7 Winning Content Writing Tips for 2021 (+ Guide)

7 Winning Content Writing Tips for 2021 (+ Guide)

Written bySemrush Semrush

Just about anyone can write content.

But writing content that resonates with your audience and has an impact on your bottom line? That’s a much harder task.

The good news is that you can create engaging articles, emails, landing pages, and copy that will achieve business goals and deliver on its promise to your readers at the same time.

We’ll take you through seven top tips for writing impactful content in 2021.

Download the Semrush Content Writing Workbook  – get unique insights from the key industry experts. 

7 Winning Content Writing Tips for 2021 (+ Guide)

1. Start with Your Goals

No matter how skilled a content writer or creator you are, if you don’t have a clear set of objectives, you’re bound to fail.

Firstly, without goals, you have nothing to measure your success. You also have no direction.

We recommend using SMART objectives to kickstart your content marketing plan – that is, your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

To ensure they are, answer the following questions with your team:

  • What do you need to achieve and by when?
  • How will you measure your success?
  • Can you do it with your current resources?
  • Does it further your main business objectives?

2. Get to Know Your Audience

When does a room full of strangers become an audience? When they all sit up and take notice of the person talking.

To get people’s attention, you not only need to know their common questions and concerns, but you also need to speak directly to them. This means filtering people out as much as it means targeting them.

As the old adage goes, if you try to please everyone, you please no one.

So how do you ensure your message is broad enough to appeal to a wide market, yet specific enough to appeal to individuals?

That’s where buyer personas come in. In content marketing, these descriptive profiles segment and describe your ideal readership (which is likely a wider market than your potential clients).

Buyer personas incorporate a range of crucial information. In content marketing, aside from the usual demographic and background information, you’ll probably be most focused on:

  • Their goals and obstacles.
  • How they see your product and your competitors’ products.
  • The questions they have relating to their challenges and your solution.
  • The content formats and channels they prefer.
  • Broader topics and themes they are interested in.

The most important thing about buyer personas is to make sure that they genuinely reflect your readers.

Be aware, if you invent these profiles or they contain inaccurate information, they can cause your content marketing team to make mistakes. Check out the following possible data sources:

  • Internal customer databases.
  • Third-party analytics tools.
  • User feedback.
  • Onboarding or exit interviews.
  • Sales or customer service knowledge.

Once you know what each of your buyer personas looks like, you’ll be able to fine-tune your messaging and create content for each customer segment.

3. Grab Your Reader’s Attention

The most important part of any article?

The headline.

That’s right. It’s what gets people to click and start reading great content in the first place.

The same goes for a compelling email subject line. Without one and your newsletter will be left unread.

There are whole master classes dedicated to writing great headlines and subject lines, but a few well-aimed tips can wipe years of hard trial and error off your plate:

  • Controversy, questions, humor, shock-and-awe, contrast, uniqueness, and emotion are all big attention-grabbers in headlines. But also note that numbered lists outperform regular titles. In fact, according to our research, they get 80% more traffic.
  • At the same time, your H1 must be descriptive of the content – and unique. Not only will the content be clear to the reader, but to Google too. Ultimately, articles and guides that deliver on the headline get a higher quality score than content that does not.
  • But it’s not only about headlines. Don’t forget images. Make sure to select photos or illustrations that stop the thumbs on social media. Without a picture to tell your story to, you’ll go unnoticed.

Read more in the Semrush content strategy guide.

4. Keep Your Audience’s Attention

So they’ve opened your article, your landing page, or your email. The question is, can your writing skills keep them there?

Your content should always focus on providing valuable, relevant content to a reader. The rest of your job is optimizing that content for readability, originality, usefulness, and even shareability.

So how do you keep someone interested?

Before you start writing something for someone, imagine they are sitting across the table from you.

  • What do they want to know?
  • What are their questions, doubts, objections, or misconceptions?

Your buyer personas will be seriously useful now. Write these ideas as bullet points and focus your attention on writing an outline that’s for them – and not for anyone else. By keeping their needs in mind, your message will chime loudly.

And remember, while longer posts do tend to outperform shorter ones, your goal is not to write a novel. Rather, it’s to produce a comprehensive, valuable piece. Do aim for quality content over quantity and let the topic dictate the length of your writing.

Finally, think about what you want your reader to do once they’ve finished your piece. Do you want them to sign up to a reading list, download a guide, or head over to your eeommerce store?

Your calls to action (CTAs) should be clear, consistent, and concise throughout each piece of content. Add too many of them and you will have a hard time measuring your content’s success.

Discover the Semrush Content Writing Workbook

5. Optimize Your Content for Search Engines

SEO is about making your content available to your readers and achieving the goals you set out in your marketing plan.

Before Writing

Line up your keywords. Look for primary keywords with a low difficulty rating and a decent search volume. But don’t get blinded by the numbers. It’s not what your readers are looking for, it’s why that’s important.

Plug your keywords into Google and see what comes out. Google’s nifty algorithm will take a best-guess at why the searcher is browsing and thereby help you understand the search intent:

  • Are they looking for topic information?
  • Do they want to find a website?
  • Are they comparing products to buy?
  • Or do they have their credit cards out ready to purchase right now?

The results Google delivers will give you a clearer picture of the type of content you should be producing for your particular keyword.

When Writing

Use a range of title tags (H2, H3, and H4) to structure your content. More than half of the posts with a complex structure (H2+H3+H4) are high-performing, according to our research.

Add value to your audience and give your SEO a boost by linking to other content on your site, using keywords to describe the links. Also, note that any images you include should include alt text for accessibility and SEO.

After Writing

Next, you need to write a meta title, using your primary keyword. While it needs to be optimized for search engines, it also needs to be appealing to real people. So, keep it short and sweet (under 60 characters).

Your URL should also include the primary keyword – remove stop words (to, the, a, in, etc.) to keep it concise.

Pro tip: make sure to run regular content audits as a part of your content marketing efforts. They help you discover high and low-performing content and identify pieces that need an update.

Download the 2021 SEO Writing Checklist to Optimize Your Content

6. Strike the Right Tone of Voice

According to our recent research, 78% of the high-scoring and well-optimized texts are consistent with their tone of voice. But what exactly does it mean, and why is it important?

Maintaining your tone of voice is all about finding the right way to communicate with your audiences. Speak to your Grandma as you speak to your managing director and she’ll clip you round the ear (and maybe vice versa). Our tone of voice changes with the situation, who our audiences are, who we are, and what we need to achieve.

The same goes for our buyer personas. We need to talk to individuals, so we also need to shift how we speak to them.

The question is, how do you maintain a consistent brand voice at the same time?

Brand tone of voice helps define your brand personality. More to the point, the way your brand speaks through its content impacts the way people relate to you.

Despite the tweaks we make when speaking to Grandma or the boss, ultimately we are recognizably ourselves. Your brand should take the same approach to content creation and define a personality that can be flexible, yet consistent.

Ask your team to chip in. Together define what you sound like now and what you’d like to sound like in the future.

7. Take Care of the Readability

The same factors that govern the substance of your content also determine your text’s target readability.

Are you writing for college professors, business people, or people who are booking a vacation? In online marketing, the complexity, length, style, and content all depend on your audience and their immediate goals.

Semrush determines readability by averaging sentence length and complexity, vocabulary choice, and overall text length. The platform then compares your content to your top ten Google competitors to give you a target readability score.

A Look at the Semrush SEO Writing Assistant

The SEO Writing Assistant scans and analyzes your content, based on target keywords you input. You’ll get key insights and advice on tone of voice, readability, SEO, and originality.

  • Tone: The SEO Writing Assistant will highlight whether your text is casual, neutral, formal, or somewhere in between. It will also provide a consistency score and pinpoint sentences you can update to improve it.
  • SEO: Based on your target keywords and an aggregate of your top 10 competitors, the assistant will give you a score out of 10 and give you keyword suggestions for the semantically related keywords to reinforce your copy, as well as link, title, and alt tags suggestions.
  • Readability: You’ll receive a score out of 10. This is based on your target readability score, comparing your content to your top competitors. You’ll also get suggestions on how to fix any content issues your text might have.
  • Originality: Avoid plagiarism (accidental or otherwise) with the originality check.

The tool works seamlessly within Google Docs, Semrush, and via WordPress.

Next steps

To optimize your copywriting for engagement, conversion, and SEO, download the Semrush Content Writing Workbook (includes tips from the leading content marketing experts and interactive assignments).

Explore the Content Writing Workbook

Optimize your copywriting for engagement and SEO

The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor's own.

Optimize your copywriting for engagement, conversion, and SEO