- People waffle when they have no idea of what they want to convey
- Serve the audience, not the author
- Key tips for editing yourself
Content that is meaningful and relevant will increase the chances it is read in it’s entirety, but the harsh truth is that most visitors will be gone in less time than it takes to tie your shoelaces. In today’s post, we’ll explore some editing tips to help you create content your visitors want to keep reading.
Why do people waffle
Succinct, intelligent writing requires a deep understanding of what your reader wants to hear and a focus on conveying that message as clearly as possible. With the right balance, your audience can get straight to the benefits you offer. People waffle when creating B2B content for all manner of reasons:
- Showing (or feigning) subject authority and experience
- Glorifying products or software
- They want to re-emphasize areas of interest
- They have no clear idea of what they want to convey
- They want to impress their readers
Our editing tips
There is, unfortunately, more to cutting your content down to size than removing adverbs and adjectives. A key thing to remember with any online content—webpages, blogs, even news articles—is that it’s there to serve the audience, not the author. For your webpage content to appeal to the reader, then, it needs to answer any (and all) fundamental questions they have. . Cornerstone content lets you do exactly that. Brian Clark of copyblogger.com explains:
And the good news is, cornerstone pages have a number of additional benefits alongside acting as a guideline for writing concise content. Follow our editing tips to build a strong cornerstone page:
1. The power of headings and sub-headings
The first of our editing tips – headings are the most important few words on your entire webpage. They’re bigger in size and usually presented in more eye-catching fonts, and they’re located front and centre. Your headlines are the first (and arguably, most important) impression you make on your reader – so you need to make sure they count. As headlines should be no more than a few words, it’s vital you get straight to the point. Tell the reader exactly what they’re going to get from reading this page.
2. You need a good introduction
Your introduction needs to draw in your reader instantaneously with a combination of engaging and informative content. The second of our editing tips is to list the most important pieces of information about you that your reader should know, and combine them with techniques to pique their interest:
- Ask them a question
- Invoke their mind’s eye
- Quote statistics, metrics and testimonials
- Use metaphors and analogies
3. A strong body
This is where you can start to go into more detail, blending in educational content, links and imagery. More detail doesn’t necessarily mean more content however; all webpage content should be kept to short paragraphs of, ideally, no more than 100 words (aim for 50).
The further the reader makes their way down the page, the more educated in your offerings they become. So, body-text should cater more towards information than persuasion – save that for your headings and introduction when you’re trying to arrest their attention.
4. Use media
No list of editing tips would be complete without considering the best use of images. We react to visual stimuli better than words on a page. If you’re including metrics or statistics to accentuate your content, graphs and charts can do all the hard work for you – getting your message across far easier and more effectively than a couple of sentences could. We also retain visual information better than textual information. Images, videos and infographics will have a greater (and longer-lasting) impact on the reader, and are great for breaking up the actual text.
5. Harness good formatting
Research published in the Journal of Consumer Research confirms that we’re naturally drawn to bullet-point lists; audiences appreciate being able to digest smaller, compact pieces of information that’s formatted in a clear matter. Information that can be grouped logically (product features, services, solutions etc.) should be highlighted to the audience through lists.
A close shave for content
As our own writers know, a second pair of eyes is often best placed to carry out the sort of editing tips we have looked at. Failing that try to write the piece you are working on as one step, then approach editing as a different step (carried out on a different day).