In a nutshell – when you write an article – stick to the topic. Don’t wander off on an unrelated idea.
Let’s use an example to illustrate this point in more detail.
Let’s imagine that you’re sitting in a classroom and you ask the teacher a question: “Is Copywriting a Rewarding Career?”
Your teacher answers …
“The history of copywriting dates back to when the first printed papers were distributed on the streets of London. The actual word “copywriting” means the act of writing words to sell products. The copywriter is the person who does this, often found in ad agencies or at home as a freelancer.
The job of a copywriter began by creating ads on a large poster made of paper with a feather dipped ink (how deliciously antiquated and time consuming). These posters were fixed to walls and poles in the bigger cities of Europe. Centuries ago there were no printing processes to make duplicates, so each page was painstakingly handcrafted.”
It’s interesting information, but it’s not answering the question. So far, no mention as to whether copywriting is rewarding or not!
The teacher then goes on to elaborate on the subjects of …
- how to become a copywriter by taking a course
- where to find jobs online
- what to put in your resume, and
- how to improve your skills
Still no sign of whether it’s actually a rewarding career or not!
Finally, at the end, the teacher says:
“Yes, copywriting is a rewarding career in monetary terms. You can earn between 2 cents per word and $120 per hour, depending on your skill level and experience.”
Overall, it’s not a fully, deeply, satisfying answer. It’s a quick mention, with some tantalisingly interesting points about earnings.
The teacher didn’t stick solely to the topic and they didn’t provide a deeply satisfying answer.
In the end, the teacher is only able to offer a few words on the main subject of whether it’s rewarding or not, because they’ve run out of lesson time. They wasted time by discussing other points that are somewhat irrelevant.
You would be VERY disappointed if you asked the question ‘Is Copywriting a Rewarding Career” and you were given a diatribe on the ancient history of copywriting. So, don’t do this to your readers or Google.
When you write an article, stick to the topic and answer the question from the very beginning, even within your first sentence.
Readers and Google want you to stick to the topic. Google calls this User Intent, and it’s an important part of the ranking algorithm.
In summary: When you write an article, answer the question, at the beginning. Then, elaborate deeply on just that topic for the entire article.
Watch the below tutorial that shows how a writer has wandered off the topic, and how it can easily be fixed.
Why Does Google Like Answers To Questions?
The very best articles – and the ones that receive the highest position in Google – answer the question for the reader, first.
Google is, in fact, an answer engine. It is designed to provide an answer quickly, not make you wade through 5 pages to find the answer at the end.
Google literally selects particular statements from your article that clearly and succinctly answer the question and will display these in the results page.
This extract is not always taken from the first section of our article. It can be anywhere in the first half of your article.
However, readers like to get a response to their question as soon as possible. So, try to succinctly answer the question as soon as you can within your article.
What if the Article Title Is Written as a Statement, Not a Question?
Same, same. People are searching Google for an answer to something. They might not specifically type a question (e.g. who, what, where, why) into the search engine, but you can assume that they are seeking an answer to some question.
Below is an example of two article titles with similar answers within the body of the article, but the article title is quite different:
- How to Empower Your Franchisees Into Better Leader
- Use Trust and Care to Keep Your Employees Motivated
The first is a question, whereas the second is a statement. Both can respond in a similar way by answering the reader’s search intent.
How to Answer The Question and Avoid Going Off-Topic
This screencast is an excellent example of how a writer has gone off-topic and why it matters for our clients and to the search engines.
Is Listverse Legit? How to Break Down the Topic and Answer the Question
Another excellent example of a writer who was in a hurry and didn’t use critical thinking to examine the topic.
This is a brilliant example. Excellent writer who always does a good job. But, he’s missed the mark. He’s written a 1,400 word and only 350 words are usable. He is going to have to rewrite most of his article.