According to research into user experience, we form a first impression of a website in less than a second. And when it comes to assessing written content, users make up their minds in under six seconds. This means the content on your website – and in your emails and social posts too – needs to be clear, interesting, and useful to the reader. You need to provide the information potential customers are looking for while also keeping your existing customers engaged with your brand.
In other words, your content has a lot of work to do – but don’t be intimidated by that. Below, we’ve put together our top content tips to help make the writing process much easier…
1. How to beat writer’s block
- Look at data – keyword research, trends, industry blogs and newsletters. The trick to having good ideas is to have a lot of not-very-good ones first
- Plan your content. Make a list of your main keyword and secondary keywords and use them to guide the structure of your piece. If you have an outline for your content, you’re less likely to find yourself at a loss for things to say
- If you do have a topic and a plan but you’re still struggling to get started, just write something down, even if you think it’s not very good. The saying ‘you can’t edit a blank page’ is a cliché because it’s true. Get something on the page, and fix it later
2. K.I.S.S (Keep it simple, stupid!)
- As we said above, structure really helps with writing – like a good story, every piece of content should have a clear beginning, middle and end
- Get straight to the point. Visitors to your site want information quickly and if they don’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll go elsewhere. So, make it as easy as possible for the user to find what they need
- Stay on-topic. If you’re writing an in-depth piece like an article or blog post, you don’t need to include everything you know about the subject if it’s not relevant to the reader
- Keep your paragraphs short and make use of white space on the page – huge blocks of text with no visible breaks will put people off straight away
3. The ‘so what?’ rule
- Everything you write must have a purpose or at least be useful to the reader. When you write something, imagine someone reading it and saying, ‘so what?’ Give your audience clear reasons to keep reading your content
4. Think ‘what’s in it for me?’ (WIIFM?)
- If someone’s going to take the time to read your content, you need to give them something in return. Every piece of content should leave your reader with something they didn’t have before: a feel-good factor, a clear message, or a call to action (and ideally, all three of those things!)
- Think about what your reader wants to gain from reading your content over someone else’s. There must be a reason to keep them engaged; it could be offering useful advice, promoting a special offer where they can save money or even the simple fact that they like your style of writing
- If you’re writing about a complex topic or niche industry, keep the layperson in mind and avoid using jargon. Your content shouldn’t be hard work to understand, and your audience shouldn’t have to go and Google what you mean
- If you find yourself struggling to be clear, try explaining the topic out loud as though you’re telling a friend about what you’re writing
- Remember: you’re the authority here. You have information, insights and a service or product that other people need. Your written content should reflect that, so avoid writing in a vague or indecisive manner
- Every word, sentence and paragraph must have a meaning as to why it’s being included – be merciless and delete what you don’t need. Use the ‘so what’ rule above to ensure everything you’re writing deserves its place on the page
6. Edit, edit, edit
- Read your work out loud – trust us, it’s a failsafe editing tip. Reading what you’ve written aloud will help you check that your punctuation is in the right place, that you haven’t repeated yourself and that your sentences aren’t too long. In short: if it doesn’t flow when you read it, it’s not going to flow when anyone else does.
- Know when to walk away. If you can, get a night’s sleep in between writing a piece and publishing it. Looking at your work with fresh eyes will show you what needs improvement. If you don’t have time to put it aside until the next day, even a five-minute walk around the block will help
If you need clear, engaging content for your website, or your existing content needs a refresh to make it the best it can be, we’d be delighted to offer our marketing expertise and word wizardry – get in touch with us today.