It is becoming increasingly common to click on a web page, begin reading an article, and then find it is poorly written. Many companies, authors, and bloggers simply want to push out articles and blog posts without taking the time to ensure it is incredible content. Unfortunately, much of the content circulating the internet today offers very little to the reader and ideas and topics are generic, irrelevant, and just plain boring.
There is a significant difference between bad and good copy. Components of writing such as spelling, grammar, and formatting all contribute heavily to an article, but they are not all that matters. There are aspects of your writing that can determine whether your readers stay on your web page or quickly click away. Studies show that goldfish now have a longer attention span than humans. This means you have little room for error in your content and you must capture the attention of your audience almost immediately. Let’s look at four key differences between boring and consequential content.
1. Good Copy is Part of a Strong Content Strategy
While some writers have the gift of creating a 2,000-page article in a matter of minutes with few errors, most do not. Good copy that is valuable, informative, and engaging requires careful planning. All the major components of content such as the who, what, when, where, etc., should all be specified in a detailed content strategy and all key points should be outlined before the drafting even begins.
Many writers, businesspeople, marketers, or founders don’t take the time to create a detailed content strategy. An individual may be the most gifted writer, but if they don’t take the time to execute and plan their content, they’ll never reach their full potential. A strong content strategy determines not only what topics you wish to cover, but walks you through every step in the content creation process from brainstorming ideas to designing graphics and pushing publish. When you create a detailed strategy with the topics that you want to cover, you can not only spend time developing key ideas and points for each article, but you can coordinate all your audience-reaching platforms such as social media, podcasts, newsletters, etc., as well.
2. Good Copy Pulls at a Heartstring
Each piece of content should tell a story. Whether it is a personal story, someone else’s story, or you are making the reader think about his or her own story, good copy evokes some type of emotion.
When you appeal to emotions, your readers relate to the content and are more apt to share it or link to it. Essentially, your article is relevant to them and their needs. Google rewards web sites that offer this relevant, engaging content. These sites are more likely to rank high in the search engine rankings and see a vast boost to their web site’s traffic.
Although, keep in mind that you can’t just write any story. First, you need to fully understand who your audience is and if the story is what they want to hear. As you look closely at your content, ask yourself:
– What does my audience hope to learn from my article?
– What type of questions or concerns does my target audience have?
– What information do I have to share with my audience?
If you know what your audience wants and needs, your content will be educational, relevant, and valuable — qualities that all good copy should include.
3. Bad Copy Uses the First Headline
Honestly ask yourself, “how much time do I spend writing a headline?” and “How often do I create multiple headlines for one article?”
Your headline is one of the most critical aspects of your content and will affect your success. In fact, 80 percent of your visitors will read your headline but only 20 percent will actually click into the content. It is the first impression your readers will receive and it tells them exactly what they can expect within the copy itself.
Ideally, you should create more than 10 headlines for every article. Then, you can begin narrowing down your options, tweaking, and crafting the perfect headline. For individuals who have a difficult time creating meaningful and viral headlines, write your headlines last. This allows you to focus on the key message you wish to portray and ensures your headline explains exactly what the article is saying. Other things to keep in mind as you write your headlines include:
– Use numbers to indicate lists
– Evoke curiosity
– Use powerful words like secrets, ideas, lessons, proven methods, etc.
– Focus on your audience and platform. Articles that will be shared on social media will have a much different headline than those in a business journal.
– Create a sense of urgency. Make the reader feel like they need to click and read the article right away.
4. Bad Copy Leaves the Reader Asking, ‘What’s Next?’
Every piece of content should have a clear and concise call-action. When a reader has completed reading an article, they should know exactly what the author wants them to do. This could be anything from following the author or company on social media, purchasing a product or service, or signing up for a newsletter.
Unfortunately, 70 percent of small business websites don’t include any type of call-to-action, making their content offer very few benefits. A call-to-action is simple and requires very little time. Its inclusion is a simple way to turn bad copy into profitable content.
To help you write your call-to-action, keep the following in mind:
– Make sure to list the benefits readers receive by following the call-to-action. This could be anything from saving money to receiving valuable information.
– Use action words. You want your readers to act so use words to motivate and encourage them to take the next step.
– Don’t ever leave your reader guessing. Your call-to-action should be clear and concise. Don’t ever make your reader left wondering what the purpose of your article was.
– Use a sense of urgency. Just like when writing a headline, you want your readers to click and follow through with whatever action you desire right away.
Writing content that is consequential, informative, and engaging requires work. But that work produces tremendous benefits for your website or other platforms. The difference between good and bad copy is what will set your web site apart from its competitors, boost your traffic, and increase your sales.