Internet, Online or Web — the great marketing debate.

Marketing debate

Lee Odden sparked an interesting debate on his blog about the terminology used to describe our industry. Check it out to share your opinion on whether to call it Internet Marketing, Online Marketing or Web Marketing.

Ten common SEO copywriting myths

SEO copywriting myths - question mark

During every conference, someone comes up to me and says, “I’ve heard that you can…” – and proceeds to tell me about a spammy technique that they “just learned” or a brilliant idea that their IT department “just thought of.”

There are a lot of SEO copywriting myths out there. It’s scary, actually.

During SMX West, Jill Whalen discussed some common SEO copywriting myths – which was a brilliant idea. I’ve included some of Jill’s myths and added my own. Feel free to add your own in the comments section!

  • I should put all my keywords on my home page. Nope, this won’t help at all. Instead, use your overarching keyphrases on your home page- and use more specific keyphrases on your subcategory and product-level pages. Besides, nothing looks sadder than a keyphrase-stuffed home page.
  • My site is only relevant for five keyphrases. Not true! Even the smallest sites can be relevant for a number of keyphrases. Keyphrase research will shine the light on your true keyphrase potential.
  • Keyphrase-stuffing is A-OK. This was never OK and never will be. First, the search engines think it’s spam. Second, stuffing your copy will completely decimate your tone, feel and conversion flow. It’s just not worth it.
  • Invisible text works great! It may…for awhile…until you get caught. Invisible text is another big search-engine no-no.
  • Anyone can be a SEO copywriter. True, anyone can be a SEO copywriter. But it’s more important to work with good SEO copywriters. Consider training your in-house writers on SEO copywriting best practices – and only hire folks who can demonstrate relevant experience.
  • It’s all about the search engines. Yes, search engine positioning is important. What is also important is creating compelling, high-value text that resonates with your target market. Remember, the search engines don’t pay your bills. Your customers do
  • I can stuff my Title, right? Wrong. Title-stuffing is far from SEO best practices. Besides, why not create a compelling, “clickable” Title that gets your prospect’s attention?
  • Prospects don’t want to read a lot of copy. Prospects will read a lot of copy – if it’s relevant and if it’s presented well. A solid copy block of 1,000 words will freak out the average reader. However, that same 1,000 words in an easy-to-read format could gain good readership. Test different formats and see what works for your readers.
  • The first conversion opportunity is when a customer clicks-through to my site. Actually, your first conversion opportunity is the search engine results page. A good Title and description will encourage SERP click-throughs -so use techniques like the Google Snippet Trick to gain better conversions.
  • I have to write exactly 250 words for good search positioning. Writing 250 words has always been a rule of thumb. Sometimes, writing more copy is just fine. Sometimes, you can’t write 250 words about a product or service no matter how hard you try. Copy length depends on the overall SEO content stategy, what you’re writing about and a host of other factors. Don’t tie yourself down to a specific word count.

Where, oh where, should company names appear in the Title?

red-computer-mouse.jpgJakob Nielsen wrote an interesting article about where the company name should appear in the Title. Prior to this, Nielsen believed that the company name should never be frontloaded. Now, he says to analyze the top five SERP results for your main keyterms and consider:

  • Are competitor Titles “junk” (as he calls them.) If so, put your company name at the beginning. A well-known brand name has build-in trust – and can encourage click-through.
  • If competing Titles are what Nielsen calls “meaningful,” put your company name at the end of the Title – and create a Title that’s “solutions oriented.”

(As a side note, I’m not sure if I agree with one thing. Top-ranking pages may not have “junky Titles.” Sure, the Titles may not be the best – but they are [hopefully] far from the keyword-and-pipe structure from years ago.)

My thought is – why not have the best of both worlds? I would argue that Titles (whenever possible) include some sort of keyphrase-rich call to action or benefit (otherwise known as a “solutions oriented Title”) and branding. If it’s a well-known brand, I typically suggest the brand appears first in the Title. If it’s not, I put it at the end. But that’s just a general rule of thumb – I’ll do different things for different clients and test results.

Detlev Johnson (who forwarded me this article,) has seen better conversions with the company name being first -and discusses why the search engines “expect” the Title first. in his latest Search Return article.

What have you noticed? Do you place the Title first or last and why?

Don’t confuse fluffy “marketease” with good SEO copywriting

No fluffy SEO copywritingIt’s true that customers don’t want to read your B.S. But they do expect good copywriting.

In Tim’s latest article, Cut Out the B.S. to Increase Conversions,” Tim discusses “marketease,” saying, “Unfortunately, your landing page was probably written in this kind of over-the-top promotional style. It usually involves a lot of boasting and unsubstantiated claims. If your company is the “world’s leading provider” of something, you are in good company.”

I would agree that this kind of writing is “marketease” – or what I have called “fluffy copy.” Surf for five minutes, and you’ll see fluffy copy-filled sites everywhere. Headlines scream, “We’re the best” and the copy shouts, “We’re the worlds largest!” You’ll see lots of bolded type, exclamation points and used-car salesperson hype. But you won’t see anything that will make you want to buy.

However, this is not good copywriting. Good copywriting uses facts – not fluff. It does not scream “we’re the best,” unless there is a third-party testimonial to back it up. It does not hide the product under the weight of so many words that readers can’t see the benefits. Fluffy copy reads horribly, sounds smarmy and people tend to distrust it. Like Tim implies, it increases the reader’s cognitive load.

Some copy is meant to be informative. Other copy is meant to be persuasive. The key is writing the right copy with the right tone and feel that the reader wants to read at that moment.

So focus your site on writing good copy. It’s OK to put “power words” in your headlines – a compelling headline leads to greater conversions. Yes, use benefit statements. If you are the “world’s best something,” go ahead and say it – if you can back it up. But yes, stay away from fluff. Your readers (and your conversions) will thank you.

Heather Lloyd-Martin gets an entire chapter in the new book, Online Marketing Heroes

Heather Lloyd-Martin in Online Marketing HeroesA special congratulatory shout out to Heather Lloyd-Martin, who was just interviewed for the new Wiley book, “Online Marketing Heroes: Interviews with 25 Successful Online Marketing Gurus.” Read the key takeaways and unique perspectives on the TopRank Online Marketing Blog.

SEO copywriting at SMX West!

Whew! I just put the finishing touches on my new SEO copywriting presentation for SMX West. I’ll be speaking at 1:15 today (February 26) on “Copywriting for Search Success” with Jill Whalen. Stop by and say “hi!”

What the heck does keyphrase research have to do with the buying cycle?

Looking back on some of my SEO gigs, it occurred to me that a majority of folks don’t take advantage of what I think is a major factor in the overall SEO success. And that’s making sure you’re speaking (or writing) to people in all 5 phases of the sales cycle. But there’s more to it than simply writing content for all 5 phases. When you’re writing pages for different audience mentalities, it stands to reason that you’ll need to research keyphrases differently, too. So what are the 5 phases of the buying cycle? And what do they have to do with keyphrase research? Read more

Seth Godin: The best SEO is good content

Rachelle Money, WordTracker’s “newly appointed journalist” interviewed marketing guru Seth Godin. Read what he has to say about the future of newspapers, how he feels about SEO consultants (and their clients ) and what he says about the power of content.

Yes, Small Businesses Can Kick SEO Butt!


Bob Bly, copywriting guru, asks if small businesses can really compete in SEO. He says:

A bigger company can afford to dedicate one or more employees full-time to each of these major tasks. For instance, I know a company with a full-time staff person who does nothing but seek incoming links, one of the steps in SEO.

And my answer is, “Hell yes, small businesses can compete!” Read more

Five Stupid Ways Clients Sabotage Their SEO Copywriting Campaigns


Today, most companies understand that strong content is an important part of the SEO process. But why do some clients do everything they can to ensure that their SEO campaigns just won’t work? If you’re working with a SEO copywriter (or plan to hire one soon), don’t let this happen to you! Read more