15 Content Writing Best Practices

15 content writing best practices

15 content writing best practices

How do you make your content writing powerful and effective? Are there some best practices to follow?

It depends on how much you understand the importance of the written text on your website, whether you are writing it yourself or getting it written by a professional content writer.

Content writing for websites is of 2 types:

  1. The main website content which is basically copywriting because you are selling products and services through writing.
  2. Blog posts and articles that are used to improve your SEO and to inform and educate your customers and clients.

You may like to read Difference between content writing and copywriting, explained.

Both types of content have different objectives.

Although, ultimately, the end goal of every piece of content that you publish on your website (or your blog) is to get more customers and clients, the immediate goal differs from web page to web page and from blog post to blog post. This is where if you follow best practices.

On my website, I provide content writing and copywriting in different forms. This is why I have separate pages for different niches.

For example, if I want to tell web design companies that I can provide ongoing content writing and copywriting services to them, I expect them to come to my Content writing & copywriting services for web design agency.

When I want to attract people who are looking for a professional copywriter for email marketing campaigns, I would want them to come to my copywriter for email marketing webpage.

The main purpose remains the same, but I am attracting different individuals and businesses through different webpages because I know that on search engines, most of them won’t just search for “content writer” or “copywriter”. Someone running a web design agency is going to search for “content writer for my web design agency”, and so on.

The underlying content writing best practices remain the same whether you’re writing for the main website or for the blog section – having a clear objective of what you are trying to achieve and then writing keeping that in mind.

Initially I started writing this blog post as script for my video on the same topic. Then I decided to expand it into a full-fledged blog post. Here is the video of 15 content writing best practices.

Below I am explaining these best practices in detail. First, a list of these content writing best practices:

  1. Understand the end result.
  2. Keep the end result in mind when writing.
  3. Write in the first person.
  4. Write shorter sentences.
  5. Use conversational style.
  6. Use audience-specific language.
  7. Keep the readers hooked.
  8. Don’t beat around the bush.
  9. Don’t neglect SEO.
  10. Decide on a clearly defined title.
  11. Write around the title.
  12. Deliver true value.
  13. Be sincere.
  14. Write from the perspective of the reader.
  15. Make your reader think.

Now, these points in detail.

Understand the end result

This is something I ask my client every time I’m about to write a web page, a blog post or an article. What does the write up achieve once the reader has read it.

This is very important.

Take for example this blog post. It has two purposes:

  1. Laying down content writing best practices everyone can benefit from.
  2. Establishing the fact that I follow these practices and hence, I deliver good writing, as a result.

Hence, every sentence I write, is written keeping that in mind.

Keep the end result in mind when writing

Once you know what you want to achieve through the current webpage, blog post or article, constantly keep that in mind when you’re writing so that you don’t digress.

When you are not focused it reflects through your writing and consequently, even your readers won’t be able to focus. Distracted and confused, they will leave your website.

Remember that even if you don’t have a purpose, the people who come to your website, especially when they come across your link on Google or elsewhere, they have a clear purpose.

Something, maybe your headline, prompts them to click the link and come to your webpage, blog post or article.

If you don’t immediately talk about what you have promised in the headline or in the intro, they will feel cheated and lose trust in what you are trying to say.

Hence, when you are writing, stick to what you have promised (the end result).

Write in the first person

Many clients insist that I use “we are doing this” and “we are doing that” and since they’re not hiring me as their strategist, I don’t argue much, but it is always better to write in the first person, especially when you’re writing blog posts and articles.

This is also because in blog posts and articles, the name of the author is often displayed at the top.

So, an individual using “we” seems strange.

Also, if your writing has a human voice (that speaks in terms of “I” and “you”) it is more effective and helps you achieve your end result in a better manner.

Write shorter sentences

Being a writer, I don’t mind longer, complicated sentences, but when you’re writing for businesses, it is better to sticking to shorter sentences.

In my case, the reason is logical rather than thinking that it is difficult for people to follow complex sentences, although, this is also the case if you don’t structure your sentences well and you yourself are not clear what you’re trying to say.

Shorter sentences are easier to read.

You can read them faster.

There is less chance of ambiguity.

The message matters more than your writing style, although, writing style does matter.

If people are using their mobile phone to read your webpage, blog post or article, it is easier to read shorter sentences.

Shorter sentences, when used with clarity, are more impactful.

Use a conversational style

When I say “conversational style” I don’t mean you address your audience as if you are sitting in a beer bar and have already had 2-3 rounds.

Be mindful of their sensibilities.

Use a formal, polite language.

At the same time, write as if you’re talking to them.

Writing shorter sentences helps.

Use terms and phrases familiar to them from their day-to-day lives, if possible.

Use topical anecdotes so they can easily relate what you are saying to something they are totally familiar with.

As I have mentioned above, writeof in the first person because it is easier to use a conversational style in this manner.

Use audience-specific language

Many content writers and copywriters, when talking about best practices, advise you to avoid using jargons.

Jargons, if they are a part of the conversation, are good.

If you are simply using them to boast about your language and the grasp of the subject, then they are bad.

Suppose you want to tell someone to “think out of the box”. Now, if you really want someone to think “out of the box”, there is nothing wrong in using this expression.

Similarly, if you want to tell someone that you use “agile methodology” when you develop mobile apps, there is nothing wrong in mentioning this as long as the other party understands what being “agile” means in this context.

The problem is not with jargons, the problem is with using them needlessly.

What I’m trying to say is, use industry-specific, audience-specific language.

Sometimes when I’m writing for a niche industry, I either do my own research and if the client is accommodating, I ask him or her to send me a list of words and phrases he or she would like me to use when I’m writing.

Familiar words make people comfortable and make them pay more attention to your writing.

Keep the readers hooked

Now, this is a skill that only a trained copywriter or writer has.

When do you call a book a page turner? When you quickly want to turn to the next page and find out what happens.

This is called keeping people hooked to your writing.

I have been reading The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert Bly and he has multiple times said that the purpose of every sentence you write should be to make the reader read the next sentence.

So, the sole purpose of your headline is to make the reader read the first sentence. The purpose of the first sentence is to make the reader read the second sentence. It goes on like this.

This is called keeping people hooked to your writing.

How do you achieve that?

By having something interesting, something useful to say.

If I feel that I’m going to benefit from what I’m reading, I will go on reading in anticipation and to know more about how I’m going to benefit.

Sometimes it involves holding your cards close to your chest, and this is fine.

You don’t have to reveal everything in the first paragraph.

In fact, Robert Bly says that – contrary to the advice given by copywriters on the web – you don’t have to use a headline that says exactly what the copy is going to deliver.

The purpose of the headline, as mentioned above, must be to make the reader read the first sentence.

But, in the age of the Internet, it makes sense to use a very direct headline.

This brings us to the next section in this list of content writing best practices…

Don’t beat around the bush

Although you should reveal everything that is to be revealed in the beginning itself, especially, when you need to inform and educate your readers before they can make a logical decision, you shouldn’t beat around the bush needlessly.

This bores people and puts them off, and also confuses them.

Remember that there is too much distraction in the age of the Internet.

Even a distraction of a second can send the person away.

Of course, if beating around the bush is part of your narrative towards building an exciting climax, then sure, go ahead.

But, if it seems you’re just wasting time to fill up space, avoid that.

Don’t neglect SEO

Since when we talk about content writing, we are mostly talking about writing for a business website, a blog and basically, something that is going to exist on the web and hence, needs to be found by the search engines, you shouldn’t neglect SEO when you’re writing.

SEO isn’t just important for your business – more traffic means more business – it is also important for people looking for useful information (I’m assuming that you always intend to publish useful information).

Take for example this blog post. I’m writing about content writing best practices.

I have both “content writing” and “best practices” in the title of the blog post.

I have used the phrases in a couple of headlines.

I have scattered them around the entire body text of the blog post.

Basically, I’m doing my best to optimize my text for these 2 phrases and their combinations so that people who want to read about content writing best practices, they’re able to find this blog post on Google and elsewhere, and benefit from it.

Writing SEO friendly content isn’t very difficult, provided you stick to the topic. In most of the cases, if you stick to the topic, your SEO is automatically taken care of.

Decide on a clearly defined title

The title is different from the main headline, although, sometimes, your title and the main headline may be same.

Your title appears in the title bar of the browser window.

It is also used by almost all the search engines to showcase your listing in the SERPs, and the search engines consider them so important that your title appears as the hyperlink.

When you post links on social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, your title is picked automatically.

Since wherever your link appears, it will appear in the form of your title, it needs to be clear cut and unambiguous.

Your title must mention exactly what you are promising to deliver, or something so compelling that people are forced to click the link.

A clearly defined title also gives you a head start. If you keep the title in your mind, you know what you want to write and what you want to avoid.

Write around the title

This is just the extension of the last para of the above section. Once you have decided on the title, write every word around that title.

Coming back to this blog post, it is about content writing best practices.

It is not about the importance of the best practices to follow when you are writing content.

This is also not about how the practices that follow are going to help my client (though, if I follow these practices, then I assume that I’m going to write well for my clients too).

It is about listing the best content writing practices. This is what I’m trying to achieve.

My title has given me a clear direction.

Deliver true value

Never write something useless just to get search engine traffic or clicks from social networking websites.

Visitors that don’t want to come to your website and still end up on your website, are of no use to you.

They will feel cheated and will remember not to come back to your website.

The best part is, even Google these days can make out if you are trying to cheat your way into higher search engine rankings.

Your content is considered valuable if people, upon finding your links on Google, come to your website, and spend some time, explore your website and then, preferably, don’t carry on with the same search that helped them find your link.

When they spend time on your website Google assumes that it has valuable content.

If they immediately leave your website Google assumes that your content is not useful and if, by any chance, your links have been ranking well, the algorithm lowers your rankings.

Hence, no matter what you write, make sure that it is useful and delivers true value.

Be sincere

Your sincerity comes through your writing. As mentioned above, if you’re just beating around the bush, if you’re just using fluff to exaggerate your claims, your readers are going to feel it straight on.

If you want to teach, actually teach.

If you want to educate, actually educate.

If you want to inform, actually inform.

If you want to make a good offer, actually make that offer.

You write better when you write sincerely. Because you mean it.

Write from the perspective of the reader

When you’re writing, constantly think, would you go on reading what you are writing if you were the reader?

What would be your expectation?

What state of mind would you be when you read what you are writing?

Would you feel well served?

Would you feel that the information you are looking for, you are able to find?

Would you feel that the content justifies the title?

Would you be better off compared to when you hadn’t read what you’re writing right now?

The more you think from the perspective of your reader, the better you will write.

Make your reader think

We all love challenges.

We all love figuring things out.

It gives us a high if someone poses a challenge and we are up to it.

How can you make your readers think?

You can challenge their established beliefs.

You can present to them contrary viewpoint.

Present them with a situation and then ask them what they would do in a similar situation?

Offer them something that will shake them out of their inertia.


These content writing best practices aren’t written in stone.

As an experienced content writer, you may have your own set of best practices, and this is fine. In fact, in the comments section, feel welcome to add to this list.

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