Content marketing is a valuable tool, but only if you observe best practices in substance and style – writing the most intriguing headlines and most relevant copy.
Attracting readers and keeping them on your blog or site means you must capitalize on your strengths and write for the benefit your Internet readers.
Where to start? Obviously it means starting at the top – where you begin the content-writing process.
Here are six headline writing strategies:
1. Write your headline first. Write it after deciding on a topic. If you’re not sure about the right headline copy, stay with it until you’re sure. Headline writing is an art that will make or break your success. Also, it will help you to stay focus in writing the content.
2. Uniqueness counts. It helps to write about current events and trends, but remember Google will probably have hundreds of thousands of search results on such topics. So explore a unique angle with solutions.
Don’t be mundane by being too factual. Don’t make readers work to cut through the muddle of facts. Readers make split-second decisions about what to read as they seek relevance and utility.
Some of the most-read headlines include metaphors with events or products. Popular headlines can include the mistakes or lessons at the expense of others. And readers love checklists, tips and strategies.
3. Don’t be repetitive in your verbiage. For example, even if you write several consecutive articles with tips, change your jargon. Avoid using the word, tips, too often. Otherwise, you risk boring your readers.
4. Write with brevity. Another trait of ignored headlines is the use of unnecessary words.
5. Avoid hyperbole. It’s true that urgency sells. But when does urgency become too much? To be taken seriously, learn the lessons from the yellow journalism of the late 1800s. That means no scary headlines, over-use of pictures, soap opera-like drama, and promises too good to be true.
6. Write with a useful purpose. Readers subconsciously ask, “What will this article do for me?” Think of them as users, not readers. So give them information they can use – starting with the headline.
Now for the rest – for typical blogging, gain credibility by writing content like a preeminent journalist.
Here are 11 reminders to create appealing content to keep visitors on your site:
1. Publish original content. Stand out with substantial information or analysis and by not duplicating articles.
2. Consider writing about proper-noun topics. That would be the names of people, locations, organizations and companies.
3. Timeliness counts in posting, so publish quickly and regularly. Stay on top of breaking developments and trends. Update the articles as much as possible.
4. The lead paragraph should pique the interest of readers. If you can avoid writing in a boring style, include the journalists’ approach – the who, what, when, where, why and even the how of each topic.
5. Pictures and graphics are helpful. But only use them, including captions, if they add to the article. Too many bloggers insert generic pictures just for the sake of adding them. But ask yourself, “Do they increase engagement with users and contribute to the readers’ experience?”
6. Focus on differentiation, as you do in your headline writing. Provide unique analysis and angles to stand out from the crowd.
7. Look into the future. Readers appreciate insights and forecasts on trends and developments.
8. Act as if – you don’t have to swagger but write confidently as if no one else is writing on your topics. One of your goals should be to become No. 1 in your keyword niche. Pretty soon readers will see your blog as the authoritative brand.
9. Write with laser-like focus. Many bloggers mistakenly limit their posts to 250 to 300 words. It’s terrific to use what I call an economy of words. But that’s not always a good practice. Articles written in too-concise a manner are perceived as choppy and lacking in coherence.
Much depends on your purpose in writing and the complexity of your topic. For example, if you’re writing as a consultant to attract prospective clients, you probably need to write 900 or more words per article. Why? Google’s judges content quality and ranks articles much higher if they contain 900 or more words.
10. Use links. Whenever feasible and logical, each article should provide one or more links to other relevant articles on your site. Not to be gauche, that’s why this business-coaching portal averages as many as 10 pages per visit.
This is primarily accomplished by inserting relevant links to other articles, which is explained in these two articles: 9 Content Traits of the Best Blogs and 12 Tips to Develop the Best Content Ideas for a Top-Rated Blog.
11. Write authoritatively by keeping it legal. Avoid legal hassles with the Federal Trade Commission. For an explanation, see this article: Is the FTC’s Blogger-Payola Crackdown Working?
From the Coach’s Corner, of course, here are three tips to promote your blog: Don’t forget to insert the right keywords, promote via your social media, and use strategic press releases to beat your competition.
“Blogging is the new poetry of our time!”