Use this tutorial for writing articles to serve as great content for your web site but are not SEO-specific. However, this is also a good tutorial for writing SEO articles. Incorporate the SEO specific guidelines provided in that tutorial as well.
How to Write an Article
If you have no desire to write, or you don’t enjoy writing, you can outsource this task. You don’t have to be a star copywriter to turn out effective, well-written articles. Follow our guidelines…to the letter!
Step 1. Choose an Article Topic or Keyword
Decide if these articles will focus on a particular theme or broad keyword. Make sure the theme or keyword isn’t too broad. For instance, if you want to write about online dating, pick a couple of niches or themes such as: online dating for divorcees, nailing a profile that gets responses, how to handle the first date, etc.
Although these articles won’t strictly be for search engine ranking, it’s always good to have a keyword theme or phrase in mind.
Step 2. Define the Type of Article You’ll Write
There are several article types you can choose from:
a. How to articles
b. Tips & Tricks
c. Top Lists
d. News Articles
e. Product Reviews
Step 3. Create an Attention-Grabbing Title!
This is the hardest part. If you have trouble creating a great article title, wait until after you’ve written the article. But let’s discuss this now anyway.
The title is the advertisement for the article. It will hook or not hook the reader’s attention. This is your shot to convince someone to click on the article and read it. Therefore, take the time you need to think of the title. After you write your title, ask yourself, “If I saw this in a list of 100 article titles, or in an email subject line, would I click on it?”
Tips for creating powerful, attention-grabbing headlines:
Qualities of a Good Title
A good title:
- Stimulates your curiosity about the article
- Promises and delivers quantifiable results or information
- Conveys an emotional feeling such as fear, apprehension or doubt that will only get resolved by reading the article
Great Title Types:
- Top Lists (Top 10 Secrets, Top 5 Tips, Top 7 Reasons Your Cat Pees on the Carpet, etc.)
- Questions (Do You Know What “[legal jargon]” is? Your Client Does, and He Could Be Suing You Right Now!)
- Secrets Revealed
- Quantifiable Promises (The One Pick Up Line That Gets Her Number Every Time)
- Identify Fears or Doubts
- Identify Desires
Some Top Titles that Have Been Tested and Pull Results:
- How to Order Christmas Gifts Now and Pay After January 1st
- Free to High School Teachers. $X to Everyone Else
- How $20 Spent May Save You $20,000
- How a Strange Accident Saved Me From Baldness
- Are You Ashamed of the Smells in Your Home?
- How to Feel Fit at Any Age
- Seven Ways to Break the Overweight Habit
- Can You Spot These Seven Common Decorating Sins?
- Why Some Foods Explode in Your Stomach
- Top 5 Reasons You’ll Win the Date Your Hot Friend Couldn’t
- The Secret Weapon (and It’s Just One Phrase) that Wins the 9 out of 10 Sales!
Step 4. Create a Killer Introduction
The Internet tends to make everyone attention-deficit. Therefore, if you don’t grab your reader the moment they start reading, they’ll quickly move on to the next flashy message vying for their attention.
Keep your sentences short. Use fewer adjectives and more verbs. Spend less time describing, and spend more time concentrating primarily on action steps, such as “How to” or tips. A good rule of thumb is to give them things they can do vs. things they can learn.
To craft a killer introduction, don’t waste time introducing your topic and why they should read it. Cut right to the chase. Nail the one question, doubt, fear, or desire they have and dig deep into those feelings.
For instance, let’s say your article’s title is Top 7 Reasons Your Cat Pees on the Carpet (and How to Eradicate the Habit for Good!).
Your first paragraphs may read something like:
So your cat believes you are HER pet. And the carpet is just an extension of the litter box (if she’ll even use it). But her bad habit isn’t arbitrary. She’s trying to tell you something!
There are seven things you are doing that are pissing your cat off—literally. I’m going to lay them all out here for you, clear and bright as day…something your cat unfortunately won’t bother to do. And then I’m going to give you five tips that will delight your cat, save your carpet, and keep that oh-so-fresh-you-don’t-even-know-I-have-cats smell!
Let’s take this intro apart and look at what was accomplished here:
The first sentence is short. It’s a statement any cat owner can immediately relate to – especially one whose cat pees on the carpet.
The second sentence builds on the first. You’re creating rapport with the reader. Essentially you’re telling your reader, “I can relate to what you’re going through. I understand you and your frustration. I’m funny and I’ll entertain and inform you at the same time! I don’t want to waste your time so why don’t I just pass on the fun, quick facts to you…pronto!
By the end of the second line of text, you’ve already ended the first paragraph and you’ve given the reader hope. Their problem is caused by something, and it can be fixed.
Keeping a fun and conversational tone, the second paragraph clearly tells the reader that there is a quantifiable number of specific things THEY are doing that are causing their problem, as well as another quantifiable number of specific things they can do to fix that problem. Most importantly, they’re given some images and benefits they will want.
Step 5. Write the Body of the Article
Once you’ve done the introduction, writing the body of the article is relatively simple. Be aware that readers almost always skim. They’ll rarely read an article all the way through, unless they see enough good content while skimming, which will motivate them to read the article in full.
The major takeaway here is to have a lot of white space in the article, meaning short paragraphs and lots of lists, not endless blocks of text. These tutorials are a good example of this.
More tips for you:
- Keep paragraphs short. Break long sentences into short, blunt statements.
- Use a conversational and fun tone. The article has to be informative, preferably with actionable steps or tips, rather than descriptions or definitions.
- Use Sub-Headings that introduce the next section of the article like in the title step above.
- Use lots of numbered or bulleted lists whenever appropriate to break up text.
- Be action-oriented and useful. Never give information for the sake of taking up space. Get to the point and provide information the reader can act on, such as tips, how-to steps, secrets, answers to questions, or reviews that help them make a decision.
- Your article is NOT a sales letter. Don’t try to sell them on anything or openly promote a product. Instead, educate them so that it pre-disposes them to want your product or service and then introduce it as a possible choice.
- Keep it short. Between 500-750 words is ideal.
Step 6. Write a Conclusion that has them Begging for More
The crowning jewel of your article is the conclusion. Most articles reiterate the subject and assure the reader that they have all the information they need. But this is not a high school thesis paper—this is your audience’s first impression and is your one chance to begin a relationship.
Write a conclusion that assures readers they have a solution to their problem, answer their most critical question, encourage them to do a certain task, or allay a crushing fear or doubt with the information you provided them. Then mention an even larger issue/question/task/result they can fix/have/do. Promise them more free information and tell them what they have to do to get it.
For example, to continue our cat article:
So there you have it! Just follow the action steps outlined above and your cat will be relinquishing her reign on your carpet and obediently stick to your litter box. Ahhh…I can smell the fresh scent of clean carpets now! You can thank me later. J
In the meantime, you may be wondering, “If it’s that easy to stop her from peeing everywhere, perhaps her other behaviors are fixable too!” You’re right! Scratching the furniture, attacking well-meaning guests, meowing or scratching when you’re trying to sleep…these problems can be fixed—easily!
To get your cat to behave like the angel she looks like, download our Cat Angel Secrets e-book. It’s completely free. Get it now at: www.catangelwebsite.com/freebook.html
(Can you tell I have a cat? I’m going to search for this e-book now, and if it doesn’t exist, I’m creating one!)
Now again, this isn’t a specimen of perfect writing. Article writing is about entertaining readers, having a friendly conversation with them, and being trustworthy by offering useful, actionable information.
In the conclusion above, I reassured the reader that she has all the information to fix the problem —the key to unlocking the mystery of her cat peeing on the carpet and how to fix the problem.
Next, I extend that wonderful feeling of reassurance that there are also solutions to other cat problems that she has or will have. A cat that misbehaves by peeing on the carpet probably misbehaves in other ways as well.
Finally, I tell her that these other solutions are free and I tell her where to find them. The benefit is you give away a free e-book or other information thereby legitimately capturing the reader’s email address which you can add to your distribution list for your future marketing campaigns.
Step 7. Create Variations of the Article
You can create multiple variations of the article so that each variation is 20% original (meaning Google and other search engines won’t treat it as duplicate content if one version is on various webssites, hence discounting the backlink if you promote the article).
You can create extra content from the same article with Jason Potash’s Content Composer software (it automates a lot of this for you and “spins” dozens to hundreds of articles for you automatically when you provide a couple versions of certain words, sentences, or paragraphs).
Try it. www.contentcomposer.com
Though it takes more time, here is a free way to spin your articles into variations:
Open Microsoft Word and click on the “Tools” icon.
Click on “Auto-Summarize”.
Go to the third box that says “Create A New Document and Put The Summary There.”
Under “Length of Summary”, choose how many words or sentences you want. You could use this, or you could reduce the article in percentage terms. It’s up to you.
When you’re done, click OK.
In 90% of the cases, the reduced version of your article makes sense when it is reduced by 50-60%.
You can also fill in the blanks. You still have to do some work, but when half of the article is written for you, it makes things easier.
You can go through and repeat the process on the second version, creating many articles.
You must change the titles for each article.
Step 8. Review for Errors and Readability
Last step! Use your spell checker and re-read it for readability and attention-maintenance (meaning it keeps the reader’s attention—yes I like to make up words!).
I usually wait a day before re-reading my articles. This allows my brain to rest. I forget what I wrote, and read it with a fresh eye the next day.
And that’s it!