As marketers, we’re constantly deciphering changes to Google algorithms and adapting marketing efforts to make them better adapted to search trends. When Google releases information giving direct insight into their own process, it’s definitely something to pay attention to.
For content marketers, the Google Developer Documentation Style Guide that is now available to the public has many worthy tidbits about how to write quality content. Google announced its shift toward an emphasis on quality content for rankings in mid-March 2018, and it makes sense. Users should get access to the best content for what they’re searching for.
Here are some insights from the Google style guide we can glean that can improve brand content marketing efforts, too.
Tip #1: Be Conversational and Friendly
A conversational, friendly tone is key to making any business relatable. When it comes down to it, no matter how technical a business, product or service is, the customer is human. A lead may come to your content with no prior knowledge of a subject. Content marketing helps leads and customers learn and build trust in a brand. Making content conversational helps make any brand relatable, even “boring” brands.
Another benefit to writing in a conversational and friendly tone is that your search engine results might get a boost due to the impact of voice search. With more than 1 billion voice searches a month, writing in a way people naturally talk may notch you more search results.
Tip #2: Break Up Content
Research confirms human beings scroll and scan content. It only takes 2.6 seconds before a particular section of a website is honed in on. When you present users with large chunks of text, they might feel so overwhelmed, they abandon your site altogether because they can’t quickly find what they’re looking for.
The average user stays on each webpage for less than a minute. One way to grab and keep user attention is to use subheads, numbered lists and bullet points to make content more easily digestible. If you can capture attention for one portion of a content, you can motivate users to consume more, which increases time spent on page and lead capture opportunities.
Tip #3: Write Accessibly
Google’s style guide understandably places a great emphasis on writing for a global audience. They’re a global company, after all. Your business may be more locally focused, but it’s in your best interest to still write for as broad an audience as possible within your niche. If you have customers whose ages span 20 to 70+, you won’t want to write content in a millennial tone of voice – unless that specific piece of content is for millennials and designated as so.
Other tips to improve how accessible each piece of content is, and thus widen your audience reach, include:
- Write simply and clearly.
- Avoid slang and jargon.
- Use correct grammar and punctuation, and avoid dangling modifiers.
Unless you are writing for an incredibly sophisticated audience, the simpler and clearer the copy is, the higher the number of people who can understand it will be.
Tip #4: Use Active Voice
Active voice makes it easier to understand the subject and verb of a sentence. This makes an idea you’re presenting clearer. If you’re using a call to action, the command is obvious. The content becomes more impactful.
Some benefits of using active voice, where the subject performs the action, include:
- Content becomes easier for a global audience to understand.
- The reader becomes more engaged with the action.
- Fewer words are used, which makes copy more concise and clearer.
- Grammatical mistakes are avoided.
Before you publish copy, read through it out loud. People generally speak in active voice, so if something seems wonky, there’s probably a way to make the copy more active. When you write in an active voice, you gain the added benefit of making your copy more conversational, too.
Tip #5: Provide a Solution
Though not stated in such plain terms, the Google style guide says the main purpose of any content is to “provide information to someone who’s looking for it.” Your copy should:
- Get to the point quickly and efficiently.
- Avoid getting cutesy or using obscure references someone won’t recognize.
- Eliminate potentially confusing metaphors.
While Google says to avoid overdoing it with humor or goofiness, it’s perfectly acceptable to establish a human connection and let your personality shine through content. This enhances the friendly, conversational tone, and still makes the main objective of the content evident.
Elevate Content with Simplicity and Relatability
Google’s style guide won’t work for every brand in every case, but the general principles are ideal writing tips and guidelines to follow in many cases. Writing simply and concisely for a wide audience, breaking apart content through formatting, and using active voice to get to the point quickly are all tips that can enhance your message.
What content marketing tips would your brand like to share? Tweet us @AlphaMindStudio.