As a Columbus website design firm, we've been using this analogy for years when it comes to writing for the web, blogging or writing speeches: what can we learn about blogging from action movies? Like every James Bond, Jackie Chan or Fast & Furious movie, things start with a bang. Because if you don't start with something that gets people's attention, most people just won't stick around to get to your point.
How this translates to your website and blogging isn't that you should have explosions on your homepage (unless you sell dynamite). It means you start your blog, article, or homepage with something that catches your audiences' attention right away. You've heard of "click bait" of course. Well, what we're suggesting is you do a version of that for your blogs, social media and website.
Examples of ideal headlines are:
- Something with numbers in it, such as "Four Easy Ways to Get Your Spouse to Put You on a Pedestal."
- Use adjectives, like "Incredibly easy ways to get people to Like your Facebook posts"
- Humor: "You'll fall in love with these seven adorable dogs. And one that's ugly as they get."
- Guarantees: "We promise this one simple offer will get people to your website."
- Rational: "Reasons why men are afraid of talking to a plastic surgeon."
- Persuasion (the why, what, when or how of something): "How to sell your home in 36 hours with hardly any effort."
Of course, your article has to address the subject with a legitimate explanation of your headline. Because if you don't make our article worth your audience's valuable time, you shouldn't expect them to become followers of your future posts.
We've seen very well-written blogs that take too long to get to the point. People don't have time to read. Some studies show people only read 20% of the words on your website. While other research shows most people will only spend 15 seconds reading your blog post.
Yet here we are, every week, spending a couple of hours crafting (what we think is) an awesome blog that most people will only skim at best. Why do we do it? Well, we're actually writing for two audiences: real people, and search engines.
Writing for people
As with any marketing, writing blogs is an effort to establish yourself as experts in your industry. The more you can offer interesting information that people will read, and might even share, the more you can be on someone's radar when it comes time for them to buy the product or services you offer.
Your content has to be informative, interesting, and fairly regular for it to start making an impact on your audience. This is called "Content Marketing" and over the past few years, has generally been seen as the best way to market your website, and company.
Writing for search engines
Being a writer isn't the same as writing for the web, and subsequently, for search engines.
We've had clients hire writers to write blogs for their websites, and we've seen, all to often, a lot of wasted effort. Why is that? Well, writers who don't write for the web, don't understand the intricacies of it. A recent blog of ours, entitled "Think twice about writing your own website's copy" explains what to consider when deciding whether to take on your own copy writing.
What most people don't understand about writing for the web are:
- Keywords and how they work: if you're writing for a website without doing keyword research, you'll be wasting your valuable time. Keywords in your website are how search engines' synapses connect your website to your prospects. Guessing at keywords, and guessing wrong, is the same as not doing ANY keyword research. Because if you guess wrong, you won't be using the search terms your audience is using to try and find companies like you.
- How many words should be in a blog post: There is a huge difference of opinion on this, but there's a general agreement that there should be a minimum of 300 words on every page of your website. Read a recent blog we wrote about how many keywords you shoudl focus on.
- How often keywords should be in your blog posts: Keywords shouldn't be more than 5% of the total word count on a page. Doing more than that, can be interpreted as "keyword stuffing" by search engines.
- How many keywords you should use on any page of your website: Again, there's no universal agreement on this, but from our research, we tell clients to focus on a handful of keywords, maybe 4 or 5 on each page. Unless you're a huge company, using 10 or 15 keywords will be spreading yourself too thin on keyword focus. You'd have to use those 10 - 15 keywords an awful lot for search engines to start making those connections to your website. (We use 4 or 5 keywords for all of our blog posts)
- Page Titles: These are the first thing search engines look at on your website to determine what your website, individual pages, and your blog posts are about. If you don't have them on every page of your website, your website will not be properly indexed by Google (or other search engines).
- Meta Descriptions: These are the more detailed explanations of what a page on a website (or blog) is about which appears in Google's search results. You have control over these and, if you leave them out f every page, or any blog, in your website, you're losing valuable search engine optimization (SEO) value on your site. Learn how to write Meta Descriptions here.
- Latitude and Longitude settings: A little known aspect of SEO is putting in the latitude and longitude of your business in your blog posts.
What the geo-positioning section for SEO looks like for this blog.
Writing for yourself
One benefit we've found by writing blogs and/or articles, is we learn something each time we write. So it's also a process to expand our own knowledge of a specific subject. That's because we research other stories, articles and blogs about a subject to include in our blogs.
So writing is always a learning experience for us as well.
As you can see, there's a lot to know about writing for the web, and we hope this helps you make a more informed decision when it comes to deciding who will be writing for you.