I don’t get to visit Seth Godin’s blog regularly, but whenever I do, I feel thankful. He always shares great wisdom.
In his latest blog post he has shared the importance of giving your best effort when creating something, whether you are creating a business, delivering a service, or just doing something for yourself or someone else.
Brewing tea is a spiritual activity. Everything from boiling the water, putting the leaves and other ingredients, letting the concoction brew, and afterwards, to pouring the prepared tea from the teapot into the cups, is revered and appreciated. It’s beautiful to watch the entire thing.
Don’t just do something “sufficiently”.
It is so easy to deliver something functional.
I will confess. Even I do that with some projects because a client is paying a lot less, or he or she is doing something to annoy me. My connection with the content writing process gets disembodied.
It’s not that I don’t like writing content – I enjoy it – but this is my way to disconnect myself with a client who doesn’t appreciate my services. Do I endorse it? No.
If you don’t give your best to your content writing, it shows through.
Writing is a communication, just like any other performing art. Teachers of performing arts like singing and dancing often tell their students that if they don’t enjoy the performance, neither does the audience.
They can make out the lack of enthusiasm or the presence of it.
When you are writing, if there is a disconnect, it shows through. Maybe you are writing the perfect words, the perfect sentences, and erudite phrases, but if there is no connection, if there is no strong desire to give your best, it shows through. The readers can feel it.
How do you give your best when writing content?
Don’t let the others define your capabilities. Just because someone is paying you less or doesn’t appreciate your ability to write high quality content, it doesn’t mean you yourself start thinking about your abilities on the same terms.
Your brain actually works on the philosophy of “your wish is my command”.
Your brain delivers what you ask of it. If you tell your brain that you love what you’re doing, you actually do it as if you love it.
Seth’s advice is mostly business-related but it is also applicable to the art of content writing. Pay attention to finer details. Pay attention to the individual words, the individual sentences and the individual phrases that you are using.
You are not just writing because you are being paid. You are writing because hundreds of people may read what you have written and get affected by it.
Otherwise, my suggestion is that you don’t take up the assignment. Of course, if you are financially or otherwise hard pressed against the wall then the circumstances of exceptional, but if you can afford it, only take on assignments you can make an emotional impact on.
Doing research is an integral part of content writing because often, clients don’t give you all the information you need to write convincingly.
What does research for content writing mean?
I will give you a small example.
I don’t have an accounting background. My search engine rankings for “content writing services for accounting businesses” have suddenly come to the first or second position on Google. Lots of accountants are approaching these days.
Top Google rankings for my content writing services.
Most of the clients expect me to find relevant information on the net from other websites and then come up with the relevant content and make it “unique”.
Of course, I make it unique, but I need to find the meanings of all the services that are alien to me, for example SMSF auditing or BAS accounting, or different ways of accounting in Australia, Canada and the UK. How do I find that information? I research.
There is another company, or a group of individuals, who have gotten hold of some scripts, who want to build DEFI platforms (decentralized finance) or NFTs (non-fungible tokens), or general blockchain applications. Sometimes I feel that the terms that they want me to use in the content, even they don’t know them, but maybe it’s just my skepticism. The thing is, whenever I ask for some clarification, they ask me to look up on the Internet. I research.
There are no special tools for researching. Yes, if you want to research keywords to write optimized contents, there are many specialized SEO tools such as Ahrefs, but if you want to find information to write content, you need to use the good old Google or Bing.
I use Google for research purposes. I set it to various countries to find diverse information. In Firefox I open a “Private window”. I go to google.com. Then I go to settings. In the settings I change the name of the country for displaying the results. This way, suppose I set the country to Australia and then search for “crypto wallet development company”, it is going to show me companies from Australia and not India, from where I’m doing the search.
Your ability to research as a content writer must also include your ability to recognize useful information. How do I do that?
When I’m looking for information, my main purpose is to find information that would be useful to my client’s readers (customers and clients). I look at the information from their perspective. If I feel that they would find the information useful, I use it. Otherwise, I keep looking.
Do I charge extra for research when I’m writing content? Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. It depends on how much time I need to spend researching. If I feel that I need to research a lot, I add it to the time that I spend writing content. I let the client know, and if he or she is not ready to pay for the extra time, I insist that he or she give me the right information.
It is important that when visitors come to your website, they spend longest possible time there. This is important for lowering your bounce rate as well as increasing your conversion rate.
Studies have shown that the longer people stay on your website, the greater are the chances of them becoming your paid customers and clients. This is because they become familiar with your presence and grow comfortable with what you represent.
In different forms I have explained on my website how to lower your bounce rate, which means, how to keep people on your website longer. How long people stay on your website or how fast they leave your website, is a reflection on the quality and relevance of your content. The quality and relevance of your content and your lower bounce rate go hand-in-hand.
It’s very easy to bring people to your website. Any SEO company or content marketing company can help you with bringing as many people as possible to your website. The real feat is turning those people into paying customers and clients. The content that you have published on your website accomplishes that, or must accomplish that.
The fact that people stay on your website, explore various sections, and go through your web pages, means that they are interested in your proposition. Here are a few things you can do to keep people longer on your website through your content.
Provide definitive answers to definitive questions
Your bounce rate will be higher if people feel that they have been misled into visiting your website. Suppose they come across your link on Google, click the link, come to your website, and then, after feeling dissatisfied, leave within a few seconds. Why does this happen?
Take your own example. You are moving through an arcade of shops and there is a gripping banner offering you something that you have been looking for, for ages. With great excitement you enter the shop but to your dismay, it’s nothing like that. They are offering something completely different. Something that you don’t need. Disappointed, you come out of the shop. If possible, you may also give it a negative rating if it is listed somewhere.
Exactly this happens when people come to your website through a link they have found somewhere, expecting something, and then not finding it. They immediate leave your website. This is neither good for your conversion rate, nor for your search engine rankings.
All this while Google is quietly observing how people are reacting to the search results its algorithm is throwing up. If the search results don’t come up with the right answers, its performance deteriorates. In retaliation, it takes it out on you. It lowers your rankings.
Hence, when you are publishing content, make sure you are delivering exactly what is being displayed in the title and in the headline. Stick to the point.
Internally link to other web pages and blog posts
Even if somehow, your visitors are unable to find what they’re looking for, maybe they will find some useful information on another link within your website. For example, when writing about SEO content writing, I may have also written about SEO copywriting. Since you are searching for SEO copywriting, but you enter my website through something related to a SEO content writing, you might as well check the SEO copywriting link too, just in case. This increases your chances of staying on my website longer.
Make your content easier to read
Despite finding something valuable, just because you have grabbed everything in a single, large paragraph, your business may get frustrated and leave your website in a hurry, without reading the entire web page or blog post.
Use shorter paragraphs. They are also convenient to read on mobile phones. They also help your readers focus on singular thoughts. Don’t try to express a lot within a single paragraph. Whenever there is an excuse to create a new paragraph, create a new paragraph.
Use headings, subheadings, and bulleted points to succinctly explain complicated topics. This also makes your content easily scannable. Without reading the whole thing, if people simply go through your headings, subheadings, and bulleted points, they should be able to understand what you’re trying to say.
Use relevant and attractive images
Although images are not a part of content writing, they can keep people on your website for a bit longer because even if they are not reading the text, they may like to go through the images, and this increases the time they spend on your website. Even if it doesn’t help you with your conversion rate, it may send a signal to Google that you are providing good content and as a result, your search engine rankings may improve.
Use conversational style of writing
Everyone likes being talked to. Have a conversation with your readers. Use lots of “you” and “me” and “I”.
The good thing about writing in a conversational style is that you write as you speak. You use smaller, direct sentences and expressions. You don’t sound pretentious. Even you yourself feel as if you are in a positive flow of and this reflects through your choice of words and phrases.
Just like people like being talked to, they also love reading stories. This is because it is easier to relate to the characters in a story, whether they are anthropomorphic animals or human beings.
Stories also provide ready-made templates. For example, if a character is going through certain circumstances, one or the other reader too has gone through somewhat similar circumstances.
If I tell you the story of Peter who was reluctant to use content writing to improve his search engine rankings and due to that, he went through extreme hardships. It was almost too late when he decided to give quality content writing a chance, and that too, cynically and reluctantly. But then, he was swept off his feet when he began to experience the results after four months and by the seventh month, his business had taken a U-turn.
In the story you learn that just like you, there is a person Peter who doesn’t understand the power of quality content. He cannot figure somehow that content writing can improve his SEO. When he has tried everything, in the end, before completely giving up, he decides to give content writing a try. The story also tells you that the results aren’t immediate. In four months his search engine rankings begin to improve and by the seventh month, the fortunes of his business had completely changed.
Hence, these are some solid ways you can use content writing to keep people on your website for longer. Keeping your visitors on your website for a few minutes isn’t as easy as it sounds. As I have mentioned in the beginning of the blog post, it’s quite easy to bring people to your website. Simple SEO hacks can achieve that for you. What’s important is, for how long people stay on your website and how many of them convert due to that.
As I have written in one of my previous blog posts, for the past few months I have been working on a book on how to establish a successful content writing business.
In one of the chapters I have discussed how empathy is very important to become a successful content writer.
Empathy means the ability to understand what the other person is going through. No matter what you are feeling, no matter what your intellectual disposition is, you should be able to understand how the other person feels, what is his or her situation, why he or she behaves the way he or she behaves, and what pains him or her or makes him or her happy.
Why is it important to empathize?
Effective content writing is all about solving problems. Someone has a question; you provide the answer. With your writing, you are offering solutions. You want to make life easier for customers and clients.
This requires you to understand people. It requires you to empathize with them. You should be able to listen to them or read between the lines if you are reading their feedback.
Before working on an assignment, I always ask the client about the target audience.
Often, I need to prod. Most of the clients are too obsessed with their product or service and assume that every person on the surface of the planet should want to use his or her product or service.
There is nothing wrong in having such an opinion about your proposition because it makes you enthusiastic. But sometimes it also blinds you towards the pain points your prospective customers and clients have.
This is where empathy helps you.
Suppose you’re promoting a cloud-based CRM system. You need to carry out an email campaign. You have a list of contacts you have been gathering for a few years.
While targeting big organizations, your email may reach the inboxes of CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, managers, accountants, IT heads, marketing managers, and such.
You cannot send them the same message because their concerns are going to be different even if the product is the same.
If you can empathize with them, a CEO would like to know how your cloud-based CRM would help the company grow faster and even help him or her in his or her career.
A CFO would like to see the financial aspect. Will your cloud-based CRM system help the company save money on operational costs? Will it be able to plug wastage?
A marketing manager would like to know how your CRM system would help retain the organization more customers and generate a greater number of leads.
And so on.
I’m just using an email campaign as an example. Even when you are writing web content, you need to understand what your customers and clients are looking for. And then write content.
Titles are important. They can have a big impact on your search engine rankings.
Although many renowned SEO experts claim that it is debatable whether creating “optimized” titles can improve your search engine rankings, there are different reasons why the quality of your titles is directly and indirectly related to your overall search engine rankings.
What is a blog post or a web page title? It is not the headline. It is the text that appears between the HTML tags <title> and </title>. This is the text that is picked by search engines and social media websites when you simply insert your link on your timeline.
I have personally observed that your title does matter. Your title is an indicator of what your web page holds. Hence, it naturally gives the needed information to the search engine crawlers. Again, that’s debatable. But there are certainly logical reasons why your titles matter.
Studies have shown that when people see a search term that they have just used appearing in the hyperlink of the search results, they are more likely to click it. Isn’t it natural?
For example, if you search for “content writer for web design service”, and there is a hyperlink that actually contains the phrase “content writer for web design service”, what reason do you have to not to click it? You have a big reason to click it.
Then, there is a direct relationship between the number of people clicking your link in the search results, and your search engine rankings. When more people click your link, Google takes it as a good sign.
It can be a double-edged sword, though.
If lots of people click your link and then immediately come back to Google, it means your bounce rate is higher. It means although you’re able to get the clicks, you are not providing valuable content for the search term for which your link is appearing higher. Your search rankings for that search term begin to go down.
Nonetheless, it is your title that brings people to your website, whether your title appears in Google search results, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other social media website that creates a thumbnail out of the link and uses the title to highlight the main point of your link.
The point is, no matter what the search engine experts say, as a content writer, I know that your title has a big impact on your search engine rankings.
How to create web page and blog post titles that improve your search engine rankings?
For this, I always suggest my clients to get written highly focused web pages and blog posts. This way, your web page title directly represents the body text.
For example, if I publish a blog post titled “Top 12 tips for writing content to improve your SEO”, Google and search engine users know what to expect from this blog post. All those people who want to read about how to write content that can improve their SEO, are going to find this link worthy of clicking.
If you stick to the core topic, that is, explaining how to use content writing to improve your SEO, people are going to stick around. They’re going to spend a few minutes reading the blog post as much as it appeals to them. They may also check other links on my website or blog.
This tells Google that the title for which my this particular link is ranking high, appropriately represents what my blog post contains. It takes it as an indicator of quality content and consequently, it raises the ranking of this particular link further.
Hence, when writing titles to improve your SEO, keep the following in mind:
Let the title exactly represent what the main body content contains.
Include the main phrases in the title for which you want to optimize your web page.
Don’t needlessly or randomly stuff keywords into your title. This decreases the quality of your SEO. You only have limited number of characters – 60-70 – and within those characters, you must represent a complete phrase, a sentence that can stand by itself.
Taking the above example – Top 12 tips for writing content to improve your SEO – it wouldn’t make sense if you simply use the keywords as your title, “content writing, SEO, top tips, writing content”. People are not going to click it.
Hence, try to represent the complete phrase, a long tail keyword that people actually use to look for your content.