Content writing: how to create memorable & valuable content

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You’ve no doubt found this article because finally, you get it. You’ve come to the realisation that without great content writing, you’re simply going to be left behind in this ever-evolving digital world. So, where do you begin… How do you even start?

Good news, we’re going to hold your hand and provide you with the building blocks that we’ve developed through building countless websites for our clients, helping them with their social media content and more.

In no time, with a little determination and the tools we provide, you’ll be composing great content writing that will demand your audience’s attention and leave them wanting more.

How content writing can make a difference

Content writing is an important component of your overall content marketing strategy. Great content engages your audience and can address their pain points, adding value to their business or their lives.

Putting together a killer content piece can be difficult. Perhaps you’re not sure what you really want to say, or even who your audience is. When writing for an online environment, things become even more complicated.

There are additional factors to consider, such as choosing the right metadata and keywords, and considering how those impact your “visibility” by search engines.

As with everything, practice makes perfect. The more you write, the better you will get and the better your content will be.

It's about the brand story.

In the mid-1920s, Elmer Wheeler[1] famously coined the phrase, “Don’t sell the steak, Sell the sizzle!”. He urged businesses to focus on the experience around a product rather than simply on the product itself. He encouraged businesses to tell their story to build an emotional connection with customers.

This philosophy is still relevant almost 100 years on. When you think about great brands, it’s their story that sets them apart.

The Jeep motor company are experts at this, promoting an adventurous lifestyle through their products. They promise “boundless freedom” and “extraordinary journeys”[2]. Oh, they also sell cars.

Jeep’s marketing features their vehicles in rugged mountain ranges, rocky outcrops, or beside the ocean. The company is aware most of their core customers are people who will never reach these places.

Yet, the brand’s story gives customers the belief that purchasing a Jeep will grant them the Jeep lifestyle – it’s less about the car, more about the adventure.

Jeep connects with people through their story. You need to discover your story and use that to connect with your customers. Don’t sell to them, offer an experience and a solution in line with your brand values and your story.

[1] elmerwheeler.net
[2] Mike Manley (President & CEO of Jeep Brand). (2014) Jeep Brand Business Plan

Convey your strengths

Every brand has their strengths and weaknesses. Be aware of yours. Here at Optimise Online we take our customers through an exercise where we explore just that. It is surprising how many people have never asked themselves the question.

Have a think about what makes you stand out from your competitors. What makes you better or what might you do differently? Use your strengths to highlight to your customers how you can alleviate their pain points.

Also think about what, if anything, makes your competitors better than you? By being aware of your own weaknesses, you can target those areas and work on them to improve. Indeed, a strength could be knowing your weaknesses and how to convert those to opportunities.
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Add value

There are several objectives you should aim to fulfil with your content writing. The main intent, of course, is to provide information about your products/services.

However, you can tailor your content to appeal to your audience in a meaningful way that addresses their specific needs (pain points).

People will remember your message if they have an emotional connection or find value from your words. They are also more likely to tell others about you and the content you’ve delivered them, providing a great way to spread your message.

Understand your audience and their pain points

With time and experience you will come to learn who your audience is and what their pain points are. When starting out, though, you may not have this insight so take note and be aware of the needs of your readers.

Let’s have another look at the Jeep example. Jeep understands their audience and acknowledges the biggest component of their customers are the dreamers who “hope that one day they’ll be able to do more and dream less.

Jeep understands the pain points of their customers and targets their marketing with promises they will have the right “authentic gear” for the job when they finally get around to those outdoor adventures.

Think about your customers and their pain points. This will help you tailor your content writing to meet their needs. Be aware of the demographic of your audience.

Understand who your customers are, where they live, where they work, what they like and what makes them tick. By understanding who they are you will be able to choose the right words to grab and retain their attention.

Also find out how your audience consumes content (socials, blogs, articles, video, etc). This will help you choose the best medium to reach your audience.

Provide insight and education

Aside from being dynamic and engaging, your content writing should have a clear purpose. In addition to promoting your products/services, you should provide your audience with useful takeaways – they’re searching for and they’ve come to your site for a reason.

Find out what they need, not what you think they need. Understand why they are visiting your site and provide them with the solutions they’re seeking. Then take it one step further, add value and teach them something they don’t know.

You could find people might see your site as an excellent resource for knowledge and insight. However, beware to ensure your content writing is accurate – you will lose credibility very quickly otherwise. Also remember to give credit to any resources you referenced for source information.

Give something away for free

Who doesn’t like something for free?

Giving something away for free is a great way to instantly engage with your customers. It builds trust and lowers barriers to sales – people feel more inclined to do business with you because you have already given them something for nothing.

Giving things away can also create a positive brand recognition for your company[3]. Also, by not asking for anything in return for the useful insight you are providing, visitors feel more confident and assured about your credibility.

If you wanted to secure leads, you could create a downloadable PDF document, where visitors to your website enter their name and email address in exchange for valuable downloadable information. This provides an opportunity for you to engage with those people later.

If nothing else, giving away information for free can simply be about helping another human being.

Take the time to do your research

When preparing to write your copy, be sure to do some research on your topic.

Have a look at other websites to see what people are saying on the topic. Choose an angle that differentiates you from everyone else. Perhaps start with something that hasn’t been said about the topic and go from there.

Consider the pain points of your audience and what it is they might be hoping to achieve from visiting your page. Also conduct research into relevant keywords and key phrases that could help you achieve positive search results.
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Content writing for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

You can supercharge your content’s visibility with an understanding of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

As with most things, there’s a right way and a wrong way to use SEO. In the old days, people focussed primarily on keywords and would jam so many into their content writing it was distracting to read the article (keyword stuffing).

To be fair, search engines in the past were basic and when indexing content, algorithms were geared toward keywords as a primary factor in returning search results.

Nowadays, search engine algorithms are far more sophisticated and consider a multitude of factors when returning search results, not just keywords.

Google loves it

Search engines aim to deliver the highest quality, most relevant results to users based on their search query.

Search engines scan (crawl) websites to understand what the site is about, and present search results based on what they find[4]. Search engines (particularly Google) also rate sites based on their readability, user interface, user experience and ease of navigation. Sites with better ratings usually receive higher rankings in search results.

Metadata is a key factor used by search engines that is often overlooked by copywriters and content developers.

Google uses metadata to provide an overarching understanding of the topic of a web page. It is also used by digital marketers to track internet users’ habits and interests.

In terms of content writing for websites, metadata comprises two main components, as detailed below:

Meta title

An HTML element that specifies the title of a web page[5]. This appears as the clickable result in a web search and as the title in the tab at the top of the browser. It is important to include keywords in the title to give users a clear idea of what the page is about and for the best chance of a higher ranking in search engine results.

Meta description

Also known as a “snippet”[6], this is a brief description about the contents of a web page (also embedded in the page’s HTML). This information appears as text in a browser’s search results. It does not influence ranking in search results but is important as it can influence a user’s decision to click on your result. To use the meta description effectively, you should aim to stick to a maximum of 160 characters (including spaces).

Another important factor to consider is the web page’s Uniform Resource Locator (URL). This is essentially the address of the web page.

When creating a URL, it is important to include relevant keywords to make it more findable by search engines. As a guide, a shorter URL is generally more search engine-friendly than a longer one – try to keep it under 75 characters for the best results.

Search engines use the meta title, description and URL to find and present information to a user about a web page. As these are the first things that appear in a search result, it is important to get them right to increase your ranking in search engines and immediately grab a user’s attention.

Keywords are important!

Keywords and key phrases are words and phrases a user might typically type into a search engine when searching for something.

When you create content using relevant keywords and key phrases, the chances of your content being found in a web search are greatly improved.

There are various online tools you can use to help you identify the right keywords for your copy.

A great tool we use here at Optimise Online is Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest, this powerful keyword tool crawls the web and returns keywords relevant to the topic you enter.

SEMRush is another useful tool we use but there is a cost associated with using this platform.

There is a free Google Chrome extension called Keyword Surfer that displays SEO information in the browser, including keywords, domain traffic and backlinks.

SEO Meta Inspector is another tool you can use but is restricted to a specific web page you are on at the time. This can be useful when looking at a competitor’s website to assess keywords and other SEO information they use.

Be sure to choose your keywords carefully and use them appropriately throughout your content writing without overusing them.

Sentences need to sound organic and authentic, overusing keywords can make your content not make sense and confuse the reader.

Try two or three keywords for each piece of copy – too many can make your content appear thin and un-focussed but too few can make your website difficult for search engines to find.

LSI keywords matter too

Another factor to note is that search engines look for Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords, which are words associated with the main keywords on a web page (but are not necessarily synonyms).

For instance, if you had a website about cars you could use semantic keywords in your copy, such as engine, wheels and diagnostics to let search engines know your page is about mechanical servicing. On the flip side, if you were to use wiring, lights and fuses – your page would be reference as auto electrical servicing.

When it comes to LSI, context is as important as the keywords themselves.

At Optimise Online, we use a handy LSI keyword tool called LSIGraph, which can help you find the right LSI keywords to include in your content writing to enhance your search engine visibility.

The same rules apply with LSI keywords as your main keywords – use them sparingly!

A content brief can be a really useful tool

A Content Brief enables you to focus your thoughts and gives you discussion points to commence constructing your content piece.

Your words will be more relevant to the topic and you will be able to structure an organised discussion that makes sense to your readers.

You will also be able to document your keywords, LSI keywords and key phrases, ensuring you remember to spread them appropriately throughout your content.

When you are finished your content writing, you can review your copy against the Content Brief to check you have covered all the points you set out to address.

Now put it all together and you have one hell of a content piece!

When putting together your copy, be sure to remain consistent in your tone and language. Don’t repeat yourself – your readers will quickly lose interest.

Importantly, ALWAYS check your spelling and grammar. Your valuable message could be lost if your readers are busy trying to interpret your errors rather than focus on what you are trying to say.

Finally, create a heading for your copy that is not only relevant to the topic and will grab the reader’s attention but will also enhance your visibility in search engine results.

When you’re satisfied you’ve covered everything, it’s time to release your killer content writing to the world.

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