Making money by creating content that people want to access isn’t new to the web, it’s a career that pre-dates industrialization, capitalism and even mass literacy. Along the way we journalists and editorial staff have had to learn how to create people focused content in a fast, accurate and fair manner. The tricks that help us do this can also help you create better content.
SEO Writing Advice from a Journalist
What are you Trading?
When somebody clicks on your site you are trading them knowledge and/or entertainment for their time and their money. This is the key to good online content that is so often lost in the search for the holy grail of SEO, as if there is some magic word that will catapult you to the top of web rankings and search engine results pages. The closest you will come to a magic word is “public interest”, if you’re not willing to take the time to give it, why should they take the time to read what you’re writing?
Know Your Audience and Personify Them
Do you have your reader’s age, gender, wealth, education and location in mind when writing? If you struggle with this, personify your audience. Give them a name, hobbies, a job title and you can even draw a picture of them if you must. Remember them whenever you write and imagine how you would feel in their shoes staring from the other side of the screen. Would you make it to the bottom of the page?
Reward Your Reader
Give them what they came for in a quick, interesting and detailed manner. Write in short, simple sentences in short simple paragraphs. The most effective way to do this is by writing in an inverted pyramid structure detailed below:
• The Lead: Who, What, Why, When and How. One or Two paragraphs totalling around 30 words which gives the reader the gist of the piece (see the start of this article for an example).
• The Body: The argument, story, controversy, details, logic, evidence and quotes. This section should give the reader a good understanding of the subject.
• The Tail: Interesting/related items, extra context, extra quotes and opinions. This is for readers looking for additional information for a total grasp on the subject. Fill this section with backlinks as any reader who makes it this far down will be looking for as much information as possible.
To keep your reader’s attention, break up every three paragraphs with an image, infographic, chart or video.
Give Readers Something New
It may be more time effective to regurgitate content found on other sites but imagine how disgusted you’d be if the newspaper you bought contained yesterday’s news from another paper, this is what cheap SEO content does to your readers.
If you take the time to generate truly original content, your readers will value and respect you, helping to give you a much better ROI.
The hardest part about generating new content is getting going, below are the easiest ways to create original content quickly:
• Analyse newly released information or news with opinion or facts.
• Generate your own data compiling raw data from websites.
• Use your personal experience and knowledge to give unique perspectives or advice on an issue.
• Interview relevant people and get their opinion on an issue.
• Take existing information from other articles and display it in infographics.
• Subscribe to RSS feeds and press releases so you can be the first to report on new information.