I am extremely picky about content posted on my blog, so I want articles to be very well-written, with valuable, easy to read, actionable content. This post will serve as both a reference and guide that all my copywriters will need to know. Looking for the Style Guidelines?
When someone arrives at your website, blog or article, they should know immediately what to expect. Everything–even your microcontent–should be simple, succinct and scannable.
Important Content Components
- Feature one idea per paragraph, and keep paragraphs short — three or four sentences at most. A simple way of testing for wordy or “run on” sentences, is the breath test:
If your reader has to pause for breath in the middle of a sentence, it’s too long. Either cut out the fat, or whack the sentence into two or more manageable pieces. – Copyblogger
- Use highlighting and emphasis to make important words catch the user’s eye.
- Use hyperlinked text to split up long information into multiple pages.
Write for Scannability
Don’t require users to read long continuous blocks of text. Scannable copy will ensure that more readers will read what you have written.
- Use meaningful sub-headings (not “clever” ones).
- Try writing your headline and subheads first.
- Use numbered lists and bulleted lists as eye rests.
Use Active Words
If someone’s doing something, it’s active. If something was done by someone, it’s passive.
Passive sentences feel wordy, limp, and lifeless. Active sentences feel tight, energetic, and immediate.
- Passive: The magnificent copy was written by the copywriter.
- Active: The copywriter wrote the magnificent copy.
Passive voice isn’t always a bad thing, but just keep it to a minimum.
Can You Get the Gist Just From Subheads?
Once you’ve used subheads, numbers, bulleted lists and other formatting to highlight the key elements of your post, read through it again — looking only at the text you’ve called special attention to.
Does the reader get the gist? Have you pulled out the most interesting and relevant words, the words that will pull your scanner in and turn her into a reader?
If not, rewrite your article so that it does.
A good blog post is written in the inverted pyramid style, meaning the most relevant, or important information is displayed first. The basic structure of a blog article is composed of 6 parts in the following order:
Any good piece of writing starts with a good headline.
If you don’t grab a readers attention with the headline, they won’t even bother reading your article.
Here are a few examples of great headline formulas:
- The [X] Factors That Drastically Increases Your [Desired Result]
- The Big Secret To _________? ___________
- Creating __________ that ____________(something unconventional) (And Why It Works)
- How to _________ So You Can ___________
Other formulas are also available here:
- How to Write Magnetic Headlines via Copyblogger.
- Headlines written by the copy writing master, Gary Halbert.
- 13 Awesome Headlines For Business Blogging Success by Hubpages.
Headlines are used to capture the reader’s attention, and it is also used to optimize the article for the search engines. Be sure to include the keyword in the headline.
2. Intro Paragraph
Use an attention grabbing statistic, question, quote, analogy, or phrase to pull people in to your article. For example:
- If________, then________
- Most people make mistakes when______
- If you are trying [X], then here’s how to save a lot of [headache/trouble/whatever].
- When it comes to [X], this is what every [“target audience”] should know.
- Here’s exactly what you need to know about [X]
- 74% of Adults struggle with [x]
- Did you know…[X]
3. Opening Paragraph
In your in your opening paragraph, also known as your summary paragraph, you prepare the reader for what they’ll be learning or gaining, etc by reading your article.
There are tons of great sites on the web that can help you learn Spanish. “Fast and Free!” is our mantra, so today I’m going to show you my personal favorite websites and tips to help you learn Spanish as quickly as possible.
This summary paragraph will most likely show in the search engines under the title/headline of the article.
4. Article Body
This is the meat of your article, and it is usually structured with an odd number of main points and backed up by subpoints. Each main point is a new paragraph.
Credibility suffers when users clearly see that the site exaggerates, so make sure to provide real value here. Make it interesting and appealing or the visitor/reader will leave. The keyword MUST be present in the body copy, but don’t flood it.
This is where you close the reader. Wrap up the article and tie it back to your introduction. Encourage readers to leave a comment by asking a specific question. Add the keyword one last time in this paragraph.
6. Call To Action
The most effectively written article directories end with a clear call to action. This is where you add the link to your affiliate or partner website, etc.
- “If you truly want to get the girl, go to this website now: [Insert Link in Anchor Text] It is the top resource on dating advice and tips courtesy of the leading dating guru.”
Google Loves Good Copy Too
That is the basic structure for a good blog post. Be succint, write for scannability, use action words and the appropriate article structure. Include the keywords in the right place for SEO and your copy just became a double threat, easy to read by humans, and google bots.
If you are writing content for product creation, sales copy or something else. Check out the Copywriting Cheat Sheet.
A great resource for writing product reviews is the Affiliorama website.