Do you want your website to be read more often? I’ve got good news and bad news for you. The good news is that there is someone who always reads your blog or website. The bad news is that they are pretty judgy about it. Google indexes nearly every available page on the internet which means that Google is always reading your content (aka copy, blog post, verbiage). And the quality of your content affects where Google places it in search results. But the really good news is that anyone can create quality content… even busy church/non-profit staff members like you!
What makes content high quality?
Your content impacts the number and demographics of people that are reached by your site. Your site is a dynamic tool that is used to reach an intended audience. By dynamic, I mean regularly updated, fresh content that addresses specific needs or questions being asked by your intended audience. Your website was never meant to just be a billboard that you put up and then forget about (usually, there are always exceptions).
How to create high quality content In 5 easy steps.
1. Know who you are writing to. Did you know that many universities are bad at writing quality content? It’s true! And the biggest reason is because they are writing like how professors speak, specifically content tends to sound lecture-y and have too much jargon. Rather than reaching prospective students they are writing to other professors. Church and non-profit websites often fall into the same trap. They write their content using niche jargon. So instead of reaching unchurched people they are speaking a language that only people already attending the church can understand. For example, spell check tried to fix the word “unchurched” but it is one that that every church staffer knows and uses regularly. But people who are “unchurched,” while probably able to understand it via context, would find it an odd word.
The other side of that is that no matter who your intended audience is, Google is your secondary audience. That means writing in a way that Google can understand it. Make the subject of your content very clear, don’t put all of your important content in an image where Google can’t read it. And use small words. Polysyllabic words (like that one) increase the reading level difficulty and Google takes that into account. Obviously it is a good idea to be as clear as possible, so don’t bend over backwards to dumb it done. Just write clearly! Most of the writing tips that appeals to Google’s index also work well for your main audience. Repeat the subject, offer supporting points, use synonyms to give the reader an encompassing idea of what your text is about. Make it easy to read and understand. Your goal isn’t to impress them with your vocabulary, it is to impress them with how clear and understandable it is. Make difficult concepts easy to grasp and you are on your way to being a great writer.
2. Write at least 600 words. A big part of quality content is the quantity of your content. Do you know enough about your subject to write at least 600 words on the your topic? Whether you do or not, make sure to break up your content into chunks. No one on the internet is going to ready a giant full page wall of text. That’s what makes headlines, bullet points, numbers, etc so important, not only to establish the hierarchy of your topic, but most people only read headlines, bold font, and bullet points. That can be a bit discouraging, but don’t let it get you down. The people who do read all of it are the people who are genuinely engaged, just like you reading this right now! Thanks!
3. Answer questions that people are actually asking. This is surprisingly hard to do. We (and by “we” I mean “me”) tend to write about things that we are interested in or that we are knowledgeable about. But people perform searches online for specific reasons and purposes. Sometimes that can be a complete surprise to us and sometimes it is very obvious. I’m writing this post because it is a question that we get regularly from clients, but also you can see in Google Trends that it is being searched for more and more:
This post is answering a growing search: How to write a blog post. You can check out variations of topics and search queries by looking at https://trends.google.com/trends/explore and maybe you are called to a niche area or have a specific issue that needs addressed. That’s fine on an “as needed” basis. But in general, readers and Google will find you most interesting if you are offering answers to questions they are asking.
4. Make it shareable. Two of the most important aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) are your content and links to that content. That means content that is shareable is going to perform much better than content that isn’t. Shareable means that is easy or beneficial for someone to share what you’ve written with others. These are topics that people email to you, or tag you in the comments section on Facebook, or that they post to their own walls. It is usually something that they feel like they benefit from sharing. People usually only share things that they get something out of. Whether they feel that it makes them look good smart, or like a good parent, or funny. Infographics are very popular shareable content at the moment. Building links to your content and site is arguably the most important thing you can do to increase the right kind of traffic to your site.
5. Make it good. There is a lot of bad content out there. Blog posts and pages with out dated, inaccurate, or just plain wrong content. You are an expert in your field, write what you know about. Make it personal and relatable but make it true and valuable. That’s true whether you are just posting about an upcoming church picnic or writing an article on your nonprofit’s core mission and beliefs.
6. Bonus: Remember that it can be a conversation! Encourage people to submit their thoughts and ideas. Maybe your readers might disagree. Civil discourse in the comments section can be a great thing and encourage people to really engage with your content and to create their own. I know I’m looking forward to reading and engaging with what you come up with!