We’re all guilty of rushing when writing web content.
Well, I am. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone!
A 500-word blog post? Maybe I can get that done before my meeting at 11:00. Or I’ll squeeze it in before finishing up at the end of the day.
It’s weird, because we rarely think the same about writing a more “important” page, like a sales page.
But… your content pages ARE important.
Your content is how you broadcast your message and your value to the world.
It’s how people get to hear about you, and experience your expertise.
It’s how they learn about your brand, and warm up to your products or services.
In other words, creating top-level content is central to success online.
And that’s why we should never rush it.
Here are five tips on how to create better content, consistently. And you can use the same tips to go back and improve some of your existing content.
Tip #1: Write a better headline
Again, we’ll spend a ton of time on the headlines we write for sales pages. But not so much when it comes to content.
That’s a problem, because if you don’t write a compelling headline, nobody is going to read the body of your content.
Your headline has to stop the reader in her tracks, and make her know she wants to keep reading.
But for now, here’s a simple tip for you…
The job of the headline is not to tell your story. Its purpose is to grab attention and make people feel compelled to keep reading.
Tip #2: Make sure the page has a strong beginning and satisfying end.
If you don’t lose a reader with your headline, you still might lose him within the first few lines of the body copy.
Remember, people are busy and open to distraction. Particularly if they’re reading your page on their phone.
So never use the first paragraph or two simply to warm up.
Way too many writers do that.
Forget the warm-up, and jump straight to the good stuff.
That may take the form of a surprising fact, an amazing promise or a compelling story. A relatable story, told in a few lines, can be a great way to engage your readers and get them hooked.
One way or another, make the opening as strong as you can.
And at the end of your page, don’t just fade away.
Draw a strong conclusion. Wrap things up so your readers can leave with a simple but powerful takeaway.
Maybe give them some new links to follow as well. “If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in…”
Tip #3: Make it a multimedia page
It’s not 1998. People aren’t using dial-up anymore.
This means you can add videos and images to your content pages.
This delivers a richer and more attractive experience. It also helps appeal to different types of learners.
Myself, when I want to find out more about something, or just keep up with what’s new in any given topic area, I like watching videos.
My wife has no patience with videos. She’ll scroll right past and start reading the text.
Her biggest complaint is that too many videos start with a “warm-up” intro, like I talked about in the last tip. Too much blah-blah before they deliver the good stuff.
A fair bit of my own content opens with a video, followed by a text version. That way I can appeal to both kinds of learner.
As for images, that’s a great way to add value to your content. You can show as well as tell.
And, of course, it’s not only your readers who appreciate a good blend of multimedia. Google likes it too.
Tip #4: Create content that answers your readers’ questions
This tip should come first, in a way. It should certainly be something you address before you start writing.
Too often we create content calendars based on what we, as a business, want to say and share.
That can be part of it. But it shouldn’t be all of it.
You shouldn’t focus primarily on what YOU want to say. You should focus on what your AUDIENCE wants to hear.
Use social media and surveys to ask people what they want to hear from you. Ask them which topics or questions are on their mind.
Now rewrite your content calendar based on what your audience wants to hear about.
Do that, and something amazing happens.
They’ll forgive you for a less than perfect headline or intro. They’ll hardly notice you got lazy with multimedia.
They’ll eat up your content because you’re giving them the information THEY want to hear about.
That doesn’t mean you should be satisfied with second best.
I’m just trying to make the point that the fastest way to improve your content is to make sure it’s what your readers want.
Tip #5: Spend twice as long on every page of content you create
Invest more time on each page of content you create.
Like… five times longer. Ten hours instead of two. That kind of thing.
Why? Because an OK piece of content will do nothing to advance your business or your brand.
It will sit on page 5 of the search engine results. Lonely, and unfound.
You can create a ton of content like that, and see no real result.
Spend 5 times longer on a single page… a really good page… and everything changes.
People will talk about it and share it with their friends and colleague. Great content makes you look good. It makes people want to do business with you. And Google loves long-form, multi-media content pages as well.
Instead of dying a slow death on page 5, your post will now appear on page one of the search results.
Put simply… the more time and thought you put into your web content, the greater the reward.
Like I said, every page of content needs a close. And a next step or two.
Here’s the takeaway… however you do it, make sure the content you publish is the content your audience is hoping for.
And make it better than anything your competitors are publishing.
Do those two things, and you’re most of the way to the finish line.
Finally, if you feel inspired to learn more, I teach a full course on Web Content Optimization.