Writing for Content

Writing good content

Last time, we talked about writing well for your website. Without good writing, your message won't get across.

The flip side of that coin, however, is do you have anything to say. If all you have to say in a blog or on a home page is "Buy our stuff" or "Like us on Facebook" without giving a compelling reason why anyone should do either, you have no message. Your content will do nothing to retain current customers or attract new ones. Google search engines will pass you by with nary a notice, let alone a ranking on the first page.

But let's not deal with SEO today. If you write for a computer algorithm, only algos will read it, and even the algos these days will be bored. Write for people first. Don't worry. Google will notice.

Your first task is to consider what do people who might be interested in your business or organization want to read about. If we focus on a blog, which is a key way to keep your website fresh and attractive to viewers and algos, there are some things we can exclude right away: smack in their face sales pitches; meanderings about nothing in particular; empty promises. The first two should be obvious. You can have a blatant sales pitch on your site, but not in a blog. Keep the 50 percent-off deal in a banner ad. People understand sales pitches in ads, but with blogs, they want content that's informative, helpful, and interesting to read. If your blog does that, visitors will keep coming back to your site, with a good chance they'll become customers.

Meanderings may be about anything, meaning they're about nothing. People aren't interested in your kid's soccer game or what you did on your summer vacation, particularly in the same blog post.  Meanderings may also start off as appearing to be on a topic related to the business, but with no clear information to offer, and no apparent point by the time the writer reaches the end.

Some writers are adept at using apparent meanderings as analogies for a solid payoff, but that's advanced blogging. Leave that for another day. We're talking basic writing here.

The "empty promise" is a trap for both the reader and the writer. It may start off as a promise to, say, give insight into an issue your customers may face, an insight that your customers value.. Yet, by the end of the blog, the only insight you share is that the issue you're writing about is a tough one with no answers. Any readers will wonder why you wasted their time and won't come back.

There are many versions of the empty promise, but they all start out by the writer trying to share some vital information. Unfortunately, the writer never delivers.

So if you're attempting to write a blog for your website, what should you do?

Let's go back to the top. What do your readers and prospective readers of your blog want to read about? They want to learn how to solve a problem, how to gain an advantage over competition, how to improve their life, how to eat healthier, how to do something that you or your company is in a good position to answer. That's the start.

Be specific. Say your readers want to eat healthier foods. Don't give your readers general advice about eating healthy. Start off by writing that there are healthier alternatives than brats and hamburgers for a tailgate cookout.

Then get more specific. Give them a healthy recipe, and add some spice to your writing as you describe the preparation.

Ok, it just so happens your company has put on the market a great grill made for traveling. You mention that a few paragraphs into the blog, but leave it at that. It's not an in-your-face pitch, but some of your readers are getting hungry reading your blog and may already be thinking that they need a new grill.

Now let's say yours is a B2B company and you want to write about the changing market. Think about what it is your customers need to know. In this case it's, duh,  how is the market going to change.

If no one truly knows how the market's going to change, can you write about how companies can better insulate themselves from extreme changes by doing specific steps? How can they best weather the storm? It may mean buying some equipment from you, but perhaps you want to suggest a maintenance program that keeps the equipment they already bought from you running longer.

Now you're cooking. In either instance, readers see your blog as a source of information and help. Writing a blog that's of value to the reader, whether or not it prompts the reader to buy something from you right away, will pay off in the long run in customer attraction and retention. The Google algos will love you, too.

Ready to get started on an awesome new website?