When writing content, whether it’s a professional piece for publication or a memo to your coworkers, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to ensure your content actually gets found, and then read.
While witty headlines and tongue in cheek references are fun, be sparing when using them in articles that you hope to have indexed by search engines… like Google. Your title carries heavy search engine optimization weight, and the worst thing you can do is fill it with keywords that are meaningless to the article itself. If you are writing about how amazing LeBron is at basketball, you should name it as such. Now is not the time to pull out trendy words and phrases like “The King’s Game is On Fleek.” Not only is the reader confused about what the content of your article is actually about, it will not rank high in searches. Be mindful of the keywords your readers will be using to find your article. The more people that can find your content, the more it will be consumed and shared, and the higher your site traffic will be.
Search engine optimization (SEO) literally means “the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.” SEO can be a pretty complex subject to tackle, but at a basic level, you will want to take the proper steps to ensure that your content shows up on the search engine results page when readers type in keywords relevant to your article. The body of your content piece should contain keywords that directly relate to your topic. If you are unsure which keywords you should be focusing on, think about which words your reader’s will most likely search. Keep your audience in mind. If your content piece is for a more advanced demographic, you are probably ok to use industry related jargon. If the piece is more of a basic, general overview, steer clear of trendy words and abbreviations. Use your keywords in the title, in your headings and sub-headings and throughout the body, in a frequency that makes sense and is easy to read (i.e. do not keyword stuff). And while optimization is a critical component of content creation, readability is equally as important. The reader is your customer. Write with their needs in mind.
Before putting the pen to the paper (or more likely, fingers to the keyboard), consider the type of content you want to write. Pieces that incorporate story-telling to drive home a point often do better than pieces that lack emotion or any sort of personal connection. Useful and tactical pieces (think: how-to guides, and checklists) are popular because people are always looking for newer and easier ways to get sh*t done. Want to fix a toilet, repaint your kid’s room, build a tree-fort? The first thing most people do is enter in a Google search and look for advice on how to get started.
Writing good content should pique your reader’s interest. The title alone should provoke the reader to click through to learn more about your piece. There are many ways to generate interest, depending on the intent of your content. Popular methods to attract interest involve using titles like: “Top 10 Ways to XYZ” and “The 5 Things You Should Never Do.” If you’re writing content with the sole intent of starting a discussion, think about using a title that is somewhat controversial (only if this makes sense for your business). I recently wrote an article titled “Marketing Strategies We Can Learn From Donald Trump” that roused some heated debate because of the intense love/hate relationship that people have with Trump. Breaking your content into lists, steps, or bullet points helps serve the content up in a more interesting and useful manner to your audience and makes it easier to digest. Highlighting main points enables the reader to scan through quickly if needed.
Know Your Sh*t
Passion shines through in your writing. If you aren’t passionate about the subject you are writing about, chances are, the content will not be all that engaging either… yawn. People who are passionate about certain subjects are able to draw from real life experiences, pull in emotion and feeling, and write a piece that is thoughtful and appealing to the reader. Think about it this way: if you’re looking to read more about cancer, you want to hear from a doctor who has devoted his life to studying the disease, or read a fitness article from a person who actively engages in that type of lifestyle and can relate to the struggle. No one wants to hear about quitting smoking from someone who was never a smoker. Know your shit. Be passionate about what you write about.