One of the interesting things about being in business for yourself these days is that not only must you be an entrepreneur, but you very likely have to be a web content creator, too. Between websites, e-newsletters, social media posts and blogs, creating web content has become part of the fabric of being a small business.
But that begs the question: What works online?
It’s one thing to have a post on your website or Facebook page, it’s another to have a post that engages people and moves them to like, swipe, click, share, or buy.
That said, not all posts are created equal. Having written web content for more than 20 years now, including this column as well as countless articles, e-books, social posts – not to mention 18 books – I have learned a few things that work:
Make web content conversational
One of the best parts of writing online is that because it is less formal, you can be more personal. Write in a conversational tone. And don’t think you have to be a “writer” to do so. Just let you and your personality shine through, use good grammar and you will be off to a good start.
Your web content must have something to say
Share an insider tip. Tell a good story. Post some valuable resources. People have plenty to read these days, so the key is to create a post that they would find interesting, funny, useful, etc. Just don’t be boring.
Have great web content headlines
Headlines that work do two things: First, they spark interest and second, they don’t mislead. Content that does not deliver on the promise of the headline turns people off. Headlines are good, clickbait is bad.
Remember these headline tips:
- Immediacy works. Words like “Now” or “Today” are useful. Example: “three daily habits of sales superstars”
- Celebrity sells. Example: “Warren Buffet swears by this simple investment strategy”
- Unique takes are memorable. Example: “Why Customer Relationship Management apps are a waste of your time”
- Evoke emotions. Evoking a legitimate emotion – joy, anger, fear, something – works.
Make web content visual
The Internet is now driven by images and the more media you have within a post, the more people will be attracted to it. Pictures can illustrate ideas and break up long articles. For example, if you are writing a blog reviewing a product, add in a picture of a person using that product.
Follow the six-sentence rule
Writing online is different from writing offline
Online, your paragraphs need to be short; some people suggest six sentences or less and that is about right. In fact, when writing online, usually, less is more. Save the longer paragraphs for when you are explaining a concept.
Also, if you place a picture between the bigger paragraphs, it can create a better experience for the reader and they will retain the information you present better. (This paragraph is long and it has five sentences.)
Appreciate Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Don’t ruin a good post by stuffing it with keywords and think that that will get you to the top of the search engines. It will actually do the opposite. Keywords and key phrases are important, yes, but they should be used as needed. You can perform your own search engine optimization in Google Trends to see which phrases resonate most in online searches.
Make it worth the reader’s time
Never forget that your content is an extension of your business and brand, so make it worth someone’s time. Whether it’s goofy, funny, smart, cute, or whatever, if you create content that offers real value and reflects your brand, you will get noticed and get results.
The original version of this article was originally published on USA Today by Steve Strauss.