Savvy digital editors know that “writing an article” extends far beyond simply crafting copy and assigning it a descriptive title. To create an online article that captures, engages and excites a reader to keep clicking through your site—while also optimizing your content for Google rankings—involves much more.
Having partnered with leading media companies and top global brands, we’ve gained valuable insights into the best practices for optimizing article pages in a way that grows your audience. What’s more, Brightspot’s best-in-class editorial tools and robust admin features, bring agility, speed and sanity back into the lives of digital content creators—empowering them to quickly embrace new publishing tools and trends.
In what follows, we outline the most important factors to consider when creating an article. Following these time-tested guidelines can both increase the chance of someone engaging with the article itself and increase the likelihood of that reader consuming additional content on your site.
Tactics to master the basics
Headline: First impressions are everything, so spend time honing a compelling headline that entices a reader to click. Simple is often better, so aim for something that makes it readily apparent what a particular piece of content will be about. Avoid jargon, abbreviations or terms that may be harder to parse for those who lack necessary context.
In general, the shorter the better; stick to 10-15 words max, but always say enough to make the meaning clear. Remember: Your headline frequently informs your URL structure, so it should read clearly and logically.
To boost your ranking in search engine results, incorporate at least one primary keyword into your headline. Ideally, your keyword(s) should be near the beginning of the headline.
URL: Well-constructed URLs are essential for achieving good search rankings. The URL should essentially read like a short, descriptive phrase, one whose meaning is clear at first glance. Google uses URLs as both a search ranking factor and to inform the metadata in search results. Thus, readability is essential.
Also remember that URLs are still widely shared as a copy-and-paste element, so readability is paramount when links are shared on social media or via email.
In addition, URLs do not always carry over relevant metadata when shared, for example, on Facebook. Therefore, a well-written URL is essential since, occasionally, it has to exist on its own.
Finally, your headline and URL do not need to match, but they should not differ drastically or frequently either. (However, this can be advantageous when, for example, a quote might work perfectly as a headline but not in a URL.)
Brightspot automatically creates URLs for new pages and posts based on the page headline, and the built-in taxonomy settings make it easy to include a category in each URL. Brightspot also allows you to create your own URL to optimize for keywords or to allow for redirects when necessary.
Images: Every article needs art. This doesn’t necessarily mean a photo each time—a graphic or video will suffice, too. But audiences are significantly more likely to both engage with and share content that includes imagery of some sort.
Ideally, you will have multiple images that act as signposts (signaling what the article is about) and lend visual context (the person, place or thing you are writing about). When possible, opt for original photos over stock images.
Every image you publish should include the following:
- A credit (not always necessary, but it’s better to get in the habit of using them)
- A caption
- Rich and descriptive alt text (your caption may frequently work well as alt text, too)
The platform also makes it easy to upload images in bulk and edit those images right inside of the CMS, with a suite of creative tools built in.
Body Text: When it comes to copy, the goal is to make the text scannable, so avoid long blocks of unbroken text, and keep paragraphs short, using bulleted and numbered lists to break out relevant items. Incorporate pull quotes to highlight important or notable statements, reactions or announcements.
Utilize text links to add context, history and other relevant information. No need to use phrases like “click here to read about,” as the blue, underlined text is universally understood online.
Inline images, graphics, videos, social and more are a powerful way to drive additional engagement. Don’t overload a page with elements, but as long as what you’re adding adds value to the article, it’s worth utilizing.
When configuring body text, Brightspot’s robust Rich Text Editor (RTE) empowers content creators to draft, edit, publish and repurpose content more efficiently than ever with a word processing-like experience. We added things like click targets and zen view to our RTE because we talked to clients about pain points—and worked to solve them.
Promos: What is the story’s hook? Why is it interesting or important or timely? The promo should convey relevant facts and give readers a reason to click.
Brightspot will automatically fill in default promo text, but be certain to check and optimize this field. The default text often doesn’t work well as promo text. Promos should incentivize engagement.
Social: Similar to the promo text, be certain to check and optimize the default text and image here.
Brightspot offers powerful, time-saving integrations with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Vimeo, allowing publishers to effectively and efficiently capitalize on social media to expand their digital footprint.
SEO: Follow your own best practices here, but keeping an eye on how an article, particularly the metadata, renders in search engines is wise. You can make adjustments to those items within Brightspot.
Goals: All articles should have goals (awareness, sign-ups, etc.), many of which can be measured in metrics. Analyzing your metrics reporting should become an essential step in your creation process.
Remember: There are no bad metrics. Even a “poor performer” has a story to tell, offering valuable insights for creating your next batch of content. If you find you’re short of your target, experiment with things like trying different promo text, headlines and lead/promo images.
Our platform features out-of-the-box analytics, which means you won’t need IT or development support in order to get basic analytics on your site. It’s worth noting that Brightspot also has integrations with other analytics providers such as Omniture and Google Analytics. Whether you use Brightspot’s out-of-the-box offering or integrate with another service, the analytics functionality provides powerful tools to monitor your site’s metrics and, in turn, make better-informed programming decisions.
Why Publishers Love Brightspot
Brightspot’s low-code, lightweight framework makes innovation, customization and scalability a reality for today's fast-moving publishers. Whether optimizing an article page, as highlighted above, or building out a microsite, our partners tell us that the platform’s powerful search functionality, RTE, preview and these other features of the CMS distinguish Brightspot as a powerful, next-gen content platform.
Request a demo to discover how Brightspot’s best-in-class editorial tools and robust admin features can deliver what your team and your business need to thrive in today’s changing digital landscape.