Content creators write articles so they can impact their target audience. Article topics may vary depending on the industry you’re writing content for. A good content writer knows the best ways to format articles so it’s easily engaging and digestible for the target audience to read. Learn more about the proper format of an article and best practices for writing quality content.
What Is an Article?
An article is a piece of content that’s written and distributed to readers. You can write articles for different mediums such as newspapers, magazines, and websites. Companies write articles as part of their content marketing strategy to provide information that’s valuable to current and potential customers. The content you write may influence a reader’s decisions and motivate them to take action.
How to Format an Article
Here are steps to help you format an article properly:
- Add a Title
- Include Your Name
- Incorporate an Introduction
- Insert Your Body Paragraph
- Write a Conclusion
1. Add a Title
Your title defines the article’s topic. The reader glances at the title to give themselves a preview of what they expect to read. Browse search engines for keywords to determine which titles have a high rank on search engine result pages (SERP). Consider using a title correlated with article content near the top of SERP so users are more likely to find and read your content.
2. Include Your Name
List your name in the article to define who is writing it if your project requires this step. Some companies may require you to keep your name and include your social media channels and contact information to engage with their readers.
3. Incorporate an Introduction
Your introduction convinces your audience to read the article and explains why the information is important. As many as 55% of visitors only read an article for 15 seconds or less before they moving away from your article. Use strategies to catch your audience’s attention like captivating narratives that outline a problem your target audience faces with the promise of demonstrating how to solve it.
Here are additional tips to improve your article’s introduction:
4. Insert Your Body Paragraph
Write your topic sentence to begin your body paragraph and introduce the supporting evidence associated with the theme. Include relevant facts and information that support the point you’re trying to make. Cite real-life examples to help the reader understand how they can apply the information you provide them.
For example, if you’re writing a step-by-step guide about how a company can market their products, write body paragraphs about the different steps. If the first step is identifying your target audience, use the topic sentence to introduce the importance of having a target audience and how it can help a company promote and sell their products. State examples of the different audiences they can target before moving onto the next step.
5. Write a Conclusion
The conclusion restates the main point of your article. It gives the reader a clear picture of the lesson they should learn after reading the article’s content and how the main points connect with the purpose of the article. Conclusions should include a call-to-action, which gives the reader an action to perform once they finish reading your article. Explain the value of your call-to-action to give the reader an incentive to act on it once you present it to them.
Here are a few examples for call-to-actions to list in your conclusion:
- Provide feedback
- Subscribe to a company’s newsletter or blog
- Visit a company’s website or social media pages
Image via Flickr by Marco Castellani
How to Write an Article
Here are steps to help you write your next article:
- Define the Topic and Perform Research
- Write a Draft Without Editing It
- Read Your Draft out Loud
- Make Final Edits
1. Define the Topic and Perform Research
Pick a topic that can entice your target audience to read about your company or the client you’re writing for. Write a list of engaging topics and evaluate how they’re relevant to your target audience. If you need to expand your list, conduct keyword research to find the highest-ranking articles on search engines. You may narrow down your list of topics based on their relevance and search ranking.
If you’re writing an article for a B2B company, speak with them directly to understand the topic you chose for your article. The company may give you clues about keywords that can improve search results. Ask about keyword terms associated with their products, services, and brand messaging to give you more topics for your article.
Complete a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis to know more about their target audience and business opportunities. You might know that your client is a Software as a Service (SaaS) company that targets businesses that employ 50 to 100 people in the San Francisco metro area. With this information, you may target your article to software companies within 100 miles of San Francisco. Localized targeting can help your company get noticed by local businesses who may want to work with you because you’re writing content that speaks to their business needs.
If you need to perform additional research on content, look at different types of evidence to support the main points of your article.
Some data you may find for your article includes:
- Quotes relevant to your topic
- Definitions of industry-specific words (if applicable)
- Current events on industry topics
- Facts from national and local news outlets
- Company data separate from what’s available on SERPs
2. Write a Draft Without Editing It
Write a rough draft to structure the ideas you’re communicating to your target audience. Writing a rough draft gives you more freedom to write your ideas and thoughts about the direction of your article. The ideas and thoughts you write lay the foundation for your article and present the work you need to complete during the editing process. Keep your research in one folder or document so you can note the data you found and reference it in your content.
3. Read Your Draft Out Loud
Once you’re finished with your rough draft, read your article out loud from start to finish. Refer back to your research to identify if your rough draft matches the tone and messaging your company or client requested. For example, you might note that you need to elaborate on the year-round benefit of travel if you’re working on an article for a client in the tourism industry.
Find any errors and fix them and pay attention to sentence flow and structure. The notes you make when reading out loud help you humanize your content and keep readers engaged until the end of your article. If your target audience stays on the page long enough to read the article, it increases their chances of performing the call-to-action. For example, if a reader clicks on a link in your article’s call-to-action, it may influence them to buy more products and services or give feedback on their experience with your company.
Ask an editor or friend to read over your article to make additional edits. They might provide insight on what you need to add to improve your article’s quality such as adding information to give readers more clarity.
4. Make Final Edits
Make your edits to finalize your article. Read your article out loud one more time after you make all edits to ensure that you’re confident with its quality. If you have a style guide, read it over again to make sure your content aligns with their specifications, then submit.
Tips to Help You Write an Engaging Article
Here are tips to help you write an engaging article:
- Target the rich snippet: Rich snippets show up at the top of the first page of search results and give a brief view of what the article includes. If you find searchable keywords for your article, use the content in the rich snippet as a framework for the type of content you’ll write. For example, if you write a how-to article about how to post content to social media, Make sure to target the rich snippet by including a numbered list of helpful steps readers can take to complete that action.
- Write from a second-person point of view: Using the second-person point of view lets you address your target audience by using the word “you”. This perspective shows that you understand your target audience’s current problems and have a solution to solve them. Ask thought-provoking questions in your article to make your target audience feel that they’re having a conversation with you.
- Add photos and video: Adding photos and videos gives your readers another reason to engage with your article. Images and videos can provide more information, add context on existing information or break up information to enhance the content’s clarity. Include visual elements to help share important data and assist the reader in absorbing your article’s content quickly.
- Complete each step of the writing process in one sitting if possible: You may be able to maintain focus and identify any gaps in your information if you can complete your research or outline in one sitting. Develop strategies to improve the focus of your article’s content for your specific audience.
- Take a break before your final edit: Take time to rest if you’ve been writing for an extended period. When you return to your writing before a final read through, you’ll have a fresh perspective on sections you may have spent an extended period writing.
- Use sentence variety: Make some sentences longer than others, with some compound sentences and some very simple and straightforward. It helps the reader understand your point because it’s easier to read when the sentence structure varies.
Use these tips to format and write your next article. These tips aid you in creating engaging content that makes readers want to know more about your company or your client’s brand.