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Top tips for making compelling off-page content

Every successful writer knows that content is king. And the secret to crafting excellent SEO content isn’t inspiration or creative brilliance – it’s all in the research, planning, structure and execution.

First things first

Start with the audience and the angle, as it always starts with understanding the people who you’re writing for. Look at the site where the content is to be published to get a feel of the posts or articles and the structure of their standard posts.

The next step is to figure out what the readership wants to read by taking a look at what they have responded well to previously, by taking a look at the site to see the main topics it’s covering, and by seeing what the freshest relevant topics are on Google News. It’s all there for you: no guesswork or conjecture.

Past patterns pave paths

Simply, go through the site’s most popular posts, collate them and focus on the top 10. Examine these posts and look for patterns such as shared topics or styles (are they how to guides, or top tens?). Once you have established what drives popularity, there you have it: you know exactly what to write.

Head-turning headings

Struggling with a headline? Many copywriters, while happy to plough on through dense body copy, will do almost anything to avoid sweating over the really hard work: the headline. The headline is a really important part of good copy as it is the hook. It also provides the opportunity to employ SEO technique, so it is doubly vital for content marketing.

Some writers use the ‘4 U’s technique when assessing a headline. Is it:

  • Useful
  • Unique
  • Ultra-specific
  • Urgent

Reeling them in

After the headline initially grabs the reader’s attention, the opening to your post needs to be equally attention-grabbing. That means it needs to be well-written as well as interesting.

So what’s interesting? Focus on human elements, and work out how readers of the site you’re posting on will react or be effected. Is there something outlandish and surprising you can lead on? If you have some compelling stats, a well-placed figure or two can really draw people in.

Body copy

You need to keep people interested, especially when they are reading off screens (where their attention span is much shorter). To do this keep your focus on human interest and interesting numbers.

Also, use shorter paragraphs, headings and bullet points to impart useful information in as succinct a way as possible. Studies into reading on screen have conclusively shown that this technique stands a much better chance of getting readers to the end of your post.

The key to writing strong and compelling content is not about mindlessly thrashing out creative writing entry posts, but taking out as much of the guesswork as possible, knowing how to engage the reader and to utilise every word and technique to draw the reader’s eye along the flow of the copy. Do that and your off-page content (as well as on-page) can truly excel.