Do's and Don'ts of content writing
Content can be critical in the performance of your website and not just on search engines. It can also impact how you engage with your audience, present yourself as an expert in your industry and generate sales.
In a digital world, leveraging your content on your website can be a key part of your customer’s experience. It can help ignite a great first impression and more importantly, build up a lasting digital relationship with your customers.
If you don’t have a content executive on hand or the resource within your team for content writing, it can be hard to get started on your content strategy - let alone writing your first piece of content!
Unfortunately, in today’s world convoluted or badly written content can have a serious impact on your clicks and sales – despite how good your products and services are.
That’s why we’ve put together a quick guide on the do’s and don’ts of content writing so you can get started on your content marketing strategy and build your business right away!
DO write for your audience
Whilst generating content can be great for your SEO, it’s also important to make sure you write for your audience. It’s not worth writing content that your users won’t read or engage with.
Writing quality content that is useful, informative and engaging can help demonstrate your expertise in the industry and build meaningful, trustworthy relationships with your readers.
Put in some time to research who your customers are. There are some great tools in Google Analytics that show you the demographics and behaviours of your customers. It’s also worth getting engaged with sales and account managers, who can easily tell you typical buyer personas that will help you to write targeted content, designed on their interests.
People from a variety of demographics will respond differently, not just to topics, but also to the tone of voice you use. Especially when you compare B2C and B2B audiences.
Research, write, adapt and grow - the best things you can do to develop and perfect the way you write for your audience.
DON’T write long, lengthy paragraphs
Long paragraphs and chapters are great in literature, but when writing online for your audience you need to take a different stance.
Worldwide, we spend a whopping 6 hours a day online on average, whether that’s on a mobile or desktop device.
People go online for a number of reasons, but not really to specifically read a blog. However, if they need some information, or a question answered, the likelihood is they will type it in a search engine and try to find their answer. This is where a lot of blogs will appear, along with web content that is relevant to their search query.
As a result, when people land on a page, they tend to skim read a lot of content to find the information that provides what they’re looking for.
If you’re writing lengthy paragraphs with no clear indication (e.g. a heading) of what information is within it, it’s highly unlikely your users are going to read it or find it useful.
The digital space is busy, so if you write short sharp sentences and paragraphs with clear headings it makes it easier for your readers to find what they’re looking for.
DO proof-read your work
No matter how good a writer you are or how much of a perfectionist you are, it’s always worth checking and re-checking your content.
When you look at something too much, it’s really easy to miss simple spelling or grammatical errors.
Check your work thoroughly as you go, re-read it once complete and even try to read it out loud as if you were presenting it to someone. You’ll notice the little things a lot easier if you read it properly, rather than just skim for mistakes.
Tools such as Grammarly and Microsoft Word spellchecker are always handy to help pick out the obvious mistakes. But some things can still be missed, so make sure you’re checking it too!
*Top Tip* Get a co-worker or two to read through what you’ve written before publishing. A fresh set of eyes is always helpful on a piece of work.
DON’T repeat yourself
When writing content on similar topics, it can be tempting to repeat what you’ve said in previous articles or take what you’ve said from other pages on your website – after all, it made perfect sense!
However, duplicate content can be harmful to your SEO, and you can get penalised on search engines, particularly Google, for doubling up content from another page on your site.
If you want to use the information from another page to write a blog about, a great way to keep the same meaning is to try and come up with a different way of saying it. Instead of plagiarising your work, reference it - and you can even add an internal link to it too!
It can be a bit of an art to re-word information, especially if you’ve written it yourself, so if you’re struggling to do that – take the same topic but give it a new angle or theme. That way, you’re looking at it at from a new perspective which gives you a fresh outlook and can make it easier to write.
DO on-page SEO
You should be writing content for your audience whilst also bearing in mind content’s potential to increase your chances of ranking higher on search engines. Therefore, you also want to make sure you get the basics down when it comes to on-page SEO.
Once you’ve got an engaging piece of content written, go back through it and look for opportunities to add in relevant keywords (if they’re not in there already). It’s also worth looking to see if there are opportunities for internal and outbound links.
Internal links to other relevant pages on your site help robots crawl through more pages on your website as well as allowing your users to find out more about what you do.
Linking externally to relevant websites, demonstrates you’re providing additional advice and resources that will enhance your readers' experience.
The keyword here: RELEVANT
You want to be able to demonstrate that you’re providing a mini encyclopaedia of knowledge in your field – for both your customers and search engines.
*Just a thought* Try adding a platform for social shares at the bottom of your pieces of content, it gives readers a quick way to share your article easily without having to copy and paste the link.
Whilst we previously mentioned not to have duplicate content on your site, it is equally, if not more important, not to plagiarise from other writers and sources.
If you’ve ever written an essay, you’ll remember that you need to cite or reference every source that you take information from. The same goes for writing web content. If you’re directly quoting – you’ll need to cite the source and link back to the original piece.
It’s acceptable and quite common to use different bloggers and sources online to find the information to adapt and write your piece of content. Just make sure you’re not stealing their work!
After all, you never know if they have the right facts!
But more importantly, the more original and unique your content, the more you will provide a more authoritative and trustworthy resource of information for your readers AND you’re likely to take a trip further up your Google rank.
DO keep your content up to date
People are always searching for the most recent answer to their queries and questions online. Outdated content is less likely to still be relevant to their search query. Google tends to prioritise the most recent, or most valuable (aka relevant and clicked) answers.
Updating your content and blog regularly not only has perks for your readers but can also give you extra points when it comes to your search engine rankings.
If you find yourself stuck for new content ideas, there are plenty of resources out there that can help you generate new topics – such as Google Ads Keywords and sites such as Moz or SEMRush.
Plus, there’s millions and millions of resources online including blogs, videos, podcasts, infographics and many more that can help you generate some ideas for unique content.
*Tip of the day* Repurpose old content and update it so it’s more relevant. The URL has already likely built up some SEO juice on your site. Update it, and you’ll get it recrawled which will give you extra kudos from the search engine giants.
Word of advice: Don’t post content too regularly – keep it spread out. You can get penalised for doing too much of something in a short space of time. Ever heard of Facebook jail?
DON’T go off-topic
It can’t be really easy to lose your focus and go off-topic when it comes to content writing, especially if you need to hit a certain word count.
What’s important is to research your topic and plan your piece of content with a clear structure. That way, it helps you to come back to the plan, if you find yourself going off on a tangent.
Try not to waffle just to fill in the gaps in your content or to get your word count up. Chances are if you’re not meeting your required length, it’s not something worth writing about or you don’t know enough about it.
You can also over-do it with adding too many graphics and fill-ins to take away from your content.
Stick with the topic, keep it focused and you’ll be just fine.
Content writing doesn’t always come naturally to everyone, but with more practice and following the above rules, you’ll get better at it in no time.
Keep it original, simple, stick to the plan and write for your audience and you can’t go too wrong.
If you’re looking for help getting some additional content written for your site or some help with content with regards to SEO, give us a call on 01794 725 480 or send us an email and we can have a chat about how we can help you!