By Simon Carrie, Trainer, British Council in Singapore

25 September 2014 - 13:39

Three East Asian young adults using a Mac Book

British Council

Are you frustrated that your online content doesn’t get the attention you hoped it would? Do you want your content on the front page of Google? Knowing how to promote your site effectively is important, but being able to write consistently good online content is far more important. This is what drives people to read your websites or social media content:

1. Identify your readers

Concentrate on the relationships you’re trying to build, not on the technology. Who are the people you’re trying to attract or engage with? Build up a picture of the typical users who you want to read your content. When you’ve done this, then you can begin to write for them. Next consider your purpose. Be clear why you’re writing and what you want to achieve. Sharing information isn’t enough. What do you want the readers to do with the content?

 2. Write effective headlines

These are what catch the reader’s attention; make sure your headlines aren’t an after thought. Write a meaningful heading, enough to give the reader a good idea of what the text is about. Avoid vague ‘teasers’ or clever plays on words. Use key words and stick to clear, simple language. 

3. Structure your content

Now your headline’s got the reader’s attention, you’ve only got a few seconds to keep them reading. Structure your content so your opening paragraph gets straight to the point. Go into more detail later in the text. Answer the questions ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘why’, ‘where’ and ‘how’. Loading all this information at the beginning of your content means the reader can find out as much as they want to, to whatever depth they want, without having to read everything.

4. Identify the ‘WIIFM’?

‘What’s In It For Me?’ This is the question your readers are always asking. Now you have their attention, can you convince them to read on? Content that grabs a reader’s attention will state its purpose clearly at first glance.  Tell the reader what you’re writing about. Remember, you’re not trying to write a mystery novel!

5. Make it readable

We want to read easily and quickly when we’re on the internet. Long-winded texts, with big words and long sentences make users feel impatient; they won’t want to read your content. Write using short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.Don't be afraid to use a one sentence paragraph to make a point and keep your reader from switching off. 

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