By Lori Wade
If you’re reading this, you probably already know the importance of publishing relevant, relatable and timely content. You know it helps draw visitors to your website, you know it helps convert random visitors into potential clients, and you know that it engages people in a way that facts and figures can’t.
But then you probably also know that it’s hard to hit a bullseye every time when it comes to producing quality content.
Think of the expectations you might have when going on a promising first date.
Your date certainly looks the part, with impeccable style and an enticing smile. But then they open their mouth and start talking absolute nonsense, and you feel a deep sense of disappointment settle in your stomach. Valiantly, you try to find at least a few crumbs of common sense in their words. But it’s just incoherent gibberish, and the night is ruined for you.
Poor-quality content can replicate this experience, and you don’t even get an alcoholic drink out of it.
A lot of content that you find online looks flawless, bright and stylish – you can tell the designers outdid themselves – but when it comes down to it, it says and does absolutely nothing of interest.
So how do you create that elusive content that attracts and engages readers every time?
Well, you could start by taking advice from experts who are known for producing content that personally connects with the reader and stakes a place in their heart.
Forbes is one of the most popular publications on the internet, with around 48 million unique visitors every month.
Here are seven writing tips from their seasoned contributors that will help you improve your writing style and drive massive traffic to your website.
1. Write catchy headlines
The journalists at Forbes have mastered this technique. They know how to create intrigue and spark interest in their content without giving away too much.
Look at these ‘spark-the-interest’ headlines, for example.
– In Business, Always Eat Your Vegetables First
– Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees: Financial Basics For Your Kids
– Six Things Never, Ever To Do On Company Time
There is intrigue within each one of these headlines and the suggestion that the reader may learn something if they only click through.
So this is the golden rule of good writing: make readers want to read your content with catchy headlines.
The website CoSchedule can help you determine how good your headline is. A catchy headline should consist of common, uncommon, emotional, and power words: with CoSchedule, you can check out your word balance and improve it.
2. Make navigation easy
Forbes, as a website, is easy to navigate. Whatever a user wants to find is right there.
Articles are carefully categorized, so readers don’t have to waste time looking for sub-topics or tags. Categories include Leadership, Under 30, and Technology.
If you don’t already have tags or categories, add them. When your website is easy to navigate, visitors will be more inclined to come back again.
They will also be more likely to engage with the comments section, or share a link to your content on social media, if there’s a clear call-to-action to do so.
Simply by ensuring that your sharing icons are visible and making the home page easy to go back to, you will optimize your content.
3. Add visual aids
Forbes aims to engage with people who dislike long reads and demand visual aids.
Everything on their website reflects a core understanding that people learn differently. Articles contain pictures, videos and diagrams to help illustrate the authors’ point.
This is why they end up having people who don’t like reading arriving on their website and deciding to stay.
And you should adopt a similar approach.
Whatever you’re writing about, add pictures. Be inclusive. However, only add images that help or add value.
No one learns less by having visual aids.
4. Use ‘number’ headlines
Engaging content is the sort of content that readers remember long after they have read it. And you know what helps them remember key messages? Numbers.
Studies have shown that numbers talk. People are more likely to open an article that has numbers in its title than one without numbers.
This explains why articles like ‘15 Simple Steps to Declutter Your Room‘ gain so much traction. Readers know how much information to expect and have a sense that they will be able to get real answers.
Aside from that, numbers stand out in a column of text, and this is another way to drive your message home.
To take this tip to the next level, use data to subtly promote your business by making content shares and web metrics visible, as in the image below.
5. Embed more links
If you open any random article on Forbes, you will see that there are at least five or six links in the text. They lead to external content which is related to what you are looking at.
They also lead to other articles on Forbes. This is vital, as without these links, readers wouldn’t even know that there was other content on Forbes that related to the topic. Or perhaps they could guess that there was, but they’d still have to actively search for it instead of simply clicking on an embedded link.
Never underestimate the power of adding more links and always make sure you select the option for the link to open in a new tab. This reminds readers where they came from and saves them the irritation of being redirected away from an article before they have finished reading it.
However, if you want a more subtle way to do this, you can also introduce the links in a suggestive, natural way as below.
6. Don’t sound cheap
Please, don’t add clickbait-style phrases like ‘you won’t believe what happens next!’ or ‘this will shock you!’ just to draw attention.
It sounds cheap. It’s a tactic you would never see on Forbes. And while it might increase traffic in the short term, you won’t be able to build up your reader base if you only have ‘shock hunters’ gathering on your page every day.
While the power of a catchy headline cannot be underestimated, there’s a difference between inviting readers in and delivering on your promise, and exciting readers’ interest via attention-grabbing ploys only to let them down.
You want to sound serious and credible, and you won’t do so using multiple exclamation points (!).
7. Focus on quality
Think about how much damage you could do to your company and personal reputation if you hastily published a blog that contained inaccurate information or unverified claims.
It’s important that every statistic you cite is accurate and every sentence you write is considered.
The more you can back up and substantiate what you are writing about, the more high-quality your content will become.
What draws devoted readers is the quality of the content. Don’t think they don’t notice its topicality, clarity, correctness, and general usefulness. They do.
Focus on delivering high-quality content instead of trying to ‘sell’ cheap but inefficient content. This comes right down to simple things like proofreading. You’ll never find a typo on Forbes because they don’t exist.
The best content is actionable: that means it provides information, and gives readers a sense of how to apply the information. Ultimately, it leaves the reader with a question or a sense of curiosity, and creates trust between you and them.
Writing great content is hard, but it’s worthwhile. It takes commitment and the tips above are all from Forbes’ contributors who have thoroughly committed to creating content that is timely, relevant and inviting.
Make your content work for you, and you will increase the general traffic to your website. Google wants to reward high quality sites that contain original content so there’s a huge amount of incentive there as well!
Try the above tips next time you’re sitting down to produce a killer piece of content and see if it streamlines the process for you.
Whatever your reason for having a content site, it’s important to do it right.
Guest Author: Lori Wade is a freelance content writer for Thriving Writer. She is interested in a wide range of fields, from education and online marketing to personal entrepreneurship. She is used to handling many writing orders at the same time and understands the importance of writing clearly and concisely. Follow Lori on Twitter or Google+ to keep up-to-date with her latest insights and wisdom!
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