Whether you’re an experienced marketer or you’ve just started building an online presence, you should analyze successful content from well-liked, authoritative brands. By reviewing or workshopping great content, you’ll gain valuable insight into how to improve your own website. After all, one of the best ways to attract visitors online is through unique, well-written content.
Our San Francisco team recently workshopped an article by Cyrus Shepherd of Moz.com fame on the correlation between Google +1s and higher search rankings. We chose this post for a number of reasons, but mainly because it garnered links from 500 different root domains and sparked a substantial amount of debate. It’s this kind of blog post that can take a website from relative obscurity to the next big thing.
Our goal for the workshop was to come up with a list of reasons we liked and disliked the post. We came up with 27 likes and 6 dislikes. By working together as a team, we wanted to understand why this post was so successful. What could we take from it that would help improve our own future blog posts? These were some of our top takeaways:
1. Know and understand your target audience
There are countless articles that focus primarily on identifying your target market. It’s a subject that will be written about forever because it drives business success. Moz is a brand that very clearly understands its target audience of inbound marketers. By writing an in-depth article on how to possibly achieve higher search results, Moz knew it would be able to spark interest and engagement within its community. If you’re still researching your own audience, consider the 5 W’s for identifying your target market.
2. Break up the text | Keep the reader engaged
In today’s fast-paced world, online visitors don’t generally have the patience to read lengthy articles. The majority of readers want the ability to skim an article and come away with a basic understanding of the topic. Throughout the Moz post, you’ll notice various tactics of breaking up text, in order to keep the reader engaged and informed. Here are the most prevalent:
- Italicized text
- Bolded text
- Captivating headings
- Bullets and lists
- Comments section
3. Keep the writing simple
Generally speaking, you should always stick to simple, concrete sentences—there’s no need to get overly complicated. The writing style of Ernest Hemingway is often cited in the world of online copy. It’s become such a point of reference that two brothers created an app named Hemingway, which analyzes inputted text to help make your writing clearer and bolder. As Hemingway himself said, “You can remove words which are unnecessary and tighten up your prose.”
The Hemingway app gives good, readable content a score of 10 or less. Content that is harder to read scores higher. In case you’re curious, the Moz post we reviewed scored a 10.
4. Mention your service or product in a subtle way
At its core, blog content is meant to be educational—not promotional. That doesn’t mean you can’t mention your own successes or products in a casual way. Cyrus Shepherd, the author of the post we workshopped, managed to link to 11 different Moz pages in his 9,000+ word article; only one of those was an actual product, but you get the point. If a product mention makes sense and fits naturally within a post, don’t hold back. Just remember to be cautious about doing this too often.
In addition to these simple tips for writing great content, you should always ask yourself these 3 questions:
- Is your post original and valuable to your audience?
- Did you provide actionable information with examples, statistics, and beneficial strategies?
- Did you properly explain your points and information without being long-winded?
If you’re looking for even more advice on this subject, be sure to visit Copyblogger’s post on writing good copy. They’ve put together an easy-to-read guide that combined with this post will give you a fundamental understanding of how to succeed with your content.
What other tips have you found helpful in analyzing great content? Let me know in the comments section.