17 High-Quality Content Creation Secrets that Wow Your Readers
January 4, 2016
6
High Quality Content

Creating high-quality content is critical to content marketing success.

With more than 2 millions blog posts published every day, you need a way to make your content stand out.

But you are probably wondering:

"How do I create high-quality content that drives traffic and engagement?"

Today I will make things easy for you.

I am going to show you 17 techniques you can use to improve the quality of your content in no time.

Free Bonus: This article is 7274 words long. Get access to a free PDF checklist that shows you how to execute all 17 of the techniques from this post. (Included 3 bonus item not covered here)

  1. Use Benefit-Driven Headlines To Hook Your Readers

The goal of a headline is to get your readers to read the first sentence.

If you do not capture your reader with a good first impression, you will lose them. You have wasted your effort in creating the content, no matter how good
is it.

On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy.

David Ogilvy

There's one reason that is more important:

Most people will share content based on the headline alone.

All great headlines have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Unique: Your target audience might have read articles like the one you are writing. If your headline is not unique, they will think that it is the same. You need to make sure that no one else is using the headline of your article.

  • Ultra-specific: It has to offer enough information for your reader to know why it is worth sacrificing their valuable time to read your article.

  • Convey a sense of urgency: Something that compels your reader to read so that they will not miss out.

  • Useful: Your headline has to communicate a benefit to your readers after reading your article.

Here's how you can create great headlines:

Step 1: Create 3 Benefit-Driven Headlines

The first step is to create 3 benefit-driven headlines. We will be testing the effectiveness of these 3 headlines later.

You can create benefit-driven headlines using various headline formulas. In this post, I use the Ultimate Headline Formula as an example:

Ultimate Headline Formula

Noah Kagan has analyzed almost 1 million headlines and found out that list posts got the most shares. Whenever possible, you should include specific numbers and data in your headline.

For example, let say you are writing an article about losing weight. Some examples of headlines using the Ultimate Headline Formula might be:

9 Surprising Weight Loss Tips that will make you slimmer in a week
10 Quick Weight Loss exercises that you can do today

If you are stuck in creating headlines, you can use this handy tool Portent's Title Maker:

Portent Title Maker

Refresh the site to create another headline. Once in a while, you might be able to get some great headline ideas.

Step 2: Ensure that Each of These Headlines is Unique

The next step is to ensure each of the 3 headlines you have created is unique.

How do you make sure that your headline is unique?

Simple:

Surround your headline in quotation marks, and search it on Google. Here's an example:

Unique Headline

Note that you got to use double quotation marks to get the exact result you want. You would want to see Google telling you that there is "no results found."

Step 3: Check your headlines using the headline analyzer (Optional)

You can also check your headline using the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. Just pop your headline into the analyzer, and you will get a score of how good is your headline.

Headline Analyzer

The headline analyzer summarizes the quality of your headline into 1 score. The analyzer also lists down ways on how you can improve your headline. You should try aiming for a score of 70 and above.

Headline Analyzer Improvements

According to CoSchedule's guide in writing better headlines, you can improve
your headline by:

  • Focusing on the keywords of your content in your headline;

  • Having a nice balance between common, uncommon, emotional and power words;

  • Restricting the length of your headline to 50 to 60 characters long;

  • Restricting the number of words to 6 to 7 words;

  • Reflecting positive emotions;

Step 4: Test Your Headlines

You might not know which of the headline is the best for your article. So, you will have to test these headlines.

Fortunately, we have affordable tools around. In this example, I will be using Optimizely. It is great for A/B testing, and it is free!

Once you set up your Optimizely account and install the Optimizely WordPress Plugin, place your 3 headlines created in the plugin.

Optimizely Headline Screenshot

Every testing has a goal. The default goal is the number of visitors and engagement. You can set more goals in your Optimizely Platform.

Free Bonus: Feeling overwhelmed? You still have 16 more techniques to go. Or you can download a free 5-page PDF checklist and a PDF ebook that shows you how to execute all 17 of the techniques from this post. (Included 3 bonus item not covered here)

  1. Write longer articles to signal quality to your readers

You might have heard that Google likes blogs that constantly update. Thus, you published as many articles that are around 400 to 600 words as you can.

But, despite your time and effort, there aren't any significant improvements in your traffic. There are no improvements in user engagement, social sharing, and conversions.

The number 1 tip in content marketing:

You can't build an audience in 2015 with 400-word posts. You just can't.

Brian Dean, Backlinko

Here are some facts:

SERPIQ conducted a study of pages that rank in Page 1 of Google for over 20,000 keywords. They found that longer articles ranked higher in Google.

Content Length First Page

Source: serpIQ

The average word count of a top 10 result in Google was over 2000 words.

Also, Professor Jonah Berger from Wharton found that longer content was 76.8% more likely to go viral.

Bottom Line: You would want your content to be at least 2000 words. If you can write longer, go for it. The caveat here is that your content needs to be useful. There is a difference between long-winded and helpful.

But why have we seen so many blog posts that are about 400-500 words? How can so many people get it wrong?

Because writing 400-500 words blog post is easy and cheap.

For just $5 from Fiverr, you will be able to get a content for any keyword up to 500 words. This is a great deal when so many people are not able to craft out time for content marketing.

Fiverr Content Writing Services

Notice the number of reviews the writers got. These are the contents that have been flooding the Internet every day. Crappy 500 words content. I know you can do better than this.

Creating longer content is by no means easy. It takes a longer time and effort. Over time, it will pay off. It is better that you create 1 high-quality content than 5 crappy articles.

Here are some tips that can make your content longer:

Write a list article (or listicle)

In 2014, Buzzsumo and OkDork conducted a study of 100 million articles. They want to find out what makes content goes viral.

Average Shares by Content Type

Infographics and list articles received way more shares compared to other content types.

List articles work because it is skim-friendly, and your readers will know what to expect.

When you are writing a list, take extra steps to:

  • Increase the number of items in the list versus your competitor

  • Provides more graphics and photos

  • For each list item, write something more in-depth using the tips in this article

Provide real-life examples

You might have clients or readers that have benefited from your advice. Write about them, and what kinds of results they have achieved. Readers like to read examples of how one can achieve the results they want using your strategies.

If you do not have any concrete example of your own to show, don't worry. You can quote what others have done, although the effect will not be as good.

Action Item: Write about real-life examples that benefited from the advice you are giving.

Write More Depth

Most of the today's online content lacks depth.

Take a weight loss article for example. A typical list post might contain a tip telling your reader to track intake calories. You can do better by answering some questions that pop out of their mind:

  • What's the best app I can track the calories?

  • Roughly how many calories can I take in per day?

  • Is there 'good' and 'bad' calories?

You want your content to stand out by having the depth. Your readers want an insane level of depth in their content. They love content that holds them by the hand and gives them all the rich details.

Action Item: Look at your best-performing articles. Think about what kind of questions your readers might have after reading your article. Do not assume anything about them.

  1. Use short introduction to transit your readers to the meat of your content

Your introduction is the second most important element in your content after the headline. The goal of the introduction is to get your reader to read further. I have seen articles with long introductions that bored the hell out of their reader. This is not what you want.

Percent of Article Viewed

Of all the visitors that land on your website, roughly 10% never scroll down. To get more people to read your content, you need to have a powerful and compelling introduction.

How can you write an introduction that makes your audience read further?

Neil Patel has written a guest post on Hubspot on this exact topic. Some of my favorite tips on writing introductions are:

  • Keep your first sentence short. Your readers can digest short sentences easier. A short first sentence is also a good transition for your reader to read further.

  • Keep the introduction brief. Readers have short attention span. They are usually impatient to see the meat of the article.

  • Write what is the article about. Introduce your article in just 1 to 2 sentences. Make sure you also include the benefits your readers will get
    after reading your article.

  • Refer to a concern or problem your readers might have. Your article should aim to solve one problem for your reader. Illustrate a typical situation
    where your reader faces this problem.

  • Tell a story. Having a narrative usually works better as long as it is not long-winded.

Also, revisit the introduction after you completed the body and conclusion. Ask yourself whether the introduction met the above guidelines.

  1. Create Audience Persona to laser target your content

The common mindset in content creation is to write for as many people as possible. If you do that, your content is almost guaranteed to be average. Appealing to everyone will result in you appealing to no one.

Having an audience persona also helps to make your content more in-depth and relevant

But that is not the only benefit audience persona brings to the quality of your content.

Having the audience persona also helps your content to be more relevant to them. Doing research in your audience persona will also help you in generating content ideas.

For all the content that I wrote, I have a specific person in mind that I want to target.

What is audience persona? Quoting from Hubspot:

Personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.

Hubspot

Step 1: Use your target market as a starting point

You can start developing your persona by looking at your existing customers. What are the types of customers that you love having? If you are selling to businesses, your customer is the person that you are interacting with most.

If your client base is not large enough, then you can think of who will be your ideal customers.

Use LinkedIn to help you find the individuals within these companies. If possible, extract the Twitter profile. Unlike LinkedIn or Facebook, Twitter is open for everyone. Thus, it is easier for you to conduct research.

If you are targeting at consumers, you can use Twitter advanced search to find your customers. Search by relevant keywords or hashtags. You can also look at the followers of your competitors.

Step 2: Find out what are they interested in

The next step is to find out what is your target audience's interest. Browse through what they are sharing in major social media in LinkedIn or Twitter.

When you are skimming their feed, note down the following:

  • What topics do they share?

  • Who do they follow?

  • What are the ideal formats of their post? Is it a list, video, or infographics?

Bonus Tip: Read the comments of these posts and find if there is anyone who has a problem worth solving.

Your goal is to end up with a list of topics your audience is interested in.

Step 3: Develop Audience Profile

Based on your research in Step 1 and 2, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are the biggest problems that they are trying to solve?

  • What does he or she need most?

  • What information are they searching for?

  • What trends are influencing their business or personal success?

  • What kind of information do they tend to consume online? Are they educational, entertainment or trends? Do they watch videos or attend webinars?

There are no real rules in what kind of information you should include in the persona.

Some of them which you can consider are:

  • Demographics – Age group, gender, location, job title, industry

  • Financial situation

  • Needs/Challenges

  • Dreams

  • How do they use the web?

By now, you should have a brief description of your personas' demographics, needs, and behaviors.

Example: Beach Honeymoon Destinations

Beach Honeymoon Destinations

When I am writing this article, I used my wife as the target audience persona. We were just married, and she is looking for cheap beaches near Singapore where she can go. She also does not want to go to places that are too crowded with tourists. We just want a quiet and relaxing honeymoon.

I observed that my wife is doing the following in her research:

  • Google for “beaches near Singapore”. Look for beautiful photos of beaches.

  • Find the air ticket costs in Expedia or Skyscanner

  • Find the costs of accommodations in Booking.com or Airbnb. She also researches on the location of the accommodations to determine its convenience.

  • Once there is a potential candidate, she will check the weather. You would not want to go to beaches when it is rainy season.

  • Finally, she will double the amount to get the estimated cost for both of us.

She did the above for every potential beach she found. Imagine how much time she is taking.

With this information, I wrote a blog entry. I provided the estimated costs of 2 persons and the best time to go to a beach, for 13 less well-known beaches.

With a target audience in mind, you will be able to write about their specific needs and give them what they want. This article gives the essential information, all in one place.

If you are having trouble on finding blog topic ideas for your audience persona, check out this guide on blog topics generation.

Action Item: Decide your target audience persona for your content. List down what is the persona goals and greatest worries. Plan your content taking the persona into considerations.

  1. Create proven and share-worthy content to increase the chances of going viral

After determining your audience persona, the next step is to decide on the topic.

And here is where most of us got stuck. We write contents that our readers do not care about. In the end, it is just a waste of time and effort.

You have to write content that has proven to be popular. One way of applying this concept is using the Skyscraper Technique by Brian Dean. I am going to summarize this technique for your convenience.

Step 1: Find Link-Worthy Content

The first step is to find content in your niche that are link-worthy. This means the content has already generated tons of shares and backlinks. Before you start, make sure you have a list of keywords that you would like to rank for.

How do you do it?

Using Google, and Ahrefs.com

Search your niche in Google. Always search for informational keywords instead of product based keywords. For example, you should search for “How to grind
coffee beans” instead of “coffee grinder”.

Skyscraper Technique (Google Screenshot)

Clicking this page will give you something like this:

Skyscraper Technique (Grind Coffee Example)

Go to your favorite backlinks checker tools like Ahrefs or Open Site Explorer. Search the domain.

Skyscraper Technique (Ahref)

Then look at the top performing contents.

Skyscraper Technique (Ahref)

In this case, how to grind coffee seems to be performing reasonably well in Facebook.

Skyscraper Technique (Ahref)

Using Buzzsumo

The second method is to use Buzzsumo. This time round, I search for the keyword “grind coffee”:

Skyscraper Technique (Buzzsumo)

In this case, I saw that there is an article written by Great Coffee Grinders with 1.2K Facebook shares.

You can rinse and repeat with other keywords that you have in mind related to your niche. Find an article where you know there is a social proof in both backlinks and social sharing.

Step 2: Make that article even better

Once you have decided the topic you are going to write, look at the best content right now on that topic.

The best content will be based on your research in Step 1.

Ask yourself: Can you make it better?

By using some of the techniques that in this article, I am sure you will find a way that can make your content better.

Some quick ways you can make your article better are:

  • More relevant to a specific audience persona. The best content at the moment might target to one persona. You can write an article that is more
    relevant to your audience.

  • More depth and details. Your readers need something that is actionable. Can you add more depth to the existing article that will make it better?
    You can also include content upgrades that will help your readers achieve their goals.

  • Better design. Sometimes, the top content might not be scannable. There are large blocks of text, with no graphics or videos included. Can you make
    your content scannable by including graphics, or screenshots?

  • More current. The content might be outdated at the time of reading. Can you provide content for the same topic, but updated with current
    information?

If you have trouble finding topics for your content, here are some tips:

  • Use shoulder niche. Sometimes your niche is just too boring. In this case, you have to explore another related niche to your topic. One example, your niche is in travel insurance. Finding proven topic within travel insurance is difficult. In this case, you might want to write a related shoulder niche on traveling tips.

  • Go broad. Another way to find a topic is to go one step broader from your niche. For example, your niche is on security guard training. You can zoom out into the topic of office security or home security.

If you still have troubles finding proven topics, leave me a comment below on your business. I will see how I can help you.

Brian Dean recommends that you should beat the best content at every level. This includes the length, design and how current is it. So that it will be clear that you have the better piece of content.

  1. Write evergreen content to get traffic for a long period

There are 2 ways to generate lots of buzz in content marketing:

  • Producing event-based content, for e.g. based on the latest Star Wars movie; or

  • Creating evergreen content that will be relevant to your readers for a long period

Whenever possible, always choose to produce evergreen content.

A good tweet peaks at 18 minutes. An evergreen blog post lasts for years.

Kevan Lee, Buffer

Here's the reasons why:

  • Evergreen content can generate sustainable traffic if done right. Event-based content's traffic will tend to drop after the hype is over.

  • You do not have to keep updating your blog to generate traffic. Always publishing high-quality, timeless content will generate traffic even when you are not writing.

One of my favorite books is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This book was written almost 80 years ago! And yet, the advice and lessons are still relevant today. Even today, there are still people leaving reviews on Amazon. This is the power of writing evergreen content.

From studyweb.com, evergreen content should have the following characteristics:

  • Answer common questions that are always relevant to searchers

  • Interesting even after a long time of its publication date

  • Pull in traffic over months, or years

  • Lacking an expiry date

But how can you create evergreen content? Here're 2 tips that can help you create your evergreen content:

Target your content at beginners

When it comes to creating evergreen content, you should always write for beginners.

Why?

Most people who read your blog are beginners. Experts do not search for answers in their niches. Only beginners do. Thus, target your content on beginners to grow.

When you target your content at beginners, your content should be:

  • Free of technical jargons. If there is any, you should take the time to explain them in your article.

  • Free of assumptions that you have made about your readers

Create a handful of evergreen contents. As your blog grows over time, link these contents together.

Narrowing down your topic

It is easier for your readers to understand and apply a specific topic. It is also easier for you to write a specific topic. Think about a broad topic that you are going to produce, and narrow it down to a niche. Taking this article for example:

My broad topic is content marketing. I chose to write about creating high-quality blog posts.

Readers tend to look for specific information when they have problems. My target audience will be those who are looking for ways to improve the quality of their content.

  1. Provide Content Upgrades to increase conversions

Good contents are actionable and insightful. To make it better, you can provide a content upgrades in exchange for an email.

What are content upgrades?

Content upgrades are bonuses specific to the content that your reader is reading. It is not a generic ebook or toolkit that you offer on every page of your site.

Done right, you will be providing a high-quality content, and building your email list at the same time. In fact, Brian Dean from Backlinko has boosted his conversion by 785% with content upgrades.

Some examples are content upgrades are:

  • PDF version of the article: Providing a PDF version of the article will allow your reader to refer to it at their convenience.

  • Summarized Checklist: Your content most likely will be long. Your reader will be most interested in the implementation. Provide a summarized
    checklist, only on the application to your reader.

  • Templates: Boilerplates/spreadsheets that guide your readers in implementing the techniques in your article.

  • Advanced/Bonus version of the article in PDF: You might not reveal all your strategies in your article. Thus, you can provide some more or advanced
    materials in the form of an ebook.

How do you create upgrades for your content?

Step 1: Ensure that your content is actionable

It is way easier for you to provide content upgrades when your content is actionable.

But, you might have to write non-actionable content, like for e.g. industry trends, sometimes.

In this case, you have to ensure that your content upgrade is actionable. One example is a step-by-step guide on how to take advantage of the industry trend.

Step 2: Rewrite your article in point form

List the actionable techniques, step-by-step in a word document from your article. In this point form, ignore the why. Focus on the what are the techniques, and how to implement it.

Step 3: Create templates

Having a template or worksheet for your reader can help them implementing the techniques.

Run through your summarized article one more time. Write down what are some templates you can create that can make your reader's life easier. Some examples are:

  • Content calendars template if you are writing about content strategy;

  • Budget template if you are writing about creating your personal budget;

  • Worksheets that guide your reader

Step 4: Design your checklist and templates (Optional)

By including a content upgrade in your article, you are already 90% ahead of your competitions.

But, if you have the time, it will be good if you can direct some efforts into the design of your content upgrade.

Some simple elements that you should consider in designing your checklist and templates are:

  • Include your logo,

  • Make the color consistent with your branding;

  • Include a page on how to use the templates you are providing;

Step 5: Add a download link in your article

Finally, you would want to add a download link to the content upgrade in your article. There are a few tools you can use, but I prefer using Optinmonster.

Some other tools you can use are:

  • Ninjaforms

  • Leadpages

  • Sumome Leads

  • LeadIn – To check on this

  • Email Softwares like Mailchimp or Aweber

  1. Ensure Your Content is Readable

Unless your target audiences are academics, you want your content to be readable. This means:

  • Avoid technical jargons and use simple words to illustrate your point

  • Keep your sentences short (at most 18 words per sentence)

  • Avoid large chunks of text. Break down your content into digestible pieces

  • Use bullet points

  • Use images to illustrate your points

User experience begins when your content is readable and legible.

There are several ways we can measure readability. A more popular measurement is Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level. The score means at what U.S. grade would your content be readable. If your writing has a grade level of 6, a 6th grader would be able to understand your writing.

Good writers have their content grade at below 8 for non-fiction. Let's take a look at some examples:

Readability Statistics by Author

Note: I compile these statistics by taking the average grade level of 5 articles.

How can we calculate the grade level ourselves, and how can we improve our writing based on it?

There is a free application that did just that – Hemingwayapp.

Just copy and paste your writing into this app. You will see that it will give you a score of how readable your content is. Also, you will be able to see what sentences do you need to improve.

Hemingway App

After acting on these improvements, you will see your tremendous improvement in your writing.

Some tips to make your sentences readable:

  • Restructure your sentences to something simpler and straightforward

  • Only communicate one idea per sentence. Nothing more.

  • Use less commas and more full-stops

  1. Use Data and Statistics to Support Your Content

I love using data and statistics to support my point. There are 2 benefits if you use more data and statistics:

  • It establishes you as the expert.

  • You will be able to improve readability of your content due to the use of charts.

Collecting raw data by yourself is a lot of work. Although I encourage it, it might not be practical for your business.

An easy way to go around this is to use data (and findings) collected by others. Do a quick Google Search of the following:

[keyword] + "statistics"
[keyword] + "data"
[keyword] + "survey"
[keyword] + "study"

You should be able to find a wealth of information that you can use in your blog post. For example, I would like to collect the statistics relating to content marketing:

Content Marketing Statistics

I came across the following statistics that is relevant for this article:

"Top challenges for B2B Content Marketers"

After collecting the data, input these data into your favorite spreadsheet software.

Chart Creation

Highlight both the labels and the data, and click charts. Select the appropriate chart.

Chart Creation 2

After choosing the chart, you will end up with an ugly looking chart as follows:

Chart Creation 3

I will usually do the following to make my charts look nicer:

  • Add a title to the chart. In this case, I named my chart "Top Challenges for B2B Content Marketers".

  • Delete the series name, i.e. 'Series1' in this case. This is not needed if your chart is simple.

  • Remove the grid lines. Click on the grid line, and punch the 'delete' key on your keyboard.

  • Add the data label next to the chart. Instead of asking my user to reference the data with the grid, I will add the data next to my bar for better clarity.

  • Change the color of the bar to match your brand color.

This is the final result of formatting my chart:

Top Challenges for B2B Content Marketers

Source: Content Marketing Institute / Marketing Profs

Remember to add the source to these charts if you found the data online. These charts can be used as graphics for your post.

  1. Provides graphics and images to make your content stand out

Besides charts, you can also provide graphics and images in your post. These graphics can also include screenshots of how you perform certain actions.

A study proved that 100 of the highest ranking blogs had at least one image for every 350 words. This means that if your content is 3,500 words, you should have at least 10 images.

Neil Patel collected some data about the types of images and social sharing in 2014.

Social Sharing By Image Type

Source: Quicksprout

He found that the 3 types of images with the highest number of shares were animated graphics, hand-drawn images, and infographics. Not surprising, these 3 are the images that took the most time to create.

But providing images in your content can be expensive and time-consuming. Not every business can provide top-quality images every time.

So how can you create custom images for your content?

Simple. Just follow these steps.

Step 1: Find the relevant photos from your favorite stock photo sites

Go to one of the below free stock photo sites to collect images that might be relevant to your content:

1. Pixabay

2. Morguefile

3. Unsplash

I will usually go to these 3 sites to download images. They are free, and you can use it for commercial purposes. The trouble is that there are limited selections to the photos you can choose.

If you are willing to pay, you can go to commercial stock photo sites like Getty Images.

For example, let say I am trying to find images for my weight loss blog using Pixabay:

Pixabay

Sign up for a free account with Pixabay. Then you can download a high-resolution photo of the image you chose.

Pixabay Download

Step 2: Edit the photo using Canva

Canva is a nice tool that you can use to edit your images, for free. You can use an existing template or set your custom dimensions:

Canva (Selecting the Template)

I chose the social media template, which is 800px by 800px. After that, choose one layout that seems to be most appealing to you.

Canva (Choosing the layout)

Upload your image to replace the background image.

Canva (Upload Your Own Images)

Finally, apply the filter and flip the image (if you want to).

Canva (Applying the Filter)

This is my final image:

Canva Final Image

Not too bad for just a 5 minutes work.

You can download the photos from Canva and upload it to your article. Note that if you use any photos/layouts provided by Canva with '$' sign, you will have to pay.

  1. Link to Proven Authority Sites

Your article should not just perform in a silo. Chances are, you have borrowed information from elsewhere to support certain points you are making. This is
when you create a link back to the source of the content.

In HTML format, the outbound link will look something like this:

<a href="notyourwebsitedomain.com">Not Your Website Domain</a>

Why do you have to link to proven authority sites?

Because it increases your authority as well.

Not linking out might be the #1 on-page SEO mistake that I see people make. I usually link out 2-4x per 1000 words. That's a good rule of thumb for most sites.

Keep in mind that the sites you link out to reflect on you. So make sure to link out to authority sites whenever possible.

Brian Dean, Backlinko

By referencing someone else and their work, we are using their work to improve ours. We should also give them proper recognition. In content marketing, we recognize their work by linking to their website. You are also giving a reference to your reader if they want to find out more.

Building outbound links is simple. Just make sure that you link to authority sites while you are doing your research for your content.

  1. Standard Grammar and Writing Style

For a content to be high quality, it must be free of grammatical and spelling errors.

If you are like me, you might not be someone who is well-versed in writing. Having a perfect, error-free content will be difficult for me.

But that does not mean we cannot cut our errors.

Here are some workarounds:

Use tools like Grammarly to check for Grammatical Errors

You should always check for Grammar errors with your naked eyes first.

But you might not be as good, or you do not have the resources to hire a copyeditor. This is when you can use tools like Grammarly to help you.

Sign up for a free account with Grammarly. Download the Grammarly app to your desktop. Below is an example of the first draft of this blog post:

Grammarly Screenshot

Grammarly will highlight the issues with your content, and gave you a score. To improve your writing, you should make a note of the mistakes pointed out by the software. By not making the same mistake, you will increase your score over time.

Rectify all the errors that are pointed out by the software.

Writing Style

Grammar is not the only component to good writing. The other component is your writing style. To improve your writing style, I recommend you to read
Everybody Writes by Ann Handley. Some tips that I like are below:

  • Avoid using weblish words. Avoid using terms like 'don't have the bandwidth' or 'let me ping you on that'. Use normal terms such as 'don't have the time' or 'I'll get back to you'. Weblish words are words from technology that has nothing to do with people. You are writing for humans to read, not for the computer. So do not use weblish words.

  • Use active voice more often. When your sentence is in the active voice, it is in the form of [noun] [verb] [noun]. But, when a sentence is in the passive voice, it is in the form of [noun] is being [verb] by [noun]. You can improve your writing tremendously by making your sentences active. For example, Thiam Hock wrote an article on improving blog content [active] vs An article on improving blog content is written by Thiam Hock [passive].

  • Use stronger verbs. When you are describing actions or events that occur, use stronger verbs. The sentences come alive with stronger verbs. For example, put (weakling verb) vs etch (stronger verb), cut (weakling verb) vs slash (stronger verb).

  • Avoid nominalization of verbs. Nominalization refers to changing the verb into nouns. For example, you have to make a decision now (nominalize the word decide) vs you have to decide now. Nominalization makes your sentences weaker.

  • Ditch adverbs. Adverbs are words that usually ended with -ly. Words like 'neatly', 'carefully', 'usually' and 'clearly'. It modifies verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Try using the stronger verbs or adjectives next time when you use adverbs. You should be able to see the differences. For example, 'he closed the door firmly' vs 'he slammed the door'.

There are many more writing tips presented in the book. I recommend you to read it if you want to be a brilliant content marketer.

  1. Create actionable contents that solve problems

Viral contents are contents that are actionable and solve your reader's problems.

Conduct a content audit to check whether your contents are actionable.

Actionable contents are contents which help your readers to take actions. You can make your contents actionable by following the below steps:

  • Share with your readers how to do certain things. It is not enough just to share what they need to do, and why. Sharing how to do certain things is what make your content actionable. For example, Purple Cow by Seth Godin is a great book. But it is not actionable as it does not tell the readers, step-by-step, how to find your purple cow.

  • Include examples from your work and research. For every step, provide examples and the results to strengthen your the rationale.

  • Showing visuals like screenshots and videos. Your readers learn best by seeing the steps in actions. Provide screenshots and videos to guide your readers how to perform a task.

  • Provide additional resources. Most likely your content will not be able to cover everything. Provide references where your readers can read if they want to find out more.

By writing the how, you are teaching, not just informing. Sharing how to perform certain tasks can better convince your readers that you are an expert.

  1. Make your content scannable

Readers in 2015 have short attention span. One way to capture their attention is to organize our content that is scannable. Look at the following:

text readability

Source: Backlinko

Which one do you think your reader will be more interested to read? Is your content more like the left or the right? If your answer is the right, you might have to reorganize your content.

You can use the following tips to make your content more scannable:

  • Breaking your content into different sections with subheaders. Organize your content in a logical way. Then separate them into different sections. Use a clear subheader so that the text would not chunk together.

  • Provide quotes, and make it stand out. Providing quotes is a great way to break your content into different parts. Centralize the quotes, and make them visible to your readers that it is a quote.

  • Use bullet points. The use of bullet points provides white spaces in your content. Bold the first sentence to make your main message of the bullet point stand out and scannable.

  • Surround your detailed examples or case studies that are part of your content with a box. You can provide detailed examples to illustrate how you perform certain tasks. Surround the examples with a box will separate it from the rest of the content.

  • Use short paragraphs. Short paragraphs are easy to read.

  1. Evoke Emotions in Your Content

Emotion is one of the Share Trigger, according to the research by Dr. Jonah Berger. Content with emotions tends to generate lots of shares. Such emotions include awe, wonder, anxiety, sadness, and humor.

Example: 101 Ways to Love My Wife

Just before I got married, I publish an article address to my wife 101 ways I can love her.

101 ways to love my wife

This content went viral in social media, gathering more than 2,000 interactions in Facebook.

101 ways to love my wife shares

Needless to say, my traffic skyrocketed. I even started to have people following my Facebook profile and adding me as friends.

According to one of the comments made by my wife's best friend:

101 ways to love my wife comments

This shows the type of emotions my dedication to my wife evokes.

So how can you apply to your content? Here are 2 quick tips:

  • Have a positive message in your content. People tend to share things that make them feel good. Do you have something positive in your content that make people feels good? One excellent example of a positive message is kindness in humanity. Coca-Cola released a video in 2014 delivering cokes to construction workers in Singapore. Although this is a marketing propaganda by Coca-Cola, it has successfully gathered more than 500K views on YouTube.

  • Insanely useful content. Another way to use emotion in your content is to provide something that is practically useful. Providing insanely useful content will make your readers awe when they read it. This article is an example of using this principle. For most B2B businesses, the easiest emotions to create is awe.

Note that depending on your industry, emotions might not be relevant. Thus, please do not try to force emotion out of your content.

  1. Isolate certain quotes that you want your reader to remember

Despite your efforts, there is a high chance that your reader might not remember everything. For every sub-topic, write one tweetable quote (i.e. less than 140 characters) that you want your reader to take away from.

You can use the click-to-tweet button at the end of every sub-topic to encourage your reader to tweet your content.

Step 1: Sign up for an account with clicktotweet.com

Sign up for an account with clicktotweet using your Twitter account.

Click To Tweet Signup

Step 2: Create a tweet using the message box

Create a new tweet

Click to Tweet Message

Step 3: Customize your tweet button

Click To Tweet will generate a tracking link to tweet the article based on your message. You can try adding a button, or a simple call-to-action asking your reader to tweet your article.

Click to Tweet Customize

Not every quote has to come from you. You can also use quotes from others, as long as it is relevant. This way, you are also giving credit to them.

  1. Maximize your reader-focused ratio

Your content should focus on your readers, and not about you. Unless you are using yourself or company as an example, you should not be even talking about yourself.

The problem with talking about yourself is that your readers do not care. Your readers only care about themselves, and how you can help them achieve their goals.

Take a look at this example taken from Neil Patel's A Definitive Guide to Copywriting:

Reader-focused ratio - bad example

If your writing looks familiar to this, it is about time to change.

How can you do it? Use the reader-focused ratio.

The reader-focused ratio is the ratio of the words “You / Your” vs the word “I / We” in your writing.

Blog owners who provide actionable contents tend to have a higher reader-focused ratio, as follows:

Reader-Focused Ratio by Author

To do this, do a search of “ you “, “ your “, “ I “, and “ we “, using command/ctrl + F. Notice the space before and after the word. This is to ensure part of the words do not show up in the search. Sum up the number in “ you “ and “ your “, and the number in “ I “ and “ we “. Then find the ratio between them.

You should aim to achieve the ratio of 3. If not, you will have to find the instances where you use “I” or “We”, and change it to the perspective of your audience.

A reader-centric copy will look something like this:

Reader-focused Ratio Good Example

Notice that there are lots of “you” and “your”.

Now it's Your Turn

You have seen some of my favorite techniques to improve content quality.

Are you ready to use one of my favorite high-quality content creation technique from this post?

If so, I recommend downloading the FREE High-Quality Content Creation kit I made just for this blog post. It includes a PDF copy of this post, a summarized checklist, and templates to help you get started. I have also included 3 other techniques that I did not include in this post.

Click the image below to download the kit now!

One last note:

Have you implemented any of the above strategies before? I would appreciate if you could share your experiences below.

17 High-Quality Content Creation Tips
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Thiam Hock

Thiam Hock is the co-founder of 3Pal Pte Ltd, a full-serviced inbound marketing agency based in Singapore. He believes in using inbound marketing to transform the Singapore's marketing landscape. In his free time, he blogs about marketing, personal development and finance.
  • Lyndsay Cambridge

    Wow! What a post! Thanks for sharing this article. Point 2 I certainly agree with, and by the length of this blog post, you do too! Thanks again.

    • Hi Lyndsay, thanks for the kind comment! I hope you enjoy reading this post. Feel free to download the PDF version to read the entire post at your own leisure. I included 3 bonus techniques that is not written here in the PDF.

  • Great post @thiamhockng:disqus lots of work and valuable advice there. Good work mate.

  • Reinart Loidap

    wow really good post, thank you a lot for sharing this, i am 19 year old just started entrepreneur and your content is truly amazing and full of info, thanks a lot!

    • Hi @reinartloidap:disqus . Thanks for reading. All the best for your business endeavor. If you make use any of the technique, do let me know!