It’s the start of a new decade. What resolutions can you make for your writing that will empower you to create quality content that performs for your brand?
Why does the quality of my content matter?
Writing content which is of high quality takes time. The time we know you could be spending elsewhere. As time is such a valuable resource in content marketing, it’s easy for people to overlook its value. Unfortunately, a lot of content on the internet is still sparse pages with little original insight and is only seen as an opportunity to shoehorn in keywords and push CTAs.
Even though it’s been years since keyword stuffing worked for people, many still haven’t evolved their web writing with the times and recognized that search engines imitate human behaviour more than ever and will continue to evolve in this way.
We all know the phrase “content is king”, but when you’re trying to drive results, it seems more convenient to think about content in formulaic terms, even though the evolution of SERPs points to something far more human.
Keywords and CTAs, needless to say, have their place - they are the essentials. But the essentials aren’t everything when it comes to telling a story. If you only think about optimizing for keywords and driving conversion, your content will look inauthentic and it won’t really be saying much of anything.
We’ll identify a few key resolutions that will supercharge your content this year.
1 | Overcome ‘content shock’
Content shock is the experience of being desensitized to perfectly good content by the sheer volume of texts being thrown our way every day due to technological advancement. So it’s imperative for individuals and companies to stay up-to-speed and be thinking creatively about ways their content can cut through the noise.
“Due to the omnipresence of digital marketing channels, consumers are saturated with content and as a result experiencing ‘content shock’ making it a challenge to engage and influence.
Creating high-quality and engaging digital content is the only way get noticed in an over-crowded space.”
— Frank Hattan, Director Inside Sales (Europe) for Microsoft
An easy way to cut through content shock is to make your writing accessible. Your readers are in a hurry, so they don’t have the time or attention span to waste trying to decipher content which isn’t written well. And it’s not about education level.
Content which is written in a way that’s easy to understand saves you and your reader time.
Another way to cut through content shock is to remember your reader and put them at the very centre of what you’re writing. Hone in on what your demographic’s biggest day-to-day problems are and offer solutions - this brings value to your content and sets up a dynamic of exchange between you and your reader.
You should also make sure your content is memorable by giving it a clear structure, making it easy to recollect all the main points of your piece.
2 | Keep your blog posts conversational
How often do you read a blog post and feel like it’s lecturing you rather than inviting discussion? One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is forgetting about the person on the other side.
Instead of giving a formal lecture in your post, keep your content conversational. Formality has its place and may be more appropriate for whitepapers, but for blogs and social media, an informal style is preferred.
Because if you’re not writing in a dynamic and engaging way, how do you expect to invite discussion? Instead, it will look as if you’re speaking into an echo chamber.
“A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue.”
— Truman Capote, writer
3 | Follow readability guidelines for clarity
Readability is about using plain language to ensure you’re communicating more clearly.
The golden rules for readability are:
- Focus on your customer and write at the correct reading level
- Shorten your sentences
- Reduce the number of long words
- Scrub your copy of buzzwords, geekspeak, jargon and acronyms
- Don’t overuse adverbs
We mentioned before that writing simply and clearly will help you cut through content shock - this is what readability is all about. Helping you cut through the noise. And, most of all, do what the reader really wants you to do - get to the point.
“A writer’s style should not place obstacles between his ideas and the minds of his readers.”
— Steve Allen, founder of The Tonight Show
For more pointers, visit our readability guidelines and handbook.
4 | Read more to get content inspiration
If you have a busy schedule and writing deadlines to meet, it might be easy to forget how important reading is to the writing process. You might not think making time in your schedule to read has much value, but it’s crucial to any writer.
Any creative writer will tell you that you can’t become a better writer if you don’t read. The same goes for content writing and digital marketing. This year, let’s all place more value on taking time out from listening to the sound of our own voices to listen to others. Take a breath, close down your Google Doc and soak up some inspiration for a while.
Not only is this a great way to stay up-to-date with discourses in your industry, but it’s a vital step in content curation. Who wants to follow a brand who only pushes their own content?
It’s also a brilliant way to stay inspired for your own content planning. In addition, taking part in Twitter chats - such as SEMrushchat - is a great way to share ideas in an encouraging and passionate community.
My number one content new year’s resolution is to dedicate a couple of hours a week to reading other people’s blog posts to get out of my own head and learn more from others.
“Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.”
― Lisa See, writer
5 | Optimize your web copy for voice search
I’ll leave you with something you may not have thought about, but which has immensely practical use.
Natural Language Generation - NLG - is, quite simply, the future of search. To ensure your content succeeds in this future search engine landscape, you need to pay attention to how rapidly it’s growing.
Voice assistants are redefining the way users word search queries and we can’t underestimate the impact NLG will continue to have on content marketing.
To make sure your content still connects with people, it’s more important than ever to make sure it’s snappy. A recent study on voice search revealed that the average voice search result is 29 words in length. This means that although long-form, meaty articles are favoured, it’s the short and sweet paragraph Google extracts from your text.
A recent study on voice search revealed that the average voice search result is 29 words in length.
Instead of a hindrance to your content, view NLG as a great opportunity to communicate more authentically with your audience. This is because a coherent tone and excellent spelling and grammar will succeed.
"Natural Language Generation allows marketers to be able to more authentically and effectively engage with their customers wherever they engage: Their website, email marketing, content marketing, or social media."
— Neil Schaffer, Neal Schaffer, Founder Social Media Center of Excellence
What have you learned about content writing in the past year, and what are you going to focus on in 2020? Let us know in the comments and let’s exchange our goals and ideas.