SEO Copywriting Snapshot – HowToSayThatName

Happy Holidays! In this week’s Snapshot we’re looking at a rather unique service…

Founded by Elizabeth Bojang, HowToSayThatName is a given and surname pronunciation guide. The site contains audio recordings to help users properly pronounce names in as many as 15 different languages. She started this site to provide executives and customer service representatives the help they need to reduce language barriers in a global marketplace.

I asked Elizabeth about her online marketing goals, and she told me her primary mission is to raise awareness about the site and reach out to businesses that would benefit from the services they offer.

So I thought to myself, “How can this company choose the right keyphrases when people don’t know that the service exists? And how can they build the *keyphrase bridge* between what people are searching for online, and what they’re actually offering?” Now, you’ve heard me say this before, and you’ll continue to hear me say it — proper keyphrase research (KPR) and selection is the foundation of a quality SEO campaign.

Let’s take a look at the page below.

In reading this blurb, I noticed the term “communication challenges.” They’ve also touched on the importance of “reducing language barriers.” Hold on, though, these aren’t necessarily the *right keyphrases*, but it’s a good place to start the KPR.

Quick Tip: Just because a keyphrase gets great hits according to KeywordDiscovery or WordTracker, for example, does not mean it’s the right keyphrase. Go to Google and type it in … see what kind of results you get and make sure they’re relevant. “Communication challenges” might yield marriage counseling results, for instance, and you don’t want to target the wrong audience!

Read more about free keyphrase research tools in my previous SEO Copywriting Snapshot.

To start brainstorming some keyphrases to further research, some points come to mind:

  • What “problems” are potential prospects having? i.e.: communication challenges, proper name pronunciation, language barriers
  • What solutions are available for these problems? i.e.: pronunciation services, learn to pronounce names, communication tools
  • How can this site differentiate itself from similar services? i.e.: translation services, language services (it will be important for them to clearly define the solutions they offer in comparison to, say, a translation company)

Remember when compiling your keyphrase research to think outside the box. Dig deep into the user’s psyche to uncover how they’d search online for this particular service. And don’t forget synonyms (ie: translate/decipher/interpret) and word derivatives (i.e.: translation/translate/translating, communicate/communication

Build buzz with social media…

While achieving top search engine rankings is important, the ultimate goal is to generate awareness and drive more targeted traffic to the site. Good news! Social media strategies can help them get the word out and gain site visitors. Building relationships with other blog owners and offering guest posts is a good idea for these folks. They could also talk with other bloggers about their services and ask to be mentioned and have a link back to their site. For example, a business etiquette blog could highlight the importance of customer service representatives properly pronouncing their clients’ and prospects’ names, and back link to HowToSayThatName as a quality resource.

OK, so that’s all for, well, this year! Wishing you all a wonderful holiday and prosperous new year!

Cheers to health, wealth and happiness 🙂

Aimee

Copywriting challenge: Write for 15 minutes a day

You stare at the screen, fingers poised over the keyboard.  That brilliant writing idea you had last night over a glass of merlot doesn’t seem so brilliant in the light of day. You answered your email.  You made some calls.  You procrastinated as much as you possibly can.

And now, it’s just you and the computer and the pressure.

It’s not like you don’t like to write. You like to write. Hell, some days you love to write. If the writing Muse just visited a tad more frequently…

Think of it this way: getting in the writing habit – whether that means blogging or creating your latest SEO copywriting masterpiece- is like getting in the exercise habit. Starting fresh is hard work.  You sweat and strain and hate every moment of it.  Then one day, it all clicks.  You realize that you start feeling “off” if you don’t take that lunchtime Pilates class (or write your latest blog post.)  And without knowing it, you’ve suddenly replaced your old habit (being a literary couch potato) to one that’s much more productive.

So, here’s your SEO copywriting challenge: Write for 15 minutes before you do anything else tomorrow and keep that habit going every business day for a solid month. Don’t check email first (checking email and the anxiety it provokes can be the biggest writer’s-block cause of all).  Don’t stress about the “perfect” topic. Just write. It’s OK if all you write is “this is stupid” over and over. It’s OK to create a grocery list if nothing else comes to mind.

Just write.

Set a timer and tell yourself you can stop the second the timer buzzes.  Don’t worry about form or tone or structure.

Just write.

You’ll notice three things:

  • Like exercise, your 15-minute writing assignment will seem torturous some days. You will be staring at the clock waiting for the pain to end. But just like exercise, the writing process will gradually start feeling better and better.
  • Some of your writing will be absolute drivel. Be OK with that. Just know that within that drivel, you’ll discover gems of absolute copywriting brilliance.  Learn to appreciate the brilliance when you see it and be gentle with yourself around the other.
  • Amazingly enough, some days you will write longer than 15 minutes. Your fingers will fly over the keyboard while you experience the drug that keeps writers..well…writing – the writer’s high. Enjoy it. The more you write, the better your writing days will be – and you’ll be writing faster (and better) than ever before.

SEO Copywriting Snapshot – JivitaWellness, Part 2

As promised I’m back with JivitaWellness. I haven’t been able to figure out the techie side of this site just yet, but I wanted to make sure I gave you what you came to see — and that’s some SEO copywriting feedback! So here we go…

Keywords…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the foundation of any quality SEO campaign relies on keyphrase research. Choosing the right keyphrases for your pages can make or break your success in achieving top rankings. Jivita has included a keywords tag:

There are a few problems here. First, this tag is the same on every page throughout the site, so there is no clear keyphrase strategy. Second, some of the keyphrases are too vague, like “trainer” — this could mean dog training, training bras, or any kind of fitness regime. The same holds true for “health” or “emotional” or “fusion.” These keyphrases do not clearly represent what the user might type into the search box of an engine when they’re looking for personalized yoga classes.

How can they improve?

There are some free tools available to get them started in their keyphrase research.

  1. Wordtracker, for instance, lets you use a limited version of their software on a trial basis.
  2. Google Adwords keyword tool lets users dig deeper to find possible keyphrases for their pages.
  3. Yahoo! and Google search assist: when you start typing a keyphrase into the search box, a list will drop down of potential keyphrases that have been recently searched.
  4. Competition. Look to see which keyphrases the competition is using — but be careful. The competition may not have a savvy SEO strategy in place, so you don’t want to follow any bad habits. Still, it’s a good place to start your creative juices while brainstorming a keyphrase seed list.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of researching and selecting the right keyphrases for your site pages. Not only will those keyphrases go into the Meta keywords tag, but you should generally select 2-4 specific keyphrases for each page and use them in the Title tag, Meta description tag and throughout the content as well. 

Note: This is the editor in me coming out, but as we’re talking about a Toronto-based company, they should follow The Globe and Mail Style Book, which means the comma goes on the inside of the closing quotation mark.

Using keyphrases in the body copy

Once Jivita has researched and selected the appropriate keyphrases for each page, they’ll want to gently sprinkle them throughout the body copy. But where? And how? Here’s a screen shot of the home page.home page

Headlines. The first headline reads “About Us” in plain font. This is a great opportunity to write a short, catchy headline that includes a keyphrase. The keyphrase feeds the engines, and the “hook” pulls the reader in to learn more.

Emphasized text. On this page you see that they’ve emphasized Jivita, Jivita Wellness, and CAREN COOPER. But those are likely not the keyphrases people are searching to find their services. Instead, they might be searching for “yoga classes in Toronto” or “yoga at work.”

SEO Copywriting best practices. One point that jumped out at me is in the first two sentences. They start by explaining what “Jivita” means, and follow it with a benefit statement about what they do. Personally, I’d start the paragraph with the benefit statement, not only to quickly explain to the reader who they are and what they offer, but also to include a keyphrase or two at the beginning of the page copy.

Another suggestion for the home page might be to pull out the bio on Caren (and move it to a separate About Us page) and concentrate more on the solutions they’re offering to their clients. When people search online, they are looking for answers to their questions. For instance, this page mentions that they provide “customized health and fitness programs directly to your home or workplace.” This could be fleshed out more to explain what kind of fitness (yoga, Pilates, meditation), and what kind of programs (class sizes, frequency, any other extra benefits that come with the “program”). Not only will this give Jivita the opportunity to work some keyphrases into the copy (feeding the engines), but it will also give the reader the detailed information they’re seeking.

The good news is that JivitaWellness is nicely written, so these are quick and easy tweaks for them! Stay tuned for next week’s SEO Copywriting Snapshot … and until then have a fab weekend!

Cheers!

Aimee

SEO Copywriting Snapshot – JivitaWellness.com

Welcome back to the next SEO Copywriting Snapshot. This week we’re lookin at Toronto-based JivitaWellness. Founded by Caren Cooper in 2007, Jivita Wellness specializes in providing customized health and fitness programs directly to your home or workplace. 

The first thing I always look at is on the home page — I dig behind to the HTML code and look at the Title tag, meta description and keywords tag. Now here’s the funky part — something’s going on with this site from a techie standpoint, which is beyond my area of expertise. But not to worry, I’ve pinged my good friend Detlev Johnson and asked him to take a peek and give us some feedback on that end. So, until we get that side of things cleared up, I’m going to have to put these guys on hold.

But don’t worry! Leave it with me and I’ll be back atcha as soon as we clear up this mystery!

Cheers!

Aimee

SEO Copywriting Snapshot – Sylvan & Sons Genuine Dog Gear

As promised, here we go with our first SEO copywriting snapshot! This week we’re looking at Sylvan & Sons, a family-owned and operated business that has been making unique dog and cat collars, leashes, harnesses and collar bows for 20 years. Sylvan & Sons first popped online in 1999. Shortly after the launch of their Genuine Dog Gear product line, they launched a second website.

This week, we’re looking at Sylvan’s first site, so let’s get right to it 🙂

What they’re doing right…

They’ve created unique titles that are actually written for conversion! By stating that they have a huge variety and the products are affordable, these guys have actually included a benefit statement in their Title tag. Why am I so flabbergasted by that? Simply because catalog companies are often dealing with hundreds and hundreds of product pages and they generally use some kind of content management system. Dynamically generated titles typically are not sexy (with the exception of zappos!).

So why should they (and you) care? Because the title tag is your first opportunity for conversion! It’s what shows up on the SERP as the hyperlink; it’s what appears in the top of your browser (see image below); it’s what automatically gets plugged in as your Bookmark, but most of all … it’s what convinces the reader to click on your site rather than the other nine options on the page. So writing a Title for the engines is important — but writing it with the conversion in mind is just as important.

What they could improve…

Best practices suggest that the title tag should be in and around 60 characters including spaces so it doesn’t get chopped off in the SERP. If we take a look at the home page, the title is a tad long, weighing in at 92 characters.

What they could do is trim down keyphrases and the benefit statement so it’s shorter.

What they’re doing right …

Are their duplicate content issues?

Ah yes, duplicate content — a common issue with catalogers. However, Sylvan & Sons has done an excellent job with their content! Most of the product copy I looked at throughout the pages appears to be unique.

What they could improve…

C’mon now, I can’t let them off the hook that easily — I found some duplicate content 😉
Sure, it’s the same product, just different colors. But the fact of the matter is that these are two separate pages with separate URLs. Sylvan could simply rewrite one of the pages to be slightly different.

More SEO copywriting thoughts….

One of the other things we like to consider in the greater scope of SEO copywriting is whether or not there are new content opportunities to explore. In this case, two opportunities jumped out at me– a blog section (read more on blog benefits for catalogers) and customer reviews. If you have a pet or know someone who does (as we all do), you know what an important member of the family they are. And you also know how much we all love to share stories and talk about our pets.

So on a site like Sylvan & Sons, a blog section would engage the readers and keep them coming back on a regular basis. Customer reviews are also a great way for folks to share their own stories and tell others how much they love the products. It also gives new customers a more warm ‘n fuzzy feeling because they’re more likely to believe testimonials from actual consumers who have purchased what they’re interested in buying themselves.

So there we have our very first SEO copywriting snapshot! Next week we’re going to look at Toronto-based JivitaYoga.

Cheers!

Aimee

No info=no sale. Why Berlitz’s site lost me as a customer

The question came up yet again just a few days ago.  “I’m afraid of having too much information on our site – I want leads to call us instead.”

And to that, I always answer, “Well, what if they don’t want to call you? Or what if they need more information before they feel comfortable picking up the phone? Are you willing to lose a conversion because you were afraid of “giving the lead too much information?”

When it comes to the sales process, the Web is a weird and wonderful place.  Doing in-depth vendor research is as simple as a few Google searches – and researching a consumer product is easier than ever. Like it or not, people are conditioned to start their research online – and then move it offline if (and only if) it suits them. If your Website doesn’t immediately answer their questions, you can’t assume that people will call you for information. In fact, a non-informational site runs the risk of making the prospect so frustrated that they choose to walk away rather than contact you.

Last night, I came across a perfect example.

So, I figured it was time to learn another language.  I’ve been jonesing to learn Dutch for a couple years.  I travel to Amsterdam at least once a year – and I’m constantly embarrassed at my inability to speak the language (International travel hint: gesturing wildly does not make up for an inability to speak Dutch. It just makes you [OK…me]) look like a chicken.)  After doing some searches for Dutch language instruction in Portland, OR, I came across this well-known, corporate site:

All I wanted to know is how much it would cost and how many classes a week they’d recommend. That’s it;.  Since it was 11pm, there was no-one to call – and I didn’t want to talk to anyone at that moment anyway.  All I wanted to do was figure out cost and the time commitment.

Here’s where the site completely failed me:

  • There was no FAQ section – or much online content at all. The questions I had were probably pretty common.  Why wasn’t there a place where I could quickly get the information I needed?  OK, so they mention that I could download a brochure. But how can I when the…
  • …”download a brochure” line isn’t hyperlinked?  Suddenly, I’m hunting around for a download link.  Nope, not on the right hand side of the page.  Nope, not in the navigation bar.  It took me about three minutes to read “download a brochure” (it’s below the navigation bar and above the “Contact a Berlitz Consultant” button.”)  OK, I was tired and it was late. That could have contributed to the time spent. But still.
  • When I did download the brochure – guess what?  It didn’t answer my questions.  The brochure’s main focus was to get me to contact a Berlitz Consultant…which I didn’t quite want to do yet.  Even so, I clicked to the “contact us” and found this:

Uh, “corporate sales representative?”  I didn’t want to be “sold to.”  I wanted to figure out the cost and the time commitment. Didn’t they call these folks “Berlitz Consultants” earlier? That seems much more palatable than “corporate sales representative.”  Hmm, I have a business – but maybe since I’d want individual lessons, that site section would give me more information? Let’s see:

Uh, ok.  The page devotes 19 words to telling me more about their program for individuals.  That’s it.  No class schedules.  No fee structures.  Nothing.  And look – apparently, individual customers aren’t as desirable as businesses. The individual page is a contact form only – no friendly representative contact numbers.

I gave up after that. And don’t even get me started about their SEO copywriting…let’s just say that it could be vastly improved upon.

This was a clear example of a company wanting me to get information about their service their way – not the way I’d prefer – and because of that, they lost a conversion.  If they only provided a bit more information – possible class schedules, an idea of pricing, anything that would help me move along the conversion cycle, I would have happily converted.  I looked for it.  I wanted to read something.  But, no.

Instead, the site was like one big, unsuccessful tease.  And for Berlitz, there will be no happy ending.

In the meantime, if you know of anyone who provides Dutch lessons in Portland, OR – have them contact me. You can contact (and follow me) on Twitter at @heatherlloyd.

Free SEO copywriting site reviews: SEO Copywriting Snapshot

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SEO Copywriting Snapshot

SEO Copywriting Snapshot

 

I’m very excited to announce the official launch of our SEO Copywriting Snapshots! During my six (nearly seven) years as a SEO copywriter, I’ve come to realize that one of the most common reasons so many SEO copywriting initiatives fall flat is this: you don’t know what you don’t know. As a result, it’s easy to miss opportunities for better rankings or increased conversions.

That’s where the SEO Copywriting Snapshot comes in. SEOCopywriting.com is looking for volunteers to send us their sites and let us comment on your SEO copywriting initiatives. We’ll reveal the ways you can transform your SEO copywriting from drab into fab — and uncover how to gain the highly qualified traffic (and conversions) you want.

Here’s all you have to do:

  • Send me your name, company and URL. Â

 

  • Watch for an email announcing you’ve been selected* and complete a quickie questionnaire.

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We’re going to start with Florida-based Sylvan & Sons/Genuine Dog Gear. Watch for the review this Wednesday!

Now, who wants to be next? Email me at aimee [at] seocopywriting.com now.

Cheers!

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Aimee

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The more things change, the more they stay the same

Wham.  I felt the flashback hit while I was reading the Web Workers Digest post.

The article “How to work with a reluctant social media client” was excellent. The author discussed why clients are reluctant of blogs and Twitter, discussed some ways to deal with the disconnect, and posed this question:

“Are we all just too ‘into it’ to remember that our clients are often way far away from it?”

What struck me, is you substitute “SEO copywriting” (or even search engine optimization”) for “social media,” this article could have been penned in 1998.  Hence the highly-painful flashback.

Back in SEO’s early days, first-generation search marketers was asking the same question.  Of course, no-one outside of our closed Searchie group knew what the hell redirects, Titles and HTML were.  Nor did many people care about their search rankings. Geeks were truly ruling the Internet world back then, and we had our own lingo to prove it. That’s why conferences were so awesome – finally there was a group of people who “got” what we did and could discuss the details.

But our clients didn’t “get it.” And that was frustrating.   We couldn’t understand why people weren’t willing to plunk down cash for a well-optimized site when the upside was so clearly positive.  So in an attempt to educate the industry (and hopefully future clients) we we wrote the same kind of educational articles, got on the same bandwagon and preached to the same choir.  Our message – yes, dammit, SEO is worth it.

Fortunately, it worked.

Fast forward 10 years to a recent colleague dinner. Many of us present were part of that first-generation SEO group. Yet, some were reluctant (including myself) to consider Twitter a useful social media technique “It won’t work, it’s not proven, and who the heck cares about my random thoughts” were frequent comments. Later that night, I realized something horrible. I hadn’t turned into my parents…it was worse than that. I had turned into the cynical, “old-school” marketer that drove me nuts 10 years ago.

Fortunately, I got over myself and realized that Twitter is incredibly useful (and yes, you can send tweets to @heatherlloyd).

It is not lost on me that some of the biggest proponents of social media were still in high school when I was shouting about SEO copywriting from the rooftops. SEO copywriting is now consideration a foundational step for any SEO campaign, but it’s also considered Web 1.0.  It’s no longer trendy, or hip, or a big risky expense. Sure, we still have to show ROI and educate clients. And there are still some companies that are new to the most basic SEO techniques.  But SEO is now considered a “standard” part of the marketing mix – just like social media will be 10 years from now.

What also isn’t lost on me is every marketer needs to break out of their comfort zone and stay current in today’s environment.  Sure, that’s easy enough to say – after all, it’s always crucial to stay abreast in one’s chosen profession. But being current also means embracing techniques that may not be a part of our current experience. I may not feel compelled to tweet every 10 minutes, but I am convinced that Twitter is highly useful if you know how to work it. Same with blogging – as an “old school” writer, it goes against every fiber of my being to write an off-the-cuff post without spending the day tweaking it. But has it brought in leads, increased my exposure and helped me communicate in a new way? You bet. It’s one thing to demand change and growth from our clients. It’s another to demand it from ourselves.

Certainly, new marketing methods aren’t necessarily more important than proven ones (as this article in DMNews suggests.) At the same time, today’s unproven opportunities can be tomorrow’s revenue-drivers for your company.

So why let fear hold you back from implementing an exciting new marketing channel?