We’re big believers in the value of quality content.
Simply put, we think the number one way to supercharge your SEO, increase your traffic, improve bounce rates and all of that stuff is to make your site awesome and fill it with things that people will love to read and share.
However, that may be easier said than done. Content writing can be hard to get right – and if you think your material may be lacking something, you’ve come to the right place.
Today, we’re going to take a look at some great ways to improve the quality of your posts and produce content your readers will be sure to love.
1. Get the facts straight first
Many content writers are often asked to write material on a subject they know little or nothing about. If this is you – welcome to the club.
Whatever you do, don’t try to blag it. Readers will be able to spot it a mile away if you don’t understand what you’re writing – and obvious errors will cause an immediate loss of respect for your text.
Instead, spend some time upfront researching and reading around the subject. Read everything you can lay your hands on, and if you don’t feel like you’re quite getting it, keep reading.
A famous quote often attributed to Albert Einstein is, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” (As with many Internet quotes, nobody seems to be quite sure if the famous scientist ever actually said that, but the truth of it is self-evident.)
When you feel like you understand the subject inside and out – and you’ve got the sources and statistics to back up your points – you’re ready to put fingers to keyboard and start bashing out that content.
If you ever find yourself writing a sentence and thinking, “I hope nobody asks me to explain this bit”, you probably have more homework to do.
2. Speak plainly
Alternatively, ‘avoid jargon’.
If you’ve acquired a penchant for unnecessary verbosity, and you compulsorily employ sentences comprised chiefly of superfluous volumes of syllables – well, your text becomes hard to read, and nobody has any idea what you’re saying.
For many writers, it can be very tempting to show off their huuuuge vocabulary (or to get lots of mileage out of the new thesaurus they got for Christmas). However, the point of language is to be understood, and flowery words often confuse the issue.
It may also help to keep your sentences short and your paragraphs bitesize. You’re not writing a novel, here – when reading stuff on screens, people like to skim and get to the point. Don’t use ten words if three will do.
Don’t think of it as dumbing your writing down, either; there’s nothing clever about vocabulary snobbery. It doesn’t matter how genius you think your writing is, if your text is disguising its own meaning behind a brick wall of waffle.
Some other good rules of the road:
- Try to minimise the use of passive voice. Don’t say ‘The content was written by me’ if you could say ‘I wrote the content’.
- Make good use of hyperlinks for concepts that would be too complicated to explain in your article (as seen in the previous bullet point). That’s the beauty of writing for the web – if anything needs to be expanded, you always have the option of just linking out to something authoritative.
- Always bear in mind the type of reader your post will reach, and remember to speak in a way they will understand. Don’t use complicated medical terms on a blog for teens, or lots of technical jargon for industry outsiders. (Sometimes, of course, technical words are perfectly appropriate – just keep things readable).
Write to be understood. You’ll go far.
3. Practice, practice, practice
A friend of mine used to say, “You can’t get worse at something you do every single day.” (Maybe I should have pretended that was a quote from Thomas Edison).
If you do something a lot, improvement is inevitable.
The more you write, and the more you think about writing, the more you will find things that work for you. Over time, you’ll develop little tricks to make the process easier, and develop a natural feel for sentences that have the right sort of weight and rhythm.
The first piece of content you ever sit down to write is really difficult. It’s hard to know where to begin. You might find yourself becoming overwhelmed with questions like…
- How do you go about writing an introduction?
- What’s the right tone of voice?
- What sort of structure do you want?
- How many words do you need?
- How do you wrap it up with a nice conclusion?
You can’t possibly feel as daunted by the process when you sit down to write your fiftieth blog post, or your three hundredth. In many ways, becoming a better writer is partly just a matter of putting in the hours.
4. Get it proofread
It doesn’t matter how sure you are that what you’ve written is gold – a second reader with fresh eyes will find something to change about it. That doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer; it’s just natural. Nobody can write a perfect first draft.
For best results, it’s a good idea to ask somebody you can trust to be objective. Friends, family members and partners might tell you everything is awesome just to be supportive (which is lovely of them, but it doesn’t help you improve your work).
Sometimes a proofreader might find a grammar or flow hiccup; at other times, they may find a broader point of ambiguity (where something that made perfect sense to you might read differently to somebody with a different perspective).
Whatever it is, if it causes them to trip up when reading it’ll probably stick out to your other readers, too. You’ll need to do something to fix it – and your content will be stronger and better if you do.
One thing that is certain is that top-quality content makes the web go around. If your site can become a hub for brilliant insights, helpful tutorials and the latest news, you’ll be well on your way to better search engine rankings (and happy, invested readers).
Of course, the other option is to call in the professionals. Content marketing is an enormously powerful way to grow your online presence, and if you don’t know how to incorporate it into your SEO strategy – well, you know how to find us!