Creating Content That People Love to Read (and Google Loves to Rank) | Raelene Morey | Skillshare

Creating Content That People Love to Read (and Google Loves to Rank) staff pick badge

Raelene Morey, Founder of Words By Birds

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11 Lessons (49m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:56
    • 2. Your Class Project

      1:06
    • 3. Why Create Quality Content?

      4:24
    • 4. The Key Elements of a Quality Post

      4:54
    • 5. Generating Ideas for Content

      5:12
    • 6. How to Research Like a Pro

      3:36
    • 7. Writing Strong Headlines

      7:22
    • 8. Nailing the Introduction

      7:14
    • 9. Writing the Main Content

      6:53
    • 10. Repurposing Content

      5:53
    • 11. Final Thoughts

      0:54
35 students are watching this class

About This Class

Learn how to create the kind of authentic, quality content for your website that people love to read and Google loves to rank in this 45-minute class with online writer and editor Raelene Morey. You’ll follow along as Raelene walks you through how to craft compelling content for your site – covering everything from the key elements of the perfect blog post, how to come up with traffic-stopping ideas, and how you can repurpose your best content.

Since Google’s Hummingbird and Panda algorithm changes, SEO has relied primarily on publishing high quality content. Not on stuffing the right amount of keywords into unnaturally-written articles, and building as many (often spammy) backlinks as possible, as was the case a few years ago.

In this class, you’ll start by identifying your own ideas for authentic content that resonates with your audience, then you’ll zero in on how to:

  • research like a pro
  • write compelling headlines (that aren’t clickbait)
  • structure posts so they’re easier to write
  • write introductions that keep readers reading
  • create engaging content that ranks well in search
  • repurpose content so you get more bang for your buck

With tips on how to create the perfect post throughout, this class is great for anyone looking to improve the quality of the content they publish. By the end of this class, you’ll have your own authentic, quality blog post ready for publication on your site.

Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hi Skillshare. My name is Raelene Morey, and I'm a Writer and Editor based in Melbourne, Australia. Over the past decade, I've written hundreds of articles and blog posts on everything from amusing politics to Web development and Word press. Currently, I ran Words By Birds, a digital copywriting agency helping businesses publish quality content online. When I first started working professionally as a writer back when I was a cadet journalist, it would take me so long to put together articles. I would spend way too much time on research and fuss over word choice. Over time though, I learned how to research which needs to be more effectively, and I learned techniques of planning and structuring content and writing better introductions. Essentially, I worked out a formula that has helped me become a better writer. Back when I switched from journalism to tech, as you are, I mostly relied on keywords, staffing, and backlinks, but since Google's hummingbird and panda updates just a couple of years ago, the focus is now on high-quality content. It's all about quality, not on posting and actually written articles that sounded like they were put together by robots as was the case just a few years ago, essentially, as you are shifting, and it's more important than ever to publish quality stuff. There's a lot I've learned over these and put to practice as a writer and editor both offline and online, and today I want to share with you, how to put together the kind of quality content that resonates with readers and they enjoy reading, but also fits in with Google's push for quality. This class is ideal for anyone who deals with content online. So, whether you're a business owner or a freelancer who is getting started with content marketing, and you're not sure what to publish or how to begin with writing articles, or you're a marketer or blogger who wants to learn techniques for putting together the best blog post possible, then this class is for you. Let's get started. 2. Your Class Project: Your project for this class is to write and share a blog post with the goal of creating a piece of quality content that you can repurpose for later use on your website. At the end of the class, you should share a link to your post and any ideas you have for repurposing it later on. That way we can talk about whether your headline and in charge hit all the right notes. How you structured your article? Whether there are other practical ways you could reuse your content. You should have a website that you want to publish to. Whether it's your own personal site or a company you work for, or if you don't want to publish your post just yet, share a screen grab of your writing. You might want to start out with writing a post in a notes app. I like to use Bear on my Mac or even Google Docs before moving my content into Wordpress. The project should take you between two to four hours. Writing and editing content is going to take the biggest chunk of your time. Posts that have a great headline, an introduction, a clear structure and subheadings as well as lots of different formatting and great writing with personality will stand out the most. 3. Why Create Quality Content?: What is quality content and why is it important? Over the past couple of years, Google's Hummingbird, Panda, and other animal related updates have focused on quality content that benefits the user. While Google does keep its algorithmic changes a highly guarded secret, the search giant's quality guidelines clearly spell out what they're looking for. Specifically, make pages primarily for users not for search engines. Don't deceive the users. Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. On this point, a good a rule of thumb is whether you feel comfortable explaining what you've done to a website that competes with you or even to a Google employee. In other user test they used to ask, "Does this help my users? What I'd do if search engines didn't exist?" Lastly, think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field. Now, the first three points are pretty obvious. After all main user searches something online, they want a real answer to their real problem, not a page stuffed with keywords that doesn't really make any sense. Otherwise, users will quickly close a page they feel is dodgy. The third point, might be a little too close to home for some marketers since ACR has become somewhat of a bag full of tricks to help pages rank well without focusing a hundred percent on publishing quality content. The fourth point is pretty broad. It's about optimizing a site so it reflects your unique selling point. Differentiating itself from the competition but also providing real value to your visitors. Why should you care what Google wants? Because it's the world's biggest search engine and because it's the world's biggest search engine, Google is also responsible for sending more traffic to websites than any other site online. Just check out my own search engine results and where most of my traffic is coming from. What about keywords? Well, Google wants you to stop worrying about them. When you're writing a piece of content, no matter what it is, your aim should always be to make it enjoyable for a real live person to read. If the content you're writing is actually relevant to a search term, it should naturally contain keywords relating to the subject matter anyway. I found this graph at a Consultancy.com, really eye opening. Basically, it sites that rank will usually contain far few keywords in the body text when compared to sites stuffed with keywords. What does this tell us? Well, we're going to let go of traditionally SEO tactics and focus on producing high quality content. Let's take a look at some sites that I personally think publish fantastic high quality articles. Blue Apron doesn't just find a bunch of your favorite podcast. It's actually a really hot start up, founded in 2012, the company since [inaudible] to subscribers. [inaudible] to billion dollars last year in public. Content has bid a huge pot of Blue Apron's great strategy according to Greg Fitzgerald, he's the company's director of acquisition marketing. They spent that first three years explaining what Blue Apron was and how it worked, but now the focus has shifted to in-depth story telling. Stories about suppliers, like Tamada Farmers in Italy, and even seasonal recipes for visitors to the site. Whenever I visit the InVision blog, I inevitably end up with a bunch of open tabs. Their articles are always interesting and offer unique and original perspective on design. As a well respected leader in the design software space, InVison has always been able to tap into an audience of loyal designers with a huge 95 percent of its content coming from users. According to Clair Byrd, the company's head of marketing, their blog represents an accurate cross-section of what the design community cares about at any given point in time since they are not just a brand pushing promotional content. I don't know about you but every time I try to get on the meditation bandwagon, I always fall off because I don't dedicate the time but somehow I always manage to find time to read Headspace's blog. Headspace is an awesome act that guides people through meditation, and likewise, their blog is a fantastic educational tool that covers meditation and other topics to do with wellness, including managing relationships, and work problems, major life events, stress, and anxiety. What's great about this blog is that it focuses on providing the kind of authentic content that helps people and at the end of the day, that's all Google wants us to do, publish genuine content that helps real people. 4. The Key Elements of a Quality Post: Creating great content that people have to read and Google loves to rank is like baking a cake. You need to have all the right ingredients. The ingredients you want to include in a great article are; a strong headline, an engaging introduction, solid and well-researched body content, lots of subheadings, formatting, strong imagery, and ending with a powerful conclusion. So let's take a look at each of these ingredients. A headline in the digital space is much like a newspaper headline. It's the first thing someone reads when they land on your site. It creates a first impression either drawing in the reader, or driving them away. Often headlines can make or break a piece of content. The main goal of your headline is to get the reader to read the first sentence. It sets the tone for the rest of your copy. We'll look at headlines, and why they are so critical in depth in a later lesson. The introduction is the first few paragraphs of the parts that prepare the reader and provide context for the content he or she is about to hopefully read. A great interaction should grab the reader's attention, present a reason for the article's existence, and explain how the content will help solve their problem. We will also look introduction in depth in a later lesson. The main body of text in your article forms the bulk of your content, is the copy that sits between your introduction and conclusion, and it's the stuff that creates trust and provides value, and should deliver on what you promised in your interaction. After you have a hooked in your reader with a strong headline, and engaging introduction, and well-written body content, subheadings help organize your article making it easier for readers to scan and digest. Large blocks of text aren't exactly user-friendly for readers attention span, and often turn readers into just scanners, but with good subheadings, you can turn scanners back into readers. Subheadings help keep readers on track, the goal being to get them to read the next sentence. Using bullet points creates bold copy, and other text formatting can help break up large chunks of text, and help make key content more readable for people who tend to scan. Attention is a scarce resource online; formatting, however, makes text easy to read, and instantly much more appealing to the eye. People are hardwired for visual content, and according to research our brains process visual information 60,000 times faster than text. This is why including images in you content is so important. It helps readers retain your information and increases understanding. Images also ensure content is more eye-catching, people are more likely to stick around and read your content. After writing a post, it's important to finish with a strong conclusion that summarize what you've talked about in your article. The most successful articles end on a strong note, where the conclusion is one of the most powerful components and leaves the reader thinking about what they've just learned. A lot of writers, however, throw together half there conclusions, or don't even bother writing one at all. But if your conclusion is lame, then the whole article falls flat, and the reader goes away feeling deflated. There are three other intangible things that you should also think about putting together in your content. I hope you paid attention in English class because solid writing skills are a must to learn especially if you are creating content for business. You don't have to be a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, but you do have to have a solid grasp of English language, and ensure your copy error free. Even if you have a great idea for an article, there's nothing that says amateur like a straight topper or confusing there, then, and there. Think about it, how many sites have you visited and quickly left because their writing was simply unprofessional? If you're not confident that your grammar skills are up to scratch, just get someone else to read over your article before you hit publish. It's also important to inject your personality into your writing. Nobody likes to read dry, boring text. Some of the most successful articles are infused with character and weight. So adding your own personal style to your content whether it's humor, or just a conversational tone, don't be afraid to say unprofessional. Great writing gives readers a glimpse into the person behind the words. Lastly, don't forget to include a quote to action at the end of your post that tells readers what you'd like them to do next. If you're producing content for your business, you might want ask them to check out your products or sign up for free trial, or you might just want to ask readers to share their thoughts in the comments section. Whatever it is you want to achieve with your article, readers won't do it unless you ask. 5. Generating Ideas for Content: I've been writing professionally for over a decade and online for six years, yet my partner always asks me, "Don't you ever run out of ideas?" Well, no. Honestly, coming up with ideas is the easy part, but it's something that I've developed as a habit, and it's not an accident. I've got an organized system in place to help me generate ideas for the articles I pitch and write for my clients. Here is how I do it, I read a lot. I try and read as much as I can about what's happening in Wordpress because that's that the niche I try to write about the most. I also keep tabs on what's happening generally in tech and in the copywriting world. Reading a wide range of blogs and websites is a great source of inspiration for new posts. I also subscribe to a lot of email newsletters like Hacker News, Versioning, and NextDraft. When I'm not in front of my computer, I love listening to tech and business podcasts. For example, the idea for a popular post I wrote for the Pagely blog, 40 Must-Read Blogs For Leadership and Entrepreneurs, came from listening to a podcast about business but also looking at my Feedly list and thinking that one of my collections might help others who work in business. My friends often make fun of me for writing down all the random things that they say. I keep notes on my phone on just about everything I come across in my life and on the web. I use a combination of notes, and they're on my iPhone and Mac to write down thoughts and ideas for posts. I also use Feedly to keep track of sites and blogs I like to read, and often favorite posts that sparks an idea for new content. I also save articles in a post ideas bookmarks folder in Chrome. I'm not suggesting for a second that you should copy or steal other people's work because that's straight up plagiarism, but there is a lot you can learn from checking out what your competitor is publishing, what works for them, and then putting your own spin on it. I regularly read posts that other writers in my niche are publishing, but also I like to use BuzzSumo to see what content has performed best for a particular website. For example, when you plug HubSpot's blog into BuzzSumo, here's what you get. Instantly, there's a list of topics that people have shared because they've enjoyed it. This is one way you can find out what topics people are interested in reading more about. If you come across a post that a competitor has published, and you think you can improve on what they've written, by all means, go for it. There's no reason why you shouldn't write it up and publish it, but if you can improve on it, come up with another idea. There's no point publishing similar content. Remember how I said you should stop worrying about keyword research in another lesson? Well, forget I said that for just a minute. Keyword research still has its place in ID generation. After all, it's easier to know what kinds of keywords people are entering into search so you can help answer people's problems. A quick way to get started is to simply start typing a general topic into Google Search and seeing what comes up in order to complete. I also like to use keywordtool.io to get a list of different keywords in Google Search as related to a topic. Scanning through lists like this and playing around with word combinations can really help with coming up with new content ideas. It's easy to forget that the skills you've learned over time often everyday things you do at work or in life take for granted are completely new ideas to people who haven't actually learned them yet. There's every chance you have a unique take on something that can help others. So why not leverage what you know and turn your experiences into articles that can help educate others in your niche. For example, the idea for this course you're watching right now came after I shared my best writing tips in a post on the How To Get Online blog. Think about the things you do every day or skills you picked up that other people might want to learn about. They might be ways to you've automated work or tools that have helped you become more productive in your field. Whatever it is, there's an idea for a blog post that can add value to someone else's life. If you're still stuck for ideas, it's time to really digging in heels. Some resources I turn to when I'm stuck on ideas include Quora and other Q&A sites, LinkedIn and Facebook groups, Google Analytics, Blog posts comments, forums, and Reddit. Ultimately, you want to come up with ideas that resonate with your audience, and you feel that you can write with confidence and authority. Your ideas should always aim to solve people's problems and be useful and informative. I can't stress this enough if you write about a topic that your audience doesn't really care that much about, they simply won't read it. Before you proceed to the next lesson, I want you to use the tips I've outlined in this lessons to come up with ideas for your own content for your project. If you have ideas, already that's fantastic. Write them down and move on to the next lesson. 6. How to Research Like a Pro: Whenever I start working on a new article, I always spend at least an hour on research before I write a single word. Say, for example, I want to write a post about Google's guidelines mobile pop-up, which is something I actually worry about recently. I started by searching for my topic in incognito to see what comes up in Google. There are a couple of things I want to say here. Firstly, the actual results. I want to see what headlines and meta descriptions, sites that are on the front page of Google are using, so I can then try and improve upon them. Secondly, I want to say what others have written on the topic. Your goal whenever you write a piece of content should be to create an ultimate resource that's better than anything else that comes up in search. This is what creating quality content is all about. You want your content to be the best and you want it to rank. Otherwise, there's no point rehashing a topic that someone has already written a great article about. Read everything you can about a topic. I usually open every post I think could be useful in a new browser tab. Sometimes, I'll have 20 or more tabs open at once. Then I read every single post, save the links in my notes, and take more notes as I go, jotting down any interesting information or ideas for further research. Whenever you are researching a topic, it's really important to get to the original source of the information. In this case, it means reading Google's original announcement about mobile interstitials. When I've exhausted Google Search, I turn to Google News to collect any useful information, facts, or reports from related articles. Another really useful source of information is industry research and white papers. Data analytics and consulting companies like Nielsen and McKinsey are fantastic places to find these types of information. Likewise, census data is a great place to dig up really interesting stats. It's easy to look up this kind of information by going to places like the United States Census Bureau website. Whenever you do include figures, stats, quotes or information from other websites, always, always attribute it with a link. This is actually a bugbear of mine. Everything you write, you really need to back it up. Don't cite information without including a link to where you got it from. Not only will linking out till you read is that you've done your research and your content is sound and of high quality, but it's the right thing to do. It's important to give credit where credit is due when you use information that someone else has published. You might also want to reach out to people for further information and even interview them for direct quotes. For this particular article I wrote about design trends, I contacted a bunch of designers and asked for their expert tips on the WordPress design trends that they think would dominate in 2018. Not everyone will want to comment or might be self-conscious about being quoted. They might still get back to you if they know you'll add a link to their website in your article, but whenever you do reach out to people, always be friendly and upfront about what you're writing and what you want from them. It's also good practice to send them a link to your post when it's published. With these research tips in mind, you can take the guesswork out of working out what to write and start creating content with substance. At this point, I want you to think about research for your project and make a stop before you move on to the next lesson. 7. Writing Strong Headlines: No matter how good your content is, if your headline sucks, no one's going to read it. Think about it. How many headlines do you read every day while searching online or checking social media? What makes you actually click on an article and read it? Usually, it's the headline, right? According to Copyblogger, 8 out of 10 people will read a headline, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of the article. This is why it's so important to spend time coming up with an amazing headline. I sometimes deliberate over headlines for up to an hour before settling on one that I like and I think works, and I often go back and change it anyway. This is what it takes to write a good headline. There is an art and science to writing headlines. While templates and formulas can help, there are a few tried and true rules. Here are tips I picked up over the years for writing strong headlines. Firstly, headlines should be no longer than 65 characters. So, you need to make sure every word counts. It's best to keep the language simple. Don't use complicated words and make people reach for a dictionary. For example, never use the word 'utilize' when you can simply say use. Also, go for words that are powerful like free, popular, revealing, and successful. You don't want to use words that are dull and uninspiring. You'll just bore your readers. Also, the word 'you' is another powerful word as it allows you to directly talk to the reader and speak to them. Here are some headlines with simple language I really like. On the Headspace blog, "The right types and lengths of vacations to keep you refreshed." On the Merriam-Webster dictionary website, here's an amazing one, "Look, This Is a List of Fart Words." Lastly, Mashable doesn't mince words, "Netflix has 700, yes 700, originals coming out in 2018. What?" There's a reason why so many copywriters use numbers in their headlines. It works. People are inherently attracted to numbers and lists. If you've ever picked up a trashy women's mag, there's usually a couple of front page headlines with numbers. There aren't really any rules, as far I know, regarding what works best with numbers. But people typically only remember 3-5 points. That said, sometimes it really obscurer number like 11 or 27 can catch people's attention. It's best not to over use numbers or always use them for your prose or even use them arbitrarily. If your article clearly has key takeaways, adding a number to the headline can help make those takeaways more digestible and memorable. But if the article doesn't have any, don't force it. Examples of headlines with numbers that work. Grammarly has, "10 more phrases to never ever use at work." On the Invasion blog, "6 things job hunting creatives should avoid," and Kissmetrics, "7 social media trends to watch and capitalize on in 2018." Promise your reader something valuable. It might be as simple as the answer to their problem or it could be a shocking statement of fact. The idea here is to dare your reader to read your article without over promising anything. Be bold, even a little dangerous. Then deliver what you promised. Always deliver because if you don't, you're venturing into click bait territory. No one, not even Google or Facebook likes click bait. Here are some examples of bold headlines I really like. Refinery29 knows how to nail a headline, "This is the only running playlist you need this week." On the HubSpot blog, "I Used Three Smart Speakers at the Same Time, Here's What Happened," and Fast Company, "This VI Tool Could Make Kids a Lot Less Scared of Medical Procedures." Have your competitors written articles about the same topic you're planning to cover? What headlines did they use? What are the headlines of pages that are already ranking on Google? How can you make your headline better? Google the ideas you have so far and see what comes up. These will give you a good idea of what other sites have used for their headlines and hopefully spur you on to do better. Here are some examples of competitor headlines for this lesson. On the Crazyegg blog simply, "How to Create Winning Headlines in 9 Simple Steps." Over at Quicksprout, "How to Write Attention Grabbing Headlines That Convert." On the Hubspot blog, "How to Write Better Headlines Infographic." Never underestimate the power of an emotional headline. Certain words, often adjectives, can create a connection with the reader and elicit an emotion whether it be positive or even negative. Words like incredible, effortless, free, astonishing, sensational, essential. There's a great free tool called the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer. When you scan a headline, it gives you an emotional marketing value score. The only drawback is that it doesn't give any instructions on how to improve your headlines. Sorry, you have to figure that out for yourself. Some examples of emotional headlines include, "This Design Generation Has Failed," on the Fastcode design blog. Over at Tech Crunch, "Twitter is finally cracking down on bots." Quartzy, "Instagram is killing the way we experience art." FOMO or fear of missing out is a real thing, and it works wonderfully well when writing headlines by instilling a sense of urgency by giving a date when a special offer expires or using language like the word 'now'. You can stir readers to click your headline and read your content. Words like limited, only, now, hurry, last chance. Here are some urgent headlines. BuzzFeed knows how to work urgent headlines well, "Here's What People Are Buying on Amazon Right Now." Likewise the Telegraph has published, "Last chance, Theresa - spell out Brexit like you mean it." Everyone's favorite, The Daily Mail, "Last chance to see North Korea for US tourists." I mentioned the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer just before. But another tool that I really like to use is CoSchedule's free headline analyzer, which scores the quality of your headline and rates it on its ability to get social shares, increase traffic, and its SEO value. This tool is one of the most fully featured headline analyzers I've seen online. It tells you your headline type, analyzes individual words and structure, grammar, readability, and even gives you a preview of what your headline will look like in Google search and as an email subject line. When it comes to headlines, always take your time. If possible, come up with a few alternatives and pick the one you like best. Don't rush it. Headlines are the first thing people read and help them decide whether they want to read your article or not. So, always make your headline count. Before we move onto the next lesson, I want you to think about the article that you're working for your project and come up with six different headlines based on the methods I've outlined in this lesson. Good luck. 8. Nailing the Introduction: After the headline, your introduction is the next most important element of your content. There are a lot of resources available for learning how to write headlines online, but not so much for writing introductions. Like writing headlines, there's also an art and science to writing a compelling intro, that draws the reader in and keeps them reading. So, let's take a look at five different ways you can write an introduction. Who doesn't love a good story? Whether you're at the pub listening to a friend recall something funny that happened to them during the week or simply watching a drama on Netflix. Humans are hardwired for storytelling. An anecdote is basically a short amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person that can put a larger ideal article into context. What makes a good anecdote? Well, it might be something that happened to you in your everyday life. A personal story about how you shackled with a problem and eventually found a solution, is far more interesting and powerful than a story about some famous person or celebrity. It might be a story that weighs through your content and finishes with your conclusion, or it might be simply a story related to the topic of your content. Here's an example from Atlas Obscura, that uses this interaction method for it's article, "The dirty secret of secret family recipes. When Danny Meyer was gearing up to open his barbecue restaurant, Blue Smoke, there was one recipe he knew he had to have on the menu, his grandmother's secret potato salad recipe." Asking a question poses a hypothetical scenario to the reader, and invites him to think about it and imagine their own answers, and relate their own lived experience as they read the rest of your content. Using this method, you're engaging the reader to identify with the problem you're about to solve, and asking them to apply their own judgment or opinion to your content. This technique can be very powerful, but also does have its drawbacks. You have to be careful about what kind of question you ask. You don't want it to be too obvious or insulting to the reader's intelligence. Also, questions as introductions have been exploited in all end by click bait articles as a lazy way to entice people to read a story. So, many people are understandably fatigued and wary of questions. On the 538 Web site, this story about vitamin D, "Why aren't my vitamin D supplements raising my vitamin D levels," uses these type of introduction. "For most of my adult life, I've been diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency. I take a vitamin D supplement every morning, yet I still never seem to have enough vitamin D. So what gives?" I don't know about you, but I love trivia. Whenever I finish watching a movie, I'm straight onto IMDB to read the trivia section. Starting with a fact or statistic is commonly used in a lot of marketing posts online, and it's easy to see why. It establishes the topic of the content in an informative way that offers the reader a quick takeaway that memorable. Facts work because they push our emotional buttons. Our brains are wired to perceive strange or unusual things as potential threats on a caveman level, making them much more memorable as whatever strange thing we're fixated on, that might kill us. But not all facts are interesting. So, if you do decide to use one in your introduction, make sure it hasn't been over used and often repeated and it's not too common in your niche. Here is an introduction that shares an interesting fact. "15 marketing job titles for the skill sets you want at your company," on the HubSpot blog. "There are some weird job titles cropping up across the globe, and I bet you'll never guess what the most popular one was in the US last year for that category. It was rock star, followed closely by guru and ninja. You read that right, ninja." Setting the scene in your intro, can be a highly effective way of drawing your reader it into your content. This technique is similar to sharing an anecdote, in that, you're setting the stage for not only what is happening at the outset of the pace, but for what the reader can expect to follow. This method can be incredibly powerful when dealing with emerging topics or subjects with strong newsworthy elements. Why I like this technique and tend to use it a lot, is because it allows you to clearly define your position on the topic, support the points you want to make, and also manipulate the emotions of the reader by highlighting the positive or negative aspects of the topic. For example, here is a story that sets the scene right off the bat in it's intro, "GQs, The strange and curious tale of the last true hermit. For nearly 30 years, a phantom haunted the woods of central Maine, unseen and unknown, he lived in secret, creeping into homes in the dead of night and surviving on what he could steal. To the spooked locals, he became a legend or maybe a myth. They wondered how he could possibly be real, until one day last year the hermit came out of the forest." Lastly, there's the straight up no nonsense introduction. This type of intro dives straight into the topic, and usually features a first sentence that explains what the article is about. This type of intro is normally used by news publications. Coming from a newspaper background myself, I tend to use these type of introduction a lot. It's incredibly easy to write, especially if you're stuck coming up with a start to your story. Back when I was a cadet journalist working at a newspaper, an editor gave me this piece of advice, "Think about the story you're about to write. Consider all the facts. Now, what is the most interesting element of the story that jumps out at you right away? That's your introduction. Write that down." No matter which type of intro you use, It should always grab the readers attention, present the reason for the article's existence, and explain how the post will help solve their problem. It's important that you tell the reader what value they're going to get out of reading your article. In a world where we're bombarded with digital content, time is precious, and readers will make a snap decision about whether to keep reading your content after the first couple of sentences. While some people write the introduction last, after they've finished writing their post, I usually write mine first. I find doing it this way, helps me get into the headspace of writing the rest of the content. Then I return to the intro when I finish the post and make any necessary adjustments. One last thing I want to point out is, never ever repeat your headline in the introduction. It's lazy and readers will get bored if they think your content is repetitive. Now, that you know some strategies for writing introductions, I want you to think about the introduction for your project. Choose one of the methods I've outlined in this lesson, and have a go at writing your introduction before you move on to the next lesson. 9. Writing the Main Content: One of my old jobs, I tried to encourage the developers I worked with to contribute to our blog. They always came back to me with one of two excuses. They were either too busy or didn't feel confident writing. Now, the first excuse is fine, but the second, well, I think it's been a bit of a cop-out. I tend to think writing great content is a choice, not necessarily a talent. You can choose to put in the time and work required to create a great piece of content, or you can simply not. Also, why put together content if it's not great? Hopefully, you've learnt a lot of tips so far in this course, that you are already putting to use. But right now, let's look at how to put the main body of your content together. So, you've done your research, you've generated your ideas, written headline and introduction, and now you're ready to write your main content. At this point, it's a good idea to think about how you want to structure your pace. When I'm working on an article, I usually plan out the structure of my post and then connect the dots. This means, writing subheadings for each section of my post and adding in bullet points for the concepts I want to cover. For example, when I planned out this article I wrote about reducing HTTP requests with WP Rocket, I listed the different concepts I wanted to cover in the post, and then turned each of these into a section with the subheading. When you break this post down, here is how it looks. With each of these sections listed out with subheading, it's easier to fill in information because you know what you need to write about. Planning out your post like this, will help you fill in the blanks and flash out your post. There's a reason why newspaper and magazine paragraphs are usually only one to two sentences long. They're easier to read and digest. Likewise, online, you should stick with the short sentences. Otherwise, your content will look chunky and readers will get tired and give up reading. It's best to use a friendly conversational tone but also with a clear purpose. In fact, Google's developer guidelines recommend trying to sound like a knowledgeable friend who understands what users want to do. Also, craft clear concise short sentences with simple words that users will understand. Always keep your audience in mind and write for them. Don't ever think you're writing. You don't need to try too hard to be overly clever. Leave the clever writing to guys who've been writing feature articles for GQ Newyork over 20 years. The important thing here, is that you get your point across and that do it as well as you can. Using formatting such as bullet points, and numbered lists, quite bold, and italicized copy can help break up large chunks of text, and make your content more readable for people who tend to scan. Sadly, studies have shown that people usually have time to read just 28 percent on a web page. So, any tactics you can employ to help people read more of your content, such as the formatting, are going to work in your favor. Images can also help people scan through your content and digest it more easily. Also, people learn differently. Some people learn better by seeing while others learn better by hearing. What's important is that, no one learns less by having visual aids such as images. Whether you use pictures, videos, or diagrams they can help illustrate your point. Open any modern textbook and you'll find pictures used to enhance the reading experience and to reinforce the author's lesson. Whatever you are writing about, add pictures. No one wants to look at long paragraphs of text unless you're writing a novel. But do make sure you only add images that help or add value, and please stay away from gross stock photography. One of my favorite resources for great free photography is on splash.com. The optimal word length for an online article is an ongoing debate amongst marketers. I tend to follow HubSpot's recommendations as they're usually well researched. They suggest the ideal book post length is roughly 2100 words. Startup IQ, on the other hand has found that most of the top 10 Google search results are between 2032 words and 2416. Meanwhile, Medium says posts that take seven minutes to read get the most engagement and attention. So, the moral of the story is to avoid writing short posts. When you're putting together quality content that covers a topic in-depth, it's hard to write a short post anyway. One of the best writing lessons I've learned, is to eliminate fluff. It's challenging, it takes work, and it makes for significantly better composition. There's nothing better than a brief to the point blog post or article that is filled with information. So, don't focus on word count. A longer blog post does not mean a better blog post, and often keeping a blog post short is more difficult and actually takes more time than just writing as much as you can. Whenever possible, backup what you're writing with facts and figures. Just like I did that last section about word length. Not only is it informative for the reader but it adds credibility and authority to your work and always link to any data and numbers you include in your blog posts. Without links it just looks like you're making up figures on the fly and pulling them out on thin air. Speaking of links, it's a good idea to link internally. This means linking to other content on your site. Doing so can help readers explore your other content. It also means that when you talk about an idea on post that you've written about previously, you don't have to fully explain it, just link to it. Likewise, link to outbound content can also help you cut down on explaining common concepts. But also ensure any outbound links that you do include are to high quality sites with reliable and respectable content. Google mentions this specifically in its developer guidelines. When you finish writing your content, there are tools you can use to help check your work. Obviously spellcheck but also tools like Grammarly can check for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization errors. But these tools are no substitute for a real live human being. So, if you are not confident with proofreading your own work, send it to someone who you trust to run their eyes over it. Now, it's time to work on the content of your project. Spend some time now writing your post. It might take a couple of hours. So, make sure you don't have any distractions and you can spend some solo time working on it. Good luck. 10. Repurposing Content: When you've put a lot of time and effort into writing an article, often hours spent researching, writing, editing, writing some more, you want to get the most bang for your buck. It doesn't make sense to spend so much time putting a piece of content together or only fusing it added to the globe once and then let it gather dust in your archives. This is why repurposing content is such a great idea. Essentially, repurposing means recycling your best content so you can use it on another medium. Now, this works particularly well for evergreen content. Evergreen content is content that stands at it's time and navigate style. It might get a little rusty around the edges, but generally, you could go back and read it in a year's time or even five year's time and the information would still be relevant. One of my favorite pieces of advice about creating content comes from Social Triggers founder, Derek Halpern. In a post, he wrote on web blog post file, he says, "You don't have to create content day and day out. You just have to work on getting the content you already have in the hands of more people." That's the main idea behind repurposing content, taking something you've created and putting a new spin on it. So, how can you take a simple blog post and repurpose it? Let's look at how a post I've written, "15 ways to get more people to share your content", could be repurposed in various different ways. Now, this is a straight up blog post with a few images, links, and bullet points. It's a great piece of content on its own, but there are lots of ways it could be reimagined in different formats. For instance, I could turn it into an inforgraphic. What's great about infographics is that they're informative, but in a highly visually stimulating way, they're easy to read, and they very shareable. While they can be huge undertaking to put together involving graphics and design, there are ways to make the process much easier. If you got the cash, you could hire a designer, or he could use a tool like vengage or canva to create something that looks fantastic. Another way I could repurpose this blog post is by turning into a lead magnet. Such is a guide that could be useful collecting emails on my site. My post is perfect for redesigning as a freebie as it's already structuring sections which could be easily turned into short chapters, plus, it solved a problem for readers that if getting more people to share your content. It doesn't need updating, it just needs to be saved as PDF given a first design and all of a sudden it's the complete guide to making your content more shareable. Similarly, with some extra research, case studies, interviews, and detail, these posts could be recycled into an eBook. What's great about repackaging content as an eBook is that it can position me as an authority on the subject. Some people prefer eBooks to blog post as they're much easier to download and you can save them for reading later on. In its current form, this post is way too short for an eBook, but it could be bundled with similar posts about social media providing enough content to create an expert eBook. Slide's another way to repurpose content in an engaging in visual way. With Slideshare, you can turn any simple presentation into a Slidedeck. Viewers can then click through your slides and content to learn about your topic. Turning my post into slides would be really easy as all you need to do is create a PowerPoint presentation using the content in your existing post and uploading it to SlideShare. One thing to remember when creating slides is to present your information in bite sized chunks, so it's easy to click through and absorb the content. Podcasts are hugely popular right now across every nation. If podcasting is something that you're currently doing or thinking about doing, your blogpost can help fill your episodes. The content of my sharing post would be more than enough fodder for a podcast discussion or interview. For example, copy blog has a podcast called rainmaker FM and they regularly repurpose content from their book that they turn into episodes. Lastly, video is a powerful medium that can add a whole new dimension to your content, giving your audience a new way to engage with you. Ours is a culture that is more visual than ever, thanks to the tremendous amount of video content we say every day. Well, a piece of written content might tell a person they to spend eight minutes of the day reading it. A video doesn't say anything. They often start without warning on Facebook and news websites and the viewer doesn't have to make any decisions or make an effort just watch the video. Video provides more personal when often authentic way to connect with your readers is they can say and hear you deliver content. In the case of my post, it wouldn't be difficult at all to read as a piece to camera and use text overlays to emphasize the key points in the post. There are just a few examples in ways you could repurpose your articles into different formats, whether you recycle your blog posts and turn them into infographics, eBooks, videos, or some other format. It allows you to engage your readers in a new way with content in a different format that otherwise might have gone unseen. As Derek from Social Triggers says, you want to put less content in front of more people. Repurposing your content allows you to do just that, breathe new life into content you've already put a lot of work into and make sure it works hard for you in return. 11. Final Thoughts: Thank you, guys, for taking this class. I hope you've learned a lot about writing and creating quality content for your site, how to research more effectively, how to write solid headlines and introductions, and actually putting your content together. Hopefully, we can look back on the post you've put together for your project and see your [inaudible] so far. I hope you've been able meet the goals that you established for yourself when you started this course. This is just the beginning. This is a foundation for you to learn more about writing and creating content that people love to read and ensuring that what you write fits in with Google's move towards having greater quality content on the web. I hope all these tips and pointers were helpful to you and something you can keep building on and keep in mind as you continue to putting in content for your website.