Content writing drives much of the success of digital marketing efforts. Combined with other forms of communication, content writing can provide the necessary context and guidance for your audience.
Even in 2019, content writing is still the foundation of digital marketing and search engine optimization.
We shouldn’t get complacent in thinking that the web will always be this way. Systems are getting better at identifying and understanding spoken word and video. Technology is also driving convenient consumption of this content in more settings.
Still, content writing holds a special place in all of the digital marketing tools that are available.
Content Writing for Your Website
Digital marketing is so much more than “just” your website. Let’s start with how content writing shapes the value of your site, and then we’ll look beyond.
Content for Search Engine Optimization
“Content” includes many important labels that search engines and readers use to understand the context of a piece of content. Writers are responsible for title tags, headers throughout the page, and written content that explains the main idea.
As advanced as search engines have become, content writing is still the clearest way to communicate with Google.
How Content Writing Informs Design
It’s a false dichotomy to think of digital marketing as either content writing or imagery or other forms of media. Smart marketers are combining these elements to communicate in the way that is most convenient and useful for the audience.
When I work with designers at Mudbug Media, we depend on a content-first approach. The strategy behind the content writing informs not only what words will appear but also the layout and necessary imagery.
Let’s talk a bit about how content and design should interact.
When it comes to something like a blog post, content writing has plenty of room to shine.
Even still, in blog writing, I can’t create dense paragraphs that go on and on. I have to make sure that I am keeping paragraphs short and regularly use headers. Because readers scan content so much now, we cannot approach online content writing like a novelist.
It also helps if I can use images or graphs to illustrate my ideas to help communicate more quickly.
Let’s imagine that we need to create a pricing page for three different products. I can easily write down all of the information that I need to convey. That information can be ordered into paragraphs and listed out for the reader.
Do you ever see a pricing page that uses this approach? I hope not!
Pricing pages are a pretty known quantity. Everyone expects to see information broken into columns so that readers can quickly compare purchasing options. Content writing is essential on the page, but the layout is just as important to help quickly get the information across.
If customers have to work to understand your pricing or your features, you’ve likely already lost that customer.
This is just one of the many examples of why layout and design are so critical . The content writing is still the foundation, but the visual elements make it work.
Working with Wireframes
Content writers and designers have the chance to work together with wireframes.
A wireframe provides a simple sketch of what the site can be. Ideally, writers and designers are working together at the wireframe stage to quickly swap out ideas for how a page should flow.
This kind of testing can combine with tree testing to also cover how users move through the website.
Content Writing Beyond Your Website
The website is a critical part of your marketing effort, but digital marketing requires far more than just a website these days.
Content on Your Profiles
In nearly every arena where you market online, you will need to provide titles, provide descriptions, and create context for your audience. Visuals and social proof (a visible sign of how many others are engaging you on these platforms) will play significant roles, but your content writing sets the stage.
With online profiles, marketers have to achieve two objectives: engage readers with information that may intrigue them and also clearly describe the person or the business.
This level of clarity is especially important for business listings on services like Google Maps or Yelp. Marketers need to include enough information that search tools can find relevant terms. Marketers must also avoid using too many keywords lest they get labeled as spam.
Social media allows for more room to not be as descriptive. Think about celebrities that provide descriptions that are playful and do not list all of their accomplishments. This approach works for superstars and for people whom the audience already know very well. Most of us do not have that luxury to be so playful or coy in our social media profiles.
As individuals and companies are still gaining traction, we must be very clear about who we are and what we hope to accomplish.
The Internet of Reviews
I had an interesting conversation recently where we talked about the fact that digital marketing is no longer just about how many articles you write on a particular topic. Reviews have become such an important element to verify that customers agree with the image that your portraying.
First of all, reviews are still written content. They are content created by the marketing team, but reviews are crowd sourced content that is organized in useful ways.
To tie reviews back to the content that we think of is content marketing, I shared an observation that my team and I had while reviewing how our clients appear in Google results.
When searching for a particular service and city, we could see our clients appear in search results. Because our clients are small businesses with physical locations, these clients would appear in the Google map result area within the standard Google search engine results page.
If our clients had reviews that specifically highlighted the service listed in the search query, that review would be featured along with the service terms bolded in the snippet.
What I found especially interesting is that clients that did not have reviews that mentioned the service were still able to get some special treatment by Google. Because we had written content that discussed the service and depth, Google showed a snippet where they displayed the providers review score and it mentioned a phrase that said “this website talks about (the service searched).”
Content writing still matters even in the age of reviews. And it should.
Just because a service provider has a good review score, it doesn’t mean that I will feel confident and going to see that business. If I go to the business’s website and don’t see any mention of the service I originally searched for, I now have doubts.
If Google can identify the businesses that rank well for a service and clearly defined to their customers how they’re going to help them on their website, then Google is providing the best experience to their searchers. The service provider is actually doing the work here of providing the best experience.
Social Media is Content
Even with visual social media channels like Instagram or even YouTube, content writing is still needed. That content writing may only include things like the descriptions or the titles (especially on YouTube), but that writing is extremely important in helping set context.
Much of YouTube SEO depends on titles as much as traditional SEO. The description and links provided below the videos also create opportunities for businesses to convert viewers into customers. The compelling calls to action within the description depend on excellent content writing.
Interestingly, written content without imagery or video is performing well in some cases. Most social media platforms are rewarding users who post content that does not take someone to another website. For example, LinkedIn is creating a healthy number of impressions for written content that doesn’t include any links.
Yes, video does very well in social media, but content creators don’t have to focus solely on one form of content.
I challenge you to try some text-only content on your social media channels where appropriate. Measure your results to see what kind of impact you can have.
In this article, we are only skimming the surface of how important content is for your marketing efforts. Content writing is worth your attention.
When I talk about marketing, I like to end each article with a quick challenge so that you can immediately apply this information.
There is perhaps no more important content writing than your titles. Take a look at your most important pages on your website and review your title tags and the title on the pages. Do the titles accurately reflect the content and what you’re hoping that visitors will do?
You can win big with excellent titles. I’ve seen advice that suggests writer should spend as much time on the title of the piece as they do actually writing the rest of it.
Revise your titles where you can and see the impact of what content writing can do.