Okay, my fellow wordsmiths, we need to admit that writing is overrated. Yes, I know, I hate to say it too. As a content writer, of course I want my job to be the most important part. But the truth is, writing is a small cog in the content creation machine.
Sometimes, we forget that other inbound marketing elements can speak too (and dare I say, their voice is just as, if not more, important??). Below are 5 components of content marketing that may just matter more than your actual words:
1) White Space
In the age of skimmable content, white space is king. Readers on digital platforms have scarily short attention spans (no offense readers!). So, if they see a big block of text, they're going to abandon ship.
Appeal to your readers and persuade them to read your content with clever use of white space. What does that mean? It's simple.
Break up paragraphs. This isn't a research paper. Single ideas can span more than one paragraph when creating online content.
Use numbered lists.
Use bulleted lists. (Like this!)
Use bolded headings and break your writing into sections.
Infographics allow readers to visually consume large amounts of data (a.k.a. information) in very little time.
If an infographic is well designed, it can speak a thousand words while actually using far less. Not to mention, infographics play a role in improving your SEO and can help you get around the character limit on Twitter!
HubSpot published a list of the best infographics they found in 2016. Take a gander to see who's doing it right and get inspired!
I quoted this in last week's blog post, but it's still relevant, so I'm bringing it back.
Buzzsumo found that twice as many people share articles that have an image every 75-100 words. And HubSpot tells us that “tweets with images receive 150% more retweets.”
Research from the University of Saskatchewan has even found that images are inherently sticky. Our brains store visual information in our long-term memory, allowing for easy recall later.
Digital and content marketing has made a dramatic shift to visual versus verbiage. Images cannot be an afterthought if you want to create a long term imprint in your readers’ brainspace.
4) Backlinks & Internal Links
Backlinks (also known as inbound links) are hyperlinks like this that link the reader from one piece of content to another.
The above example is a backlink sending SEO “link juice” to HubSpot’s website, because it links from our site to HubSpot.
If HubSpot linked to us, that would be a backlink, providing valuable link juice to Stratus’ website (and by valuable, I mean a pile of golden treasure since HubSpot is one of the most credible, well-respected companies in the world!).
Backlinks from trusted and reputable sites give your site authority. Sites with authority rank higher in Google searches.
Internal links occur between pages within your own site. These links are also crucial to improving SEO. Internal links provide a logical path of website information users can follow, which increases the time spent on your site.
Relevant and purposeful use of internal links also helps search engines navigate and index your site pages by providing a clear pathway.
Your site may have the best copy the world has ever seen, but if search engines can't find it or users don’t spend enough time on the site to read it, then what's the point?
5) User Experience (UX)
Good user experience on a website is the online equivalent of holding a child's hand while crossing the street. If your site follows the 3-click-rule, that speaks volumes to the user about how much you care about their time, experience, and overall outcome. And, it's critical for SEO as well! If your site easily gets visitors from point A to B to X, back to K, and then maybe back to F without a hiccup or frustration, your chances of generating a lead, a sale, an advocate or brand-believer is significantly increased.
So while I, the word-loving, die-hard English language devotee would love to believe the craft I hold in such high regard is the most valuable component of a content marketing strategy, I know better.
The bottom line is, the strength of your writing is important. However, if users aren't engaging with your content, your words might as well not exist. And, fellow writers, this is something we will have to accept.
Jenna is a content writer at Stratus Interactive and is currently a graduate student studying for her M.A. in professional writing at Chatham University. She started blogging as an angsty high schooler and wrote and developed a blog as her capstone project for her undergraduate degree in English. Now she gets to do it as a job! See all Jenna Enright's posts.