The more complicated search engine algorithms get, so does SEO. It’s easy to get lost in SEO and keywords and forget the people for whom you are doing it.
But Skyword’s research says the best content marketers focus more on engagement and conversions than traffic. When all is said and done, all SEO is good for is getting people to your website. But once they are there, providing a great experience is key.
You want to style and format your content in a way that is best for humans, and then think about search engines. So make sure to consult this checklist before publishing any type of article or blog post online.
Table of Contents
The title of your content is so important that content professionals often spend as much time on it as the actual post. Without a great title, your high quality content is less likely to be noticed and read.
If you headline evokes curiosity, triggers emotions and creates desire, it’ll appeal to more of your target audience and you’ll get more clicks.
It also needs to promise a very specific benefit. Readers should feel like you know them and you have the exact solution to their specific problem.
When you’re ready to give your post a headline, remember to brainstorm as many as possible instead of just one or two. Don’t treat them like a quick afterthought. Give it time and get creative. Here’s some examples and templates for inspiration:
- Why These 21 Headlines Went Viral (and How You Can Copy Their Success)
- 10 Article Headline Examples That Got Us 10 Million Readers
- 51 Headline Formulas To Skyrocket Conversions (And Where To Use Them)
You need to come up with 10-20 post headline alternatives, which you can also test to see which ones get more clicks. There are also a number of tools available online which help you analyze and generate better headlines.
An Intro That Hooks
When a visitor lands on your content page, you only have a few seconds to capture their interest.
The first couple paragraphs of your post need to be emotionally-appealing and hook them. You need to show that content has what they want right away.
Here are some ways to hook readers right from the beginning:
- Begin with an interesting statistic or hard fact. Even better if the statistic goes against commonly held beliefs and conventions. Controversy makes people interested.
- Begin with the conclusion that you’re going to prove to them by the end. Then write in a way that builds suspense as to how you reached the conclusion, before you show them step by step.
- Open with a personal experience or story. Show your readers how you understand their problem because you faced it yourself. Put yourself in their shoes and empathize with them.
- Ask a question that related to the topic as well as your readers. It needs to be something they can ask themselves and ponder about. It also makes them stick around to see what your answer is.
- Be confrontational. If your readers are making a mistake somewhat knowingly, call them out on their BS. If they are doing something wrong unknowingly, tell them and say it’s not their fault. You are going to help make things right.
Catchy Meta Description
Apart from the headline, search engine results show some information about each result. This includes a small description, URL and other details in some instances. As a result, you need to pay attention to your meta description too.
In 2 or 3 short sentences, you want to write a description that’s not just keyword rich, but also persuades the searcher to click on your result.
To make your meta description better, follow the same guidelines that we discussed in the above section about writing an intro.
Show Passion & Enthusiasm
It shows when a writer actually cares about the topic of his content. You should really cultivate an interest in the subject to better understand the statistics and angles which would really interest you and your readers.
Then let your enthusiasm come through in your writing. Don’t hold back.
Other than that, you should also let some personality shine through your writing. Don’t just talk numbers and facts, share your opinions, thoughts and feelings.
There’s nothing more powerful than the real, authentic content because it’s so rare these days. And the good news is that it's hard to copy for competitors.
Remember Plain Language
Web content is not the platform for showing your fancy vocabulary or clever word plays. Always write in plain, easy to understand language. Avoid complex sentence structures, or terms that a reader might not know.
You should know your audience inside and out in order to get on the same language. Then you’ll know the phrases they use and humor they laugh at.
Context & Transitions
There should always be proper context behind everything you write. Don’t assume your readers know as much about your topic or will easily connect one sentence to another without your guidance.
Think about the gaps, background information, blind spots and transitions you need to explicitly state for a reader to fully comprehend your writing.
It’s only when you use appropriate context and transitions that your content readers in a flow like a cohesive piece. Otherwise it’s just a jumbled collection of random lines and paragraphs.
When you start a new paragraph, for instance, you need to make it clear how it connects to the previous paragraph, as required. You can use phrases like “another idea is to ..” or “in addition” and so on.
Use H2 and H3 Subheadings
Big walls of text with no subheadings make it really hard for people to read, or even just understand on a high level what the post is about.
Subheadings (using H1 and H2 tags) are visual cues that guide readers through your piece. You must use subheadings and short paragraphs. A reader should be able to quickly skim through to get an overview and understand the flow of your article.
When you split your article by subtopics, also make sure that your subheadings are interesting and descriptive. They should entice a visitor to keep reading by arousing curiosity and proming benefit.
Split Into Small Paragraphs
Another aspect that makes your content easy to scan and read are short paragraphs and sentences.
Ideally, a paragraph should not be more than 3-4 sentences. And a sentence should not have more than 10-15 words. If you notice a paragraph or sentence getting longer than that, it’s better to split it into two parts.
Use Bullet Lists
When writing content, ask yourself: Is there a piece of information which could be conveyed better with a list? Bullet points make the information you convey easy to scan and digest.
Whenever you come across a situation where you want to cover a list of associated ideas, use bullet points.
Conclude With Encouragement
A blog post is not complete until it is filled with encouragement for the reader to take action, along with knowledge. Your concluding section has to inspire the reader by taking away the main obstacle to implement your advice.
Show them the promised land; what is possible to achieve by doing what you’re telling them to do. Share a success story if you can. Highlight the main points of the piece and call for action with a sense of urgency, or it may be too late.
In other words, give them the pep talk you wish someone had given you when you were struggling with the topic your post is about. Show them that the time to act is now, or never.
End With CTA
Once someone has read your article, what do you want them to do? Your blog post should have a specific call to action.
Based on your objective, you can ask them to comment, subscribe to your newsletter, sign up for a consultation or learn more about your product.
Your call to action should be designed in a way that it’s hard to ignore. It should jump out at the reader with big, bold, contrasting fonts and colors.
Think about what would your audience want to read next once they have read the current piece of content. Make sure you write on that topic too and direct the visitors there.
The more content a visitor reads on your site, the more warmed up he or she will be. The will spend more time on your site and become more and more familiar with your brand.
It also establishes you as a thought leader on the broader subject, not just a single topic.
The more useful content available on your website, the more value readers are getting from it, and the more they will remember and trust your products and services.
After you’re done with writing, be sure to proofread it. Check for any spelling and grammatical mistakes. Read carefully to see if everything makes sense, is clearly written, and effectively conveys what you’re trying to say.
If there are things you can make better, edit your work. Take the time you need to revise and eliminate unnecessary fluff. Revisions are part and parcel of writing. So don’t take them personally.
As I said, SEO is important but ultimately it’s your readers and prospects who will be consuming your content. And if your content is not encouraging them to stay and keep reading more, the promotion is of no use.
These points will help you optimize your content and turn readers into subscribers, leads and then customers. And then you’ll see that SEO and all your other marketing initiatives will make a real difference.
Did I miss anything? Did you try these tips? Do you have any questions or comments? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.