Technology is not enough. 6 rules for creating engaging content
Let’s face it: if your content is weak, it will not bring your newly designed website the traffic boost that you expect, no matter how good the design is. As a software development company, we have designed and created numerous websites for various clients that didn’t perform as expected because the content didn’t offer much value to users. Technology isn’t always enough.
If there’s anything that maximizes great designs and user experience, it’s outstanding content that keeps visitors interested and engaged. Valuable content is what keeps them coming back to your website for more. That’s exactly what all domain owners want, right?
But what makes excellent content? How to keep people entertained and thirsty for updates? These questions are hard to answer precisely, but luckily, there are several rules you should stick to in order to be more compelling and interesting to your audience.
- Know your target group
This really is a priority. You always have to address a specific target group – the better understanding you have of that group, their interest, needs and pain points, the easier it will be to create content that appeals to them. Understanding their potential problems and providing solutions in your content endeavors guarantees success. Once you identify your target group, think about the questions they will be Googling, or problems they will be looking to solve. Then give them the answers they are looking for.
- Tailor the language to your audience
Imagine that you have to explain a complex scientific issue to scientists and kids – I know that the example is pretty extreme, but illustrates the point well. Say you were searching for funding for a project. You’d outline it differently if you were speaking with a potential business funder, you’d highlight yet different aspects of the projects if you were negotiating with a potential public sector donor. You would describe it in yet another way if you were trying to launch it via Kickstarter. It makes sense, right? That’s why knowing your audience is also very important – you have to know how to adjust your language to the target group to be understood.
- Keep the 15-second rule in mind
The research shows that you have less than 15 seconds to get the readers’ attention. At the time when we are all bombarded with information from every possible medium, including social media, you have to literally fight for users’ attention. It will take them up to 15 seconds to decide whether they want to stay or leave your website or keep reading your latest article or Facebook post. Give them a good reason to stay. This means that you have to guarantee that your piece of content offers an answer to their question or an explanation on how to solve their problem – in about the first 50 words! That’s why headlines are so important but don’t underestimate the power of captivating images – these are usually the first thing that people see.
- Make it easy to scan
This truth about the online world is painful for any writer. When people search for something online, they will keep scrolling or scanning texts until they find it. Often, they won’t even watch your entire video, but will do a quick check whether it has what they are looking for. That’s why good content is easy to scan. Make sure you break down your texts or scripts into sections that clearly indicate the content of each of them.
- Don’t underestimate the power of SEO
A well-written content from the SEO perspective means it will be attractive for Google and appear on top of the search results. You should always plan writing the article starting from understating the keywords and search terms that would lead to its discovery in google. Use the keywords consciously – it will make the task of managing your content much easier too!
If you’re just starting out with your content creation journey, consider creating 3 different versions of one piece of content. They should have the same context but be written using different keywords. After a few days, web analytics should give you good insights as to which piece best resonated with your audience.
Always remember that you first have to help the search engine ‘understand’ what your text is about so that it can show it when relevant queries are being searched for. Google and Facebook is filtering content based on the reader’s digital footprint theirs AI try to understand the article content and show the reader the best fit. There are numerous assistive technologies that can help you with this task. Schema.org is one example of a tool that could be instrumental in contextualizing the content.
- Stick to simple language
If you worry that simple language is dumb – don’t. There’s nothing more erroneous than that. Using difficult, or otherwise rarely used words sounds elitist, and leaves the reader with an impression that the text simply isn’t for them (unless you’re trying to impress the academics). Even Einstein once said, “If you can‘t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” If you want readers to digest your content and keep coming back for more, make sure you speak to them in a language that is simple to understand and you’ll quickly be surprised with the results.