January 21, 2019
Did you not get the results you wanted from your article writing efforts in 2018? Were articles not part of your marketing mix?
Well… it is time for a change.
In fact, if you want to keep your web presence relevant in 2019, you don’t have a choice.
Since content is and always will be king, this means you need to update your article writing skills.
Implement the following tips from professional article writers to hone skills that’ll help you with articles this new year.
Focus on User Experience – Intent Is Key!
Yes, Google changes its algorithm more times than we would like.
In over a year, it can make more than 500 changes with none the wiser. There is a reason for that haste.
Can you really keep up with all of those changes?
Yes and no.
While content should always be optimized for visibility, it has to strike a chord with the search engines. Tracking those algorithm changes is futile because they are designed to prioritize content.
Think of it this way. To be organic is to be in flux or constant motion. If you write content just to tick off some SEO tips off a sheet or for the sake of it, your content will become robotic or static.
The thing is that SEO is not just about volume anymore. It is about delivering what users want to see.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you want to look up information using the keyword “everything about Bali”. This is what Google throws up when you press Search:
Contrary to popular belief, a user may not click on the link at the top. It all depends on their intent. The article from Lonely Planet may look more interesting than the first search result if they want travel to Bali and do their research accordingly.
So they click on it and if the content is engaging, they read till the end.
Once they do that, the algorithm kicks in by taking notes. If the content gives the same value to a number of other visitors, Google will probably bump it up in the rankings.
‘Value’ is the name of the game! It’s not about attracting visitors – it’s about keeping them there long enough to read your content all the way through.
The only way to do that is to tap into their intent and give them content they can use.
That is why good online copywriting today isn’t formulaic. It cannot follow a diagram or steps to satisfy user intent.
Think about it.
Can you find value in a blog that has content that can be found anywhere online? That is what happens when writers follow the same strategies.
This cookie-cutter approach results in copied writing, not copywriting so to speak.
Determining user intent is a good way to come up with unique and compelling content. As mentioned before, that is easier said than done. But, it’s not impossible.
As a business owner, you already have the one thing you need to bring your article writing into the New Year – buyer personas. You have all of the information you need to shape your keyword strategy and create topics that your potential buyers (aka users) look for. This can help you align your SEO strategy around the biggest challenges and obstacles they face AND provide value with relevant content.
Say a B2B searcher has an issue that compromises service delivery. This searcher’s intent will be purely informational and they will search for solutions online.
Once they find what they need, they will try and narrow down the best solution. Once they have done that, they will decide which path they should take, whether it is by implementing their newfound knowledge or through another business.
This is what is called the ‘buyer’s journey’, and it is vital for article writers in 2019. By tapping into every aspect of that journey, you can get two things that will bring your article writing skills to the next level – topics and the value you can derive from them.
That is the key to SEO authority because content that has both will be shared, attract links, and proliferate online.
Harness User Intent for Value Generating Content
So now you know why user intent and experience is important. The question is how do you create content around it without a formula?
After getting all of the aforementioned information you need by tracking the buyer journey, use the following tips to draft value-generating content:
Incorporate Long-Tail Keywords
The main keyword is the ‘head’ keyword. For instance, if you provide digital marketing services, ‘digital marketing’ should be your head keyword.
However, that does not mean they work. Yes, they boast high search volumes, but they are also highly competitive. What this means is that no matter how well you target these, it will be difficult for you to get the rank you need. Those keywords are usually reserved for major brands that have unquestionable domain authority.
That does not mean you cannot rank higher using other methods. This is where long-tail keywords come into the picture. Since these have a smaller search volume compared to other keywords, they give web pages a chance to compete for that top spot.
In other words, long-tail keywords level the playing field. So for instance, if a major brand targets ‘digital marketing’ as their main keyword and you target ‘digital marketing trends for 2019’ or ‘digital marketing efforts to attract users’, guess who will reign supreme?
Use Short/Mobile-Friendly Sentences
The average human attention span is about nine seconds long. In other words, we cannot focus on a single piece of information longer than a goldfish can. Do you really think a sentence that takes up two full lines will make an impact?
This is true especially when it comes to mobile users (or almost every user). A paragraph that is made up of four lines can easily take up eight lines on a smartphone. So while you may think you are using shorter sentences, your audience will not, which will increase your article’s bounce rate.
With mobile users surpassing desktop users, optimizing your content for user experience is not an option anymore – it’s a necessity! The bottom line is, if you use long sentences, you make readers work harder than they should have to.
The result is a higher bounce rate which Google is quick to pick up on.
Content that is difficult to read or comprehend brings down site user experience, which ultimately reduces rank. In short, you can provide more value through compact sentence structures that both desktop and mobile users will appreciate.
Get two birds with one stone!
Rely on an Active Voice
So, how can you keep those sentences compact? Using active voice is a good option. If you use passive voice, that means you take ages to come to the point. It’s awkward, boring and bland – three elements that make readers abandon a post in the middle.
Let’s use a simple example to understand this. ‘I like you’ is active but ‘you are liked’ is passive. Both say the same thing – or do they? The first one carries more meaning because it is direct. It gets to the heart of the matter faster. In other words, a reader doesn’t have to think at all to understand its meaning. ‘You are liked’ on the other hand, carries insinuations. In other words, it will make readers think more than they have to even though that wasn’t your intention.
When you are writing content for a website or blog, you are having a conversation with the reader. Passive voice will make you sound bombastic, detached, and arrogant – like you are writing for a robot. Since it comes to the point quickly, active voice can help you connect with readers on a personal level.
The distinction is important because users use conversational terms to search online. With voice search gaining popularity, content that is written in active voice will reign supreme.
Expand Content Using Links
There is only so much information you can give if you stick to a compact content model. Plus, you can’t explain everything in a single post. But, there is a solution!
When you describe a concept that cannot be explained in a sentence or two, just link it to resources that shed more light on it. Of course, the links should lead to authoritative websites that prove your authority in your niche. It will also boost your ranking for keywords that users use to search for that information.
If you want to be seen as a professional article writer, your posts should have external links.
There you have it – tips that’ll help you write and understand what makes articles great.
Writer by day, reader by night, Matthew Smith was exposed to the world of digital marketing at a young age and has spent years honing his skills that are largely self-taught. He has written for some of the top websites, sharing his vast knowledge on Search Engine Optimization and PPC white label, online earning and a lot more.