Content creation is a bit like wooing a beautiful girl. You’re clear about the end goal, but what’s the best seduction technique to get you there? When it comes to writing compelling web content, you need a similar strategy to attract readers to your page and keep them engaged so they stay there. But how?
It is a well-known fact that your typical online visitor has the attention span of a love struck teenager. And while SEO managers can analyse session durations, dwell times and bounce rates all night long, what it really comes down to is that you only have a few precious seconds to sweep your readers off their feet.
As it’s the month of love, let’s take a look at a few winning ways of spicing up your web content in an effort to seduce your online readers.
1 – Heading for success
Did you know that your choice of title is more important than the actual article? It makes sense when you remind yourself that web visitors skim read for information. If the header doesn’t instantly turn you on, why would you click through to see the rest?
Try to find an interesting or unusual angle to an otherwise unsexy topic. Make it specific, informative, engaging, entertaining, shareable. Rather than ‘Home made romantic sweets’, say ‘5 tempting nibbles for your Valentine’. Be honest, which one would you rather read?
2 – Give it body and soul
Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. In other words, if your article doesn’t deliver what the title so enticingly proposes, it’s no better than click bait. Choose a juicy topic that gives you a platform for;
- education and information sharing
- action and empowerment
- humour and feel good entertainment
Most importantly, write assertively and with authority but without losing the reader’s attention. Use ‘you’ (not ‘I’) to better connect with your audience. Write with a mass audience in mind rather than the select few.
Have you heard of the inverted pyramid method? It’s a way of structuring your article that puts the key information and any conclusions you are drawing at the beginning of the text, not the end.
3 – KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid
When you’re writing for the web, keep it short and keep it simple. Complicated vocabulary and technical jargon turns people off quicker than you can pucker up. Short, easy-to-understand paragraphs separated by white space are best. Stick to one thought per paragraph and don’t make it more than a few lines long – five is good, three is better, and single sentences can really stand out.
Employ text formatting and structure to make your webpage, blog post or article easier to navigate. Headers and subheaders are a great idea, and bullet points are a good way to break up solid text. Try using numbered lists instead of paragraphs.
4 – Are you linking?
Same as in writing for print, it’s good netiquette to reference your sources. Apart from being the right thing to do, it also lends authority to your opinions, assertions and any figures quoted. Add a hyperlink (and do choose the option to open it in another window, so your reader doesn’t bounce away from your site!) when you mention another organisation by name.
Government or other official sources, press articles, professional bodies, charities etc. should all be linked to, though I probably wouldn’t go as far as linking to competitor sites. Doing this can help you get valuable backlinks, and if you’re really lucky you may even get a reciprocal link or quote. Now that would be a result!
5 – Love your language
This one is very simple: if you write professionally, you need to have an expert grasp of the English language. Nothing says amateur more like a page of goofy grammar and toe curling typos – it will have your would-be readers run a mile!
Proofreading is a key ingredient to ensure your copy is nothing short of perfect. Take a break after you’ve finished writing and check it with fresh eyes later-on, or better still get a fellow word lover to do the job for you.
6 – Add some magic keywords
Writing keyword-based posts can present a bit of a double-edged temptation. What’s more important: a blog or web page that is keyword-rich and will make your copy more search engine friendly, or one that is inherently engaging and shareable? Achieving both must surely be the Holy Grail of content creation.
While content writing for the web should always be driven by SEO strategy, keyword cramming is never ever the answer. In fact, if you stuff keywords into your copy willy-nilly, you’ll be watching your readability, conversion rate and SERPs rankings plummet faster than you can fall out of love, as your readers bounce off the page and Google penalises your site.
Much better to cleverly insert relevant keywords organically throughout the text, particularly in the first and last paragraphs, and otherwise focus on beautifully crafting your content.
7 – Give them more
All good things come to an end, unless you add a call to action. Where can your reader learn more? Is there an interesting video to watch, a newsletter they can subscribe to or an expert they can contact? Obviously, provide hyperlinks that can be clicked on to fulfil the action.
It’s a great idea to prolong the positive web experience in this way as it plays straight into your hands. Let the content work its magic by encouraging web visitors to share the information gleaned, or by directing them to other areas of your site.