Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tips for Writing Better Content: The Before, During and After Phases

As an SEO firm in Chicago we’re always talking SEO and we’re always talking about the importance of content.  When it comes to search engine optimization, we’re always saying, “Content is king” and we mean it.  When it comes to creating an SEO strategy there is no better way to boost rankings then to put out great content.  If you’re not working with an SEO company and are trying to do search engine optimization yourself then you need to be prepared to put on your writer hat.  If you’re not the best writer then take note of our tips for writing better content:

Before you begin writing do the following:

1- Identify your goal beforehand: What is the goal of the content you are producing?  Identifying what you are looking for from your reader will help you be able to write better content.  Decide what is you want to say and what is you want your reader to know.  What are you looking to accomplish with your content?  Have your goal in mind beforehand and your content will instantly be more successful.

2- Consider your reader: Get in the mindset of your target audience and readers.  Consider what they know about your content’s topic and what they don’t know.  Break things down that may be confusing for them so you don’t lose them.  Explain things in a way that you are on their level rather than being above them.  Think about what they may want to know about your topic and how you can help them learn your topic better, after all you are writing for search engines AND readers.

3- What’s the hook?: Every and any piece of content you put out should have a hook, which is how you draw readers in. Your hook may be a news hook, an attack hook, a humor hook or an ego hook, but whatever kind of hook you choose needs to draw readers into your content. Your hook should be woven throughout your content or writing piece.  

While you are writing:

1- Create an outline:  In order to write better content (especially if you’re not a writer) consider making an outline first.  An outline will help you weed out material you need not include and will help you better organize your content and your thoughts.  Even seasoned writers will outline content from time to time.  Outlining should become your first step in the writing process.  Once you have a great outline, writing the rest of your content will become a breeze since you’ve outlined the points you need to hit with your content.  Just go down your outline and begin writing, the organization will be there.

2- Just write!:  If you find yourself constantly editing your thoughts as you write, stop immediately!  The writing and editing process are two entirely different parts of the content-creating process. As a rule, write first and edit later.  Get as much down as you can and leave all of your thoughts on the page until you get to the editing process. If you created your outline like we mentioned in tip #1, then you have probably already been able to weed out the useless, cluttered information and have organized your thoughts, so don’t be so critical of your writing.  Keep what you have and re-read it later.

3- Make it easy to read: Content built for web is different than any other type of content.  People reading online are typically scanning, rather than doing any type of deep reading, so you want your online content to convey your message quickly and concisely.  You want your reader to be able to scan your content and be able to take away the crux of your message very quickly. 

4- Be engaging: If you want people to read your content, then you must be engaging.  Make them want to read what you put out.  One of the best ways to be engaging as a writer is to use your own voice.  You have to give readers a little bit of you. Write like your content matters to you, as it should.  If you want people to care about what you write, you have to care about what you write, so let your personality shine through in your writing. 

After you are finished writing:

1- Edit time: Now is the time to begin the editing process.  Do a thorough re-read and see if any sentences should be omitted or altered.  While outlining helps you get your thoughts organized, editing should help you double check that your writing is organized the way you want it to be.  Spell check, spell check and spell check again! 

2- Read it out loud: Read your writing out loud and see how it sounds to you.  If parts of your writing sound off, make a note of it and go back to it and figure out the issue.  It could be awkward phrasing or perhaps there is a better word you could be using to describing something.  Either way, reading out loud is another form of editing that every writer should utilize. 

3- Have a co-worker or friend read your content: If you want to make sure your content is sounding its best, consider having a co-worker or friend read your writing to proofread it and let you know what they think.  Be open to questions, comments, criticisms and opinions as all four will only make you a better writer.  

Questions or comments on writing better content for search engine optimization purposes?  Feel free to comment below or contact us.