Now that I’ve had time to reflect on 2020, I cannot say that this year wasn’t a challenge, yet I cannot deny that it was an opportunity. Amidst such challenging times, your words can mean so much more than you think.
Even though the world is moving towards digitization, written content, both printed and digital, is here to stay. That’s because written content is more authoritative and can be skimmed easily.
With 4.66 billion internet users worldwide (reported by Statista for October 2020), the importance and relevance of online content will stay at its peak for the foreseeable future. How you maintain an online presence will have a deep impact on whatever you’re trying to achieve.
Content Priorities For 2021
Whether you’re a blogger, a content writer, a business owner, or anyone online, keep these content priorities at hand when drafting your next article or post:
Grammar Was, Is, and Will Always Be Very Important
Do ‘Genuine’ Research
Get Rid of Filler Words
Make Your Content Reader-Friendly
Know What Matters For Your Readers
Focus On SEO but Don’t Obsess Over It
Formatting Is Not Optional
Consider the ‘Why’ Question
Content Atomization Will Be the New Normal
Experiment with the Content Design to Make It More Interactive
1. Grammar Was, Is, and Will Always Be Very Important
Saying that “proper grammar is important” will be a massive understatement. Half of your credibility lies in how well you construct sentences, weaving words together in a rather unorthodox manner – and still making them work. But in all of this, you can never compromise grammar.
With the rise of the online grammar checking tool Grammarly, more and more people are beginning to write better – this is perfectly reflected in their vast user-base of over 30 million as of writing this article.
However, I should warn you that it is an AI, meaning that sometimes it may offer wrong corrections (there’s an option to report that).
My point is that even though we have technology at our disposal, basic grammar knowledge is still pretty much compulsory.
I’m not suggesting that you tirelessly leaf through textbooks to re-learn grammar (and it won’t make much of a difference anyway). But instead you can try something more practical:
The best approach towards rectifying grammar is to check the flow of your sentence.
For that, you’ll have to read it to yourself, or better yet, ask someone else to read it to you. Notice any disturbances in the sentence structure, and get working on fixing it. The whole point of this exercise is to ensure that your content has a smooth flow to it, and that’s what a reader looks for.
2. Do ‘Genuine’ Research
I highly recommend that you look at your competitors’ content as the first step of your research. By going through the competition, you’ll know precisely what they are missing – you’ll have to dig for it but you’ll find it.
Perhaps your competitor’s tone is pretty bland, or they did not source their facts all that well, or maybe they missed some vital aspects of the topic. Most writers tend to rush things, meaning that their content is based on superficial research, but you should be wiser than this.
Cite credible sources to give your content some worth in matters of trust.
For instance, if I want to convince people about the benefits of let’s say: Vitamin D, wouldn’t it be better if I could refer my audience to a trusted health-based text? This way, not only will my readers know that I got my information from a credible source, but also be able to explore it further if they wish.
Hyperlinks not only allow writers to connect their content with other credible sources but also inspire the reader’s confidence.
To sum up, your first research step is to look for what only you can offer your readers, and for that, you’ll have to see where others are lacking and then try to fill in those gaps with your content.
3. Get Rid of Filler Words
Digital content has gained a following because it is comprehensive, does not demand much time from its readers, and delivers valuable information within a few minutes. Beats the hell out of scanning a newspaper for hours.
To keep your content brief and bite-sized, take out all the words and phrases that don’t add any value to it – these are called fillers.
Fillers are quite common in day-to-day chit chat, and most of us may even consider them to be a part of a normal conversation. But they are ultra-annoying when they interrupt the flow of content in an article.
I remember writing a piece back when I was just a newbie, and I loved it. After putting my heart and soul into it, I created the perfect blog post (there’s no such thing, but back then, I thought so about this one), and I posted it.
The responses were good, and people seemed to like it, except for one teeny tiny detail.
When I reviewed the blog post after some months, I noticed that every other sentence had the phrase “in fact” in it. So much so that the message of the post was lost somewhere in the shadows of this annoying phrase – I still call that post the “in fact article.”
I revised it, made it more comprehensive, rewrote segments, added more rewarding bits of knowledge, and voila – it became much better.
To make it brief: say no to fillers, and if you’re unsure which words or phrases are fillers, check out some commonly used words that you’d be better off without.
4. Make Your Content Reader-Friendly (Especially For Mobile Users)
To be a good writer, the first thing you need is empathy.
Look at things from the reader’s perspective before you start.
Among the many ways that online content differs from printed ones, the paragraph length and formatting are the top-most in that list. You see, it is hard for readers to keep their eyes glued to the screen and even harder to concentrate on large swaths of text at a time.
Generally, good writers keep their paragraphs brief – 3 lines at most, although it is not a hard and fast rule.
This way, the text is easily readable, and each paragraph is meant to deliver a single point or few interrelated ones, allowing the readers to easily skim through the text and focus on what they want to read.
Mobile users will have an even harder time with the text unless you arrange it for their convenience. You should always consider how your website or blog would work for a mobile user. According to Satista (October 2020), around 3.7 billion internet users access the online realm through mobile phones.
This is a major chunk of the online audience, so be sure to target them well.
5. Know What Matters For Your Readers
If you think that you should write for yourself, then don’t expect others to read it, but your writing should not be salesy either.
The best way to sell yourself, your product, or service is to not sell it at all.
Instead of making strong claims, you should show your audience how much you know about the subject, enlighten and inspire them. The goal may be to get them to follow you or try out whatever you have to offer, but you must give them a reason to do so.
High-quality content will make readers more likely to trust you and your work. Build a personal narrative, add your flavor in the mix, instead of just throwing around facts. Your content should reflect you, your personality, and your expertise.
By being objective, overall, and mixing things up with some opinions, you will create the perfect blend for your readers to feast on.
Also, you should relate to what your reader might be feeling (with regards to the topic). This will increase the likelihood of drawing readers closer to whatever you have to offer.
To sum it: value your reader’s thoughts, create something they might find intriguing, and don’t be annoying (that’s why telemarketing is like the dodo now).
Our team at Iris Content, strives to deliver content that is tailored to suit the needs of the readers.
6. Focus On SEO but Don’t Obsess Over It
Yes, ranking high on google will get you more readers and more exposure.
Google reports that 95% of its users only stick to the search results of the first page, while 25% of them click on the first result that pops up.
There are several tried and tested methods for you to do that starting with adding a few keywords, giving an alt-description to the images, doing an SEO audit of your website or blog, and getting backlinks.
Yup, there’s your recipe for an ultimate website – or is it?
While SEO is very important for ranking your website, content quality is what will keep readers coming.
Moreover, Google has begun shifting priorities in this matter, and in the future, we should expect a greater role of the writer’s expertise in ranking websites rather than SEO alone. To get the best out of this inevitable transformation, you should work on creating content that engages people.
Express your ideas and feelings about any issue and offer valuable insights. Better yet, encourage people to leave comments (as in if they have any additional questions) and be sure to respond positively to promote this interaction even further.
Your efforts will pay off, as Hubspot reports that websites augmented by interactive blogs are 55% more likely to attract visitors.
7. Formatting Is Not Optional
Imagine if this article were a continuous stream of text, without any paragraphs, headers, or any other indication of where a subtopic starts and ends.
Would you’ve read it till this point?
My best guess would be no, and for a good reason: visual stimulation is key to making any form of digital content successful.
By breaking the content into small paragraphs, assigning headers, or adding indications that suggest some sort of division in the text is not optional – it is compulsory.
Of course, you can be a bit unorthodox in this area too.
Recently, such deviations have wielded results for some bloggers (by one estimate, one out of ten bloggers who innovate, get improved results).
Some bloggers tend not to add headings but instead highlight the first word or phrase of every section.
Others use dividers to create distinction, while others highlight the main points from the text.
This may seem a bit weird, but it works, and it inspires the reader’s curiosity and makes them want to read more. Of course, for this to work, you’ll have to build an authority first and a readership circle that knows your level of expertise in the said subject.
8. Consider the ‘Why’ Question
Why would your reader want to read your content?
Of course, you’re offering a great value with your work, but they won’t know it until they read it, so why should they in the first place?
You’ll have to find ways to make your content interesting at first sight so that readers would want to give your page or blog a read.
For starters, you can try naming your article in such a way that it attracts more clicks. This is called click-baiting, but I have to warn you: don’t overdo it. You don’t want to create a Mount Everest level hype for a reader and then have them read something that fades in comparison.
You can inspire the reader’s curiosity by making the heading a bit vague and adding an element of surprise to it, prompting your readers to go on.
You can also accomplish miracles with visual stimuli.
Infographics are at an all-time high scene at the moment, and most bloggers and website owners have found great use for them. They are great for listing out all the stuff you want to discuss, with small ‘bite-sized’ details, and if your reader digs them, odds are, they’ll move on to the main text.
9. Content Atomization Will Be the New Normal
Instead of putting extensive articles and blogs out there for your readers, you should instead find ways to deliver the information in batches so that you may have something to say every day or at least more frequently than you would otherwise.
Repurposing old articles and adding your renewed magic to make them glow like never before will ensure that you have a steady stream of ideas to share.
Rewriting does not mean doing the same thing over and over again if you do that, you’ll lose the reader’s interest. Instead, you can find ways to present the topic from several different perspectives or explore its relevance from time to time (if it varies).
The point is, don’t think if you’ve said something, it can’t be said again, but instead, you should explore different ways to say the same thing multiple times, but in a unique and catchy manner.
You should intersperse these posts with unique ideas as well, and in case you’re facing a blogger’s burnout, try out these tips and tricks to help you out.
10. Experiment with the Content Design to Make It More Interactive
One writer once suggested that if people were to write about something and post it for those who are known to think otherwise, it is sure to get a flood of responses. I am not saying that you should do exactly this, but the premise is intriguing and quite effective:
People tend to respond to things that they find out of the way or unconventional or scandalous.
For instance, if you’re writing about SEO, why not do a piece that explores ‘how SEO is overrated?’ Don’t go ahead and say that SEO is ineffective (you can’t act dumb). Instead, you can present a fresh perspective on the topic by detailing how the quality of your content should be the foremost priority.
You can try out several things – new things, to see what gets your readers all pumped up.
Interactive segments, quizzes, infographics, memes, and similar digital additives have proven to increase the interactions between readers and writers.
Google is adjusting its algorithm to rank websites based on their worth, so it’s better to get started on building an interactive community around your blog (and eventually, your website).
Digital content is here to stay. Text has guided humanity for centuries and may continue to do so for many more. I wished to share my experience regarding content creation to help people understand writing better.
The tips and stats mentioned were all meant to enlighten you about the recent trends and expected changes that may influence readership in the digital space. I wish to conclude this article with this one last tip: to write well, you should read more often.
That’s all from my side, now let’s hear what you think about content priorities for 2021!