Writing quality articles for the web is an art, but are there any good strategies that can help you and your team to create really awesome content for your site? In this article, I take a look at how you can quickly and repeatedly create really useful content for the web and what tools can help you to scale things up.
Content Strategy: The New SEO – Good Rankings Are No Accident
Many new webmasters who get into marketing and SEO often falsely believe that good rankings are unachievable for new sites ever since Google boosted authority sites to the top in 2013.
While it is certainly more difficult to rank sites high than a few years back, there are things you can work on to improve your rankings over night. A good content strategy will make all the difference.
Post quality matters a lot more than you think and you can easily outrank other low-quality content on authority sites with a lot of social signals.
I’m still working on my content strategy every day and I literally spend thousands every year to improve it. In this guide I will give away a few lessons I’ve learnt while working on high traffic sites and blogs and on top of that you can download one of the plugins we developed for internal purposes that helps us with bulk quality assurance.
What Is “Quality”?
Quality usually stands for something excellent, that outshines something else in comparison. It has a higher level of value than the competing products. But when do we speak of quality articles? If they can address a specific need very well. In order to do that, it should have certain qualities, but what are those qualities exactly and what can you do to make sure you and your writers constantly produce quality articles?
Structure Of High Quality Articles
One of the secrets to producing quality content is to keep it simple and make it easier for your readers to find whatever they are looking for. Let’s take a look at the general structure of a quality article.
1. The Title
The first thing a user reads is most likely the title of your page – it should be short, precise and engaging. It should give the audience a good idea what the article is about in a few words.
The introduction summarizes the articles in 1-2 sentences and may include easily accessible links to important paragraphs or a table of content
3. The Article Body
The body of an article is where you should address all questions people may have. In general, I recommend to use multiple sub-headlines to allow readers to scan your body, it will help to find relevant information easily.
Never forget that most people will not read your entire article and are only there to get the information they find most relevant.
Although many editorial articles do not include a conclusion, I think that a conclusion is just as important as the introduction. A good conclusion could summarize important points mentioned throughout the article using bullet points and/or link to additional resources, include a call to action (like commenting or sharing the article) or provide some helpful last words before the reader finishes reading your article.
Quality Article Characteristics Webmaster.Net Checklist
- Short, Precise Headline
- Readable Paragraphs (Not A Wall Of Text)
- 500-1000+ Words
- Table Of Contents
- Use Multiple Sub-Headlines To Summarize Paragraphs (Easy Scanning)
- Freshness Factor / Frequently Updated
- Holistic approach
- Address Emotions / Needs
- Relevancy, Don’t Go Off-topic
- Media Helps Convey Complex Ideas
- Summarize Key Points Using Bullet Points / List
- Increase Engagement Using Videos
Why Do People Visit Your Site? Try To Cover Multiple Aspects, Address Emotions
In general, users browsing the web are looking for very specific information and use a “hit and run” strategy to get the info they need, that’s why good articles can have a high bounce rate and low “time on site per user”.
However, you can dramatically decrease your bounce rate and increase your overall pageviews if you use a holistic approach and address all possible questions and needs.
This is a screenshot of the table of contents for the Wikipedia article about “Europe”. As you can see it addresses 13 different aspects of europe: It gives a definition, talks about its history, its economy, geography, culture and provides additional resources. This is a holistic approach, it tries to address as many different aspects as possible and allows you to jump directly to the information that is relevant to you.
Thorough Research: What Emotional State Are You Readers In?
Always think about the emotional state your audience is in when they start reading: Do they need help with something? Do they want to hear your opinion to make an educated decision? Do they simply want more information? What information is going to help them the most?
Ask a few questions what it is that your visitors really want. If you can give them the information and on top create a thirst for even more you’ve done a good job. But a good article never stagnates and changes frequently.
Briefing Your Writers
Now, you may already know a great deal about article writing and how YOU want to structure your content (everyone should develop their own unique style), but how do you make sure your writers follow your lead?
It’s best to write article guidelines. Whenever I hire writers I send them my guidelines in a neat PDF and explain to them exactly what they should do. Usually, I also send them various productivity tools so they can get the work done in less time. Writing quality articles always includes HTML markup and you need to properly instruct your writers to use it.
This is only a very rough concept, but should give you an idea of what you should prepare for your writers.
Siteflow: People Only Read 20% Of Your Text: Make Text Easy To Scan
According to Nielsen, people on the web will only read about 20% of text on any given page. 80 percent of test users ALWAYS scanned a new page on the first visit!
So, why bother writing texts that no one will even will fully appreciate? Again, this can be answered using relevancy. You don’t know what part of your text will be relevant to your reader. Readers may search for different keywords and still end up on your page if you use a holistic approach. Let’s take a look at what people will even notice on your page:
- highlighted keywords
- bulleted lists
- one idea per paragraph
- often starting with conclusion
Use this knowledge to highlight important text on your page. It’s also a great idea to use a different color for links to important pages to drive more traffic to that page – I used that strategy to increase revenues by up to 30%. Think a little out of the box and test different designs.
Improving The Siteflow
Check out a possible siteflow and realize there are only a few points you need to optimize well: Page speed, first-byte time, design and an engaging call to action. Thumbnails or “read more” links are also a call to action and can help you to increase your pageviews. If you get most of your revenue from advertising, you don’t necessarily need to sell something (although it may be lucrative to add an affiliate link here and there) on your page, so you can focus on making the site easy and fun to browse.
Increasing Article Engagement via Media
Pictures and video are far more engaging than text. Our mind is used to think in pictures and we can quickly grasp ideas by looking at them. Video of course is the most engaging media on the web and will help you to build up a brand for your website.
To create a successful video you don’t need much. In fact, right now ranking a video high in the Google SERPs is really easy because Youtube has so much authority. They don’t even have to be long or original, any video will help your article stand out in the SERPs. Use it to your advantage!
Summarizing Information via Bullet Points
Good articles should make use of bullet points / lists. People rarely read a webpage word for word, instead they will scan your page for information that is relevant to them. Not all information can be relevant to
all of your readers at the same time. If you quickly want to convey an idea, bullet points are unmatched. It’s no coincidence that list articles are so immensely popular (see: listverse.com)
So, to make a good example, let’s summarize what we’ve learnt so far:
- Quality articles follow characteristics (see above) you should write down for yourself
- Develop a clear-cut approach to writing articles that you can follow. Use or modify the template: Headline, Intro, Body, Outro
- Quality content provides quick access to relevant information (use a table of content or similar)
- Use a holistic approach to address multiple aspects and gain more authority and traffic
- Prepare a PDF with article guidelines for your writers
- Be aware of the emotional state your readers are in
- Video is the more engaging than text
Scale Things Up: Use Our WordPress Plugin To Analyze Your Posts
To fully verify you have quality articles on your site we’d need a quantum computer that understands English. If that’s a little above your budget, you can download our free plugin that check various characteristics of quality
- Word Count
- Number Of Images
The Art Of Producing Content
The art of content production for the web requires constant improvement. I’ve been blogging since 2006 and have developed my own style of writing articles. Not all of them are of high-quality, in fact, if I would apply my own rules, only very few of my articles are of really high quality, but that is what I am striving for now and what you should too, not only to increase your revenues, but to create a better web.
Article writing is a very difficult process, especially if you do it for a few years. Even if you manage to write some good articles that reach millions of readers, you need to work on your strategies to scale things up and figure out how can you repeat the process.
A very thorough briefing is important, but just as important is talking with your writers or reviewing your article structure from time to time.
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In part 2, I will take a look at a convincing call to action, HTML5 document outlining and the key to a successful content strategy the gurus don’t want you to know.