All good content writers are on a constant quest for self-improvement. Whether you’re brand new to creating content or just need a refresher on SEO writing, these content writing tips serve as guideposts for your journey. Incorporate them into your original content, and watch your readership and clientele grow.
Read on for a brief introduction and 20 tips to help you master the art of effective content writing. You'll learn how to create high-quality content consistently for your content marketing strategy.
What Is Content Writing?
As a content writer, you don’t simply string words together into blocks of text. You format pieces, add images, other media, and provide SEO elements. You research topics and respond to the feedback of your readers or customers. You’re responsible for a polished, multifaceted final product. It isn’t easy.
Content writing is the process of creating blog posts, articles, or other pieces of content for your target audience. The content creation process is involved and requires extensive research. A content writer
Different Types of Content Writing
There are a lot of approaches to creating compelling content. Choosing the right type of content when writing is the first step of the writing process for most writers. If you aren't sure what type of writing to choose, search your target keyword and see what form of content is ranking on the first page. That should give you some guidance on what to write.
- Webpage Content Writing: Webpage content is a form of evergreen content that exists on your site. This content is usually for your homepage, about us, and other key pillar pages on your site. While typically not as long, these pages are vital for your site and are often where you want your visitors to end up.
- Blog Writing: Blogs are pieces of content about a particular topic. Blog posts are a cornerstone of any content marketing strategy and each piece of content is vital to a website's performance. It's not uncommon for a site to have hundreds or even thousands of blog posts. When writing for SEO, people often create long-form content through blog posts to rank for various keywords.
- Article Writing: Articles are a different type of content that often doesn't appear on your site. This type of digital content is good for marketing, generating links, and getting visitors to your site from other places. Creating articles is a great way to generate backlinks and improve content performance on your site.
- Social Media Posts: Social posts are short, easily readable posts on social media platforms. Writing for social media involves creating helpful posts that encourage people to comment, like, and share.
- Press Releases: A press release is a newsworthy article released on news sites. In terms of marketing goals, press releases increase your online presence and expose more people to your brand. It's important to keep a goal in mind and highlight a major milestone in your business when creating a press release.
- Product Descriptions: If you have an online shop or service, product descriptions can help with your conversion goals. Highlight the most enticing aspects of your products and give your potential customers an incentive to purchase your products.
- Emails and Newsletters: Email marketing is a core aspect of many digital marketing strategies. It's possible to gain several conversions through email campaigns. Some people send out monthly email newsletters while others use email to spend special deals to loyal customers.
- Ebooks and White Papers: These two types of content are very informative and research-driven. Ebooks and white papers can serve your customer base well as it gives them the information they may need for their business. This type of content is an effective way to increase your mailing list by requiring an email address to download them.
Many writers specialize by form and/or subject. They might choose a particular niche or focus on social media content or academic white papers.
This article concentrates on the first four, which are the bread and butter for a lot of content writers.
Content Writing Tips for Blogs, Articles, and Websites
Sharpen your writing and deliver content potential customers want to see with the following content writing tips. Learn how to reach out to your ideal customers, increase engagements, and transform your blog and social posts into persuasive content that ranks and converts.
This section overlaps with the next. Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial to creating quality web content. And Google rewards good writing by incorporating readability into its algorithm.
What to Write: Subject Matter, Purpose, and Research
Writing starts with pre-writing. It starts with strategy, notes, and hesitant scribbles. Before you get down to serious composition, make sure you have these elements in place.
1. Give Your Readers What They Want
Create customer profiles or user personas to give the reader what they want. The key to creating effective content for search engines and readers is to understand what your customer base is looking for. By increasing reader or customer engagements, you show search engines and other potential customers that your posts give them the information they want
If you’re publishing for your audience, pick a topic that interests your readers through performing keyword research and analyzing trends. Use tools such as Google Trends to gain insight into what your target audience is searching for.
2. Pick Your Approach
What kind of article are you writing? Some popular types of blog posts include:
- How-to’s and guides
- Industry news
- Resource roundups
- Case studies and inspirational stories
Return to types of content that perform well, but don’t limit yourself. A good blog uses a variety of approaches to keep material fresh.
Have a concrete goal in mind for the article as well. Are you trying to sell a service, lead readers to other articles, or provide a resource? Create calls to action that prompt the reader to stay on the site, give their email address for more information, etc.
3. Do Your Research
Most types of content require research. Copywriters often write outside of their field of expertise.
How much should you research? A lot. Customers may provide guidelines as to how many sources they want you to cite, but your work doesn’t stop there. Research as much as necessary to gain:
- Familiarity. If it’s a new area, take some time to read basic definitions, breakdowns, and whatever else you need to write confidently.
- Accuracy. Check facts, figures, and industry conventions.
- Credibility. Have high-quality sources to cite in support of your points.
Keep research readily available as you write, and be prepared to look up new information as the piece takes shape.
How to Write Content: Readability and Style
Writing ends with re-writing. These rules of composition are as much about editing as about composition. Sometimes a messy first draft is exactly what you need on your road to a polished final product.
4. Nail the Headline
Make people want to read your work with compelling titles. Good headlines embrace the 4 U’s. They’re:
- Urgent. Generate interest and excitement with power words.
- Unique. Surprise the reader with inside insights, unexpected conclusions, or creative phrasing.
- Useful. Advertise the content’s value — how will this article help the reader?
- Ultra-specific. Be clear about what the reader can expect.
Like everything else, good headlines take practice. But the right content writing tools can help. There are multiple headline analyzers available to evaluate your title and suggest improvements.
5. Pitch to a Wide Audience
Make your writing easy to read. Your syntax should be simple, your sentences short, and your language clear. You don’t want to be overly simplistic, but you do want most people to understand your work without difficulty.
In general, avoid jargon that only industry professionals can understand. However, if you’re writing on a super-technical topic for a super-technical audience, then you can go ahead and use jargon.
Unless directed otherwise, target an eighth-grade reading level. Don’t have any eighth-graders handy? No problem. That’s where the Flesch reading scale — a formula for calculating readability — comes into play. Scores of 60 and above are optimal.
Some processors, such as Microsoft Word, come with readability calculators built-in, but SEO tools usually include this feature as well. Or you can paste the copy into online calculators for quick, free assessments.
6. Improve Your Prose
Your writing should be clean, clear, and dynamic.
It’s time to put all the content writing tips that you know into practice:
- Vary sentence length, structure, and word choice.
- Use active verb constructions rather than passive ones.
- Give items in a list parallel structure.
- Cut unnecessary modifiers and unnecessary repetition.
- Edit wordy or convoluted phrases.
Above all, remember that there’s no place for poor grammar or typos in professional writing.
Unless your writing software includes it, download an editing tool. Grammarly — one of the most popular — is free and will help you avoid awkward phrasing as well as outright errors.
7. Write for the Screen
You’re not writing a novel or a dissertation. Part of good readability is a web-friendly format that people can easily scan on their phone or computer.
[tip] Break up your article into digestible segments, and include clear signposts to help readers track their progress and retain big ideas. [/tip]
How? Use headings and subheadings to organize your content, and then fill them with short paragraphs. You should vary your paragraph length, but try to average about three to four lines. Lists and bullet points are also effective.
8. Include Images and Other Media
Appeal to your readers’ eyes as well as their minds.
In addition to making your work more attractive, images, GIFs, and videos help to break up blocks of text and improve readability.
9. Match the Brand Voice
Lucky writers might get this information upfront. If you’re unlucky, you’ll have to find your client’s voice yourself.
Take some time to define the speaker of the piece. Start with the Nielson Norman Group’s four dimensions of tone:
- Funny vs. serious
- Formal vs. casual
- Respectful vs. irreverent
- Enthusiastic vs. matter-of-fact
A consistent brand voice is key for effective content across the board. Always make sure to use active voice over passive voice when possible. Passive voice makes your writing less effective, too wordy, and complicated. Limit your use of passive voice in your content when creating the ideal blog post for your readers.
Content Writing Tips for SEO
One of the biggest challenges of professional content writing is writing for Google’s web crawlers as well as your human readers. You need to optimize your content so that search engines will send traffic your way, placing you in a searcher’s top results when they’re researching something related to your business.
SEO is a huge field, but the following content writing tips will give you a place to start.
A lot of SEO revolves around keywords, the search terms that Google will match up to content on your website.
10. Pick the Right Keywords
So step one is to choose the right keywords. Ask yourself a few questions:
- What terms are my readers searching for?
- What content do I provide on this website?
- Where can I reasonably expect to be competitive?
Start with the phrases that are immediately, obviously essential to your web library.
Then it’s time to use keyword research tools to find closely related terms and industry suggestions. These will also let you know how competitive keywords are. Sometimes a small change in phrasing can be the difference between getting lost in the crowd and dominating the conversation.
11. Include Your Primary Keyword in Headings and Body
It isn’t enough to use your main keyword once in the middle of an article. Use them several times — particularly in your H1s and H2s.
Keep it organic, though. Google penalizes anything it views as keyword stuffing. Instead, use secondary keywords or a similar keyword phrase for better content.
12. Write a Strong Meta Description
Write a dynamic meta description that uses your main keyword. These meta descriptions appear beneath the headline in search results, and most web publishers allow you to customize them.
These snippets should be between 120-150 characters long to display fully.
Writing for SEO means more than just using keywords. These practices will also help your content appeal to Google.
13. Add Internal Links
Connect your content. Not only does this help Google organize the data, but it also helps you provide interested readers with further material to enjoy.
14. Add the Right External Links
Link to reputable and authoritative websites, so that Google will view your information as credible. Don’t link to competitors or dubious websites.
You should also provide the most efficient URL available.
15. Provide Image Alt Text
Google treats images as an indication of quality and generally rewards web content that uses them. But you can make your pictures even more attractive to the algorithm by providing alt text that describes the image for web crawlers and visually impaired users. This is also a great opportunity to get an additional instance of your keyword into the piece.
Content Writing Tips for Social Media
Prefer to keep things short and sweet? Social media content writing is perfect for you.
In some jobs, you’ll need to follow someone else’s playbook. In other cases, you’re responsible for writing your own. Regardless, any social media content strategy should include these elements.
16. Know Your Platform
Different content will suit each platform. Familiarize yourself with the basic rules of posting and follow successful accounts that are similar to yours. What kind of material do they post? How frequently? What tone works best for them?
If you’re building an account from the ground up, it may take some trial and error to find your magic formula. Start by analyzing the formulas of others.
17. Think: Awareness, Engagement, Action
What do you want your post to do? What effect should it have on your audience? Think in terms of awareness, engagement, and action.
For every post, identify your primary objective. Sometimes, you want to call attention to someone or something. In other posts, your mission may be to persuade your audience to visit your website or register for an event.
A lot of posts will aim at engagement. You want to entice people to like, follow, comment, or otherwise engage with your brand. Ask questions, share funny memes, or address concerns.
And then listen. Respond. Engagement goes both ways.
18. Use Hashtags
Don’t overdo it. Too many hashtags create an impenetrable cloud of text. Limit yourself to the ones that are most likely to be useful to:
- Connect your community. Unique, branded hashtags can pull content together.
- Classify your content. Subject-matter hashtags make it possible for non-followers to find your material.
Your social media voice shouldn’t conflict with other brand communications, but it’s a space where you can have some fun, too.
19. Break Some Standard English Rules but Follow Others
In part, this depends on your brand voice. For example, some abbreviations and slang will fit a young clothing brand but jar readers coming from a world-renowned medical facility.
Be deliberate about the rules you break. Yes, you can use emojis as punctuation. Does that mean that you should never use a period? Probably not.
And above all, “stylized” should never be confused with “sloppy.” There’s no excuse for typos, misspellings, or gibberish.
20. Keep It Snappy
For most platforms, shorter is better. Know when enough is enough.
Start Writing Content Today
You have tips and tools to spare. Here’s one more: the best way to become a better writer is to write.
Practice doesn’t make perfect, but that’s because perfection is a myth. Continual reading and writing develop your ability to use language. Your final product improves, and you become a more efficient wordsmith. Eventually, these tips will become second nature. The distance between here and there is measured in words.