Great content articles begin with a content audit
Have you been blogging for a year or more? Or have outdated website copy?
A content audit is very important to make sure that you always have fresh content, that it’s performing as well as it can and that you’re refreshing your SEO activities regularly.
Furthermore, your editorial planning will become a breeze and a content audit is well worth the time and effort.
What is a content audit?
A content audit is a structured process of reviewing your website’s content with the view of keeping a record of what you have live, how it can be improved and what function it serves. Broken down, that means going through every single blog post that you’ve ever published and keeping a record of it.
It helps you go through your existing content to see which pieces meet your marketing objectives and which don’t. It will also provide an opportunity to see what content is missing and any gaps that need to be filled. It will also help immediately identify the strengths, weaknesses and challenges in all the existing content.
Ideally, a content audit should be performed regularly, such as every six or twelve months, depending on how often you blog. Given that SEO best practices can change quite frequently, it also helps you to keep on top of them and position yourself well.
How to do a content audit
Firstly, start with a spreadsheet of all the posts ever published. The spreadsheet should contain title, topic, keyword, URL, external links, internal links, category, what type of content it is (eg evergreen, listicle, time sensitive etc) and include a section for actions required.
Although it depends on your business goals and marketing objectives, here are some basics to look for when conducting your content audit:
Benefits of a content audit
Having a content audit and being able to clear see what content you have, will be useful for getting the whole team on board and utilising the content. For example, if you have a series of blog posts that answer some of the most frequent questions that your sales people have to answer, you can save your employees time and resources. This is such a prevailing step because a lot of content gets lost and not used to its full potential. ‘SiriusDecisions estimates that 65 percent of B2B content ends up languishing unused.’
Taking inventory of your blog posts will also provide an opportunity for you to view potential curated posts. As I did in Best five copywriting posts of 2018, you can see your top performing posts and curate them into one post for the ease and benefit of your readers. Be sure to write original blurbs introducing each post, rather than cutting and pasting from the original posts, to avoid Google penalties.
Using Google Analytics and your website’s own data, compile a list of the top ten (or whatever number) best performing posts. Performance can be determined in alignment with your marketing and business objectives, eg are your performance metrics based on how many people read it? Or how many conversions (eg how many buy a product from your site)?
Analyse the top performing posts and work out why they performed so well. Did they receive better attention when it came to spreading the word? Did you write about something unusual and unique? Or was it directly written to what your audience really wanted to know? One of the keys to a great performing website is to repeat what is working well.
Similarly, you can identify which content can be repurposed easily. A lot of existing content is often ripe for repurposing, not just as content articles but other forms of content (such as downloadables, ebooks, videos etc).
Having this bird’s eye view of your content will supply an easy and thorough opportunity to create recommendations for powerful content going forward. Here are some examples of content recommendations that I posed when undertaking a recent client content audit:
Recommendations to capitalise on these posts include:
As a bonus, you might rediscover content that you had forgotten about. This forgotten content can be added to your social media strategy, outreach or PR campaigns.
Although it may fill you with dread and seem like it will take ages, the amount of effort and time you invest in doing a content audit each year will save you time in advance by making your content articles more useful, targeted and usable.
Here are some top audit tools to help with your blog audit.
My content writing strategy offers a thorough and actionable content audit as part of the package.
Brand story writing tips
The best way to stand out and get attention in today’s media saturated world is by telling a compelling brand story. Brand stories create a consistent relatable story arc that shows what your brand has to offer by showing what you really care about and what you stand for as a company.
Without a brand story, the rest of your communications not only fall flat but will be inconsistent with each other and be devoid of emotion. I recommend really nailing your brand story before proceeding further with your other communications materials.
Big corporations like Coca-Cola and Apple have long realised the power of using their unique brand story to build connections with their audience. Below is all you need to know about writing a compelling brand story.
Brand storytelling tips
A compelling brand story should be able to generate consumer trust straight away and not just any story will do. Your brand story should have the right elements to stimulate emotion and connect with the reader. Here’s how you can do that:
Your story should show brand personality
A brand story is not an impersonal thing like a clickbait or a marketing tool, instead, it is a way of showing brand persona. A great brand story should be driven by your brand’s personality whilst clearly demonstrating who work for you. And don’t forget the people who have been instrumental in your business’s growth and success! Most big tech brands today share their personality by telling the stories behind their creation, think of Steve Jobs and Apple or Jeff Bezos and Amazon.
However, your brand story shouldn’t end up being an individual’s biography. Rather, it should tell the evolution of the brand, showing how it was inspired by an individual’s personality and it should definitely be a relatable journey (at least in the beginning). This way, it provides someone real that your customers can trust, since people are more likely to trust other people rather than an abstract concept or corporation.
Your story should connect with your customers
At its core, your brand story isn’t really about your company. Its goal is to establish a connection with your customers. Therefore, it should be able to tell your customers that you understand them and you’re on their side. It should also be able to make your brand relatable and distinguishable. For example, Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company was able to raise millions of dollars by creating a brand story that connects people to its non toxic household goods products.
‘Research indicates that the human brain responds to the descriptive power of stories in deeply affecting ways, influencing both the sensory and motor cortex. To read a story is to feel an experience and to synchronise our minds with the subject of the story,’ Neil Patel states.
Your story should be simple
A simple brand story is better and easier to tell whereas an overly complex story can erode trust. Every good story has a beginning, a middle and an end and your brand story should follow this fundamental structure. No matter how bulky the description of your brand’s story it should conceptually follow the following process:
Your story should shape your existence
A compelling brand story should describe the whole reason for the existence of your company. Explaining why your brand exists builds trust and answers the question of why people should buy from you. Just like the way the TOMS shoe company shows that for every pair of shoes purchased, they donate a pair to someone in need. This explains the reason why they exist, to improve the lives of those in need. It also helps to elicit empathy and altruism in whoever reads their brand story, which is a very powerful motivator within humans.
Remember this iconic television commercial from Chanel No. 5? It employs classic storytelling techniques and has a clearly identifiable brand story that provides the foundation for their infamous product.
Remember, by answering the question of why your brand exists with a story, you can build the trust of your customers. It’s also worth refining the tone of voice and getting the structure super clear and readable. Don’t just ramble on with whimsical overwritten blurbs just because they sound fun. It might pay to revisit the five building block questions of writing.
Overall, a terrific brand story is a powerful way of building a foundation of trust and establishing a business that people want to align themselves to and which breeds loyalty.
You might also like... Content writing
Free SEO writing course
Do you want to dive right in to effective SEO writing?
Sign up for my FREE three day SEO writing ecourse. Just by popping in your details, you'll be emailed three easy but potent lessons over three days on how to improve your content articles, blog posts and website copy with foolproof SEO writing tips and techniques.
The three lesson ecourse will teach you about:
And yes, it's completely free! But don't delay, it's only free for a limited time so it's best you take advantage of the offer ASAP.
In today's world, SEO writing has become such an integral aspect of modern marketing that the growth of businesses of all sorts (and all industries) depends on choosing SEO over other marketing strategies. Marketing is itself tough enough a task— digital marketing even more so. The complex nature of SEO can make it seem like the most gruesome method for marketing your business online. However, this doesn't have to be so, because when done right, there's no better strategy for growing your business organically.
Created by professional copywriter and experienced SEO writer, Vanessa Jones, this easy to follow SEO writing ecourse will have you uplevel your knowledge in just a few days.
How to write a great SEO article
Sure, you have to be creative when it comes to SEO article writing. But there are also also handy tricks and tips that you need to keep in mind when writing for SEO.
This SEO article will cover:
Put your readership (which is your target demographic) first. Write how they want to hear things and solve their problems. Straight up give them the information they need, that they are searching Google for and that will generally make their lives easier.
The guru of SEO, Neil Patel, says ‘Your content needs to accomplish two goals: first, appeal to the end-user (customers, clients, prospects, readers, etc.) and second, solve a particular problem.’
For example, you’ve most likely come to this content article because you’ve searched how to write a SEO article. And I’m spelling it out as best I can and lay out all the right information you need to write an epic post.
What I often do when writing an article or web copy that I want optimised, is to write it as natural and best fitting to the audience as possible. It’s only after I’ve written the article to the best of my ability do I insert keywords. I don’t include them arbitrarily but where they can sit naturally without damaging the flow of the writing. But don’t misunderstand me because with most content writing, the keyword will inform the topic that I write about, so it’s important to do your keyword research from the absolute beginning.
Title and headlines
You need to include your keyword in your page title and your heading, once only. These are two separate facets of your content writing. The page title forms one of your meta tags and your heading (or headline) is your <h1> or <h2> tags.
It’s often suggested to put your keyword towards the front of your headline but you still need it to be super catchy and natural sounding. How to write great headlines.
Use your SEO keywords in your body text. In the olden days of SEO (AKA ten years ago), keyword stuffing was a surefire way to make you rank better. These days you will stuff yourself up if you do so. Google will recognise when you are doing so and penalise you as such. Plus, your readers will just be left shaking their heads.
I can’t give you a magic number of times to use your keyword in one piece because I want you to focus on making the content article sounding natural and flowing. But if you’ve only included the keyword once in one thousand words and one semantic keyword, you might need to hire a SEO copywriter. Know any good ones? Kidding.
However, it’s purported that on page keyword usage is as important as 15.04 per cent of Google’s ranking algorithm. So that should give you an indication of the time and attention you should give just to your keywords alone.
It’s beneficial to include your keyword at the start of your article body. I aim for the first three words or the first sentence at best. Unless it sounds awkward and forced, then I forego it. Because great writing always comes first, right? ‘Quality has become the #1 ranking factor in Google, especially since the Google Panda and Penguin updates.’
Essentially, you need to write an entertaining and informative article. SEO writing is a little like juggling or doing a puzzle: each piece is as important as the other and they all need to fit together until it makes a whole picture.
In summary, here are the most important factors— or secrets— of SEO writing, particularly if you are new to it:
It’s really important to write with authority and establish credibility if you want to build an audience and/or following for your website or blog. It’s even more important if you want that audience to buy what you tell them to buy.
Writing with authority is about demonstrating your expertise and knowledge and defining where you sit in the market and in your industry. Are you renowned for selling multimillion dollar houses in the hills? Are you the most efficient bookkeeper that your clients have ever worked with? Do you have exceptional and up to date knowledge on what is happening with big data? By writing about your niche and using specific language choice, you can begin to assert your authority.
Below are five useful links to help you write with authority.
This post has many valuable key takeaways but one of my favourite is keeping your writing succinct. Including short words and short sentences.
Although it’s nearly three years old this post is from a really credible copywriting site and has very clear cut information on writing with credibility, with some snapshots from some of the most influential business leaders. One of the key takeaways is to just do the hard work.
Although this is written for fiction writing, it has a lot of valuable advice that can be applied to copywriting. My favourite advice of all time and I regularly employ it in my own copywriting is specificity. Honestly, I believe this is key to success in all types of writing.
This super simple post is ideal for the beginner. These six crystal clear tips will have you sharpen your copywriting in no time.
This content article is more indepth and has a lot more information and some super great bullet points to follow. A brilliant takeaway is ‘Put the important information at the beginning of the writing. Support the rest of your copy with the details.’
As part of your content writing strategy, you must have an editorial calendar so that you can plan out a year’s worth of content. Take a look here why it’s important to have a content writing strategy in place.
Download an editorial calendar template and plan your blog content out.
Not sure what you’re doing or too busy to plan? Book in for my content writing strategy now.
Not everyone can be the charismatic copywriter that is Don Draper. In fact, not even Don Draper was Don Draper. Unsubstantiated rumours claim the character is modelled on an amalgamation of four real people.
It may not be easy to be Don Draper but that doesn’t mean that you can't do your best at copywriting. Particularly with these useful copywriting formulas that you can use as a quick hack to writing better.
Copywriting formulas and techniques
These simple little tactics are great to use when you are stuck in your writing and can’t seem to add the necessary “punch” to make it stand out from the plethora of written communications out there.
Sometimes it’s not enough to tell your readership that you are holding a new event, you have a new or improved service or that there is a fundraising drive that they absolutely must attend.
As consumers, we’re so overwhelmed by information that a lot of what you will put out into the world (or online) as marketers or business owners will fade into the background. These days, it takes a concerted effort to make your communications stand out and reach the correct people.
Below you will find three reliable copywriting formulas that will help you write significant pieces of information that will drive your audience to do something. These writing formulas are particularly effective for fundraising or charity campaigns and I have written the example with that in mind. However, these copywriting processes aren’t limited to not for profit but are applicable for any type of copywriting. Test them out on your next content article, squeeze page or advert.
DRD copywriting formula
This is a formula that is often used in creative writing but can equally be used in effective storytelling as part of your copywriting. In creative writing, it is used to create scenes, eg character finds out husband is cheating (dilemma), character is distraught (reaction) and decides to leave him (decision). This is one of the most effective ways to get action happening in a story. Translated into copywriting, it is an effective way to move the readers along with you so by the time you have taken them through the journey of a dilemma, they are ready to agree to the decision you propose (eg, buy this service to abate your dilemma).
The problem and solution copywriting formula
The problem and solution copywriting formula is particularly effective for writing media releases or anything where you need to take people on a particular journey for them to emotionally invest in your plight. Many not for profit and charity organisations would value from using this copywriting technique.
Let’s look at these steps in closer detail:
The AIDA technique is a time tested process in sales and it is also known as the purchase funnel. You may recognise a semblance of this process in modern day sales funnel marketing – many visible bloggers and digital sellers use it to varying degrees of success.
‘The AIDA model is one of the longest serving models used in advertising, having been developed in the late nineteenth century.’
How to grab attention?
There are some surefire ways to grab attention. Words such as “free”, “discount”, “sale”, “you” and similar are very effective in grabbing almost anyone’s attention.
Develop interest with unusual statistics, social proof statements or claims, credible testimonies or endorsements or proposition your reader with a hypothetical scenario that would leave them wondering.
Create desire by proposing something that is absolutely irresistible to your reader. A new product that will eliminate their problem? Something that will boost their confidence or provide them with the comfort or luxury that they have wanted for ages?
By this stage in your copywriting, your reader is all prepped and ready to take some action to make their desire manifest in reality. If your writing is well done, they will be easy to convince at this point. Incorporate an effective call to action.
At the end of the day, you can use these copywriting formulas with some sense of success. But for truly powerful copywriting, it still takes creativity, storytelling and marketing knowledge. And I have repeated this in many blog posts but I will say it again: you must, must, must know your target audience and exactly how to write to them in a way that makes them do what you want, for example read your website, buy your product, book your service straight away!
What are meta data descriptions and meta tags?
Meta tags and meta data descriptions are the summary of what your web page contains that is implemented at the backend of your website as part of your meta tags. This is the information that search engines (such as Google) uses to index your website and web pages and displays when someone searches for your keywords. You might also notice this information when you share it via your social channels, especially Facebook.
Meta tags consist of a title (page title), meta data description (a few sentences of description) and a slug (specific URL).
Although it can help with keyword searching (mainly in the title rather than description), it’s primary purpose is to encourage web searchers to click on the link and read your website.
They need to be cleverly crafted so that they appeal to both Google's robots and to human readers to improve your ranking/SERP.
Meta data descriptions are like a mini advert or sales tools. And it’s very short so it has to be super effective. Essentially, it has to contain the absolute perfect blend of sales copywriting and SEO text.
They are a vital part of your SEO strategy and plan. Perfecting meta data descriptions is a completely important part of your website's optimisation and it really does pay to get it right from the start.
A good meta data description could be the very reason someone clicks through to your website.
It is a unique blend of advertising and SEO and is one of the key factors in getting people to read your site. They really do need to be compelling and an accurate summary of the corresponding webpage. Each meta description needs to be unique and match the web page’s content. It's basically a summary of what the web page contains.
Neil Patel, who is considered one of the leading experts in SEO discusses why meta data description is so important.
Here are 33 examples of great meta data descriptions.
Here's exactly why you need a content writing strategy for your website
The purpose of a content strategy is to create thorough, enticing and meaningful content writing that draws in more website traffic and ultimately attracts the right kind of customer that sees you as the best choice when it comes to your industry.
Additionally, a content strategy will provide you with a sustainable way of creating and posting content without burning out.
‘Content strategy helps organizations provide the right content, to the right people, at the right times, for the right reasons,’ Content Marketing Institute.
Content writing and creation is still super important to your marketing and SERP results. ‘57% of marketers rated relevant content creation as being among their most effective SEO tactics.’ If you’re investing a lot of time into content creation, it absolutely pays to get it right from the start and have an overarching long term plan.
Here are five reasons why you need to invest in a content strategy.
You won’t have to spend ages wondering what topic to write about
How long does it take you to come up with the perfect blog post topic? Five minutes? An hour? Twenty days? It can be either of these and if your content plan requires you to put out a weekly post, that adds up to about fifty hours a year that you spend tossing up what to write about. That’s fifty hours of the year you could dedicate to client service, meeting new clients or giving keynote presentations or completing an extra project.
Content article topics will be crafted to speak to direct goals and audience
Don’t spend six months writing about irrelevant things that don’t do anything for your website traffic or boosting your SEO. Get it right from the start.
A content strategy will also help you avoid writing about the same category of topics over and over again, ensuring there is an even spread throughout the year, in alignment with your marketing objectives, world holidays and celebrations and any industry relevant events.
Plus, a content strategy will break it down and inform exactly what each post needs to entail, the title to use and any relevant key points to cover. Each post will be keyword matched, ensuring you’re putting your best SEO foot forward!
Your content articles will speak to each other
Content articles and blog posts will never be an afterthought and you can link each post to other relevant site content, build on from other topics and create a solid online asset for your business. Relevant categories (that again speak to your keywords) will be set up and ensure there is adequate content for each.
Consistency and reliability
Picture this: you have some spare time to work on marketing in February so you post a great blog post every week for four weeks. Then the leads start coming in, so you are swamped with client work and neglect the blog content for another six months. The leads and enquiries via your website start to go quieter so you hastily add other short and poorly written blog posts that aren’t really that relevant but you couldn’t come up with a right topic quickly.
Now picture this scenario:
Your content strategy tells you exactly what to write and when for the rest of the year, so you have dedicated half a day per week (or similar) to creating the right content and publishing a regular post. Your website always has an abundance of content that is regularly updated and the leads and enquiries are regularly coming in each week. Your SEO is not only steady but it is improving with the fresh, well thought out content.
And because the planning has been taken care of and you know what research has to be done and what resources are required, the blog posts are well written and helpful for your target audience.
Furthermore, you’ve had time to carefully plot out a marketing strategy to share the regular content which means it reaches more people and a wider audience. Before too long, you’ve developed a reputation for providing consistent and reliable information that attracts regular readers back to your site.
You’ll always be clear on your why
It’s not uncommon to get so wrapped up in your next bit of creative content that you completely dismiss why you are doing it. It’s only after you’ve posted a two thousand word article on the importance of the colour blue you realise that it has nothing to do with your business marketing objectives of getting more clients interested in taking out home loans.
You’ll waste valuable time and confuse your existing audience. A content plan will list your objectives and your “why” and help you always prioritise your clear message.
'The moment we stopped saying, “We’re pool builders,” and started saying, “We are the best teachers in the world about Fiberglass pools and we just happen to install them as well,”… that was one of the most prosperous days of our lives.' Case study.
Content articles are one of the most pivotal parts of not just your content marketing plan but your overall marketing plan. Statistics show that the more content your site has, the more Google will rank your page.
Content articles are not only important for your SEO but for your customers and sales as well. 82 per cent of customers have a more positive outlook on a company after reading custom content. And seventy per cent of people would prefer to learn about a company from content articles than adverts.
Is it shareable?
Would you personally share this content? Or would the leader of your organisation share it with their networks? This simple test is often a quick objective way to determine whether the content is of good quality.
SEO content articles
Is it search engine optimised? Use this Yoast plugin SEO checker tool to check if your content follows best practice and is web ready.
Call to action strength
Does it have a strong call to action? Relevant and well placed calls to action has been shown to increase revenue by a whopping 83 per cent. Here's how to write call to action.
Content writing keywords
Include your target keywords in your heading, subheadings, first paragraph and throughout the article. But avoid keyword stuffing. How many times should you write your keyword?
There's no hard and fast rule but try to include it multiple times in your content article. But this should never be at the sacrifice of brilliant copywriting. If it sounds unnatural, then it will hinder SEO performance and turn away your readers.
Are there clear takeaways and action steps that you offer your reader? What do you want your reader to do exactly? Spell it out.
Include some tangible information. That means including statistics, facts, research and links to sources. This will add to the content article’s credibility and help convince the reader when they come to the call to action. Never sacrifice brilliant writing. The average reader only spends 37 seconds reading an article or blog post (NewsCred Insights).
End and begin well
Top and tail your posts really well. Write a clear and informative introduction and a succinct paragraph at the end of the article that provides them information about with what to do next.
Heighten your assets
Make your content articles part of your assets.‘Ninety two per cent of marketers said their organization views content as a business asset.’ Ensure your content writing is of a high enough quality to add value to your asset pool.
You might like to read more about content writing.
Did you know that 44 per cent of companies outsource their writing? Take a moment to get a no obligation, easy copywriting quote today.
Not sure what topics to write about? Get a content strategy.