WWW – Wonderful Web Wordsmithing!
Writing has come a long way! Many of what we now consider to be classic novels were written by hand. Jane Austen for example would have used a feather quill to pen her novels. Not only was this time consuming but could also be rather uncomfortable. She wrote to her sister Cassandra in 1813:
“I must get a softer pen. This is harder. I am in agonies. … I am going to write nothing but short sentences. There shall be two full stops in every line.”
Fast forward to today and we have a myriad of technology at our fingertips. No more battling with feathers! But today’s online writing style is also very different on other ways from that of Jane Austen’s time. There are a wide range of factors to consider when writing for online publishing. Here are our hints and tips on how to be a Wonderful Web Wordsmith!
W – Who are you writing for? Your content needs to meet the requirements of its target audience. Therefore you need to understand what the audience needs from you and how you can help them. Start by analysing how the audience has responded to your content so far. See which posts have gone well and have triggered social interaction and links – then give them more of the same!
O – Optimise content so that it is ready for social sharing. Do everything you can to increase the chances of its distribution and ensure that you maximise your reach to the target audience? Optimisation is all about excellence in distribution of your content as well as its creation. Skilful optimisation may include the best headline, an eye-catching image, a memorable caption ripe for social media, a clever hashtags, use of the most appropriate social platforms and timing of relevant posts.
R – Read what you have written! This sounds obvious but many articles are published without proofreading and editing. If your content has poor readability this may detract from the value of that content and impact the the time readers spend on your page. The correctness of your writing is crucial and also affects the authority of your content, so should not be overlooked. If you are not good at catching all mistakes in a piece of content then ask someone else to proofread for you or search around for one of the many tools available.
D – Depth of writing is important. You need to conduct the necessary research to get a good understanding of your topic to get a deeper understanding and to spot the right content gap to fill. All content should add value, so that it builds your reputation as an authority in your field. This is a good way of increasing trust with your audience and building new relationships. Good quality articles will also increase the time that visitors spend on your site, which is one of the metrics that defines the success of content and also your ranking in SERPs. If you have a high bounce rate, with readers only spending a few seconds on your site, it gives you fewer chances to convert them into regular readers and visitors. But if they spend longer on the page, it is an indication that they are interested in the topic and may well visit you again.
S – SEO is ever evolving! Keywords are still important both as a starting point for a topic, and also to facilitate good results from Google. These days Google is likely to focus more on the context of your content than specific keywords, but it is still important to use a main keyword in your title and your text. You can then ensure that the rest of the article has quality and relevance and that if the keyword is used again it is as a natural part of the text rather that readability being impaired by keyword stuffing.
M – Many words doth not a good article make. Yeah ok we made that saying up but there is a lot of truth in it! There has been much debate about the ideal length article for search ranking success. But rather than have a prescriptive number of words, the length of the content needs to vary depending on the topic, the reason it’s created, and the audience it is for. On the one hand producing longer content may increase the chances of SERP success, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t ever create content of, say, less than 1000 words. In fact it’s better to have several posts of around 3-600 words to keep your content regular, fresh and relevant, rather than one very long post. The more overall consistent content you have, the higher the chances of boosting your ranking on SERPs.
I – Images are key to the success of your content. These days it’s rare to see a piece of content without images. Images and infographics can be a useful way to engage with quick readers, those that prefer to skim content rather than read it fully. However, do make sure that images and relevant and enhance your written text. Even in our visual age it’s important that images don’t just look good, but have a value and can justify their existence. Images need to help with the content’s readability and if possible provide further information.
T – Titles are a work of art in themselves! A title has to be descriptive yet concise. In search results Google will only display the first 55-60 characters of a title tag, which means that this is the ideal length for a title. Your title should be a preview to your content and needs to maximise the chances of a reader clicking through to the site. Headings are also important, both for the structure of the page and also for SEO purposes. Also use subheadings as these can help to improve the browsing experience for readers and guide them through an article.
H – Hyperlinks are valuable, both internal and external. You don’t need to link to every external post you use, but it’s useful to showcase some of your references. As well as crediting the source, this helps Google to rank your blog. It also enables the reader to expand their knowledge on the topic from other useful posts. Internal linking is also important, as it helps you establish authority and offer additional value with previous content you may have written. Internal links also help Google to “crawl” your key topics and rank you accordingly to these.
So if you follow all the above WORDSMITH tips you will have content to be proud of! It may not be beautifully crafted in feather quill but who knows, in years to come it might be quoted as an example of excellent content from the 21st Century!
Author: Robert Walker