Tag Archives: Writing Content

How to write content for voice-activated devices

The image shows a couple of voice-activated devices with the caption content writing for voice-activated devices

Content writing for voice-activated devices

Here is how to write content for voice-activated devices or voice search:

  1. Write your content in the form of questions and answers.
  2. Write your content according to the trigger words like why, when, who, where, and so on.
  3. Optimize your writing for Google’s featured snippets.
  4. Use simple words and smaller sentences.
  5. Format your text to look its best on mobile layout.

Content writing is fast becoming “Voice-First”. Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, Google Home, and Amazon Echo are all examples of technologies that use voice as a primary source of information exchange.

Voice-activated or voice-controlled devices are everywhere these days. You can use even your phone with voice these days (Google Assistant, for example). If you’re using Google Voice, you are using a voice-activated device.

But there are some dedicated voice-controlled and voice-activated devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. These are smart devices. These are also a big part of “Internet of Things”. They exchange data between each other. They fetch you information from the Internet.

Just in America, 53 million people have some sort of smart speaker. According to comScore, 50% of the searches will be voice searches by 2020. 30% searches will be without screen by 2020, according to Gartner, which means, you will speak into your device and the device will speak back to you.

In terms of content writing, if you want to write content for voice-activated devices, it means writing content in such a manner that when someone speaks a query into a smart speaker like Google Home, it can quickly retrieve the information from your website and then convey the information, through voice, to the person searching for the information.

If it is simply going to read the information from your website, what’s the big deal about specifically writing content for voice-activated devices? What’s the difference?

Well, first of all, when we are speaking, we don’t speak very long, complicated sentences.

We use short phrases. The language is conversational. It is to the point. We don’t beat around the bush otherwise the listener gets confused. The question is asked, and the answer is given with as little fuss as possible.

When you interact with a voice-activated device, it takes your audio input, turns it into text and then uses that text to fetch information from the Internet, turns the textual information into voice and then plays the voice to you.

This happens within a second, so you don’t realize all this transformation happening in the background.

Should content writing for voice-activated devices be different from regular content writing?

It depends on what you call regular content writing.

Even when you are writing without taking voice-activated and voice-controlled devices into account, you should stick with simple writing, shorter sentences, and paragraphs that express just a single thought.

This has two benefits:

  1. Your text is easier for people to read.
  2. Search engine ranking algorithms find it easier to process your text and hence, you enjoy better search engine rankings.

By nature, and by passion I am a writer. I prefer to let myself lose without bothering about how my text is going to sound, as long as it sounds fine to me. I don’t mind using complicated sentences and complicated words. Ideally, I couldn’t care less how search engines interpret my text as long as it is loved by my readers.

But we don’t live in an ideal world. When I’m writing for my content writing clients, I pay close attention to writing in simple language.

Simple language doesn’t mean dumbifying the content. It means avoiding using 10 words when 5 would suffice.

Remember when people were having two simultaneous versions of their websites, one for mobile phones and one for desktops and laptops?

These days most of the websites have liquid layouts: the same website readjusts information according to the screen size. This saves us from having multiple websites for multiple screen sizes.

The same should be applicable in content writing. When you are writing content for your website or your blog, you shouldn’t have to write different copies for human readers and for voice-activated devices.

Take for example this blog post. You can read it easily. Even the voice-activated devices shouldn’t have any problem reading and voicing the text on this blog post.

Whether you are writing for voice-activated devices or for human readers, write as simply as possible.

Listed below are a few things you can keep in mind while writing content so that it is easier to read by voice-activated and voice-controlled devices.

People use conversational queries when using voice search on voice-activated devices

People use “find me someone who can fix my sink” instead of “plumbing services”. Or “plumbing services near me”.

It has been observed that when people type their queries, they use smaller search terms but when they are talking into their devices, they use longer sentences.

Now that I’m writing this, I’m thinking that above I have written that when optimizing content for voice-activated devices you should focus on smaller sentences.

That still holds. Smaller sentences and simpler words are not just easy to listen to, they’re also good for your search engine rankings.

Optimize for featured snippets

Some time back I wrote a blog post on how to optimize your content for featured snippets, though, there is no exact way of doing it.

Here is the blog post: Google’s Featured Snippets: How to rank at #1 with strategic content writing.

Google often uses search results with the featured snippet box for a quick answer to your query.

As more and more people use voice search featured snippets will get more prominent.

This is because the featured snippet text is already available to Google and it can straightaway read to you the information from it instead of first having to visit the website, fetch the information and then read it to you.

Provide answers to questions

Most of the search queries for voice search use trigger words such as how, where, what, when, why, who, the and can. Given below is a small visual taken from seoClarity that lists the percentage of trigger words used for voice search.

Percentage of search engine queries for voice searches

For example, people would search for “how do I reach Sabarimala from Cochin?” or “how do I find a professional content writer for my business website?” or “best content writing service for my website”, or “where can I find a restaurant that is open at 11 PM?” or “who is the best travel agent in Timbuktu?”

Also, prepare a comprehensive FAQs section because this is a section where you can optimize your writing in the question-answer format.

Concluding remarks on writing content for voice-activated devices

The advice that I give for search engine optimization, I also give for voice search optimization or for writing content for voice-activated devices: don’t overly worry about optimization, just focus on providing good content in easy-to-read language.

Easy-to-read language keep people focused. Search engine algorithms find it easy to interpret and then rank.

Develop a habit of writing in the form of questions and answers. This is because, what does a query mean? It means asking a question. Provide the answer, the best possible answer.

How I generate content writing ideas for different clients

Getting content writing ideas for clients

Getting content writing ideas for clients

It is difficult to come up with content writing ideas, especially on an ongoing basis. This is why when sometimes clients ask me to come up with my own content writing ideas, I charge them extra. Often, writing is easier, but coming up with writing ideas is very difficult and time-consuming.

I normally help my clients with writing topics when I’m working on their content marketing strategy rather than simply providing content.

A successful content marketing strategy cannot be implemented without a comprehensive list of content writing ideas surrounding a particular niche. Before you start writing content you need to know

  • Why you are writing that content?
  • Whom are you targeting (your customer or client persona)?
  • What reaction do you want to elicit from your target audience?
  • What is your long-term content marketing goal?

It is very important to know these points because otherwise, though content marketing is very promising, you will be simply wasting money and effort if you randomly publish web pages, blog posts, articles and email updates.

What is your purpose of writing content?

Different reasons for writing content

Different reasons for writing content

Different content marketing needs may have different reasons for writing/publishing content, and these may include:

  • Attract more people to your website or blog
    • You aim at making your content go viral
    • You aim for increasing brand awareness on other websites, blogs and social media platforms
  • Educate people
    • You want to establish yourself as an authority and an expert in your field or industry
    • You want to help your customers and clients by providing them information they can use to improve the way they work
    • You want to educate your prospective customers and clients so that they are in a better position to use your product or service
  • Encourage call-to-action
    • You want people to click on advertisements published on your website
    • You want to build your mailing list and hence want to encourage people to subscribe
    • You want people to buy your product or use your service
  • Increase your general visibility
    • You want more people to link to you
    • You want people to share your content on their social media profiles
    • You want to attract large number of people to your own website or blog
    • You want to increase your search engine rankings

Every business can use a strategic mix of all these reasons to publish and write content. If you have a clear idea of these reasons, you can easily come up with lots of topics that can see you through over many weeks and months.

Aside from these, you can also decide whether your content should fulfil a need, should cater to a desire or a want, or simply provide enjoyment.

What keywords do you want to target?

Importance of keywords in SEO content writing

Importance of keywords in SEO content writing

Your keywords – both your primary keywords and related keywords – have a significant bearing on your content writing ideas.

If you have a list of your keywords, then you naturally want to cover them through your content. Only when you write on these keywords search engines like Google will be able to make out what core topic you are trying to cover.

Taking my own example, for my business I have two primary keywords: content writing services and content marketing services.

One way or the other, all my content – web pages, blog posts, graphics, videos – hover around these two primary keywords.

What sort of content can be published on a business website or blog?

On a typical website you can publish

  • Educational and informative blog posts and articles
  • Web pages describing your products and services and encouraging people to buy your products and services
  • Case studies and white papers
  • Email marketing content
  • Curated content – useful, helpful, and relevant content gathered from other websites
  • Testimonials from your customers and clients
  • Straightforward promotional content
  • Landing pages
  • Industry News updates
  • Your internal corporate updates (hired a new CEO, installed a new enterprise solution, started a new department, released an updated version of your software)

Using the information gathered to generate content writing ideas for a long time

Frankly, you cannot ensure an ever-lasting supply of content writing ideas.

Publishing content for content marketing is a journey and many unpredictable events can happen during your journey, and these events will generate further writing ideas.

But the information presented above can easily give you 40-50 writing ideas for your website.

When I start on a new content writing or content marketing project I try to get as much information as possible from the new client.

The basic purpose is, understanding what the client wants to achieve.

He or she must have a clear idea because if he or she doesn’t have an idea, it will be very difficult for him or her to make it clear to me what sort of content I should write and what sort of audience I should target.

Initially I begin with trying to understand what sort of questions and apprehensions people may have regarding my client.

What would stop them from doing business with my client and what information should be provided to them to allay their fears.

Together with the client, I prepare a long list of topics (preferably using the exact language used by the client’s target customers and clients) that should be of interest to my client’s prospective customers and clients.

If the client already has some existing content I go through it and make a list of strengths and weaknesses of that existing content. Sometimes new content writing ideas can come from existing content.

Also, existing content can be repurposed, and new content can be generated out of it.

Sometimes, same content can be regenerated using different formats, for example, an old blog post can be easily turned into a slide or an animated GIF, or even a YouTube video.

You may also like to read 15 ways you never run out of blogging ideas.

For an ongoing content marketing assignment, I also use Google alerts to get alerts on the latest content being written on my client’s profession. I also use content curation tools like Flipboard, Twitter feeds and Feedly.

Google search too is a great way of finding new content topics. When you search on Google, it gives you some suggestions that people have used to find similar information. When I searched for “content writing tips”, in addition to bringing up the results for my search string, it also gave me the following suggestions:

  • How to write content writing samples
  • Content writing samples PDF
  • Content writing tips for beginners
  • Content writing tips examples
  • How to write content for project

There are more examples. Even when you click one of these suggestions Google gives you more suggestions.

You don’t need to generate topics out of every Google search suggestion, but they give you a very good idea of what people are looking for.

Checking Google trends is also a good way of knowing whether a particular content writing idea is worth trying for or not.

Google Trends for content marketing and content writing

Google Trends for content marketing and content writing

Closely observing Google Trends will also let you know that the topics that you want to cover are used mostly in which region. For example, if you compare “content marketing” with “content writing” in Google Trends, you will notice that not many people are looking for content writing outside of India. Very few people are looking for content marketing in India.

For every client I have an “Ideas” file where I keep collecting all the good ideas I come across on my own and from different sources. The list in this ideas file is not definite; it keeps changing. I keep modifying existing ideas and adding new ideas as long as they conform to

  • The keywords that need to be used
  • The messaging that needs to be conveyed
  • The end result

I also arrange content writing ideas in an Excel sheet in different columns: Long blog posts, short blog posts, long web pages, short web pages and social media updates.

Sometimes my clients help too. For example, if they have multiple employees some of their employees come up with great content writing ideas because they directly dealing with their customers and clients, constantly.

Is it easier to come up with content writing ideas for one’s clients?

Compared to those who don’t write content regularly, and professionally?

Obviously. When your write content for a living you get into the habit of finding content writing opportunities everywhere.

If you hire me and I know you are going to pay me $35 for every piece of content I give you, my brain is constantly on an alert, even when I’m not aware of it.

5 reasons writing or creating content is far better than making a business phone call

What happens when you make a business call? You have to choose the right time. There is a great possibility that the person on the other side isn’t eager to receive your call or doesn’t have time. Maybe there is lots of action going on on your side or on the other side? You have to make sure that you don’t forget the important facts. The information that is sought by the other person should be immediately at hand. If there is additional information required you have to verbally communicate it. If there is some diagram or an image you have to explain it to the person on the other side.

Image with text 5 reasons writing content is better than making a business phone call

This Marketing Think blog post has an interesting take on why publishing content on your website or blog is far better than making business phone calls. These are the 5 reasons the author has cited:

  1. The content that you have written is available 24 x 7. The time constraint is not there and your content can be accessed from any time zone from anywhere.
  2. You can decide how much you want to say. You can decide whether you want to be brief or you want to expand your point of view.
  3. In case you need to share an infographic or a Slideshare or a video it is not possible to do it over telephone.
  4. In case extra research is needed it cannot be done over the phone.
  5. Your written content connects to your customers and clients on their own terms rather than you deciding when they should have the conversation with you and what sort of conversation they should have.

My personal take is, there is a positive and a negative side to every communication channel. The telephonic conversation is instant and the emotion that you can convey through a telephone call is difficult to convey through text that is mostly one-sided. But then, being a content writer, I have more faith in written word than spoken word.

Image source

Search Engine Optimization with Better Content Writing

search engine optimization and content writing

Yesterday Business2Community posted my blog post, “Search Engine Optimization with Content Writing” in which I talk about how you can organically improve your search engine rankings by creating better, useful content rather than resorting to unreliable, the so-called, “SEO tactics”. Although there is nothing wrong in making your website SEO-friendly in terms of layout and source code, eventually it is your content writing, at least right now and in the foreseeable future, it is your textual content that ultimately impacts your search engine optimization results.

Should you write content merely for search engine optimization?

Why not? And not necessarily. There is nothing wrong in writing content that helps you improve your search engine rankings. The problem arises when you’re creating content merely for that purpose. That’s when things begin to go wrong. Then you lose your priority and you end up alienating your core audience. Search engine optimization and consequently, rankings become more important to you than providing the right, useful information to your visitors. Getting massive traffic from search engines doesn’t help you much if there is very low or no conversion rate. This, whether you realize it sooner or later, negatively affects your search engine rankings. This is because…

  • You need people to link back to you
  • You need to establish your authority
  • People should feel encouraged to share your content on their social media and social networking timelines

Since all these are voluntary acts, they won’t happen unless you create quality content. Why would people link to you (unless you pay them, and this no longer works) unless they find your information useful and unless it adds value to their own website or blog?

Similarly, you establish your authority by sharing expert advice people can actually use to take their businesses, their personal lives, and even their experiences, to the next level. Building your personal brand these days is a big part of search engine optimization and this can only happen with sustained content writing. Now, when I mention “sharing expert advice” it doesn’t mean that you metamorphose into an expert overnight. It is an ongoing process. You gain knowledge and you grow intellectually as you share more and more with your readers. It doesn’t always have to be advice, you just need to remain in touch, and whenever inspiration hits you, you share something worthy with your readers.

Regarding content writing for search engine optimization, aside from being useful, it helps if you organize your content structure in such a manner that it is easier for the search engine crawlers and ranking algorithms to figure out what you are talking about. It entails using your keywords – both your main keywords as well as longtail keywords – strategically, at proper locations. As I have mentioned in the guest blog post, your primary keyword should appear in the title of your webpage or blog post. If possible, it should also appear in the first paragraph and within the headline tags. If you can manage, while writing content, you can also use your primary keywords as well as longtail keywords in a bulleted list.

Anyway, you can head to the Business2Community link to read my blog post over there and don’t forget to share it.

Does SEO content writing improve your search engine rankings?

SEO and content writing

How is SEO content writing different from regular content writing? Does it matter that you pay attention to how you are arranging content on your web pages and blog posts in order to improve your search engine rankings? Right now it does, in the future, things may improve and perhaps the search engines will be able to rank URLs according to their actual value rather than the words being used.

The fundamental challenge of content writing, especially on the Internet, is, striking a balance between meaningfulness of the content and SEO. Frankly, there is no escape from paying attention to the way search engines interpret your content if search engine traffic matters to you. Whatever you are writing, eventually, it’s the algorithms that decide for which keywords and key phrases – whether you’re trying to target shorter phrases or longtail keywords – your content is ranked, or not ranked.

These days I am using ScribeSEO to revamp all the content on my website as well as blog. Although I am an experienced content writer, and I know a thing or two about writing content for SEO, sometimes it becomes difficult to keep track of the language you are using while writing content. It doesn’t happen all the time, but once you start analyzing your content using specialized tools, interesting things get revealed.

For instance, one of my pages, despite different tries, was optimized for “your content” despite the fact that I was targeting for “content writer”. Who would, and how many, would search for something like “your content”? The language that I had used, seems to have misled the ScribeSEO analysis software.

No, I’m not saying that you should get too much bogged down by what a particular SEO tool advises (or for that matter, an SEO expert) you to do in order to improve your search engine rankings. Nothing can surpass your own judgment and analysis. Of course when you need to do lots of content writing one or another tool comes handy, but eventually it is your own way of writing that can help you in terms of SEO.

Are SEO and content writing interrelated

SEO or conversion rate

It depends. Pure SEO doesn’t mean good conversion rate and effective content writing doesn’t always mean higher search engine rankings. That is why I said in the beginning, an experienced content writer tries to strike the perfect balance. When I’m working for my clients, I know that search engine traffic for them is as important as, if not more, their conversion rate. If there is no traffic, or very little traffic, there aren’t many people to do business with. Conversely, if the content doesn’t convert, no matter how much traffic you get from search engines, it hardly matters.

How do you make sure your content writing caters both to the search engines and the human visitors?

It’s very easy to do once you decide to write what really matters rather than being manipulative. SEO content writing actually depends on writing content that is totally user-friendly. There are primarily 5 things you need to take care of

  • What language does the target audience use vis-à-vis the product or service you are writing about
  • How focused you are going to remain on the topic of that particular page or blog post
  • What are the key words or phrases people use on search engines while trying to find what you are going to write about
  • Use those keywords and key phrases judicially while creating content
  • Use those keywords and key phrases at prominent locations such as the first paragraph, the title tag, the description, headings and subheadings and bulleted points

The language is important because this is the same language people use while talking about your product or service, whether they’re trying to search for it on Google or talking about it over there social networking profiles. The problem with SEO content writing is that it has a sort of, bad reputation. People relate it to keyword stuffing. It actually means writing content that search engines think the users will appreciate and like.

It doesn’t always have to involve your core topics. There may be some interesting news, or even political news that directly or indirectly affects your business or the way your prospective customers and clients do business with you. SEO content writing can involve sharing your thoughts with your readers and somehow relating them to your own business.

Remember that these days search engines, especially Google, are very touchy about the overuse of keywords. So don’t use them if there is no need to use them. That is why you need to vertically focus on the topic of the page you are writing the content for, so that you can naturally use those keywords and key phrases.

So should SEO be in your mind while writing content? It should be, even if getting good rankings isn’t one of your priorities. Good SEO practices while writing content automatically make your content more focused, subject-specific and easier to read. Search engines want to index and rank content that they think is useful to their users. By following good SEO practices while writing content, you make it more user-friendly.