Content creation is one of the key tenants of any SEO strategy; after all, content is king, and will probably always remain that way.
For many businesses that aren’t in the SEO market, creating quality content can be a struggle. We’ve all seen poorly proofread, rambling content online and cringed, but it’s actually surprisingly easy to create high-quality, professional-looking content.
All you need is a few tools, many of which can be obtained for free, and a little bit of industry know-how.
That’s where I come in. I’ve been writing for a range of publications, blogs and websites for over a decade, so I know the tricks and tips that will make your content look great and read well.
If you’re interested in creating quality content that impresses and informs, then read on to find out how to become a content creation wizard in no time!
Read Like A Writer
The most important tip I can give you is to read and read a lot.
Not only do you need to read website content that’s similar to what you’re creating, but also a variety of different mediums.
Be they books, magazines or blog posts, if you read a variety of content that you’ll pick up the techniques that professional writers use.
When you’re reading, make sure you think about the way that the sentences are structured, and their length and clarity. You want to make sure that you use only the most effective techniques, so take more notice of quality content that engages you, rather than poor quality writing that you find bland and boring.
You also need to take notice of the grammatical rules that professional writers obey, and the ones they play around with to engage and intrigue readers. Many writers use grammar and spelling to their advantage by playing around with the rules, but this takes great skill and experience.
Read their content and try to identify any techniques that might be useful in yours, so that you can write create engaging and exciting pieces.
Work Out What Your Readers Want
When writing anything, you always need to remember that you’re not creating the content for yourself. Your reader needs to be at the forefront of your mind throughout the writing process.
As such, you need to work out what your target audience wants before you start typing. Creating a reader persona can help you to understand the pain points for your reader and what questions they want your content to answer.
Some of the main questions I personally try to ask myself when I’m creating any content are:
- Who will read the article?
- What will they get from it?
- How will they read it- online, on printed material, on mobile, etc.?
- Where will they see the article and why would they want to open it?
- What could they potentially do with this information- contact you, link to the piece, etc.?
By answering these questions and understanding exactly who you are aiming to inform with your writing, you will be able to offer them the content they need.
Learn How To Find Keywords
Keywords are central to optimising your content for SEO, as search engine algorithms use them to scan for pages that will meet the needs of various readers.
They are also a great way to keep readers engaged and prove to them that you are offering them relevant, informative content.
Finding relevant keywords can be a challenge if you don’t know where to look, but it’s actually surprisingly easy.
One great place to start is Google. Simply type in a related topic, then check out the related searches.
For example, if you type in ‘personal budget’, then here are the related searches.
Google also shows you questions that searchers ask related to your chosen topic, so you can incorporate them into your writing.
By answering the questions that searchers are asking, you’ll improve your content’s relevance. Relevance and search intention are key to the way Google’s algorithm scans the internet looking for related content to put at the top of results pages, so it’s vital that you incorporate questions and keywords into your work.
If you have the budget to pay for professional keyword tools, then Ahrefs offers an innovative Keyword Explorer Tool, and SEMrush has the Keyword Magic Tool.
There are a variety of different tools out there to help you find the keywords you need to be targeting, and most website audit and SEO software products have one built-in. As such, if you already use a solution for other optimisation tasks, then consider checking if it has a keyword tool to save yourself from purchasing more subscriptions needlessly.
These tools will help you to identify the keywords that are related to your chosen topic and then incorporate them into your work so that search engine algorithms, and readers, can see that your content is relevant.
While the inclusion of these keywords is important, be careful not to put too many in so that your work doesn’t read well.
This practice is known as ‘keyword stuffing’, and it can do more harm than good. Search engines will notice that your language is unnatural, and may penalise your site for having too many keywords stuffed onto it in an attempt to play the system.
From a practical standpoint, your content won’t be easy for readers to understand, meaning that they probably won’t spend a lot of time on your page and will be unlikely to link to it or share it with others.
Make The Layout Readable
It’s not just what you write that counts: you also need to consider how it’s laid out.
If your content is all in one big block, with no paragraphs, bullet points or anything else to break it up, then readers will quickly switch off.
The content will look longer than it actually is, and they’ll feel like it’s too much hard work to slog through it all.
By using simple techniques, such as bullet points, line breaks and short paragraphs, you’ll be able to break the text up and make it look more manageable.
You can also make the text easier to read by including images. If you have a lot of data in your piece, then consider turning it into a graph or a table, so that readers can easily absorb the information.
Some grammar rules and writing techniques are optional; for example, you can choose to write numbers in word format, or use the numerical symbol. Alternatively, you might decide to capitalise certain words to highlight them.
When you are unsure of how to use a specific form of grammar, letter or punctuation, and you get conflicting advice from writers, the most important thing to do is to be consistent.
Pick a tactic and stick with it, so that your work looks professional. Even if someone doesn’t agree with your decision, they will understand that it was your choice.
If you use several different variations, then your work will look sloppy, and you will appear unsure of yourself. At least if you’ve chosen one way to write your content, you can rest assured that your work will be consistent.
This approach will also help you to establish a voice for your writing. Your writing style will evolve over time and has to be adapted to suit your target audience and the purpose of your work, but consistency is key to creating and maintaining it.
Use Proofreading Tools
While technical SEO and keywords are crucial to your writing strategy and overall online presence, you also need to get back to basics and make sure that your content is well-written and grammatically correct.
As mentioned earlier, playing with grammatical rules is a skill, and takes time to hone. If you do choose to adapt your grammar, then you need to make sure that you do so in a way that is still understandable and that makes it clear that you are adapting your language for comic effect, not just because you can’t write.
For the majority of your business writing, you’re going to need to make sure that it is thoroughly proofread and doesn’t have any grammatical changes or errors in it.
Proofreading your own work can be tough, especially if you’ve read the piece over and over again, or been staring at your screen all day.
One alternative is to hire a professional proofreader, but this can be expensive, which is why many non-professional writers turn to proofreading tools.
There are a variety of free solutions out there, including the one that’s integrated into Microsoft Word. There’s also Grammarly and Hemingway Editor, both of which offer free and paid for versions.
Each of these tools has its own unique interface, so check them out to see which one will work best for you.
Remember that none of these tools is infallible; they use technology to scan your text for errors, but they might not pick up on some of the subtleties of the English language, so it’s vital that you also check your writing yourself, as I discuss below.
Read Your Content In Full Before Publishing
Reading your content from top to bottom, in order, is a crucial part of the content creation process.
Once you’ve used your proofreading tool and made all of your amendments, you should read the entire article.
Take a break from the piece before you give it a final read-through so that you can come back to it with fresh eyes.
Then read the whole piece in order, as one of your readers would view it. By reading the entire article, you’ll be able to check for any inconsistencies, grammatical errors that your proofreading software missed and any readability issues.
Reading your content through will also give you a final chance to make it really resonate with readers, and ensure that there are no silly, potentially embarrassing errors.
Update Your Content
Once you’ve read through your piece and published it, doesn’t mean that you’re done with it for good.
Now, you need to promote it on social media, as well as to review it every few months to make sure that it is still relevant.
If the piece is time-specific, then this doesn’t apply, but if you have created evergreen, relevant content, then you need to review it every now and again to make sure that it remains the best guidance for readers.
If you keep outdated, useless content on your website then you will be wasting space and won’t get as many clicks or link backs in the future.
Also, you may find that newer, more relevant content on your site is competing for the same keywords as these older pieces, so you need to make sure that you update any old content.
Check through it and make sure that it contains up to date insight and information. If anything needs changing then amend it quickly so that the content is constantly the best that you can possibly offer readers.
Updating your online content is also a great way to review your old writing, see how far you’ve come and employ the new skills you’ve learned.
In all, creating quality content takes time, patience and hard work. You need to keep at it, and not worry if your first efforts aren’t as amazing as you’d like them to be.
If you really feel like writing your own content is just too hard, or you don’t have the time, then there are a wide range of freelance writers and outsourced writing services available. They’ve put the work and effort into learning how to create quality content, so you don’t have to.
These services cost a lot of money, but you get what you pay for. If you’re looking to write your own high-quality, insightful content, then I hope these tips help you to achieve your goals.
Hannah Stevenson is the Content Marketing Manager at UK Linkology and loves to share her knowledge on SEO, content creation and editing with a range of budding writers and SEOs.