Four Ways Words can Make or Break Your Copy
Writing content for the Internet is no easy task. As a web content writer, you’re subject to search engine optimization and keyword research, and if you freelance your work for clients, you’ll also have to meet strict word counts and adhere to client-specified style guidelines. With so much to do, it may seem difficult at times to produce quality work, and you may settle for sub-par content that doesn’t mirror your best work. But the truth is, every word you write and publish matters.
Titles and Subtitles
Titles and subtitles define the words that follow them. Readers first connect with an article or blog post through its title, and often scan subtitles to find more specific information within the context of the article. It makes sense that your titles and subtitles should communicate your article’s intent and summarize its points.
Writing a good title means knowing who you’re writing for. For instance, a blogger with a large subscriber base may prefer an attention-grabbing title over one you construct with search engine optimization in mind. However, in general, your title should accurately depict the information available inside the article in a way that generates interest for the reader.
Which of the following titles sounds better?
Affordable Home Decor
Overhaul Your Home’s Style for Under $50
Both of the above titles could head the same article, though one sounds overly generic, while the other one seems to shout, “Read me!”
Even the most experienced writer has struggled with having too much “fluff” at one time or another. The term “fluff” gets thrown around the online writing world constantly, and it could most easily be defined as the absence of contextual substance. Content is king, however, and anyone reading your work is looking for quality content, rather than fluffy subject matter you inject into an otherwise well-written article.
To avoid producing an article that’s too generic or lacking quality, try outlining your post or article prior to writing it. By dividing your work into subtopics and points, you’ll see where your content is lacking before you ever put your finger to the keyboard. Organization is key, and can also help you with transitioning between sections.
The tone you develop in your content plays a vital role in how the reader perceives your blog post or article. Furthermore, your tone will directly reflect upon the person your content represents – whether that’s you personally or a client. It’s important to cater your tone to meet the needs of your article.
For example, technical writing calls for authoritative tones, in which you should use formal speech and a third-person point of view. Using an informal tone of speech could convey an unprofessional image and may cause the reader to question credibility. On the other hand, writing in a way that’s too authoritative may put off would-be blog subscribers who appreciate a more a sense of community incorporated with conversational tone and easy-to-read posts.
Words and techniques that affect your tone include:
- Use of adjectives
- Use of a thesaurus
- Article structure
- Active and passive voice
- First, second or third-person point of view
- Use of punctuation
As an SEO writer, you must create quality content that flows well for the reader, but also attracts search engines using keywords relative to your topic. Keywords must exist naturally in your copy, without sounding overkill or appearing forced. After all, if you wouldn’t want to read what you’re writing, why would anyone else?
Learning to use a keyword effortlessly may seem tricky if you’re like many writers, though there are some tips for incorporating the awkward phrases into your copy. For instance, experienced freelancers make regular use of titles, subtitles and paragraph headings to slip in contrary keywords.
If you’re still having difficulty using your keywords, try writing your entire copy without the keywords. Write instinctively and on-topic, relieving the pressure to force keywords into your work. The result will be an article or post with value to its reader. Before submitting or publishing the work, sporadically scatter your keywords throughout the article in the areas they sound best.
Allison W is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments. WriterAccess is powered by ideaLaunch.