It’s like being in Times Square in New York City. All you see around you are gigantic colorful billboards that want to suck you into their fantasy. It’s a battle of who’s the biggest or prettiest and you just stand there not knowing where to look first.
The same thing happens with online content. Even though it’s too much and you feel like you’re lost, there is little content that successfully manages to draw your attention to its story.
You’ve probably read a few articles (or tens, or hundreds) that were so good you just couldn’t stop reading them. The problem is that (and I’m sorry if I offend anyone) some articles are so bad that they shouldn’t even be on the Internet.
If you want to create content, at least make sure that you’re not wasting your time writing something only you would read.
- Because Google will appreciate it. Search engines are able to spot good, original content which will translate into indexing and ranking your content more efficiently.
- Because engaging content will get more shares on social media. Google takes into consideration social signals in order to determine your website’s ranking, so don’t neglect the power of a quality article.
- Because your website will have more returning visitors. Engaging, quality content is appreciated, and if someone who randomly found one of your articles discovered something very useful in it, that person will most likely return for more valuable information.
Now, let me tell you what my tips are for writing engaging content:
1. Tell a story
Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways you can engage your audience. You probably tell stories every day to your friends, family, and your colleagues. So why not use this technique to be closer to your audience?
Stories are known for prompting emotion in order to relate to the audience. There are certain descriptive words you can use. Verbs and adjectives, when used effectively, trigger senses and emotions that make the readers feel like they’re living the story.
You don’t need to make up stories. Every little thing that happened to you (maybe even the morning you start working on an article), you can use it as a starter for your storytelling journey. Or something from your past. No matter what story you decide to tell, you have to tell in such a manner that your audience truly connects.
2. Provide solutions for your audience
Your time is valuable. With so many distractions around you and so many tasks to do before the end of the day, the last thing you want is to waste your time reading pieces of content that teach you absolutely nothing.
Treat your audience the way you’d want to be treated. If they click on your article, it means that they hope to find a solution to one of their problems and your headline suggested that you have the answer.
3. Write long-form articles
Once upon a time (meaning when I started working for Squirrly), we (the content team) used to write shorter articles that had 500 words, and also articles that had more than 1000 words. Now that I look back I think to myself: how could I possibly fit all of my thoughts and knowledge into only 500 words and still provide valuable information to our audience?
Of course, the length of your articles depends upon the topic, but from what we’ve noticed after analyzing the articles we wrote, the ones that were the most appreciated had over 1000 written words.
And it makes sense.
A short article is somewhat questionable, whereas long-form articles give you the possibility of engaging the reader and giving him a more in-depth view on the topic.
4. Be honest and transparent
Buffer’s blog is one of the best examples of why you should be honest and transparent.
Their content is always straight to the point. They provide specific examples to their audience on what works for them, and what doesn’t. They are so transparent about their company, they even made the salaries of their employees’ public knowledge.
By being honest and transparent through the content you produce, you will also reveal some of your secrets, which if done strategically, is a major advantage. People love insights that they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to find out.
Of course, you don’t have to reveal all of your secrets, but I’m sure there are some tricks you use that you can share with your readers.
5. Use visual content
If you have a long-form article, whether it has more than 1000 or more than 2000 words, images are going to make it easier to read.
If someone clicks on your article and all they can see are endless rows of words, this will overwhelm them and leave them thinking that it’s too much to read.
What you can do:
- Insert images. This will make your article much more readable, because the images will act like a breath of fresh air, and at the same time they won’t feel overwhelmed by the length of the content.
- Make an infographic. I’m sure you can think of a creative way to make an infographic out of one of your blog posts ideas. Because it’s visual, an infographic is much easier to follow, and you also provide your reader with less information to read. At the same time, infographics are easily embedded on social media or on other websites.
- Using presentations. SlideShare is a very popular platform where you can create and upload your presentations. If you don’t have the time, or the resources to create a video, you can combine written content with visual content and create a presentation.
6. Make your articles easy to read
When you have a long-form article, it’s important to edit it so that it’s not in bulk. Long paragraphs are hard to read because it requires more focus and extra effort. Since many readers have a short attention span, you will lose them if you don’t format your article so that it’s easy for everyone to scan it and find the most important takeaways.
Here are some of the most used techniques you can use:
- Use bullet points. Or numbers. Or any kind of sign you want when you have a list or some tips that you want to emphasize. This will make it much easier for the reader to follow what you’re saying (well, writing).
- Bold important keywords. If you want to draw attention to certain key points in your article (and I know you do), then bold those words. That way, when someone reads your article, it will be easy for him to find the most important topics from your post.
- Short phrases. Sometimes, you want to say so many things in one phrase that you get lost, and all of a sudden your phrase has lost its meaning. I know this happens to me. To avoid these kinds of situations, it’s best to expand one idea at a time. Clear, short, and concise sentences are what everyone wants to read.
- Spaces between paragraphs. It’s best to have 2-3 sentences in one paragraph. Or you can even have one sentence. Spaces make your article easy to scan and the reader won’t feel overwhelmed.
- Use sub-headings. Headings are great to use when you want to section your article into several different parts. This way, your readers will know where to go if they want to read only a certain section of the article. Also, they can be powerful teasers if used correctly to keep the reader’s attention so they read the next section.
7. Calls To Action
Last, but not least, what will engage the most with your readers is the Call To Action.
In the Call To Action (whether you insert it at the end of the article, or in the middle), you need to convince your audience take action. Perhaps you want them to comment on your article, like it, share it, subscribe to your newsletter, or buy one of your products.
If you manage to get your readers to take action, then you’ve successfully engaged them, and by doing that, you have also provided them value, which has become a rare thing these days.
Analytics will be your friend
If you want to know what works for your articles and what doesn’t, tracking your analytics is the way to go. By analyzing the information you have there, you will be able to tell which articles were the most successful and why.
Now that you know how you can write more engaging content, go ahead and apply these tips, and let us know how it went for you.