Tag Archives: content writing

33 Top-Notch Content Writing Tips

When it comes to writing, the content itself can span the bridge from paper to digital without much modification.  A writer is really no different than a content writer, copywriter, online writer, or any other person who puts the proverbial pen to page and creates something with words.

That being said, here are 33 content writing tips to help improve the quality or quantity of your written work:

  1. Know what you are writing about and the key points you want to make before you actually start writing.
  2. Avoid using technical jargon, industry buzzwords, and other “catchy” lingo that most people don’t really understand.  It may sound cool, but if your reader doesn’t get it, you might as well be speaking an alien language.
  3. Determine what response you want from the reader and write with achieving that response in mind.
  4. Begin your content with your conclusion first.  (“Here’s the point!”  And all the other writing is just showing how that point was reached.)
  5. KNOW how people read internet-based content.  It’s much different than reading a book; online readers skim and scan content more than they actually read it.
  6. People make decisions more on emotion than logic, so evoke emotional responses with your writing.
  7. Keep sentences and paragraphs short, and don’t include more than one central concept in each paragraph.
  8. All your writing should be directed at people – your audience.  (Google’s crawlers are NOT your audience.)  You can handle the SEO tasks separately.
  9. Add wit and humor to your writing (where appropriate).  If you can engage your readers by eliciting a response from them (i.e., a chuckle or a laugh), they are more likely to remember you.
  10. Write longer, higher quality pieces rather than short-and-sweet summaries.  Try to aim for 600 to 1,000 words for articles and up to 600 words for blog posts.
  11. Include graphics, embedded videos, and images in your content.
  12. The purpose of most content writing is to answer a question – so make sure your writing is informative and responds to a particular (unspoken) inquiry.
  13. Don’t string together sentences and paragraphs that take up half a page without a break.  Many people speed-skim and they need some kind of visual cue to pull their attention like bullets, lists, sub-headings, etc.
  14. Find YOUR voice and put it into what you’re writing.  No one remembers the writers who had the same, tired tone as a dozen others.  Be as original with your writing as you are in real life.
  15. If you are offering information that is allegedly factual, make sure it is before publishing it.  Include source links where appropriate.
  16. If it isn’t meaningful, don’t write it.  Site visitors dislike fluff as much as marketers, search engines, and analysts do.
  17. Avoid using multimedia at all unless it completely enhances your content and does not detract or distract whatsoever.
  18. Know who your competition is with regard to what you’re writing, and make sure your content is unique from theirs.
  19. Create a headline that screams “read me!”
  20. PROOFREAD YOUR WRITING!  Nothing, seriously, is more annoying to a person searching for authoritative information to come to a site and try to read through content that is littered with spelling, syntax, formatting, and grammatical errors.  How can you be recognized as an “expert” on anything if you don’t even comprehend or communicate with basic English?
  21. Never copy and paste other content, even if it is your own.  If you are borrowing from someone else’s ideas, at least have the decency to rephrase the subject matter so it isn’t an overt piece of plagiarism.
  22. Stay on topic with each piece of content.  Nothing is more frustrating than to try to read something about a particular topic only to have the writing jump all over the board (and be largely useless).
  23. Your content should deliver value and information that is relevant to your readers’ interests.  Don’t create an online brochure…create an online experience.
  24. Don’t make your writing about you, your company, your products, etc.  You are writing FOR your audience so the content should be ABOUT your audience.
  25. Put keywords out of your mind.  If you are actually writing quality content about specific subjects, the keywords will create themselves and get added where they need to be without making a job out of it.
  26. Don’t sit down and start writing unless you are ready to write.  If you are feeling lackluster about writing, it will show through in the quality (or lack thereof) of your content.
  27. If you are planning to be a niche writer, make sure you choose a niche that isn’t already over-saturated with writers of every type imaginable.
  28. Make sure your content is presented in a professional way.  This includes your blog site, website, or other online location where you publish your work.  Keep it clean and crisp, and make sure it looks like something done by someone who knows what they are doing.
  29. Don’t make people’s minds up for them with your content (i.e., telling them what is best for them).  Give examples of why something would be beneficial and let people make up their own minds if they “have” to have it or not.
  30. Write something that “needs” to be shared.
  31. Don’t use “big words” when little ones work just fine.  (This falls in line with the tip to avoid technical jargon, buzzwords, and other vague phrasing.)
  32. Avoid writing about things that you are not very knowledgeable about.  People want information from experts, not random thoughts from the Average Joe.
  33. Make it personal by including a question, scenario, or situation where your reader could insert themselves.

Writing quality web content is so much more than reading a Wikipedia page to familiarize yourself with a topic and then rephrasing it to avoid duplication.  Too many people tout themselves as “professional writers” when they actually are not, and just because someone has a blog doesn’t mean they know what they are talking about (myself included!).

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Creating Ideal Blog Content – Is That Possible?

When it comes to publishing great content online, there are no hard and fast rules that need to be followed.  Instead, you can find a variety of guides that offer suggestions for creating content that is optimized to achieve the best search engine positioning and retain the attention of your readers as much as possible.

There are a few key qualities of ‘ideal content’ that do, however, tend to be – as much as anything can be – written in stone when it comes to what you should or should not do to churn out appealing (to search engines and searchers) content.  This article is specifically tailored toward blog content rather than online articles, white papers, reviews, or other information because blogs offer their author more latitude in terms of what, when, why, and how they can be written and published.

Some of the semi-immutable qualities of good (or great) blog posts follow commonly accepted ‘rules’ for characteristics such as:

  • content length
  • subject line
  • call to action
  • salesmanship
  • originality
  • singular subject matter

Content Length

When blogging first became popular on the internet, most blog posts were 200 to 500 words.  Anything over 500 words was considered by experts and amateurs alike to be too wordy to hold the attention of site visitors and blog readers.  Beyond that, there was no guidance provided on whether or not a ‘too short’ blog could equally detract from the appeal of your personal or professional blog content.  There still remains scant definitive information but you can put together a reasonable facsimile of what is considered ‘ideal’ based on historical content performance statistics.

Over the years, the ‘desirable length’ of blog posts increased to 500 to 800 words, and then later to 1,000 words or more.  Some content analysts and SEO experts have even recommended that the ideal blog length exceed 2,000 words.

Longer articles are typically well-researched with plenty of data to back them up. They serve as credible sources to journalists and bloggers that link back to the article as a source. Rather than a quick summary with one statistic, a long article takes the time to explain why and flesh out ideas. The credibility of the website that publishes the article mixed with the link juice given from other sites referencing it brings the post to the top of search engines.

Longer blog content does perform better in search results, especially now that search engines have become more intuitive in interpreting what the blog is about and whether or not it will be helpful to the searcher based on their input query.  Despite search engine performance, however, long content does not necessarily fare well with your audience – mostly because they lose attention quickly.

Ultimately, your readers should be the ones to whom you are writing your content, not Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Dogpile, or some other search engine.  Content that is popular among readers will eventually rise to the top based on clicks, referrals, sharing, and back links.  This means that your content should be exactly how long it needs to be in order for you to get your point across and conclude your message effectively.  If you do so in 200 words, that’s your ‘ideal’ length.  If it takes you 20,000 words, perhaps you should write a book.  Just kidding!  Write for your audience and give them everything they need to know – in 200 or 2,000 (or 20,000) words.

Subject Line

According to many experts, the subject line is the single most important piece of your blog post.  If you don’t attract attention with the subject line, you won’t draw in the readers needed to examine your useful and engaging content and then share it with others (thus adding to your popularity and appeal factor with search engines).

An important factor in creating subject lines is that they be accurate in describing what your visitors will find within the blog’s content itself.  False and misleading titles simply to get clicks will quickly find themselves lost the internet shuffle, even if the content itself might have been otherwise useful or applicable (despite the improper title).

You can find some good advice on creating blog titles that catch your audience’s attention and motivate them to click their way into your content to find out more.

Call To Action

Should a blog simply be an informational piece of content or should it also pitch a service or product?  This section ties in with the Salesmanship section below. Most blogging analysts recommend that you avoid peppering your blog with CTAs because that isn’t the purpose or point of your blog.

A blog is an informal and more personal way to educate and inform your audience.  It gives you a platform upon which you can introduce your brand, business, or personality without the stuffy ‘rules’ required of more professional means of communication.  You can develop a unique style and tone that appeals to your readers, and it helps you establish authority in your market, niche, or industry.

For those reasons (and more), you should avoid CTAs in your blog unless they are necessary or if you are using them in a way that does not employ salesmanship (other than in a very subtle way).  If the blog is a longer write-up or review of a product or service you offer, feel free to add a CTA encouraging readers to learn more on the product’s page.  Don’t, however, make your blog post look like a carnival of advertising just to try to get people to click income-producing links on your website.

Salesmanship

Salesmanship should be left out of blog posts.  Blogs are primarily to educate and inform your audience, and they won’t be educated if your blog consists of sales language and links to buy, buy, buy whatever it is you are selling.  Use your blog platform to establish yourself as an authority in your industry so people will want to buy from you.

Provide in-depth information about products or services, as well as tips or tricks for making them more effective or efficient, and entice consumers to seek you out for information and offerings.  Provide a face, voice, and style in your content that appeals to your audience and encourages them to spend more time with your blogs learning more about you and your company.  Don’t sell to them.  Online consumers are already bombarded with advertising no matter where they go on the internet – so leave it out of your blogs.

Originality

Original content is appealing content, simply because of the fact that no one has seen it yet.  The more original your content, the more appealing it will be to your target audience.  Provide them with new insights on a topic, new ways to do things, more efficient ways to think about problems or solutions to those problems.  Give them something they haven’t seen yet, and they will come back again and again to see more of your content.

If you are rehashing an old idea or modifying content that has already made the internet rounds, make sure you present it in a fresh and interesting way.  Don’t simply copy and paste other content and hope that it will impress your site visitors.  Even if you are offering a curated list of information, make sure you add your own style and unique voice to your writing.  There are many blogs online today that draw a crowd simply because the writer is appealing – not the content itself.

Singular Subject Matter

Practically all experts on blogging recommend that your blog posts focus on one specific subject (per post), rather than bouncing around from topic to topic within the content.  By writing about one topic at a time, you will be better able to provide rich and informative content to your readers that keeps their attention, keeps them reading, and brings them back to your blog in the future.

If you are struggling to come up with a subject for your content, check out a Blog Title Generator by IMPACT Branding & Design.  The top of the generator page has a ‘blog about’ line that can be refreshed to provide you with a subject for your content, then you can use the title generator to find simple and focused titles for your blog posts.  (ShoutMeLoud also offers a list of title generators and blog analyzers that you may find helpful, as well.)

When you provide blog content that does get a lot of attention and finds itself passed around quite a bit, capitalize on that and create more content around that subject.  If you have a specific audience for your blogs, spend some time finding out what they want from you – and give it to them.  One of the best ways to attract and keep your audience is to know who they are.