what grade level to write online content in

Successful Web Content: What Reading Levels Should You Aim for?

Are you speaking to your readers on their level, or are you going over (or under) their heads?

Without understanding what grade level to write online content in for different target audiences, your words will not have the hoped-for impact.

Instead, your readers will get bored, confused, annoyed, or all three – exactly what you don’t want to happen.

what grade level to write online content in

What’s the Most Common Reading Level for Adults?

Before we dive into what reading levels to write your online content in, we need to establish a base of knowledge.

First off, what is the reading level of an average adult?

While adult reading levels vary, it’s helpful to know the average – especially if you don’t know your own audience’s level yet.

According to a rigorous literacy study, the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) published by the National Center for Education Statistics, the average prose adult literacy level is basic to intermediate.

  • In 2003, 29% of American adults tested at a basic level.
  • Another 44% of adults tested at an intermediate level.

When you have “prose literacy,” you have the skills and knowledge you need to comprehend, use, and search information from continuous texts (e.g. novels, textbooks, papers, essays, and other long works).

  • Having basic prose literacy means a person has the skills to perform simple literary activities. For example, they can read and understand short texts and simple documents and locate easy-to-find information to solve simple problems.
  • Having intermediate prose literacy means a person can perform literary activities that are moderately challenging. They have higher-level reading and analysis skills and can sift through denser texts to find meaning and solve problems.

So, what are the equivalent reading grade levels?

Let’s begin with one startling fact: 50% of American adults are unable to read a book written at an 8th-grade level. (That’s not to say they can’t read it, period. They can probably read some words and some sentences, but the larger ideas and themes won’t connect. That’s because the continuum of reading comprehension will be interrupted and fragmented.)

When we compare prose literacy levels with a system like the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels, they match up how you’d expect:

Most adults fall in the “average” range, which spans from 6th to 12th-grade reading levels. In other words, most adults can read books like Harry Potter or Jurassic Park and understand them without any problems.

So, if you haven’t figured out your audience’s average reading level, a good base to start from with your content is indeed on the lower end of average – about an 8th-grade reading level.

Improving your content's readability is beyond writing what works for the majority. Here's @JuliaEMcCoy's guide on how you can find the right grade level to write your online content in. ✍ Click To Tweet

How to Know What Grade Level to Write Online Content in for Maximum Readability

So, now you know the average reading grade level for most adults. But, what about YOUR audience?

Your brand audience may have a reading level on par with most adults, or it could differ a lot. Here’s how to know what grade level to write online content in for YOUR specific set of readers.

1. Match Your Content to Your Audience

Before you do anything else, get to know your audience. You have to find out who these people are to know the best reading level to write in FOR them. Find out details like:

  • Their level of education
  • Their profession and job description
  • Their interests and hobbies

Matching your content to your audience is essential for your words to make an impact.

  • Dumb it down too much, and you risk insulting their intelligence or boring them.
  • Make it too high-brow or intellectual/formal, and you risk losing them from confusion or incomprehension.

No matter the audience you’re writing for, hitting the right balance is tricky. However, the better you know them, the better off you’ll be.

2. Use Your Audience’s Vocabulary

Vocabulary and word choice are two big factors that determine reading grade level.

For example, does your audience prefer well-worded content? Or do they need it simple and clear?

It’s the difference between using words like “elementary” vs. “basic,” or “intellectual” vs. “smart” in your content.

Another thing: Will your audience understand your use of technical industry terms, or do you need to simplify those words for general understanding?

E.g., if you run a marketing agency for small businesses, you wouldn’t want to use marketing jargon in your content – that’s your expertise, not your clients’. If you DO need to use specialized terms like “brand awareness” or “marketing segments,” for example, you’d need to define or explain them.

The best way forward here is to always use your audience’s vocabulary:

  • Research what they say and how they say it – this is easily done by analyzing at their social media profiles, posts, and comments.
  • You can also check Quora and Answer the Public for how they word questions about your topic area.

3. Remember You’re Writing for the Web

No matter who makes up your target audience, you must always remember you’re writing content for the web.

People read and interact with electronic text differently than they do with printed text. This table from Writing Cooperative shows what I mean:

  • With printed text, the average reader will read from top to bottom. There’s no skipping around.
  • With online text, the average reader will read it piece-meal or skip around. They’ll scroll until something catches their eye or skim the headings of a content piece rather than read it through 100%.

A study from Sumo backs this up. They discovered the average online reader will only read about 20% of your blog or article.

This is a frustrating reality of online writing, but not all hope is lost. There are actions you can take to encourage your readers to read ALL of your words on a page.

How do you know the right reading grade level for your audience? First of all, get to know your audience and speak like them, but make sure your content is well formatted to be easy to read on the web. 👩‍💻 Read more tips on this post. Click To Tweet

How to Improve the Readability of Your Content

These tips are especially helpful if you are unintentionally writing at a level way too high (read: too academic or too formal) for your audience. They’re also good if you need to improve your online writing skills and learn tactics to engage internet readers better.

1. Write Shorter Sentences

Contrary to what you might think, using shorter sentences will not dumb down your content. Instead, it will make it more readable.

Sentences that drag on… and on… and on… are harder to read on a screen. They tend to make your mind wander and your eyes hurt because there aren’t any pauses. Hence, your eyes play hopscotch on the page rather than continuing in a linear fashion.

An easy way to do it: Look for the coordinating conjunctions in your sentences – and, but, for, nor, and so – because these tend to join two independent thoughts together. Delete them and add a period.

E.g., “She knew it was going to be a rainy day, but she didn’t want to bring an umbrella.”

Remove the conjunction, add a period. The sentence becomes “She knew it was going to be a rainy day. She didn’t want to bring an umbrella.”

No meaning is lost, and the sentence isn’t dumbed down. It’s just shorter!

2. Use Less-Complex Versions of Common Words

If you’re writing for an average reader, skip the words that over-complicate your ideas.

One major example: “Utilize” vs. “use.”

They mean the EXACT same thing, but one is simpler and clearer.

Look at the difference:

“She wanted to utilize her knowledge.”

“She wanted to use her knowledge.”

See what I mean?

3. Make Paragraphs Shorter

Another great way to increase the readability of your online content is to shorten your paragraphs.

Shorter paragraphs naturally keep your eyes moving down, line by line. Whether it’s due to our natural curiosity or some other factor, it works.

For example, use one-line paragraphs to pull your readers’ eyes down the page. These are called “bucket brigades” (Brian Dean explains them really well in his SEO copywriting article).

  • Use one-line paragraphs and bucket brigades in your intro to grab attention.
  • Use them to emphasize important points, facts, or ideas in the body of your piece, too.
  • For example, after some longer paragraphs that are explain-y, use some bucket brigades to break up the rhythm of the piece and keep your reader interested.

4. Include Lots of Headings

Headings are a godsend for online writing.

  • They break up the text into orderly, logical chunks.
  • They make the text easy to scan and find the information you want.
  • They help readers make sense of the text.

As a general rule, add a heading whenever you introduce a new facet or branch of your topic. Use them liberally versus sparingly, especially if your piece is long.

Don’t forget to tag your headings appropriately and make them stand out from the body text. In WordPress, there’s a dropdown menu that lets you apply headings to text, including formatting:

Some other heading tips:

  • H1 should only be used once – for your headline/title.
  • H2s are for major subtopics within your content piece.
  • H3s break down facets of your subtopic(s).
  • H4s further help break down points inside your H3s.

Image: BloggingWizard

5. Use the Tools at Your Disposal

Tons of tools exist on the web that can help refine the readability of your online text. My favorites:

  • Hemingway Editor has a built-in readability score. It also shows where you’re being unnecessarily wordy – a giant help for cutting down sentences and improving clarity.
  • Readable works similarly but scores your text against several readability algorithms so you get a bunch of different scores, plus a grade from Readable’s proprietary scoring system. It also points out the hard-to-read text so you can refine it.
  • Microsoft Word has a reading score tool built in. To use it, just go to Review >> Spelling & Grammar. Go through the spell-check. When it’s finished, the final screen will display lots of extra information about your text, including the various readability scores.

6. Get Feedback

Nothing beats the human eye when you’re trying to assess the readability of a text.

To that end, enlist an editor, proofreader, or a trusted friend to read your content for clarity and readability. Ask them to specifically judge the clarity of your content and how easy it is to read.

Use this as your last check before hitting “publish.” Keep your editor’s comments in mind for the future and use them to further hone your writing.

How do you improve the readability of your content? 👨‍💻 Write shorter sentences, use simpler, commonly used words, write shorter paragraphs, add lots of headings, use readability tools, and get feedback. - @JuliaEMcCoy. Click To Tweet

For What Grade Level Should You Write Online Content? It Depends

The average adult reads at an 8th-grade level, but that doesn’t mean you should write to that level.

Your audience will be the last word on the reading level you aim to hit.

Do thorough research to get to know them, then write accordingly. Don’t forget to infuse your content with best practices for online writing and reading on screens.

Once you write to your audience in a way that’s totally tailored to them, your content will start making the impact you’ve been hoping for. Here’s to better content that moves people in ways you never imagined! 🥂

storytelling

In A Galaxy Far, Far Away: Blending Storytelling In Web Content

What do you and Tolkien have in common?

While it might be tempting to answer, “nothing,” I’d encourage you to look a little deeper.

Sure, Tolkien invented magical lands and languages and creatures few of us could concoct in our wildest dreams, but there’s still a similarity. That similarity links you and me, and all of us who work in the written word, to Tolkien, Rowling, Nabokov, and Chekov. What is it?

The similarity is a love of stories and a fondness for telling them.

Today, too many people sell “marketing” or “commercial” writing off as a pursuit devoid of creativity. They see it as nothing more than some empty pitches and a hard-sell. Lucky for them, and for us, those people are wrong.

As someone who has spent all my life creating and consuming stories, I can tell you that storytelling is central to great brand writing and that only companies who nail it right off the bat succeed with their customers down the road.

Today, we’re going to talk about storytelling: what it is, why it matters, and how you can blend it into your web content. Read on.

storytelling in web content

What is Storytelling?

No matter who you are, where you came from, or what you studied in school, you’ve probably had the experience of hearing a story that knocked your socks off.

Think about that story for a moment.

How about the opening lines of Star Wars (one of my all-time favorite cinema classics)?

star wars

Maybe you were enamored by the opening lines of Kafka’s Metamorphosis:

“When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.”

Or Nabokov’s Lolita:

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee.Ta.”

Maybe it was the opening line of The Hobbit that made you sit up straight in your chair, suck in your breath, and clutch the book a little tighter at the sheer joy of the story to come:

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

While each of these stories came from a different part of the world, different culture, and a different time, each has one thing in common: they grab you, and they won’t let go.

This is storytelling, in all its richness and beauty.

Why Stories Matter

Storytelling in copywriting is the perfect way to engage readers and claim their attention. To understand how to tell great stories, though, it’s essential first to figure out why they matter so much.

Stories are integral to human society. Stories are and have always been, a part of life. Since the excellent way ancient beings painted petroglyphs on the walls of caves, to the day when Rowling sat down to write the first few lines of her Harry Potter series, not much has changed. Stories are meant to entertain and delight, to help people pass the time and uncover deeper meaning in life.

Today, the methods by which people tell stories has changed, but the importance they hold in society hasn’t. As such, marketers who understand how important telling stories is can succeed capturing something rare and extraordinary that allows them to reach the next level of connection and emotion with their readers.

The Connection Between Copywriting and Storytelling

You don’t think copywriting and storytelling go hand in hand? It might be time to think again.

What do you think you’re doing when you write up that long product description or your latest press release? Sure, you’re providing customers with the facts, but you’re also telling a story. It might not be something from the Brothers Grimm, but it’s a story nonetheless. And this story helps delight your readers and assist them to make a connection with the product, good, or service you’re writing about.

When you tell the story the right way, you have the potential to make a new connection with your readers and help them remember you the way you want them to remember you. This is a rare opportunity afforded to only the best and bravest marketers.

How To Incorporate Storytelling In Your Web Content: 5 Epic Tips

Even if you fancy yourself more an inbound expert than a mythologist, it’s still possible to create unforgettable stories. Here are five epic rules for incorporating storytelling into your online content, starting now:

1. Keep it Relevant and Interesting

A great story teller knows who is going to read it, and tailors its voice accordingly. The same needs to go for your online writing. Relevant stories perform better with their audiences, and help perpetuate that feeling of enchantment and mystery.

Luckily for you, staying relevant doesn’t have to mean getting boring. To keep your story relevant and exciting, find ways to tie it back to your target audience consistently. As you write, ask yourself if they would appreciate, connect to, or identify with the topic of your story. If so, keep going. If not, reevaluate. The more relevant you can keep your tale, the better it will perform with your readers.

2. Do the Opposite of What GRRM Did

George R. R. Martin is known for his lengthy descriptions of banquets and the gigantic nature of his A Song of Ice and Fire novels. He is also known for taking eons to publish his books. They are amazing, there’s no doubt about it.

But if there’s one thing online creators should learn from George, it’s what not to do – and here’s why.

If you want to succeed at storytelling online, do the opposite of what George did. Instead of going into painstaking detail so extensive you lose the online reader, who has 8 seconds to keep their attention on one topic, take a large-picture approach and ensure that what you’re writing is useful and exciting, first and foremost.

Don’t write extremely long stories and don’t take forever publishing your content. While there’s some evidence to suggest that long-form content performs better online than short-form content, this isn’t a good reason to string your content along just because you can.

Remember: there’s a difference between long-form and overstuffed. Today’s successful online content needs to be more than just long: it also needs to be helpful and exciting. With this in mind, avoid cramming your content full of junk just to extend its word count or make it seem more extensive.

3. Read, Read, Read, Then Write

As Stephen King says, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.” Reading is paramount for crafting great stories. You will not be able to come up with something witty and intriguing if all you do is look at Facebook every day.

Note that when I say read, I mean things both inside and outside of copywriting. While it’s smart to read your industry papers, publications, and journals, you should also venture outside your industry into the great novels, stories, and poetry of the world. While it might seem like there’s nothing to be learned here, these storytellers can give you a master class in how to construct and deliver appealing content to the masses.

To put this another way, when you read things that will inspire your writing, you give yourself the competitive edge in a very competitive industry. Try checking out Orson Scott Card’s Ender series or Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

If science fiction and fantasy aren’t your jam, try Agatha Christie, Mark Twain, Lemony Snicket, Fyodor Dostoevsky, or Charles Bukowski. No matter who or what you love to read, reading more and writing more will both help you flex and build your storytelling muscles, and enjoy more compelling stories in no time.

Remember: you don’t have to tie yourself into a particular genre or brand, either: just find an author you love to read and go with it. It doesn’t matter if you’re hooked on presidential biographies or fantasy novels, just as long as you’re reading.

4. Treat Your Brand Like an Epic Tale

Think about fairy tales for a moment: they’re some of the most archetypal stories out there.

snow white story

Each of them has a few things in common: a separation, initiation, and return, and a series of characters that typically includes some assortment of a wise old sage, a young hero, an animal assistant, and a villain. While stories like The Little Mermaid and Bluebeard may seem very different, they share some key ingredients that make them work.

If you want to incorporate storytelling into your web content, one of the first things you’ll need to learn to do is to take a hint from these epics: treat your brand as a story for the ages, and it will become one.

When you look at it this way, your brand launch wasn’t just a launch: it was a great quest for a distant goal. Your founders aren’t just founders, they’re adventurers paving new roads. The problem you’re seeking to solve isn’t just an annoyance: it’s a foundational villain you’re out to destroy.

The more you can incorporate the storytelling structure into your content, the more successful you’ll be both in the long- and short-term.

While this doesn’t mean you need to use fantastical language or create fantastical demons to star in your product descriptions, it does mean that incorporating the structure of storytelling into your daily life can help you master the art of online copy.

5. Craft a Narrative Arc

For the stories in your online copy to be as compelling as possible, they need to follow a narrative arc that takes them from the introduction to the conflict to resolution. Not only does this keep the reader interested: it also serves to structure your story and makes it more recognizable as a story than as marketing copy.

Keep the narrative arc in mind as you write your stories, since this will provide the foundation and roadmap they need to become truly unforgettable.

If you’re having a difficult time finding the narrative arc in your story, consider having someone else read it for you. The second set of eyes will be helpful to identify storytelling structure and help you improve it accordingly.

Happy Storytelling to You!

You’ve read the tips for interweaving stories with your web content, and now it’s time to get to work integrating the age-old practice of storytelling into your daily writing and life.

Need an example of a brand that does storytelling well?

Look no further than Starbucks!

siren

starbucks

The coffee chain released a story about their siren logo and how it came to be within their brand. Are you surprised they pulled it from literature? Or that people loved its inception story so much?

Telling a story about your brand and how it came to be is a great way to garner more interest in your company, as well as establish a personal connection with customers. When you master it accordingly, your readers and your brand both stand to benefit far beyond your wildest dreams.

What’s more, telling a story is one of the only ways to hone your writing, improve your brand, and make your products, goods, and services unforgettable to your customers.

Need expert writers to help you craft high-quality stories starting today? Visit our Content Shop today to get started.

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web content

How to Make People Want to Read Your Web Content: 5 Formatting Tips

Want to get people to read your web content?

Buckle up and settle in. It’s harder than you may think.

Good content that people want to read isn’t just well-written. It’s also:

  • Organized
  • Concise
  • Scannable

In other words, it’s easy on the eyes. You don’t have to do much work to make sense of it.

But, why is this important?

It’s simple: People read differently on the web than they do anywhere else. “Anywhere else” includes papers, books, magazines, and other printed matter. Whatever the physical medium, people do not read them the same way they read a web page.

If you’re not optimizing your web content for the way people read on the web, you’ll be turning them away more often than inciting them to dive deeper.

Want people to get the most out of your content? You need to fan the flames of their interest, not douse them in freezing cold water.

Why Do People Read Web Content Differently?

Why do people read differently on the web than they do for printed matter?

We could surmise that people don’t feel like they have time to read every page they encounter word-by-word. The web is so large, and there’s so much information to sift through, something’s got to give.

Think about how many pages you click through daily. If you have no idea, check out your browser history for yesterday. How many websites did you visit?

If you’re like me, the list is most likely a mile long. There’s no way I would have digested all that information unless I scanned it.

Deep reading is not conducive to web browsing.

web content

What Does Research Say About Reading on the Web?

Research backs up the fact that people don’t read web content like they do books.

In fact, the Nielsen/Norman Group found this was true 79% of the time in an eye-tracking study they did. They measured over 300 people’s eye movements as they browsed hundreds of websites. They came to an overwhelming conclusion:

People do not read on the web. They scan.

Slate came to a similar conclusion when they tracked how far people scrolled down their web pages before leaving. Even if people do stick around long enough to scan the page, they don’t stay for long.

About 50% of users stopped scanning at the halfway mark in a Slate article before they clicked away from the page. Across the web, people stopped at about the 60% mark.

Here’s Slate’s conclusion:

“Few people are making it to the end, and a surprisingly large number aren’t giving articles any chance at all.”

Another Nielsen study found that to be true. According to the research, people only have time to read (or choose to read) about 28% of any given web page.

If this isn’t discouraging for web content creators, I don’t know what is.

If we can’t get people to read our content, how do we make any impact at all?

There’s Hope: You Can Get People to Scan and Scroll Your Web Content

Yes, you can improve your chances that people will scan your content, read at least some of it, and scroll all the way to the end.

On the internet, where attention spans are shorter than a blip, that’s a huge deal.

Some of these tips to achieve these goals may be obvious, but some may be surprising. Here are five ways to make people more likely to skim, scan, and read.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Learn the five strategies to get people to scan and scroll your web content via @ExpWriters!” quote=”Learn the five strategies to get people to scan and scroll your web content via @ExpWriters!”]

1. Organize Your Content Well

Well-organized content is scannable content. It’s a cinch to read, plus, you can easily find ideas within the text. Some examples of good organization:

  • Bulleted lists
  • Numbered lists
  • Headings and sub-headings
  • Short paragraphs with one main idea in each
  • Meaningful links

These all have one thing in common. They’re all ways to break up your content so it’s scannable. Readers latch on to these text markers – all of them are alerts that say, “Hey, this is important. Pay attention.”

And, luckily, most readers do!

So, what does the opposite look like? This leads us to my next point:

2. Don’t Build Walls of Text!

You can find content with zero organization most often in that infamous “wall of text.” You know what I’m talking about.

It’s hard to scan and will make people want to punch their computer – never a good scenario.

Because they can’t punch their computers, instead, they’ll leave your website without a backward glance.

3. Make Your Organization Logical

A page that’s organized is great, but if that organization isn’t logical, you’re still not helping your readers.

What does logical organization look like?

It means ideas are grouped together. One paragraph, one idea. One bulleted list, one main idea. Here’s a fantastic example:

Note that all items in each list go together. On one hand, there’s the list of ingredients. On the other, there are the instructions. These groupings make sense. They’re logical.

Here’s an illogical example:

Note the formatting. Some of the items have punctuation; others don’t. Some are one-word long; others are sentence-length.

Also, note the information itself. All the items in this list relate to ice cream, but they don’t all belong there. A bulleted list needs to have the same type of “thing” next to each bullet.

Don’t make these errors. Instead…

4. Format Your Bulleted Lists Well

Good organization helps your readers immensely. It also makes them want to linger on your page.

When your page is easy-as-pie to scan, your readers can glom-on to important information. They’ll grab the hook and get caught on your line.

Here are some main keys for strongly organized lists in your content:

  • Don’t mix sentence fragments with full sentences in your lists. Use phrases exclusively, or only use sentences with periods – not both.
  • If you find yourself typing out long lists with commas in paragraphs, consider breaking up that information into a bulleted list.
  • Try to use the same sentence structure and type in your lists for each bullet. For instance, don’t mix statements with questions.
  • Don’t overuse bullets or lists. Employ them when it makes sense, especially when they clarify your ideas.

In short, to make sense, use common sense. Try your best to enlighten your readers, not confuse them. Break up your content, organize it, and do it logically.

5. Use SEO Strategies

SEO is how you make your website usable and readable for both search engines and humans.

This optimization double-whammy is exactly how you should go about boosting your content for a better user experience.

SEO tenets, like the use of keywords, headers, meaningful links, and more, contribute to readability.

Plus, according to Yoast, readable text ranks. On the other hand, text that’s hard to read will not rank. Think stilted sentences, strange wording, or unorganized blocks of text.

Bottom line: Search engines loathe walls of text in web content. You should, too.

Get Read More Widely: Format Your Web Content the Right Way

Unfortunately, most internet users don’t do any deep reading on the web.

That blog post you spent hours composing? It may not get skimmed past the third paragraph. Even more people will bounce before they ever read the first line.

These are not good reasons to get discouraged and quit, though. Instead, take them as motivation to format your web content so it’s ultra-readable.

This means a logical organization with zero text walls. It means using bulleted or numbered lists to break up chunks of information. It means being smart about including meaningful headings and links.

Image via Spyre Studios

Don’t forget the SEO! This is the perfect way to optimize for both search engines and people. Implement basic SEO tenants and you’ll find that organization is inherent to its success.

To sum it all up, pay attention to what you’re saying, but don’t neglect how you’re saying It, either. The way your words appear on the web can dramatically affect how people consume your content.

To feed the most people, make it easy to digest. Make it readable.

If your content is suffering from lack of structure and organization, call on Express Writers to help. We produce web content that’s simple to read and well-written.

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investing in web copy

How Investing In Web Copy Can Make You Money

Are you one of those people who really think that the success story of their business is going to write itself? We hate to break it to you, but without a solid growth plan based on effective, personalized online marketing strategies you will probably wander in the dark for a very long period of time.

Content plays a very important part in this process and can guarantee your smooth evolution and considerable profitability and popularity increases on time and on a budget. Great content is one of those things that just seem too good to be true, and yet they are: it is affordable, even if you rely on professional web writing services, effective and offers you the chance to make a name for yourself in your field of activity, sell better and faster than ever before, bury you main competitors 6 feet under the ground, diversify your clientele, improve brand awareness and enhance your online presence.

The Era of the Content Beast: Feed It Regularly!

The most recent infographic launched by Express Writers tells us that we live in the era of the content beast. To keep the beast on your side, you have to feed it regularly. This means that you have to publish and update quality content as often as possible.

Doesn’t this sound like a fun challenge? Truth be told, fantastic, reader-oriented content won’t bring you your coffee in the morning, but will pretty much take care of the rest. So what’s stopping you from putting your awesome writing skills to the test? We will let you in on a little secret: investing in web content can make you money.

Money makes the world go round and great content will rock your entire universe, turning you into a well-known, influential, highly competitive player in your sector. Contrary to popular belief, first-class content doesn’t have to burn deep holes in your pockets. Obviously, there are two categories of copy: bad copy that makes you pinch pennies and good copy that gets you where you want to be and lets you sit on a pot of gold, according to Forbes.

Does Your Web Copy Help You Make or Waste Your Resources?

These days, Google gives you everything you could ever need to create stellar, search engine-friendly and user-friendly content. From essential SEO tools to cost-free guidelines enabling you to optimize your content the easy way, Google bends over backwards to give you the key to perfecting your web copy. Since all these amazing resources are widely available, not using them would be like finding the gold fish and throwing it back in the water.

Why Your Copy Could Be Throwing Money Out the Window

Before we go any further, try to provide an honest answer to this question: does your web copy make you earn or lose money? If your current promotion strategies haven’t taken you very far, chances are that your content stinks. Fortunately, there are many ways in which you could address this pressing problem. First of all, you have to identify the cause. Your web copy writing could be impacted by multiple issues, including the 2 concerns listed below.

You’re Not Getting Enough Traffic. OK, so you write headlines better than David Ogilvy, understand your audience and create content based on the elementary needs and demands of your audience. You play by the book, and still you don’t get enough traffic. This probably means that you don’t make the most of 3 key elements that could save your business and help you pursue your most ambitious goals.

A Verified, Personalized Content Strategy: According to Forbes, a content strategy represents the solid foundation of any marketing campaign that you may want to launch. To evaluate you current content strategy in an objective manner, you should ask yourself a few important questions: Am I creating and delivering web copy on a regular basis? Are both my content and my website properly optimized for search engines and tailored to the real necessities of my reader? Do I expand on interesting topics that can actually convert my readers into fans, followers and devoted buyers? Am I on the shortest path to SEO success or did my outdated, unverified, ineffective pre-Panda and pre-Penguin optimization tactics made me get lost in a labyrinth of unpaid bills and ever-growing expenses?

White Hat Link Building Strategies: Inbound links work to your advantage, letting Google know that you are a high-quality, popular, trustworthy source of information. If other respectable sources link to you, this basically means that they vouch for you. Guest blogging, getting listed in local directories and creating link-worthy content pieces are three excellent methods to build credibility and trust, according to AudienceBloom.com.

Social Media: Some of the most popular social networking websites give you the opportunity to profit from free or extremely affordable promotion strategies that support your current content distribution tactics. Social media can amplify your web copy marketing strategy and act as a powerful brand builder.

You’re Not Selling. Isn’t it extremely frustrating when you do as you are told and somehow your sustained efforts never get rewarded? We hear you. You have always crafted killer web copy which is 100% original, optimized for search engines and complying with all the rules and guidelines introduced by Google. You make the most of the very best marketing strategies and you are still very far from improving conversion rates. Your story doesn’t have a happy ending: your readers are not buying. There are a few possible scenarios that you should factor in:

You Are Not Launching the Right Bait: perhaps the web content that you have been creating so far is not actually targeting your ideal customers. Before crafting web copy, you have to define and analyze your audience, to be able to come up with inspiring, compelling articles and blog posts.

Your Content Is Not Stimulating Your Readers to Take Action: a content piece that does not include a powerful call to action is as useful as a bathing suit at the North Pole.

Your Website Looks Tacky and Isn’t Mobile-Friendly: your web copy may not be the one and only culprit for your lack of success. Did you really expect to witness improved conversion rates without updating your website? Since more and more clients are mobile, standard websites are so 2013. To boost your profit margins and restore your competitive edge, make sure your website undergoes an extreme makeover. Play your cards right by relying on responsive web design. Otherwise, you may lose money, and we’re not talking pocket change. According to eMarketer, almost ¼ the entire global population will use a smartphone in 2014. Can you really afford to ignore the ever-growing needs and demands of an ever-growing audience? We didn’t think so.

How to Address a Bad Copy Alert

Bad web copy can be a real nightmare, especially when your end goal is to make a lot of money fast. Guess what: bad content is just like a car without gas. You can push it a few miles and sweat your heart out if you’re really perseverant, but it won’t take you very far. To address this problem, you just need to follow a few basic steps:

  • Make sure your current content is properly optimized for search engines
  • Rely on both on-page and off-page optimization strategies to witness rapid results
  • Ditch black hat SEO strategies that could get into trouble (duplicate content, paid links, hidden text and keyword stuffing)
  • Write with your readers in mind
  • Use Google Trends to discover new exciting topics that could raise the interest of your readers
  • Take a peek at what your competitors are doing and see if you could actually embrace a similar approach
  • Write compelling posts that include strategically placed call to actions that are difficult to ignore

How Good Copy Fills Your Pockets

Good web copy can pay for all the things that you need and crave for. That’s right: instead of making you break the bank, awe-inspiring content actually gives you the opportunity to attain your most ambitious goals while scoring a big profit. You may ask: how is this possible? It’s not magic and it’s definitely not rocket science. Here are 5 of the most important ways in which first-class content can become your personal wish-granting genie in a bottle.

Good Copy Puts Your Products in a Different Light. Let us tell you this much: perfection is 100% attainable, especially when it comes to web writing. If you can write stellar content you’ll do it; otherwise you’ll find an excuse. There is no justification for low-quality content. Great web copy gives you the chance to individualize your products and separate them from their counterparts launched by a sea of competitors. Great content pieces bring out the best in your merchandise, accentuate its unique features and its benefits and make it seem more appealing in the eyes of a larger segment of buyers.

Good Copy Turns “Average” into “Remarkable”. OK, so your detergent can wipe the tiniest, most stubborn stain off the face of the earth in a matter of a few seconds. But what you may not know is that dozens of other manufacturers brag about the same thing. Flawless web copy focused on the uniqueness of your brand allows you to exceed their efforts and compel more people to put your product on their shopping list.

Good Copy Sells Your Stuff Faster and Better Than Anything Else. Good copy sells faster and better than an employee working on commission. Why? The answer is simple: it resonates with your audience. It creates a compelling story that surrounds your products and your brand and makes them recognizable. Copywriters have that special something (a mix of creativity, empathy, passion for in-depth research and their own way with words) that enables them to create effective copy.

And by effective, what we actually mean is that client-oriented copy is a solid moneymaking machine. Copywriters know how to explore and exploit the secret desires of a large audience. Just analyze Louis Vuitton’s most recent spring campaign. At a first glance, you will probably be shocked: what could be the connection between South Africa, luxurious, insanely expensive handbags and wild animals? Actually, the creative minds behind the Louis Vuitton campaign got everything right. Associating iconic, high-end handbags with exotic destinations and a stress-free lifestyle based on the carpe diem principles was an excellent idea and represented the foundation of a very successful advertising strategy.

Good Copy Brings and Keeps You in the Public Eye. Good copy makes you invincible. The success of your company comes to an end only when people stop talking about your brand and your product. Excellent web content pieces give you the certainty that this worst case scenario could never become a part of your reality. It’s actually a pretty fair exchange: you give readers unlimited access to info that could simplify their daily life or make it more enjoyable, while they spread the word about your business and offer you the chance to expand your client database.

Good Copy Brings You on Page 1 in Google. Yes, we are fully aware of the fact that obsessing with rankings is not healthy or productive. But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work hard to bring your website on page 1 in search engine results. A better ranking will increase your online visibility, making it easier for your clients to find you. Great web copy reflecting an ideal keyword density and an optimal number of inbound links will help you improve your website’s current Google ranking. At the end of the day, you have to keep in mind that you write for people, not for machines.

Keep things interesting, cultivate the interest of your readers and stimulate their feedback, conduct extensive research to spot changes that could affect your rankings, get to know your audience, learn even more about your products and services and their list of benefits and stitch all these pieces together to solve the puzzle. Good web copy is not a gift from above; it is an extremely valuable end product that requires time and effort, but eventually leads to much-appreciated monetary advantages.

You can’t put a price on perfection, but we can tell you this much: premium web copy is an excellent long-term investment, taking into consideration the tremendous success that you’ll have with Google and SERP rankings and also the increased number of buyers. Whatever you do, don’t forget that great content is the element that creates and feeds the powerful love story between marketing and sales.

 

 

getting traffic

Why Your Website Isn’t Getting Traffic: 7 Ways Content Could Fix It

Back in the day, all you had to do was stuff a few keywords onto a page and you were set with the search engines. Heck, you could put nothing but your keywords on a page and be golden. Today, Google has changed the way content and traffic play with one another – and let’s just say if your content isn’t playing by the rules, traffic won’t come hang out.

If you aren’t getting traffic to your website, it’s probably a multitude of reasons. Although, there are some sites that just need a quick tweak to get the job done. Regardless, you should take a look at your site and see what you’re doing to drive away readers or worse, turn away Google.

Reasons You Aren’t Getting Traffic

We won’t go too crazy here, because the list could be hundreds of things long. But often websites that aren’t getting traffic are offenders of four common things:

They Don’t Give a Crap About Their Content

When you don’t care or put the effort into your content, it shows. When you’re passionate about a topic, it will show to your readers and people will share, send and come back for more. If, however, you don’t care about the topic or niche you’re covering, then there is a good chance you’re putting minimal effort into making the content for it. Caring about the topic is rather important – well, if you want people to visit your site.

Also, a website isn’t something you build overnight. If you haphazardly threw your content together, it definitely will be a turn off to the average reader. Websites can take up to six months to build traffic, so use that time wisely.

They’re Bouncing All Over the Map

Maybe you do care about the topic you’re covering, but perhaps you’ve picked something too broad or you just aren’t sticking to the point. What do your blog posts look like? Are they sticking to a specific niche or are you covering off-topics things? You can’t just go wild when you create content. It needs a purpose and most importantly, needs to be relevant to what you’re marketing at all times.

You’re Not Covering a Topic People Care About

This might sting a little, but the problem very well could be you’re just covering a topic people don’t care about or aren’t searching for it. Choosing a narrow niche is always risky, and if you picked the lucky niche that a limited number of people are searching for or it’s just too boring for the average reader, you’re going to get a trickle instead of a heavy flow of traffic.

You’re Not Using Keywords, Or You’re Using Keywords Too Much

If you aren’t using keyword-focused posts, that’s okay. Keywords aren’t as important these days as the quality of the content, but a keyword should still be sprinkled in here and there to catch those users searching for something specific. If you’re one of those sites spamming your content with nothing but keywords, well, then you know why you aren’t getting traffic – Google probably blacklisted your site.

Once you’re penalized by Google, your life gets a lot harder. KISSmetrics has a great post discussing 50 ways you can get penalized by Google. So if you’re not getting traffic, you might want to check that out too.

One thing you’ll see consistently in these four reasons you’re not getting traffic is your content. Content is king and it has been said over and over again. If you have poor quality content, you’re not going to get traffic, get shared or get anywhere. Period.

Content goes viral fast, according to Search Engine Journal. So if you write the content people are interested in, you’re going to see your traffic jump off the charts. Let’s put it this way: over 2 billion YouTube videos are watched every day, WordPress has over 200,000,000 blog posts read, and there are over 50 million tweets on Twitter every day. You want your content to go viral.

7 Ways Content Drives More Traffic to Your Site

Since you know content is obviously the reason you’re not getting traffic, now it is time to discuss how you can increase your traffic with content. You have probably heard how to write content, but maybe you’re just putting that off until you get more traffic and better visitors to read your content. Well, the right content today means more visitors tomorrow. And here’s why:

1. It Answers the Question Readers are Looking For

 People on the internet are always searching for something. Whether they are looking for ways to save money or how to cook dinner tonight – they have a purpose on the web. You are the answer to the searchers question. You will have that article, blog post or tutorial that guides them to the answer they’re looking for. By having the answer the reader needs, you also become their future go-to for additional advice and information in that same niche.

Now, if your content doesn’t answer the question, you’ll be the first site that user avoids in the future. Its’ all about quality content that attracts the reader, but gives them something valuable. The reader shouldn’t be promised something in your headline or through keywords and then be let down when they take the time to click through. Deliver on your promise with high-quality content that drives the point home, gives the reader the answer he or she needs, and is made up of quality information. That means taking time to actually write your web content – including researching when necessary – and showing that you care just as much about what the reader is looking for and that’s why you’re developing the content just for them.

Being thorough matters too. If you just write a 100 word blog post, it is unlikely that you’re covering everything about the topic. That means your readers will have to go to another site to find answers that you didn’t get to. Instead of going for super short posts, use your content as a way to answer everything a reader is looking for. Cover the topic fully and be the only site the reader needs to go to. When readers don’t have to leave your site to find additional information, your traffic will ultimately increase.

2. It Entertains

 Sometimes an internet user is there to be entertained. Sometimes they had no intention, but they stumbled across that special blog that did it anyway. That could be you! Content that entertains could get your content shared over the web or just encourage a visitor to come back in the future and see what more entertaining posts you will cook up next.

You can’t, however, entertain the reader if you don’t put effort into the content. It takes time to write something up that is truly witty and unique. But, that is what readers are looking for and even more importantly, what Google expects from websites. So, before you just slap any piece of content up, think of the person who is actually reading the content. Are they likely to enjoy it or pass out of boredom? Let’s face it; users that are bored on a site will not only bounce as fast as possible, but they won’t come back. Google looks at bounce rates, according to OSTraining, so you want users to actually stick around and read rather than bounce right back and never visit your site again.

3. It Can be Shared Instantly – Going Viral

 Crappy content doesn’t get shared. Now does it? Have you ever found that piece of content online that just hit you so hard you were compelled to share it with everyone on your Facebook and Twitter? Think of all of the blog posts you have pinned on Pinterest. It’s highly unlikely they were boring or offered you up nothing. Right?

That is because great content is content that is shared. And, when you share content via social media, it could go viral in a matter of seconds. It’s all about writing that post that people see, share and share again. If your content is boring or doesn’t offer any meat to a reader’s meal, it won’t get shared and it won’t have the potential to go viral.

But, when you write something great and it is shared, your content could increase the number of hits your website gets in a matter of just a few days.

4. It Can Make Your Brand More Appealing

Content doesn’t just make your website fun to look at; it makes your brand more appealing to buyers. If you are selling something with your site, you want content that makes your brand more appealing and helps consumers trust it enough to buy from it. The right content can do that. It’s all about finding a balance between offering customers information and selling them what you’re selling. Your posts should be thorough, high-quality and give readers something to take away, but also compel them to click through and make a purchase.

High-quality relevant content is more likely to make your brand appealing and convert a reader into a buyer than boring, poorly written content.

5. It Can Be Customized to Your Personality

 Content is unique and should be unique. The right type of content can showcase your personality, your own style and make you stand out among the hundreds (if not thousands) of blogs and websites out there covering the exact same topic. Your content can make you seem like the only website to go to when readers are looking for something in that niche. That’s what makes unique content so great. You’re not spouting off the same boring stuff that everyone else is – you’ve taken it and spun it into a different direction that takes readers a step back.

When you write unique content that offers a piece of personality, you’re going to see an increase in traffic. Users are going to share your content, come back for more and you’re more likely to go viral just for being yourself.

6. It Can Make a Really Boring Topic Super Awesome

 Let’s face it; there are some topics out there that are extremely boring. You can’t run from it – it’s your business. But, the right content can make even the most snooze-worthy content seem like a hip rock concert (okay, maybe that’s too far). If you’re writing boring posts on a boring topic, no wonder you have no traffic coming to your site. People aren’t searching the internet to find a way to take a nap, they are looking for information.

Even the most boring topics can be a little more interesting with the right copywriting. Just add a little humor or add some personality. If the topic is truly doomed, then it might be time to switch and try something a little easier.

7. It Can Use the Right Keywords

 Yes, keywords still matter, but they aren’t the save-all for more traffic. Once you know the keywords you do need to use or the keywords that your searchers are likely using, create content that specifically addresses those keywords. Don’t stuff a page with the keywords, get in-depth and really give the reader something to take away. Also, use keywords in your headers if you can. These are great for increasing traffic and search engine visibility. By using the right keywords in your content, you can increase the chances your site is seen and your traffic increases. But, like we said, stick to a safe density – such as 1 to 3 percent – to keep yourself from being penalized by Google. Because once that happens, you won’t see traffic at all.

Getting more traffic isn’t rocket science. It’s all about striking a balance between the right content, keywords and just being yourself. If you take these steps and implement them today, you’re going to see your traffic start to increase. While we can’t promise results overnight, we can promise you’re going to see higher traffic in the coming months just by taking more time with your content.

mobile content

How to Write Mobile Content for a Mobile-Responsive Experience

In a world where more than 80% of consumers own a smartphone, and 48% of mobile customers start product research with a search engine, it’s more important than ever to focus on creating mobile-friendly content.

If you don’t, there’s simply no chance you’ll make it in the modern digital world.

While the so-called “mobile revolution” has changed many things about the way people search and interact with content (it’s on-the-go, convenient, etc.), one of the most noticeable changes is that people who use mobile devices are searching from a tiny screen, which fundamentally alters the way they interact with text.

On this tiny screen, content must be readable, clickable, and easy to interact with. Not to mention the fact that they have to find it, first.

With all that in mind, let’s talk about why mobile content matters, and how you can create it.

how to write mobile content

What’s So Great About Mobile Content Anyway?

Having doubts about how important mobile users are to your business? Get this: tablet users account for the single highest “add to cart” rates on e-commerce sites, at 8.58%. As if that weren’t enough, 71% of companies say that mobile marketing is essential for their business, and 58% of brands have a dedicated mobile marketing team to handle it for them.

With all these things in mind, it’s clear that mobile marketing matters, and that brands who excel at it can reap massive benefits in today’s digital landscape.

The Mobile Revolution

Today, there’s no getting away from mobile devices. And while some people might make the argument that this is a bad thing, it’s amazing how much the mobile revolution has changed our lives.

People are more connected right now than they’ve ever been, and it’s easier to access information, learn new things, and meet new people than at any other point in history. All of this opens a wealth of possibilities for individuals and brands, and all of it comes back to the rise of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

Right now, the mobile platform defines how we fill our time, how we pay bills and even how we connect to family and friends.

If you need an example, consider how often you use your own smartphone. How often do you look something up or use your phone for tasks you would have previously completed on your computer?

As you can see, there’s no end in sight for the mobile revolution, and embracing it fully is the best way to position your content for the modern world.

How to Optimize Your Content for Mobile Users: 5 Smart Tips

According to Google, 61% of customers will never return to a mobile site they couldn’t access, or which was difficult to access. That said, though, only 40% of those customers will come to your website, instead, meaning you lose a full 21% of customers simply due to a lack of mobile responsiveness.

As you can see, ensuring your content is mobile-friendly is critical.

Here are a few simple ways to ensure your content works for your mobile customers:

1. Don’t Forget the Headlines

Boring headlines won’t get you far with web users and they certainly won’t do much for mobile users.

Remember, mobile users ae on-the-go, so they’re looking for something that catches their interest. That said, your headline needs to be catchy, compelling, and retweetable. It also needs to be easy to read on a small screen.

If that sounds like a big ask, don’t panic.

Neil Patel advises a “Bite, snack, meal” approach to writing mobile-friendly content, with the headline being the bite. When you make it tasty, interesting, and exciting, the reader wants to stick around for the snack and then the meal.

For best results, keep your headline informative and precise. It should tell the reader exactly what they’ll gain from the post.

Skip the cute or mysterious headlines – your mobile readers don’t have time to figure out what you’re trying to say.

2. Hook Them with the Introduction

Next comes the “snack.” The snack of your content is generally the introduction. It tells the mobile reader what the content is about, and helps them decide whether to stick around. As such, it should be informative and thought-provoking for your reader, and should demonstrate that you’re the source the reader wants.

3. Remember Not All Screens Are the Same

Mobile devices have small screens, and you can’t afford to create content that makes your audience struggle with that.

When it comes to writing your mobile material, you need to be direct, succinct, and to the point. Readers don’t want impenetrable walls of text or impossible-to-find menus. Everything should be simple to find, accessible for your customers, and easy to navigate.

Pay special attention to how your images and menus show up on mobile devices, as these are problem areas that can make or break the mobile experience.

For best results, write your content for the web, and then preview it on a small screen. Does it appear the way you wanted it to? Are there any glitches or errors that prevent it from looking its best? If so, fix it before the content goes live.

4. Divide Your Content into Chunks

Everything you create for a mobile platform should be simple to read. This means your text will have to be broken into small chunks so mobile users can skim it easily.

Don’t forget to use bolded headlines, numbered or bulleted lists, and short paragraphs to enhance readability.

5. Test Your Content, Then Test It Again

The biggest mistake content creators make with mobile material is failing to test it once it goes live. Even the best content can be made better, and lots of content creators would find that even a simple tweak to their material’s headline or structure can make a massive difference in clicks and leads.

Use A/B Testing Tools to test different versions of your online content. Be sure that you’re only changing or altering a single piece of your content, so you can adequately track what’s making a difference.

You’ll also want to pay careful attention to live audience feedback. Do they like your mobile content or are they having problems with it? Address any pain points your readers may have.

Responsive Design: A Must-Have for Mobile Users

While making your content readable on a mobile devise is essential, you’ll also need to incorporate responsive design to get the most ROI from your website.

Responsive design basically indicates that your site is responsive to mobile users on different devices. It means it will function just as well on an iPhone as it will on an iPad or Android device.

When your site is highly responsive, you run a lower risk of losing users for a lack of functionality, and a higher likelihood of turning more visitors into customers.

A site that is built on a responsive system pays attention to things like screen size and resolution. It automatically adjusts based on the needs of the user to give them the optimum experience. That means text, media, and even videos shift automatically so that everything operates flawlessly on your site.

Why Use Responsive Design?

Much like writing mobile-friendly content is essential today, responsive design is, as well. Here’s why:

  • It’s Recommended by Google. While there’s been some speculation about whether it’s a ranking factor, Google has made it clear they prefer responsive sites.
  • Responsive Sites Are Indexed Faster. Indexing can take place more rapidly when bots don’t have multiple URLs to drawl through.
  • You’ll Save Time and Money on Website Development. Since responsive sites self-adjust to various mobile platforms, you won’t have to spend as much time altering your site down the road.
  • It’s Simple. Today, you can use one CMS to load everything you need to your site and maintain it accordingly.

While building a responsive site might seem tough, it’s a built-in functionality with CMSs from WordPress to HubSpot, and it’ll be a hands-off process unless you decide to build your site from the ground up.

The Future of Mobile-Friendly Material

There’s no question about it: mobile is the way of the future. If you aren’t writing content for your mobile audience, you’re wasting marketing dimes on material that doesn’t cater to your audience’s needs or wants.

What’s more, since the rates of mobile adoption have skyrocketed in recent years, and show no sign of slowing down anytime soon, investing in mobile content is just plain good business, and it will benefit you for years to come.

Right now, it’s time to start thinking mobile. Your website and your business depend on your capability to attract the mobile audience, and it’s time to jump in with both feet. Fortunately, it’s easier than it might seem, and developing great mobile content is as simple as learning the ropes and adhering to them as you move into the future.

Looking for a skilled copywriting team that can help you create mobile-friendly content? Contact Express Writers today!

future of blogging

What Will Blog Writing Be Like In 100 Years?

Have you ever wondered…what will blog writing be like 100 years from now? Will we see space aliens eating blogs, bring new meaning to “digesting” what one reads? Will writers be telepathically transmitting stories to paper? Will paper even exist—it’s on the way out the door right now, isn’t it? What the heck WILL we see; lots of green and UFO activity?

Let’s go BACK in time to think about the future. Dial the clock back 100 years from today and it would be the year 1914. What was writing like back then? It certainly wasn’t as we know it today. In 1914, World War I began. A lot of writers were reporters and journalists who put themselves in the heat of the action as one of the greatest wars to engulf the world revved up. 1914 was also a year of significant events in literature.

Writing 100 years ago didn’t involve handy word processing programs like Microsoft Word and WordPerfect. Spelling and grammar check wasn’t computer automated, it was left up to writers and editors to sort out. The rules of grammar were much more stringently held to, and reading literary works published between 1900 and 1920 reveal an astonishing evolution of style and the interpretation of the so called rules. Blog writing, social media and online content marketing didn’t even exist yet. Oh yeah, and personal computers and handheld mobile devices, they were pure fiction!

If things have changed this much in 100 years, what can the next 100 years hold?

 

Speculating About the Future of Blog Writing

We’re not exactly talking about a scientific topic, now are we? But speculating can be fun nonetheless. In the past 25 years alone we have seen an unprecedented improvement in technology, all of which has contributed to blog writing as we know it today. For example:

  • Microsoft Word is arguably one of the most popular and used word processing programs in the industry. According to a Wikipedia history of Microsoft Word, the first version of the program was developed by Richard Brodie and Charles Simonyi in 1981. However, it wasn’t until the release of Windows 3.0 in 1990 that Word became a sizeable commercial success and started being used by the masses. Later, Word began to receive labels per Windows OS to match each OS. Today, we can purchase Microsoft Office 365 for home or business. The new suite includes Word and is integrated with the latest advancements in cloud technology, providing an interface, work station and even files that can be accessed from any device in any location so long as you have a log-in and an active Internet connection.

Before we had personal computers with word processing programs, we had something called a word processor. When I first started writing, I used a Brother Word Processor WP-230B—talk about a dinosaur! It could switch between a typewriter and word processing mode. It was pretty limited in capabilities compared to today’s computers, but it got the job done with better efficiency than handwriting or a traditional typewriter.

Enough reminiscing. Let’s talk about the future of blog writing, a huge topic as of late, particularly in the area of guest blogging.

Guest Blogging to See De-Evolution

In January of 2014, the blogging community held its collective breath as Google’s Matt Cutts declared the “decay and fall” of guest blogging while staples in the industry said guest blogging is not dead. There is truth in both opinions. Cutts’ is correct that spammy, bad quality guest blogging is dying. And as it should! The writing industry has always stood for quality, which is why bad quality writing on the Internet is ever so surely being replaced by high, editorial quality content.

It’s likely that in the following years we will see an increase in the quality of guest blogging as it returns to its roots. It will become more finely tuned, relevant, educational and engaging.

 

Blogging & SEO

In just the past 5 years we’ve seen amazing changes in the realm of search engine optimization. Keywords are going, going, gone as a hardcore staple, which opens up blogging and other types of online writing to better flow, higher quality and just plain good writing. In essence, online writing is returning to the true roots of literature: telling a story and telling it well.

 

The Future of Blogging Is Bright

Let’s talk about the origin of the blog. Back in the day, blog posts were something anyone could whip up. They were opinion tools, a means for anyone who had an opinion of any kind to blurt it out to whoever took an interest and decided to read. Today, the landscape of blogging has radically morphed. Blog platforms offer a myriad of tools and social channels all designed to help you create and communicate something. Blogs now support audio and video and the comment areas of can contain anything from intellectual discussions to bunkering down in the trenches in an attempt to defend a particular thought or idea.

Blog writing is, and has always been, about self-expression. Today, the blog is a content marketing tool leveraged by the freelancer, small to medium sized business owner, and the big corporations. In the business world, blogs are used to communicate informative, relevant information. They’re a means of sharing thoughts and ideas via social media and stirring up conversation.

However, it’s still a powerful tool for the would-be writers who write for the sake of writing and self-expression. Once you step into the world of content marketing, you can easily lose sight of these almost pure forms of blogging. They’re still out there. They’ve been there since the inception of blogging, and it’s my bet that 100 years from now they’ll still be here. The would-be writers and folks who blog for the pure self-expression of it are often the pioneers who push the technology right along, but without the recognition companies and businesses receive.

According to ViperChill.com, over 181 million people actively use a blog platform. A lot of people are using their blogs to make money. Blogs can be highly profitable, and this legitimate form of making money will likely continue to grow in leaps and bounds over the next several years as more and more people find success.

 

Technology and Blogging – Where Will Be In 100 Years?

Ever watch Star Trek? According to IMDB.com, the very first episode of what would become a multimillion dollar franchise and fan phenomena, aired in 1966. Right from the start, the program almost seemed to predict the future. I stumbled across this humorous infographic style graphic from MindSlapMedia.com while writing this blog:

star trek infographic

I just had to share this because it demands appreciation, whether you like the show or not! In 1966, Captain Kirk was using a wireless handheld communication device that the masses got their hands on in 1973, the cellular flip phone. In 1987, Captain Picard was using a computerized pad that gave him Internet-like access at his fingertips. In 2010, we saw the release of the revolutionary iPad—and for those of us who even glanced at the Star Trek series, we instantly felt like we were taking a huge technological step forward.

In 1988, Star Trek: The Next Generation displayed a visual three way conference. What a concept! In 2008, we were able to video conference by using modern video technology in conjunction with the Internet. Finally, in 1998, Captain Sisko from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was using a head display that operated like a window. In 2013, Google released Google Glass.

Did Star Trek predict the future? The answer depends on who you ask. But here’s the KEY point to take away: if humanity can dream up a new form of technology, we have an unparalleled way of eventually creating it.

 

The Future of Blogging Is Limited Only By the Imagination

There’s no way to predict exactly what blog writing will be like 100 years from now. It’s safe to say that new and improved tools will be implemented as technology continues to advance. Who knows? 50 years from now we might be slapping a transmitter to our temple and thinking our blogs onto the computer screen. Keyboards might be a thing of the past as we use mental power to write, edit, post and share a blog!

Will aliens be reading our blogs in 100 years? You never know! For years we’ve joked about aliens receiving our radio signals and tuning in to our world from a galaxy far, far away. If they are, it’s a fair assumption they’re tapping into our Internet and perusing our blogs. Who knows, maybe they ARE eating blogs and digesting them in ways we never thought possible.

The truth is we have no idea just how blogging will evolve. But one thing is an absolute certainty: we write to tell stories. We write to express ourselves, share ideas, inspire, inform and even destroy. The core purposes of writing haven’t changed in the last 100 years, and it’s doubtful they’ll change in the next 100.

Years ago we said that the pen was mightier than the sword. Today, we use electronic means of writing over the good old fashioned pen and paper. Some of us (the very brave) use voice recognition software to talk out our writing before editing it over; not really use the keyboard much as it is. 100 years from now, we just might be using our noggins in place of the keyboard and mouse.

Regardless of how we blog, our reasons wll likely stay the same. After all, we haven’t changed why we write since cave paintings: we’re all writing by whatever means we have to tell a story, to record something that we hope stands the test of time, and is still here for people to read hundreds of years from now.

 

Applying today’s Blogging to the Future

When it comes to the content marketing world, we’re betting that the future of blogging revolves around catering to what the audience wants. Right now, audiences want informative material. They want to type a search phrase into a search engine about “21 angry bird toys to buy” and receive relevant information designed to educate them before they make a purchase. People also want good story telling. They want to know why your company does what it does. How did you get into the business? Why did you want to be better than everyone else, and “I wanted to turn a profit” isn’t a viable answer!

Stories drive traffic today. Look at any company on the Internet. Look at yours. Publish a blog that tells a story, a good relevant story to your company’s niche. Will it increase readership and gain new exposure to your business? Chances are it will. Don’t believe us? Just try it. It doesn’t take long to write a 500 to 1,000 word blog with a catchy title, share it over your social media channels and watch the influx of traffic. Go the extra mile to start a conversation, and you’ll likely make connections with a crowd of new people, all interested in your business because of the story you decided to share.

People want to connect with what they read. It’s a sure bet that as we set foot into the next 100 years of blog writing, we’re going to see content that is designed to make a connection. We’re going to see tools that make it easier to create strong connections. Who knows, in 100 years we might have holographic blogs that put us right in the middle of the action, visually sharing a story or teaching us something new (for you Star Trek lovers, it sounds like the “holodeck,” doesn’t it?). Technological advances will likely be limited only by the imagination, which means in 100 years blog writing could be unrecognizable when compared to our “archaic” means of blogging today!

So, what do you think blog writing will be like in 100 years? Will blogs be publicized throughout the cosmos? Will they be the most popular form of literature on our planet? Will UFOs be stopping by for the latest installment from their favorite blogger? How will the technology change? Share your ideas by leaving a comment, and let’s see what happens!

 

 

landing page

5 Ways to Tweak Your Landing Page Content for Better Success

We all know that the landing page is one of the most important elements of any web page. It is what keeps customers on your site and creates business for your company. On the other hand, it can be what chases potential customers away.

You need to have an impressive landing page that catches the eye, but does not scream loudly. Obnoxious colors can easily scare anyone away, simply because people do not like their eyes to hurt. If you are wondering just how to go create an interesting landing page without terrifying innocent bystanders, we are here to offer you some helpful tips.

 

1. Keep Your Landing Page Simple

Your landing page is where people see specific things you want them to see and keeps them from feeling overwhelmed and confused by your general website. Simple is best when creating any web design and people want to see something that is laid out in an easy fashion, with eye-pleasing colors. Having too much going on is distracting and can easily make visitors decide to leave your site permanently.

On our blog Making Your Landing Page Pop with Website Copywriting Services, we’ve discussed that having too many pages to load or having your customers wade through an overabundance of links will instantly lose you those customers. People have short attention spans, especially with the rise in instant fulfillment from devices and websites. They want to see what they are looking for rather quickly and without too much searching. If they cannot find what they are looking for on your site, they will give up and look on your competitors’ sites, and you do NOT want that to happen.

  • Watch Those Calls to Action. You want to have customers choose your company and products by offering a small amount of information and a few cool clickable buttons, but when it comes to having a call to action on your landing page, keep it as minimal as possible. SixRevisions.com says that having minimal amounts of call to actions can help you focus costumers on particular aspects of your product, instead of overwhelming them with information that may not be a selling point. (Though it is important to have information at the ready for customers who would like to know more about your product.) This can help encourage the more reticent person to click on that call to action when they are indecisive about your company.
  • Create Lists and Have Images. People love lists. Lists are great ways to have a lot of information put into nugget sized, easy to read formats. By having a list, people can see if the product is something they would be interested in or not, and are more apt to read about your product to see if it meets their wants and needs. Images are another format people like on websites. At times, images can tell a person a lot more than the written word. People like being able to see the product they are interested in, or see how the product can be implemented in daily usage. If you are able to tell about your product in an image or two, people are more likely to pay attention. The current trend of infographics shows this to be true. Infographics give a lot of useful information in a compact format, making it easier to read, understand, and share with others.

 

2. Navigation

Making a landing page that people can navigate easily is going to help you keep your visitors once they reach your website. If it is not easy to get around your landing page, people will not click that call to action. They will leave your site and head on over to your competition. Navigation is not simply how easy the links are to find or how quickly people can get to their intended destination, but also how easily they are able to read through your landing page. If it is too difficult, has too much information, or looks too cramped, people will click off your site because it is overwhelming as we are all are used to seeing websites with a natural and pleasing flow.

While discussing the elements of a high converting landing page, Quick Sprout also gives a good layout for an easy to navigate page. The setup is one that is eye pleasing, and also provides easy access to the other information you want to make available. Have integral aspects in easy to find locations on the website and do not make customers scroll for what feels like hours in Internet-land.

 

3. Use Social Media

Yes, yes. We know. Social media is one thing every article has in common when it comes to discussing your landing page, but that is because social media plays a major role in getting business for your company. People spend a lot of time on their various social media profiles, and if a friend posts about something interesting, people will take notice.

When it comes to promoting your site, specifically your landing page, Hubspot.com recommends using a social media button for customers to tell friends that they have signed up for information and emails from your business. If your company is offering a download for product information, a free e-book, or other promotional elements, you can set up the form up in such a way that people will have to tweet or share something on Facebook to gain access to these offers. It is a small price to pay for wonderful offers and people are more than willing to do this.

 

4. Changing Button Titles and Creating Something Unique

When people are filling out forms to gain access to promotions or to sign up for your website, Hubspot also suggests that you consider changing the titles of the buttons. Instead of saying something ordinary like, “Press Submit” or “Tweet This” change it to say something that is unique and more fitting for your company. Submit buttons are everywhere on every page, and it just seems dull to have a button that says the same thing that every other page says. By changing this around, you are creating something that is engaging for your customers and possibly something they will talk about with other connections. This could help you generate new leads, but overall it is just a great way to make customers feel good about choosing your company.

Having a unique landing page will help set you apart from the competition. Following what is trendy helps, but if your site looks too much like every other site out there people will feel bored and move on. That would really suck! Create something that is unique and make sure that sticks with the feel of your company. We advise not to be too unique though because that can scare people away. People see a company that tries to be super unique as a company that is trying too hard. The best way to create something that is unique enough to stand out, but not too unique, is to research the various trends within your company’s demographic and implement them into your business. While doing this, tailor the trends to fit your company and BOOM you have a site that is trendy while being unique.

 

5. Be a Friend

Getting on a personal level with customers will work in your favor when generating leads and keeping customers. Once customers set up their login information with your site, make it friendly and welcome them by name. When they see their name at the top of your webpage and see individualized welcome messages, they will feel special, and we all know that everyone likes feeling special! It is difficult to set up completely different individual welcome messages; have a handful of different welcome messages that will cycle through the various times the person logs on. Some ideas for welcome messages can be:

  • Welcoming people in different languages. Flickr has done this for a number of years and people really seem to enjoy it.
  • Simply say “Hi [fill in the blank with the customer’s name]!”
  • Offer the customer a generic compliment that fits with your company.

People like seeing these welcome messages, and even though they know these messages are generated it still can make their day a good one. This is great when trying to generate and keep leads. If your customers feel appreciated by you, they will more than likely stay with your company.

 

Let’s Sum Up and Say Goodnight!

You have read our tips and your brain juices are starting to work hard, meaning that tweaking your landing page will be easier! Keep your page simple and offer the content people crave such as images and lists. Also, have a nice flow to your site you will bring in more customers and help reticent customers choose you over your competitors.

Remember to use your landing page as the front door to your website. Once people have seen the wonderful landing page you have provided for them, they are ready to check out the rest of your site and look into using your product.

 

 

web design and content

Websites of 2014: 12 Great Designs and How They Work With Content

Image credit: Life of Pi movie website

 

We’ve taken a look at how poor web content writing can destroy a well-made website but we didn’t explore the other side of it: the look and feel. Making sure that your content is fantastic is one thing, but creating a design to match can really elevate everything that’s being done to a whole new level.

Without visual flair visitors will be hesitant to eat your fantastic meal that you’ve prepared for them because it looks like brown and gray sludge. It doesn’t matter how delicious it is. When you put it all together in a visually appealing way, and still keep the deliciousness, then no one hesitates to eat it and everyone tells their friends.

Here are some of the top 12 sites to beat in no particular order.

 

#12: Life of Pi

This movie came out in 2012. We’ll admit that. But the site was ahead of its time. It is doing a lot of tricks that some designers are just now picking up. As you scroll down you get a little adventure the whole time, much of it in video. At some points, (again, you only have to scroll down to experience all of this seamlessly put together), you’ll see facts about the movie come onto the screen, allowing the content and design to come together in complete harmony. Essentially, you can look at the entire experience as an enhanced preview. In a time when most movie websites look barely better than what people were putting up themselves on GeoCities in the mid 90s it’s refreshing to see this kind of attention paid to marrying content and design.

 

#11: Lexus

We’ll tell you right now that one of the phrases that will be used a lot in this article is “parallax scrolling.” Parallax scrolling isn’t a new concept. Well, it seems to only be a new concept for website design. It’s been used in cartoons since you were a kid. See how confident we were in saying that? It doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s been used. It has even been used in video games for decades (Super Mario World had it). But now it’s come to website design fairly frequently.

Lexus makes amazing use of it and allows users to essentially navigate an entire world of landing pages without loading anything or moving to another page at all. Even within the parallax scrolling body are smaller sections of the site that are independently interactive. For a good example of this, head to the site and go to the “Journey” section. While plenty of sites are using parallax scrolling by itself, Lexus is one of the few that is using it in tandem with already-established practices for even greater effect.

 

#10: Blocklevel

Most of our English-speaking readers won’t know this (unless they use Google Translate) but Blocklevel is a company that designs websites, Facebook games, and all kinds of other web-oriented things. But the specific content isn’t why we’re here, although you can tell that the content is hard-hitting and concise (it is).

The design of the site draws inspiration from the flat design trend that’s been overtaking everything from Apple’s new iOS to indie video games (Thomas Was Alone) to smartphone applications (Taasky). It’s the exact opposite of parallax scrolling. There is no illusion of depth, just bold simplicity. It’s easy on the eyes, easy to navigate, and allows your content to be the star of the show by pulling your eye right toward it. They both do wonders for enhancing content but Blocklevel is one of the examples of flat design gone right.

 

#9: Theory Design

Sidebars used to be all the rage but they didn’t always work on every browser with every setting. Sometimes necessary content got cut off to the side like a bad photographer cutting off your heads in a holiday family photo. All that’s left is ugly Christmas sweaters.

Nowadays it’s all about the header that scrolls down with you. This may not seem different at first but you lose the risk of having content roll off the side. It’s easier to position all of your content smack dab in the middle of the screen and there’s no problems with cutoff. In fact, that middle position brings your eyes, again, straight to the content rather than having two sections of text that, depending on the positioning, bring your eyes back and forth or even pull your eye to the blank space between the two pillars of text.

 

#8: Realtii

Have you noticed any similarities about any of these sites yet? That’s right; they’re all long scrolling websites. Most of their content is on one continuous page. Even if each of the sections are connected to a different web address, they are blended together so they are effectively one page. Most of the buttons, if the site even has them, cause the site to scroll down quickly rather than open a page. This reduces any load time and reduces wait time because your visitors aren’t clicking on things for design, they’re clicking on things for content. Easy design just grabs their attention and keeps them around.

 

#7: Paper Tiger

I’m going to ask you to please bring out your cell phones for this next one because “responsive design” is the name of the game for this site. When you go to the site on your PC it looks gorgeous. Some parallax design elements, some wonderful typography, easy-to-digest content. But when you open it up on your smartphone is when it gets really interesting. Without even having to direct you to m.papertiger.com you see a perfectly formatted site.

The parallax scrolling and header have been eschewed for a fully functional, flat design that just brings you content with no frills and minimal loading time. The buttons are massive and bold, making them perfect for even the clumsiest of thumbs and easy to see when you’re walking around or bumping up and down on the bus.

 

#6: Goldee

The first thing you see on the Goldee site is a button that plays a video. When you watch it you immediately answer the questions:

  • What is Goldee?
  • Who runs Goldee?
  • What’s Goldee’s mission?
  • How does Goldee work?
  • What can Goldee do for me?
  • How can I get Goldee?

 After that, if you still have questions, you can scroll down through simple content and a sight design that illustrates what Goldee is setting out to do for you.

 

#5: Tool

When you open up Tool’s website you are greeted by a background video and your eye is directed right toward “View Reel.” This is going to sound counterintuitive, but bear with us for a second. The video that it leads you to doesn’t tell you much if you don’t know what the business is. If you know what Tool is, then it’s impressive. If you don’t, then you immediately are curious about checking out those header buttons.

Speaking of the header, it’s not intrusive at all. It doesn’t take up a quarter of the screen or distract the eye, but you know it’s there when you need it.

 

#4: NASA Prospect

This is not a site for any particular product or service but more of an art project that was done by several students for the Humans in Space Project along with NASA. It illustrates a lot of the aspects of parallax scrolling and various situation-specific changes to the site as you progress.

 

One thing it has that hasn’t been touched on so far in this article is story telling to build emotional connections. And writing  Although this isn’t for a brand, it illustrates the point beautifully. If you’re thinking of making your site interesting it can help to bring a story into it.

The first time you load this site up you are curious about why there is an astronaut floating alone in space (without David Bowie singing “Ground control to Major Tom…”). As you scroll down further and further you get more of a narrative and new things to discover.

“Why shouldn’t I just have a paragraph on our ‘About Us’ section?” some of you may ask.

The reason that you shouldn’t do that is due to pacing. Some of the above sites pace their content so that it’s read and absorbed at a certain speed (though most of it isn’t story-related content). Stories absolutely thrive on pacing and this is one of the first times that stories have been able to be presented in this way. With a good story, the content and design can enhance each other and get the visitor more invested in what you have to say and more curious to see what you have up your sleeve.

 

#3: Dangers of Fracking

Fracking is an incredibly divisive issue… and we’re not going to talk about it here. Leave your politics at the door when you’re visiting the site because we’re talking about how design enhances content.

Everyone has seen those crisp, cartoony infographics that have been popping up everywhere for the past few years. This is a larger version of that concept. As you scroll downward  (with parallax scrolling, no less) you are treated to a story, pop-up facts (or “facts” depending on your political stance), and a seamless website from top to bottom.

In years prior this site would have been made into a video, slow-loading flash site, or, worse yet, separated into multiple pages (yuck!). Now it’s just simple, clean, and bright with small amounts of text that convey content clearly and easily. It even adds most of the bullet points to the header as you scroll downward, creating a mobile header as you go.

 

#2: Pack

This is a little site about dogs and the people that love them (if the huge words on the homepage weren’t enough for you). Aside from the long scrolling, the header, and the small sections of content that is easy to digest, it remembers one other thing that makes you love the content that much more.

That thing is that no one wants to read Comic Sans, Curlz, or Papyrus. It’s been shown that you can discredit yourself with fonts so this may be one particularly important piece of web design, even beyond all the technical prowess and HTML5 magic.

With the Pack website you can see, very simply, the emotion of the website just by the font. It’s playful and kind of raucous and full of energy (like a dog). Even the name of the company, Pack, has something about it that is a little laid back. It’s sans serif, making it a little less formal, but it doesn’t have that serious look of Ariel or Helvetica. It’s more laid back because of the rounded edges on the corners of the letters. It’s like the weekend version of Gill Sans. Just, y’know, like whatever… I’m gonna go play with my dog.

 

#1: 24 Hours of Happy by Pharrell Williams

This is at least 360 music videos in one. This is one of the best marriages of design and content because the design is the content. It’s a continuous 24-hour music video of Pharrell Williams’ song happy. You can watch Pharrell sing the song or watch various people dance to the music. Simple design, good typeography, content at the forefront, and no need for tutorials to navigate the site. Just a laid back song on a laid back site that might make you want to pick up the new Pharrell album.

 

Great content and product may bring people to your site but a great, streamlined, and intuitive design will keep them there and keep them coming back. It’s absolutely vital to join the two so that you can attract the attention of your established base as well as maybe winning some converts in the process because, if all things are equal between you and your competitor’s products, your design may be able to tip the scales in your favor.

 

 

killer blog content

10 Keys to Create Killer Blog Content

Developing killer blog content is important. Why? Let’s just put the amazing benefits in a tiny nutshell, shall we? Quality blog content can promote new traffic from the search engines to your website, improve relationships with your direct audience and consumers, and show people that you know what you are talking about, by establishing you as an authority.

 

What is Blog Content?

 

That’s really great. But let’s check out the fundamentals first. What is a blog? If you google “what is a blog”, you will find over 4 billion results, and without actually following any links, you can learn the following:

    • A blog is a website on which a person or company regularly posts opinions, informational links, and other useful or promotional content.
    • Blog as a verb means to add new content or updates to a blog.
    • The word blog originated in the 1990s as a shortened version of the word weblog.

So if this term has been around since the 1990s, and continues to increase in prevalence, shouldn’t you have gotten on board with it already? The answer is yes. And if you haven’t, well, let’s put it nicely—you’re about to get run over by a Mac track in obliterated SERPs rankings if you don’t get moving on starting a blog. (Sorry, that may not have been all that “nice”.) But I’ve got good news. Luckily for you, due to the popularity and importance of blogging, there is a ton of information available to help you get started.

 

10 Great Tips for Developing Killer Blog Copy

 

Because there is so much information available, you may have trouble sifting through it all to find good advice for creating great blog content. To simplify your search, what follows is a list of 10 great tips for developing killer blog content, gathered from the masses of information out there.

 

What’s in a Name?

Shakespeare may be right when he says that a rose would smell as sweet by any other name, but would you be likely to stop and smell the roses if they were called garbage, or feet? The title of a blog post gives it a name, and is assuredly one of the most important things to think about when creating content. The title will draw the reader in and make them want to read more. You might think that a title is there as a place holder, or just as a convention, but according to Pamela Vaughan, it is a potential reader’s first impression of your content, and can make all the difference. A strong blog title is:

    • Concise, about 7-10 words in length
    • Informative, sums up the content
    • Catchy, makes a reader stop to look further

This may seem like a lot to ask from a simple sentence, but these are just title basics, which can make or break your blog post. Start out with a solid title, and the rest will follow.

 

Heading in the Right Direction

Blogs need structure in order to be more easily read and understood, and the best way to structure your content is with headings. There are different levels of blog headings, which are described in great detail by Joost de Valk on Yoast.com. Some important heading information found here is:

    • H1 is the most important heading, and there is usually only one
    • H2’s and h3’s are sub-headers which break the text into sections
    • Headings should contain valuable keywords
    • Headings help a reader effectively navigate a piece of writing

In the case of your blog, the H1 would be your title, the name of your post, and would be the largest text in the piece. Any further subheadings would be smaller, and serve to break the text up into manageable sections and make it easier to read. A piece looks much less intimidating if it is structured with headings, and readers are less likely to get lost in or impatient with large blocks of text.

 

Get the Picture?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that means using pictures can sometimes convey just as much information as an entire blog. In fact, people would often prefer looking at a picture to reading an article, so if you incorporate images into your blog, you are appealing to your readers. Some great information about images in blogs can be found at problogger. There are many different kinds of pictures you could use:

    • Infographics
    • Photographs
    • Diagrams
    • Illustrations
    • And more…

Images are more likely to catch a reader’s eye than a block of text, and can be used to emphasize a point. Content becomes more stimulating and attractive when there are images to provide variety and perspective. It is important to remember that while images are a great way to spice up a blog post, they need to be relevant to the material. A picture of a kitty cat can be very nice, and in fact many a cat picture has been shared and viewed on the internet, but it is unlikely that it will have an effective part to play in your blog content. Be sure you are using images properly, and not throwing them in haphazardly. Appropriately incorporated images can take blog content to a whole new level.

 

List of Demands

As a few tips have already discussed, breaking up your text is important to make the reader more comfortable and more likely to continue reading. Lists are an excellent way to diversify your text and present information in a clear and simple manner. There are many different ways lists can be used, and 3 main types of lists for content marketing blogs:

    • Brief Lists – these usually contain short, informative statements or words, often with bullet points.
    • Detailed Lists – these often communicate more complex information, and each list item is a complete thought or paragraph.
    • Hybrid Lists – these combine elements of both list types above, and are very versatile for blogs.

Lists can change the appearance of a blog post to something much more attractive, and can help a writer organize information very effectively. Sometimes, an entire blog post can be written in list format, and the results are great.

 

Take a Second Look

Revision is a very important part of the writing process, no matter what is being written. Sometimes it can be difficult to revise what you have already written, because it feels like you have a usable finished product as soon as you have completed a piece. It is always a good idea to take a second look at your work, to check for errors, or even parts that could use a little tweaking in order to read better.

Blogs follow this rule as well, and if you find it difficult to review your work and revise it yourself, it may be a good idea to have someone else look at it for you. An outside look could catch typos your eyes skimmed right past, or find a bit of awkward phrasing that could use some work. When you revise your blog posts, you are taking precautions to put up work that is accurate and dependable. Your information is much more likely to be taken seriously if it is free of mistakes.

 

Sound Strategy

Developing blog content can be tough, especially because some information has been covered by many other people, and you want to put a fresh perspective on it. Just diving right in to content creation can work short term, but in the end could end up failing you. Creating an effective content strategy can be challenging, and some of these challenges include:

    • Finding enough topics to cover
    • Establishing flow of good, reliable content
    • Creating and preserving a tone for your audience
    • Finding the right theme to work with

It is important to take a close look at what kind of website you have, what kind of information your audience will expect, and how many different topics you can effectively cover. A great idea for creating your content strategy is to start a calendar. You can list the dates you want to post on for an entire year, and start developing topic ideas well ahead of schedule. This will keep you organized and help you find topics to write about each week.

 

Link it Together

Credibility is a big deal in the blogging world, and readers want to be sure they are getting information that is correct and helpful. A great way to establish the credibility of your information is to include links in your blog posts. Links can do several things for your blog:

    • Help you avoid plagiarism by citing references
    • Promote your own website or other blog posts
    • Show that your information is well researched
    • Back up your information or opinions with credible, supporting sources

Anytime you reference information you found on another website, add a hyperlink. This will also make your blog content more interactive, and help your readers find more information they need. This is especially useful for newer bloggers, who are establishing credibility. Supporting your ideas with those of well-established writers and documented research are very effective writing methods.

 

Keep it Relevant

When writing blog content, it can be easy to branch a little too far off topic in your enthusiasm on the subject as a whole. It’s great to show your in-depth knowledge on the subject, but sticking to the topic at hand will help you and your readers. A good way to rein yourself in and stick to your topic is to create an outline before doing any actual writing. If you write up exactly what you want to cover, you will be in less danger of veering off course. By adding as much detail to your outline as possible, you will also be assured of having enough material to create an effective blog post.

If you aren’t an outline person, and don’t want to try to adapt, then it is important to review your content before you post it. If you find yourself getting a little off topic, that’s okay. Make some revisions, and use it to your advantage. Write down the information you were including that wasn’t working with this specific topic, and use it to come up with more topics for later blog posts. This will help you with your content development calendar, and allow you to use your well-written material that wasn’t quite fitting in. Nothing goes to waste!

 

Make Every Word Count

A fairly recent idea has come up about the length of blogs, which we took a look at with a blog on is longer better for content?  The newer idea is that longer content is better than shorter content. It used to be widely accepted that blogs were meant to be short, because that’s what readers prefer. With new updates to search engine software, it has been found that longer blog posts are doing much better than previously.

That doesn’t mean that you should make your blog content long just to follow the trend. If you don’t have enough quality content to add that length, your blog will ramble fruitlessly and the length won’t help you. The most important thing to remember is Quality. This is what readers want when they go searching for blogs. The information needs to be useful, correct, and up to date. If the topic you are covering only needs 500 words, then that’s all you need to write. Stretching it out won’t help, and will lower the worth of your content. That being said, using an outline to find several useful directions you can take in your blog post can help you add valuable length which will optimize your content and give your readers a more satisfying product.

 

Keep up with the Competition

As stated before, there are many different blogs available now, because blogging has been around for decades. If you are looking to start developing blog content, or maybe to revamp your blog, a great place to start is checking out other blogs. Especially if you have competitors blogging in the same category as you, looking at what others are doing can help you find what will work for your site. This content is available for everyone to view, and you can bet that your competitors and fellow bloggers are doing the same thing.

There are certain standards that readers expect when it comes to blogs, and these standards evolve as technology does. Just as you would research information to help you write your posts, you should research other blogs for tips on what to do and what not to do. This can help you create more effective blog content that will keep readers coming back for more, and maybe even choosing your blog over others.

 

There are many different sources of information available about creating killer blog content, but these are some basics to help get you started. You can also take a look at SocialMediaExaminer’s excellent blog writing blog posts and Hubspot’s post on creating content that spreads naturally.  It is still a great idea to keep researching content methods and techniques, to keep yourself current and in the know, but if you follow these keys, you will be well on your way to creating blog content of which you can be proud.