Latest thinking on writing articles: your way to effective article layout

The basic principles behind writing articles and killer article layout sound pretty simple, right: an arrangement of words with headings that carry opinion or share ideas. In the online world we can add to this digital resources such as photos, illustrations, video clips and audio files to make the article layout more interesting. So, if you’re tooled up with a pen and a subject to write about then surely you’re good to go.

A lot of this is true but the trick is, and it’s certainly a method you can learn, how to write articles that keep your readers sticking with the words so they discover all you have to say. We’ll be looking at how you can get your article layout just right and how to write articles that your readers will want to bookmark and Google will index.

It’s estimated that 4.4 million blog posts and articles are published every day. Recently, Creative agency finder 99 Firms shared their latest blogging statistics. They reveal that 77% of internet users read blogs regularly. These articles have become the mainstay of our day-to-day fact-checking and continuing professional development. The demand is definitely out there.

So how do you start writing articles that engage with your reader and boost your blogging career?

You can begin right here.

I’m going to talk you through some great techniques that will get your article writing off to a flying start.

So what is effective article layout?

To an extent, the format of article layouts does often follow, or make an arrangement of, some standard conventions. This isn’t so much because article writers are lazy or are trying to make everything look the same. It’s far more to do with creating something with the look and feel that your audience expect, what they are used to and what they need to know.

What do I mean by audience? Remember, when writing articles you must keep in mind that you have two key audiences to appeal to; people and robots.

Firstly, there are the people searching online content. They are interested in learning something new, looking for updates or checking something that they thought they knew. Alongside them are the search engines robots. They need to find and present results in response to those human searches. Both, of these audiences will use the details you write about in your article to decide how relevant the content is to them. Both need to find their way easily around the article and both need to be able to trust the content you’re providing.

So what do you write about? We’ll go over that more further down this post. But first, here’s a run-through of elements to have in your article layout and why you should use them when you’re writing articles:

  1. Main heading

    In the same way we can’t help but judge a book by its cover… the main heading is there to grab attention and to attract a reader to your article. So, it’s really worth getting right. You’ll want to make sure the heading fits with the content you are writing about. You’ll alienate both human and robot audiences if the title oversells and the article content under delivers. That’ll also guarantee you a high bounce rate as people leave your website to look elsewhere for more accurate article writing. Also make sure the main heading of your article is marked as the page’s main heading in the backend code. Search engines want to see headings front loaded with relevant keywords.

  2. First or opening paragraph

    This must support and expand on your heading. You need to take a solution-first approach to your article writing to keep your reader’s interest. That means, make reference to the solution that your offering or the outcome that’s behind the article your writing. Don’t want to share everything but reassure them that your article has a solution for a learning gap they’d like to resolve.

  3. Chunk up content

    With online reader levels at around 20% you want to give your readers plenty to skim over. If you keep your article layout to large chunks of text readers will never find what you want them to.

  4. Make it personal

    You’ll see that even large companies use individual personalities to put a voice to the articles they write. People respond to people, so make it clear who is writing the article and what their credentials are; why do they make a good source for this information.

  5. Keep it current

    Those audiences of ours, human and robot, like to know the advice they are reading is up to date. So it’s worth adding published dates to your article writing. You can always go back and refresh an older article but do update the article with a fresh date. This is definitely preferable to removing it as you’ll make a whole in your search optimisation if you do.

Why it pays to have the right content for your article layout

Even though it sometimes pays to be sceptical, we humans basically want to trust what we read online. Why do you think Facebook has finally added ‘It’s a Fake News story’ to their site? It would have been a  development cost they’d rather avoid plus they pay independent third parties to fact check the posts.

There are a whole-host of on-page SEO elements that affect trust. They are worth spending time on and that’s the thing for future blog posts. But let’s consider how to build trust when writing articles for your readers.

  • Be transparent about the customer experience you offer but don’t over promise. Being realistic is far more appealing. Offer concrete information in your article writing– how many customers/service users/suppliers did you trade with last month. If your deliveries can’t be next day why is that? Write an article about your supply chain and the care it takes for you to deliver. Turn the reality into a benefit.
  • Give specifics. Showing numbers for how many projects you’ve run, people you’ve helped or customers you’ve served data to that can’t be argued with. This show of transparency goes a long way.
  • Include quotes from real people in your articles. These can be from happy customers and even better is repeat happy customers. They show that you’re somebody others can build long-term relationships with. If the context is right, include contributions from your fellow business contacts. They don’t need to directly endorse you but having their comments in your article, and therefore their reputation connected with you, is a feature others will trust.

Write articles that tell a story

Storytelling is a major factor in article writing that is so often overlooked. Now you might be thinking, “Hang on, that totally goes against what you’ve been saying about trust”. But that’s not the type of story I mean.

I don’t want you to make up falsehoods about you or your business. Instead, think about the key parts of your business story that would make a great article. You need to think about the details people will engage with. Every business has its human interest stories and you can bring these out in your articles. You want to find those nuggets of information for which you will be remembered. They’ll add more realism to your articles as well as highlight the things that are different about you, your products and services. Give them the human angle that makes you stand out from the crowd.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Say you’re a local wool shop that’s boosting sales with selling online. How will you write articles that tell the story of your business and at the same time expose what your business has to offer.

Yes, a piece of your business story is that you sell wool. But what about the wool producers? Are they a large business or a very small family farm? What about the sheep? Which breed is being used or why are man-made fibres better for some projects. What are the on-trend colours for this season? These are the stories that people share amongst their friends and on social media.

Think your business is too unique or dry for this type of human interest storytelling then think again. If you’re building roads then share in your article writing the locations you’re joining, the lives being changed by reduced travelling times, the 21st-century materials being used. If you think your business doesn’t have a story to tell then get in touch and I’ll help you find it.

Could article writing websites be the answer?

I’m always honest with my clients. If they want to learn how to write their own articles it will take time. It’s best to set aside time for research, to arrange interviews, source photos etc and then time for the writing.

That’s probably why 64% of B2B marketers outsource their blog writing rather than do it in-house. So, apart from humans being involved is there a tech alternative to writing articles? Could article generators be the answer?

Article generators are downloaded software or online tools that scrape articles that are already published online. What they say they do is repurpose this content to generate brand new, SEO-rich articles written on topics that you and your audience are interested in. You select the article heading or related keywords you want. Then, from various online resources including search engines, blog posts and article directories they produce something new just for you. They adhere to article layout theories so what can possibly go wrong?

To be honest, it seems quite a lot. Whether you use free article writing tools or paid-for solutions the return on investment just isn’t good enough.

Would you accept just 75% readability for your online output? In simple terms, one in four words not making sense.

There are plenty of article generator reviews online so check them out for yourself. Here’s one worth reading on the DiscoverVibe blog with their five of the best. In their analysis there are plenty of Pros but the Cons were pretty damning.

Google isn’t easily fooled

And remember, Google can’t be easily fooled. It’s trained to spot articles written by auto-generators and won’t rank them.

But before I finish off about article generators here’s a great reason that all article writers should be using them: a reason that I do approve of.

In a recent post on the 10Web blog it was suggested using an article generator tool to create content ideas for new own online articles. The example used article generator that gives 3 suggested articles for free. If you want more suggested articles or them to rewrite it to make unique article content you’ll need to pay.

The experience they want you to have is simple: just upload your chosen keyword and the site will throw-out three articles. Ideally, among the words will be concepts you can use for ideas or possibly even finished content you can claim for your own.

My experience, having given it a go for ideas for this post, was far from that. You can only use one keyword and not a string of them and none of the three articles actually included the words article or layout. I left me feeling reassured that my writing skills weren’t going to be redundant just yet.

To be honest, I just don’t think there is a quick workaround for quality writing, that others will want to read. It takes planning and practise to start writing articles like a pro and leaving it all up to the machines just doesn’t cut it.

Your plan to tackle writing articles

So, we’ve been exploring how to tackle article layout and how to approach writing articles. I won’t say it’s easy, especially if your background isn’t in writing. But if you follow these principles you are on your way to writing online content about your business that will appeal to both of your key audiences: people and search engines.

Still need some extra help? No problem at all. Just get in touch with me for expert insight on how to transform your article layout and bring something fresh to your writing ideas. Together, we can write articles that will perform for your business.

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