wrting great content concept

Top Tips For Writing Great Content In 2020: A Long List of Something With A Really Long Headline And A Couple Of Subheads

Writing great content that generates traffic, engagement, backlinks, shares and leads is the holy grail of content marketing. 

While there is still no simple recipe, one of the great benefits of the massive amount of content produced and the growth of analytical tools to review results has been a much better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

We now know with more clarity than ever how to write great content.

Writing Great Content Means Lots Of Writing

As part of its State Of Content Marketing 2019 Global Report, SEMrush analysed more than 700,000 articles from domains that had between 50,000 and 500,00 sessions per month.

The results were not great for lovers of short articles. It showed pages and blogs of more than 3,000 words getting 3x the traffic, 2x the shares and 3.5x more backlinks than articles of average length. Short articles (less than 200 words) are not shared at all 4.5x more often than long reads.

READ MORE: Five Newsroom Principles To Supercharge Your Content Strategy

The length of headlines is also critical to engagement. Articles with long headlines (14+ words) get 3x more traffic, 2x more shares and 5x more articles with short headlines (7-10 words).

The reason for the popularity of long reads is contested by it is safe to assume that as the sheer number of content pieces grows, readers are increasingly being more selective and taking deeper dives. 

The length of a ‘long’ article continues to get longer as well. In 2014,  HubSpot tallied the averages of all of its 6,000+ blog posts and derived that there is a “positive correlation between high performing pages within organic search and word counts over 2,250 words”. Just five years ago SEMRush’s sweet spot rested right between 2,250 and 2,500 words.

If the thought of writing 3,000 (or 2,500) words makes you draw a deep breath, thankfully there is an alternative view.

According to research done by popular blogging platform, Medium, the ideal length for blog posts is 1,600 words (or seven minutes of reading). This result is based on an analysis of the “average total seconds spent on each post and compared this to the post length.” Their research found that up to the seven minute/1,600 wordmark, readers average time spent looking at the post increased, plateauing at the seven-minute mark, and quickly declining after that point.

While length is important, how you use it is also critical. The most important thing to remember is that quality content is what really matters. 5,000 words of dribble will not get anywhere near the result of 500 words of highly-targeted, useful content.

writing great content

Are Listicles Still Important?

There is a reason listicles have spread like a rash across the internet. They work. According to SEMrush, listicles get the most shares and traffic (up to 2x more than other blog types), followed by guides and “how to” articles.

Why do they work? They allow our brain to digest information in a very digestible way. Modern media assaults us with a never ending stream of content. Our brains simply do not have the capacity to sort through the massive volume of information and store in a useful place for easy recall later.

As Forbes’ Steve Denning explains:

“With the tsunami of incoming stuff, our brains will automatically try to find a sorting mechanism and try to make sense of it. So we naturally gravitate to the listicle. Finally! the brain says. A writer who has actually organized thoughts into some semblance of order. The brain sees organization and says, Right, let’s read it.”

Think About Structure

The structure of your article is also critical to understanding, as well as having incredible SEO value. SEMrush identified that well-structured articles with h2 and h3 are more likely to be high-performing. More than one in three articles with h2 and h3 tags have high performance in terms of traffic, shares and backlinks.

Header tags are an important on-page SEO factor because they’re used to communicate to the search engines what your website is about. Search engines recognise the copy in your header tags as more important than the rest. This starts with your h1 and works its way down in importance to the h2, h3 and so on.  These tags will help support the overall theme or purpose of your page.

The content of your tags is just as critical as actually using them. Make sure you are stuffing your header tags with short-tail and long-tail keywords. As search engines crawl your site, they will pick up on the headers and recognise the keywords you are using as important.

This article has been structured to index for search traffic that is using the search term “Tips For Writing Great Content In 2020″

  • My h1 = <h1> Top Tips For Writing Great Content In 2020 </h1>
  • My h2 = <h2> Writing Great Content Means Lots Of Writing</h2>
  • My h3 = <h3>Are Listicles Still Important</h3>

As you can see, I used my h1 to capture the overall theme of the post since it represents what’s most important. I then used my h2 as a subheading to reinforce my h1 and overall theme. The same can be said about my h3 and how it relates to my other headings and overall theme.

The most important tip for writing great content (keywords!) is to give yourself plenty of time to write plenty of words, come up with a great headline, make it a list of something and use your header tags.

Lengthy Harley Quinn Film Title Gets SEO Flick

Lengthy Harley Quinn Film Title Gets SEO Flick

Warner Brothers have hit the rename button on their mouthful of a title for the new Harley Quinn film, citing “search expansion for ticket sites” as their motivation.

It’s not often you have a post-release change to anything as large as a feature film, especially for the purposes of SEO.

Without critiquing the movie itself, let’s just get stuck into exactly how critical your title structure is to give your content the best chance of success.

Supervillains Need SEO, Too

The original title is 69 characters and 11 words long including parentheses:

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

The new title is just 28 characters and 5 words long:

Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey

Harley Quinn’s namesake has now been given pride of place, with Birds of Prey taking a back seat, and the rambling 40 character Australian Psychic Expo word vomit is gone.

 

Why is the title important? Anyone, regardless of their enthusiasm for comic book movies will be able to tell you that this is the Harley Quinn movie. In general, Google show a maximum of 60 characters in Search titles, so by positioning her extremely valuable name 55 characters into the title, listings will exclude her name from appearing at all:


Then there was this headline from Forbes which had a healthy dose of irony:

Forbes Harley Quinn Listing

Whereas the truncated title fits perfectly with 30 characters to spare for the website’s name itself, benefiting local Cinemas and review sites alike, all battling for ticket sales and impressions.

The fact of the matter is, Birds of Prey simply doesn’t hold the same level of brand recognition as Harley Quinn does. It isn’t The Avengers, or X-Men (which suffered a similar blunder with Dark Phoenix). Current trends show that it’s only been as recently as this week that Birds of Prey’s search popularity has started to eclipse that of Harley Quinn’s:

If we compare the original title to the truncated title, the latter is 20 times as popular and trending upward as of writing this:

Even adding ‘Harley Quinn Movie’ to the mix illustrates the link between Harley Quinn and the brand’s success:

Objectively speaking, if this were any other service or product that you were searching for and you were presented with search results that didn’t contain the thing that you actually searched for, you’d probably just keep scrolling. You wouldn’t look for plumbers in your area and click a listing that began with 60 characters describing the van they turn up to a job in.

Admittedly, when I first read the original title for Birds of Prey my mind immediately defaulted to a Troy McClure film of undisclosed popularity:

 

Oddly enough, ‘The Contrabulous Fabtraption of Professor Horatio Hufnagel’ just squeezes in to the 60 character limit, making it slightly more SEO friendly than what I’m writing this article about.

Metatags Aren’t Just For Metahumans

Warner Brothers have been under fire in previous years for strong-arming directors into pre-release title changes, so this could simply just be a change of tact to afford Cathy Yan proper creative control over her film despite the unusually eccentric title raising numerous eyebrows.

Corporate Bean-Counters stepped in to action this unprecedented title change fairly swiftly, speaking volumes about the power of SEO and appropriately structuring your titles to make sure it is seen by as many eyes as possible.

Much like a feature film, your content is a money-making exercise. Business doesn’t run on love alone, you are always investing your time into creating content designed to position you as an expert in your field.

This isn’t saying you can’t be creative with your titles, you just have to be creative in the scope of the platform you’re publishing on. All content delivery methods come with a set of parameters that you must adhere to, which aren’t limited to just movie titles. For example, if you are creating content for TikTok, you wouldn’t use still images. If you are trying to launch a new car model in Portugal, you’d name it the Kauai instead of the Kona. If you were creating a billboard ad for the side of a highway, you wouldn’t use an entire paragraph of text (or would you).

Lyft Billboard

With that said, it’s time for you to start structuring your page titles effectively, they are your ad’s headline in organic search results.

  • Keep them under 60 characters long
  • Use your most important elements at the start
  • Answer a question preemptively (chances are you’re writing the article to answer something anyway)
  • Promote yourself shamelessly

The key takeaway from this scenario is that if the first title you pick doesn’t hit the mark, that’s ok! If Warner Brothers’ can change a movie title, then you can change your blog post’s title (feature image, excerpt or content for that matter) at any time. That in itself is the beauty of creating content for the digital world, you’re only limited by your attachment to what you create.