8 ways to create killer online content

Writers and marketing specialists must work in concert on letting potential visitors know precisely what is on your website and what value it has for them. Bait-and-switch is bad business.

Marketers and writers should work together closely to create compelling content that drives traffic, engagement, and results for an organization.

It isn’t valuable to create outstanding content that no one sees, nor to drive a lot of traffic to low-quality content that no one reads.

According to recent research from Chartbeat, 55 percent of people who click on a link spend less than 15 seconds on the page. This happens frequently with all kinds of website content, because the content often doesn’t match the reader’s expectations, the content isn’t actually valuable, or the content wasn’t easy to digest.

The blame lies with everyone involved, both the writer and the marketer, because it is each member’s responsibility to sync website content production efforts.

Follow the tips below to ensure your content is readable once someone discovers it through email, social media, and elsewhere.

Focus on word choice with marketing messaging

Pay attention to how you are framing a piece of content in your marketing messaging, whether it is the copy on a landing page, an email marketing message, a Facebook post, etc.

All the marketing messaging intended to drive traffic toward your Web content should accurately reflect what readers can expect when they visit your website. Don’t use tactics that bait your audience to click, because there is no value if they visit your site and then immediately bounce.

A website often has the highest bounce rates when a user expects to find one thing and then stumbles upon something that doesn’t quite match his or her expectations.

The headline must match reader expectations

More than anything else, the headline prepares readers for what they should expect from your website content. Headlines are typically the first thing people see before deciding to click-which is why they must be accurate, enticing, and concise, so they quickly convey what readers will learn from your content.

There is much debate about click-bait headlines, but the rule of thumb is to not overdo it and to avoid driving traffic for the sake of driving traffic.

Provide tangible value for your audience

Visitors will read your content if you can fulfill the expectations you’ve created through the marketing messaging and the headline—that is, if the resource delivers useful information that matches their interests.

The value of your website’s content should be immediately apparent and should also, at times, surpass a reader’s expectations by providing more insight on how to solve a problem or more education on a particular issue than initially promised.

This could be through offering bonus materials, links to related content, or additional media to support your resource and ensure that readers leave your website with more information than they had when they arrived.

Write short paragraphs and concise sentences

Online readers tend to have less time or focus to read long, lengthy resources, which is why it is important to break up your content into short paragraphs and concise sentences, even if the content is lengthy.

Create paragraphs of two to three concise sentences so each part of your article is easier to consume and less difficult for the brain to process.

Format articles into snackable sections

Successful content is not only made up of short, concise paragraphs, but is also broken up by subheadings that make it very easy for a reader to scan an article and quickly understand what each section is about.

This will help readers pinpoint which parts of an article are important to them, saving them time and making it as easy as possible to find the valuable information they were looking for.

Include bullet points and numbered lists to further break up your content into snackable sections. Remember, you’re fighting against the short attention span of the average Internet user.

Add valuable links

Include links to the sources from which you’ve pulled facts, figures, and statistics, as well as links to other relevant content from your organization and other high-quality sources.

Never force the inclusion of a link in your content. Instead, add links that provide in-depth insights on a related topic for your readers.

The more utility you’re able to provide for visitors throughout your content, the more likely it will be read, shared, commented on, and more.

Include visuals and other media

Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text, making it easier for readers to get through your content and process the information you’re providing to them.

In order to break up your website’s content for your readers, include photos, videos, audio, GIFs, presentations, embedded posts from social media, and other forms of rich media.

Adding visual items like these provides another perspective on a point made in the text, and it also helps break up sections of your content for easier consumption.

Provide takeaways for next steps

The information throughout your content should have some clear takeaways for readers to think about after they’re done reading.

These insights should help make readers more aware of an ongoing problem, an aspect of your industry, or a discussion to incite them to learn more about the subject.

Ideally, visitors will return to your content to learn more about a certain topic. Even if they don’t return, they initially learned about it from your organization, which is the best kind of association your business can have.

Takeaways can come in the form of short tips provided in an article, questions asked at the end of a piece, a call to action to review other related content, and more to help direct a visitor once he or she has reviewed your resource.

What have you found to be the most successful tactics for engaging your readers? Do certain strategies work better on certain types of content for your business? What tips would you recommend we include in the future? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Brian Honigman is a freelance writer, a marketing consultant, and a professional speaker living in New York City. A version of this article first appeared on Content Standard.

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