We are just going to say it. Creating amazing content is hard. It takes a lot of time and a special set of skills to have the ability to be producing quality content day in and day out. If you are a small business owner you may be feeling the pinch the most. This is because you have so many other things in your business to take care of; you simply don’t have the time to spend creating content.
Most people tend to hate writing content because it is hard. Subsequently they then choose to avoid writing content at all. This is a big no-no. Creating content is a must for SEO, content in the form of a blog or on your landing pages etc. is so important if you are looking to be successful (and isn’t everybody?!).
Content worth sharing needs to have a lot of meat on it. We are talking about content that has research behind it as well as writing enough words. Unfortunately, your content must be long form if you want to have any chance of a high ranking in Google’s results.
If you have done any research you will find that content over 2,000 words completely dominates the first results page for Google. Again, 2,000 words may seem like a lot but if you are writing about a topic you are passionate about, the words should fly by.
This blog is written in the hopes of helping all those out there that can’t stand writing long from content. Because even though you can’t write amazing content or you hate it, you still understand its importance in terms of SEO and the success of your website. There are only 3 simple tips and tricks below that will hopefully make the process easier for you and remember this, the more times you write, the easier it gets!
Copy the best writers
We aren’t not talking about copy, paste, done! That is plagiarism and you will see a penalty from Google. What we mean is looking at what the best writer in your industry are doing. Reading their content and blogs will give you a better idea on what your type of consumer wants to read about.
There is a lot to do in terms of content writing before you even write the first word. Looking at what the best writers are doing is one of the most important things to do, especially if you are just starting out or if you are really struggling to think of ideas.
There are a lot of great writers out there and you should go looking for them, why learn from someone who is only half way there, when you can learn from the best? But now you are probably thinking, “Well how can I find these great blogs by fantastic writers you speak of?”. Let us show you!
You can find your competitors using the tool Alexa. First you can look and analyse your own business, then do the same with your competitors. Once on the website, put your URL in and click ‘find’! Also, you can look for the heading ‘country’ and you will see what country your visitors are from.
You can then analyse your website in terms of bounce rate, page views, time on website, etc. After you have done all the analysis on your own website, you can then turn to your competitors. Alexa will tell you what websites are similar to yours (i.e. your competitors).
Once you have found this list you can then go to their website and see if they have engaging content and a quality blog (find out how to do this in the next paragraph). People that are reading content from the similar websites are also likely to be reading from your website as well. This is why it is important to see what your competitors are doing so you can give the readers what they want.
It can be difficult to determine what content on your competitors website is engaging. However, like most things in life, there is a tool to help make things easier! Buzzsumo is a social tool (it is free) that will direct you to finding the content that readers love. This includes readers from your own website and the readers on competitor’s website.
So just pop in their URL and you will find their best content in terms of shares. A share means that a reader loves the content so much that they had to share it with their friends. This tool will give you a good indication on what the best topics to write about are.
Understand what your readers want
By looking at your competitor’s content you will certainly get a better idea on what your readers want to see. Creating a mix of topics that you enjoy and are passionate about with topics that your readers what to learn about is important.
If you write about content that your readers like but you don’t, then you are adding fuel to the fire with your dislike towards content writing. If you write about topics that you like but it doesn’t interest your readers, then you are simply wasting your time.
It is important not to over think it too much. The bulk of your time should be spent doing the research etc., not so much actually writing the content. We find that people get caught up in a lot of different things that they forget to focus on what is truly important, the readers!
Understanding what your readers want is actually pretty easy, especially if you have followed the above step (i.e. using Alexa and Buzzsumo). Alexa shows your demographics. So this includes the type of people that are using your website. And Buzzsumo is all about social; so the type of articles that your readers are sharing.
By using these tools you have a better, more detailed understanding of what your readers want to read. Important things to look at that give the readers what they want include; the title, length of article, amount of images, subject matter and comments.
Look at the title of your previous content that has done well. Most titles tend to do well if they include a list or numbers. The length of the article is a major point and this was addressed in the introduction. Your content will need to be more than 2,000 if you are looking to rank on the first page.
The trend shows that the more words in your content, the higher the ranking. However, this doesn’t mean you can waffle on for 3,000 and see a high ranking. Your content needs to be quality. Yes that’s right, to get a good ranking your content needs quality AND quantity!
Images are important because they break up the text and give your readers eyes a rest. Including infographics and even gifs are a great way to spice up your article! Subject matters that have succeeded in the past should be brought up again.
Comments are a great way to engage with your readers and understand what they think of your content. If you find a lot of negative comments on a particular article you should try to steer clear of that topic. And if you are getting praise and your readers love what you are writing about then keep doing it! You have managed to understand the topic of what your readers want to see.
Follow the winning formula
In high school English class you were probably given a formula to write the prefect essay to score the best marks. Although for some it may be difficult to think back to high school English to remember the formula! Don’t worry; we will give you a rundown of a great winning formula (with a few tweaks from the typical English essay formula!).
First of all it is important that you actually stick to a formula. If you are chopping and changing your writing style it becomes more difficult to compare results (i.e. page views, total shares, etc.). By sticking to a formula and not changing any variables you will then be able to more accurately see which pieces of content are wooing the audience.
There are a lot of different formulas flying around that could potentially be beneficial to you. Finding the winning formula can be difficult because different formulas work well for different industries. The formula we will discuss below is a general formula that can work for a variety of different businesses.
If you have been following the blogs by SEO Shark for a while you will see a pattern in the way we write and we follow a formula that has been working for us for years.
Here’s a general idea of the formula we follow:
- Ensure your topic is relevant to the industry you are in
- Look to provide a guide/ how-to, etc.
- Look to include numbers in the title
- Use descriptive and emotion based words (evoke emotion with the title)
- Needs to be long enough to give a detailed description of the content, but not too long that it turns into the body (no more than 500 words)
- Stick to short paragraphs (around 4 – 7 lines)
- Start with a short, sharp sentence to engage users straight off the bat
- Talk to the reader directly (use “you” and “your”, etc.) so they understands that this impacts them directly
- Use first person – talk about your personal experiences in relation to the topic
Body / Headings
- It is important that every time you talk about a new point you use a new heading
- If you are giving a step-by-step guide, then every point needs a new heading
- Headings help to break up the content
- The heading needs to be a short yet accurate description of what is to follow in the content
- When writing body content try to avoid using jargon – keep the words simple
- Should be integrated all throughout the content
- They break up the content and give the readers eyes a rest
- Pictures tell a thousand words
- Avoid using clipart or low quality images (never use copyrighted images) – use Bigstock etc.
- Using infographics and gifs are a good way to add variety to your content
- A brief summary of the points made in the content
- Stick to around 200 – 300 words
- Never introduce anything new in the conclusion
- Try to ask the readers a question at the end – this will invite them to leave a comment
Following all these points can seem tedious but you know that with this formula you are giving the readers everything they could want. With a formula by your side you should always be keeping to a high standard of quality. This formula really forces you to think about the topic and write a well-rounded and detailed account of it.
Don’t let your lack of skills (or hatred) for content writing come in the way of producing content. Many people tend to stay away from content writing because they don’t have time or simply don’t like it. Well, we all have to do things we don’t like but are good for you, from eating your vegetables to keep you healthy to writing quality content to increase your chances of your website succeeding.
This blog provided you with some tips to help you create amazing content even if writing isn’t your favourite thing. It is important to take the time to create brilliant content because this impacts your SEO and your ranking.
You need to look at what your competitors are doing and this acts as a guide to what you should create. You can also see what topics your readers (and the competitor’s readers) are interested in reading. Lastly, you need to follow a formula to ensure you are creating high quality content to the same standard every time.
What do you think about this formula provided? Will this article encourage you to go out and write some high quality content for your readers?
Kieran is the Social Media Manager and SEO Expert at SEO Shark. He is an expert in Social Media, link building, PPC and of course SEO. In his time off work Kieran enjoys reading and playing rugby, as well as following all kinds of sports! You can read some more of his articles here.