When it comes to creating high-quality content for your website, planning is half of the battle. No matter how long or short you intend your content to be, a solid plan forms a much-needed foundation that will make your content more effective.
This blog will run through just how significant the planning phase of writing really is, and we’ll give you some tips on how to create a content plan that works. But why is good content so important?
Your content is more than just pixels on a screen
Whatever you write on your website, the whole world has the opportunity to read it. With that in mind, there’s two super important things to consider before planning or writing anything at all:
- Just like in a physical conversation, people are going to react to the things you say, and those reactions can either be positive or negative.
- Instead of your own face (unless there’s photographs of you on the page), it’s your brand that people see. That’s who they’re going to associate your digital voice with.
For these exact reasons (and many, many more), it goes without saying that it would be a bad idea for a lot of businesses to go around dropping the F-bomb all over their website unless your brand was trying to be edgy. But it means a lot more than that. It means that your content can create a good reaction that benefits both the business and the site visitor (if they’re used correctly).
Figuring out what those words are, and what order they should go in – that’s what creating content and copy that works boils down to. Every single word on any site, no matter how small or irrelevant some of those words may seem, is there for a reason. Making sure those words do their intended job is part of the reason as to why planning your writing is so crucial.
Let’s get down to business
Creating content can be difficult. Creating actual good content can be even more so. There’s a long list of boxes to tick for copy and content to be ‘good’, and some of these boxes are less obvious than others. From a business point of view, it’s a lot more than just making sure that the spelling and grammar is right.
You need to take strategies and the technical side of things into consideration, particularly search engine optimisation (SEO) which allows your content to show up and rank highly on search engine results pages (SERPs).
We’re going to look at some important tips for writing content that speaks to people. Because no matter how high your pages rank in Google, your writing still needs to communicate with your readers and potential customers to achieve your goals. Planning is one of the best ways to make sure you’re going to be able to do that.
Find your voice
Before you start planning how you’re going to grab someone’s attention, you’re going to need to know whose attention you’re actually looking to grab. This is going to be one of the biggest contributors to what you write, and why you’re actually going to write it. Knowing how to write for your target audience is not only going to make your overall content better, it’s also going to make the actual writing (and planning) process a lot easier.
This isn’t the only thing to consider though. Remember when we mentioned about your brand essentially being your digital face (or words to that effect)? Well, your brand has its own personality too. The content on your site portrays that personality. It’s how you communicate with everyone who visits your site and it gives them a strong sense of who you are and what you do. Putting your own stamp on the content you create is one of the best ways to stand out from the crowd.
It’s always a good idea to check out;
- how your competitors are going about things
- what your target audience is reading
- where your target audience is reading it
This will give you more of an in-depth knowledge in order to start crafting your brand’s unique tone of voice and what it would be suitable for.
By combining these elements and deciding what your brand’s persona revolves around, you’ll be well on your way to getting yourself heard (in a metaphorical sense) the way you want to be.
Build yourself a brief for better content
It’s not always easy to get started with writing, let alone being able to smash out a lengthy blog post from the top of your head. As part of the pre-planning process, creating yourself a brief for the content is an extremely helpful way to start solving that problem. This is your plan in its most basic form.
A brief doesn’t have to be complicated at all. Start things off by deciding what you actually want your content to do. That could be to help sell something, to guide someone through a particular task, or just to explain what’s happening on a page (other options are available!).
Just give yourself a goal you ultimately want to achieve with your content. If you roughly know what that content’s likely to be about (such as the product you’re looking to sell, the task you’re guiding people through, or the page your content is going to be published on), you’ve pretty much got yourself a basic brief.
You can take your brief further than that if you want, that’s completely down to you (unless someone else is giving you that brief). But this will form the basis of your plan, your research, your writing, and your post-publishing analysis. It’s a list of goals you want your content to achieve, and it’s a perfect way to keep your writing on-task and relevant, as well as to actually get you started.
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Research what you’re going to write about, but don’t overthink it
It’s easy to tell when a piece of writing hasn’t necessarily been thought about that much. It’s also incredibly easy to see when it’s been thought about too much.
Chances are, you’re going to be pretty knowledgeable on what your business or brand deals with. That’s good news, because the key to creating good quality content starts with knowing what you’re writing about. But not knowing everything is a good thing too – it drives you to carry out research and gain an enhanced understanding of the things you may already know, as well as providing you with a deeper knowledge of additional details and topics.
This is a huge contributor to creating unique content that gives your readers and customers the information they’re looking for. It also helps with the technical side of things, because Google will deem pages with more original, informative content to be more relevant to people’s searches, thus ranking them higher on SERPs.
As you can probably tell from what we’ve spoken about so far, research plays a pretty big part in writing quality pieces of content, regardless of what that content is. But (and this might sound a little controversial) try not to overdo it.
By that, we mean don’t try to cover too many bases within your content unless absolutely necessary. It’s easy to start throwing in extra information that can either ruin the flow of your writing, or send it down a completely different path entirely. Whilst it’s still potentially relevant and informative, you might find that readers may not make it to the end of the work that you spent hours creating. They may be looking for a very specific answer, and if they don’t find it, or what they’re looking at starts to feel irrelevant to their needs, they’re unfortunately going to start looking elsewhere.
There are obviously exceptions to this not-so-set-in-stone rule, and it’s going to heavily rely on what the topic of your content is. Things such as product listings, category pages, and blog pieces on certain (possibly already-established) topics are easier to manage with regards to research. But particularly for new brands or subjects that haven’t had the benefit of being in the public eye so much, it can be tricky to find that balance between too much and too little.
The research you carry out will help you plan your pieces, and that plan will keep you on track with what you’re talking about. Just remember to use trustworthy sources for your research, and keep it relevant.
Craft your plan for better content, and prepare to write
Hopefully these three steps will help you to plan your next piece of content effectively. Once you’ve got your plan in place, the writing can begin! Keep your eyes peeled for future Content article from Agency51 (Like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter) where we’ll run through the writing phase and help you get that content written.
In the meantime, if you’re looking to take your content further and increase your reach, rankings and revenue, why not get in touch with us and see how we can help.