next bright shiny thing.

  3. Use imaginative headlines: It’s harder to read content marketing on a mobile than it is on a computer, so give your headlines and subheads a life of their own and a chance to tell the story. Users typically scan-read, and subheads are one of the first things they scan to decide whether a piece is worth reading in full.

  4. Be clear on the purpose of the content: Say what you’re going to say, say it and then say what you’ve said. It’s an old maxim for writing anything but it still works in the digital world. Don’t leave your reader wondering what you’re trying to tell him and keep the piece focused on your primary point.

  5. Use a clear call to action (CTA): Make sure your copy includes clear instructions for the reader on how to take the next step. I recently came across content that was very interesting and informative, but after hunting uselessly for half an hour through the piece (and the rest of the website) looking for a way to contact the company, I gave up and went to their competition. State your call to action near the beginning of the text, again in the middle and at the end of the piece. Just word it differently each time so your client doesn’t get hit by Google for duplicate content.

When writing web content for today's marketers, remember: keep it short, keep it sweet and keep mobile in mind!

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7 Common Web Writing Mistakes, And How To Fix Them

 

As the former editor of an online news portal, I’ve edited a lot of web writing in my time and web writingseen the same mistakes occur time and again from writers on different continents. These 7 mistakes are the most common, and seeing them creates the sense that your writing is less than authoritative and readable. To get an editor to choose your content over another writer’s work, use these tips to deliver well-written copy that avoids typical problems:

Mistake #1: Not Creating a Draft Outline

“Just do it” might work for Nike, but it’s not the way to go about web writing if you want to make it a career. You’ll find yourself losing focus and rambling, unsure of what you’re trying to achieve with the piece, going off on tangents and not fulfilling the topic or title.

Fix this by:

  • Listing the key points you want to cover

  • Identifying who your target audience is for the specific piece of writing

  • Defining your purpose for writing it, i.e. what do you want the reader to do as a result of reading.

Mistake #2: Taking Too Long to Get to the Point

Good web writing needs to get to the point immediately. Never mind that long lede that comes to mind when you sit down to write without an outline (see Mistake #). Unless you tell the reader what to expect, he has no good reason to make the effort to read your piece.

Fix this by:

  • Outlining succinctly for the reader what you are going to write about, in the first 100 words

  • Stating in the first one-third of the piece what its promise is and what the content can do for the reader

  • Establishing your authority on the topic, i.e why you or your client are qualified to write it.

Mistake #3: Not Staying on Topic

When you try to cover too many aspects of an issue you risk going off topic. I often come across web writing that starts out on one topic and ends up on another—or so it seems to the reader. The writer might have intended to create a relationship between the two issues, but failed to make that clear enough along the way.

Fix this by:

  • Creating your draft outline before you begin to write

  • Checking what you write against your title every step of the way

  • Breaking up complex topics into two or more posts, instead of trying to cover them in a single piece

Mistake #4: Using Unfriendly Formatting

Big bad blocks of text are enough to put most readers off your web writing. I’ve lost count of how often I’ve landed on pages that don’t guide readers, and therefore they miss good opportunities for engaging their attention.

Fix this by:

  • Using subheads, bullet and numbered lists

  • Separating aspects of the topic into different sections to avoid confusion

Mistake #5: Being Long-Winded and Wordy

There’s nothing wrong with writing a long piece if it makes sense, but the moment your reader has to go back and re-read to understand something you’ve lost his interest.

Fix this by:

  • Using plain, everyday language instead of jargon

  • Keeping sentences to less than three lines of text, with not more than one comma in each

  • Writing paragraphs with a maximum of four sentences in them

  • Employing direct, active voice wherever possible

Mistake #6: Missing the Call-to-Action (CTA)

No matter how good your web writing is, unless you tell readers clearly what their next step is and how to take it you’ve wasted their time reading your post.

Fix this by:

  • Including a clear CTA at various points in the copy, not just at the end

  • Using banner CTAs rather than text hyperlinks. They are less likely to appear as duplicate content in search, which could result in penalization.

Mistake #7: Not Proofreading Before Delivery

It’s so easy to make a mistake and not see it yourself, which is why so many clients employ editors to review all web writing content before publishing it. Editors don’t want to have to fix typos, however, so make sure that when you submit copy it’s been checked carefully for obvious mistakes.

Fix this by:

  • Letting your work “rest” for a few hours before re-reading it to check for typos and errors

  • Making corrections before submitting it, instead of having to send hasty emails to the editor with revisions attached.

Avoid all these mistakes by taking the time to plan your writing beforehand and then executing it in a steady, logical manner. 

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Does Your Content Achieve Its Goals? 5 Questions To Ask

 

Hitting all the main points of an article, incorporating keywords properly and sticking to the web contentrequested word counts is a good start to creating content, but it's not all you need to do. With an increasing focus on quality content over other SEO practices, your words need to be better than ever if they're going to be effective.

Is your content really the best that it can be? Before you fire your next finished piece off to the client, ask yourself these five questions to make sure you're meeting the mark. 

1. Will This Web Content Educate or Help Others?

The most important goal of web content is to be informative or helpful. People on the web have pretty thick skin when it comes to marketing and they don't have any patience for being sold to. What they do want, however, is to learn something new and to have their problems solved. 

Before considering any piece of content complete, ask yourself what problem it solves or what question it answers. If you can identify a clear purpose for your content, then the biggest hurdle has been overcome. 

2. Will This Content Showcase My Client's Expertise?

On the other hand, while solving all of life's problems is a fine goal, you want to make sure that the problems you're solving are helpful to the client, too. Your content should either showcase the client's expertise in some way or lend some credibility to the client to help establish them as a thought leader in their industry.

For example, a dentist would probably pass on an article about improving a home's curb appeal. He might, however, like an article on debunking home teeth-whitening tricks. Even though it doesn't directly promote dental services, the content lets people know that the dentist is interested in everyone's dental health whether they make an appointment or not.

3. Will This Content Increase Brand Awareness?

Increasing brand awareness means developing a voice and an image for a company that is recognizable and familiar to customers. When it comes to web content, building brand awareness means addressing the right audience with a consistent message that supports the goals of the brand. Seems like a pretty tall order for one bit of content you're charged with writing.

To make your content fit in with the rest, review existing blog posts and articles to get an idea of the audience the client is marketing to and the preferred style of writing they use. Keep your perspective consistent; don't jump in with a first-person narrative when everything else is in third-person formal. Lastly, make a note of any lingo or buzz words to make sure your language fits in with theirs.

4. Will This Help the Search Engines Find My Client?

Effectively incorporating keywords, phrases, and target ideas is essential to making sure your web content is optimized for search engines. The good news is that Google is pretty smart these days so you don't have to awkwardly work in an exact keyword a dozen times into the same piece.

Feel free to add a few words between keyword phrases to make them sit nicely in a sentence, and use slight variables or close synonyms to get the job done. And, if you can work the main keywords into the title and at least one subheading without risking quality, then you've done everything you can to help search engines find the content. 

5. Will This Encourage Reader Engagement?

Writing engaging content is one thing, but writing content that encourages reader involvement is a whole different ballgame. Content that encourages engagement makes the reader want to comment, share, tweet, click that call to action, or otherwise do something because of what you wrote. It's no easy task but it's something you should strive for with everything you create.

Provide helpful tips that someone might want to share with a coworker, ask a question that begs to be answered, bring up a controversial subject and ask for opinions (although stay away from those hot-button issues that cause a little too much controversy), or include interesting statistics or facts that are easily shared.

Quality is King

All these points check and double check to make sure what you created focuses on producing quality content that not only meets the client's marketing goals, but is also useful to the reader. If you're able to answer all these questions with "yes," then you can be confident that your content is achieving its goals. 

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7-Point Checklist For Bounce-Proof Copy

 

The whole point of content is to have it read, right? As a web writer, it’s my job to produce website copyquality website copy that reduces bounce rates, so what does it say when reliable research shows that 55% of website visitors hang around for less than 15 seconds before moving on?

But the user clicked through to the page, you say. Surely s/he read the content when they got there? Apparently not, because there’s just so much information available online that the user is overwhelmed with choice. I generally evaluate copy I write against this 7-point checklist to determine whether I’ve missed the boat anywhere:

#1: Is it Current? A survey by Chartbeat of 2 billion pageviews of more than half a million articles identified that the articles that got the most attention time were those that were the most newsworthy. The theory of “evergreen content” is that it’s timeless, but in fact readers want to see when something was published and use the publishing date as a yardstick to determine its relevance. In the absence of a date, the user goes by how current the subject matter is. Something that mentions Obama, for example, is more likely to be relevant today than a piece about George Bush (either father or son).

#2: Does it Look Clean and Uncluttered? Busy pages don’t work. Some of the common website copy mistakes that contribute to bounce rates are:

  • Solid blocks of text

  • Too many images

  • Untidy hyperlinks

  • Banner ads

  • Pop-ups

The cleaner and less cluttered the page, the more likely readers are to stay long enough to engage with the content.

#3: Are the Headings Self-Explanatory? There’s been a trend for sometime towards “clever” headlines and subheads, with words such as warning, shocking, secret and other sensationalist terms considered effective. Well, somebody sold us a crock with that idea. Way back in 1997 already, Jakob Nielsen proved that when users read on the web they prefer scannable text, including meaningful subheadings as opposed to clever ones! The shift back to this fundamental principle is gaining ground as readers tire of trying to decipher metaphorically-exciting headings that essentially say nothing.

#4: Is the Length Right? Long blocks of website copy put readers off. Nielsen’s studies revealed that users were three times more likely to read a brief instead of a full article, and that they preferred to “forage” for the facts rather than read lengthy information to get them. Bounce-proof copy needs to provide a short synopsis at the beginning of the article that tells readers whether the piece contains the answers they want and that balances with the overall length.

#5: Does it Get to the Point Quickly? Following on from #4, good website copy uses the inverted pyramid style to get to the point quickly. If you have 15 seconds to capture the reader’s attention and you know s/he will read the synopsis or lede first, it makes sense that it needs to contain the point of the piece. Stick to the old idea of “say what you’re going to say, say it and then say what you said.”

#6: Have You Used Images Appropriately? Research in May 2000 by the Poynter Institute confirmed the findings of Nielsen’s 1997 study and highlighted others, such as the fact that text attracts attention before graphics do. Text accounted for 78% of the first three things users looked at on a webpage, and only 22% for the graphic elements. In many cases, readers only looked at the images on their second or third visit to the page. So if your website copy relies heavily on images to make the point, you could be potentially encouraging readers to “bounce” off to a site that’s easier to read.

#7: Is Interlaced Browsing Supported? Chances are you never thought of this one before! Well, it turns out that readers like to jump around between pages and your website copy needs to:

  1. Encourage their return by offering an information-rich experience;

  2. Make it easy for them to continue reading where they left off, which goes back to the whole “scannability” thing;

  3. Use plain language and standard terminology so the user isn’t required to switch context or have difficulty remembering what you called things.

Producing content that delivers everything it needs to isn’t for the faint-hearted, but by compiling a checklist of things to watch out for you’ll get as close as possible to doing so. Analyzing your clients’ bounce rates will show whether you’re on the right track. 

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Do You Write For Yourself, Or Your Readers?

 

Don't let anyone tell you that your copywriting can't be creative. It can take some serious marketing copyimagination to get the results your client craves. However, that doesn't mean you should start thinking about marketing content like creative writing. When writing the next great novel, it's fantastic for your creative juices to lean towards a certain kind of artistry and beauty.  When writing marketing copy, not so much.  In fact, if you get bogged down by the art, and forget your goal, you'll likely end up with marketing copy that leaves everyone wanting.

In other words, it's not about you.

If you take a look at these great examples of copy, you'll notice that they all took intense amounts of imagination, but they're still easy to understand and they still get the message home to the consumer. In a novel, it could be great if it takes three or four reads to unpack the authors intent, but when it comes to content marketing, everything needs to be clear and visible from take one.

Your marketing copy defines the brand

So how do you know where to draw the line -- in other words, when does creative copy stop delivering? The easiest way to think about it is to remember that copywriting is one of the biggest parts of branding. Every bit of writing is a chance for the brand to speak to the customer, which means it needs to not be about the writer (like you see in creative writing) but instead needs to be about the brand. And only the brand. Chances are, the person who writes the copy for Jack Daniels is not down home Southern -- but Jack Daniels' brand is, so their copy needs to be.

If you want to be valuable to online marketers, you need to be able to step into another brand's shoes. One of the biggest differences between creative writing and copywriting is that copywriters need to be able to completely remove their personality, and write in the tone, style, or persona desired by the client. It's perfectly fine to inject yourself into your poetry, but your clients probably don't want a piece of you on their website. And that's definitely not what a customer came to find.

...so write for the reader!

Which brings up the final point -- in the end, you're not even writing for your client. The best way to make sure that you avoid writing for yourselves is to remember who you're writing for: the readers. Rather than getting caught up in the craft of your prose as you work, ask yourself if you came to the clients website, and found this, would you be happy? Is it conveying you the right information, or will most readers get frustrated and move on to the next site?

A a copywriter, your readers aren't looking for beauty or art -- they want to find an answer to their problem. They came to your client's website for a reason, and they want to leave with that need fulfilled. If they click away wanting because they found art instead of information, they've clicked away with a negative experience with your client's brand.

So if you're looking for ways to flex your creative muscles (but still create compelling copy) focus instead unique ways to engage the reader -- while still making it painless to get the info they came for. Find solutions where you can do more than inform, without keeping yourself from addressing the needs of the readers. The creativity of copy isn't in the craft of writing itself. It's in how you deliver the message.

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5 Essential Tips For Web Writing That Gets Attention

 

Building inbound links is essential if you want to improve your clients’ website ranking in search, and web writingit has the added advantage of making the site less dependent on Google’s unpredictable algorithm updates. But how exactly do you encourage others to link to your client’s site? By publishing quality information that’s grammatically correct and doesn’t sound like marketing speak, and which uses web writing that grabs the reader’s attention.

Essential Tip 1: “Hallelujah” Headlines

The headline is the first thing your reader sees, so you have to make it good. I’m a great fan of Jon Morrow, and his Headline Hacks is still one of the bibles of online copywriting, in my opinion, but the examples listed are growing a bit stale now. Sure, readers still go for the “how to” and list headlines, but the warning/shocking/risk thing is lately being seen as a bit over the top.

I’m seeing better results from more positive, informative headlines that tell the reader what they can expect to get from the article. I like to call them Hallelujah headlines—something like Oprah’s famous “Aha” moments—that ring a clear bell with the reader. Like the title of this post. for example. Readers also like straightforward headlines more than funny or cute ones, according to research by the Nielsen Norman group.

Essential Tip 2: Scanability

The study on eye tracking also shows that the majority of online users scan-read a page, and only a small percentage read the full text. That makes it necessary to get the message across in a “scannable” way.

Users are drawn first to headlines, summaries and captions before they look at images, and the use of subheadings, bullets and numbered lists in your web writing help to break up the text into chunks and reduce information overload.

Essential Tip 3: Visual Appeal

Readers might see text before they see images, but a solid page of copy without any visual appeal is likely to have them voting with their virtual feet and leaving in haste. And they definitely aren’t going to be linking to it!

Every piece of web writing should contain at least one image that’s vibrant, engaging and expands on the content of the text.

Essential Tip 4: Use the Right Voice

The Internet is an informal medium, and in most cases it’s best to use an informal tone. Compile a detailed reader persona based on solid market research so you can produce copy that speaks to your target audience in language they understand.

I have a client who is a medical specialist, who insists on using terminology that can only be understood by readers with medical degrees. And then he wonders why his traffic is low, when he’s targeting potential patients with “dry and dusty” technical-speak!

If your web writing is aimed at business people you can use a slightly more professional tone, but stick with plain language and let some of your personality shine through to liven it up.

Essential Tip 5: Include Facts and Figures

Readers love numbers, because they usually represent factual information they can count on. So not only will they get attention, but when you’re link building most sites will prefer to link to a source rather than regurgitate statistics. And because they draw the eye, using numerals instead of words attracts the reader, improves scannability and helps SEO indexing. Use interesting facts and figures, cite your sources and include them so they are easy to spot.

Of course, there’s always more to web writing than I’ve covered here and your information needs to be authoritative, your wording effective and your finger on the pulse of your client’s industry. But those things still aren’t going to get readers’ attention if your posts are badly presented. Following these tips will. 

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5 Pro Tips For Writing Click-Worthy Headlines

 

Headlines for your content are just as important as the content itself. In fact, some experts suggest content marketingthat you should spend just as much time crafting your headlines as you spend writing the rest of the piece. No matter how much time you spend, remember that eight out of ten people will read your headline while only two of those ten will click through and read the content!

Here are five tips to help your headlines be some of the lucky ones:

1. Start with accuracy

There's nothing more annoying than clicking a title and find out you've been handed the old bait-and-switch. If you set an expectation in your headline, be sure you meet those expectations with your content or you risk losing the trust of your readers. While outlandish headlines might get more clicks, these click-bait titles do nothing to establish your reputation as an authority in your industry.

If your objective is to get more clicks while also keeping your audience happy, never promise something in your headline that your content isn't going to deliver. You may get fewer clicks, but the ones you get will be far more valuable.

2. Add Some Interest

Being honest doesn't mean that you have to be dry and boring. There's still plenty of room to add some spice to your headlines. 

·         Use emotional language. People love to love and they love to hate. Don't be afraid to add a little emotion to your titles.

·         Use fun elements like rhyme or alliteration. "Six Simple Solutions" or "Five Fast Fixes" can give readers a subtle nudge in the right direction.

·         Use superlatives. Suggesting that your content is “the simplest” or “the best”  or otherwise the most of anything makes people want to click. The trick is getting it right. A recent survey shows that readers seem to prefer either an understated headline or an over-the-top approach – but nowhere in between.

3. Add some negativity

Outbrain published a study that shows that headlines that suggest negativity perform better than those that are neutral or positive. Headlines that use words like “never” or “worst” performed 30% better than those that had no superlative and 63% better than those that used words like “always” or “best.”

If you're having trouble coming up with anything creative or snappy, see if you can reframe your content to make it a list of things to avoid or otherwise turn it around into a negative. For example, instead of writing "Six Simple Ways to Save our Planet," try "The Six Worst Ways We are Destroying our Planet."  

4. Don't forget about SEO

If you can slip a keyword into your headline without sacrificing quality, then do it. If it looks clunky or otherwise detracts from the headline, then try tweaking it a bit to come close to the keyword or try using parts of a longer keyword phrase that you're having trouble incorporating. Never sacrifice the quality of your headline for search engine optimization. After all, Google is only ranking your content, not reading it, so you're better off leaving keywords out if your headline is more appealing to the reader without them. 

5. Start Deleting

Once you've crafted a headline that makes an honest promise and contains plenty of interesting elements, it is time give some thought to the overall length of the title. Keeping your headlines to 55-70 characters or less will keep them from getting cut off in emails, search engine results, and some social sharing outlets. Also, keeping your headlines short will make them easier for the reader to digest quickly and (hopefully) make the decision to click.

Just remember not to focus your efforts entirely on how various outlets will display your headlines. The formulas that places like Facebook and Google use to display headlines, snippets, and posts are constantly changing. If you write headlines that show up perfectly everywhere today, next week it might be a different story.

It's All About the Audience

Like most aspects of content marketing, what it all boils down to is the reader. If you focus on what speaks to your target audience while following a few best practices, you'll be well on your way to crafting headlines that your readers simply can't resist clicking.

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Memorable Web Content: 7 Tips For Web Writing That Sticks

 

Writing of all varieties often brings great challenges for writers. Web writing in particular can be an web contentextremely hard concept to grasp for today’s writers, because it requires a delicate balance between helping readers and establishing a company’s unique brand identity.

Below are seven tips that will help you improve the quality and effectiveness of your web writing, to fulfill the goal of attracting visitors to the web sites for which you write.

Consider Your Audience

Most millennials don’t want to read about nursing home options or the latest developments with social security payments. Your clients will usually give you at least a brief description of their target audience. Put yourself in the shoes of these people; what is important to them? What are they most worried about? Let the answers to these questions guide the focus of your writing.

Less Is More

For efficient web writing, you must pare down your wordiness and get to the meat of what you are trying to say. Never use three words when one will do. Save the thesaurus for your poems or short stories: readers will be put off by words that they do not understand. Focus on concise sentences that use as few words as possible to convey your meaning.

Have A Hook

According to the Nielsen Norman Group, if you want several minutes of user attention, you must be able to communicate your value proposition in the first ten seconds of them visiting the site. To do this, you need to have a hook in your writing that quickly catches the attention of your readers. The very first sentence of your writing should engage your readers enough to make them want to continue reading down the page.

Add Value

In an Entrepreneur article, Laura Hale Brockway writes that people visit a web site for a specific reason: to perform a task, answer a question, or solve a challenge. Web writing in a marketing context is made to help visitors accomplish these goals. Keep in mind the purpose of a reader’s visit to your web site as you write and strive to address this purpose throughout your piece.

Back Up Your Claims

To give readers more faith in your content, incorporate information from resources that people trust. A quote from an authority in a specific field or a link to an article from a reputable publication can go a long way. Once readers see that other sources verify the statements you make in your web writing, the company you are writing for gains credibility, which is a key element of finding new customers online.

Tell A Story

Hard data and analytics are helpful, but people will more often connect with other people. Talk about how the service or company that you are writing for has helped a specific person or organization overcome a problem that they were having. Try to choose examples that the largest number of people will be able to relate to, so that you can maximize the impact of your marketing narrative.

Accentuate The Differences

There is undoubtedly some characteristic or trait that separates the client you are writing for from others in their field. Find out where that separation is, and use it in your writing. This helps strengthen the brand of an organization’s content and makes them memorable to their readers.

Following these tips will get you well on your way to creating valuable web writing that is attractive to online marketers. Every client needs content that separates them from the crowd and builds value in the eyes of their visitors. As a writer, your text often serves as the tip of the online marketing spear, making it even more important for you to craft content that fulfills its purpose.

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How-To Content: 5 Tips For Writing Better Instructional Blog Posts

 

As a business working to attract website visitors and convert leads, developing informational business blog writing“how-to” posts should be a main focus in your content marketing strategy.  The following tips will help business blog writing users to create “how-to” posts that are rewarded by Google, driving highly engaged website traffic and leads.

Step 1) Identify Needs, Problems and FAQs

Make sure the content you’re creating is actually needed by your target audience. Here are a brainstorming guidelines to help your team identify the best how-to content ideas:

  • List out common challenges with your product or service that your readers may face.
  • Ask your sales-team or customer-support team for their most frequently asked questions.
  • Run a survey or poll on your website or social media sites, asking your current customers for their current or previous questions.

Step 2) Look to Analytics for Content Opportunities

Web users may currently be finding your website with how-to queries or long-tail questions. However, if you’re not providing specific answers to their questions you may be missing an opportunity to connect with them.

  • Check the keywords generating search engine traffic and internal website search queries. 
  • Identify keyword searches that are bringing in traffic but have a high bounce rate or low engagement rates.
  • Make a list of opportunity areas where you can provide more detailed and informative answers to their questions.

Step 3) Identify Top Keyword Searches

Go back to the drawing board and research keywords and phrases that are currently being searched by users. Identify high search volume phrases that you can integrate into your how-to posts to help your site rank for these phrases. 

  • Utilize Google Keyword Planner and research keyword topic areas 
  • Go to Google's search bar and type in various keywords or questions into the search box. Pay attention to the suggested phrases that Google brings up in the drop down area. These are great ideas for informational business blog writing posts.
    • For example, a wedding planner may want to provide information that would be useful for future brides, such as "how to choose a wedding photographer" or "how to choose a wedding venue". If the planner types in "how to choose a wedding" then Google presents various ideas for this type of topic in the drop down.

Step 4) Break Down Problems

Once you’ve identified problems, issues and questions that you can answer to your website visitors, lay out the process for solving the issue.

  • Make a list of steps to overcome the problem
  • For more complex problems, break down the process using a MindMap tool
  • As you lay out the process, make notes for other ideas for posts that could complement the blog post or could serve as follow-up posts

Step 5) Have a Critical Eye

Once your blog is created, go through a series of critical thinking steps to make sure the how-to post is as useful as possible for your target audience.

  • What is the point or purpose of the business blog writing post? Are you fulfilling the intent?
  • Will the post actually solve my readers problem?
  • What questions could my readers still be having after utilizing this post?
  • Have I clearly communicated the how-to process?
  • Did I give practical examples?
  • Are their any illustrations / charts or videos that could complement the post?
  • Are their resources that could complement the post that I could link to?

Google made one change to their home page last year:  they made the search box longer. This small change is indicative of how Google's search algorithm is adapting to accommodate changing user preferences. 

Google Users Search for Detailed Search Queries

Google users today tend to search by typing in whole questions and long-tail phrases instead of short keywords. As Google has improved their algorithms and rewarded high quality content, users who engaged in business blog writing have learned that detailed queries will help them to find the most relevant and useful content. 

Take-Home Message:  Google Rewards Sites with Content That Answer User Questions

To adapt to user actions, Google has consistently updated their algorithm to reward the type of content that users are looking for and engaging with. The most recent algorithm update, Hummingbird, shows how Google is focusing more on presenting the best results for these longer-tail queries. When announcing the larger focus on conversational search, Google’s Amit Singal described the future of search, stating “We’ve been hard at work to make Google understand and answer your questions more like people do.”

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