Everybody writes. The amount of content produced every day is mind-boggling. There are more than 4.4 million blog posts published every single day. And that’s not counting news articles or content produced by huge media outlets that don’t fall into the “news” category: opinion pieces and op-eds, for instance.
We write this much because content is consumed. But not all of it. Some blog posts have 1-2 readers, while others hit a few thousand within a few hours after their publication date.
What makes the difference? Is it the reach of their writers or that of the outlets that publish them? Yes, that’s an important factor. But there’s another one we keep forgetting: the quality of the content.
You see, most of the content is good. Passable.
That type of content doesn’t perform well, though. Not with readers and not with search engines. And it definitely doesn’t pad your company’s bottom line.
As someone who hires top SEO content writers regularly, I can spot meh content a million miles away. It’s not something we’d ever publish or send to our clients.
In order to produce great content that attracts and converts (both for the two agencies I run and for the clients we serve), my team and I have a few rules that we never break.
Here they are:
1. Make Sure Your Content Is Factually True and Accurate
There’s so much misinformation online that accurate content has become a rare gem. I get it. It’s comfortable to write whatever crosses your mind and never bother to double-check or fact-check your claims.
See, for a fast-typing writer like myself, this entire piece could take less than half an hour to write. I could churn out a dozen of them in a full work day.
But add researching, double-checking, editing, and vetting your sources to the mix and you’ll be at it for two hours if you’re experienced or a full day if you’re not.
Pro tip: This is one of the reasons why pro writers are worth hiring. They don’t just write. They do the whole background research and vetting, too.
But I digress.
If you want your content to be above average, make sure every claim you make is backed by data. Link to a trustworthy research report, to an industry leader’s opinion, to a good media outlet. Don’t just throw words at the page.
Uncertain if something’s true or not? FactCheck should become your best friend. There are a lot of similar tools, so you can easily find the one that works best for your industry.
2. Write Comprehensive Content
Google loves comprehensive content. And so do readers. In fact, it’s the other way around: Google loves it because readers do.
Let’s make one thing clear, though: comprehensive content doesn’t necessarily mean super-long content. Comprehensive means that it’s long enough to cover your topic. That it’s long enough for readers to not need to go back to search results to find an additional source.
How many words does it take for an article to be comprehensive enough?
Of course, it depends on the topic.
HubSpot says that you need more than 2,000 words to be SEO-relevant. But don’t take that as a must-enforce rule.
Think about Wikipedia articles – they are a good landmark here. Most of them are incredibly comprehensive. You don’t need to read anything else on the same topic. Some of them are tens of thousands of words long. Others – just a couple hundred words. It all depends on the topic and its complexity.
Here’s an example closer to (my) home: we helped a client in tech rank for each and every keyword they ever aimed for (and gain customers from their content). You can read the full case study here. What the study doesn’t say is that content length varied widely.
We created shorter articles for them (around 1,000 words) but also monster pieces that clocked in at 4-5,000 words. They all ranked because they were comprehensive. Some topics needed less exploring than others.
Key takeaway: write as much as you need to cover your topic. Don’t cut it short because you read somewhere that people have short attention spans. But don’t add fluff either just because you read somewhere that Google loves long-form content.
3. Write Engaging Content
You don’t have to be an entertainer to keep people engaged through your content. But you do have to make it easier for them to like it. Here’s how:
- Use short phrases. Like this one. And no more than three phrases in a paragraph to make it easy to skim.
- Use sub-headings. Again, to make it easy for people to reach the section they are interested in. It’s even better if long-form pieces have a clickable table of contents at the top.
- Bullets are great. Especially this one, right?
- Use photos and videos whenever needed to illustrate a concept.
- Make your CTAs stand out. This makes it easy for people to buy from you. Add CTAs that are visible, clear and to the point.
Create Informative, Actionable Content
See how this post is structured and written? It’s designed to deliver on the promise in the title: give you actionable insights that you can apply right away.
It gives you information that you can actually use. You can start to revisit your older posts right now and change a few things to take your content from good to great. Or you can start typing away at your newest piece following this blueprint.
To be educational, a piece of content has to provide this type of information. And it has to explain it clearly and simply.
I could have bored you with writer’s jargon and used complicated acronyms that you’d have to Google. But my showing off my knowledge would only frustrate you and make you hate me. No one wins.
Write as if you were talking to a friend. Explain complicated concepts the simplest way you can think of. And never patronize your audience. You’re here to educate and inform them, not scold them in a passive-aggressive manner.
Need help with GREAT content writing? Reach out to my team of expert writers and let’s make you stand out through content!