Come on now, you’ve all heard it – it’s got to be one of the most used phrases within the SEO community:
Content is King.
It’s been tossed around the Internet like a drunk girl at a party, and perhaps justifiably, as even after the rapid evolution of search engines over the last few years, the phrase still holds true today (arguably even more so).
This makes the art of article writing extremely important. But bear in mind, although content is still king, the way we write articles is changing.
The Internet is a pretty big place. Around 9 billion pages at the last count, and that’s just the indexed pages picked up by search engines.
So you need to write something which is going to stand out! For example: unique, compelling, shareable stuff, not more web-junk.
Yes, it takes time. You can no longer just wack out 400 words of waffle and expect to gain any benefit from it.
You should also remember that, search engines aren’t stupid. You can’t trick them. They know when you’ve got something unique, something genuine, what’s more, they actively recommend that you write the good stuff:
Keeping in mind the above video (unique, original and awesome content), when I personally plan to write an article, I follow a process:
You should already have a rough idea of what you’d like to write about, it’s got to be something related to your business, right?
I like using examples, so lets say we sell vacuum cleaners online. What can we write about? The traditional (and fast becoming out-dated) idea would be to come up with a selection of short (500 word) articles based on vacuum cleaners. Stuff like:
Now, don’t get me wrong. These kind of articles might add a bit of value for your visitors, they might also help your ranking in the search engines, but are they actually unique? Has nobody written about this before? Doubtful, there are 9 billion web pages out there! I’m sure one of them talks about the history of vacuum cleaners.
So let’s go one step further, and try to really nail a piece of unique content which is going to be really useful for your website visitors. To do this (and decide on a topic), we’ll need to perform a bit of keyword research.
Here’s the result for an exact match on ‘vacuum cleaners’ using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool:
I sorted the list by amount of local traffic, and about halfway down the list, there’s a potential article idea.
[Best Vacuum Cleaner for Pet Hair]
Now, according to the tool about 480 people search for this exact phrase every month (in the UK). This must be quite a problem. I don’t have a pet, but I know my girlfriend malts all over the place, so I can kind of see where people are coming from.
This is a great idea for some content. As we’re a vacuum cleaner shop, we’ve got lots of demonstration models lying around. We could do a little test, with different types of hair (dog/cat/girlfriend). Hey, we could even make a video as part of our content. We could write it all up into a nice chart, maybe an infographic.
After a little rummaging around on YouTube, I found this:
This is almost there, but doesn’t give any answers! I still don’t know which vacuum cleaner to buy (hence the dislikes of the video I suspect). So basically we need to do the same kind of video, but with some results.
OK, moving on with how to write our article/amazing piece of web content.
Deciding on a title for your article is extremely important, but you will generally be in a much better position to think of a title AFTER you’ve written the actual article. So don’t make the mistake that many people do, sitting there for hours with brain freeze, trying to muster up something clever. Move on! Do this later.
Just some reasons why titles are so important: Especially in the social world of web 2.0, the title is often all the person is going to see of your content, before they decide to click on it.
Twitter only allows 160 characters, plus Google snippets display the title, and is the main thing people look at when deciding whether to click or not. When content is getting shared around the web, your title is your sales pitch, don’t mess it up (erm, after you’ve written your article that is).
You can read about how to write an article title here.
This determines your tone of writing, but also how much information to provide. If the audience is going to know nothing of your subject, you really need to go into lots of detail, whereas if they are a savvy bunch of experts, you don’t need to patronise them with the small facts.
Learn about what you’re going to write about. You should find reference material, and include it in your article. If you’re already an expert (such as a master vacuum cleaner retailer-type person), then perhaps you don’t need to research as much, but in our example, you do need to actually conduct the experiments with pet hair.
It’s quite hard to just ‘wing it’ or ‘play it by ear’. You should probably think of some kind of structure before starting to write. The best way to do this is with bullet points. Jot out the rough sections and talking points first, before adding the flesh later. Going back to our Pet Hair example, I would jot down something like this:
Now’s the time to start writing your first draft. Remember that writing for the web isn’t the same as writing for a magazine or newspaper. People generally have very short attention spans in the online world.
With all the information available to them, they are fast to hit back and look elsewhere. Bear this in mind and avoid large chunks of text, break up text with images, bullet points, headings, and include video and audio if possible.
Once you’ve finished your first draft, read through, correct mistakes, and even re-structure the content if necessary.
Now you’ve finished the actual text, you need to create diagrams or images to fit into the article. Remember a picture paints a thousand words, so break up text and use as many visuals as possible.
Finally, get someone to read your article. Ask them for any constructive criticism, and take it on board without getting offended.
And that’s pretty much it. You now have to share your great content, and the good thing about writing super articles, is that people share them for you!
So remember, create awesome, detailed articles. The Internet is changing, it’s getting clogged up with poor quality content, you really need to take the next step with your article writing and add some genuine value to the user experience. If you don’t have the time, why not hire us!