You can read all kinds of rules about what makes for great website content. There are plenty of opinions out there on how long an article or blog post should be, the use of bullet points or lists, paragraph length and so forth. If that’s not your writing style, it can be hard to write in a way that others say is the best way to go. Is it really necessary to follow such rules when you’re writing for your site?

I don’t believe you need to do that. I follow one main rule when I write, which is to keep it interesting and informative. I suppose that could be phrased as two rules, but you get the idea. I don’t stress about article length, paragraph length, bullet points, etc. I’d rather be concerned with presenting the information clearly, in a way I can enjoy writing it, and that will hopefully attract readers.

Let’s take a look at some of these rules.

Rule 1: Write short articles and/or blog posts.

The idea here is that people have short attention spans online, and so you need to be able to make your point quickly, or you lose them. I firmly disagree with this one.

Write your articles and posts as long as they need to be for the topic. If 200 words is enough, they’re enough. Don’t overdo it. If 2000 words is what it takes, write those 2000 words. You may be able to break up such a long article into shorter articles, but sometimes you’ll feel better leaving it as one big article. Just relax. I know some people swear by the benefits of longer articles, as this allows for the use of more related keywords.

I believe that your ability to keep people interested is far more important than whether or not you write a long article. If it’s information they want and it’s well written, people will read long posts, even online.

Rule 2: Use bullet points or lists.

Yes, this post is written as a sort of list, but it works well for this topic. It doesn’t always work that way.

I’ll admit to a fondness for lists because they allow me to give visual separation to subtopics within a post, which is supposed to make them more readable. That’s certainly a good thing. Just don’t drive yourself up the wall trying to find a way to make a post into a list or bullet points if it doesn’t work out that way.

Rule 3: Write short paragraphs.

This rule comes from the idea that shorter paragraphs are easier to read online. It’s probably true enough, but that doesn’t mean a short paragraph should be a firm rule.

Look instead at what is a logical length for the paragraph. Is it expressing your complete thought? You shouldn’t be chopping up a paragraph into two or three paragraphs just because you read that shorter paragraphs are better. You should be writing paragraphs that make sense as a whole.

Rule 4: Go for the controversy.

Some people are big on going for controversy as a way to bring traffic to their websites. It can work. Having an opinion online is a good thing. Just be sure you express it well.

You certainly don’t want to introduce a controversial topic and then not state your own opinion. Discussing and even sympathizing with both sides is good, but have an opinion of your own. You don’t have to agree with everyone. Just back up your opinion with facts or reasons why you believe it.

Having an opinion doesn’t mean you have to be offensive about it, although if that’s your persona, go for it and be ready for battle. Some people enjoy that, and others don’t. It’s not my style, but that just means I don’t go for the controversy very often.

Not every topic is really conducive to controversy. People get all heated up on various parenting topics, for example, and you can maybe even get some venom going on Mac vs. PC debate, but it’s going to be a bit more difficult if you’re writing about the best lawn mower for a small yard. If your topic doesn’t have a lot of controversy, you can look awfully silly trying to make some. Then again, if you thought your topic wasn’t controversial but it turns out to be, make the best of it.

Rule 5: Stick with what’s popular in your niche.

It’s kind of a funny thing. It’s often recommended that you pick a tight niche to cut down on the competition, but you’re also supposed to stick with what’s popular within your niche.

The problem with sticking with the popular topics is that you don’t stand out enough. Write about the popular stuff, absolutely, but make sure you delve into corners that others pay less attention to, especially the facets you prefer. Have content that stands out from what the rest are doing.

Remember that a big part of your success comes from your own interest in your niche. It shows when you’re truly interested in the information you’re sharing and it shows when you just put up something because you felt you had to.

Certainly the popular topics have a lot of benefits. They’re areas which can generate a lot of search engine traffic and blog comments. If you get into less popular topics or go into better detail than others do on the popular topics, you’re giving your readers something more to look forward to. That’s a very good thing, especially if you want people coming back to your site.