Content is king. It’s the king of SEO, and it’s the king of every great website, blog, infographic, Twitter account, and Facebook page out there. Excellent content drives traffic to your site. It’s as simple as that. No image, blog post, video, or anything else that has ever gone viral has contained content that is anything less than excellent – be it excellently funny, excellently informative, excellently shocking, excellently entertaining, or excellently silly, they have all had one thing in common: excellence.
So, what makes excellent content? Well, it depends on the medium, but in this post I am going to be focussing on written content and blog posts in particular. I’m a blogger. I blog every day, and so I like to think that I know a thing or two about how to craft together some excellent content for my worldwide audience. I didn’t learn the best practices of the craft overnight, but through years and years of hard work and writing literally hundreds and hundreds of blogs on all manner of subjects.
And so now I’m allowing you to take advantage of my infinite generosity as I detail for you some of the very best tips for crafting excellent content that I have picked up along the way, which will hopefully help to make your journey towards excellence a lot shorter than mine was – if only someone had been so kind when I started out. But, never mind that, this post is for you… here we go!
1. Make It Positive
Positive content is infinitely more shareable than negative content. This may actually seem counter-intuitive – if you read the news, then you may think that negativity was a necessity. But blogs don’t work like that. People like to read and to share positive posts from businesses’ websites. Indeed, finding the perfect tone for your blog is essential for it to be enjoyed by your following, and for them to feel that other people in their networks might enjoy it too.
So, what is the right tone for your blog? Well, it’s all about finding the right balance between formality and informality. You of course want your content to be useful and informative for your readers, but ideally it should also be entertaining to a certain degree as well. In a sense, the perfect tone for your blog will probably reflect the tone and the style of your favourite teachers at school. Do you remember them? They somehow made what might otherwise have been some very dry information come alive, didn’t they. You may well even remember some of the things that they taught you even now. They did this by inserting a sense of fun and enjoyment into their content, and that’s exactly what you should be doing, too, no matter how serious or informative your post may be. Which brings me onto my next point.
2. Make It Practical
Aside from being positive, excellent content is almost invariably practical for the user to some degree. This of course makes sense when you think about it, and perhaps goes some way to distinguishing why the news we read seem to make its success out of being negative, whilst blogging is all about positivity. The news are simply there to spread the word of current events and affairs, whereas a blog post should have real, useable value for the reader.
Quite often you will find that blog posts will take the form of this one, where some practical and actionable tips are being offered for those that discover them. Indeed, this clean and clear simple style can be a great place for you to start out when getting to grips with crafting some excellent content for your blog. Think about your audience in relation to your product or service – what sort of thing do you think that they all have in common? Can you come up with a list of some great tips that might be useful to them all?
What’s so great about this is that your readers will have something of genuine worth that they can take away with them after they’ve finished reading your post. They can apply it in their work or in their home lives, will see some great results in return, and will remember you and your blog for it.
3. Evoke Emotions
If you can hit on an emotion in the reader then you’re onto a serious winner, and the chances of your content going viral significantly increase. High arousal emotions are the best ones to target, and in fact sometimes the odd negative emotion can actually be of benefit here if used well. So, what are the high arousal emotions and how do you tailor your content to target them?
Awe: If you can inspire awe in your readership, then they won’t be able to resist hitting that share button or leaving a comment or reply. Awe can be inspired by of a story, a real event, or even from an impressive list of tips or links.
Surprise/Shock: Try and find something to write about that goes against people’s expectations in a manner that surprises or even shocks them, and they’ll just have to read on. Find new ways of doing things, new ways of thinking about things, challenge assumptions in your writing and prove those notions wrong – indeed this last point leads me onto to a negative emotion that inspires engagement…
Anger: If you manage to mount a serious challenge against some common assumptions, then you’re almost certain to tick a few people off, and what you’ll find is that they’ll start tweeting about you, sharing your post on Facebook, leaving lots of comments and perhaps even a few blog posts will be written in reply. This of course is great for generating traffic to your website, but you must of course be careful with it. Don’t just be contrary for the sake of it. Remember, you must still be writing positively even if you are inspiring a negative emotion, and you of course must still be practical. So, inspiring anger works, and there’s nothing wrong with igniting a healthy debate about something, but don’t make yourself unpopular, and always check your facts before challenging established conventions.
Some Final Thoughts and Tips
Creating excellent content is a matter of practice and experience, but hopefully the tips I have provided for you above should save you some time when trying to find the right path that will work for you. Experiment a little, find what sort of posts arouse the most engagement from your following, take note, and recreate those sorts of posts again.
When it comes to formatting your blogs, it also pays to follow a few conventions of style. Firstly, give your post a very ‘clickable’ title, something short that shows the reader instantly that what you’ve written has value for them. And then, once you’ve done that, do the same with your subheadings. You want to format your posts so that the content is easily scanable for readers, so lots of subheadings, lots of paragraph breaks, and a few bullet points are always good as well.
Finally, when you sign off on your post, make sure that the last thing that you do is ask for your readers to take some sort of action.