That’s why in the previous post of our content writing series, I covered the things you need to prepare before writing a piece of content for the web.
Advance preparation will help you create a solid draft. But the process doesn’t end there. You need to make sure you have sprinkled the rich ingredients which really take your content from good to great.
You need to add value with actionable and appealing stuff that’s helpful to the reader. Your content should over-deliver on the promise of the headline.
That’s how you can build trust and sweep the readers off their feet. Keeping this in mind, here are some ideas to incorporate into your content to really delight readers and make them come back for more.
Table of Contents
Make It Comprehensive
If you have done your research thoroughly before starting to write, this part will be easy. Both humans and search engines prefer authoritative content which covers all the information on a topic.
So before you begin, it’s important to understand why you are writing content on a given topic, what’s the scope and what all subtopics you will need to touch on.
Your content needs to cover all aspects of a given topic, leaving no room for questions or gaps.
A great example of this is one of the most successful blogs on the planet, Wait But Why. By writing long-form posts with highly useful information with engaging visuals, the site has amassed around 2 million visitors per month.
Once you have explained everything on a topic, you also need to make sure it is easy for your audience to assimilate, refer to and apply the information.
For example, you can turn all the points you covered into a quick, comprehensive checklist, which readers can refer to again and again as required. You can use a tool like Checkli or Canva, which allows you to create and share free online checklists.
Hubspot has used this strategy with great success. Whenever possible, they try to include a checklist along with the content they publish.
Another great example is when something is turned into an abbreviation to make it easy to remember. Remember SMART goals? Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound.
Such techniques make your audience retain the information longer. Since this information is associated with your brand, it can leverage on these retention benefits.
While you want definitive content, it doesn’t have to be unnecessarily long and wordy. Just using more words won’t make a blog post better.
Don’t just focus on the word count. If something can be explained in 10 words, don’t take 50. Write short and to the point. One of the biggest turn off for readers is when they feel like you’re wasting their time.
Appreciate the readers’ time and get rid of the fat and fluff. There is nothing more impressive than tightly edited piece of good content, each part of which is filled with solid, actionable information.
Embed Expert Quotes
Including quote by an expert to support something you are saying in your content is one of the best ways to improve it. It doesn’t just look good, but also lends your content more credibility. Here’s an example of what it may look like:
As an added bonus, it also makes your content more likely to get a mention or link back from the expert.
You can either use a quote you read online on an influencer’s blog or website (as long as it’s still relevant), or you can reach out to them and request for a new one.
Then embed it in your content in a visually appealing manner, with a link back to the source. When you publish the content, make sure the expert you quoted is aware of it. You can mention them when sharing content on social media, or send a quick message with thanks.
In fact many bloggers have taken this strategy to the extreme, in the form of round-up posts, getting dozens of backlinks, relationships and huge exposure in return.
Robbie Richards, for example, regularly comes up with blog posts like these: 51 Experts Rank Best SEO Audit Tools for 2019.
He targets experts within his niche, and requests there quote/opinion on a specific topic. Then he compiles all this information in a single piece of content.
There is no reason you can’t apply the same strategy. However, before you get in touch with an influencer, make sure you have warmed them up a little bit.
This means doing the little things to get noticed by them, like sharing their good content on social media, subscribing to their newsletter, commenting on their blog post, and engaging with them on Twitter.
Real Stories & Case Studies
Whatever you claim needs to be supported with evidence, citing an external source or your own case studies. In fact, this report identifies case studies as one of the top 3 content marketing tactics.
Moreover, sharing stories about you or your brand has another benefit. It lets people see your personality and connect more with you emotionally.
For a brand, it gives a glimpse of people and processes behind the scenes. You turn from a cold corporation to a warm bunch of people.
Writing good content is about showing your readers that you have been through the same challenges, you understand what they are going through, how to got to the solution, what did you do and what kind of results you got.
An emotional story is more interesting, engaging and memorable than just plain facts or numbers.
When sharing advice, don’t just tell readers to do something, show them with clear examples and templates. Good content helps readers understand your concepts with more clarity and connect the solutions to their own problems.
For example, take a look at any post on the Ahrefs blog and you’ll see that it’s filled with tons of real templates and examples to aid your understanding.
That’s part of the reason it is among the most popular blogs in the highly competitive SEO industry.
Sharing real examples and templates helps readers get the most from your advice and follow through. It also gives encouragement that it’s actually possible to do what you’re advising.
Actionable Details & Steps
There is a difference between sharing superficial information and taking your readers through something step by step. You need to do the latter.
In order to help readers apply the information, you need to give proper context as well give the exact details on what and how exactly are they supposed to do something.
Even better if you can give an in-depth tutorial with videos, GIFs or screenshots. Make your content as actionable as possible.
If possible, end your article with all the different ideas in which readers can apply what they have just read. Give a summary of the main takeaways and lessons that can be gleaned from your stories and data.
Good content makes it easy and quick for readers to get to the main points, should they come back to refer to your article.
Add Custom Images/Graphics
Images and graphics help add to the story and make things more interesting and easy to follow.
As a rule of thumb, you can use at least one visual after every 500 words of content. This makes your content look more attractive and professional to readers.
Not only should the images be stunning to look at, they should be relevant and added in a way that supports the points covered in your article. You can use custom images, graphs, screenshots, charts, diagrams, tables, and more.
If you need some inspiration look at the Wait But Why blog I mentioned earlier, along with Oliver Emberton’s blog. See how much effort he puts into creating amazing visuals for each of his articles, which is the reason behind his huge following on Quora and other platforms.
Adding visuals is important, but try to stay away from generic stock photos. Everyone is using them without customizing much and so they don’t help much in differentiating your content from others. It’s much better to use originally taken, heavily customized or in-house graphics.
With easy to use tools like Venngage and Canva, there’s no excuse not to take some time to create or edit your own graphics. All these tools come with a great number of readymade templates, grids, illustrations and more to help you design great looking graphics quickly and easily.
Also make sure to brand your images with your business name, logo, colors and fonts so they are consistent and easy to associate with your brand.
Static images and graphics are great when you want to spice up your content. But some things can be best conveyed only by using a GIF or video. And good content takes advantage of that.
This visual medium is perfect for telling a story, or showing some quick steps on how to do something.
As an added bonus, videos also increase the time readers spend on your website, causing a boost in overall engagement and search rankings.
Make It Interactive
Fifty three percent of content marketers have said that they use some type of interactive content in their campaigns. Interactive content lets readers engage with it by providing some input and view real time output.
Examples of this type of content include: assessments, quizzes, calculators, online tools, polls, contests, interactive visuals and more.
Check out these examples from BuzzSumo, which will help you come up with your own ideas on what’s possible.
Creating interactive content assets may take a little more time, effort and cost than other assets, but they are worth it.
Inject With Fun/Humor
Good content writing isn't just knowing how to inform, but how to perform. You're educating your audience, but you also need to entertain them. So make it fun to read and learn from your content. Here are some great resources on the subject:
- 10 Ways to Make Your Content More Fun to Read
- 7 Simple Tricks to Add Humor to Your Writing
- How to Captivate Your Audience with Humor
It's also a good idea to browse your favorite humor or viral websites every once in a while and collect ideas you can use in your blog posts. Examples include Buzzfeed, 9Gag, Oatmeal etc. Keep a file of these ideas, which can come handy when writing content.
When it comes to writing good content, you want to focus more on quality than quantity. Implementing all these ways to boost your content will certainly take more time and effort, but I bet you’ll be happy with the results.
By doing all these things consistently in your content, you’ll establish trust and thought leadership and become the go to resource for products and services in your niche.
Did you try these tactics? Do you have any questions or comments? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.