Why are there so many different types of content on the internet?
And, why does it matter?
The big question.
Content comes in lots of forms, whether that’s videos, presentations, audio (like podcasts), and written content.
Let’s take written content (because that’s what we’re about here at WriteStop).
There are an enormous amount of different types of written content out there and, quite frankly, it’s a little confusing. How do you know what type of content you should be writing (or getting someone else to write for you) and how will it deliver what you want.
Because… like all successful businesses you want to grow yours, don’t you?
Here’s a run down of the different types. I’ve separated them into ones that come under content writing and others that come under copywriting.
Now, there is too much to go in-depth on the differences between content writing and copywriting, but if we keep it simple then the former attracts people by bringing them in from search engines etc and the latter helps those individuals to take action on your website or web page.
Content Writing Types
Content writing is used when you want to grow your audience by publishing content to attract people to visit your website. This might be through blogging, posting guest articles on other people’s sites or writing review articles of products for an affiliate website.
Here’s an explanation for a few of them.
When an individual wants to buy a product or service they’ll commonly look to the internet to help them decide.
It could be that they can’t just decide between two different brands of the same product or it could be that they know they have a need for some type of product (let’s say a laptop), but they’re not sure what exactly they need for editing videos, for example.
A buyers’ guide goes into detail and make take one or a handful of products (or services) and take the reader through the entire process of what choices can be taken and the potential results of those choices.
The great thing about this type of guide is that it doesn’t just need to be written: you can also record a video discussing everything in the guide, but that’s a story for another day.
Most people will know what a blog post is (and that’s exactly what you’re reading right now), but it’s important to highlight what it is and what it is not.
With blog content the topics/titles should all follow a particular theme, so if you website is about plumbing in Dallas then you wouldn’t start writing a ton of blog posts around Blackbirds in California: it just wouldn’t sit well for both Google and readers.
But, publishing informational content around what your site is about will help. To increase the amount of traffic that you’ll be sent by the search engines and provide potential buyers with the opportunity to see that you know what you’re talking about.
Now, blogs are (in general) informal pieces of writing and they tend to follow the content strategy of being written in a way that you would do when having a coffee with a friend.
Blog posts are ideal for building a relationship with a reader and can help them make that decision to then become a buyer.
How To Guide
When someone wants to know how to do something specifically then they’ll usually search out a how to guide.
These can be simple or technical in nature, but in general they will go into quite a lot of detail over how to perform a certain task.
If we take the example of how to rank higher in Google (what lots of people’s goal is when thinking about content marketing), we see that Backlinko takes one of the top spots.
If you go to that page then you see quite an extensive tutorial about the different parts for the reader to go through in order to help their site rank in the search engines.
These types of guide will generally include screenshot images of the person going through the different tasks that the reader might perform or showing examples.
Sometimes, a video (or multiple) videos will be included to highlighted a certain point or stage during the steps they need to take; and sometimes a whole how to video from start to finish is published (which could be a recording of one or two hours).
This type of guide is sometimes published with a table of contents but not always, and it’s important to check that every stage of the process has been documented in the complete guide.
Website content for a local or national business is important, and it could be said that this type of content merges between content writing and copywriting, but for the most part it concentrates on bringing people to the website through content writing and then convincing them to take action through copywriting.
There are main pages on every website that need to be written, like the about page, the contact page, the main services page and the home page. Nearly all of these pages require some form of copywriting to communicate to the visitor about the company (or organization).
Lots of times if a company has a multiple locations for the services it provides it will have different pages on the website for these locations: these should be unique to get the best possible visibility in the search engines and focused in on the area they cover.
There are also inner pages on a website, including service pages not linked to a location or other content such as how to guides, tutorials or blog posts: which are explained further down on this page.
All of the content published on a website should be of the highest quality that budget allows.
It’s also worth thinking about not scraping the barrel and publishing mediocre content to pages that has little impact on visitors and doesn’t help to boost conversion rates.
Affiliate review articles are important. They not only need to attract people to the page (through content marketing and pushing you to the top spots in Google) but you also need to set out a comprehensive review of the product or service and encourage the reader to click on your affiliate link and make a purchase.
They vary in length too.
Sometimes they’ll be around one product or service and set out to create a story about why someone should buy it.
Other times, however, the article will be written for a reader who is unsure about which product or service they want to buy: including three or more choices and evaluating them all and recommending one of them as the one on top after being put through all of the criteria you’ve set out.
The important thing with this type of writing is to really think about what the reader wants from reading what you’re writing about. Do they want to confirm their decision to purchase a particular brand or learn more around the things to consider?
Calls to action in this piece of writing should be dropped in at the best points. You want someone to read what you’ve written and fully digest the advice you’re giving, but you also want them to click on that button or link and go to see whether it’s within their budget and buy it.
However, it’s important in these types of review article that you aren’t misleading or that your sole purpose is to get someone to click/tap on the link. (Yes, I know commissions are important, but so the person actually purchasing the product or service and not making any returns or requests for a refund.)
As with most other pieces of written English content on this page, thinking about the reader and the goals in mind will help you craft the best piece of writing. And if you don’t want to do that you can always choose one of the best content writing services out there.
Epic articles are in-depth long-form content that both search engines and reader love. When a topic requires 7,000 to 20,000 words or more to take the reader through an entire journey then this is what you should choose.
These types of ultimate guides are available for free on your website for people to read and they’re a great way to showcase your expertise and increase your number of subscribers.
Sometimes, all of the content will be on one page and a table of contents (and chapters) will be included for a reader to navigate. Other times, it will make sense to put this content/chapters on different pages or use accordions to separate them (something that either you or your webmasters can decide).
Remember that these articles should be comprehensive but broken down in a way that the reader can easily digest the information.
These types of content vary in length and quality.
In general, website owners use this type of content to promote their own site on that of the one where it appears. This may be through the website having a similar topic and high amount of traffic/readers/visitors or with the ability
The type of content can be a simple guest post that is similar to a blog post or they can be more technical content: those types that are in the financial or other professional industries. It really depends what niche or industry the websites are in.
The key point when thinking about guest posts is to ensure that the content you’re writing fits in with the “voice” of the website it’s going to be published on. There is nothing worse than a website editor receiving a guest post that is written in a completely different way and on a different level to what the target audience is used to.
Also, topic and title choice is crucial. To help both visitors and search engines choosing a topic to write about where the two websites are aligned is important. If, through your research and brain storming, there turns out to not be a topic you can choose without it seeming a little strange then it’s best to move onto another partnership.
Above everything, when writing this piece of content it’s important to be engaging and encourage the reader to want to seek more of your content: and they will usually do this by clicking on the links in the article or in your author bio.
Copy Written Content
If the above wasn’t exhaustive (it isn’t) then we now need to go onto copywriting. These types of written content include more aspects of sales in the message crafted to people.
The words in front of someone will need to be ……
Some examples of types of content in this category include:
The slow burner.
You get someone to signup to your email list via a lead magnet and you then progress to putting them in an autoresponder series or funnel.
These types of written content do need to be engaging and purposeful. Now, that doesn’t mean to say that they should be overly “out there” in an effort to stand head and shoulders above everyone else just to make an impact then you won’t get very far.
As with other pieces of copywritten content these emails need to tell a story.
And for those stories to communicate to the reader that you are the best person to advise them and help them make the purchase they so desperately want to remove their current pain.
Also, when you’re thinking about the pattern and structure of these autoresponder emails you should think about the journey of the reader: how can you use stories to communicate what actions you want them to take without seeming to be pushy or “salesy” but at the same time sprinkling these same emails with CTAs.
Overall, every single email should offer value to the reader and provide actionable advice at the end.
These are the bread and butter of a great copywriter.
They take time to craft and a lot of thought go into them.
Some things to think about when you’re writing a sales page to promote a product or service are:
Value proposition: a clear statement or headline about their current pain (usually metaphorical pain) they’re in and how they can solve it by reading the page (and buying the product/service in the end).
Size does matter
Not how you might think.
Crazy egg provides examples where, when length of copy was split tested, the results speak for themselves.
Sometimes, the new short copy outperforms longer copy and at other times it’s the opposite.
What does that mean?
That getting everything right on the page for your target audience is crucial: sometimes that will mean the written copy needs to be kept relatively short and other times is needs to be overly long.
It all depends on your audience, what you’re selling, your price point, what pain is solves, and so on.
The key takeaway is to have your heading and subheading on point though: that can make or break attention. Then, use a little copywriting magic to show the benefits, explain the product (or service), speak the language of the reader and handle any objections they may have.
That’s why research and thinking about the reader are two important steps.
Ebooks and E-reports
Ebooks are a great item used as a lead magnet (exchanging the ebook or e-report for the contact details of the reader) to add an individual to an autoresponder and develop a connection with them over time.
While they do take some effort, time and money to produce, outsourcing to a freelance writer or agency makes sense because they will have the experience of writing them.
Their length is quite varied too: from 5 pages to 50, so they are thought of as quite a versatile piece of content.
The key to having a great ebook work for you is to offer value. Take the reader’s point of view: what’s in it for me? Why should they read the ebook? What solution are they going to be able to implement after reading it?
This is important, as lots of lead magnet ebooks out there have good content, are nicely designed, but they don’t actually offer the solution(s) a reader is looking for.
Some people include a discount code or freebie inside the ebook itself (that isn’t offered anywhere else online), so if you are able to think about something then include it.
Lots of people might not think of a video script or videos/YouTube marketing as part of a content marketing stratgey, but it is.
However, there are lots of forms of videos:
- Tutorial or how to content videos
- Sales landing page videos
- Course videos
Each type of video takes a different approach because the outcomes for the viewer are different.
If we take videos made for content (tutorials etc) or a course on a specific topic then individuals would rather consume the content with a video than reading an article or blog post.
There’s also the added effect that people can speed up playback to 2x on videos, which allows them to consume the content much faster (we’ll probably have differing opinions over whether that is a good or bad point to have though).
Most businesses will then post these videos to YouTube, optimize them, include great content and multiple CTAs, and encourage a viewer to enter into their sales funnel or head through to a sales page.
Sales page videos
This type of video can take multiple forms, but a common one used is a VSL (video sales letter) or videos sales landing video.
This is where a script for the video comes to be important, and even more so than a content or a how to style of video that would be posted to your YouTube channel.
The goal of this type of video is to get someone to buy who is further down your sales funnel: maybe they’ve been on your email list for a few weeks or months and now is the time that they should be taking action and buying something from you (or, let’s face it, booted to the dark hole in your email marketing software as a subscriber who doesn’t take action).
Similar to a sales page, this type of content requires research, knowledge about the topic and the ability to remind people of the next step they can take through multiple CTAs.
Are they effective? Yes! But only when the right script is presented in front of the prospect.
White papers are generally produced by larger organizations and include a dense amount of information covering data and solutions on a specific topic. The minutiae is important here because the reader wants the details.
If you’re in a fairly technical industry (accounting/finance, gas/oil, education, etc) then these can help you be seen as a thought leader.
As they’re longer pieces of content and more technical they tend to take a lot longer to produce. They’ll have a summary page that introduces everything and then have a table of contents to list all of the different sections: because there is going to be a lot of content.
These are in-depth studies of a certain scenario or example. The outcome for the reader is to be further their knowledge of the subject and take actionable steps from the information they’ve learnt.
Some great reasons to include these on your website are:
- they establish you as a leader in your industry
- they’re a unique source you can share
- sharing them is easy
- original data provides unique results and review
Sometimes a case study can be quite technical, but most will follow a standard layout: a summary of the study (key outcomes), the hypothesis being evaluated, the reached solution, an explanation of the results (and why they matter).
When you’re writing a case study (or outsourcing it), keep in mind that you want to stay away from boring. Boring means just including the data (and maybe some graphs and charts), technical language and not using enough active language.
So, treat it like most other forms of writing: as though you’re telling a story to someone which means focusing on the why and the how and explaining in detail certain stages.
The reason you’re writing this case study is to present your expertise and get the reader to take some form of action.
I’ve only covered a limited number of the types of written content that will be published on the internet every single day. Different forms and for different purposes.
It all depends what the end goal is of the written English being published is, but overall it’s going to move the reader into one of three possibilities:
- A list or preponderate to nurture them as a lead
- Get them to take action by completing a form
- Encourage them to make a purchase
If you’re ready to take that next step and take your content to the next level then head through to our order page.