You have heard it all before. Good copy starts with a great headline, valuable information and easy to read language. But what about making your content stand out from the crowd?
With millions of blog posts, ebooks and white papers being uploaded to the world wide web every day, your content needs to stand out in order to get read.
Creating stand-out content requires you to go above and beyond, to ensure that your content not only gets opened but is loved by your audience.
This requires you to think a little differently when it comes to creating killer content. Yes, headlines and all the rest matter, but there is more to it than that.
If you really want your content to stand out from the crowd, you have to think about…
Your Ultimate Question
Let’s take it back a bit. Why are you writing content in the first place?
Content is designed to help educate and provide your readers with value. It is this value that will hopefully lead them to view your brand and business as being-
And don’t we all want our customers to think these things about our brand?
When your write content your ultimate goal should be to provide your reader with information that is going to be valuable to them. To do this, you have to know the types of questions that your audience is asking and what answers they are looking for.
To really offer value to your audience, you have to be able to answer their questions. You have to write content as if it was geared to their exact and specific needs.
Thanks to the convenience of sites like Quora, there are so many platforms that you can browse through to determine the type of questions that your audience may be asking.
Other places to check include-
- Your social media account
- The social media accounts of your competitors
- Your feedback or testimonials
- Your customer emails or queries
- Yahoo Answers
- Review sites (Amazon etc.)
Aim to make a list of questions that your audience may be interested in learning about and then use those questions as the backbone to your content strategy.
In particular, focus on questions or feedback from your target audience that use strong emotive words such as, “I hate it when…” or “I love it when…”.
These emotional statements can give rise to many more questions and content ideas and are more likely to lead to copy that your audience is passionate to read about.
Besides looking to your customers for questions, it may also be beneficial to ask your staff or even make a list of your own questions. Put yourself in your customers shoes- what would you like to know?
There is no one out there that knows your company and brand better than you do, so take a moment to stop and think what value you could be offering to your audience.
Keeping Your Keyword Search Simple
While it is very helpful to take the time to research the perfect keywords in-depth, sometimes there is an easier and more effective way.
Simply type your keyword into Google’s search bar and see what options drop down in the list below. These are examples of commonly searched phrases in regards to your content, and can help you to quickly see what people are looking for.
Google also provides related search ideas at the bottom of every search page, which also provides ideas and clues as to what types of questions people are asking.
This strategy may be basic, but it instantly helps you to-
- Find the common phrases surrounding your keywords
- Discover what people want to know when it comes to your keyword
- Determine the competition surrounding your keyword and what has already been written
- How interested people are in regards to your keyword
By doing this quick exercise, it will help you to develop the perfect keywords to use without the hassle of long-winded research.
It can also help you to potentially find a new angle in regards to approaching your topic and how you can make your content stand out from what has already been written.
By using Google’s search bar, you can fine tune your content and create far more powerful headlines in very little time.
Making it Conversational
Blogs are different to formal essays or research reports. No one wants to read an article stuffed with a lot of technical jargon, long quotes from famous researchers and pages of references.
In the same way, people also don’t want to read content and be met with copious amounts of formal wording and perfectly poised grammar.
While you don’t want to create sloppy content, at the same time you want your content to be approachable and conversational.
Online content is more about having a conversation in order to educate, rather than dictating or reprimanding your readers.
To achieve this, you need to keep your content light-hearted and aligned with the overall tone and message of your brand.
Even though using “it’s” instead of “it is” may not be perfect grammar, if it helps to support your tone of voice and overall writing style, consider using it. This will help your content to not only stand out from the crowd but also appear more readable and relatable.
When people read your content, you want them to feel as if they are getting to know you and what you stand for. So, stay true to your writing style and voice. After all, this is what makes you unique and is something that only you can offer.
Keeping Ahead of the Trends
Whether you are in the fashion or tech industry, there are always trends. By keeping up to date with the latest trends, it can help to shape relevant and engaging content for your readers.
Most social media sites keep a “what’s trending list” on their dashboards because they know that people are always interested in the latest news from around the web. By looking at trending topics or stories, readers are also made to feel that they are part of something and are up to date with the latest information.
As a content writer, you can capitalise on these trends by fashioning your content around them. While trends may come and go, they do help to give you an idea of where to direct your content.
Besides looking at social media sites for what is trending you can also look to Google Trends. This free service allows you access into what is trending around the world. It also provides more comprehensive insights such as maps, charts and other tools.
This can help you to create content that is tailored specifically for a certain audience in a certain geographical area.
Finding long-staying trends may also help you to fashion more timeless content. This includes researching trends of the past and determining how they may be shifting forward in the future. To determine this, it may be necessary to stay up to date with the latest research and statistics in your industry.
You can also monitor trends to keep track of upcoming events such as Christmas, election day, the AFL grand final and so on. This allows you to take global or even local events or issues and tailor them more specifically for your audience.
Using Other Search Engines
It’s not all just about Google. There are other search engines out there that are worth paying attention to in order to help your content stand out from the crowd.
This includes search engines like-
While Google, Bing and Yahoo reign supreme, these lesser known search engines can help you to understand your audience in a different way and create more relevant content.
Use your keywords on these search engines to see what others may be saying or looking for. You may also want to pay attention to the different SEO factors for each platform.
Split Testing Your Headline
Most of the big content sites require all of their writers to split test their headlines, and for good reason. The headline is the most important part of your content, and often single handedly determines whether or not your content is even going to get read.
According to Copyblogger-
“On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of your title, and why it so highly determine the effectiveness of the entire piece.”
While it may not be practical for your business to split test and monitor every headline, it is definitely worth paying attention to the types of headlines that perform better than others.
Based on the most up to date research, there are 5 known factors that a good headline encompasses-
- It uses numbers: including numbers consistently attracts readers as it offers transparency. Your reader knows what to expect and that your article will be broken down into an easy to follow list.
- It uses power words: power words are really just adjectives that are influential. The more creative you can get with your adjectives, the more likely they are to have a powerful influence on your readers. It is also important to avoid using words that evoke fear or worry, such as “contract”, “price” or “decision”. These words have a negative connotation for many people and may scare away your readers.
- It is accurate: there is nothing worse than a misleading headline, which is why being truthful about what your article is about can help your article to actually get read.
- It is short and sweet: headlines ideally need to be between 5-10 words or 55 characters or less. This is the sweet spot for having your full headline displayed on search engine results and most social media sites.
- Keep the mystery: by giving too much away in your headline, you remove the compulsion for people to continue reading, by being too vague readers get frustrated and look elsewhere. The perfect headline should blend a sense of mystery and facts to achieve the best results.
When it comes to successful blog posts, there are also four styles of content that consistently perform best. These content styles can also help you to formulate the perfect headline.
Here are some examples:
- 5 Trends for Spring Fashion 2016
- 10 Things We Love About Google
- How to Save More Money Using this One Secret Tip
- What No One Tells You About Buying a Home
- Why Not All Banks are Created Equal
- The Complete Guide to Marketing
- The Beginners Guide to Tetris
- The Ultimate Guide to Learning French
- Butter Vs. Margarine: Which is Really Better For You?
- Why Bing is Better Than Yahoo
Being Authoritative and Persuasive
For most businesses the ultimate goal with their content is to get readers to sign up, subscribe or purchase something. While you never want to tailor your blog posts to be simply all about your end goal, what you do want to ensure is that your blog posts are authoritative and persuasive.
This means that your content is written with confidence and allows your reader to be persuaded by your tone of voice and brand image.
Being persuaded is not always bout getting your reader to buy something, it is more about persuading them that you are worth buying from.
To do this, your content needs to stand for something, and clearly affirm to your readers what your brand is all about.
Don’t be afraid to take a stance in your content and state what you believe and feel. As long as you are being true to your brand and voice, there should be no regrets.
When you analyse your content and track your results, you learn valuable information that can help you to not only create content but also help your content to stand out from the crowd.
There are many ways to track the effectiveness of your content by looking at platforms such as Google Analytics and social media sites. But, however you choose to track your content, be sure that you can turn it into actionable results.
- Reading your data
- Understanding your data
- Being able to take your data and use it in an effective way
Certain things that you want to look out for when it comes to tracking the effectiveness of your posts also includes monitoring-
- Which styles of posts receive the most engagement
- Which topics receive the most engagement
- Which social posts (ie. images, tweets) generate the most engagement
Structuring Your Content in a Thoughtful Way
Structuring your content means having subheadings, clear paragraphs and also including bullet points and images.
This not only makes your content easier to read, but it also helps your content to become scannable, which is very important if you want more of your readers to be engaged with your content.
If you really want your content to stand out from the crowd however, you can take this one step further by following a simple technique that many journalists use. This involves-
- Having your article lead by the who, what, when, where and how
- Revealing your facts in the order of importance at the beginning of your post
- Adding quotes and additional information towards the end of your post
- Wrapping it all up with a conclusion and solid ending
It is important to remember that when writing your content, not everyone is going to read to the end. Therefore, it is important to put your most valuable information in the beginning. This also helps to hook your readers and keeps them engaged.
Another format commonly used by top bloggers includes (from start to finish)-
- Showing your readers why your content matters to them
- Highlighting the end results or the main points
- Sharing your research or interpreting how this applies to your readers life
- Offering a conclusion or summary
Another popular strategy is following the 4 U’s-
There are many different formats that copywriters use to create content that will stand out from the crowd. Perhaps experiment with using a few different methods to see which one fits your voice and style best.
Using a Checklist
The final step when it comes to having your content stand out from the crowd is to use a checklist to help ensure that your content measures up to all of your requirements.
Your checklist will ultimately depend on your content strategy, however here is a solid example of where to start.
- Audience: does your headline directly address your target audience?
- Power: does your headline evoke an emotion using power words?
- Intrigue: does your headline intrigue your reader to open your content?
- Concise: is your headline clear, concise and truthful in 55 characters or less?
- Intention: does your headline state a clear intention of what the reader can expect?
- Question: does your headline ask or raise an important question of value for your readers?
- Connection: does your subheading make a connection to your headline?
- Raise importance: does your subheading raise the importance of your headline?
- Qualify: does your subheading qualify your heading?
- Motivate: does your subheading motivate your readers to continue?
- Clear: is the value of your content immediately clear?
- Desirable: is your content desirable to your audience?
- Stand out: does your content offer something unique from the competition?
- Audience: is your content aligned with the values of your target audience
- Simple: is your value communicated in a simple way?
- Researched: are your claims and keywords backed up by ample research?
- Momentum: does your introduction build momentum and intrigue?
- Flow: is there a flow from one thought to the next?
- Structure: do you offer your most valuable information first?
- Subheadings: do you have subheadings that are bolded and help your content to be scannable?
- Value: do your subheadings instantly offer or highlight the value of your content?
- Educate: does your content provide valuable information?
- Trust: does your content appear trustworthy and honest?
- Images: have you broken up your content with images/graphs/tables etc?
- Emotion: does your conclusion warrant a powerful emotive response?
- Call to action: does your conclusion tie into your call to action or intention?
- Summary: does your conclusion effectively summarise your main message?
Call to Action
- Focused: is your call to action focused and consistent throughout your content?
- Clarity: is your call to action visible in your content?
- Delivery: does your content support the delivery of your call to action?
- Actionable: is your call to action, actionable?
Tone of Voice
- Conversational: is your content conversational rather than preachy?
- True to you: is your tone true to your brand and image?
- Flowing: is your tone natural and smooth throughout your content?
- Grammar: is your spelling and grammar checked and simple to read?
- Data: do your statements have data to back them up?
- Theory: are your theories well explained and researched?
- Story: does your content tell a story that is relevant to your audience?
- Emotive: is your language expressive and emotive?
- Social proof: does your content offer proof of concept?
- Consistency: is your message consistent and aligned with your brand mission?
- Likeable: will your content make your readers fall in love with your brand?
- Urgency: does your content create a sense of urgency?
By having a checklist it helps you to not only produce top quality content, but it also allows you to keep track of what is working and what is not. This allows you to produce better content and in time, will definitely help your content to stand out from all of the rest.
Creating content is one of the most effective ways to grow your business, but with so much content being uploaded every second of every day, it is important to ensure that your work stands out from the crowd.
By following these clear steps, your content can do just that and your brand will be well on the way to having killer content that not only gets opened and read but also offers value to your customers.