Create engaging content.
You always see this tip on blogs, social media, content creation workshops and seminars.
Having engaging content attracts visitors to your website, makes them stay, share your posts on social media, thus increasing awareness for your brand, traffic to your website and help build relationship with your readers.
But how do you create great articles, videos, infographics, and images that will capture the attention of visitors and keep them engaged?
Below are my nine steps.
9 Steps to Creating Engaging Content
1. Know your purpose
In Journalism, each article has a purpose. It can educate, inform, guide or entertain. It can have dual purposes too. News and sports articles can inform and educate; feature articles can guide and entertain; while editorials can educate and inform.
I also apply this to every article I write. I ask the following questions:
- What’s my purpose? Is it to inform others of an upcoming event? Educate them on a specific tool? Guide them on how to do something? Or entertain them with my latest experience? This article, for instance, aims to guide you, my reader on how to create engaging content.
- How can this article help my readers? How will my reader benefit from an upcoming event? If my reader is a newbie writer, for example, and my upcoming event is “How to Create an Effective Content Calendar for Your Blog and Social Media, he or she will learn this skill and add it to his or her portfolio and services.
After deciding what my purpose for an article is, I always do competitor research and keyword research.
The first gives me an idea of what similar websites are writing about and provides me with some inspiration on how to create my content.
For spying on my competitors, I usually use Spyfu. The free version may give you limited searches and results, but nevertheless valuable.
And while I’m doing my research, I also list down related keywords. They’re very useful for SEO purposes.
3. Create a working headline
Here’s the thing – how can you engage a reader if your headline doesn’t capture his attention in the first place? He won’t be able to see and benefit from your content no matter how well-crafted it is.
But creating a really good headline takes time – which might seriously impede your writing. Yeah, I know, been there, done that, never again, lol!
So I create a working title just to provide a framework for whatever I am writing. Titles can change, anyways, depending on how the article flows. This is especially true when I plan to write a listicle. I’d start with 10 Ways to… and then, I realize there are more or less than 10 ways so I tweak the number to 7 to 15 to whatever.
And sometimes, while writing, a good headline pops into my head – just like that. This blog post, for instance, started with the headline, “Engaging Content: 8 Tips on Creating a Good One” to “8 Tips to Writing Engaging Content”. Halfway through, I changed it to its current headline.
4. Create a bulleted or numbered list
I write blogs and website content for a living, so I must come up with something every single day. I cannot wait for the right mood or the perfect moment or the muse to inspire me.
To make my life easier, I list down everything that comes to mind, every detail, no matter how irrelevant it might seem. Some points, I can use for the article I am currently writing, others, I can save for future content.
Here’s the list I created for this article. (Pardon the penmanship!) I call this my article’s skeleton.
5. Just write!
Now it’s time to give some muscles to my skeleton. I add some details to each point in my list. When I feel that a specific entry is not related or won’t be of any use to my article, I cross it out, write it somewhere else for future use.
Easier said than done, you say?
Well, it is, if you stop your internal editor from chiming in. Just write. Leave the editing for later. This will take some time to master, because our brains are trained to correct mistakes as we go. And don’t let SEO or your keywords get in the way too. In this stage, all you need to do is write.
Don’t overthink. Just write as if you’re talking to a friend. While writing this article, I am imagining that you’re beside me, listening to me as I guide you on how to create engaging content.
6. Organize thoughts
In Journalism this is called sequencing of facts. For newbies, the easiest way to do this is to print your draft then cut it between points. (This is how we taught our Journalism students.)
Then arrange them according to a logical sequence. For example, if I were to arrange the points in this article, I’ll start with the purpose, because it’s the first thing I do. Then research, working headline, and so on.
After organizing your thoughts, rewrite, this time using transitions where applicable. And please! Use the appropriate transitions!
I’ve had a writer who was so in love with “however”, she used it all over, even if it wasn’t suitable. Here’s a good guide on using transitions.
Do this step and practice daily. In time, your content will have paragraphs flowing smoothly from one to the other.
And – this is the best time (in my opinion) to insert your keywords. It will sound more natural.
At this point, I suggest you leave your article alone. Do something else. Look for images or get some snacks. Then come back later for the next step.
8. Edit and revise
Excited to publish your content? Don’t be too eager to hit the publish button!
Google may not directly penalize you for publishing content with bad grammar, but it will affect user experience. When this happens, your bounce rate will increase, causing Google to think that your website is not providing valuable content to readers. So don’t.
Edit it first. You can use Grammarly for this purpose. The free version has limited features, but it’ll give you a good start. Then leave your article. Sleep or go out for a while. Then revise. Believe me, you’ll notice mistakes when you look at your article with fresh eyes.
Why do you need to optimize your content?
It’s your way of helping your readers and search engines find you.
So how do you optimize your content? It all starts with using your focus or main keyword in the following:
- Headline. If possible, use it in the beginning.
- First paragraph of your blog post. Better yet, use it in the first sentence. See how I started this post?
- At least once in the body of your article. Remember what I said in Step 2? That you should list down related keywords? This is where those keywords come in handy. Use two or three of them in the body, preferably near images or videos. It’ll help with SEO.
- At least one heading or subheading (H2, H3).
Also, add an original image to your post and use your focus keyword in the alt text. See how I did it with one of the images in this article:
Link your blog internally and externally. This helps with SEO too. Here’s an example:
The word “Spyfu”, in the yellow box, is linked externally to http://www.spyfu.com. On the other hand, the phrase “Google Keyword Planner”, the one boxed in blue, is linked internally to my previous blog post, “Want to Overcome Writer’s Block?”, where I mentioned GKP.
Initially, you will find content creation and blog post writing time and effort consuming. But you will feel oh so great when you see your content being shared by your readers and the keyword you are aiming to rank for goes up, up, up in search engines.
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