8 Tips for Writing Better Content

Are you struggling to write content for your website? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there and continue to visit that place on occasion. Creating content doesn’t have to be difficult, but sometimes it takes a bit more effort than you might think. We’ve got a few tips for you to help get you writing better content for your blog.

Start writing better content by ignoring it

It may sound backward, but if you’re having trouble coming up with something to write, try leaving. That’s right, get out of there! Often what you really need is to get away from your work area and move around. Some people choose to take walks, others choose to exercise. A distraction from your work is sometimes the best way to motivate your mind.

Try to find something that takes your mind off of things. I usually go outside, scratch on my turntables or wash the dishes. It seems to work as a reset button to get things in my mind out of the way. If your content creation has been lacking, try finding something to distract you. Sometimes the best way to start writing better content is to stop trying.

Take the time to plan it out

Planning your content ahead of time is a great way to start writing better content.

If you’re having trouble with your content creation, it can be helpful to plan it out ahead of time. If have trouble writing, start getting some ideas together for topics. Tools like Trello can help you keep your ideas organized and together with easy management via the website or mobile app.

We use Trello for several different purposes. For ACWPThemes, we use it to track bugs and changes in WordPress themes. For Asheboro Creative, we use it for reminders and road mapping. For both of those and Webmaster Notebook, we use it to create a large list of topics we want to write about and share. In fact this is one from the list!

Making a list of different things you would like to talk about is a great way to begin writing better content. As you add more topics, you’ll begin to build a board full of ideas. Add notes to the description of each card when you add one. It’s a good way of giving yourself a reminder of what you were thinking when you made the card, and provides a jumping off point when you’re ready to write.

Find a quiet place and get in a zone

I have two kids so I understand how hard it can be to find a quiet place to do anything. Thankfully, the universe has provided coffee shops and libraries to allow us an escape. Finding a quiet place to work will allow you to focus your thoughts.

When I’m unable to get away, I typically use headphones to disrupt the noise. I may not have anything playing, but the headphones are large enough to block out a lot of noise, and quiet any that is closer. When I do have music playing, it’s usually from a playlist I’ve put together or from Radio Rivendell.

Getting away from everything is a great way to improve your work. The limited distractions will work in your favor by putting your writing in front, making it easier to start writing better content than if you still had the interruptions around you.

Use your personality

A large duck

Don’t write like a robot. Nobody likes reading technical manuals so put some personality into your writing. Including your dialect and sense of humor can catch audience attention and keep them interested. In fact, a great sense of humor can go a long way toward converting a first time visitor into a repeat reader. Just make sure not to include too much of your personality.

Keep things out that may annoy visitors. You don’t want to turn your post about financial advice into a political argument in your blog post comments (everything can somehow turn into a political argument).

Keep your paragraphs short

Writing for the web isn’t the same as what they taught you in school. Indented paragraphs of 5-7 sentences in Times New Roman at 12pt doesn’t translate very well to the Internet. Your content needs to be shorter, interesting and to the point. A key to writing better content is to get your ideas out quickly so readers who skim your pages will understand your information.

Long paragraphs are more difficult to read on the web, so make sure to break yours up when you can. Also, keep in mind that the width of the text is going to factor into the readability of the content. Big paragraphs and very long sentences can both lose your reader. Keep your paragraphs short, and your lines of text between 60-80 characters long (including spaces and punctuation).

Don’t try to impress us with big words

Start writing better content by not trying to use every big word you know.Pernicious and plethora are two of my favorite words. They have been for years. That doesn’t mean I use them a lot. Big words and phrases like “especially substantially tremendous” can easily be turned into “really big”. You don’t need to throw a thesaurus at us.

The use of big words is sometimes thought of as a way to show how intelligent a person is. The problem is that not everyone understands the words you are using. People don’t want to keep Googling your text just to figure out what you’re talking about. Keep words simple so everyone can understand you.

Use related images in your blog post

Images are hugely important for a few reasons.

  • They break up content long text.
  • They illustrate your information with a visual for your readers.
  • They can be used to boost SEO ranking.

Using images in your content can help you a lot. Make sure to use them when necessary and don’t over do it. Remember, the more images you add, the more your page weighs. A lot of uncompressed images can make a page slow, so make sure you optimize your images before using them. Also, use alt and title tags to let search engines know what they picture is and how it relates to your content.

Remember your audience

Woman writing in notepadIt’s easy to forget this but you aren’t writing for you. Your audience doesn’t know everything you do, otherwise they wouldn’t be on your site reading your content!

Make sure to keep your information relevant to your visitors. Explain things in detail and in a way that you would if you were teaching someone. If you start writing too technically or outside of the general knowledge of your audience, they won’t understand what you’re talking about. That can result in loss of visitors and impacts to your traffic metrics.

Have fun with writing!

Writing can be fun. It isn’t always, but since you’re picking the topics, try to select topics that will be of the most interest and the most fun to write about. The more fun you have, the easier writing better content will become.

Understanding Bounce Rate

When it comes to website metrics, you generally want to see high numbers on whatever analytics reporting system you use. You want lots of unique visitors, long amounts of time being spent on your site, and page hits to go through the roof. However, there is one number that you almost always want to be as low as possible, and that’s what we’re going to discuss here.

What Is Bounce Rate?

Google Analytics will report bounce rate, showing you how many people visit only a single page of your site and leave.
Google Analytics will report bounce rate, showing you how many people visit only a single page of your site and leave.

Anytime people come to your website, that is considered a visit. If a person comes to your site and leaves after only viewing the page they landed on, that is considered a bounce. They essentially “bounced” off of your website.

Your bounce rate is the number of visitors who bounced, divided by the total number of visitors to your website (those who did and did not bounce). As a metric, this number can show you what percentage of your visitors are not viewing more than one page of your website.

I mentioned that the bounce rate is a number that you almost always want to be as low as possible–almost being the operative word. For some websites and pages, a high bounce rate is normal. For instance, if you have a one page website, a high bounce rate is perfectly normal because there are no other pages to view. If you have your contact information on every page (such as a phone number in the header of the page) for the purpose of being contacted by visitors, a high bounce rate can be considered normal as long as you’re being contacted.

For websites that want flow through traffic, such a site that sells products, you will want a lower bounce rate. The more often people click through your site, the more they learn about your products and are likely to buy something. If you have an advertisement supported website, the more a visitor clicks through your site, the better it looks to your current and potential advertisers.

What can a high bounce rate tell you?

A high bounce rate can indicate a need for improvement in either your content, your site design, or both. If a visitor lands on a page on your site and can’t find their way to any other relevant or interesting content, they’ll leave. If they land on a page and it is either wrong, doesn’t make sense or is badly written, they won’t stick around. Make sure you write and present your content in the best way possible, and utilize a layout that makes the visitor want to continue to other areas of your site.

Things that can cause a bounce:

Lots of pop ups

Everyone hates pop ups, and using them can cause negative reactions to your website, especially if there are more than one per page.

Overloading your site with advertisements will cause your visitors to leave your site in a hurry
Overloading your site with advertisements, popups and other invasive items will cause your visitors to leave your site in a hurry

Overloaded Advertisements

Following right along with multiple popups, overloading your pages with advertisements can drive a visitor away in a hurry. It’s understandable that your website may be ad supported, but don’t over do it. It can get to a point where the content is being overpowered by advertisements and the visitor has a hard time using or reading your page.

Noise (music, sound effects, autoplaying video ads)

Unless you are running a music or video website, it’s not a good idea to have music or videos automatically play when the page loads. The visitor may already be listening to music, so your website shouldn’t interfere with what they are doing. I can’t tell you how many websites I’ve immediately left because of autoplaying noise that I don’t want to hear.

Content Issues

Make sure that your content is correct. If what you’re presenting is badly written or simply incorrect, the visitor is unlikely to visit the rest of your website. The same goes for dry and boring content. You don’t have to sound like a technical manual, even if you are a writing technical manual. Try to to keep your readers interested because if they bounce for this reason, it’s highly unlikely they’ll ever return.

“Top X Pictures” showing one picture per page

A trick used by some webmasters to increase their page views is to show a list of pictures across several pages, but placing only one picture on each page. This is highly annoying to a user. Rather than being able to see the full list of pictures on one page, you have to click through multiple pages, loading a new page each time. It’s a time consuming trick that drives some people away from the site, especially if the user doesn’t notice that they must click through several pages to view the pictures.

Slow pages

If a page is taking too long to load, it may be the only page they ever try. Make sure your site is loading quickly, and take any necessary steps to speed it up.

What is considered a high bounce rate?

This is a very hard question to answer. The reason is simple: not all websites or content are the same. A photo gallery for cars may have a lower bounce rate than a photo gallery for kitchen designs. A blog about current events in your hometown may have a higher bounce rate than one about current events in your state. Take into account that there are several types of websites that span across countless subjects. They won’t all have the same bounce rate.

Also, as I mentioned before, your site may have a high bounce rate because it’s only one page or has a call to action that doesn’t require the visitor to go further into the site to complete.

So how do you determine what a high bounce rate is? If you know other people who have similar websites, they may be able to give you an idea of what to expect. If not, you can research your website niche to find out what others are reporting. The best way I have found is to simply wait and review your analytics over time. If you have new content being added on a regular basis, you’ll be able to see how some pages rank against others.

If there doesn’t seem to be any consistency in bounce rate across your different pages, it’s likely that either some of your content is better than others, or your topics are so different from each other that judging an average bounce rate this way may not work. Compare the topics of pages that have a wide range between their bounce rate. Some pages will inherently have a higher bounce rate than others. For instance, your contact page will likely have a higher bounce rate than a list of your blog posts.

How can I lower my bounce rate?

While it’s true that you will always have visitors who bounce away from your site after one page view, there are ways that you can lower it. Below are a few effective methods I’ve used.

Internal Links

Internal linking can help reduce your bounce rate and provide your visitors with more information on your own site
Internal linking can help reduce your bounce rate and provide your visitors with more information on your own site

If you have a page that is discussing a topic which relates to other pages on your site, you can link to those pages within your content. This can attract a user to visit pages related to the content they are already reading, without having to leave your site. Link keywords and phrases to their relevant content found in other areas of your site, but don’t overdo it. A paragraph full of links can be irritating to look at for a visitor.

Related Posts

A list of related posts are internal links that connect to pages on your site with similar content. Depending on the way your posts are told to relate, you may be connecting to posts that have the same keywords, were written by the same author, or are in the same category on your website.

Related posts will usually show at the bottom of a page in a list, sometimes with a thumbnail image that represents the related page. It can attract a visitor to click through and read more of your content that relates to what they are already reading. Most Related Posts features on a website are generated automatically based on the content being viewed, which will make it easy to include.

Make your navigation easy to follow

A site that is easy to navigate around is going to have a much better chance of reducing it’s bounce rate. Use a clean, well designed navigation that isn’t complicated or overly cluttered.

Use your sidebars

On several sites I work with, we maximize the visibility of other areas of the site by using the sidebars. Showing links to other categories, new posts and related posts, visitor comments, and featured content, we have managed to reduce the bounce rate significantly as opposed to not using that space.

[info color=”light” ]Tip: Try using pictures to catch the visitors attention. When using a Featured Post widget in the sidebar, we also include an image to accompany that post. It catches the visitors attention better than just using text, and can help to reduce your bounce rate with each click through.[/info]

These tips should help you reduce your bounce rate and keep visitor traffic flowing through your site. There are many ways to reduce your bounce rate, but one of the best is to consider the site from a visitor’s point of view. Look at it from an outsider’s perspective, or better yet, ask others what they think of your site. Look for the negative so you can improve and keep people moving through your site to see the content you worked hard to build.