Part 15: Content Plan Setup & How to Write Quality Articles?
If you follow what I am about to show you then your life as a website owner will become a great deal easier. This is referred to as a “Content Plan” or as I prefer to call it “Getting Organised.” When you start to build out a website it is very easy to quickly lose track of everything, and to have files on your PC all over the place.If you can get organised right from the start, then the entire process works a great deal easier. Now be warned as I am a bit of an organisation freak and I have to be tidy and organised all of the time. Long term it saves me hours of work and even more hours of utter frustration.
How to get and stay organised?
Set up a folder on your desktop and give it a name such as “My Website Project.” Within that folder create a set of sub-folders:
This will allow you to find everything quickly and easily and will save a lot of time.
- When you write a page for your website you can then save it into the page’s folder. You can save all your images in the images folder.
- You can also write and save your posts in the post’s folder. It is also a good idea to create another 2 sub-folders in the post’s folder, one for product reviews and one for informational articles.
- When I find a list of articles that I want to write or keywords I copy them down and save those in the keywords folder.
I also create an overall content plan using a spreadsheet and that becomes my main focus when I am building my website. Here is a sample of that below. I use Microsoft Excel but if you don’t have that, then the one on Google Docs is free and there is another free one on Open Office.
The above spreadsheet is a great way of listing down your articles and keeping track of them. It is also a very good way of making sure you have the right component parts in your article. I include the number of images, videos, internal and external links.
I will cover that later, but for now just create the spreadsheet to track your articles and save it in your new folder. This will be a great resource as you build out your website.
How to Write Quality Articles?
Back in Section 8 of this case study I explained how to find great articles for your website. Now that we have those written, we are almost ready to publish them and get some great content on to our website.
Before you do that though I want to cover what I think makes a great article for a website. There are different types of articles that you can write, so I wanted to look at those in detail. Here are the different types of articles:
- Information articles
- Product Review articles
- Comparison articles
- Industry news articles
So for my website I will write information articles such as “How to use a French Press” or “How to use a manual grinder.” I will also write product reviews on the various grinders available in the UK market. I will also include lists and tables in many of my articles as they are great content to have on your website.
I will also add tutorial style articles if for example I am showing someone how to use a particular coffee machine. Likewise if I was comparing two popular coffee machines, then I could write a comparison article.
In those articles I will also use lists and tables where appropriate. So if I was writing about burr grinders, I could include a Top 5 or Top 10 list.
The type of articles you can write will very much depend on the topic that you have chosen. If I had a website about cement mixers, I could easily include building industry news on my website relating to cement mixtures.
Having variety is a good thing to have on your website. You want to avoid simply filling your website with product reviews that contain Affiliate links to Amazon. That looks spammy to visitors and to search engines. Always use a variety of content.
The Golden Rules of Article Writing
- Never plagirise or copy anyone else’s content. Some unethical people steal other people’s hard work and it is despicable. Aside from that the search engines will not rank it and if it is reported Google will remove it. Never go down that route as your website will suffer and not recover.
- Write your own unique and interesting content. Do not be afraid to state your own opinion and thoughts. After all it is your website and if people like what they read they will come back.
- Many new people ask again and again how many words an article should have. There is no right answer to this. You need to write an article that covers the information you are writing about. The number of words does not matter at all. Do not waffle about unrelated matters. If you are writing about “How to boil an egg?” then write about just that. Relevance is so very important.
- Include media in your articles such as images and videos. It helps break up written content and makes it a lot more interesting to visitors.
- Post regularly to your website. Again many people ask how often they should publish an article. There is no right answer to that. We all have different amounts of time available. I publish 2-3 articles a week but some weeks that may just be one. When I am on holidays I don’t publish any. The only thing that is important is to add content as regularly as you can.
The Important Articles
Now I mentioned a range of articles that you can write. Of all of those, two types are very important:
- Information articles
- Product Reviews
These will form 90% of the content on your website so clearly vitally important. In the previous Section 8 I suggested writing 80% information articles and 20% product reviews as a general guideline but may stretch that to 70/30.
Often when starting a new website I may even go 50/50 between information and product reviews just to get started.
The reason for that is that you never want the search engines or visitors to think that your website is nothing but a “thin Affiliate website” packed full of links. The search engines don’t like those and neither do visitors. If you build a website with nothing but product reviews it will not work.
I have built sites like that in the past and yes they did make sales. They no longer work and just do not get ranked. The search engines are getting better at identifying websites like that and will simply not tolerate them. Therefore it is vitally important that you have a good balance of posts and pages on your website with the majority of them not having any Affiliate links.
I would recommend that you start off writing around 5 informational articles and one product review. Then do that again for your next batch of articles. As you start to build out your website then you can add more product reviews but always try and maintain a balance.
Let’s have a closer look at how to write both a good informational article and a good product review.
Typically these are articles like “How to,” or general style of articles. On my website I could write about the different regions where coffee beans are grown. I could also write about how coffee is made, the roasting process and a wealth of other articles.
Never put affiliate links into these articles. It is however a good idea to include links to product reviews where they seem appropriate. As an example I could write about how coffee beans are roasted, and then link to a product review of a coffee roaster.
Those are internal links on your website which is good, and can also lead the customer nicely to a related product page, where there will be a product review that will contain Affiliate links.
The informational article itself is about answering a question that a visitor may have, or providing some useful and entertaining reading. In my website I could explain in an article for example the difference between a burr grinder and a blade grinder. I could then link to a product review on each of those. The important thing is that the article itself would not have an Affiliate link in it.
Here is an example of a good quality informational article
There are no affiliate links in that article. It simply provides good information for a visitor who wants to know how to make coffee using a French Press. It includes 2 videos, a number of images, a step by step method and some tips. It also includes external links and internal links.
The MOST IMPORTANT thing is that if a visitor finds this article they will know how to make great coffee using a French Press. They may also find out that there are different types of French Presses and grinders available.
There are links in there to guide them towards those and they may go and read those and they may end up buying something. So not only have they found the exact and relevant information that they searched for, they may also find other helpful information, and they may even buy something because of the internal linking.
That is what an informational article should do.
Writing a Product Review
For many Amazon Affiliates this is an area where they really struggle a lot. When writing product reviews you should include affiliate links as that is how you will make money from your website. Some affiliate marketers refer to these as their “money articles,” and is not a phrase that I like to use.
It brings with it the temptation to only write product reviews and that is a big mistake. Some people also write product reviews but they pack them full of affiliate links. I have seen as many as 15 links on a single product review. That is also a huge mistake and happens quite a lot.
So the first two things to avoid are writing too many product reviews, and also including too many links within a single review. Personally I would recommend no more than 3 Affiliate links in a single product review. I like to place one at the top, the middle and the bottom. Quite often I only use two links like this.
Writing the Actual Product Review
When writing a product review the important thing to consider is how you can add value to the review. The most common mistake made here is going to Amazon and copying what is there. A lot of Affiliates go there and copy the Amazon content and paste it on to their website.
They may also copy a couple of the reviews and add those as well. They add a few images, include their Affiliate links and then they hit the publish button and move on to the next one.
Again this is a huge mistake and not only is it copying content, but it simply adds zero value to the visitor and the search engines will not rank this as they do not see this as being new and useful.
Now for sure it is a super fast way of getting content and can be done in just a few minutes and that is where the temptation lies to do it this quick and easy way.
Your reviews need to contain your own content and your own thoughts and opinions and need to bring value to the visitor.
Reviewing a Product You Don’t Own
This is an area of some controvesary and different opinions exist on this issue. So if you are writing about a topic, you may own one or two products in that topic area. Let’s say for example that you had a website on sewing machines.
Now you most likely know about those and will likely own one. You could write quite a detailed review about that for sure. However, should you write reviews on other sewing machines?
Some people say that you should not do that as it is misleading. Other Affiliate marketers say that it is possible as you understand the main features and benefits.
Now in my experience as an Amazon Affiliate I would have no idea how you could make money from a website if you only recommended products that you own. On my case study website I do own a hand grinder, a blade grinder and a burr grinder. I also have two coffee machines, three stove top espressos, a filter machine, two French Presses and a percolator.
It is unusual to own so many products but I do love my coffee and I have collected them over the years. If I had a website about pressure washers, then I would only own one product. In my opinion you can not own just one product and have one single review on your website if you want to make money.
How Do I Do My Reviews?
Well in this case study I know a lot about grinders and a lot about coffee. I also know what a good grinder should have and I can measure that against the standards that I know about.
In addition I can read other buyer reviews and then summarise all of those as long as I include the good and bad points about any product. I can then offer my own opinion based against what I know. I also tell my visitors that I do not own this, but based on other buyer reviews, and my own knowledge this is my collective view on the product.
I can also show visitors the best rated products, the best products by price and also match those to their needs. As long as I am adding some value and opinion based on fact, and I am being open about that, then visitors understand that and appreciate the information.
Writing the Review
Some people recommend and like using a template for writing reviews. Personally I do not like that at all. Different topics need to be handled in a different manner. There is however some sections that I like to use in all my reviews as it gives consistency throughout my website.
I always start with an introduction of between 100-200 words depending on the product. I like to include a section on the key features and the benefits of those features. In other words what makes a certain feature of the product useful for the visitor?
I like to include what buyers liked about the product and what they didn’t like and why for both cases. I like to do a main review with as many important details as I can think of. Finally I will have a conclusion.
You can see a sample of one of my reviews here. This is not a product that I own but I think I have given quite a good and valuable review about it.
A product that you own
If you own a product the structure of the review does not really change. You can of course state clearly that you own and use this product and also take pictures of it in use. That will always make a better review as you have the product in your hands. Making a video of this is also a great way of demonstrating that you have the product.
Even when that is the case I also use other reviews and opinions as well. That is because what I like may not necessarily be everyone else’s taste.
The title of any article that you write is one of the most important things to get right. Your title should convince readers, that of all the results that appear in the search engines, your article is the one they should read.
As an example which title is better?
How to clean an oven?
How to clean an oven quickly for shining results?
I think the answer should be obvious as there is only one that I would pick.
- The key thing to take away from this is to write your own content. Try as hard as you can to make it useful, helpful and enjoyable to read.
- Write informational articles and link them to product reviews. Always be honest with your visitors.
- Write good quality reviews always. Never just copy and paste content from Amazon or anywhere else. If you do not own the product just tell them that you review is based on the collective opinion of other buyers.
- Use eye-catching titles
- Always proof read and spell check all of your written work.
What I would recommend now is that with the articles that you have already written is to go over those once again. Check if they read well and will be helpful to visitors. If you have written a review does it add some value to their buying decision?
Make any changes to those articles that will help improve them and make them more useful for visitors. When doing this is it also good to think about how you can internally link some of these together.