If you have a website, you need content. But, and here’s the tricky part, it needs to be good content. This is why, when it comes to content creation, there are some golden rules that you should follow, and some things you really should avoid.
You need content to provide information for your users. This much is obvious. Your Home page, About page, and any other pages will tell your audience what they need to know about who you are and what you do. But content, especially good content, serves more than this basic function.
For one thing, it provides useful, informative, even educational material. This can set you up as an expert in your field while providing your readers with content they want to read. If they find value in this content, it’s a safe bet they’ll be back for more.
This results in another benefit of good content. It improves your SEO. Google and other search engines have set out to make search results more relevant and to this end, they’ll give preference to useful, worthwhile content.
But to get these benefits, you first need good content. So here are five golden rules of content creation to help you achieve just that.
#1 Have A Purpose
You need a central aim or objective. In essence, each piece of content that you write should set out to answer one question. If you’re answering more than question, you should probably be writing two blogs, or adding a new page to your site.
Your objective should be one that benefits your readers. If you set out to add value to someone’s experience on your site or blog, then you’re on the right track. Your objective may well be to entertain, or simply to inform people about your product. But it should be with the reader’s best interest in mind.
If your aim is to only serve your own agenda, then your content is unlikely to offer anything worthwhile to others. If better search ranking is the aim of your content creation (rather than a side benefit) you’ll probably miss the mark.
#2 Stick To The Point
If you have a main objective, sticking to the point should (theoretically) be simple enough. You’ve set out to answer a question, so your content should focus on this and you should therefore stay on topic. Each section or subsection on your page or postshould add to your point.
But if your question or focus is too broad, or if you’re writing for the wrong reason (see What to Avoid below), there’s a good chance you’ll go off topic. This can result in your writing becoming rambling and difficult to follow. By the end of your post, if your readers get this far, they will be left wondering what it was they were reading about.
There are a few ways to make sure you stay on point. To start with, write down the question you’re trying to answer. If any of your paragraphs don’t relate back to this, they shouldn’t be there. Plan what you’re going to write. Sure it might seem like a waste of time, but if you know what you want to say you’re less likely to say something else. Focussed heading and subheadings can also help; but more on that just now.
#3 Keep It The Right Length
This is where content creation can get unnecessarily complicated. What is the right length for a post, or page? Is it between 300 and 500 words? Should it be 3 000 words?
If you do a search for optimal article length, you’ll discover that your posts should be between 2 000 and 4 000 words. At least, this is the length of content that is doing well in search rankings. But what if you don’t have that much to say? And do people really have time to read that much?
It’s a safe bet that if you say what you need to say to make your point (or answer the question you’re asking) then your content is sufficiently long. In other words, it doesn’t matter whether your post is 300 or 3 000 words. If you have done what you’ve set out to do, your post is probably long enough.
Having said that, however, you do need to remember a few things. Your content should be useful, so it needs to be long enough to add value. This is more achievable with longer posts. But don’t add content just to fill up space – then you’re wasting your readers’ time. A lot of online content is also consumed quickly or on the go. Because of this, and regardless of the length of your content, you need to make it easy to read (see Rules #4 and #5).
#4 Watch Your Language
Language is an important part of your communication. Spelling and grammar mistakes can add to a sense of carelessness, and for the most part, they’re easy to avoid. Check your content before publishing, and correct any mistakes you see.
You can also improve the readability of your content in several ways. Use sentences of varying length, but avoid very long sentences that make your writing hard to follow. Use transitional words – but, and, because … you get the idea – as these improve the flow of your content, making it easier to follow.
The style of language you use, the formality or technicality of it, will depend largely on your field and your audience. It’s essential that you know who is reading your posts. If you’re using very technical terms just to sound like you know what you’re talking about, you could lose your audience.
You want your content to be approachable for your audience. You can achieve this effectively through the language you use. But you need to ensure that your language, from the words you use to the level of formality, is right for your audience.
#5 Break It Up
Headings, subheadings, paragraphs – these are critical components of any piece of content. They guide your reader through, highlighting what’s important, and demonstrating how everything fits together. Use them!
Headings and subheadings help readers identify what they’re reading about, and whether it’s relevant to them. Your paragraphs should do the same, and it’s good practice to use the first sentence of each paragraph to give readers some insight into what the paragraph is about.
This is because people don’t always have time to read everything. They will scan articles and pick out what is relevant. More often than not, they will only read the first sentence in each paragraph.
So to provide the most value to your readers, you need to break up your content into manageable nuggets of information. And you need to guide them through with clear headings and subheadings, making it easy for them to make the most of what you have to say. This is also good practice for SEO, as it helps search engines better understand your content.
What to Avoid
When it comes to creating interesting, useful content, anything goes. Almost. It’s never okay to use someone else’s content and pass it off as your own. By all means, reference and link to other people’s content and give credit where it is due.
Keyword planting is also on the Naughty List. It doesn’t make for a great reading experience if you see the same phrase cropping up in every paragraph. Or worse, every sentence. It also doesn’t do anything for your SEO anymore. Good content that’s easy to read is a far more effective SEO tool.
You should also avoid writing for the wrong reasons. Content is King, as we’re often reminded. But only if it’s of value to someone. If you’re writing content just because you need a daily blog, or to get a new keyword out there, you’re not going to get the readership you’re hoping for.
Final Thoughts on Content Creation
Content creation is essential for a healthy blog or site. You need good content to ensure you have traffic and to help improve your SEO. This will happen when you provide content that is worthwhile to your readers.
Whether you’re publishing a blog or filling your site with information, good content is a key factor. Follow these simple rules, and effective content creation will benefit your readers and set you up as an expert in your field.