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Best Practices

7 tips for better writing

Summary: A few quick tweaks to your writing can boost SEO, connect people with the information they seek, and refine your voice and tone. Here's how.

Writing well is an important skill that takes practice. But when you get it right, your words have the power to inspire readers, attract customers and improve your ROI on digital investments. I know, thinking about things like sentence structure, spelling and grammar can be dry. But these fundamentals ensure your ideas are communicated clearly and effectively.

So before publishing your next article, sending off that email or sharing a report with your new client, consider these helpful writing tips.

1. Write in plain language

Big, technical or complicated words don’t make anyone seem smarter or more professional. They actually can do the opposite. Write the way your audience speaks – this makes your content more engaging and relatable to readers. Plain language is about making copy easy to understand. When it’s simple and clear, users will be more apt to act on it. Plus, plain language is important for accessibility, SEO, responsive design and generating more business. 

2. Craft compelling headlines

A strong headline is the difference between readers staying on your website or bouncing off and visiting a competitor. Most of us scan content when we land on a site, so headlines need to grab the reader’s attention right away. A compelling one summarizes what the page (or section) is about and why it's worth staying there. The copy should be quickly understood, not too long, emotionally compelling and targeted to your audience’s needs. 

3. Get to the point

Our attention spans are shorter than ever...are you still with me? It’s hard to sift through all the online noise that comes our way. So remove unnecessary clutter to keep your readers engaged: long intros, qualifiers, run-on sentences, abstract concepts, too many adjectives. Also, surface the most important information first – your readers will appreciate it.

4. Add rhythm and flow

Short sentences are easy to read but several strung together can sound dull and repetitive. Try mixing sentence lengths up. Also, writing should flow, just as a song builds and advances with each note. Longer clauses slow down the pace, punchier ones create excitement. Try joining clauses or mixing up the placement of verbs and nouns. And be sure to read your writing aloud – If it’s not pleasing to the ear, change it up.

5. Keep it active

We naturally speak to each other in an active voice – that’s when the subject comes first in a sentence then the verb (e.g. Cheryl bought a new jacket for her trip). In passive voice, these are flipped. It becomes confusing who is doing what (e.g. A jacket was purchased by Cheryl). Use active language and action words to promote clarity and express urgency.

6. Know your audience

Think about the people who would most benefit from your products or services. What are they interested in? What’s important to them? Identify their wants, needs, values and concerns, then decide how your writing can help resolve their pain points. Readers should feel like the content is speaking to them: It’s all about being relatable and creating a connection. 

6. Build your toolbox 

There is lots of good technology out there to help your writing along. Go beyond spell check and add these links to your writing toolkit:

  • Grammarly: Plug-in that uses AI to help you write mistake free. You can review your emails, documents and messages for tone, clarity, grammar, spelling and more.

  • Hemingway Editor: Web editor that highlights lengthy, complex sentences and common errors, while helping polish your writing. All you do is paste your copy into the app and you’ll receive recommendations to help you edit as you go.

  • Grammar Girl: Mignon Fogarty, the creator of Grammar Girl, produces blogs and podcasts that make grammar, language and writing fun and understandable. To review the basics, take her LinkedIn Learning course at Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing.

  • Brain Traffic: Kristina Halvorzon is one of the most important voices in content strategy. She brings us Brain Traffic – a hub for all things content strategy. From business services to insightful articles, Brain Traffic helps writers dive deep into content strategy. 

  • ChatGPT: AI tool that can help writers Improve their content creation process. Writer’s block? ChatGPT can generate prompts or suggest ideas to jumpstart creativity. Short on time? The tool can provide outlines or summaries to organize thoughts and get your writing moving forward quickly. 

Start small

As Nathaniel Hawthorne said, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” That’s especially true in  business during this technology-driven era. A strong writer makes the complex understandable, communicating succinctly without diluting the message. Do right by the reader and make your life easier. Keep your writing simple and leverage the skill-enhancing tools now available.