April 7, 2017
The content is written, and your waiting game has already begun.
You beg for comments, dream of going viral or just want a simple shout-out of praise from a fellow Web presence.
Whether you’re a content writer, blogger or professional copywriter, your biggest challenge is not just writing the right content that is optimized for search engines, but also that content appeals to the reader.
Copyblogger said it best: search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most misunderstood topics.
Yes, you’re writing for the search engines, but you are also writing for a real human staring at that screen and soaking it all up.
How to Write to Be Read: 4 Commandments Every Web Writer Needs to Practice Today
The key is to find a balancing act and write for the people, with search engines a far second.
If you are going to make it in this modern writing world, you need to craft content that is compelling, fierce and something that people almost become giddy about sharing.
Doing so will equally increase your site’s authority, trustworthiness and encourage people to visit you again.
Even better, search engines will rank you better for keywords.
It all sounds dandy, but how do you achieve such greatness? Simple, you follow the Web writing rules of today, and let go of whatever you learned last year. In other words, consider these rules your sacred writ for killer copy.
Doctrine 1: Thou Shalt Not Write Average Headlines
It is estimated that 40 percent of the world is currently online. To help put that number in perspective, the number was less than one percent in 1995 (according to InternetLiveStats.com).
In 2016 (so far), there are an estimated 3,424,971,237 users online — and that number grows hourly. To meet the demands of so many people online, there are a plethora of websites covering the same thing.
With that many people online and that many competitors, you need content that pops.
The strongest way to do that is through your headlines. Emotional headlines are one of the more powerful headlines to use.
Emotional headlines are measured under the EMV (Emotional Marketing Value) score. The EMV looks at how well readers will receive a headline.
The higher the EMV, the better for you and the readers. According to CoSchedule.com (which has a very useful headline scoring tool by the way), posts with a higher EMV score are shared more often than headlines with lower EMV scores.
The Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer from Advanced Marketing Institute is another way to see how your headline ranks. Most professionals can achieve a 30 to 40 percent EMV. But, only the gifted (and most successful) will fall into the 50 to 75 percent range.
When you use these tools, don’t just look at the percent. Look at the breakdown. AMI’s score breaks down the empathetic, intellectual, and even spiritual details. If you can hit all three spectrums, you’re golden.
When it comes to CoSchedule’s tool, read the analysis and dig deep into the results.
You want to strike on emotional words, power words and most definitely uncommon words. They even tell you if your headline type is too generic, if your headline is too wordy, and if you have the right number of characters to please search engines (or anger them).
Doctrine 2: Thou Shalt Not Ignore SEO
You don’t have to be an SEO guru, but you need to know the basics.
If you don’t know how search engines work, Google has put out an excellent guide. They even dive into algorithms and how they work — something every copywriter should be aware.
By understanding the inner workings of the world’s most powerful search engine, you can craft copy that equally pleases the reader as well as the search engine ranking your pages.
Doctrine 3: Thou Shalt Not Ignore Usability
Usability is not just for Web developers.
It applies to you aspiring copywriters reading this right now too.
When you write for the web, it needs to be attractive, easy to read, and flow well.
2 Easy Ways to Implement Usability for Your Content
A few ways to achieve the “usability” factor include:
1. Getting Rid of the Walls of Text: Have you ever stumbled onto a website that was nothing but text thrown in your face? Paragraphs that never end, a lack of adequate subheaders (worse, no subheaders at all), no cohesiveness, etc.
If this sounds like your writing, then you can especially benefit from this part. Text must be broken up. A few short sentences and shorter paragraphs help readers work their way into your content.
Subheaders break it up — and give the human brain a chance to recuperate. Even better, subheaders are what people tend to scan first — so it’s a second opportunity to keep them on the page and to read.
2. Keep It Simple Stupid: This phrase applies to so many areas of life, including copywriting. You don’t have to go too much in-depth, but sprinkling in the right mixture of facts (supported by research), entertainment, and content will do. Whatever you do, don’t fluff your text. Keep it concise and to the point.
The Nielsen Norman Group has an excellent article on usability that focuses on the five cornerstones: learnability, efficiency, memorability, errors and satisfaction. If you apply it to your writing, you will see a dramatic improvement in your work.
Doctrine 4: Thou Shalt Not Ignore Social Media
It’s there; we use it, but do we harness the real power of it?
According to SmartInsights, the most popular social media network is still Facebook. Surprisingly, Instagram and Tumblr beat out Twitter (but not by much). Other social media networks are new and emerging quickly into the web. But, when it comes to engagement, Facebook still takes the cake at almost 100 percent and more than 1,000 minutes per month per visitor.
As a writer now is the time to get into social media. It grows your professional profile, but also helps you tailor your content writing to the needs of a customer that wants to go viral. Reading the Beginner’s Guide to Social Media from Moz is a good place to start refining your social skills.
Of course, if you’re asking what Facebook is, then we have a whole other problem to tackle.
Follow These Tips To Position Yourself For Internet Greatness
Bottom line, when you take the time to do your research, stay up with the trends, and continually improve yourself, you will succeed as a modern web writer.
Julia McCoy is a top 30 content marketer and has been named an industry thought leader by several publications. She enjoys making the gray areas of content marketing clear with practical training, teaching, and systems. Her career in content marketing was completely self-taught. In 2011, she dropped out of college to follow her passion in writing, and since then grew her content agency, Express Writers, to thousands of worldwide clients from scratch. Julia is the author of two bestselling books on content marketing and copywriting, and is the host of The Write Podcast. Julia writes as a columnist on leading publications and certifies content strategists in her training course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia lives in Austin, Texas with her daughter, husband, and one fur baby.