Being able to write an effective article that gets you to the top of search engines and engages your target market is a vital component of your broader digital marketing strategy.
This isn’t anything new; creating captivating and informative content has long been a means of cheaply building credibility as an expert of your specific industry, allowing you to build a reputable brand that generates plenty of conversions. However, the list of benefits means that many businesses have the same idea, leading to a saturation of content, meaning it’s more challenging to get your articles to have the same impact as they once did.
Just because there is a proliferation of articles does not mean that writing content as part of your digital marketing strategy is a waste of time, it just means that you need to employ certain methods and strategies to beat your competitors to the top spots on the search engines. This article covers everything you need to know to write effective articles.
The challenge of remote work
It’s worth noting the impact of COVID19, as working from home means that you’re more likely to be in a disruptive environment. Children, pets and housemates can all bring various levels of distraction. This is something that needs to be minimised to be able to write compellingly. No one likes to be halfway through a great sentence, only to lose their train of thought to a distraction.
To create an ideal work environment at home, read our advice here.
In the last few years, there has been a significant decline in articles with fewer than 500 words. Short-form articles simply don’t rank in the way they used to, and with good reason.
Writing an effective article takes more than detailing a brief overview of a subject. To get search engines to rank the content highly, the writer needs to really engage with the topic of choice, exploring the problems their target faces, and the solutions that the business can provide.
Outbound links backing up any evidence in the article need to be included and sourced from reputable publications. Additionally, relevant internal links need to be added to improve the stickiness of your website, as well as increasing the traffic to other pages within your site.
If you’re grappling with a topic and including various sources to back up your claims, your word count is quickly going to exceed the 500 mark, which reflects the general shift in blog lengths generally. The average online article is now 1142 words, a 41% increase in the average word count from three years ago.
As a result, for most blogs you write, you should be aiming for at least 1000 words. You can also write an effective article that is 3000 words + every three months or so, in which you include many inbound links that are applicable to the topic of the article. This form of content is called a cornerstone article.
Now that you are aware of the importance of writing more lengthy blog posts, you need to know how you can structure it effectively.
If you loosely stick to the following structure, you will be able to write effective articles time and again:
- Context – set the scene and contextualise what’s happening
- The problem – identify what challenges the target reader is most likely facing
- The solution – you should provide the solution. Go into depth about how the reader can solve their problems. Remember to softy explain, you are the solution.
- Conclusion – create a reason why they need to urgently fix their challenges. Fear of missing out or a problem that’s detrimental to their business usually hits it on the head.
Number 2 and 3 can be broken down into 3 challenges with one solution. This method is recommended by the book The Challenger Sale and should be used when creating longer articles.
For the SEO readability, write in short, concise paragraphs as opposed to lengthy text-heavy ones. This way, you avoid being discursive and readers can quickly pick out the main points and digest the information at a glance. It’s also a good idea to thread quotes epitomising the stance you are taking on your chosen topic throughout.
As part of your content strategy, you need to commit to maintaining an awareness of how your articles may be affected by algorithms. There’s no point in spending your time and resources writing what you think is an effective article, only for it to not to rank high enough to receive any visitors.
Remember that algorithms impact more than just your content. If you want to find out how they may affect your social media marketing, click here.
It may seem like a pain, but algorithms are there to ensure that the content ranked in the top spots isn’t a duplicate lifted from elsewhere and that the top articles answer the searcher’s query.
Most algorithms undergo small alterations on a daily basis, but occasionally more drastic changes take place, causing disruption. If you maintain awareness of what’s going on with the algorithms, you can quickly adapt to any potentially unprecedented changes. Click here to read more on digital disruption.
In 2018, Google implemented a significant algorithm update, called EAT, which disrupted how content is ranked on the search engine. To write an effective article that has any chance of being ranked in Google’s top spots, it’s essential that your content fulfils the EAT criteria.
There are three components to the algorithm you should be aware of:
- Expertise – You need to demonstrate that you are an expert in your field; you can achieve this by creating informative and educational long-form content (with a call to action at the end). For these articles, you should aim to write at least 2000 words.
- Authority – Alongside proving your expertise, you need to show that you are a thought-leader and have authority within your industry. To do this you need include links from respected websites the relevant information within the context of your subject. This is called outbound linking. For example, if you wrote that the digital marketing sector has increased by X%, you would need to link it to a legitimate resource containing that information.
- Trust – Building and maintaining credibility has always been vital for gaining the trust of your target, but now it’s just as essential for you to rank highly on Google. You will need an SSL certificate, reviews, testimonials, case studies, correct and up-to-date information.
SEO – using the free version of Yoast
It almost goes without saying that to write an effective article, you need to prioritise SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Everything included in this article should part of your wider SEO strategy, but for this section, I’m focusing specifically on the importance of your SEO keyword phrase.
A keyword or a keyword phrase (KWP) is something used as part of effective SEO. For example, if you’re writing about a topic such as equine, and your target is people looking to buy riding equipment, a keyword phrase may be ‘riding boots’, ‘top quality riding helmets’ or ‘horse riding equipment’ etc. If your SEO is effective, users typing in that phrase into Google should see your content listed in the results, depending on what level of competition there is for that KWP, how much traffic you receive, what your site authority is and so on.
It’s crucial that your keyword phrase is right for the topic you want to be found for. There are many useful tools out there that can help you determine your keyword. You can look at Ubersuggests and SEMRush as free online options.
This will also help you alter your keyphrase each time you write about a similar topic, as using the same one twice or more will mean that you are competing to rank with your own content. Because there are so many variations of the keyword phrases, you can continue to write content that ranks highly without running out of ideas.
Using SEO tools to rank
So, why do we need additional tools to help the content rank? Google is incredibly smart and continues to learn and change significantly year on year. According to Moz, an average of 9 changes are made to the Google algorithm each day.
However, like the Yellow Pages, it still needs help determining what’s the best order to rank websites that are relevant to the user. Hence why we need to ‘SEO’ the website’s content. There are 200 ranking factors when it comes to Google algorithms, and downloading the free version of Yoast is a good way for beginners to get started. However, the premium version, in our opinion, well worth the investment.
These aspects are crucial if you’re looking for your articles to rank:
The keyword needs to appear in the following:
- The Alt text of the optimised image
- In the title (H1)
- In the first sentence (or the first paragraph)
- Consistently mentioned throughout the article (when relevant- don’t overdo this)
- Included in the slug
- Included in the meta description
- No stop words in the slug (words like ‘to’ and ‘and’)
- Internal links
- External links (outbound linking)
- Meta description needs to be the correct length
- Title needs to be the correct length
- Don’t use the same keyword phrase in more than one article (otherwise your content will be competing against itself)
Publishing regular articles
It’s all well and good knowing how to write an effective article, however, you also need to be prepared to publish content on a regular basis. One good article isn’t going to rank very high, but if you commit to 50 over the course of a year (one a week), you will see the results improve over time. Obviously, the more you do, the more highly your content will rank.
If you already have a well-established blog, you can get away with posting a minimum of one blog a month, although you should really be aiming for at least two on a monthly basis, depending on your workload.
Updating old content
If you’ve been writing content for a number of month/years, but they are failing to produce traffic, use all the information above to revisit your old articles and see if you can update them all. The algorithms will pick up on updated content and rank it more highly.
You should look to update content that is older than 3 years. A good place to start is by going back to the start of your content and work from there.
You will need to:
- Check links and amend any broken ones
- Update outdated information
- Add any new information
- Delete any ‘dead weight’ (blogs that are now completely irrelevant and can’t be updated or blogs that aren’t aligned to your target audience)
If your business has never written content, it can be a challenge to find the resources for someone to write content, and even if you do, it takes time to learn how to write an effective article. If this is the case for you, the best option may be to outsource the work to experts who already have the experience and knowledge to quickly turnaround impactful content.
Note, if you’re going from a standing start, it will take time for traffic to build and leads to be generated. Remember to be patient and to monitor your website traffic. Google, on average, index a website every 6 weeks, which is one of the main factors of why it takes time. You can, of course, increase traffic to your website by posting or publishing articles on social media. For business to business (B2B) marketing, LinkedIn is a fast and effective way to do this. If this is your preferred approach, you need to be aware that building traction from your content happens over time as the number of articles builds up, and it also needs to be integrated with your overall digital marketing strategy for you to receive a good return on investment (ROI).
Writing content is a creative process. No matter who you choose to write on your behalf, ensure you spend the necessary time with them at the start. You will have your own set of values and beliefs that need to be communicated in the articles as well as any level of technical depth. Very much like training your staff, the more you put in, the more you will get out of them, making your life easier.
Therefore, simply paying a freelance content writer may not be as constructive as paying a digital marketing agency with in-house content creators.
Whatever option you deem best, there are positives and negatives to consider on either side to be considered.
It may seem like a lot to take on board, but once you get into the routine of writing regular content, you will quickly fall into the pattern of implementing all the necessary steps, so much so that it will feel like second nature to write an effective article. Remember that for your content to gain traction, you should always be questioning what your target wants an answer to, and through that method, along with overcoming the technical hurdles, you can become a go-to authoritative voice on your topic of choice, generating more traffic and more conversions.
If you need help to write an effective article or want to outsource your content marketing altogether, KUB is here to help. Get in touch to see how your business could benefit from expertly written content.