What is quality writing? ….. If done well, the techniques of good writing will inspire readers and they will be so impressed that they’ll feel compelled to share your content with all their friends and contacts. Imagine, that you’ve written a 4500-word article that shares some incredible information for your niche, and simultaneously positions you and your business as an authority who can be turned to for more information and more help. That would be great.
So you want to be creating content that is a lot more interesting and helpful and in-depth than the typical blog post and it will make this more likely.
If written well, quality content will result in the kind of long-form content that search engines love. It will contain rich information about a particular topic and great detail.
Imagine, for a moment, that what you’re reading and that the phrase “quality content” was my targeted keyword. How many times do you think it appears? It’s in the title, and the subtitles, and occurs throughout the content quite naturally. If I wanted to rank well for that phrase, this kind of content is perfectly suited to accomplish just that.
It’s more than just the amount of text and keyword usage. Remember what I mentioned a moment ago, about your readers loving and sharing and linking to great content? That’s exactly what search engines are looking for. How much time did someone spend reading your article? How many people thought so much of your article that they shared it or linked to it from their website?
So when you create content that is so interesting it gets shared by lots of people, search engines take note.
What do you write about?
So by this point, I’m sure you agree that the idea of writing quality content is good. But of course the next question is what, exactly, do you write about? What can you talk about that is so interesting and compelling people will love it. Not to mention, coming up with a topic that you actually have that much to talk about?
First, forget about the idea that perhaps much of what you’re about to write has been written before. While it probably has, your readers may not have read it, nor will they have likely found it as well assembled and articulated as you’re about to do.
Second, forget about the idea that in order to achieve the wow factor the content has to be deep and intense. If you can write content that is, in fact, deep and intense, that’s wonderful. But the wow factor can be achieved by simply being much more helpful and interesting.
Start by thinking about the questions that your clients and prospects often raise. If you’re blogging regularly, you’ve likely already made a habit of turning these questions into blog posts.
And you might even begin by thinking about the blog posts you’ve already written there’s nothing wrong with expanding on an existing topic and idea. Add to that any other questions or topics you’ve heard from readers or prospects and see what you can come up with.
What you’re looking for are questions where the answer requires a decent amount of explanation.
So once you find a topic where you can spend some time providing some backstory, some educational information, then get into the meat of the question, and then take everything a step further, beyond the initial scope of the question that’s a topic worth exploring.
What is quality writing? What’s the process?
Unlike a normal blog post, it’s highly unlikely that you will sit down and write a quality post without any preparation or planning.
It starts with the topic. Do you have expertise on this topic? Do you love talking about it? Do you have resources available (internal or external) to draw on? It’s critical you have a real passion for whatever it is that you’re going to be talking about since you’re going to have to not just write a lot, but work on this post for days, perhaps weeks.
You shouldn’t try to come up with your title initially. If you think you have a great idea for a title, that you received inspiration from then, by all means, write it down. But generally, when writing and blogging, I recommend leaving the title for last, that way you can ensure it perfectly fits your content, instead of trying to force your content to fit a predetermined title. There’s nothing worse than an article that you title “5 Ways To…” but you can only think of four points, so that fifth point is a stretch. Better to have gone with four from the start.
Write down the specific points you know you want to make. These will typically end up being the different sections within your article, like the large subtitles you see here in this article. Writing them all down first accomplishes two things. First, this is your initial go at organizing your article in a logical, progressive way. You can glance at your points and make sure that you’re making them in an order that makes sense. Second, this will help you tremendously later on when it’s time to do the bulk of the writing, as you will already have these guideposts in place.
Next, be sure to consider the one or two specific keywords that you’re targeting and hope to rank well for. If you’ve never considered targeting keywords with your content, start by taking your topic or versions of your topic and plugging them into the Google Keyword Planner within Google AdWords. That will tell you the average monthly searches for those phrases, along with an indication of the level of competition. If you need to find other keyword options, try opening a Google search and start typing, noting the suggested autocompletes that Google provides.
Don’t forget about LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) A tool to use for this is the LSI graph Generator. For example, suppose my keyword phrase is “home cooked food” The examples below are what the LSI Graph tool has generated for that keyword phrase.
- southern comfort food recipes
- food recipes for dinner
- dinner recipes
- family dinner recipes
- simple dinner ideas
- family dinner ideas
Bring in all of your external resources and other notes or ideas. I add them to the bottom of my post. Just hit return a few times at the bottom of the source you are writing from. This way, you can continue to refer to your notes as needed, while you’re concentrating on writing all that quality content. I’ve also found this is a great way to make sure that I include every minor point that I want to make. Once I’ve used one of the notes or links I delete it. This makes sure you don’t repeat yourself.
Now that you’ve prepared your article’s structure, it’s time to fill in the details. Go through each of your points and say what you need to say to completely explain each. Just as with the title, I often leave the introduction and conclusion for last. It’s far easier to get started writing just jump into the middle and start writing about a specific point. Once you’re caught up in the post, it will be far easier to craft the more creative aspects.
Writing quality content
Truth be told, all of that was the easy part. Even with careful planning and structure, writing quality content takes time, skill and patience.
Structure out your post into sections and subsections. Then simply begin filling in the details. Refer to your notes as needed in order to bring in your notes, statistics, and references.
Initially, don’t worry about the flow of your post. Concentrate instead on getting all of your thoughts and points down.
We can compose our writing and move sentences and paragraphs around to suit later.
So don’t worry if your points aren’t in the best order yet. You can rearrange them to achieve a better flow once you have everything written.
Once you’ve talked about each point that you need to make and you’ve taken the time to arrange your comments in the most logical and impactful way, read through your content again. And again. And once again. You cannot achieve quality with just one edit. This collection of words and sentences only becomes a masterpiece once it’s been finely honed and tuned.
Review your entire article for:
- Spelling & Grammar
And while we’ve said that quality content is long, that doesn’t mean it must be unnecessarily long. Be ruthless with your content. Eliminate every extra word and thought that you think does not apply.
Taking your time to make sure that your content is exceptional that is the key. Not perfect that’s a goal you can never attain. But exceptional yes.
How to optimize quality content
Once you’ve written and thoroughly edited your content, it’s time to optimize it. While the editing was meant to ensure the readability of the content, optimization is to ensure its effectiveness for search and conversion.
Great featured image
Optimization starts with a great featured image. This is the image that will appear at the top of your blog post and should be associated with your blog post whenever it’s shared to social media.
Now, a great blog post image doesn’t have to be professionally designed, but it does need to have certain attributes. It must:
Be original….. you can use a stock photo of some kind, but it should be altered, edited and changed.
Be branded….. the name of your business or your logo must be present.
Be topical….. make sure that you choose an image that relates very well to your content.
Be communicative….. have enough text on the image so that it is clearly associated with your content, such as the blog title.
Be LARGE….. don’t waste time with small images. Go Big.
This is one of the major areas where bloggers sell themselves short. It’s easy to find some clip art or Google image and insert it. But that picture can’t possibly be as effective as an original graphic that clearly communicates what your post is about along with compelling imagery, and one that is sized perfectly.
You can make up something awesome in Photoshop. but consider a free tool like Canva or Crello. You can create incredible looking graphics in minutes. I create my own featured images in Canva or Crello.
Great additional images
While there’s no rule of thumb, you definitely want to provide a nice assortment of images throughout your content to help reinforce your points, as well as give your readers breaks and changes in the flow for interest and readability.
The bottom line is to make sure you have additional images that are interesting and help support your content.
And while you’re at it, consider how you might create more advanced images like an Infographic, which readers might be encouraged to share or even embed. You can even insert some “embed code” to encourage other bloggers to use your graphic on their site, giving you full credit and a backlink when they do.
Smaller graphics that highlight an important point that you’ve made, or quote from someone else, are also very effective and “pinnable.”
Every image that you add must use a Title, Alt Title, and Description that is appropriate and uses keywords if possible. The filenames of the images should also have keyword considerations.
Keywords in the title and section headings
Also, include your targeted phrase in your Title as well as your headings, and use the H1 and H2 tags, respectively, for each. Rather than making a title bold and picking a size or color, you just choose the appropriate Heading tag and let the site remember how it’s supposed to look. And because these tags are used to style titles and headings, Google pays particular attention to them. It saves you time and sends a strong signal to Google when you use a heading tag rather than manually formatting. So don’t overlook this step.
Throughout your post, you should look for instances where you can reference old articles and blog posts that you’ve published. Certainly, link to external sources whenever possible to reinforce what you’re saying, but those internal links and deep links are very important.
First, they help your audience learn more and discover more content that you’ve authored, increasing your usefulness and authority.
Second, those links ensure that Google and other search engines index those other pages. With a good XML Sitemap in place Google is immediately indexing your posts when you publish, but sometimes things get missed, and of course, Google isn’t the only search engine out there. So always “fetch” your new post after you have published it. Both in Google and Bing.
Call to action
Now that you’ve written your post, what is it you want people to do, exactly? While it would be nice if they recognized our brilliance and immediately looked for the contact page to call us or place an order, the reality is that’s not usually what happens. Readers need to be told exactly what to do next.
That’s your Call To Action.
While a CTA (Call To Action) will typically appear at the end of your content, it doesn’t have to. You can insert a CTA wherever it makes sense.
One way or another, always make sure that your quality content has a strong Call To Action worthy of the post. And honestly, determining what your goal is for the post is something I’d determine before I even started writing it. If it’s to drive sales or referrals than that’s great. Make sure that the content is good enough to leave no doubt in the reader’s mind that they should purchase whatever it is that you’re selling.
When you have your keyword determined, be sure to complete all of the Meta Tags for your post, including the Description field. While some may debate the effectiveness of using Meta Tags, I don’t. I use them all. And the Description field is still critical.
While an optimized Description won’t help your post rank higher, it can help convert impressions into clicks. Here’s what I mean.
When someone does a search in Google, the results come up listing page titles and links and descriptions. It’s often those descriptions that determine whether or not someone clicks on a result to read more. Granted, sometimes the search engine uses a snippet from the content and not our carefully crafted description, but whenever possible, we want our description to be what comes up because it’s our chance to sell potential readers on our content.
Similarly, when other people share your post to Facebook, LinkedIn or Pinterest, it’s the description that can show up in the link preview.
So take the time to write a compelling description. The challenge is that it MUST be under 160 characters. That’s because Google and other search engines won’t display anything after 160 characters.
Add links from other posts think about relevant blog posts or pages within your site that could benefit from directing readers to this new post. You want to make sure that as many readers as possible are able to find your new post.
How to promote quality content
Make sure that your share to Facebook is awesome. That may even mean creating a separate graphic for Facebook that is more square or landscape, and which has less than 25% text on it. While your initial share has no restrictions, we are going to be talking in a moment about Facebook Ads, and you definitely want to be able to promote this post.
Your audience may vary, but ideal Facebook posts seem to be 150-200 characters with 3-5 hashtags.
Facebook Groups can be an interesting component. Depending on your niche, there may be some great, active Facebook Groups that you can join. do promote your content in whatever Facebook Groups you can.
Next up is LinkedIn. Again, if you’re following the normal blog promotion strategy, you’re already sharing new content to your LinkedIn profile, Company Page and Groups. A couple of notes here:
First, spend extra time composing your LinkedIn Group post descriptions. Be sure to ask a question and make a genuine effort to initiate a discussion around your topic. Simply telling people to. Check it out isn’t going to cut it, and Group moderators don’t appreciate that.
If you’ve been spending some time building up a LinkedIn Group of your own. This is a perfect opportunity for you to use the Group Email feature. You can compose a group post that will be emailed to every member of your group, as well as displayed at the top of useful discussions in the slideshow. Promoting a new post is a very effective use of this tool.
Pin the new post to the top of your LinkedIn Company Page, and plan to share it with your LinkedIn profile in a couple of different ways over the course of the next two days.
Also, look for ways to incorporate the new content into your LinkedIn profile itself, perhaps as a Media link attached to your Summary.
With a typical blog post, you want to tweet out a link right away that is the post title and perhaps a few hashtags. then tweet out other versions 2 – 4 times over the next 24 hours.
Here, we want to be more aggressive. set up 6 – 8 tweets the first day, 3 – 4 tweets the second day, and then one tweet a day for the next week.
Each tweet will be different.
Fortunately, the sheer length of any post that’s good quality makes this easy.
You can tweet the title and alternate versions of the title, but also draw from the content and tweet quotes, stats and references. Tweet questions and even tweet comments that other readers leave on the post.
Before you begin tweeting, and this applies to your Pinterest shares as well, do some homework on Hashtags. Don’t just guess what you think other people are using, do some searches and find out for yourself. One of the fun HootSuite reports is Hashtag Volume. You can create a report that will show you how much a specific hashtag has been used on Twitter over a given timeframe. Too little and there’ll be no interest, but too much and your tweet will likely be drowned out, so go for hashtags that have decent traffic but obviously aren’t overused. This will vary by industry.
I already mentioned sharing to Pinterest, but there are a few other notes to share.
First, make sure that your Pinterest description is great.
It’s limited in characters to be concise. And always include hashtags on Pinterest shares. They are helpful to pinners but also good indicators to Pinterest and help you show up more in a Pinterest search.
Second, share your first pin into the most appropriate board for that topic, but then plan to pin the post again later throughout the day. You can pin the same image to other boards that might be appropriate, as well as pin other images from the same post to the original board.
Instagram may not be a focus for you and your blog, but it’s worth the small investment of time needed.
Pull up your new blog post on your smartphone, download the featured image, and then share that to Instagram. Make sure to describe your post and invite them to tap the link in your Bio to get to your site where they will find the post. And then include every hashtag you can think of. Seriously! Instagrammers do not care how many hashtags you include, and they have been shown statistically to help.
Social Bookmarks Pings and More
Once you have gone through the major social networks, it is time to go through all of your other options. Typically, each of these will be a quick 5-second submission and I use the other icon that’s the + sign from my Add to Any social sharing bar to help me with these.
Share your new post to…
Mix (formerly StumbleUpon)
Use an app like BlogPingy to notify blogroll sites and directories like Technorati that you have new content.
To get more traction on Twitter, use JustRetweet. It is a reciprocal tweeting community where you can find tweets from other people of interest and share them, and in turn get your own tweets shared out. You can typically use this to get 25-30 additional tweets but may double or triple that effort for some really important content.
The essence is that you join and form tribes of similar bloggers, tribemates. When your tribemates have new blog posts, you are invited to add them to your queue to be tweeted out, and they do the same for you. Since there is no limit to the number of tribes you can join and tribemates you can have, you can achieve a reach of millions.
And, for just $5, you can make your new blog post “sticky” within Triberr, putting it at the top of your tribemates stream to be shared.
There is no guarantee that tribemates will share your post, but if you are active in Triberr and share great content, you will get hundreds of additional tweets and the resulting traffic and interest in your post will be phenomenal.
Social Media Advertising
Once you have run the gambit on all the free social media activity, its time to put some money behind your content. This means Facebook Ads and Twitter Ads, at a minimum.
Facebook represents a gold mine when it comes to paid advertising. Unlike traditional advertising or even pay per click ads on other sites and search engines, Facebook offers an incredible amount of targeting options. From geographic areas to interests to even income levels, you can drill down and filter your audience so that your ads reach exactly the kind of people who may be interested in your content.
And even with that high degree of targeting, Facebook ads will likely represent the lowest cost per click (CPC) of any platform.
Once you have shared your Facebook post, create one or more Promoted Post ads to dramatically increase your reach.
Similarly, you can create a Promoted Tweet campaign within Twitter that will put one or more of your tweets at the top of the selected user’s Twitter feed. What’s interesting about Twitter ads is that, while you can certainly target users based on interests, the more effective route is to target users who follow other specific Twitter accounts.
For instance, when advertising create a set of ads that simply target other Twitter users who you are following.
If you can isolate specific Twitter accounts whose followers would have a definite interest in your content, use them.
LinkedIn offers one of the most expensive advertising options, starting at $4 per click, yet potentially the most lucrative. Depending on the nature of your content, if you think it would appeal to CEOs and C- Suite Executives, LinkedIn sponsored updates should be considered. Considering a below average conversion rate of 1%, you will need to run your ad up to at least 400 clicks to get a sale, at a cost of $400. If your epic content can convert a client with revenue exceeding that, it’s worth testing.
Pinterest ads could definitely be an effective mechanism for driving traffic and promoting your content. However, Pinterest ads are not yet available to all brands.
After the initial glow wears off, be prepared to share your content again on a regular basis. How regular will depend on you and your existing archive and content and social media activity.
You might want to create a new graphic or find a related article to share and mention “link to mine” in the comment…
And speaking of comments, that’s another great way to spread the word about your quality post, but it’s a delicate process. You want to search for other blog posts and social posts on a similar topic and offer a comment that includes your link, but it has to be a VALUABLE comment. The best comments are those that could stand 100% on their own, and the link simply serves as a reference source to back up your comment.
So definitely look for opportunities to share a link to your article with an audience that’s interested in it, as long as you do so in a respectful, helpful manner.
How to update quality content
In order to maximize the lifespan and usefulness of quality content, it’s important to continue to update it over time. This will ensure both maximum value to readers, as well as a continued attraction for search engines.
Make sure that if there are any changes to your topic, facts or figures, you keep on top of those and edit your content accordingly. In fact, such updates may even serve to strengthen the value of your content to readers.
Search Optimization Updates
Over time, as you track the keyword usage that is driving visitors to your content, you can look for opportunities to further optimize it for those words and achieve higher rankings and more traffic. That might include adding some additional information, more images, or working in additional instances of that targeted keyword.
Add/Change Call To Action
We talked earlier about the importance of having at least one Call To Action within your post. Since this content has been specifically crafted to achieve key goals, the completion of that call to action should be set as a Goal within Google Analytics so that you can measure traffic to that post, interest in the call to action, and conversions. Over time, you should analyze the effectiveness of your call to action and regularly make adjustments to the language, placement, or even the entire point of the CTA.
The only way you’ll know if you’ve truly created quality content is if your readers respond accordingly.
And this is why I would never recommend that a first-time blogger attempt to write something epic. How could you know what your readers want? You need to have been writing and publishing for a while, participating in discussions and debate, to have a good feel for what your readers are both interested in and in need of. You need to know your readers.
So while the idea of quality content sounds fantastic, don’t rush into it. Take some time to develop an audience and get to know them. Find out which of your posts and topics really resonate, and which ones don’t. Once you’re there, you’ll know it.
I hope you enjoyed my article “what is quality writing” if you have any questions please feel free to drop me a line in the contact me form or the comment box below. All comments will be appreciated.