6 Content Tips: How To Write When You Have Nothing To Write About

When I tell a client/friend/colleague they need to add X pages of interesting content to their site, I typically hear one of three answers:

  • 3% of the time: “No problem, I’m on it.”
  • 75% of the time: “But I don’t have anything to write about.”
  • 22% of the time: “No one wants to hear about my product/service. It’s boring.”

I’ll ignore the obvious replies, like “If it’s so boring, why does anyone buy it?” or “Then why can you talk about your product for 2 hours at a party?” I understand how tough it can be to come up with material. When you spend all your time working in your business, day in and day out, it can start seeming routine, mundane and so second-nature, you can’t imagine what people would want to know.

Here’s a list of a few ways I come up with material, and how I present them to give the most bang for the SEO buck.

1. Q & A / FAQ Sections

My favorite option can seem like a cop-out, but there are potential clients and customers out there with questions. Answering those questions can give you instant content.

Put a simple form on your website and invite folks to send you their questions. Then write a short article/post about each one. You’re not giving away your products or expertise for free! Your customers will still work with you, no matter how detailed you get.

In fact, in my experience, the more detailed you get, the more likely the reader is to hire you, because they realize just how much work they’d have to do. I’ve been blogging and writing articles for over 10 years now. Somehow, folks still hire me.

Get the most SEO value

To get the most value out of Q & A sections:

  • Link from your answers to relevant services pages on your site, as well as to other answers.
  • Check the phrasing of the question. Make sure the question uses the most common phrasing. If it doesn’t, edit it.
  • Occasionally do a Q&A roundup: a single article, post or page on your site that lists all of the questions relevant to one topic.

2. Post Specifications

If you sell products, post your product specs, in HTML format. Link to the specifications from the relevant product page. That way, folks who want more information can drill down.

Get the most SEO value

  • Do the specifications in HTML format! It’s tempting to use PDF, which indexes fairly well. But you want total control over title tag, in- and outbound links, etc. You can link to a PDF ‘printable’ version.
  • Rewrite any paragraph text. If you’re using the manufacturer’s standard specification sheet, rewrite any detailed text ensure the page is as unique as possible.

3. Transcribe Videos & Podcasts

I’ve written about this before. Send your videos and podcasts off to be transcribed. Then post the transcriptions to your site as articles, or post them on the same page as the video or podcast in question. If you do any internal training sessions of 15 minutes or more, record those and get them transcribed, too. It’s like you’re writing without having to write.

Get the most SEO value

  • If you’ve transcribed a video or podcast, be sure to place the transcription on the same page. That could boost the video’s chance to rank in universal search, too.
  • Edit the transcriptions for readability. Sometimes the spoken word is riddled with slang and incomplete sentences that work perfectly when you’re speaking live. Tweak the language for a few choice key phrases, too.
  • Link like with like. If a transcription relates to a product, link them together. Same with services, Q&A items and specifications. Don’t just throw content up on your site—make use of it.

4. Write About The Funniest Thing That’s Ever Happened In Your Business

Don’t be mean, but write about the silliest, funniest thing you’ve ever encountered in your day-to-day work. I don’t care if you’re a plumber, a purveyor of rubber gloves, a toothpaste manufacturer or a cashier at a grocery store; something funny has happened to you at work.

Example: I worked as a technical writer. What the heck would I write about?

The story: I was once sitting around with my colleagues, joking about what tech writers would’ve done during biblical times. The phone rang, and someone else answered it. She put the person on hold and burst out laughing. “Ian”, she said, laughing so hard she was crying, “It’s someone named Moses.”

And it really was.

It doesn’t always have to be directly relevant.

Get the most SEO value

  • Try to tie the event in to your work somehow. In my case, I was at work, so the tie-in is pretty easy. But there’s almost always some relevant moral or lesson you can extract.

5. Write About The Best Thing To Happen In Your Industry

This is an easy one. Pick a recent event (in the last month – up to a year) that you feel has done a lot for your industry. Write that sucker down. Tell people why you think it matters. Solicit their comments.

Get the most… Oh, you get it by now.

  • Be sure to contact other pundits in your industry. Get a discussion going. You’ll build links, and you might just learn something at the same time.

6. Rant

I don’t know much about this one (cough, lying… cough, cough). If something infuriates you, write down why, and how to fix it.

The only note I’ll put here: Do not publish right away. Ever. Let your rant sit, safe and sound, for 24 hours. Then reread it. See if you were offensive or downright nasty. If you were, rewrite or start again. Being a schmuck is not an SEO strategy.

The Bad News…It’s Still Work

Writing will always be work. But with practice and a sense of purpose, it gets easier. Hopefully, some of the above ideas will prove helpful. If you have other tips, leave them below in the comments. Or, even better, write your own set of strategies on your own website!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: All Things SEO Column | Channel: SEO | How To: SEO

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About The Author: is Chief Marketing Curmudgeon and President at Portent, Inc, a firm he started in 1995. Portent is a full-service internet marketing company whose services include SEO, SEM and strategic consulting.

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  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com George Michie

    Ian, thanks for the tips and inspiration. The 24 hour cooling off period is great advice…I’ll have to try that :-)

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com Nick Stamoulis

    Great points for content writing/topic tips…

    Since I write a ton of industry and how to related articles, blog posts, etc, I find that using real life situations is the easiest way to come up with article/post topics. But it does depend too on the audience. For instance, I generally write SEO/SEM for beginner and mid-level marketers and business owners. These are the folks that actually can really benefit from my writing and expertise. My personal writing style is that to provide 1 good “nugget” of information for my readers. I find that my readers just don’t have tons of time to read long winded posts (with tons of charts, graphs, etc.) so I put together posts that would be in a style that I would read myself…

    Anyway, that is my 2 cents and I appreciate your advice and tips as well!

    Take Care,
    Nick

  • http://www.VerticalMeasures.com Arnie K

    Nice list Ian. I would also recommend looking at sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, Mixx, etc. to see what stories are resonating in your industry. In fact sometimes I have even just hit Alltop an browsed the headlines to get some ideas. And don’t forget the answer sites. See what people are asking about and write an answer!

  • http://www.bridiestypingservices.com Bridie Jenner

    I absolutely agree about the video and podcast transcript – it’s amazing how many people have these on their site without a transcript available.

    Definitely a need for some SEO education on this point!

    I also agree with Arnie, Quora is a great place to get some inspiration.

  • http://uk.linkedin.com/in/davesealey David Sealey

    I simply wanted to say thank you for this post. I have three blogs that I write for plus the occassional LinkedIn Group article. Today I was having a major case of Blogger’s Block and this has given me a huge list of ideas to start with.

    Thanks

    David

  • http://www.dresdner-rand.de randOM

    Thanks for a lot of inspiration.

    @point 4:

    That’s what is called Synchronisity (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronicity). Strange thing is, that I was communicating via FB yesterday about this topic. First time, that I used the term for a long time… Strange!

  • Dydacomp

    These are great points and thanks for sharing these!! I know here at Dydacomp we work with a number of small business owners who are looking for ways to add content to their sites! There is so much SEO opportunity for them so i will share this article with them!

  • http://www.KristenRDesign.com Kristen Robinson

    What a great list! I’ve never thought of a FAQ, I’ll have to use that. Thanks for sharing!

  • ColeH123

    Ian,

    I am new to this website and I am already happy I ended up here. This post was very helpful and it’s one that I will print out and use as a reference when I need to do some article writing. Thanks!

  • http://blumenversand-edelweiss.de/ Blumenversand

    I just found your website and i think its awesome. So many good stuff i can hardly stop reading. Thank you so much, and especially for your content tips. Now, I am gonna try it! :D

  • RahulKuntala

    Wonderful tips Ian. I’ll try to follow when I get stuck!

 

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