13 Content Writing Tips That Will Crush Your Competition

CRUSH_COMPETITIONWriting web content is what bloggers need to do best because it’s what attracts readership and builds loyalty.

Whenever I start writing content for my blog I spend a day or two putting together a blueprint of what I feel will be quality content for my readers and something that they can relate to.

Blogging has become so competitive over the last decade that it’s always smart to consider ways you can have an advantage over your competition. It’s time you stop worrying about quantity and focus on quality putting together content that will create an immediate buzz.  It’s true what they say, content is king and I tell people: “High quality relevant content gets the most traffic and ranks highest in the search results”.

Here are my ultimate 13 content writing tips that will attract readers and help you dominate your competition…

1. Define & Know Your Audience

Content is truly king when blogging so you need to make sure that your content is always relevant to your audience. One way to keep focused on your relevancy is to know the purpose of your blog and what you’re trying to achieve. The good thing is that this process is very simple if you can answer the following questions.

  • Who is your audience?
  • Who is your competition for your audience’s attention?
  • What is the focus of your blog?
  • What is it about?
  • What goals are you trying to achieve?
  • Have you set metrics for measuring those goals?

In order for you to get a clear idea of your purpose you need to be able to answer all of these questions. However, for those of you who are starting out you may have a difficult time answering these questions so use the following tools to help you out.

Twitter

Visit other relevant blogs in your niche and check out their Twitter profiles and the people following them. In most cases, you’ll see a whole variety of people but at the same time you’ll notice a trend that points one way or another. For example, if your blog is based on iPhone App’s then do a quick search in Google for “iPhone Apps” then visit the top site that comes up in the results and their Twitter profile which in this case is TechRadar.com.

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Then…

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Go to Followers…

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Finally…

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Alexa Search Metrics

Using Alexa can help determining what type of people will be your audience by simply viewing over some of their statistics. The process is simple, just paste the URL of the relevant website which was returned by Google search and you’ll get some valuable information. Using TechRadar.com as our example let’s take a closer look at their audience.

This information is part of Alexa FREE Basic Plan, Subscribe to the Alexa Pro Insight Plan to view all demographics including age, income, ethnicity and children.

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Google

In order for you to find out you’re competition for traffic, I usually do a quick search within Google with my niche “keyword + top blogs” so in this example the search will be “iPhone App Top Blogs”.

You will get a list of top blogs within your niche that are your potential competitors however the main thing to keep in mind is that writing 1 piece of better content then you’re competitor can be the deciding factor of which blog ranks higher for specific keywords. Your blog will gain authority at the same time so always focus on quality.

Study these blogs and visit their Twitter & Facebook accounts to find out more about their readers. You can even use Alexa.com to compile statistics of your own grouping relevant stats together so you have a better idea of your target audience.

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Google Analytics

The best tool to use to measure your website statistics and goals is Google Analytics because it’s FREE to use, easy to implement and can provide you with a vast amounts of information about your website. For example, you can view:

Search Queries: This report displays the keywords you rank for, the impressions that each keyword is getting, the number of clicks for each keyword and finally the CTR (Click-Through-Rate) for each. It’s important to know that there’s a 1-2 day delay for brand new websites before this report generates any information so don’t worry if your report is NOT producing any results right now.

This data is organized by impressions, with the highest keywords on top and lowest on the bottom. The most important factor determining your traffic would be the CTR which means that the keyword you are ranking for is getting clicks from the SERP’s. If it is a relevant keyword to your niche then I would focus on building more momentum for that keyword so you can improve the CTR increasing overall traffic. What’s a good CTR? Anywhere from 25%-30% which means that if that keyword is getting 20,000 impressions per month then your traffic would be 4,000-6,000 per month through that specific keyword.

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Geographical Location: This report displays where your traffic is coming from and can be narrowed down to country, state/province and city. If you notice that a majority of visitors are coming from one country then focus your efforts on building a following and engagement from that country.

How? Have an option on your website which translates text to their native language, focus social media efforts by searching for people located in that country and use keywords within your blog posts which consist of the country or city name: “Immigration Lawyer Toronto

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Landing Pages: This report provides you a breakdown of which “pages” are ranking well within Google and is like the “search queries” report but showing you exact page URL. Use this information to get a better understanding of what type of content your audience reads and write future blog posts with this information in mind. Remember, the key thing is to write content which resonates with your audience and fulfills a purpose.

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All this information helps narrow down your blogs purpose by giving you a perspective into your audience, your competition so set specific goals for yourself and focus on relevant keywords that you can incorporate into improving your websites performance.

Grab a piece of paper and summarize all this information so you can get a better idea of what you should focus on and if you need to change your content to keep the connection strong with your audience.

Try this…

  • Look over each keyword and group common ones together (Search Queries Report)
  • Look over geographical information and write down the top 3 traffic generating countries (Geographical Report)
  • Look over the “page URL” and find common keywords within the “URL” (Landing Page Report)
  • Remember to focus on “CTR” to find out what keyword or page the visitor is clicking to arrive to your website.

The more common trends you find in your reports, the more effort should be given in that direction when writing quality content that attracts readers.

2. Set a Reliable Schedule

In order for your blog to enjoy increased readership, you need to focus on getting consistent quality content on your website. Having a reliable posting schedule where you post about 1-2 days per week keeps you from suffering from “writers overload” which can tire you out and affect the quality of your work. Having a set schedule can give you time to pace your research and writing over 7 days will allow you to crank out high quality content.

Here’s another bonus…

Recently, the Google Panda update has been configured to include a”Freshness” algorithm which requires websites to consistently add relevant high quality content to their website. This update has been aimed at eliminating those website which use “black hat” bulk link building efforts to get a bump in the Google search results. Consistent content being added to a website shows that it’s an active website always in production mode.

Read what Simon and Navid say in their comment posted on SmartPassiveIncome.com

“I’ve always said that the more you publish, the more traffic will come your way. It just makes sense. The more content you provide, the more opportunity will come your way, both in terms of SEO, chances to share and also writing about something that resonates with specific segments of your target audience.

With that said, you have to be careful when you turn on the accelerator in your publishing schedule. Often times, when people begin to increase content production, the quality of their content decreases.”

If you’re having a problem making the transition to scheduled posting then use the Editorial Calendar Plugin that lets you create a blogging schedule within your WordPress backend. This is very useful because you are in complete control of setting up your entire schedule and when the posts should be scheduled. The best thing is that it’s calculates from previous posts what days you have been publishing and lays out an ideal publishing schedule for you.

We’re just trying to get you in the routine to crank out posts consistently and over times it gets easier…trust me!

3. Mix Up Your Content

When blogging keep your options open and mix up the type of content you publish for your readers. Change is always good and can attract different types of readers. The best example of the “mix up” style of blogging is HubSpot which publishes 2-3 blogs posts each day through many partnerships and networks working with them. However, this is not my point because “mixing up” your blog means to generate posts through different images, videos, webinars, case studies, podcasts and even offering free tools. Using every single option gives you the ability to link different types of content together, for example you can write a post on “Tiered Link Building” and then provide a video showing them step-by-step on how to build a tiered link campaign.

Having flexibility in your content will allow you to streamline otherwise lengthy content, for example, imagine doing an interview with an expert in your niche and writing out every question and answer? You do have another alternative which is to do a podcast where it’s a radio interview more personal and in-depth.

If you need some help coming up with content, here’s a few resources:

15 “Must Read” Resources for Writing Web Content

Here are some statistics from HubSpot.com which are mind-blowing and you’ll notice that mixing up your efforts can generate quality content which attracts a following…

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4. Word’s Don’t Only Matter

Many people get caught up with writing content packed with 1,500-2,000 words which is NOT a bad thing but there are more ways that you can make an impact. Statistically there are more blogs online with text based content than any other type of content so take advantage by embedding images, charts, infographics and checklists. This type of content is not only unique but can provide visual cues to help readers understand the content better.

Embedding YouTube videos, e-Books and Slide Share presentations have all been proven to be very effective in increasing the quality of your content. If you’re worried about not getting indexed by Google for embedding images and other types of content then you’ll be happy to know that Google has confirmed several times that images & videos is part of their search results. Here’s proof…

Just do a quick search typing in “iPhone” and click on Images at the top which will provide several images of an iPhone. Click on any image and on the right you’ll notice a “Visit Page” button which will redirect you to the website that this image is displayed on. There is a link for “Videos” below the Google search field which will display YouTube videos on websites matching the keyword typed.

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Then…

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YouTube Videos:

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Search results for videos…

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5. Size Does Matter

This is a question that’s been asked on many forums, blogs and been answered by some of the most successful bloggers in affiliate marketing. Before I list the answers from some of my mentors, here’s what I have to say…

You should make it long enough to get your point across in a very in-depth blog post. I personally think that if your writing content to educate your readers then make sure you have the best piece of content available on the internet. Go into details, include images, videos and reference other material that can provide more insight on your topic. The reader has come to you because they read the title of your post and found it interesting so don’t disappoint them.

Below are answers that I’ve compiled through the weeks by visiting some popular blogs:

Here are their answers to: How Long Should Your Posts Be?

CopyBlogger – 3 Things to Consider When Deciding How Long Your Blog Posts Should Be

ProBlogger.net – Post Length – How Long Should a Blog Post Be?

JohnChow – Creating Content – Post Length & Post Frequency

6. Write Killer Headiness

This part of your post is very important because it’s the difference between someone clicking through to read your post and someone just passing by it in the search results. The main objective is to create curiosity and entice the reader so they will read more of your blog post.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when coming up with a headline for your post…

Use Superlatives: Instead of “Getting what you want from your suppliers”, Try “How to get the best price from your suppliers”

The Curiosity Aspect: You can use something like this to get your readers thinking “What’s a zebra doing on Facebook”

Be Very Specific: Instead of using “How to dress for success”, try “What you need to wear when going to a job interview”

Use Numbers: People are always interested in seeing numbers because from experience they know these types of posts are straight to the point. Use odd high numbers because this approach is different from the typical blog posts. Try this…”37 tips that will increase traffic to your blog” or “43 Christmas gifts that your loved ones will remember”

Use Simplicity: Writing a headline which is easy to understand will resonate well with your readers, for example, “This is why you and your girlfriend broke-up” or “A step-by-step guide to lose weight in 10 days”

Now that we have gone over some of the most common types of killer headlines, here are a few tools that can help you generate some awesome titles for your posts.

Tweak Your Biz – Title Generator: Very simple to use, just type in the topic you are writing about and this tool will return some of the most killer headlines. It will return…

  • Lists
  • How-To
  • Best
  • Love
  • Celebrities
  • Snarky
  • Secrets
  • And more

Content Idea Generator: Answer 18 questions about your topic, product or service and this tool will generate hundreds of titles that your readers will love. Use this tool to get ideas for podcasts, articles, tweets, videos, e-books and even press releases.

Title Tool: Enter your post keyword and this tool will generate 10 high ranking titles, but if you’re not happy with any of them just ask for another 10 suggestions.

Portent Idea Generator: Type in your subject in the field and this tool will generate both ideas and titles to write about. Use this tool as a starting point and you can mix and match to give you the perfect headline.

7. Promise & Provide A Solution

One of the most effective strategies for writing web content is to give your readers exactly what they want and do it with NO strings attached. We are in a world where everything costs money and the service industry is one of the most demanding and profitable market no matter where in the world. If you look at the statistics online the majority of searches include the term: “how-to”, “why”, “not working”, “what”, which should tell you that people are looking for a solution to their problems.

Some of the best content written on the web which ranks high in the SERP’s is content that solves the reader’s problem. This content must be detailed and outline the complete solution to the problem. Many bloggers prefer to take a few days putting this type of content together including videos, images and even podcasts.

The secret is to do research before writing solution based content because there is NO point in writing content based on problems that no reader has. I would recommend the following steps to find what readers are searching online before you put your tutorials together.

Yahoo Answers:

Provides a quick portal for people to ask questions on almost every topic and is in real-time with thousands of users logged in at the same time. I would recommend typing in your “keyword” and see what results are returned. Skim through them finding similar questions which have been asked several times.

To enhance your search, you can put word combinations together like this…

How To + Link Building

The one benefit you have over many of the questions answered in Yahoo is that the solutions provided are not detailed and very short. You can easily put together a complete tutorial and then linking back to your blog.

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Niche Based Forums:

People have been using forums even before some of the big websites were around. I remember using forums before YouTube, Google, iFixit and Topsy. Forums are a massive source of information with popular ones having 10K-30k registered users and 1k-2k online at any given time. Another benefit is that many are niche based so “Tech” forums will only answer tech based questions. It’s a huge source of information you can use to your advantage when trying to find common problems faced by consumers.

Try this…

Do a quick “keyword + forum” search within Google and you’ll be able to find forums within your niche. Then proceed to do research by skimming through different categories, the new posts section on top on the navigation bar and doing a quick forum search using a keyword.

Grab a piece of paper and write down questions you see being asked repeatedly by users looking through the answers figuring out what more you can add to make it more thorough. Once you’ve look through a dozen similar questions you’ll have a better idea of what your tutorial will look like.

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Topsy:

An awesome tool for social analytics and social trends you can use to find content which is most shared by people online through Twitter, Facebook and on videos sites. Narrow down the most shared content using your keyword and you’ll have a good idea what to focus your content on.

Here’s a quick example, if my keyword is “link building”, I would type the following in the Topsy search bar “how to + link building” and skim through the results. I would focus on the social shares and configure the results to show me all-time popular content. Topsy will organize the results showing the most to least shared link building content and your job is to research the top 3 blog posts finding ways to write better content.

If these bloggers haven’t used videos, images or podcasts and don’t go into details about the solutions they’ve provided, then your job is to knock your content out of the ball park by taking a few days to write the best possible tutorial for your readers.

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8. Include Quotes

If you can include quotes within your blog then you not only provide readers with great resourceful content but motivate them at the same time. When readers are skimming through your content providing relevant quotes from some of the successful pioneers within your niche can help readers understand the point you are trying to make.

Over the years I have read hundreds of posts with some boring, some hard to understand and others providing a wonderful resource and motivation for me to take what I’ve learned applying it to my own life. If you use tools like ClickToTweet you can add clickable quotes to your blog content which readers can easily share with their followers. Again the point of adding quotes within content is to provide inspiration for your readers and it has been a very effective blog content writing strategy for many top industry bloggers.

Here are a few that I personally love…

 “The sound of a word is at least as important as the meaning.”  – Jack Prelutsky

“Love the writing, love the writing, love the writing . . . the rest will follow.” –  Jane Yolen

“Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.” – Ray Bradbury

“The most important advice I would suggest to beginning writers: Try to leave out the parts that readers skip.” – Elmore Leonard

9. Make It Easy To Scan

Avoid writing posts like it’s a research paper with long paragraphs and only text but instead make your content very easy to skim moving from point to point. There are thousands of related blog posts online so having a reader stop by on your blog is awesome. However, remember his time is valuable so they are NOT going to look over content which will take forever to read. The secret is that even long blog posts can look short if the formatting is done correctly.

Here are some ways to increase the ease at which your readers can skim through your content.

  • Each paragraph should only be a few paragraphs
  • Use headlines where needed to provide an overview of the next paragraph
  • Add bullet points to narrow down your points
  • Use lists which are straight forward to breakdown large chunks of content
  • Add images to help explain your point instead of more text

10. Provide An Action Plan

Writing web content which provides useful information can be a great asset for your readers especially if you just provided a solution to a problem they needed help with. We still need a push in the right direction so at the end of your posts tell your readers what to do next.

Your action plan should be in the form of a “bullet list” which is right to the point and easy to follow. This increases the likelihood of further engagement on your blog and social shares. If I read a blog post which solves a huge problem for me and they provided a step-by-step plan at the end of their post, they’ve gained a loyal reader for future articles they write.

Check out my Action Plan for you at the end of my post!

11. Interlink Articles

SEO Benefits

The best way to keep readers engaged on your blog is to give them easy access to relevant content by “interlinking articles” within content text. Google works very hard to give people the best search experience and interlinking pages makes your website very easy to crawl creating a clean structure and increasing your rankings by linking your website to relevant search terms. Here’s q quick example:

You have created a blog focusing on “snowboarding” and have written an article on “snowboarding gloves”. Within the article you have linked to other relevant content for example “What are Snowboarding Gloves” and “Best Snowboarding Gloves”. When Google indexes these pages it will group all relevant terms together and the link juice will be passed through from each page helping your Google rankings.

Retention Benefits

Interlinking within your content makes information very easy to find and keeps the user on your website for a longer period of time. They may find other useful information which they will share on their social profiles increasing your traffic and readership. The more a user explores your website, the more likelihood they will become loyal readers subscribing to your newsletter or even purchasing a product.

Bounce Rate Statistics

Google has used bounce rate as a way to determine the quality of your blog. A high bounce rate means that visitors are not attracted to your content. Google is very particular in its algorithms tracking if guests only visit a single page and how long they stay on that page. What does this mean?

  • Main content was poor quality and visitor left immediately (high bounce)
  • Main content was high quality but NO relevant interlinking of posts to explore afterwards (medium bounce)
  • Overall website was poor quality and visitor was not impressed so left (Remember 80% of visitors decide to stay on your site from their first initial reaction). (high bounce)
  • Content was NOT well organized which affects quality of content and navigation (high-medium)
  • Content was of high quality, organized and interlinked to relevant content (low bounce rate)

Here are some effective ways to interlink content throughout your blog:

When interlinking content keep two things in mind: Structure and Common Sense.

Structure

Use a pyramid structure with your main post being at the top and relevant content being linked to from your main article. In the diagram below, the main article is “snowboarding gloves” and you’ll be interlinking relevant content from this article to others that you’re readers might find interesting.

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Breadcrumbs

A quick and effective way to help readers find their way back to the original content or category from where they started and can easily be setup through your WordPress backend. Many of the themes come equipped with a “breadcrumb” setting but if your theme does not include breadcrumbs, you can install a plugin which will add them to your theme.

They are different then internal linking since you are not directly linking relevant content together. Breadcrumbs are very effective in organizing your content so it can be easily found.

Here is an example of how a breadcrumb would look when reading an article. It will be located at the top of the article…

Sports > Winter Sports > Snowboarding > Snowboarding Gear > Snowboarding Gloves

Common Sense

Link Naturally

Bloggers go out of their way adding links which do not flow into the content naturally. It’s important not to stuff irrelevant words into your content to create interlinks with other content on your website. Keep content flowing naturally and making sense or your reader will lose track of their thought process. Here’s a tip:

Write out your entire content and then go back to find natural anchor text which you can link back to relevant content. If you need to read it more than once then do it until you find well-formatted paragraphs to add a link to other content. A seasoned reader knows when words have been stuffed into a paragraph and they’ll think the link is an advertisement which will push them away from your blog.

If you’re using the WordPress platform for your blog, there are many awesome plugins available that can help you with the interlinking process.

SEO Smart Links: Automatically links keywords and phrases in your posts & comments with common posts, pages, categories, etc. You have the ability to configure your own keywords and matching URL’s which makes this plugin perfect to interlink blog posts or add affiliate links.

InLinks: A very simple tool when configured will help you link a specific keyword within your content to other URL’s throughout your blog. Another benefit is that once you’ve setup a interlink for the first time you can specify if you want the plugin to use the same interlink each time that keyword is used within your content.

Cross-Linker: Automatically links selected words to defined URL’s throughout your blog. This plugin is awesome for linking words within comments so each time a comment is left by a reader this tool will link to relevant content which was pre-defined through the setup menu.

12. Begin With Short Paragraphs

You’d be surprised how effective this method is in getting visitors to read your entire content by simply forcing them to scroll down further. Begin with very short paragraphs which elevate the curiosity of the reader slowly moving them into more in-depth content that may include images and video. One of the hardest possible tasks for any blogger is to get the reader to stay on the page and read your content. Earlier I write this…

“There are thousands of related blog posts online so having a reader stop by on your blog is very awesome however remember his time is very valuable so they are NOT going to look over content which they feel will take forever to read.”

This statement is very true and if you make the first couple of paragraphs short and interesting then they will continue to scroll down further to where things get more in-depth and you’ll captured the reader’s attention.

Tip…

Put each of the first 4 lines on a separate paragraph. We all understand that this is poor grammar and breaks the fundamental rules of writing, but it gets people to read the rest of the content.

13. Include Targeted Keyword

Every piece of content written should have its unique set of keywords so you can get the extra boost in traffic brought in from search engines. The best tool to research relevant keywords for your content is the Google Keyword Tool. If you’re a beginner then view this awesome guide created by Brian Dean – The Definitive Guide to Keyword Research

Once you’ve done your research, you can include your main keyword in the:

  • Title
  • URL
  • Opening paragraph
  • Closing paragraph

You’ve probably selected some secondary relevant keywords for your content so include those in the:

  • Body of the article
  • Different sub-headings
  • Main image

The rule of thumb is to include the main keyword 3 times within your content which is NOT including the title and URL. I’d use it once in the opening paragraph, then once in the middle somewhere and finally once in the closing paragraph.

The secondary keywords can be used once in your content so if you have 3 secondary keywords that are relevant to your main keyword then use each one only once.

Remember…

  • Main Keyword x 3
  • Secondary Keyword x 1
  • Secondary Keyword x 1
  • Secondary Keyword x 1

Final Thoughts & Action Plan

Writing high quality content for your blog is the single most important factor in user engagement. Content which provides detailed information solving a problem the reader has will not only build loyalty but be shared on social networks which will generate thousands of leads per month.

How can you use the information in this post?

Here is my “Action Plan” for you:

First, start by reading over my content once more writing summary notes outlining the important things you’ve learned in every step. It’s important that you write down these points because you will need to use them as reference when you head over to your blog.

Browse your blog layout and content that you’ve created. It’s important that you take 1-2 days just browsing because you’re looking for ways that you can improve what you already have on your blog. For example, in the previous step you wrote down summary notes outlining the 13 steps. You can use these notes as reference while looking over your blog finding how to incorporate these 13-Content Writing Tips.

While looking over your blog if you’re missing images, videos and infographics, than next time when you write content include these elements. If you have existing content on your blog than find ways to include images, videos or other elements that will make your content more appealing.

Go over relevant posts interlinking them with each improving the organization of your blog.

Let’s summarize:

  • Create a summary outlining my 13 content writing tips
  • Browse through your content using my writing tips as reference
  • Set a reliable writing schedule that you can handle & stick to it.
  • Find ways to improve the existing content on your blog
  • Try incorporate these tips when writing new content for your blog
  • Interlink relevant posts together to provide more resources for your readers.