Content can be powerful stuff. Used to build a brand’s story, attract people on search engines, connect with readers through blogs, articles and social media posts, as well as improve SERP rankings, there’s a lot that these carefully-orchestrated words can do. Having worked in content for the last 2 years, firstly as a copywriter, then a content strategist and now manager, I’ve learnt a lot about best practices, both in terms of strategy, creation and post-publication. I therefore share some of the lessons I’ve learned in this blog post.
Lesson 1: The Design Is Important
Especially when writing about topics that may send the average reader to sleep, it’s important that you plan how the page will look. Most people skim through blogs and articles before deciding whether to read them, so walls of text are not going to cut it. Visuals, whether that’s photos, videos, infographics or illustrations, make it 80% more likely that a person will read a piece of content, so I always try to include relevant, thought-provoking and funny visuals to break up the text. In an analysis of 1 million+ articles, BuzzSumo found that those with an image after every 75-100 words were shared twice as much as those with less images, so this is something to bear in mind.
Using images also allows you to add alt tags, meaning they’ll show up in Google Image searches.
Lesson 2: Your Audience Should Dictate What You Write
What are your audience’s pain points? What do they want help with? What are topics they’d want to read about? Great tools like Answer The Public and Keyword Spider can help you answer these questions, ensuring you write about things that will motivate the reader to engage more with the company. Always keep the T.O.V. at the centre of everything you write as well. For example, if the audience is young, it’s likely they’ll respond better to chattier language than technically-led wording that anyone other than an industry-expert would find hard to understand. Make it relatable. Make it motivational. Make it good.
Lesson 3: SEO Should Play A Role
Keywords! Meta Data! Links! These are the things that help raise your SERP rankings, giving you an edge over your competitors. Yes the audience should dictate what you write, but once you’ve determined the topic, determine the keywords (the words or phrases that people are searching in relation to your topic) that you can effortlessly place within your post or article. Linking to related and well-known websites is also necessary, as Google places greater authority and credibility on sites that enact such practices. Lastly, enticing Meta titles and descriptions can help draw your audience in, giving them a preview of the great content that awaits them.
Lesson 4: Clicking Publish Is Not The End
You can’t expect people to just find your blog because you’ve published it, you have to spread the posts far and wide. A social media strategy that incorporates platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram will ensure maximum exposure and traffic. Once the content has been posted, keep an eye on engagement with both social media and the posts themselves. Are people sharing the post? Are they spending much time on the page? Are they bouncing right off it? Where are they going after reading the post? Know this and you can update your content strategy based on what worked well and take advice from any comments left by enthused readers.
Also, if any industry developments occur further down the line, you can always update that post you wrote 4 months ago.
Lesson 5: You Have To Be Open-Minded
Don’t just stick to the same old formula because it works for a particular client, because any writer worth their pay check knows that the perfect word count, the topics that matter, SEO best practices and repurposing strategies change all the time. You have to be open to new ways of writing and working, allowing others in the business to guide your technique. Have those conversations with the SEO specialist, the website designer and the social media mogul to ensure you’re writing as effectively as possible.
I’ve certainly learnt a lot the past 2 years and I can’t wait to see what the next 2 years bring.