It’s kind of ironic – recently I’ve been reading a lot of different blogs on a lot of different topics to try and freshen up my style and get new ideas. In my Web travels I’ve come across not just one, but a few different blog posts that mock and criticize what has sort of become the characteristic format of a post written by an exhausted blogger. It starts with a cheap – though descriptive – title: “Three Tips for Traveling by Plane This Summer” or “The Benefits of Using All-Natural Sunscreen.” It’s followed by an introductory paragraph that explains how the topic relates to what’s currently happening in the world, and then breaks up into a few paragraphs with headings that delineate each “tip” or “benefit.”
While this format doesn’t necessarily mean that the content isn’t useful, there’s an issue when every post you’re churning out looks exactly the same. It reads more as apathy than authenticity – a symptom of what I like to call Exhausted Blogger Syndrome, which is a cold you don’t want to catch.
If you’re guilty of churning out such a piece in the past, don’t feel bad – we all are. Blogging, like any task, can easily become muscle memory. But today’s SEO environment depends on keeping things fresh and authentic, so when you’re suffering from Exhausted Blogger Syndrome, here are a few commandments to keep in mind.
• Thou shalt not assume the reader has no common sense. If you’re not an expert on the topic and you wrote the blog post without doing very much research, it’s probably boring. Find some statistics that may shock and awe me about the price increase of checked bags – don’t just tell me to pack light!
• Thou shalt not fear the themed post. One of the reasons I keep checking my favorite blogs for updates is because they do a weekly themed post, like Friday’s Outfit of the Day or Monday’s Industry Update. It builds a sense of community within the blog, it sparks discussion, and it gives you the opportunity to link to an old post which sends visitors clicking around the site.
• Thou shalt provoke discussion. It’s not uncommon for me to write a blog post and end it with a question to encourage posters to leave a comment. This is great for SEO and it’s great for building a blog following.
• Thou shalt invite guest bloggers. Whenever I feel like my blog is getting stale, I bring in a guest blogger! The new perspective is refreshing, it attracts readers from their blog, and it helps me gain ideas for a new direction in which to take my blog. And that being said…
• Thou shalt interact with other bloggers. Don’t become content with the process of posting a blog and having it float around in the ominously silent open space of the Web. Find other bloggers who blog on your topic and talk to them! It’s another great way to generate ideas, and they’ll be likely to comment on your discussions as well.
• Thou shalt vary post lengths. Don’t be afraid of a post that seems too short or too long, as long as every word counts. When you start stuffing in content just for the sake of word count or cutting yourself off before you’re done speaking, that’s when things get super dry. Leave the 1-3-1 format to middle schoolers and switch it up!
If you can make your product sexy, there’s a good chance sales will spike. In the online marketplace, one of the easiest ways to do that is through your content–appealing, engaging text and product images.
But what do I mean by “sexy” content? Well, sexy content attracts users through its looks–originally. Like a pretty girl or a handsome man, if your content is easy on the eyes, it’ll attract people. Then, like an intelligent woman or man, if you have something good to say, you’ll keep them there.
So how do we get our content sexy?
Trim the Fat
Like I said, your content should be easy on the eyes. That means you need to trim the fat. By eliminating long, drawn-out sentences and paragraphs, you’ll be able to whittle your content down to a concise message.
Big chunks of text, bogged down with unnecessary modifiers, scare readers off. By keeping things brief with one sentence logically flowing into the next, you’ll find that more visitors read your content from beginning to end.
Be Active and Build up the Muscle
What sounds better: The ball was hit by the golfer down the fairway or the golfer clobbered the ball, launching it down the middle of the fairway? Most people would say the latter. That’s because it’s in the active voice.
Good writing contains strong action verbs. Good writing packs a punch. It keeps your readers on their toes rather than lulling them to sleep. Don’t be afraid to flex those muscles and create strong content that keeps readers locked in.
Spice it Up
Predictability isn’t sexy. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of sexy. Content that’s formatted the same way on every page will turn people off.
Instead, spice things up with a picture. Break your content up with subheadings and bulleted lists–anything to provide a little variety, a little diversity. This will also make your content easier to scan which improves the user experience.
Well-Groomed and Articulate
Being sexy isn’t all about looks. If something is truly sexy, it’s both physically and intellectually attractive. This means your content needs to be error-free and it needs to bring something interesting to the conversation. No one wants to date a person with the intelligence of parking cone, regardless of how attractive they may be.
I know that if I start reading an article and find a grammatical error, I automatically like it less. Also, if I start to read something and feel like I’m not getting anything out of it, I’ll stop.
So, how sexy is your content? Leave a comment here on our blog or message me directly at dheinkel(at)webimax.com.