With so much speculation about how Gen Y and Z don’t like to read: they all want to watch videos and look at colorful pictures, etc. It might come as a shock to learn that written content isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Just look at Kindle digital sales: this Forbes contributor believes 2013 sales to be upwards of $530 million!
You see, people of all ages still like to read. Written content has more power than it’s ever had, with the ability to reach an even larger audience than ever before in human history.
Take the following tips and implement them into your content strategy immediately, if you haven’t already.
1. Forget About Exact Match Keywords!
Google’s sick of SEO. That’s no surprise. They want to give their search engine users the best online experience possible, while of course making billions off of their adwords and adsense advertising platforms!
But I digress…
It’s hard to build trust with your readership when you’re trying to monkey an SEO phrase like “Profoot Toennail Nipper” into a culinary post about the “10 Must Have Kitchen Products”.
“So I was checking out the new Triple Decker Lettuce Wheel from XYZ Manufacturing, when I was suddenly crippled by a painful hangnail on my big toe. Lucky for me I had just bought a Profoot Toenail Nipper?”
If you’re going to make product recommendations, do it. Don’t waste your time trying to craft keywords into sentences for ranking purposes. Hummingbird is smarter than ever, and the next update will take the conversational search algo even further.
Check out this Search Engine Watch’s article: Major Google Changes Reveal the Future of SEO
2. Be casual and interesting
This is a problem that’s existed in online content for sometime now. While certain bloggers understand the need to actually connect with their audience, some people still don’t get this. Being matter-of-fact and bland doesn’t make you professional.
Use slang, acronyms, smileys, etc. Be casual. Stop being a prude and people will actually read your blog.
3. Quick and Snappy
This is another message for SEO-minded webmasters who think a longer post will make them look more favorable in Google’s eyes, making a 100-word post stretch to 500 or more – and ordering “pay by the word” content from online marketing forums.
If a written piece “needs” to be longer to get a message across then do it. But don’t make it longer than it needs to be.
Here’s a great set of tips you can easily implement to streamline your writing: 8 Steps to More Concise Writing
I would like to stress that, as with length, you shouldn’t force an unnatural amount of subheads into an article just because you “think” it’ll make your writing easier to read.
For instance, if you’re writing a product description, sales page, or how-to guide then subheads are very important. For instance “How to Buy a Car”: subheadings will make for a much easier read (e.g., Finding the Right Dealership, How to Effectively Deal With Salesman, The Test Drive, Financing Options, etc.)
If you’re writing a long story-based post, the subheads might just make it harder for the reader to follow. Don’t force subheads in to break up a good story because your “Guide to SEO” ebook told you they’re important.
If you have multiple items to discuss, a numbered or bullet point list will make it much easier for your reader to breeze from one point to another quickly. It also makes it easier for a reader to identify things they already know about and want to skip.
Yes, making your content easier to skim through can actually make it more impactful to the reader!
I could (and may very well) write an entire post on this subject. However, I had to mention targeting to the audience because it’s important. I will mention two mistakes that often get made by marketers and bloggers.
- Trying to write all-encompassing content that reaches everyone.
- Writing for the majority crowd.
Try reaching smaller segments now and again. Don’t try to reach everyone in every post. Go “micro-niche” with your posts. This article goes into detail about what I’m preaching here: Add Personality Into Your Content
This is another fact that hasn’t likely slipped through anyone’s orbit. Infographics, funny images, sexy girls, cartoons, etc. If you’re providing written content, don’t unnecessarily overwhelm the reader with visuals though. A great featured image can be very impactful.
Images throughout the article or scattered all over the page are a different story altogether.
If you make a funny anecdote about how a certain celebrity walks like a duck, an image of a duck beside, below or above your quip might add some punch to what you’re saying. If you’re trying to convince someone to use your lead-gen service, it’s not wise to distract the reader’s attention with too many photos. Remember, you only have their attention for so long – don’t waste it.
This refers to providing links to your readers – not building links for PR value.
Why try to be an authority on something when you can link to a trusted source who can do it better?
The reader will value you more because of this.
So many blog owners are afraid to post links (unless they’re paid for them) for fear that they’ll lose the reader/potential customer. However, the more a reader learns or is entertained, the more impactful your posts will be. Don’t be afraid to link out, even if it’s a new blog with no “SEO” value.
So, there you go – 8 tips to add more value to your written content. The tips I present above leads to one takeaway for you: When you write content for your small business website – or for other online magazine for your small business purpose – bear in mind that you write for real people, not search engines.
I stop focusing on SEO – especially SEO for Google – because if I did, I would need to stay vigilant all the time; and as a blogger-slash-online-business-owner I can’t afford to do that.
I want to be creative and often lost in word plays that are often not-SEO-friendly. And like I said above, if I can get my message across in 100 words, I don’t want to do it in 500 words; basically, I don’t want to bore people with my shallow paragraphs.
Well, not anymore.
So, how about you? What’s your content writing strategy? Are you still focusing on SEO? Please share your thoughts…