good content

Good content stands out from the crowd.

Good content writing is different things to different people.

It might be an article that gets you lots of traffic. Or retweets. Or Facebook likes.

It could be a sales page that converts at more than 2%.

Or a handy solution that solves an annoying problem.

Good content writing is all of these things and more. In my experience, good website content and good blog content deliver what a reader needs – information, a solution, entertainment or inspiration.

… While also satisfying the demands of the content publisher in terms of page views, links, leads or sales.

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WaitingDo you find writing web copy hard? Coming up empty when it comes to thinking up traffic-pulling ideas for your web writing?

There’s nothing worse for a content writer than sitting in front of blank page, writing a sentence, then deleting it; writing another sentence, then deleting it… It’s not so much ‘writer’s block’, but a lack of workable ideas.

This can be a problem if you’ve set yourself a blog posting schedule or you need to come up with an idea, fast. But sometimes all your brain needs is a nudge.

Which is why I’ve put together this list of 57 ways to make thinking up new article ideas and writing web content easier.

It starts with what I think is the most important point…

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Speed...By implementing a content writing system you could become more productive, writing faster than you ever did before. 

Such a system could help when you’re struggling to get an article started; point you towards information you hadn’t thought of; and help you think through the structure of what you’re writing.

Where can you find such a system? Oddly, the author of The Jungle Book wrote about one over 100 years ago…

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Good content writingIf the aim of good content writing is to attract new visitors and (hopefully) convert them into satisfied readers, subscribers or buyers, then the process starts with delivering VALUE.

It’s all very well having a ton of articles on your website. But if you haven’t got anything of real value to offer your visitors, they have no reason to stick around.

So where does our cheery Spanish ‘hello’ come in? Quite simply, the time that somebody spends on your content is directly affected by a sequence that includes your Headline, the Opening line of your article, your article Layout and the call to Action.

Or ‘HOLA’ for short.

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content writingNot getting enough traffic with your content writing? You’re not alone.

The more important question is WHY? You’ve probably been writing some good content lately. Right? So why are you only getting a trickle of traffic when everybody else is getting a gush? Why aren’t your articles more popular?

It’s easy to dish out quick content writing advice like “create relevant articles” and “solve people’s problems.” But even if you follow these tips, it’s not always easy to get your content noticed, especially if you’re a small website or blog.

You might have a bigger problem…

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Meeting

The time you publish your content can have an effect on its success.

What makes some content popular? Timeliness is certainly a factor. Good content often taps into a newsworthy trend, a mood, a need or a desire.

You can see it in action on Google News every day as hundreds of websites cover breaking news, sport, entertainment, politics, technology and culture.

The downside? News has a short shelf-life and breaking news is an art that’s hard to master.

Timing is everything

Sometimes what you write can strike a chord with readers. You can try to control this element. But sometimes it’s down to luck rather than judgement.

Something you write today might not be an instant hit when you publish it. But who’s to say that it won’t be tomorrow? Or next week? Or next month? You can’t always expect instant results.

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No Technology in Brighton

Does bad spelling make you look stupid? In certain circumstances, yes...

You don’t have to be a good writer to produce good content. You don’t need to have a beautifully designed website either.

But what you write has to be spelt correctly, the information should be correct, the links need to work, the facts should be checked and the headline needs to deliver on what it promises.

It’s important to check what you’ve written. Accuracy matters.

The most efficient approach is to write everything down into a rough first draft. Then go through it with an editor’s hat on, applying the core elements of web writing – tightening up the sentences and paragraphs, obliterating unnecessary words, cutting out the fluff and formatting for skim-reading by using subheadings.

If you have the luxury of time, leave what you’ve written for a few hours (or a day) and come back to it with a fresh eye. You can often spot mistakes after letting your brain switch off or think of extra information that you want to add.

It often helps to print an article out so you can check it on paper rather than onscreen. You can also try reading it aloud to get a feel for the pacing and the rhythm of the words, sentences and your article’s general flow. You could even have your computer read it out aloud for you – both Windows and Mac OS X feature Text To Speech functionality.

Finally, do all of your editing and structural tweaking BEFORE you run a spellcheck. That way you can catch any lingering errors.

Next: Good content writing tips: “Try to be timely”

Creative Commons License photo credit: Sammy0716

link

Linking out and linking internally to related content is considered good web practice.

And by ‘comprehensive’, I don’t just mean that good content writing needs to be spectacularly in-depth or extra-lengthy.

This is obviously part of it, as we’ve discussed in previous blog posts in this ‘good content’ series. But there’s more to an exhaustive article than 10+ chunky paragraphs and a willingness to keep going.

Being comprehensive is about covering all the angles. A lot of this you can do in your main copy, where you state the facts, build an argument and support what you say with suitable quotes, images or other infographics. For everything else that you can’t fit in, the hyperlink will become your best friend.

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Öl 2

The health properties of olive oil can make for a viral story when pitched correctly.

If your content is good enough then your readers will promote it for you, sharing links via social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, Reddit and StumbleUpon.

They might even share it by email with their friends. This is the ‘word-of-mouth’ aspect and it can be a powerful force for good content.

But to take advantage of this viral approach, you need to have readers who love your content enough to pass it on.

The DNA of good content

So we’re back to the DNA of good content again, things like valuable resources, entertaining videos, breaking news articles and problem-solving tutorials.

Not all content is worth sharing. The key is finding those triggers that will make somebody click your ‘Like’ button, fire off a Retweet or give it a social bookmarking recommendation.

Who’d have thought that some of those triggers would be sex, curiosity and the little robot from Star Wars?

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Eggistentialism III

Be different. Stand out from the crowd...

Good content should be some (or most) of the following: entertaining, enlightening, inspirational, instructional, genuinely useful, relevant and valuable.

Good content will help you stand out from the crowd.

But it often won’t stand out on its own. Content needs to have a spotlight shone on it, promoted using methods including (but not limited to): article, Twitter and Facebook marketing; blog commenting; guest posting; press release writing and email newsletters.

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