This isn’t a short blog, (they never are) but it holds a lot of information for those struggling to write their own web content and blogs. If you don’t have time now, bookmark it and come back later. This is essential information for those trying to figure out how to write for their visitors, to keep them coming back again!
What does that mean? The content on your site, your blog and in the articles you write is everything. Never mind the link building, landing pages or other optimization techniques, because I’m going to tell you a secret:
You can get traffic and conversions with good content.
That’s right – with just content. Content brings the best kind of traffic to have – organic traffic. The only difference between good content and the rest of the SEO toolbox is that content on its own takes longer to build up the needed traffic for conversions and the linking for the search engine ranks. The rest of SEO is a set of “short-cuts” to ranking; ranking well brings more traffic (because you’re more visible), which, in turn, brings conversions – with good content.
So what classifies as good content? Come on, everybody chime in; by now, you know the answers:
- Informative or entertaining
- Well written
- Grammatically correct
In short, quality content is what you, yourself, would enjoy reading. If you write an article, read through it and your stomach churns and does flip flops, the article probably needs an overhaul.
Being Your Own Best Critic
This brings us to being critical of your work. There is a big difference between being insecure and being honest. Insecurity is that little voice that says, “This sucks. I have no business writing. I’ll never be any good at it.”
Honesty says, “This sucks and here’s why. This can be improved and here’s how. This will be great, but this is what I have to do to make it great.” Honesty also includes pointing out where you did well and reminding yourself to do well in those spots again.
Don’t let insecurities stop you from writing. Let honesty help you become a better writer. How do you tell the difference? Insecurity is negative; it makes you feel bad. Honesty is positive; it points out the issue so it can be improved. Learn to tell the difference and apply yourself to strengthening your writing skills.
Grammar and Voice
The rules of English grammar aren’t easy, even for native speakers. Is it were or was? Who or whom? Did you know have got is redundant? If grammar is an issue for you, the best investment you could ever make is to buy a book about it.
Now voice… well, voice isn’t so easy. You’ll have many web writers tell you to write the way you talk. I understand why, but I don’t agree. The concept behind writing the way you speak is because it’s a more engaging read, as well as reading more smoothly. Here’s the problem with that.
I’m from the Midwest. According to many people I know, I have an accent. What I actually have is a drawl and the unfortunate habit of talking fast. Together, it sounds slurred and – to be honest – sometimes slow-witted. Let me give you an example:
I don’t talk like what you normally read on this blog. I’m not grammatically correct. I drop my participles, slur my words to “git er done” and, in general, murder the English language. Writin’ like ya’ll speak ain’t necessarily the best way to “git er done” (yes, I really say “ya’ll”, although I draw the line at “git er done”).
Not only is it murder on the eyes, but also after a little bit your spell checker gives up on you, packs its bags and moves to another computer. After leaving a lot of squiggly red and green lines. It ain’t perty. In addition, how many times do you start a sentence with “And” or “But” when you’re talking? Darn near most of the time, I bet. According to grammar rules, that’s not pretty, either.
Therefore, you need to work on the best of both worlds – and practice. Although the above example was a mite exaggerated, it still applies. Write an article or web page without thinking about how it should read. Just write it. Once you’re finished, read over the page and – using honesty not insecurity – pick out where your weak points are.
Where do you run on without pausing for punctuation? For that matter, did you pause too many times and litter your document with poor defenseless commas? Are there places where you lost focus? Did you end up on the same topic you started with?
Now here is the most dangerous part. Turn on your spell checker and go to options. Check every possibility for grammar in the settings and then recheck your document. If you only have a few green squiggles, you’re doing better than most. If you have a whole bunch of them, however, don’t be discouraged. This is a learning exercise, not a “kick yourself in the butt” exercise.
If you’re writing about the correct topic, i.e. something you know about that’s relative to the site, it will be useful. Now, you may sell lip gloss. You may think, “Who doesn’t know how to put on lip gloss?” You may even think it’s a stupid idea to write a “How-to” blog about it. Who, after all, is going to read it?
You’d be surprised. Somewhere out there is a girl with her first tube, staring at it and thinking, “How the heck do I put this stuff on right?” That’s who you’re writing for, and the same principle applies to different types of nails, styles of furniture, types of light fixtures and everything else. If you know it, someone out there doesn’t… and wants to.
So – don’t worry about whether it’s useful. If it’s relevant to your site topic, it’s useful to someone.
Let Emotions Rule the Day
This deals with the topic of writing engaging copy. We could write whole blogs on just this topic, but for now let’s stick with the basics. Engaging copy is simply an emotional piece. How do you feel about the topic when you’re writing it? Does it make you smile? If it does, let that come out and write with feeling.
Now, word of warning. This doesn’t mean if you’re writing on something that angers you that you start spouting obscenities. As used to hearing them as most people are, obscenities are shocking in writing and usually have an affect opposite of what you intended.
If you have to use a four letter word in every sentence to make a point, you’re not smart enough to talk. This is especially true in writing. If nothing else, pull out the thesaurus and look up synonyms for the word you really want to use (I have had to do this a time or two).
Last But Not Least
Let others read the content before you post it. Having said that, you’ll have to learn how to distinguish the difference between “the man getting you down” and people who are actually trying to help. “The Man” sounds just like your insecurities: “Sorry, dude, don’t know how to break it to you, man, but this sucks.” Just like honesty, those trying to help will point out where they think you went wrong. “This is good, but this part is a little iffy.”
Now, having said that, remember you can’t please everybody. Two or three people might point out something. You’ll change it, resubmit it to someone else, and have them point out something – which just happens to be the part you just changed. Guaranteed, they’ll tell you to put it like you originally had it.
Ultimately, you are the writer. You decide what you change, and only you. If you disagree with what someone has said, say, “Thank you very much”, and go ahead with the way it was.
As always, comments and questions are welcome, and we hope to hear from you on how we can improve our own posts or how you’ve improved yours!