The following is what you probably would not expect to read in an article about the best ways to ship car parts:
As he reached down, careful to align his knees and upper back, his gentle but firm grip was enough to lift the engine spare onto the ample wooden platform. Exhilarated from having followed the shipping procedures so rigorously, the mechanic proudly wiped the sweat of passionate labour from his brow.
What you would more likely encounter is an article that began something like this:
When shipping engine spares, safe handling and proper securing methods are very important to ensure the most reliable delivery of your products.
These texts are very different. Which did you personally find more engaging? You might be inclined to lean toward the first text as it was more stimulating (and a little bit silly), but who is the audience? This is a key question all writers must keep in mind.
Imagine that a mechanic needs to deliver engine spares to Europe and is browsing the web in search of solid advice on the most reliable shipping methods. If you were that mechanic, which of those texts would serve you better? Although a little flat, the second text would probably be more informative.
As SEO content writers, it’s our job to produce informative articles that that will engage the relevant audience. So how can we take dry subject matter and make it compelling to the reader? Let’s answer that question by breaking down a typical writing process and looking at a few tricks of the trade.
What happened next will shock you
In an age of easy-to-grasp-picture-tagged lists, half the people reading our articles are sitting on the toilet swiping from one notification to the next on their phone (where are you right now?). If you want people to keep reading you’ll need to reel them in and get them hooked.
Suppose client Y sells pens; a topic which, let’s face it, doesn’t exactly shout juicy click-bait – you’ll need to find an interesting angle that will engage their desired market: people who want to buy pens.
What’s the angle? What is there to say about pens?
- Building a literary Europe, a History of the Printing Press
- Saving money on office supplies
- A top ten list – world’s most expensive fountain pens
- The value of penmanship in the digital age
- 5 facts about pens – you won’t believe #4
These could be just a few ideas off the top of your head –what you’ve done is find topics that relate to pens, but aren’t limited to the writing implements themselves. You have proposed discussions that you the writer would find interesting, and that someone else might enjoy reading about as well if they were in the market for a pen or two.
So how do you keep a reader reading?
Do you have any ideas you’d like to explore?
One thing you can do is introduce your ideas with a question. It will usually be a question that is on your mind, and by asking it you give yourself two advantages; you appeal to the reader’s natural curiosity, and hopefully you’ll be asking the very same question that they’re asking themselves.
Here are some examples of questions you could ask if you were writing that article about shipping car parts:
- What is the maximum load on a standard pallet?
- What is the best way to secure heavy, cumbersome items for shipping?
- What type of pallet is best suited for shipping car parts?
(-WARNING-) Not all questions are good questions, but ask the right questions at the right time and your reader will find the temptation of reading on impossible to resist – even if it’s about heavy items and maximum loads.
Divide your article up
Give your reader a chance to breathe. Big blocks of text, no matter how well written, have the habit of getting ignored. So look for ways to keep info bite-size, and give your reader the chance to zero in on what they want to find.
blocks of information
are what we want
on the go.
At TrafficSource, we often like to decide on the main talking points and turn those ideas into subheadings or highlighted phrases. This is very handy for an internet-based readership.
Subpar subheadings don’t seduce
A subheading might point the reader to what’s coming next, but we’re more focused on grabbing our reader’s attention in order to keep their interest. You can do this by getting funky with words. Book titles, movie titles, puns and common expressions can all be great fun for titles.
- Bullet points are great for readers who just want to go straight to the information they are looking for.
- Be direct, save your creativity for elsewhere.
Pictures speak louder than a thousand puns
They also divide your article up nicely.
A conclusion to my conclusion
This is the place to solidify ideas that you’ve explored throughout the article. Bearing in mind that the final paragraph or two might be the only thing a busy reader checks to see if the article contains information that’s relevant to them, this is NOT the place to talk about something new.
So no matter all those catchy phrases, sexy subtitles and fun puns, remember to focus on an interesting angle and divide into manageable, easy-to-digest chunks.