Learn How to Create Compelling Content: Worship Your Readers or They Will Strike You Down

That’s right – your readers are your gods and goddesses. Treat them with respect or they will smite you like the mighty smiters that they are and leave you floundering in the hell of sub-par-make-no-money-get-no-traffic-ville.

You do not want to go there!

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How often do you start to read something that equates to drivel? No value, nonsensical language, outdated info, and facts that are blatantly wrong. Do you carry on reading? Do you share it across your networks?

Um… no – not unless you share it because it’s so awful that you want to virtually point-and-laugh.

My point?

Your behavior as a reader dictates the kind of content you should be putting on your own site.

Remember:

You aren’t stupid – and neither are your readers. They want valuable, compelling content. They want you to take them on a journey.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can write any old garbage and people all over the world will lap it up and treat you like a god because you claim to be an expert in your niche.

If you publish badly written tripe that doesn’t offer any value and lacks substance, you’ll take a whole lot of abuse from the few people that stumble across your content before Google freaks out and penalizes you. People won’t stick around. You won’t get subscribers to your mailing lists. You won’t be getting social shares. You won’t get people clicking on your ads. You won’t get much of anything apart from depressed and a rapidly diminishing bank account.

And that’s most definitely not what we want, is it? Let’s take a look at how you can produce engaging content that makes those mighty smiters put down their smiting sticks and start taking positive actions.

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Image source: Solo Queue

So, we’re going to cover:

  • Giving value
  • Connecting
  • Staying On-Topic
  • Breaking it up
  • Sensible SEO
  • Avoiding ad overload
  • Language
  • Relevance

Give Your Audience Value and They’ll Come Back for More

Time is precious, particularly in the fast-paced Digital Age. So, if you want people to read your content, share it with their friends, follow you, join your mailing list, visit your site regularly, click on your links, and buy your products, give them a reason. Give them value. Whatever your niche, whether it’s ancient history, ecommerce, or cutting edge robotics, if you want to keep your reader-gods happy, give them fresh, engaging content that makes them stop and think. Be insightful. Be daring. Be inspired – and inspire others with your content.

Connecting With Readers Draws Them In

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Image source: B3NET

Yes, your readers want value – they want to know about whatever it is they’ve clicked on your article for – but they want to feel connected, too – even if they don’t realize it. For most content, you’ve got just 15 seconds to grab your reader. 15 seconds before they vanish into the abyss.

Give your content some personality. Even if you’re dealing with a really dry or serious topic like finance, give the piece a little audience-appropriate pizazz. Let your audience see you, the mind behind the content. Your personality helps your content shine and helps to draw your reader in. And if you can make them smile or give a little inward chuckle or a silent “oh, tell me about it”, you’ve massively increased your chances of a share, a repeat visitor, and an email signup.

Stick to the Topic or You’ll Turn Them Off

A little segue is fine and dandy – but make it brief. Stick to the topic. If your readers came to learn about choosing the right gaming PC, they don’t want to know about growing organic tomatoes. If you find you’re going off on too much of a tangent, write that tangent topic as a separate post and link to it.

Sensible SEO is Subtle and Smart

SEO is important. On-page, off-page, and technical SEO all play key roles in your search engine rankings. But remember that things have moved on. You can no longer get away with 20 percent keyword density – pages that are stuffed with keywords and phrases but lack any proper content.

“Drivel, drivel, keyword, drivel drivel, keyword” won’t net you any readers or sales and Google will punish you. That stuff used to work a decade or two ago, but Google is smarter. And your readers expect better. There are businesses and individuals producing stellar content on the same topics as you all around the world. So you’ve got to give them a reason to choose your site over all the others. Even when you’re obsessing about your keyword density and inbound and outbound links, keep that in your mind above all else.

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As a general rule of thumb, aim for 1 to 3 percent keyword density. Choose just a couple of focused keywords, include them in a title or subhead, and a few times in your copy. Your on-page SEO absolutely has to be there – but it should be subtle. Your chosen keywords shouldn’t stand out like a smack in the face. They should be included naturally, be 100 percent relevant to the post itself, and your reader shouldn’t be able to spot them easily.

Yes, of course there are lots of other elements to SEO, but getting the keyword/keyphrase usage right puts you miles ahead of most of your competitors.

Don’t Go Ad Mad or You’ll Turn Off Your Readers Instantly

There’s nothing wrong with having ads on your site. In fact, most people expect to see advertorials or promoted content of some kind on your site. However, ad overload is a major turn off. Plus, with Google and its infamous Panda getting ever more anti-spammy and heavily penalizing ad-heavy sites, this is an important one.

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Image source: 90 Digital

You probably find that you hate being served huge amounts of ads when you visit a website. You don’t mind seeing the odd one in the sidebar or the occasional one underneath a photo in the middle of a longer post. But when you’ve got to hunt for the content amongst all the ad copy, you don’t like it. You probably leave fairly rapidly. And those sites that use unpleasant tactics to garner “accidental” ad clicks – you know, the ones that have a “download” button hidden among a bunch of ads, many of which also scream “download” – most of us hate those websites – so don’t build a site that does exactly what you, as a reader, hate. Don’t go ad crazy and don’t try to “trick” your readers into clicking on your ads. Instead, be selective in your ad placement. One or two well-placed ads are guaranteed to perform better than 10 spammy ads. This applies whether you’re using AdSense or a similar ad platform or whether you’re an affiliate marketer using CJ or Amazon Affiliates.

And, one last thought on this topic:

If you’re offering products and services of your own, why would you place ads to other people’s sites? You’re trying to convert your readers into sales, so don’t send them to other websites. If you’ve got a product or service business, refrain from displaying ad content. You want your readers to buy your items.

Make Sure Your Posts Use the Right Language to Build Trust and Authority

Before you launch into creating vast amounts of content, make sure you can write well. There’s this misguided notion that “anyone can be a writer”. It’s really not true. Aside from the fact that you have to pack value into your posts, you need to make sure they are well-written. You don’t need to be Shakespeare or hire a budding Shakespeare, but you do need to ensure the content you create is free of errors. It really doesn’t matter how good the ideas and thoughts are, if they are poorly articulated, you definitely won’t set yourself up as an authority in your field. Spelling mistakes, poor grammar, misused words, missing words, weird and awkward phrasing, and other errors really stand out. And those kinds of basic mistakes will cost you dearly – it’ll turn people off right away. If you post bad content, you’ll notice your bounce rate spikes. People who come looking for information they can trust will bounce right back off your site as soon as they start to spot lots of errors.

Are you writing your own content?

That’s great. Once you’ve written what you think is an awesomely fabulous post, you need to proof it. Read it aloud. This lets you catch the majority of the errors and awkward phrasing or structure, because you can hear them as you read. Then, once that’s done, run a spelling and grammar check. Yes, I know, it’s a really obvious tip – but it’s one that an awful lot of people overlook.

Thinking of hiring a writer?

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The answer is super simple – hire me! Yes, you’re perfectly right – that was a totally shameless plug!

But in all seriousness, make sure you hire a professional. Please don’t hire a non-native English speaker. Are they cheaper per word upfront? Yes, absolutely. Long term? They are terribly expensive. That cheap content you bought that’s riddled with errors, is factually inaccurate, and is often nothing more than mangled nonsense will turn people away. The content that you paid a pittance for will cost you dearly in the long run. It isn’t authoritative. Google hates it. Above all, your readers hate it. If you can’t present cohesive sentences with accurate information, you can’t expect readers to:

a) Stick around

b) Be loyal visitors

c) Buy your products or services

d) Make purchases via your affiliate links

If you don’t want to publish authoritative content, you’ll never be seen as an authority in your niche.

Ever heard the saying “you get what you pay for”? When it comes to content, that old adage has never been so true. Hiring a professional writer (or, depending on your needs, a content manager and a team of writers) pays off – you’ll continue getting a huge ROI long after the content is published.

Can you hire a native English-speaking writer from another country? 

Yes, you can, in some circumstances. Many English-speaking freelance writers (and editors) work globally and have outstanding knowledge of all those little nuances that differentiate US and UK English, or Australian and Canadian. So don’t just dismiss an American writer who applies for your gig here in the UK and vice-versa. For example, I’m based in the UK but a number of my longest-running client relationships are with companies in the US. I took the time to learn the differences in our languages (it’s more than color vs. colour and hood vs. bonnet), so now I’m able to confidently work with US and UK clients – and I’m not alone. There are quite a few of us who can contend with switching between multiple types of English. But I’d strongly advise you to check. You’ll find a lot of people who think they can just pretend because they think the differences are minimal – so make sure you see samples written in the English of your choice.

Create Content Relevant to Your Audience if You Want to Engage Them

This should be a no-brainer, but the idea of relevant content often gets lost or overlooked entirely. Firstly, you should have a clear definition of who your target consumers are. If you haven’t I strongly suggest you take some time to create a few customer personas. Once you’ve figured out who you are targeting, talk to them. Make your content relevant to your ideal customer. If you’re offering business services, don’t write posts all about fluffy bunnies, cute puppies, and your favourite dessert recipes. Instead, talk about topics related to your products and services and topics that your audience are most likely to engage with. Do your research. Make all your content relevant.

If in doubt, hire a great writer. Or, if you need a huge amount of content, hire a content manager and let them do all the dirty work. They’ll write a style guide to help you find your brand voice, they’ll recruit qualified writers, they’ll train the writers, edit submissions (or, if you need massive volumes of content, they’ll hire editors), put workflows, content calendars, and processes in place, see creation through from strategy and conception to publishing, and perform general content project management awesomeness. If you make the right hiring choice, they’ll have the skills to do the keyword research, ongoing seo optimization, and other marketing magic, too.

You can be the bestest, cleverest, awesomest, most fantabulous SEO guru and/or affiliate marketer in the whole entire universe and all the alternate dimensions and parallel universes combined. Hell, you can even feel as awesomely mighty as Mr Bruce Almighty when he parts the Red Soup:

But if you present your readership with meaningless content that reads like bad lorem ipsum text, you won’t make a single conversion or sale. You won’t be able to build a solid mailing list, and you’ll essentially just be wasting your time.

So be smart:

Treat your readers with respect and give them compelling content that naturally converts.

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