Google and other search engines index website content and use the findings to rank the relevance of your pages against keywords searchers might use to find your business. This truth puts written content in the driver’s seat of digital marketing and means your writing ability (blogs, website copy, e-books, and product descriptions) can make or break your ability to attract new prospects online.

One might think writing should be straightforward and easy; after all we’ve been doing it since kindergarten, but it’s not. Some of us are better wordsmiths than others and at the end of the day becoming a great writer takes commitment and practice (practice, practice, practice!)

For small businesses that can’t afford a top-notch blogger or copywriter, writing ability can pose a barrier. If being found on search engines is important, it’s worth taking time to hone your skills.

These tips will help:

1. Read – A LOT
Most great writers read everyday; it’s like sharpening a knife when you’re a chef. Reading online content (not books) will give you a good understanding of how blogs are structured differently than web copy and the nuances between B2B vs. B2C writing. For example B2C tends to be more storytelling whereas B2B is typically more concise and to the point.

2. Emulating is a form of flattery
Find blogs you like to read. Note their format – how many sub-headers are they using? What’s the flow of the information, what specific points are they making and how quickly do they arrive at those points? Once you find a few you like, emulate their style until your own emerges. Read more: Why Good Writers Read

3. Get your grammar on
It probably goes without saying but grammar and spelling errors are one of the fastest test ways to alienate an audience. On the web, your goal is to educate them and eventually do business with them so, don’t let grammar be the showstopper. Still not convinced? Read more: Why Grammar Matters: Missing Oxford Comma Costs Dairy Company Millions

4. What are you writing?
Before sitting down to write – especially if it’s for marketing, know what type of content you’re writing and for whom. Emails are vastly different from blogs and web copy is in a totally different category from social media posts. If you’re the only person on your marketing team, it’s critical to understand the difference in order to gain the traction you want. Read more: Content Marketing Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide

5. Simplicity rules!
Albert Einstein once said, “if you can’t explain it to a six year old, you can’t understand it yourself.” He made a good point. It’s widely recommended that web content be geared at a 5th – 8th grade reading level and thankfully, the Flesch Reading Level test was invented to determine readability. If you use Microsoft Word, you’re in luck! There are built-in readability stats for PCs and Macs.

Remember: aim for a Flesch Reading score between 60 and 70 and for fun, here’s this article’s score:
7 Tips for Improving Writing Skills to Drive More Sales

6. Get to the point – now!
If content is Batman, editing is Robin. In B2B you’re writing for a busy audience and one that has an attention span of roughly 9 seconds, which by the way is shorter than that of a goldfish. This means people skim, absorb the important parts, and disregard the rest. It also means it’s critical to eliminate excess words and avoid taking the reader on a meander pathway to the main point.

7. I can’t hear you – read it out loud
More than one college professor has recommended students read their papers out loud before turning them in and for good reason. In fact many professional writers swear by this tactic too. Reading out loud allows you to hear the pace, find missed words more easily, hear where punctuation is missing and realize quickly if you’re over or under simplifying the messaging. Most importantly, reading out loud is the key to self-editing. Try it and watch writing ability soar. Read more: Why Reading Out Loud Will Dramatically Improve Your Writing

With practice, your content development skills will skyrocket and soon you’ll see how content strategy drives more traffic to and through your website. Happy writing!

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