While we focus mostly on the technical side of websites here, the content is just as, if not even more, important. You may have the best technically-optimized website, but if the content is not of high quality, all that work will go to waste. The reason is that search engines always put the content first and the technical optimizations are a (major) bonus.
Creating quality content seems like a tough challenge, but it’s not only about the depth of the topic. In the end, what some users might decide is in-depth, useful information, might seem like uninteresting twaddle to some other users. With that said, there are plenty of additional content optimizations you can rely on to improve its overall quality. These optimizations will make the content easier to read, easier to glance and also easier to index by the search engines.
So, let’s explore these tips. We will be focusing on making the content good for the reader. In turn, this will also make the search engine indexing bots happy.
Know what you want to achieve with your content from the start. Do you want to sell a product or a service? Or maybe you want to popularize them? Or is it just a blog, looking to inform people and discuss certain topics? The goal will change the way you approach the content.
Organization is a key part of achieving your preset goals, but not only for the overall process. Be organized in your content as well. For example, follow up with a series of posts on a topic. Or just create a structure for the post and stick to it.
Use short sentences
Reading text should not be like solving a puzzle. If you use a lot of long sentences, the reader will get tired quickly. Instead, try to use mostly short phrases. Of course, that’s not always possible or suitable. But it often is. You can just break up a long sentence into several shorter. Don’t overdo it, though, as it will also be a challenge to read with so many stops.
Don’t be afraid to be personal
Your readers are humans. As such, they tend to like a more personal approach. Therefore, the text shouldn’t fully consist of soft, mundane phrases. Don’t be afraid to use words you normally use in your day-to-day life. Even just a sprinkle of them here and there will be enough for the readers to feel that an actual person has written the text.
The same goes for the overall tone of the text. If the topic allows for it, add a joke. Or your own opinion. The goal is to set your content apart from everyone else’s. It may also be just finding your own style. If the readers receive it well, then use it for your content.
Don’t use complex words – it will alienate users and won’t index well
You know complex words? That’s great. Not everyone does, though. So, don’t use them in your content. Or at the very least, avoid them as much as possible. It will alienate the readers who don’t know them. Chances are it won’t make you sound smart, but obnoxious. And it won’t index well as the search engines do look for usability. So, long and complex words should not be your calling card. Instead, focus on the ability to say the same thing with simple, more accessible words and phrases. It will help for making you sound more personal and original.
Use others’ content, but don’t steal it
You don’t know everything about a given topic. Even if you do, most people won’t believe that. There’s no shame in taking inspiration from someone else’s content by discussing the same topic or even sharing their opinion. You can and should also quote and link others’ post when there are bits of suitable content that you’ve used. But don’t just take something word for word and then pass it as your own. That’s an actual crime. Of course, there’s nothing wrong if everything is your own, as long as it really is.
Honesty is a quality that’s rarer than gold. At least these days. So, if you don’t know something, say it. Open up a discussion. Also, don’t give promises and/or guarantees that you’re not sure that you can fulfil. Honesty is also about transparency. It ties in with the previous tips about being original and not stealing others’ content. If you’re honest with your readers, they will know that and appreciate it. If you aren’t transparent with them, they will quickly turn against you.
Add your experience
Depending on the topic, you may have plenty of experience on it. If that’s the case, then you will also know what is useful to mention, what may be too advanced or too complicated. You don’t need to say “my experience shows” every time, as this will make you sound a bit overconfident. Just mix it with the content. Tie it up with examples. It will be obvious to the readers that your experience is talking.
If you’re promoting a product or a service (or yourself), then don’t oversell. In fact, it’s better to slightly undersell, so that when people do get the thing, they can be pleasantly surprised. As a result, it’s more likely that they will give a positive feedback. “Good for the money” is better than “I was expecting a bit more”. Plus, overselling is always too obvious and tends to irritate the readers. As a result, their trust erodes and it’s less likely they will come back.
What if you’re not selling anything but simply giving tips or making an informational post? Well, again – don’t say that “these tips work for everyone” as that’s simply not possible. And also don’t say “our information is 100000% true and confirmed”. If something then goes wrong (that’s always a possibility), you will be on the hook for misleading the audience. Or you will simply look like a fool. Be more modest. It will pay off.
Format the text – short paragraphs, headlines and so on
A simple, yet effective way to up the quality of your content is text formatting. Use short paragraphs, incorporate in-text headlines every now and then. When doing lists, format them in an appropriate way. For example, a numbered list for a ranking or bullets for the times when the steps or ranking isn’t important.
Don’t add stuff just because “it’s empty” otherwise – keep it simple
It’s tempting to add lots of pictures and charts to make the post “pretty”. But if there’s no real need for them, then don’t. Adding visual items certainly will help with the overall look and feel of the content. It can even make it easier to glance over. But if they are too much or irrelevant, then you will achieve the opposite result. So add visual items as and if they are needed by the topic, not just because “there should be something”. It’s better to keep it simple than overdo it.
Tell a story (when possible)
People love stories. So, if the topic and type of content allow for it, create a suitable story or storyline for the text. The most simple (but also popular) tactic is to create a character and then follow their journey as they try to solve a problem or look for an answer. Just remember to keep the story going through the entire text and not forget about it midway through.
How long should I go?
That’s a great debate. As a general rule, it’s said that long posts convert better and search engines like them more. But short posts also have their place under the sun. Especially for news or short commentaries, case studies and many other forms of content. Whether you should be going for long, short or medium type of content is up to two factors: your goals and your readers. Some audiences prefer longer articles. Others want something short and simple to give them a quick answer and that’s that.
This is also related to the type of content. But if it’s something that’s date oriented or time sensitive, then you should make it a habit of going back after a certain time period and updating the information. Or at the very least, create a new, updated article and link it in the old one. This way you preserve the older content for those who might need it and you get the new stuff out there.
Follow the users
No matter what tips, rules and tactics you use and follow, only your readers will truly show you whether you should continue or change something. So make sure that you research the reactions to the content, the engagement and the overall visits. Do the longer posts really attract more viewers for you site or do people still prefer the short ones?
Note that this is not a one-and-done practice. Your readers’ interests, habits and profiles will change as time goes by. You will have to adapt to that with suitable content. Otherwise, you will be simply be forgotten. Very quickly at that.
You also might like to read the following article: