Producing copy that stops readers mid-scroll, that inspires them to read on and hopefully spurs them to take action is a goal to which all content writers and copywriters aspire. No matter how eloquent and well written a piece is, if your readership doesn’t find it interesting or useful, then what’s the point?
There’s a lot of content available online, and the sad truth is that a lot of it goes completely ignored, falling into the increasingly ignored category of “white noise”.
Over the years that I’ve been providing content to online businesses (mainly in the US, Australia, the UK, and Middle East), I’ve often been asked to evaluate the content currently published on my clients’ websites – some are already great, but many more… no so. So with this in mind, I am sharing some tips that I believe will have your readers stopping in their virtual tracks to REALLY read your content.
Work on that headline
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: headlines matter. A lot.
Here’s the thing about headlines, though. What your headline looks like will largely depend on what you want it to do and where it is going to be posted.
Traditional headlines are usually between 5 to 7 words. These are often used for blogs and emails. These headlines tell readers what to expect and they may or may not contain keywords.
Important: If they are to contain keywords, it is better that they appear organically, and not just inserted with the search engines, not readers, in mind.
But let’s say you plan on posting your content on social media platforms. The headlines that get the most clicks, reads, and shares are those which invoke curiosity and pique our interest. These headlines are often:
- Lengthy (to the point of rambling)
- Use few, yet well placed, keywords
- Rely heavily on shocking readers, evoking emotion, and/or stirring curiosity
Unlike traditional headlines which are short, concise and dense with information, today’s social media headline doesn’t really add a whole lot of context. These headlines are designed to arrest the attention of readers so that they will click on, read, and hopefully share, the post.
Put the most important information first
Chances are that before you even put a pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard) you know what you want to write about and what you want to accomplish with your post.
Before you get caught up in the details, drive your main point from the get-go. Tell people what you want them to get out of the post (are you trying to educate them on how to use a product? Are you sharing details about an upcoming promotion on your website?) and why it is important.
Remember that your readership, like all who read online, is comprised primarily of “scanners”. People want information quickly and on the fly. The easier you make it for them to get it, the more effective your content will be.
Keywords still matter
Effective content is backed by keyword research, but keywords should not be your main focus when writing. As much as some may feel that keywords are “inauthentic” or “obtrusive” to creative content, these words and phrases still serve important purposes. They:
- Help search engines find your content and directly impact your rank
- Help social media users find (or accidentally stumble upon) your content
- Tell, or give clues about, what the content is about
So, I suggest you invest some time in using the many tools available for keyword research and use the results as a guide, not a bible. When it comes to the search engines……..
The search engines are very sophisticated and the days of relying on well-placed keywords in your content to get you great rankings are long gone. You see, when ranking website content, Google bots in particular now look for the semantics that fit with your keywords and the overall tone of your content. If writing naturally, these semantics will appear in your output – they are the words that will generally be found when talking about the topic you’re covering.
Be prepared for trial and error
Unless you are a seasoned content marketing firm who has a good grasp on what type of content works and for what audiences, prepare yourself for some pleasant surprises and drastic disappointments.
Play around with different headline “types”. Produce content with varying sentence lengths (7 words per sentence versus 14 to 20 words per sentence). See how your audience responds, tweak your content, and give it another go.
Most importantly, be nimble in your approach to content creation; observe trends, particularly with regard to language and semantics.
If you need help creating the type of content that your readers will want to read, we’re here to help. I invite you to contact me directly to discuss your needs, or complete my quick quote form today.