Writers are expected to master all kinds of skills—they’re supposed to have fantastic grammar, a hint of wit, the ability to describe even the most mundane things in vivid detail and a talent for downing barrel-sized cups of coffee in a single gulp—but with all that skill comes a tendency to overlook something important. One of the most crucial qualities of good content writers is a dedication to studying trends and putting those discoveries to good use.
You can dot every ‘i’ and double check your blog for dangling modifiers, but if you aren’t on top of industry changes, you’re not at the top of your game.
Here’s what every great content writer needs to know heading into 2019.
1. SEO is Evolving
Keywords can be odd. SEO is even weirder. Search engine optimization is a specialty that runs the gamut from simple keyword insertion to mastering a complex algorithm that requires tweaking an entire website.
As a content writer, you’re likely on the lighter side of SEO; your client gives you keywords, you insert them organically in the proper place and presto! High-ranking content. Or at least that’s how it used to be.
Google is constantly updating its search algorithm (whether it wants to share the details with the public or not), and it’s not enough to just write to the keywords anymore. Now it’s about understanding intent—why people are searching for certain terms instead of just what terms they’re searching for. By wrapping your head around how people search, you can better address their needs, and that’s the very heart of content marketing.
2. Multi-niche Experience is Essential
Niche work versus generalization. It’s an ongoing debate in the content marketing world, and if you ask a dozen writers which approach is better, you’ll likely get a dozen answers. It’s still okay to claim one content format or channel as your main specialty, but the best content writers know a little bit about a lot. Being able to help a client with content for their social network as well as local content such as Google posts creates a more cohesive campaign.
Content writers are like mini branding experts; you may not be leading a business’s launch, but you’re ensuring that brand’s core message is conveyed the right way to the right people.
Diversifying also helps you look out for your own career. The more skills you offer a client, the more valuable you become. After all, most clients would much rather deal with one or two multi-talented content writers than try to juggle an entire team of one-trick ponies.
3. Voice Search is the New Mobile
Once upon a time, the digital marketing world was all aflutter about the move to mobile. According to Statista, mobile now accounts for more than half of global web activity, marking a substantial shift from desktop-based surfing. When that evolution began, it changed how we approach marketing. Voice search technology is now driving another major industry leap.
A few quick tips:
- Incorporate lots of questions into your content, such as “How do I….?” or “Where can I find…,” to mimic the way consumers use their voice-activated digital assistants.
- Use long-tail keywords, again to mimic the speech pattern of typical voice searchers.
- When you’re writing, think like a user rather than a marketer. You want to answer questions and provide solutions, not go in for the hard sell. Information is your strongest sales asset.
4. Few Things Are More Powerful Than the Buyer Journey
Speaking of thinking like the consumer… what is it that your reader wants? The most effective, compelling and important thing you can do is to empathize with the buyer’s journey and use that that information to fuel your content writing.
What are your buyers’ challenges? Where do they go for product/industry education? How are they making decisions? What are their alternatives? Are there common misconceptions that must be addressed? Do buyers have expectations as to what they’ll get out of the purchasing process? Include all of the above in your ideation process so you’re not creating a blog post or white paper in a vacuum. In other words, think like a buyer but write like an expert.
Whether you’re marketing yourself as a press release expert or showcasing your capacity for literary genius with high-quality content across a plethora of niches, there are ways to get better. Study up on the key qualities of a good content writer and then put your expertise to use with freelance writing jobs that give you a chance to shine.
What’s your content writing super power? Share your top qualities in the comments!