How to make your content more engaging

Man in a denim shirt holding a mug while looking at the content on his tablet

Content marketing has grown to become one of the most important elements in your marketing. In some cases engagin content provides greater value to a business (by boosting your organic search rankings) than PPC

What do we mean by content?

In a marketing context, content is anything which is written, designed, recorded or filmed to help develop your brand or market your products or services. It can include (but isn't limited to):

  • copy on your website;
  • product descriptions on third-party ecommerce platforms;
  • social media posts and interactions;
  • magazine, radio, and video adverts;
  • email newsletter content;
  • technical guides.

Content is essentially everything that your business publishes.

Here we're focusing on content on your website, as this is the type of content that is most accessible to small businesses. It's also the content that helps boost your organic search results the most.

Types of website content

There are two main areas to focus on.

Web pages

This means the key information and product pages on your site. These include your homepage, company information pages, product descriptions and campaign landing pages.

Every one of these pages needs to speak to your market. All too often we see dry corporate content that does not speak to the client and so does not engage their interest.

Every product page should aim to provide readers with a clear answer to a problem of theirs - whether it helps to simplify their life, take away stress, save money or time, or something else.

Blog posts

Every business site should have a blog, especially if your other pages are a little dry. The blog should always be written by a named person. It should provide a way to open a discussion, through blog comments or linked social media pages.

Your blog is essentially your business' public face. As well as always considering what your market wants to read, ensure that your posts are in line with your branding. Maintain a consistent voice throughout.

A blog should always be written in the first or second person. First person sounds more personal, while second person speaks directly to your customers.

Crafting engaging content

There are several aspects to good web content that apply to all page types. Whether you're writing a company information page, a product page, blog post or email news letter, follow these rules.

Open with a catchy title

The title serves two purposes. It should make people want to read more. And it should accurately describe the content on that page, so that search engines can understand how to rank it.

There are several elements to a good title, and a few tricks to make a title more engaging. One often-used template is as follows:

Number + Adjective + Keyword + Promise + Urgency = Killer Title

You have probably seen titles like this yourself, especially shared on social media, as they are a tried-and-tested method to get clicks. The urgency element is not always needed, but can be the icing on the cake. Here's an example:

10 secret SEO tips to boost your sales today

This title suggests to readers that they will learn something new, that the information will help their business, and that it can be used, and will start working, immediately.

Structure your content

Your content needs to be well-structured, and this means planning it in advance. Writing without creating a plan usually results in a confused, waffly piece that leaves readers feeling lost and unsure what the point was. That is not going to help you sell your product!

Start by listing the topics that your article will be about. Then split the page into sections to cover each sub-topic. The page should also be structured with an introductory paragraph, a descriptive middle and a concluding paragraph with a call to action.

Opening paragraphs should follow basic journalistic rules. Answer the five W's: what, why, who, when and where. Although this is not always relevant in business writing, it can help to structure the overall article.

From a business perspective, this means providing the reader with information on what you are selling, who it is for, why they need it, when it is available (often not required) and where it is available.

The first paragraph should highlight the key points discussed in the article, so that the reader can decide if they want to learn more.

Descriptive content

The main body of the page should be the descriptive content. Here it is important to write in a way that appeals to your customers as well as search engines:

  • for customers, use language that will answer their questions, impress them, and emotionally engage them;
  • for search engines, include keyword phrases that are often used by customers when searching for these products.

There will be a natural overlap between the two, but do not assume that the copy you write for your customers will also match the search queries they type into Google. While Google is doing a much better job at semantic search than it used to, it is still far from perfect.

Conclude your page

Finally, never leave a page hanging. Often the last content on a page is a product description. Even though you may have described elsewhere how to place an order, this is not enough to guarantee a sale.

Be absolutely clear and tell people what action to take next, using Steve Krug's principle of "don't make me think". This typically means a simple "Buy now" button or a "Contact us" message linked to a contact form, or both, should be the last things on the page.

Providing these options hugely increases your chances of a conversion.

Copyright © 2018 Jon Wade, content manager at FSE Online.

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