A beginners guide to writing content for your site
Contrary to popular belief, writing content (whether it’s a blog, a guide, an information article etc,) is not something that comes naturally to everyone. Some people struggle to find the right words or know what to include to keep the reader interested. You can write content to entertain, inform, guide, teach, and sell (amongst others). If you’re starting out writing content for your site or refreshing your writing best practices, we have a quick checklist for you to follow to make sure you’re writing quality content.
How to Plan Your Content
View topic and brief provided
- Read through the brief and keep in mind key information that you or the client would like the content to include.
- Copy key information into the document where you will write the content. This ensures you stay focused on what to include and in which style to write the content. For example, the target audience, tone of voice etc.
- Also keep in mind CTA’s throughout the content. This is important as it keeps in mind the purpose of the content. What are you trying to achieve? It is to get a customer to call your business, fill in a form, or purchase a product or service from you?
- Begin research on a specific topic. Visit relevant websites that have written about the same/similar topic. This will help you to identify key information and statistics that you can potentially use in your content piece.
- Visit competitor websites to gain insight into how they speak to their customers. What tone of voice do they use, content structure and which pieces of content do their customers interact with the most. Is there any way you can stand out by providing information they don’t?
- Brainstorm your ideas for the content, noting down keywords and phrases you’d like to use.
- Decide on your specific subheadings – this will help you to structure your content to ensure you stay on topic and relay all the necessary points you are writing about.
How to Structure Your Content
When deciding on how to structure your content I would consider what type of page you are writing for. Is it a product/services page, FAQ’s, blog post? Then choose which type of structure is most relevant and provides the most detail.
Some options are:
- Bullet Points or listicles – These are popular with quick to consume content pieces or content that has step-by-step guidance.
- Paragraphs – If you’re trying to explain a more in-depth point you’ll need to break out your copy into paragraphs. To help with online readability, you will need to keep your paragraphs short (no more than 3 sentences per paragraph). Make sure you section your content with clear subheadings to aid fast readers and those that want to quickly skim the content.
- Table – Are you trying to compare features, reports or data? Make sure all tables are easy to read with clear labels are data formatted in the correct styling.
The majority of content should be structured in a way that tells a story and leads the reader from one section to the next in smooth transitions. You will definitely need to include:
Introduction – Get people’s attention and tell them what information they’re going to get if they keep reading. This is also a great section to qualify out people that have found your content who aren’t the target audience. They might not be potential buyers now, but you don’t want to irritate them.
Body – Provide detailed information that is relevant and useful for the reader.
Close – Summarize and bring everything back to your main point to remind your reader why they’re here.
Call to action – Tell people what they need to do next. These options vary from contact us via live chat or phone number, make an enquiry etc. Make sure your CTA matches up with the reader’s intent. If your content is targeting top of the funnel readers then asking them to fill out a long and detailed enquiry form won’t meet their current needs, but a download to a guide might.
How to Write Your Content
Once you’ve decided on your subheadings to break up your content, begin to arrange the phrases and facts you’d like to include into the specific sections.
Begin writing on your topic and go in order of your subheadings – this will make the content flow. At this point, your sentences do not need to be well-written or finished. Just as long as you begin to write around your key points.
Once you have written the bulk of your content, evaluate the effectiveness of your outline.
- Are you saying something unique?
- Do you offer a fresh perspective on the topic?
- Do all supporting statements relate to the topic?
Congratulations! Your rough draft is finished. You may read it over and fix glaring mistakes in your writing. But that’s it. It’s almost impossible to edit your work immediately after writing. Save your document, work on a different task, and come back to it after an hour or so. This cooling-off period will make a big difference in your ability to read what you wrote objectively.
- Read from start to finish.
- Evaluate your article from a high-level perspective: Does it make the point you set out to make? Does it make only that point? Is the angle unique enough?
- Make the first sentence and first paragraph as intriguing as possible.
- Edit sentences that don’t flow or require more information.
- Once your overall structure and introduction are good, begin tweaking the language.
- Simplify complicated sentences.
- Check spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Top tip: Do you know there are certain words you regularly misspell or confuse with another? For example, do you type “you” instead of “your” in a hurry? Or do you regularly mix up English and American spellings like the “s” and “z” rule? To quickly find these common mistakes you make, do a ctrl+f command, and quickly search your entire article for your common miss-spellings and replacing them with the correct versions.
How to Proofread Content
Proofreading content is ultimately the most important process when writing content. It is crucial to correct any grammatical or errors in punctuation that might have been missed in the editing stage. It is important to ensure that all content is proofread by another member of your team. Fresh eyes on written content will be able to check for any grammatical and spelling errors as well as a great opportunity to test the content and see if the reader understands its purpose.
Here is a short checklist you can use to tick off when proofreading:
- Read and understand the content brief provided.
- Correct all grammatical errors and ensure correct grammar is consistently used throughout the content.
- Correct all punctuation errors and insert correct punctuation marks where required.
- Make sure your content and context are consistent throughout.
- Check the layout is consistent.
- Check that blatant errors, e.g. brand names, etc are correct throughout.
- Ensure CTA’s, tone of voice, and USP’s are the same as what is reflected in the brief.
- Read the content backward
- Read the content out loud
Keyword and content planning
However, writing content for your site is more than writing what you are interested in or what you THINK might work. You need to conduct thorough keyword research and identify which keywords will bring in traffic that is still in awareness or problem-solving phases of the buyer funnel, and most importantly which keywords will bring in bottom of the funnel ready-to-purchase traffic. Identifying these two groups of keywords will help you manage your time wisely and write content that is more likely to rank (long-tail keywords), or is likely to see a return on investment.
It is also important to always have in mind you’re audience’s problem. What are they coming to your site for and what solutions/answers are they hoping for? Providing answers to their questions and giving information they need to know will gain trust and likely to see you as a reputable source of information in the future.
We hope you found this short guide useful in providing tips and tricks in content writing. There are many ways of writing content but if you follow the steps above you are sure to write successful and well-written content.
If you need any help with planning a content strategy, keyword research, and general help with your overall SEO – Get in touch with our team today!