The Fundamentals of Good Content

Writing good content is essential to driving your success as a writer. Not only does it help boost your search engine optimization (SEO), it helps you get noticed.

And that’s what we want – to get noticed.

There are loads of blogs out there and courses you can take to help you write fantastic content. And I’m going to do my best to summarize what you need to know. I’m also going to leave some links at the bottom to some top-notch websites that cover the art of writing like-worthy articles.

What Goes into Good Content?

There are two types of content on the internet:

  • Informational articles (like this blog)
  • Sales or ad copy. (those spammy emails that companies send you telling you to buy something)

And it is produced by two types of writers: copywriters and content writers.

Are the two forms of content completely separate from another? No. They’re not. They have a symbiotic relationship.

Content can be used to advocate for a business’s services, build brand awareness, and provide an engaging platform for followers and companies to use. Copy is all about the selling of that brand, and it’s products and services.

Blog posts, among other sorts of content, are predominantly there to build a relationship with the readers and set them up for the sales pitch.

Most of us aren’t trying to sell something – yet. So why do we need to worry about copy and content writing?

For one, it’s entwined with SEO. Google isn’t going to rank your content if it’s not good.

And if you do have good content and want your visitors to buy your book, then you’re going to need to know how to write ad copy.

It’ll also help you grow your email list or drive traffic to your free poems or stories, which is incredibly important to authors, especially for those who are going down the self-publishing route. You’re doing your marketing on your own, which means that generating sales is all on you too. Thankfully, SEO and good content can do that for you.

What Makes Content Good?

As I said, there are a lot of blogs and courses out there that can teach you what good content looks like, but there are three things that you always need to keep in mind when writing content:

  1. It has to be useful. People look up things on the internet because they want to buy or learn about something. So your content, whether it is a blog post or a sales letter, needs to answer a question.
  2. It has to be interesting. Good content has style. It is personal, and it has authority. How that looks to you is going to be different for someone else – regardless, we don’t want anything dry or bland. Your content should sound like a smart, friendly, personable human. Cristian Mihai does a great job at this!
  3. It understands it’s audience. You’ve got to do your research to find out who your ideal customer or reader is, and I’m going to give Cristian another shout out here. He has multiple blogs with their own sites that target specific audiences. His Art of Blogging site is about how to write great content for your blog and grow your audience, whereas his Cristian Mihai site focuses more on personal growth and development.

That’s pretty much it. That’s all you’ve got to do on the writing front. Which I know is easier said than done.

Once that’s done, make sure you edit the heck out of it. Spelling and grammar mistakes can hurt you – not just with your readers but with search engines too. Remember that user experience is king and how you present your information can affect how someone feels about your content.

How to Develop Good Content

I find that it is easiest to write good content when you’re passionate about something. You’ll be interested in it, and that’ll make your audience interested in it. (Like smiles, interest can be contagious).

Along with the three bullet points above, there are some other things that you should keep in mind:

1. Write a Killer Headline

The headline is the first thing that your prospective visitor is going to see. You must nail this one. So what does it need without being clickbait?

  • Your keywords. This way, the searcher will know the answer to their problem or query is in the body of your article.
  • Include a number or data. According to Neil Patel, numbers and data make our brains happy, which makes them more likely to click on a link to see what’s going on. There’s a whole bunch of science behind it. I’d suggest reading the article.
  • Use a unique rationale. Teach someone something through your post. Tell them why they should be doing something. These could be tricks, tips, secrets, strategies, etc.
  • Call for attention. There are four things to keep in mind here: make things unique, be ultra-specific, convey a sense of urgency, and make it useful. Neil Patel has more on this in his article.
  • Use interesting adjectives. But don’t go overboard on the language you use. You want to keep things simple and easy for people to understand. Jeff Goins has some interesting ideas to help you.

The main take away from this is to let your readers know that you have the answers to their questions. And what’s in the content is just as important as the headline itself.

2. Length

If I were to ask you if people preferred short or long-form content, what do you think the answer would be?

If you said long, you’re absolutely right. Search engines love long-form content because it is capable of answer a searcher’s query in detail.

But here’s the problem: most of us do not have the time or the ability to pump out between 1,200 and 2,000 words in two hours. To write and do the research of an article that long. It’s insane, especially for us writers that want to work on our fiction.

So why is long-form content good for searchers and search engines? Here’s why:

  • More words = more authority. The more words you have on the page translates to how much you know about the topic in the eyes of search engines.
  • People stay on your website longer, which signals to search engines that this page contains some good stuff and is helpful to the searcher.
  • Longer = better social engagement. The more you have on the page, the more likely someone will thank you for your efforts or point out your mistakes.

Writing longer content also comes with a host of other problems, like trying to make a word count. So make sure that you’re keeping things as concise as you can.

Still don’t believe me? Then you should check out this article by Neil Patel.

Now, if you said short, you’re not wrong. A lot of people want to get their answers quickly and don’t necessarily want to read a long article, no matter how great it is.

But if you’re going to take on this approach, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re answering a searcher’s question. So you’ll want to spend more time looking at keywords and doing your research.

Regardless of which form you decide to go with, you need to format your content appropriately.

3. Format

The rule of thumb here is to make your content easy to read. And one of the ways you can do that is by using headlines and bullet points.

As we discussed last week, headlines are crucial spots for you to add your keywords to for SEO purposes, but they serve a dual purpose. They also allow readers to skim your content to find what they need to know.

On top of that, it makes your content look more professional, which can lend to your credibility to your readers and the search engines.

4. Get People to Take Action

You’ve spent all this time crafting the perfect headline, writing a lengthy but engaging post, and you’ve optimized the formatting for readability and SEO. Now, wouldn’t it be a shame not to have your readers do something with all of this information?

Yes. Yes, it would.

So you want to ask your audiences to do something for you in exchange for this writing this fantastic article, email, product page, or whatever. An example could be “buy my book,” “like and share this article,” or “sign up for my newsletter.”

What you want them to do is up to you. But you’re never going to get the response that you want if you don’t ask.

Heck, most people want you to ask them to do something with that content. You’ve inspired them or interested them enough that they’re ready to do something.

How do you get people to take action? Just follow these tips:

  • Know what your audience desires and then play into those desires. Instead of saying, “take a tour of our property today,” say, “find your dream home today.”
  • Use words that inspire enthusiasm. Instead of “pitch in to prevent cruelty against animals,” it’s “join the millions who are fighting to protect our furry friends.”
  • Make the next step easy. This could be as simple as “buy now” or “click here.” The point is to make it easy for readers to fulfill that action.

Here’s a writing-related example from Grammarly:

Original: Read this book.

New and improved: See why thousands of readers are talking about the latest page-turner from this bestselling author.

Why it works: By mentioning “thousands of readers,” this copy makes the audience want to be part of the crowd. The words “page-turner” and “bestselling author” lend credibility to the claim that the book is worth reading.

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By doing all of these things, you’re well on the way to writing a fantastic article that will get you noticed. And while all of these tips are centered around making excellent website content, a lot of the same tricks can be applied to sales and ad copy.

If You Want to Learn More

There is a tone of great resources out there that cover good content across content forms. If you want help crafting a kick-ass newsletter, there’s an article for that. Want to learn more about writing calls to action that inspire people to do that action. Guess what? There’s an article for that.

Below I have listed a few different websites and blogs that can help you write excellent content – no matter what type of content that is:

  • American Writers & Artists Institute (AWAI). They cover both copy and content writing, but they’re more focused on copywriting. I have personally used their services, and they’re pretty great. They can get spammy with the sales pitch emails, though.
  • Copyblogger. They’ve been around for a long time, and their content strategy is to curate the best articles on the internet and bring them to you. Their newsletters deliver content that is particularly relevant to you. They have pieces on just about anything writing-related. This is a good article to start with.
  • Art of Blogging. As previously mentioned, Cristian Mihai has done a great job with this, and it provides some handy tips to create good content.
  • Smartblogger. These guys are similar to AWAI and have a lot of courses from which you can choose from. Smartblogger doesn’t send a lot of emails, which is nice. I’d suggest checking their website for the most up-to-date information and articles.
  • Yoast. SEO and great content go together, and Yoast knows this. So kill two birds with one stone and get up to date on all things SEO-related and also check out some of their writing tips for great SEO-rich content.

I have personally read through all of these newsletters and blogs. In fact, I’m using a lot of Copyblogger’s advice for conducting a content audit. The one thing that I’ve noticed with all of their articles is that they follow their own advice. The posts are informative, engaging, and reader-specific. And if you do that with your blog or website, then you’ll be just fine.

Is anyone planning on upgrading their content? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. 


That’s it for me today! I hope this made sense and that you keep it in mind for the next time you write your blog post or webpage copy.

Don’t forget to check in on Thursday for our discussion on networking. I promise that it’s going to tie into that SEO thing that I keep talking about.

Until then, stay safe, everyone!

Cheers,

Danielle


9 thoughts on “The Fundamentals of Good Content

  1. As you say, I hope I can develop a relationship with my readers, through my blog. There are several foundations you have to lay down for the sake of writing. But if they’re good foundations that a person PATIENTLY lays down correctly, I think you make a wonderful point that the person can do great things.
    I can relate this to a Bible verse: the foolish man built his house upon the sand, the wise man built his house upon the rock.
    And building on the rock was a slower, more painstaking process. But it stood, and held its ground, and did not let the man or his family down.

    1. You’re totally right, a lot of this relies on patience and the willingness to try new things. As much as we want to get a readership right away, it takes time to develop the relationship.

  2. Wonderful. I keep finding little things to improve, which makes individual sentences better, which makes the read better by what the characters do and say. Yippee!

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