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Writing for Science [Webinar Q&A]

Writing for science

Writing for science doesn't always require a PhD in a specific scientific subject matter. This is particularly true when companies start creating content for their scientific blogs.

Before getting started with your scientific blogging strategy consider these 2 questions.

  1. Why are you writing this scientific content?
  2. What are your goals?

Once you have the answers to these questions you can start thinking about how to achieve those goals.

Our latest webinar looked at how writing for science and writing for search engines can be achieved through thorough research and close collaboration.

Below is an edited transcript from the live Q&A section of the webinar or you can watch the full chapterised version of the webinar on the video below.

As a generalist how do you even begin to write about topics and complex subject matters that people have dedicated entire careers towards?

It’s not uncommon at companies for the board to be very particular about outsourcing content; they won't trust anyone who doesn't have a PhD in their given subject area.

With that in mind it can be tough to think that somebody who doesn't have the exact same level of experience can effectively convey the benefits of a particular topic. But we currently work for over 50 different clients, which translates to 1000s of scientific blogs a year.

What it comes down to really is a lot of research and close client contact. No-one could possibly be an expert across all of these scientific fields but with my humble Master's degree I am well versed in detailed research, collaboration and of course, writing, which is a huge skill in itself.

Producing the content comes once we have: agreed on a series of topics that we want to focus on and established a series of feedback loops. These help us to hit the mark throughout the project and ensures that the client is a part of the full process. It helps everybody; the client gets the quality they need and we deliver it in a cost effective manner.

Sometimes being a generalist helps, even within really complex fields, because we can see the wood for the trees.

It's never going to be at the same level of technical depth as somebody who has a PhD in this field but, the good thing is that once we hand the content over to the internal specialist that person can polish it to the finished product.

Through our writing expertise and collaboration, we get it to a standard that not only people internally can be proud of but it's also going to achieve results that they’re looking for.

SEO for analytical chemistry - Case Study

If our target audience is scientists how can we make our blog attractive for them through scientific journalism?

Scientists don’t necessarily want to only read publications where it just lists the experiments and all the data.

A lot of the time scientists want that background information. There's so much information out there so having scientific journalists condense it allows scientists to review shorter articles much more quickly.

And then if they do want to discover more information, we would always recommend linking to the appropriate references.

I don't personally always want to read papers all day long. I like to have that balance with everything, and I think it's appropriate for a lot of other scientists too.

Are there general rules for the number of images per word in a scientific blog?

Breaking content up is really important. I wouldn't say there's a general rule about the number of images you should include but I tend to stick with what looks appropriate on the eye and most importantly what will add value to the reader.

I tend to use 2 images for a 1000-word article, one at the start and one towards the end.

If you are writing shorter pieces (500 - 700 words), then I typically stick to just the one picture or video per post, but like we say it depends on the value that rich media can add to the reader. Infographics, video, and images can all provide a better reader experience and showcase complex information in a more visual way.

How important are meta-tags in 2021?

Very important.

All the metadata in the backend of your site should be implemented - use keywords to optimize your meta titles and meta descriptions.

Ideally every single page you have on your site that can be optimized should be optimized for a series of valuable keywords using the meta tags.

Is it appropriate to be using metaphors in your scientific writing?

All 3 speakers agreed that metaphors were rarely appropriate when writing for science.

Check out this short video below for more of their discussion.

 

How long should most content be - at what stage does it become a large piece of content?

Some people would say that the blogs we write for an SEO point of view are on the shorter end of what people say is optimal for something to read and rank but, it depends on the search intent as sometimes people are literally just looking for a paragraph of text.

What they type in can be answered in such a short snippet that Google may actually turn around and say “Ok 300 words is completely fine” for this particular term.

Wikipedia tends to rank quite highly for, a lot of the terms that I'm trying to optimize for and their pages tend to be very long. But we compete with blog posts that are just a few hundred words and consistently see positive results, so it really does depend on the quality of your writing and the ability to optimise it.

Anything over 1000 words is a ‘large piece of content’ but I wouldn't let that dissuade people from writing big rock pieces of content that go into the several thousand if they really thought that was of value.

In general, though I find that chopping it up into smaller chunks typically engages people more and gives you more opportunities.

How do you handle public negative feedback published online?

How you manage negative feedback online says a lot about your brand. Not all feedback will be positive but if you take the time to respond to each blog comment then you can show that you care about people who have taken the time to respond and also use their feedback to learn and improve.

That response will be public to future readers and can tell potential customers a lot about you as an organisation.

It is also important to have a process in place for feedback between writers and editors. Having an open and honest communication between the parties allows you to have constructive conversations so that all parties can improve and so nobody takes the feedback to heart.

There are going to be people out there unfortunately that will just leave comments for the sake of it. Sometimes they're useful, sometimes it's just best off to reply saying, "thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to leave this comment and we will consider it for the future".

Find a way to bring this out in a positive light for the writers, the person leaving the feedback and for any future readers who see it.

Where can you source images for your science your blog?

The easiest thing to do is to create your own images, infographics, and video. That way you ensure they stay on brand and you avoid any potential copyright issues.

If you don’t have the resources to create them in-house then you can use websites like Shutterstock or software such as Canva.

If you dig a little deeper into the actual copyright usage of some free media sites it turns out that they're not free to use and you are opening yourself up to liability. So be extra careful with any images that you publish online.

How can you tell what sort of audience you're attracting?

You can get a good grasp in Google Analytics of location, gender, age, device used etc. which can give you a good level of understanding about your audience.

We don't get things like profession through analytics though, which most people are really interested in but that is available with certain versions of AZoIntel.

How do you prevent images and video impacting site speed?

Site speed is a crucial ranking factor with Google so best practise is to use images with as small a file size as possible, embed videos as opposed to uploading them and use ‘lazy loading’ on pages where there is a lot of rich media.

>>Check your website speed here>>>

Where do you suggest a blog page should live within a website - in the resources section?

Within your resources tab makes sense or by itself if your blog is your most popular resource or if you don’t offer any other resources.  

Marketing Science

Making a data driven decision makes most sense in the majority of circumstances. You can run an A/B test on your live website so that your current navigation bar appears to half your site visitors and a beta navigation bar appears to the other half.

After about a month you should have fairly conclusive data as to what is the best order for your navigation bar in terms of page visits, popular content etc. You can read more about conversion rate optimisation by clicking the link below.

>>>Read More: What is Conversion Rate Optimisation and how can it benefit my business<<<

Do you feel the blog page can be successful if it covers multiple customer segments or disciplines?

It absolutely can be effective covering multiple disciplines. You don't need to segment your site into clear pockets based on where the content lives. The blog can overarch all of these.

On a standard visit, a visitor will land on a page that reflects their search term but then it's very unlikely that they will visit more than four pages on your site.

Presenting relevant links that are relevant to their field means they stay within a particular niche on the site anyway.

The actual hierarchy is just a way to build your site map so that there's a clear location for all these blog articles to go.

How far through the articles should we start linking to other parts of the website?

I would typically say you should at least have to scroll before you get any links from the page.

The reason being is that you want to have metrics to highlight engagement levels of your blog and if you have links at the top of the page then that might confuse some of those metrics.

>>>Read More: How to Write a Science Blog 101 - B2B, CTA & Other Acronyms<<<

My recommendation would be to have relevant links further down the page and then you can have a few towards the bottom of the page as well.

How many keywords can be optimized per page?

It depends on the length of the keywords.

The optimal meta title length is between 30 and 65 characters. However many keywords you can fit into 30-65 characters is a good rule of thumb, but sometimes that's going to look really long.

2 - 3 keywords are normally achievable depending on the length of them. If it's a long tail keyword, it might just be one.

How do you communicate to the subject matter experts that your content will be relevant and valuable to their level of readers?

Sometimes you have to just prove it.

You have to be able to sit at a meeting and say, look here are the results - it worked.

And they're not going to be convinced that somebody who isn't an expert in the field is going to be able to write about it until they see examples and understand that we write for many thousands of people per year. The relevant readers find the articles through search engines, read the article, and then clicked through to either other relevant articles or made an enquiry.  

It might not be Shakespeare but it's bringing people to your site and is driving actions. Which is what it is all about!

>>>Read a Client Testimonial for a Steel Supplier<<<

From a scientist's perspective, which type of content do you prefer? There's this idea of white papers and e-books, longer pieces. Is that, generally right?

For me personally if it's very specific, something that I really need to know then I'll save time for that white paper or eBook and I'll read at a later time.

But if it's something that I just want to get a refresher on, a product I’m researching or I just want to get a little bit more information then I think having that type of really condensed article that is really easy to read and visually pleasant to look at is what I would prefer on a day-to-day basis.

Conclusion

A successful blogging strategy involves having the skill of writing for science as well as writing for search engines. You can contact our team today to find out more about how AZoNetwork can help or you can get a Free SEO Health Check for your website by clicking the link below.

Posted by Danny Layzell

After growing up in the Ribble Valley, Danny has spent much of his professional career working in international education on the South Coast of England before moving to Manchester at the end of 2017. Danny has a degree in Politics, a level 6 diploma in Digital Marketing and is working towards becoming a chartered marketer. As well as working in international education, Danny has previously worked as a freelance digital marketer which is where he was first introduced to AZoNetwork. He joined the team in 2020. As well as digital and politics, Danny is passionate about most sports mainly rugby and cricket. He is also a life-long Manchester United fan and more recently became a Dallas Cowboy supporter! Travelling has become a real interest for Danny, and he dreams of travelling alongside the ‘Barmy Army’ (England cricket fans) in the future.   Danny is also planning on completing his 3rd marathon in 2021.

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