Let’s take things back to basics and talk content writing. As someone who spends most of their working day writing and receiving feedback, I have picked up a few gems. This guide should be useful to fresh graduates, anyone pursuing a career in digital marketing or just anyone wants to make sure their content is effective and SEO friendly.
The Different Types Of Content Writing
Before anything, you need to have a clear idea of what it is you are writing. There are a lot of different types of content but I have highlighted a few of the most common forms.
- Category content: The text on category pages of e-commerce and lead generation websites. Though there is no specific word count for category content, it’s best to keep it short and sweet at around 100-250 word count so it doesn’t push products on the same page further down the screen and less visible to customers.
- Product copy: Product descriptions. They should be even shorter and bullet points are it’s best friend.
- Blogs: Short and easily digestible pieces to garner interest to your site. As a rule of thumb, blog posts should be no longer than 1,000 but don’t be afraid to go well under this in order for readers to quickly skim it.
- Long-form writing: Informative pages such as how-to guides or case studies. Due to their informational content, you have free reign over the word count of these pieces.
- Guest posts: Blogs or articles to be posted on another online publication to spread exposure of your company. Word count will depend on what is set by the publication so don’t forget to ask them to avoid lots of editing later.
Here are my top 6 tips on how to write effective and search optimised content for your website:
1. Do Your Research
The internet is already full of people writing about things they know nothing about so make sure that anything that you write is well researched. To do this, I use Buzzsumo to find out what content performs well for topics and a trusty Google search.
2. Keyword Research and Strategy
Maybe you’re stuck on what to write for your site in the first place? By searching for broad terms on tools such as Ahrefs and Google Keyword Planner, they can help you to generate ideas for content by displaying long-tail search queries. For example, by searching ‘How to coffee’ on Ahrefs, you’ll discover terms such as ‘How to make an iced coffee’ or ‘How to roast coffee beans’ with high search volumes.
Researching your keywords is essential to any content writing to ensure that it is written with SEO in mind to improve the organic performance of your site. For example, if you’re writing a piece on how to roast coffee beans, search for ‘roast coffee beans’ on your chosen system. You’ll find terms like ‘light roast coffee beans’ and ‘roast coffee beans in oven’ that would be worthwhile including in your content. It’s useful to consider the volume of traffic for each keyword and the difficulty in ranking highly for it. Doing this is best practice for SEO to ensure your site has a chance of ranking on search engines.
Now that you’ve got your keywords, it’s important that you are not too influenced by a specific phrase. It can be tempting to cram your target keywords into every sentence in the hope that your site will rank well but that does not work anymore. Google can tell when sites are doing this and will penalise them for it so make sure relevant keywords are seamlessly woven into your writing. Write your content primarily for the user.
3. Know Your Audience
You need to ask yourself who’s going to be reading your content. Vice and The Independent might comment on the same political affairs but their articles are written in completely different styles. Use any provided style guides religiously. Your audience will determine the tone and voice required so make sure you are fully aware who the target market is for your site and what their reason is for reading this content. For example, the product copy for a women’s fashion ecommerce site will be entirely different to a guest post written for an industry-specific online publication. In order to not alienate your readers or lose their interest, try not to use any jargon. Remember if you’re stuck to have a look at your competitors or any aspirational sites for ideas too.
4. Cut To The Chase
People love short sentences. Get to the point. Avoid using streams of long sentences if you don’t want your reader to lose focus and go elsewhere. I know first hand that this can be a learning curve for students and graduates because it goes against the writing style used in essays but just go with it because it reads a lot better. Trust me.
If you’re struggling with this, I recommend reading your favourite blogs and websites to observe how they write. Another tip that I have learned from Laura Hampton is to read through your finished piece and cut out anything that is the slightest bit unnecessary. Think quality over quantity. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to delete half of your writing after doing this.
5. Make It Easy On The Eyes
If you’re new to content writing, familiarise yourself with H1 (the header tag and title of a post) and its friends. It’s also good practice to split up groups of sentences into bitesize paragraphs. The key here is to make your content as easy to read as possible for the reader.
6. Don’t Be Lazy. Proofread.
Anything on your website or posted elsewhere is a representation of you and your company. Get well acquainted with Grammarly and never forget to proofread before you send for approval.
Content writing can first seem like a daunting task when you’re new to it. Hopefully with these tips and practice, you can look at writing content as an exciting way to bring readers to your site. Should you need any more guidance, Impression can provide SEO training to suit your needs.