Some posts attract thousands of visits over the years, so any of the small tweaks below can pay off handsomely. It’s easy to forget, so I’ll be bookmarking this post myself as a checklist!
The number one goal for our blogs posts should be clarity. So read things out loud, leave several hours before posting and read again, and finally try and be honest with yourself. You know when something is weak, so listen to the little bells that go off in your head!
A quick tip: When struggling with something ‘awkward’, delete the sentence completely, and come back in a few minutes, its liberating.
Did you see what I did there?
As the sage copy-writing advice from legend Joseph Sugarman goes, “the job of the first sentence is to get people to read the second sentence”.
Using the first sentence to tell people the direct benefit of reading your post is certainly one way of doing that. It sets context and makes the overall point clearer.
As a by product, if the first sentence is also used as the ‘description’ snippet that Google shows ‘searchers’, then having a benefit there helps ‘sell the click’ from Google and then have the page meet the expectation of the visitor. A win win win.
Write enticing headlines
“Did you see what I did there“, above, is an example of a headline designed to get people to read the paragraph, as it has a sense of mystery. Yes, it is manipulative, and we are starting to notice this trick from content writers who have nothing to say.
So there had better be a payoff, else people will be disappointed, and abandon ship.
Let headlines tell the whole story
It is courteous, and fruitful to let people skim read. Some visitors some will likely know half your points, and some will know the other half. You appeal to the widest audience and save people time by peppering the piece with headlines that give a complete summary without reading anything else.
Use h2 and h3
H3 for sub points, Google likes what users like, so having the key words in headlines could be helpful.
Use white space
Headlines also break up the text, which makes it simply ‘look’ easier to read. Even if the content area is very narrow, and a single sentence spans several lines, just keep to three or four lines per paragraph. Of course, short words give you more space than long ones, enough said.
Use Active Verbs
Most website writing is designed to inspire people into action. Active verbs tell people what to do and seep into the consciousness, that is, if you can manage it without coming across as bossy.
In fact, the right verb will cut the number of words needed and confer expertise. Or should that be ‘infer’ – perhaps this article on verbs should help…it has lists of verbs you might enjoy.
Use the write verb.
Be careful with humour, not everyone will read things in the same way you do. I bet some skim readers will miss that joke, and that will be entirely my own fault.
If I am at all negative, or make jokes at other people’s expense, then I run the risk of ‘being unkind’. People are remarkably intuitive and pick up on the smallest of clues.
A recent personal example, instead of saying ‘don’t waste people’s time’, I re-wrote it as “save people time”, which is positive and active all at the same time. These small clues add up.
Be aware of behaviour
We are judged more on what we do, than on what we say.
But when we write, we demonstrate behaviour without being entirely aware of it, which of course, makes it all the more valuable for the reader. Self interest is illuminating.
Sharing valuable information and being completely transparent is evidently helpful. But being positive, and enthusiastic is attractive.
As David Olgilvy famously quipped, “the consumer is not a moron, she is your wife”. Talking down will lose the patience of people you care about. You can leave things unsaid. It’s less distracting.
The more intelligent your audience, the more easily they will be diverted, and distraction loses the sale. So they say.
It is the affliction of the courteous to think ahead and try and cover all the questions of the reader. But including everything the reader might need to know often detracts from clarity, so be careful out there.
Perhaps it’s another post, or at the least, put these things later in the article.
Stay on point
If you try and say three things, you say nothing. I’m not sure if I read that somewhere, but it is my final check.
All the best in your lead generation
As to ‘what needs to be in a post, and what’s better elsewhere, that’s one we’re still working on, if you’re interested then let me know.
And that’s a call to action – a weak one, but we couldn’t finish without it!