The online world is saturated with blog posts on every topic under the sun. We’ve got some easy-to-follow tricks to make your writing projects much smoother.
Links, images, sentence length and voice are all points to consider when planning your blog posts or website content. And, now more than ever, SEO is making things just that bit more difficult for us writers. Content writing advice is a minefield, but we’ve narrowed down the best tips for you.
To plugin or not to plugin?
If you’re blogging on WordPress (if not, why not?), then you should be using the Yoast plugin which monitors your SEO and readability. It’s so satisfying to get those green lights! However, if you don’t have access to this, or you want to polish up your content writing skills without relying on a plugin, then you’ve arrived at the right destination.
That considered, although readability and SEO ranking is important for getting your blog noticed, it’s not the be all and end all. Check out our blog post on top SEO myths.
We’ve got all the tricks
Granted, content writing can’t always be taught, it comes more naturally to some than others. However, there is always room for improvement, regardless of your skill or experience! These tips and tricks will help you to become a more natural writer, a more engaging blogger, and an SEO/readability whizz – without using plug-ins.
1. Long or short?
Readability checks like you to use shorter sentences. This is important, as you don’t want to induce reader fatigue. Sometimes, if you’re really knowledgeable and excited about a topic, it’s hard to avoid long sentences. For best results, use a variety of long and short. Short sentences capture the attention…long sentences create depth. We need both in good blog posts!
2. Active vs passive
This is a big one. It also gives us another reason to be wary of taking plugins for their word. Sometimes, these plugins can wrongly detect ‘passive voice’. Predicative expressions, or when a quote is analysed as part of the text, can fool the plugin into thinking you’ve written in the passive. However, passive voice is generally considered the more complex form of telling a story. Remember that you want to reach as wide an audience as possible with your writing, so keep it active if possible, and therefore easier to digest.
3. Outbound and inbound links
This might not seem relevant to writing, but trust me, it is. If you can relate your content to previous posts your blog has published, you’ll not only rank higher in search engines, but you’ll seem more knowledgeable and trustworthy to your audience. A good way to do this is to touch on a topic you know has already been covered, then direct your reader to ‘read more’ by following the link. Outbound links are good too. They show you’ve done research and know what else is out there.
4. A picture’s worth a thousand words
It isn’t all just about words. Images make your writing a lot more engaging to a reader, and can be a good way to break up big chunks of text. Add in pictures of yourself, your colleagues and your office if you are blogging for a company. This will make your blog more personable, and therefore more appealing to visitors.
5. Thin vs. short content
This one’s quite an important one. Posts less than 200 words will generally rank the lowest in search engines. This is ‘short content’, but it’s not all about word count. ‘Thin content’ is different. Your post could have more than 200 words, but be full of regurgitated content from other sites and have little to offer the reader. This is what you want to avoid. Keep your copy fresh, and give your reader a different angle or perspective if you’re covering a popular topic.
6. Write for the reader, not the search engine
It’s easy to get lost in obsessing over SEO when content writing is more competitive than ever. However, make sure you remain human in your blog posts. Keywords are important, but inserting them everywhere you can is only going to bore your reader. Add in humour, rhetorical questions and personal anecdotes. The key is to get a balance between meeting SEO criteria and making your content compelling to a user.
7. Keep it interesting!
We’ve kept this one until last, as we truly believe it’s the most important. If you’re not interested in what you’re writing, your audience won’t be. It doesn’t matter what topic you’ve been given, there’s always a way to make things fun and engaging. Check out other blogs and read a variety of websites to find ideas on how you can present a topic. This is especially key with blogging – use your creativity!