You don’t need to be a professional writer or hire an editor to create great copy for your website. Using the tips below, you can improve any piece of writing for your website, e-commerce store or blog – and boost your SEO too!
1. Write at least 2 drafts
One reason professional writers are more effective at their job than the rest of us is that they’ve had years to learn the hard way which shortcuts aren’t worth it. It’s always best to write a rough first draft, leave your work for at least 24 hours, and then write a second draft. If nothing else, this time lapse will give you the perspective to spot a few more typos and clumsy sentences. When working through your piece the second time round, aim to make it shorter: delete repetitions, tighten up imprecise language and cut out anything that’s off topic. A second look is even more valuable if you don’t have an editor looking over your shoulder as you need to catch your own mistakes, which is really hard even for the pros.
2. (Re)write your opening paragraph last
The title and first line or two of your piece constitute the hook. Thanks to software algorithms, online search engines and aggregators tend to only show the first 100-200 characters of a piece, which means that if yours is waffle, you’ll lose readers. To get a really punchy opening that properly reflects your piece, you need to write it last, once you know what the piece is really all about and have written all your best words.
3. Keep it short and simple
You have a lot of interesting things to say, but do your readers want to read them? Keep your blog posts as short and simple as they can be to communicate the idea you want to get across. That doesn’t mean that all your posts need to be 100 (or 1000) words long, a scatter-gun of quick phrases designed to appeal more to SEO managers and bots than real people – it simply means that when an article or sentence has, like this one, gone on too long to be easily digestable it’s time for a full stop. Blog posts of a variety of lengths will help with SEO so don’t be afraid of writing long pieces – just choose them wisely. “How to find our Portsmouth shop during the big roadworks” is not a 1000 word topic but “Full instructions for using our new product” might be.
4. Two blogs are better than one
Often, when you’re writing a blog post you’ll get to the end and discover there were several things you had to explain in order to make sure your readers were up to speed. If this is the case, consider breaking the piece out into 2 or more blog posts. For example, if you’re writing (as we do) about SEO for new start ups in Portsmouth, and you worry that readers might not know what SEO is, it’s better to write a detailed introduction to SEO article, which you can then link to from every SEO related piece, instead of putting a brief explanation in every article.
5. Skip the punny titles
Hyperlinks, shortcuts and searches mean your readers might be coming from anywhere on the web and have had no previous contact with your website. This means that puns, inside jokes and poetic headlines, sub-heads and titles typically make reading your article harder and more confusing, and can reduce your click through rate and SEO. Most readers are looking for something specific – particularly when they search – and click on the article title that most matches their needs. It might seem dull but a title like “Snow storm preparedness – what you need to know” is going to be more successful than “Fight the Beast from the East” even if that tabloid-generated nickname is already a household term.
6. Headings make it easy for readers to skip through
You’re busy, we get that. You’re probably so busy, you don’t want to read all of every paragraph in every article you read. That’s one reason we use clear, simple headings in our blog posts: you can quickly skip through the tips and tricks you already know and read in detail about any that strike you as new an interesting.
7. Mix it up with formatting
Don’t go overboard using different fonts, colours and text sizes, as that tends to be a distraction from the actual content of your article. Instead, use different ways to present ideas and break up blocks of text such as:
- Bulleted lists
- Numbered lists
- Countdown articles (“The 10 best…”)
- Inset quotes (many blog tools have a ‘quote’ style)
- Occasional use of bold or italic for emphasis
- Headings, as mentioned before
- Pictures, graphs and images
Just remember that your words may be displayed on a tiny smartphone or a giant smart TV, so its best to keep to the standard formatting options offered by your blog platform – this means the built-in software will do all the hard work of figuring out how to display something, so you don’t have to.
8. Hire a ghost-writer or editor
Yes, we said you don’t have to, and the 7 tips above will help you improve any blog post or website text you’re writing. However, if you’re creating a particularly important document; struggling to get your ideas out into the world; or just find that creating content is taking up time better spent on other things, it may be time to outsource. At boxChilli we work with experienced writers and editors with expertise in a wide range of fields and industries, so we can find a great match for your business. Our writers also integrate our SEO and marketing best practice guidelines into their work, ensuring you a great return.