content for people

Want to increase traffic to your site? Of course you do, and writing plenty of fresh content is one of the best ways to do this. Year-on-year growth is almost eight times higher for companies who do content marketing compared to those who don’t, so get writing!

It goes without saying that not any old guff will do, if you want to attract potential customers to your site and keep your existing customers engaged, then you need to be producing high quality, skillfully crafted content that will be valuable to your readers. The days of stuffing an article with keywords in order to increase web traffic are long gone, these days if you want your content to rank you must write for people not robots.

Tips for writing great content for people and robots

Know your audience

Identifying your audience before you start writing is essential. It will affect not only how you write, but also what you write.

Let’s say you’re creating a post about festivals for an indie music site. Your audience are interested in indie music, so they probably aren’t going to want to read about the more commercial festivals or pop music events. Instead, you might want to focus on smaller, lesser-known festivals featuring music from artists you have written about on your site. If a post you have written in the past about a particular artist has had a lot of positive response from your readers, then include that artist and the festivals they will be playing at in your festival article. To a certain extent, you want to let your readers guide what you write.

Choose your headline

This is the most important part of your article and will be essential when used to market your content.  Picking a title for your piece before you start will also help guide your content and stop you from going off on a tangent. A great headline must grab the reader’s attention and tell them what the article’s going to be about. In the case of this article, for example, the title is ‘Content is for people not robots’, so the reader will benefit from learning how to write great content targeted at real people!

Write your intro

Your headline has got the reader’s attention, now you’ve got to keep it. If you don’t have a compelling introduction then the rest of your carefully crafted article risks going unread. There are a number of techniques you can use if you get stuck.

One is to start with a question that there is only one answer to (you may have noticed this technique used in the introduction to this article). This will not only communicate what the article is about, but will draw out a response in your reader, making them think about the problem that they need to solve (in this case, increasing traffic to a website) and encouraging them to read on so that they can learn how to solve it.

Another technique is to use an anecdote. Tell a story that will help to illustrate your point, it doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t even have to be true! Telling stories can be a good way of empathising with the reader and letting them know that you’ve been in their situation.

Beginning your article with hard hitting statistics is another great way to get your reader’s attention, plus using real stats will make your writing more authoritative and interesting.

Break it down

Breaking your article down into sections makes it less intimidating to read and to write. Think one section or paragraph per idea. Subheadings are good for people who are just scrolling through, hopefully one will catch their eye, they’ll read that section and then they’ll want to go on and read the rest!

Think about the form of your piece. Sites like Buzzfeed have proved that ‘listicles’ can work very well for certain audiences; the scrolling generation loves a good list. For news pieces, simple paragraphs might be better.

Don’t get stuck

We all get writer’s block. Starting your article can often be the hardest part, no one likes being faced with a blank screen, so try getting up and thinking of those all important opening lines while you’re away from your computer.

Although it sounds obvious, switching off your phone, logging out of Facebook and going somewhere quiet can make a world of difference if you’re prone to getting distracted. If the task at hand still seems daunting, try working in 45 minutes bursts.

A good way to get yourself out of a writing rut is to pretend you’re writing to a friend. This way, your words will flow more easily and naturally and you’ll end up with the sort of conversational style that is well suited to online content.

Call for action

Once you’ve written the main body of your piece, it’s time to think about what you want your reader to do for you. If you want them to share/register/try/buy, then tell them! Sometimes you really need to plant the idea in a reader’s head.

If you want people to comment on your article, then ask them a question that will get them involved, something like ‘do you have any other tips you would like to share?’ then ask them to comment below. Simple!

Optimise your content

As mentioned before in the introduction, cramming keywords into your article is not the way forward, doing this will not make your content rank any higher and will only make your piece frustrating for real visitors. You could consider having keywords in the URL and title of your content and interspersed throughout the body of your text.

You should use internal links within your article to link to other relevant pages within your site and link out to pages on other sites if applicable.  Use a mix of brand, generic and keyword text to keep a natural link structure.  If you are going for links on other sites to link to your new piece of content then look for sites that have similar topics and are in similar industry niches.  Remember that backlinks can have an impact on your brand and in particular the sites they come from and the content they are related to.  Carefully select who you want giving a vote to your site before contacting them.

Finally, many sites have not yet adopted responsive design to make their site mobile friendly.  Keep this consideration in mind with Google’s Matt Cutts recently stating ‘this year mobile could overtake desktop for search queries’.  Content that can be easily viewed and scrolled will keep your visitors attention as well as keep them coming back for more.