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High quality content is considered a rarity in this digital age. Instead, emphasis is placed on design, visuals and interactive media – we forget content itself is the single most important marketing tool influencing audience engagement and conversion rates.
Content creation for the online market is far removed from other forms of writing. Internet users have short attention spans, and no end of choice when it comes to finding information online – this is why it’s so important to stand out.
What’s more, when leading search engines such as Google crawl your page to determine its ranking in their search results, they are unable to visualise your site, they work from content alone – and they have high standards, so you need to get it right.
Here’s our list of considerations:
1. Use the active voice
You need to capture reader interest as soon as possible. The active voice is more engaging and inclusive than the passive and should be used frequently. Not only will this help readers to visualise your idea or pitch more easily, it’s simply more interesting to read. An active sentence is one in which the subject carries out the action, for example ‘Customers can buy this product in our shop’, compared to the passive ‘This product can be bought in our shop’ – in which case it’s unclear who or what is acting.
2. Vary your sentence length
Long, unbroken paragraphs are arduous to read. Use short, precise sentences among more complex phrasing to break up text and maintain reader interest. Short sentences are more accessible and easier to tackle. As long as your ideas are clear and well put together, you won’t need a high word count to get your point across.
3. Break up the page with subheadings
Subheadings work to draw the reader’s eye down the page. If you’ve written a blog which incorporates large paragraphs, it’s unlikely anyone is going to take the time to read it fully. Make it easy for your visitors to dip in and out by dividing content into bitesize chunks. Bold your key points and ensure the first sentence beneath each subheading is interesting enough to make it worth reading.
4. Beware headlines and intro pars
Content is first and foremost a form of marketing. When users read a headline or the first sentence of an article, this is their first official contact with your brand. You need to do everything you can to make sure it’s memorable, whether that means using a witty tagline or perhaps a direct question to your audience. Introductory sentences should be short, engaging and get across all vital information, ideally in less than 30 words.
5. Regularly update and add new content
Audience retention is crucial. Readers should be given a reason to return to your site. It’s generally thought that the more times a visitor clicks on your site, the more likely they are to convert – though this is of course subjective and can depend heavily on the nature of your webpage and service. Adding original, high quality content on a regular basis is the best way to do this. Similarly, if you’re hosting a blog with a news section – developments in a product launch or update should be kept up to date and relevant. While there is no optimal number of posts per week, posting as frequently as possible is generally thought to be the best tactic.
6. Don’t alienate your audience
No matter the complexity of your chosen topic – there will be a way to get your message across in a clear, accesible way. Don’t alienate your audience with complex industry terms or jargon as this won’t drive through conversions. Instead, use friendly, conversational tones. Try to write as you would speak.
7. Use powerful calls to action
Use content to draw people to other parts of your site, link to internal pages, related resources and similar blogs readers may also enjoy. Encourage comments and user interaction with your articles by reaching out and asking your readers for their opinions and experiences. If the situation calls for it, use emotive language to influence the feelings of your readers and make them more likely to convert.
8. Remain consistent in style and voice
Commonly know as a ‘house style’, your way of writing should have within it an identity that readers will learn to recognise over time, whether that’s a playful, colloquial tone or a more serious, factual based style of writing. If you change this up too much, you risk confusing your audience – and it can look messy, creating an uncertain brand identity.
9. Use keywords effectively, but don’t go overboard
Keyword stuffing means to pack your article or blog full of keywords with the sole purpose of helping you to rank highly on search engine results pages. The opposite is actually true. When you do this, you heavily sacrifice content quality – Google acknowledge this, as will your readers and you’ll notice a negative impact on rankings and site hits. Keywords can be an effective way of encouraging high rankings but remember there’s a balance.
10. Review content with fresh eyes
If you alone are responsible for writing and editing content – don’t attempt to do this all in one go. Leave at least a couple of hours if not a day and turn your focus elsewhere before revisiting your content for a final edit. You’ll be surprised at the difference looking over a piece with fresh eyes can make – you’re much more likely to spot those subtle mistakes.
11. Don’t overlook spelling and grammar
Well executed grammar, spelling and punctuation helps your article to flow, makes it easy to read and aids in a professional appearance. If your brand can’t be trusted to put together an accurate article, how can you be trusted to sell a product or service. Avoid exclamation marks at all costs.
12. Consider the length of your article
Acorrding to SEO plugins such as yoast, search engines will rank any article with less than 300 words of content as poor quality. When it comes to word counts – the more the better, but don’t sacrifice qualirty – if you’re writing a lengthy piece, make sure it’s still your highest standard of work.
13. Enhance content with graphics
While design alone doesn’t sell, let’s face it – we’re all put off by an outdated site with mixmatched colours and flashing ads. Use infographics, diagrams, graphs, colour, themes, layouts and interactive content to push engagement and enhance content.
14. Fact check, and then do it again
Make sure everything you write is backed up in fact – not only do your readers deserve the truth, the last thing you want is Google getting in touch because they’ve been quoted incorrectly. And yes, this does happen.
15. How do I generate content for my site?
Perhaps the most pressing point of all – how do I generate content, cultivate on trend ideas and sculpt these into online marketing tools? If you have a tight budget and are confident in your own copywriting abilities, this is the best value way of creating content – with the added bonus of having complete creative control over what is written. Failing this, you could hire a professional copywriter and look at it as an investment. Given the importance and power of copywriting as mentioned above – you might just thank yourself in the long run.