B2B content writing that stops the scroll: The art of the unexpected

Back when I was a B2B property journalist, I started a bog-standard, state-of-the-market feature by drawing comparisons with famous pieces of art.

I wrote that if the market were a painting, it would be less like Monet’s Water Lilies and more like Dali’s The Putrefied Donkey.

Writing something unexpected can be a good way of grabbing attention. Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

The point was to grab attention with my opening line by throwing in something unexpected yet illustrative of the point I wanted to make.

I chose words and created an image that readers flicking through the magazine wouldn’t usually read.

Whether you are writing an article or a LinkedIn post, if you are following the usual tropes with all your content, you risk being lost in the crowd.

It’s not necessarily about saying something different to everyone else; you can have a similar idea just present it in a different way.

Getting creative

I could have said the property market was challenging or leasing conditions were difficult. But that’s what everyone else would say, so I got creative.

And I returned to the art theme running, concluding how the market might be a different painting in 6 months.

Let’s look at it another way. Which quote would make you want to read the piece more:

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Writing online headlines that work

The first Covid vaccine arrived in the UK last week and The Sun newspaper’s headline was: ‘The needle has landed’.

It’s a great pun. The Sun is particularly good at ‘punny’ headlines.

But it’s a headline that only works well in print because there is a picture, caption and additional information – a subheading – to help readers understand what the story is about.

Photo by Bruno Bučar on Unsplash

Did The Sun use the same headline for the online version?

No.

Why?

Because if people are Googling stories about the vaccine they aren’t likely to use ‘needle’ or ‘landed’ in their search terms. Headlines are an important part of search engine optimisation (SEO).

In addition, if you saw a list of different news headlines, would you immediately know what ‘The needle has landed’ was about?

When we are online we tend to make snap decisions. If there are other search results that more readily fit what we are looking for, are clear what the story is about then we’ll more likely click on those.

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Writing online content – 4 practical tips

iphone dark notebook pen
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

I’ve been writing for the web for many years, both for work and on my theatre blog, making some of the common mistakes along the way.

But I’ve learned from those mistakes, and I wanted to share some of the tips I’ve picked up.

This is practical advice rather than what to write and how to write because if your carefully crafted words aren’t easy to find and read, they won’t get read.

1. Keywords

For Google to find your content, it needs to contain the search terms your target audience would use when looking for information on that topic.

Don’t be too clever; use the common words and phrases, and if several different terms can be used, include them all.

For example, if you are writing about flexible office space, some people might search for articles on ‘flex space’, ‘ serviced offices’ or ‘co-working space’, so it’s a good idea to include all these terms.

Don’t stuff your content with keywords; rather, make sure you’ve covered the common bases.

And don’t forget to include keywords in your headline.

2. Mobile-friendly

Remember that people could be reading your blog post, article or web content on a phone or tablet, not just a laptop or desktop.

Current trends show that the proportion of web searches made on mobile devices has overtaken laptops and desktops.

So it’s important to check how your content looks and reads on all devices and make sure your website is mobile-friendly.

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