How to Write Great Content for Short Attention Spans

There is always more and more online content vying for readers’ attention—yet it seems like the average online attention span is getting shorter all the time.

This is something that any content marketer has to take into consideration. You need your content to be read and interacted with, yet your audience may have very little patience to sit through anything that isn’t totally optimized to keep them engaged.

So how do you optimize your written content? Here are a few tips to consider.

Start with Buyer Personas

People are going to be a lot more willing to read your content if it feels like it was written directly for them. That’s why you need to start with your audience, and ideally with a well-composed buyer persona. What are the pain points you need to address? What are the values? What kind of language should you be using—highly technical or extremely casual? And what do your readers ultimately want to gain from your content? To answer these questions, you have to have a pretty good sense of who you’re writing to.

Structure it Well

It’s also important to make sure you organize your content in a way that makes it easier to read—and, for that matter, to skim. Some ways to do so include:

  • Write in short paragraphs
  • Avoid long sentences
  • Use subject headings to break up the content
  • Use bulleted lists whenever you can
  • Make sure you end with a good summary of your main takeaways/action steps

Don’t Let Your Words Stand Alone

A plain black-and-white page of text is inevitably going to be a little boring, and strain the average reader’s attention span. Images, infographics, and embedded videos can spice things up significantly, while also helping to break up the content and make it more digestible.

Be Clear in Your Value Proposition

Put yourself in the shoes of your reader, and ask: What’s in it for me? The reader should be able to walk away from your content with some value, some specific benefit. You need to emphasize that value up front, both in your headline and in your introduction, ideally in the first paragraph. Let readers know that they will see a benefit from reading your content.

Don’t Be Afraid to Go Long

A final note: Short attention spans do not necessarily call for short content. There is still plenty of room for articles that go in-depth and provide more specific value. In fact, a reader with a short attention span may prefer these articles; a flimsy blog post may seem like a waste of time, while something more substantive may seem like it’s a lot more worthwhile.

You can create content that engages even the ficklest reader—but if you need an extra hand in enhancing your content, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Grammar Chic can help you write content that gets read and engaged with. Learn more at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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5 Ways to Make Your Written Content More SEO-Friendly

Whether you’re writing content for your company website or dashing off the latest company blog post, you want it to be something good—something that offers value to your reader, and reflects well on your brand. At the same time, you want it to be something that’s search engine optimized. After all, great content isn’t very useful if nobody can find it.

This is a little bit of a false dichotomy, perhaps. Generally speaking, writing good, valuable content is the single best way to optimize it, and all the SEO tricks and gimmicks in the world can’t compete with the raw power of quality writing.

With that said, there is certainly a need to ensure that your content is as palatable for search algorithms as it is for human readers, and simply writing a good article is only the first step. As you seek to maximize your content’s SEO potential, here are five simple principles to keep in mind.

Improve Your On-Site SEO

Originality is Imperative

First and foremost, make sure that what you are writing stands on its own. Google doesn’t see any value in duplicate content, and as such it tends to penalize it. Regurgitating the exact same copy for each product page on your website, for instance, or simply copying text from the website to the company blog, will lead to diminished rankings. Take the time to ensure that every piece of content you write is phrased uniquely. Tools like Copyscape can help you ensure that you’re not plagiarizing yourself or others.

Readability Matters, Too

Google’s bots are more likely to favor articles that are readable to wide audiences—and that means using short sentences and paragraphs, limiting your ten-dollar words, and abstaining from the passive voice. Good, concise, punchy content—written in a way that makes it easy to read—will only help you as far as SEO rankings go.

Your Title Should Be Optimized

Writing a catchy headline is key. So is keeping the title to a Google-friendly length of 55-60 characters max. Finally make sure your URL matches the title and contents of the page; a URL that’s just random numbers hampers your SEO efforts.

Be Structured

Your content should have a structure that makes it easy for readers—and search bots—to follow along and get the basic gist of what you’re saying, even just by skimming. The best way to do this is to structure your article with H1, H2, and H3 tags to break up different sections of content. Bullet points and numbered lists can also be helpful, when applicable.

Use Keywords—Judiciously

Though you want to avoid keyword stuffing, and shouldn’t sacrifice quality for keyword count, keywords can certainly be useful in demonstrating what your content is ultimately about. We’ve blogged about the importance of judicious keyword strategy before.

Write Content That Gets Discovered

With the right approach, you can write content that pleases people and search bots alike—no easy feat, but worth it in the long run. Or, you can hire our team to write it for you. Contact Grammar Chic today to ask us about our SEO-friendly content writing services. Reach out at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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No, You Shouldn’t Include References on Your Resume

Often, the things you don’t include on your resume are just as important as the ones you do.

Case in point: We blogged just a few days ago about the Career Objective, and how it really has no place on a resume.

Today, we’ve got another resume element you’re better off ditching—and that’s your list of references.

Why References Are Out

Our resume team still sees a lot of resumes that come with reference lists—but in truth these lists are unnecessary, and in some cases, can be harmful.

The main reason why we recommend against reference lists is that they simply aren’t in keeping with modern resume trends. When you include one, it makes you look older, out of touch. Of course, what you want is a resume that does just the opposite.

An alternative to listing resumes is to say that references are available upon request—but we’re not big on this, either. The reason is that this is redundant. Employers know that you’re willing to offer references if they ask for them—if you’re serious about the job, anyway. No job candidate is going to deny a request to provide a few references. There’s just no need to state your willingness on the resume, and doing so wastes invaluable real estate.

The bottom line is that your resume should be about you. That’s what hiring managers care about—and a list of other people’s names isn’t going to tell them much.

Rethinking the Reference List

Does this mean you should delete your reference list altogether?

Not necessarily. We still recommend keeping a reference list. We’d just advise that you make it a separate document—not part of your resume.

Have a file where you have references on hand, so that when a hiring manager does request to see them, you can provide them quickly and easily.

Make sure that, when you hand out a reference sheet, you let your references know; nothing good can come of them being caught off guard by a request from a potential employer, and besides, it’s just good manners to fill them in.

Update Your Resume Today

You need a resume that’s compact and powerful—and reference lists take away from that. Get your resume up to date today. Reach out to the Grammar Chic resume writing team for a full resume makeover. Call 803-831-7444 or visit www.grammarchic.net.

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7 Times You Should Update Your Resume

Your resume is a living document—fluid, ever-changing, evolving just as your own career evolves. As such, it’s never something you should just set and forget. It’s smart for any professional to make regular resume updates—even when you don’t happen to be in the job market.

So, when is it smart to go through your resume and make a few tweaks and additions? Here are seven instances when a resume update is absolutely called for.

When to Update Your Resume

  1. Any time you finish a significant new project at work. Take a few moments to record it on your resume, lest your achievement go unmentioned. Make note of your own responsibilities for the project, the people you collaborated with, the skills you employed, the challenges you faced, and the results you obtained.
  2. Any time you receive new metrics. Did you just receive this month’s client satisfaction scores, or this quarter’s sales figures? Take just a second to log them in your resume, where numbers and statistics carry tremendous power.
  3. Any time you complete a new training course or obtain a certification. Log your continuing education achievements on your resume to show that you’re still growing, still learning, still pushing yourself.
  4. Any time you consider freelance or side positions. Take a minute to customize your resume, really highlighting the value you can bring to that specific job.
  5. Any time you want to speak at a conference or seminar. Customize your resume to show why you deserve the gig!
  6. Any season of tumult or transition at your current company. Hopefully you won’t find yourself on the receiving end of a layoff, but there’s certainly no harm in being prepared for it, just in case.
  7. At the start of the new calendar year. When January rolls around, and as you think through your New Year’s resolutions, make one of them to make some updates to your resume, keeping it fresh and up to date.

Get Help Changing Your Resume

Here’s a bonus one for you: If you can’t remember the last time you updated your resume, now is as good a time as any to do it. And if you need some help with it, we’ve got you covered. Contact the Grammar Chic resume writing team today, and we’ll get your resume in good working order! Reach out at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Choosing Between Long-Form and Short-Form Content

It’s a question that our content writing team receives on a regular basis, from business owners in virtually all industries and verticals: How long should my company’s online content be?

Our answer: Long enough.

What people are really getting at is whether there is some magic number they need to hit in terms of their word count. Technically, 400 words is all you need to write to ensure that your blog post or Web page is indexed by Google.

But if you’re trying to truly optimize your content—not just writing the bare minimum, but writing enough so that you can build trust, inform customers, reap ample SEO benefits, and position your brand for thought leadership—well, you may need to write a little more. Or in some cases, a lot more.

Long-Form vs. Short-Form Content

For the purposes of this post, we’re defining long-form content as blog posts, white papers, and other assets that exceed 2,000 words—give or take. Short-form content is usually closer to 1,000 words, sometimes less. In fact, a good short-form blog post can be as brief as 500 words and still be perfectly effective.

To decide which route is best for your business, you’ve got to think about your marketing objectives, and tailor your content length accordingly. We’ll provide you with some guidelines here.

Long-Form Content Makes the Most Sense When:

  • You have a brand new product or service, without much precedent, and you need longer copy to explain what it is and how it adds value.
  • You are writing about products or services that come with higher price tags, and thus buyers want as much information as possible before making a purchasing decision.
  • You are offering products or services that require more of a commitment on behalf of the buyer.
  • Your product is more technical in nature, and needs all its technical specs discussed in the marketing content.
  • You are in a B2B scenario, one in which the sales cycle tends to be longer or more complicated.

Short-Form Content Makes the Most Sense When:

  • You have a product or service with which most of your readers are already going to be quite familiar.
  • Your product or service is either inexpensive or quite commonplace, and therefore less explanation is needed.
  • You’re writing content that is going specifically to qualified leads.
  • You are writing for a channel that requires fewer words—an email, a Facebook ad, an AdWords ad, etc.

In other words, your content length should be determined by how much your buyers already know, versus how much they need to be educated; by how interested your readers are, or rather, by where they are located in the sales funnel; and by the basic marketing goals for the content.

Being Judicious About Content Length

As you seek to determine the ideal length for your content, it’s best to consult with marketing professionals. Grammar Chic’s experts can not only help you strategize, but we can also handle the content creation for you—no matter how long or how short!

Learn more by contacting us today for a consultation at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Should Your Resume Include an Objective?

The art of writing a strong resume is always changing, and what worked 20 years ago might not be en vogue today. If you’ve got an older resume lying around—or if you’ve just been handed some dated advice—there’s a decent chance your resume could stand some sprucing up.

One thing you definitely want to check is whether or not your current resume has an objective at the top. The inclusion of an objective was once standard practice, but now it’s something that’s generally discouraged—but why? And what should be included in place of your objective?

The Problem with Objectives

Let us start with that first question—why are objectives out?

Well, primarily, an objective is simply redundant. If you’re distributing resumes, your objective should be clear—you’re trying to get a job. In that sense, every jobseeker’s resume is pretty much the same.

Moreover, a resume is really very focused on you. Your objective may be something like “to use my skills and experience in the advertising sector to contribute to the progressive vision of a forward-thinking ad agency.” The problem with this is that it’s really all about what you want, not what specific value you can offer to an employer. Hiring managers, however, really want to know what’s in it for them.

Replacing Your Objective

In lieu of an objective, we recommend a summary of qualifications—a few short sentences that summarize your value, list your strongest skillsets, and essentially serve as your personal elevator pitch to hiring managers.

There are many benefits to this approach. Hiring managers may not have time to look through your entire work history, but a good summary of qualifications can make your case for you, even to those who just skim the resume. A summary of qualifications basically condenses everything that makes you a good candidate into a paragraph or so; it focuses on the unique value you deliver to the hiring organization. And, it’s something you can easily tweak as you try to target different employers, ensuring a finely-honed approach to your job search.

Bring Your Resume Up to Date

If you’re still working with an objective, it’s time to make your resume current—and that’s something we can help you with. Reach out to our team at Grammar Chic to get the resume facelift you need. Contact us at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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How to Get Better Engagement on Your Blog Posts

If a blog gets posted to your company website, but nobody reads it, does that blog really exist? The answer, for all practical purposes, is no. For your business blogging to be meaningful, you need to get engagement—and that means people not only reading your post, but commenting on it, sharing it, liking it on Facebook, retweeting it, and more.

You can’t buy this kind of engagement, and neither can you force it—but there are ways you can make your blog posts more engaging. There are steps you can take to entice people to not only read your posts, but interact with them on various levels.

Here are some of the basic principles our team recommends for writing truly engaging blog posts.

Steps for Better Blog Engagement

Know Your Audience

If you want to engage people, you first need to know who you are engaging—and that means writing a blog post that speaks directly to their needs and their values. Ensure that you are using a buyer persona or a similar tool to help you write to a specific audience, taking into account their pain points, their interests, the problems they are trying to solve, etc.

Create a Seamless User Experience

Also ensure that your posts are easy to read. Don’t make your reader scroll incessantly, or read long blocks of unbroken test. Write in short sentences and brief paragraphs. Include section subheadings and bulleted lists where appropriate. Provide graphics when you can. And always ensure that the content is relevant to the needs of your audience (see our first point).

Ensure a Compelling Headline

We’ve blogged many times before about the importance of headlines, which draw readers into your content. Your headline should make a clear promise of value: What will the reader learn from your post? How will he or she be better off having read it.

Start Strong

Your opening paragraph is also quite important, as most readers never make it past the introduction of an online article. Begin with a statement of value, with a question, with a fascinating statistic… something to draw the reader to keep going.

Make it Actionable

Ensure that your blog post provides some real takeaways for your readers—some things they can actually do with the information you’ve given them; some steps for putting the blog post to use. Before you even begin writing, consider what your actionable takeaways will be.

Ask for Feedback

Finally, don’t be afraid to actually ask for feedback. Invite readers to leave comments. Encourage them to share photos or personal stories that might relate to your blog. Open the floor to suggestions for your next blog topic. Be approachable. Be open to interaction with your readers.

Write Posts That Get Engagement

If you’re not getting engagement on your company blog posts, it’s time for you to make a change. Consider outsourcing your blog writing to the Grammar Chic team. We have ample experience writing blog posts that get read—and that generate engagement. Contact us to learn more at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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