Writing blog posts for clients, whether it’s on-site or for paid links, involves enough research into their product or service to give their potential readership something engaging and useful. Keywords are an important part of the industry side, but without an interesting piece of writing to put them in, they will just be part of the sea of spam on the web that Google loves to penalise.
The main way to create this interesting and useful copy is to recognise what the audience wants and give them that. Purposely writing for an audience sounds incredibly simple because it is, so why is no one doing it?
This first paragraph is an example of an SEO optimised blog I found about 2013 kitchen trends:
This year has seen the emergence of some striking new kitchen trends, as well as the continuation of some established themes. When homeowners refit their kitchen, their choices may be driven by a desire to sell their home (and therefore to appeal to as many people as possible) or to create the kitchen of their own dreams. The good news is that the technology and appliances developed in recent years make almost anything possible.
I’m not doing this to name and shame and, for now, I’m not interested in any other writing techniques, but there’s one big problem with this blog: the author has written the blog for themselves. This is a pit that every writer falls into throughout their career, but that doesn’t make it okay.
Writing for yourself instead of your audience
To understand how they’ve ignored their audience, let’s dissect the paragraph and identify what it actually says:
Sentence 1: This year has seen the emergence of some striking new kitchen trends, as well as the continuation of some established themes.
There are different types of kitchens
Sentence 2: When homeowners refit their kitchen, their choices may be driven by a desire to sell their home (and therefore to appeal to as many people as possible) or to create the kitchen of their own dreams.
People refit kitchens for different reasons
Sentence 3: The good news is that the technology and appliances developed in recent years make almost anything possible.
People can achieve the above because technology exists
You can already imagine the research process the writer did to get this first paragraph. They searched for something like ‘kitchen trends 2013,’ scanned the first few articles and came to the conclusion that there are different types of kitchens, people want kitchens for different reasons and that technology is advancing. The problem is that they’ve repeated exactly what they’ve discovered rather than use it to make a targeted and useful article for their audience, which is presumably people who may want a new kitchen.
Write the tip of the iceberg
Ernest Hemingway wrote about the Iceberg Theory in his fiction, which involved omitting certain information from the story so that the reader can only see the tip of the iceberg. There are loose similarities here when blogging for SEO purposes (very loose, but I wouldn’t like to be accused of plagiarism) about what you do and don’t show the reader.
This is important because the reader you’re appealing to will probably already know a lot more about the subject that you do, that’s why you’re having to research it, after all. With this kitchen article, the potential readers will already know that there are different types of kitchens and why they want a new one, so instead of telling them what they already know, the article needs to give them a specific kitchen style for their individual purpose. This will make them feel like the article is tailored specifically to their needs, so they’ll be more likely to read the rest of it and click through to any links that are in it.
How to make it better
There are two ways to improve on this example that can be found by looking at the potential audience:
1. The first is to make it into two articles. The writer has identified that people refit their kitchens either to sell the house or to create their dream kitchen, so making two articles with titles like
‘Increase your House Value with a Cost-Effective Kitchen Refit’
‘Kitchen Trends to Complete your Dream Home’
This tells the potential that they’re getting an article suited to their needs and means you have twice as much content that’s twice as useful as before.
2. Be more specific in the introduction. Let people know that they can find the right information by hinting at what’s to come. This is my attempt at making the paragraph a little more specific:
‘Kitchen trends fall in and out of fashion every year and there’s the constant question of style or functionality that can put big restrictions on your plans. Luckily, this year brings a broad range of current designs, from colourful installations to complete a dream kitchen to simple, light-saving design tricks, here are a few of 2013’s highlights.’
What’s the difference?
I’ve tried to keep the language as similar as possible so you can see the changes. The first sentence suggests that, although choosing can be difficult, the kitchen they pick will continue to be in fashion in the future. This will hopefully make people feel more relaxed about buying into something which changes style all the time. The second sentence hints at some of the designs the blog will mention. We’ve identified that the readers will probably be people who want to sell the house or make a dream kitchen, so we’re letting them know that we have them covered.
What would you write?
Have a go at writing an introduction about kitchen trends in 2013 and I’ll add it in to this blog. At the same time, if you see any another articles that ignore their audience let me know here or on Twitter @BrettJanes