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Putting the “Content” Back Into Content Marketing
The rise of content marketing has undoubtedly changed the Interwebz—and not necessarily for the better. Content marketing has given birth to an online world of poorly written blog posts, landing pages, ebooks, and more. I might not have any business wearing hot pants, but a lot of people don’t have any business writing content—online or offline.
Let’s face it; we’re not all Ernest Hemingways. In fact, most of us aren’t even Stephanie Meyers (if you don’t know who this is, ask your daughter.). But we do want to reap all the benefits that content marketing has to offer—which means content we must write (or pay someone else to write for us.).
Arguably, we’re all part of a content-arms race, with smoke radiating off our fingertips as we madly pound away at our keyboards to produce blog posts that will outrank our competitors for high traffic, industry-related keywords. But as the days of anonymous content are coming to a close and authorship becomes an increasingly important ranking signal, the quality of your writing should matter to you more. Personally, I don’t want poorly written articles attached to my name any more than I want drunken pictures of me tagged on Facebook.
So what’s the solution? If you’re not willing to pay someone to do your content marketing for you, you’re just going to have to learn to “write gooder.” To help, I’ve put together a guide for organizing and writing better blog posts. Ultimately, writing isn’t like algebra—there’s no single formula that yields a great piece of writing (although in my opinion, all great pieces of writing contain at least one reference to the movie Zoolander.). But a large portion of the writing process doesn’t involve writing at all—it involves planning. And following a writing roadmap like this one can help you better plan your blog posts—producing a more thorough, organized, and coherent piece of writing.
If It Bleeds, It Leads: Writing an Attention Grabbing Introduction
When writing for the Web, your blog post’s introduction will include an H1, lede, and nutgraph. Your H1, or blog post title, needs to be intriguing to humans and also optimized for search engines. If you have to choose between the two, I would always pick the “intriguing to humans” title.
Your lede should work off your H1 to further draw your reader in. Here you have some freedom. If you’re breaking news, about a new Google algorithm update, for example, you wouldn’t lede the blog post with a really endearing story about what your kid said to you at dinner last night. Different types of ledges include summary ledes, anecdotal ledes, wordplay ledes, and more.
The first three sentences of this blog post are what I’d consider to be my lede. My goal with this lede was to introduce a problem—how the rise of content marketing is leading to a rise in what appears to be companies that have outsourced their blog writing to a bunch of home-schooled kids from West Virginia.
The nutgraph comes after the lede, providing a summary of what your blog post or article will be about. Realistically, if a person is short on time, they should be able to smoke what you’re rolling by the time the nutgraph is finished. My nutgraph, which includes the second, third, and fourth paragraphs, expands upon the problem I introduced in my lede and begins to offer a solution—how to write better content. The nutgraph should answer these questions:
- • What is this blog post about?
- • Where are you going with it?
- • What does it mean?
- • Why does it matter?
The Meat and Potatoes: History, Definitions, Tutorials, Examples, & Opinions
I consider the meat and potatoes of your blog post to be what comes between your introduction and conclusion/call to action. Depending on your topic matter, this section could serve a number of purposes. You might want to include a brief “history” section after your nutgraph. Or, if you’re writing on a complex topic, you could add a section specifically to further define your topic matter. This is a really great place to target those awesome “what is a ____” long-tail keywords in an H2 followed by your definition.
If you’re writing a how-to type blog post, the meat and potatoes will take the shape of a tutorial—detailing the steps necessary to achieve what’s promised in the H1. If you’re offering an opinion on a recent development in your industry, this section will contain the material that supports your opinion—such as hypotheticals or case studies.
It’s important to note that people read differently online than they do offline. Adding H2 tags to break up large blocks of text, along with graphics, charts, and bulleted lists, can make a longer blog post easier to digest. This is especially important in the body copy section—which really houses the majority of your main argument, tutorial, or commentary.
Once you’ve established an overall theme for your blog post, I find it can be helpful for overall organization to write your section headings first—I call this a skeleton. Mapping out a skeleton first not only attributes to better thought organization, but also can prevent you from leaving out anything important.
And I’m Spent: The Conclusion and Call to Action
There’s a popular Euripides quote that says, “A bad beginning makes a bad ending.” If you’ve already established a solid introduction and body copy, the conclusion should write itself. My favorite way to write a conclusion has to be the “full circle” method, where I reinforce what was stated in the beginning and “close the circle.” This creates a sense of completion for the reader.
When writing for content marketing purposes, it’s also important to include a creative call to action—after all, you’ll want to see some conversions after all your time spent at the keyboard.
Ultimately, the more time you spend planning, the less time you’re going to spend revising. And by creating better content, not only will you be better serving your readers, but you’ll also hopefully find that your content gets shared and linked to more frequently, improving your overall authority as seen by the search engines. Everybody wins—except, of course, those who have had the unfortunate experience of seeing me in hot pants.
Need Content Marketing Services?
Don’t have time to write a better blog post? That’s okay. You’ve got a business to run after all. Let us write your content for you. Contact us today and we’ll let you know how content marketing will improve your organic search visibility, drive traffic to your website, and establish your company as THE authority in your industry to convert more web visits into leads and sales.
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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