I can’t read this

blurryThis isn’t something that I want to admit, but I need new glasses.

Each day, I find that I’m squinting more often trying to see something. This week, I haven’t been able to read the directions on the bottle of cold medicine, which I so desperately needed to take.

The thing is, I should have visited the eye doctor a few years ago … okay, more like five years ago. I thought my eyes were fine, so I put it off.

Well, they aren’t fine and, I probably need to invest more money now (need to get several new pairs, instead just one and have more tests) than if I had gone to the optometrist when I was supposed to go. Plus, I have been dealing with the fact that I can’t see well.

Perhaps you have done this, too. Maybe you haven’t done it with your eyes, but with your car or your teeth. Routine maintenance can save you from an expensive overhaul down the line.

Chances are you’ve done this with your website, too.

Tweaking for the New Year

Don’t wait until:

It’s easier – and more cost effective – to make ongoing minor adjustments instead of undertaking a major content overhaul.

You can baby-step your way into a content development program. As things wind down at the end of the year, start to plan your strategy for next year by:

Do you have other ideas to save time and money with regular updates instead of a major overhaul? Please let me know in the comments … hopefully I will be able to see them. (Guess I need to make that eye appointment.)


Image credit: ©  | Dreamstime.com

Save 25% on your total purchase of 2 or more SEO Copywriting courses! Discount automatically applies.

Do you love ’em and leave ’em online?

Imagine this…

You’ve finally gotten a date with the girl (or guy) of your dreams. He or she wines you, dines you and treats you like royalty. You’re enamored. You’re blown away. You’re willing to do anything to keep the good vibrations going.

Then, the relationship reaches the … um … conversion phase. You’re on cloud nine …

… until the person never calls you again.

If you’ve had this happen to you, you know how it feels. You go from telling your friends that you’re majorly “in like” with the person to disclosing, “Yeah, now I feel like an idiot. They dropped me as soon as they got what they wanted. I knew it was too good to be true.”

This scenario happens online all the time. 

In fact, it’s true confession time. This recently happened to me.

I just ordered a Vitamix online. This is no blender. This is a freakin’ blending powerhouse. I had received their emails, read their sales copy and let them seduce me with their bad-ass blending stories.

I held out for months, but I finally gave in. I pulled the trigger on a highly expensive blender purchase.

And ::poof:: like that, it was like I never existed. Days later, I have no idea if my product shipped. There’s been no communication. And now I’m thinking, “Wow, the least they could do is send me a ‘we’re working on your shipment’ note.”

After calling the company, I learned that it could take 8 to 15 days before they ship the product. This would have been nice to know prior to pulling the trigger.

I actually regretted the purchase. I went from “Yay, a Vitamix” to “Wow, what a pain.”

Sadly, this “love ’em and leave ’em” scenario is pretty common online. For instance:

– Companies that offer huge discounts to acquire customers – yet they don’t extend comparable discounts to existing clients (Ahem, Comcast.)

– Companies that take days (sometimes weeks) to respond to a customer’s questions via email (I’m looking at you, Citibank.)

– Companies that put you through phone tree hell and shift you around to different representatives before you get a real answer (Hello, CenturyLink.)

The common denominator? Things are all hunky dory until you convert. Once you’re a current customer, there’s no sense of urgency.

Although I’m naming larger companies, I’ve seen the “small guys” do this, too. It’s typically not done out of maliciousness or spite.

They are just so busy focusing on customer acquisition that they forget to take care of their current clients.

Fortunately, there are some ways to shift this thinking. And smart copywriting can help!

– Send a note to your clients a couple weeks after their purchase. Ask if they have any questions or if there’s a way you can help (and yes, this can be automated.)

– Did you get an email? Follow-up that business day (or the next business day.) Don’t leave people hanging and wondering, “Did they get my message?” A quick note saying, “I’ll get back to you shortly” makes all the difference.

– Offer cool discounts or incentives to current good customers. There is nothing that makes someone happier than an unexpected gift. Treat them well.

– Send current clients a note expressing how grateful you are for their business. Because you ARE grateful. If it wasn’t for your existing client base, you wouldn’t be able to pay your staff, keep the lights on or draw a salary.

– Did you mess up? It happens. Own it and write a personal note to your clients. They’ll appreciate the effort.

The more you take care of your current clients, the more they’ll purchase from you in the long term. Plus, they’ll say wonderful things about you (rather than writing snarky blog posts/tweets about your “customer service.”) :)

After all, wouldn’t you rather have a long-term online relationship than an unsatisfying one-night stand?

Are you a B2B writer? Check out the new B2B SEO Copywriting Certificate classes – all taught by recognized experts. Sign up now for a very special price!


How to build an internal content team: Do this, not that

PuzzleYes, you can source low-cost, quality content by leveraging your internal resources (I talked about this last week.)

If you follow some basic guidelines.

The key to a strong internal team is putting the right puzzle pieces together the right way. I’ve helped a number of companies tap into their teams and uncover some fantastic “diamond-in-the-rough” SEO writers.

For some companies, the process has gone smoothly. Others faced a rough road, full of missed deadlines, resentful employees and a failed content effort.

Here’s what separates the smart companies from the rest:

Yes! Do this!

– Hire an editor. The editor can be an employee or a vendor who double-checks the content. This role is extremely important, so choose wisely. You need someone who can develop and assign topic ideas, has worked with writers before and knows how to provide smart feedback. Plus, your editor needs to be super-knowledgeable about SEO. He’ll often be researching the keyphrases and optimizing the content – so he needs to know what he’s doing.

– Tell your team why their contribution is important and give them frequent kudos. If you say, “You need to start writing blog posts,” you will face resentment. Instead, share why you’re turning to them for blogging help, watch their progress and reward their successes (such as a top Google ranking or lots of social shares.) The more invested your writer is in the process, the better content she’ll create.

– Train your writers. This is important even if an editor is inserting keyphrases and writing the title and meta description. More knowledge means your writer can create a better work product – one that your editor won’t have to red-line, rewrite and tear her hair out over. Your subject matter experts don’t need to be SEO whiz kids. But they should know the SEO content basics.

– Create an SEO content style guide (or hire a firm to create this for you.) Outline the general blog post format, the reading audience, how headlines and subheads are used and how many words you expect per post. If you have a list of things that can’t be mentioned (for instance, if you’re in a highly regulated industry,) outline these expectations and make them clear. A style guide gets everyone on the same page and helps standardize the content’s look and feel.

Need more direction? Here’s a great post by Ian Lurie that discusses how to create a style guide.

Want to virtually guarantee failure?  Don’t even think about doing this!

– Send your team to an SEO conference with the task of “learn how to do SEO copywriting and come back and teach the rest of us.” Most conferences don’t delve deeply enough into SEO content writing fundamentals to really provide any actionable knowledge (especially for newbies.) After all, what can your team realistically learn in a one-hour session?

– Assign blog posts without providing a deadline. Your team members are already busy with 1,000 things on their plate. If you don’t tell them when something is due, it’s going to get pushed to the back burner.

– Bring someone on who isn’t a good writer and/or hates writing.  Just because you’re an enthusiastic blogger doesn’t mean everyone else is too. Some people would rather hear fingernails on a chalkboard than write a blog post. Do not have these people write your web copy. It will not go well.

– Assign unrealistic deadlines. If you tell someone their newly-assigned blog post is “due tomorrow,” her head will probably explode.  Sure, you may only need 400 words. But know that it can take a lot of time to write 400 words – especially for non-writers. Give them time and space. The end product will be much better (and the writer will feel better about it, too.)

– Take the post without editing it first. Yes, you need to focus on making sure the right keyphrases are in the right spots. But you’ll also need someone to check grammar, spelling and general flow. If the post quality is low, don’t post it – even if you are on deadline. The only thing worse than no blog posts is a bunch of crappy ones.

– Let other priorities get in the way. Many companies outsource their content because they know it will actually get done. Internal teams may shift the content priority from, “This is highly important,” to “Well, we have a trade show next week. Let’s skip all blogging until we’re back.” Keep calm and keep blogging on – no matter what’s swirling around you. The momentum alone will help support your success.

Does your team need writing examples, SEO copywriting training and some hands-on help? I can customize a solution that transforms writers from “meh” into “marvelous.” Contact me with your requirements.

How to source low-cost, quality SEO content

SaveAre you wondering how your company can actually afford quality SEO content?

You’re not alone.

Companies are drowning in content needs. The existing marketing department (assuming there is one) may be too swamped to consistently write articles and blog posts.

Finding outsourced vendors can be equally frustrating. Companies are often looking for Cadillac-level SEO content when they have Yugo-level budgets.

The results are rarely positive. Especially with how Google has tightened down on content (see Eric Enge’s article for more information.)

I’ve chatted with many frustrated marketing managers who are faced with this dilemma. They don’t have the budget for a top-notch outsourced vendor. Yet they are looking for a certain quality of writer – one who understands their industry, understands their customers and can speak their language.

The answer?

Look internally for your SEO content producers. And by “internally,” I mean your sales people, project managers, engineers and other people with product, service and customer knowledge. These people are already passionate about your product/service, your customers and your company mission. Why not let that passion shine through?

I’m aware of the myriad of objections. For instance:

– Not everyone is a good writer

– Non-writers have no business writing sales pages.

– People won’t do it. They say they will – but they’ll flake out.

– They don’t know how.

Let’s break down those objections.

Not everyone is a good SEO writer

True. However, I bet you have people on your team who are good writers. Or they are OK writers with a lot of potential. The goal isn’t to push someone into writing who hates it. It’s to help someone grow who wants to learn how to do it better.

Non-writers have no business writing sales pages.

I totally agree. It takes a skilled copywriter to write a high-converting sales page. However, you don’t need someone with 10 years of copywriting experience to write a blog post. You can train internal staff to do that.

People won’t do it. They say they will – but they’ll flake out.

People will do it if they have a sense of ownership, understand the process and there are realistic expectations. If you tell someone to “Write a blog post on anything and have it by tomorrow,” you probably won’t see very good results. If you take the time to work with them, assign topics and provide feedback, magical things can happen.

They don’t know how.

You can teach your team how to write SEO content (or bring in someone who can teach them.) Plus, you can hire an outsourced SEO editor who can assign topics, set reasonable deadlines and optimize the content.

Existing team members can be transformed into fantastic article and blog writers. Yes, it takes some negotiation. No, it won’t happen overnight. But the final results can be incredible, with team members happily producing content every month.

And that allows you to focus your SEO content budget on other important things – like fixing those stale sales pages that haven’t been updated in years.

Next week, I’ll discuss how to set up a happy, healthy internal content team. In the meantime, what are your biggest obstacles around sourcing content from existing team members? Please leave your comments below, or you can respond on Google+. Thanks!

Training your internal team in SEO content development doesn’t have to be painful. Or scary. Or frustrating. Let me help you find the best option for your company. Review my training options and contact me today.





FUD, Hummingbird and the future of SEO copywriting

HummingbirdSo, Google’s Hummingbird algorithm has officially taken flight.

And it’s amazing how many people have their collective panties in a knot because of it.

If you’re not familiar with Google’s latest algorithm, here’s what Danny Sullivan reported:

“Google said that Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.”

I’ve been asked a number of times, “Well, what does this mean to SEO copywriting? Is it officially dead? Do I need to do things differently?”

Here’s my take…

Feel the FUD and write on

Any Google tweak causes a certain amount of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt.) Granted, this is a major overhaul – so the anxiety levels are heightened. But for those of us who have always created quality, customer-centered content … it’s business as usual. Danny reports:

“In fact, Google’s saying there’s nothing new or different SEOs or publishers need to worry about. Guidance remains the same, it says: have original, high-quality content. Signals that have been important in the past remain important; Hummingbird just allows Google to process them in new and hopefully better ways.”

Cool, right?

But notice the words, “original, high-quality content.” They’re important.

Sadly, many people have looked for SEO copywriting shortcuts. And for a long time, those shortcuts worked. Stuff the content full of keyphrases? Sure. Write stupid copy that doesn’t even make sense? Awesome. Create a press release with five gazillion spammy links and syndicate it all over the place? Why not?

Now some companies are scrambling. Their quick-fix content bandaids haven’t worked since the Panda update. With this latest announcement, they don’t know what to do, where to place their keyphrases – heck, even if they should bother researching keyphrases. Hummingbird has officially freaked them out.

But really, it’s so simple. It’s always been about developing commanding SEO content, “clicking” with your reader and writing content that’s so damn good, people can’t help but like it.

So, to me, Hummingbird is, to quote the Talking Heads, “same as it ever was.” In fact, I believe it offers us a tremendous amount of freedom. We can release the stranglehold keyphrases had on our content and focus on writing spectacular stuff.

Yes, we still want to include keyphrases (users look for them too – not just Google.) Yes, we still want to write clickable Titles and descriptions. But instead of writing content “that Google likes,” we should focus on our reader.

You know, like it’s always been (but people never believed it was true.)

The new SEO content paradigm

Many of Google’s algorithmic tweaks (beginning with the Panda update) sparked a major paradigm shift for some companies. The day of SEO content being a commodity is officially over – at least it is if you’re smart. In the past, clients have been able to push rates down because Google has rewarded poor content.

That’s not going to fly anymore.

Instead of asking, “How can we source this content for the least possible cost,” the new question is, “Who is the best writer who can connect with our audience? Who can help strategize our site content, write great copy and help us build better online relationships?”

The conversation is slowly changing. And that’s pretty exciting.

This also ties into Google Authorship. Niche writers with a major Google presence are going to command more money because they deserve it. They know their writing can increase conversions, increase rankings, receive more social shares – and will stand the test of Google time.

That’s pretty exciting, too.

Baby, don’t fear the Hummingbird

If you find yourself FUDing all over the place, relax. Hummingbird has been live for around a month, so if you’re not seeing major positioning burps – you’re probably fine.

But let’s go back to that reality check.

Remember the key is writing excellent content that connects with your readers. Content that answers their questions, makes them smile and establishes you as a trusted resource. This is more than “writing content for Google” and producing the bare minimum. It takes work.

There’s no shortcut. You won’t be able to trick Google into thinking your content is relevant. You can’t put content on the back burner.

But if you focus on building relationships through your writing, what you will have is a top-positioned site. And one that makes you more money than ever before.

Isn’t it time to spread your content wings and fly?

Is your site content what Google really wants to see? Are you sure? Don’t stay confused – get educated instead. I can customize an SEO content strategy and training for your team. Find out how!

SEO Copy Manager Richard Hostler talks in-house SEO copywriting

SEO Copy Manager Richard Hostler answers in-house SEO copywriting questions.Brookstone SEO Copy Manager and Ironman (he completed the triathlon in July), Richard Hostler takes time out of his work, and workout, schedule to answer our in-house SEO copywriting questions.

Brookstone has such a great “voice” for product descriptions. How was this style developed, and what do you recommend to other in-house copy teams who are trying to determine their company voice?

We’ve come a long way from our early days of selling specialty tools via mail order. Back then, it was much simpler to communicate with customers in a single voice. As our product lines and business evolved, so too did our voice. Now we interact with customers across the country through our stores, catalogs, and email programs, and around the world via our website. Maintaining a single voice across all these channels can be tricky. We strive to keep all our copy informative and engaging, but most of all, fun. After all, we sell fun stuff. Our copy should reflect that.

Brookstone does SEO copywriting right. Do you have a formula down for creating your site content or tips for other copywriters to improve their style and technique?

One point I like to emphasize whenever I talk about SEO copywriting is that it has to be good copywriting first and foremost. Sure, you have to choose the right keywords and employ best practices in your site architecture, but that’s just loading the bases. If you want to score points with your customers or clients, you have to write interesting, informative and engaging content.

Since you aren’t the only one writing the copy, how do you convey the Brookstone style to your writers?

I encourage all writers to keep it simple. Advertising copywriters and SEO copywriters often overthink and overwrite their copy. Our writers need to find whatever is fun and unique about the product at hand and write around that. We have to get to the point quickly to catch the eyes of shoppers who are browsing online, but also tell an engaging enough story to keep the interest of customers who read all the way to the end. Once new writers understand how to keep their copy fun while writing short and long at the same time, they’ve pretty much got the Brookstone style.

What do you look for when hiring an SEO copywriter?

I look for three things. First, I look for a strong writer. This is by far the most critical trait. SEO is something that can be taught. Good writing isn’t. Second, I look for someone who understands the dual nature of SEO copywriting. We are writing for both the spiders and our human readers. Some people get tripped up here and have trouble communicating with both audiences fluently. Finally, I look for someone who really wants the position. I have interviewed dozens of writers over the years who haven’t researched me, my company or our products. If they won’t take the time to prepare for an interview, I have to question whether or not they will put in the research time necessary to be an effective SEO copywriter.

What advice do you have for writers (SEO or otherwise) looking for an in-house copywriting gig?

If a company has an in-house writing team, it will also have plenty of copy for you to check out. Whether this is print ads, catalogs, articles, retail signage, instruction manuals, technical pieces, emails, or any kind of web content, you can use it for two important purposes. First, you can decide if the company’s product set and/or style are a good fit for you. It’s very difficult to write engaging copy day in and day out about something that doesn’t interest you. Second, and this goes back to my answer to the last question, you can use the published copy to better prepare for your interview.

So, you asked me this question during my Brookstone interview. Now, here it is back atcha! What ís the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t take others’ criticism and editing personally. I had real trouble with this when I was getting started in my writing career. I would pour myself into a piece of ad copy or spend days on an article only to have it torn apart by someone higher up the food chain. It’s hard not to take that kind of beatdown personally, but that’s exactly what you have to do. Clients and in-house partners are often unclear when giving instructions for a project. I find that it requires a completed first draft before clear direction is given. Accept the perspective and criticism of others and don’t get defensive about your copy. After all, there’s plenty more (or at least there should be plenty more) where that came from.

Who is your writing inspiration?

My own special odd couple: Dr. Seuss and David Ogilvy. Dr. Seuss twisted, shaped, deconstructed and invented language to create stories that were fun to read and listen to but also touched on some pretty serious subjects. SEO copywriters do the same thing to some extent. We have to come up with creative ways to write around sometimes awkward keywords without offending our readers. David Ogilvy, on the other hand, was the father of advertising as we know it. He worked with big-time clients and wrote many iconic headlines. I have a Divid Ogilvy quote hanging on my office wall to remind me that I am a copywriter first and an SEO copywriter second.

What are the biggest challenges faced by in-house SEO copywriters and how do you overcome, or work around, them?

In-house work brings with it a measure of security and daily routine that can be equal parts benefit and stumbling block. It’s easy to settle in and lose touch with the latest SEO developments. It’s important to keep yourself informed and to constantly hone your SEO copywriting edge. SEO has a short and rapidly evolving history. It’s easy to fall behind.

Is there anything you want to add that our copywriting readers should know?

We have seen some major changes from Google over the past few weeks: all queries switching to “not provided” and the hummingbird update. As with most shakeups from Google, a certain amount of uncertainty has surfaced in the blogosphere. I, however, don’t believe this is a time to panic. In fact, I think it’s a great time to be an SEO copywriter. More than ever, Google is making content king when it comes to search. We may not have the same metrics we’ve relied on for years, but the nature of SEO is the same. Sites need rich, engaging content that feeds the increasingly important knowledge graph. As SEO copywriters, we are the ones who will write this content and help drive the future of search.

About Richard Hostler

Richard Hostler writes engaging copy that generates sales. He is currently the SEO Copy Manager at Brookstone, where he connects online customers with the best gadgets and gifts. When he’s not writing, Richard can be found training for and racing triathlons around New England. You can follow him through his website, LinkedIn or twitter.


Feeling the burn and seeking some balance



“Feel the burn!” If you hear this when you are working out, it is a good thing.

However, I have been feeling a different kind of burn lately. I’ve been:

  • Burning the candle at both ends.
  • Getting burned out.

I realized that I am about to crash and burn … and that’s not good.

Over the last six months, my life has gone through many ups and downs. Most recently, I shifted my copywriting business to an off-hours endeavor and started a 9-to-5 job (well 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) – mostly for financial security.

I chose a job outside of my field because I didn’t want to use all of my creative juices during the day and have nothing left for my own clients.

The good news: I’m not using all of my creativity during the day.

The bad news: I’m still burning myself out.

My new job has a rather long learning curve (which drives me crazy), and I’m still trying to hone my productivity so I can continue to meet my clients’ needs in the shortened amount of time that I have.

Of course, all of the pending projects that I had are now suddenly active.

Trying to survive a crazy schedule

On most weekdays, I leave my apartment by 8am (sometimes having done some work on my laptop before leaving); go to my day job; leave a little after 5 p.m.; drive to my office (maybe grab something to eat); and work for several more hours – many times until midnight or later.

I am trying to find balance, but right now that includes scheduling a social outing some nights … then coming home to work on my laptop. In the month that I have had my new job, I have come directly home from my day job maybe one time.

Overcome the online writing overwhelm monster

The other day I was preparing for a meeting with a prospective client, and I realized that I was going to crash and burn. By adding to my already overloaded workload, I was doing a disservice to my clients and myself. It was difficult, but I had to make the decision that I cannot take on new clients at this time.

My focus right now is taking care of the projects I already have and making sure my long-term clients are happy. And, I need to make sure I set up some real self-care foundations so I can overcome the overwhelm monster.

Are you setting boundaries?

You may not be working two jobs (or you might be), but most likely there are areas in your life where you are becoming a bit overwhelmed.

Are you taking on too many projects at work?

Do you have trouble saying “no” professionally and/or personally and take on more than you can handle?

Are you working from home while you try to run the household?

Don’t sabotage yourself.

I have already made the decision to not take new clients at this time, but I also have another goal for my schedule. I want to feel the burn again – in a good way. I am going to carve out a spot in my schedule for exercise. It makes me feel better and helps me focus.

Determine what is holding you back and find a way to change it. Even minor changes can make a big difference! Take some time this week to examine your life and find a place to make a positive change.

Yes, you do need an SEO copywriting strategy. Here’s why

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-selective-focus-map-chicago-image7356870Imagine this:

You suddenly decide to move to Chicago. Instead of lining up a job and doing your due diligence, you immediately jump in the car and start driving. You don’t take anything with you. Nor do you check Google Maps and figure out your route. You just point the car and go.

Would you make it to Chicago? Eventually. Would you make a lot of wrong turns (and probably cost yourself a bunch of money along the way?) Most likely. And you still wouldn’t have the results you wanted (a great paying job.)

This analogy reminds me of clients who don’t have an SEO copywriting strategy. They may know what they want (higher rankings and better conversions.) But they don’t have a plan to make it happen. They don’t revise their keyphrase research, check their customer persona and ask questions. Instead, they rewrite a bunch of pages hoping that something will do the trick.

When the results aren’t what they want, they blame the writer. Or they blame Google. Or their competition. But they very rarely point the finger at themselves and admit, “Yeah, we didn’t really know what we were doing.”

If this sounds familiar, it’s time to take a step back. When you’re moving to a new city, “taking a step back” means planning your driving route and making some initial employer contacts. When it’s around your website, it means asking questions and doing research.

Here are some SEO copywriting questions to ask:

– Are the current pages converting? If not, why do you think that is?

– What is the per-page keyphrase research strategy? When’s the last time you researched your keyphrases?

– What are the overarching company benefits? What about the specific product/service benefits?

– Who is coming to this page? Is it an admin assistant who is gathering information for his supervisor? A time-challenged COO? What do they need to see to feel comfortable with the content?

– What phase of the buy cycle is your prospect in when they reach a certain landing page?

– What do you want people to do when they reach your landing page? Is there a secondary goal (like subscribing to your newsletter?).

– What are the upsell opportunities?

– What products/services make your company the most money?

Getting good answers to these questions takes time – it’s not something you can accomplish in a couple hours. Having said that, if you’re planning to outsource, it’s a great way of separating the so-so copywriters from the smart ones. Good copywriters won’t start writing without an SEO copywriting strategy in place – they know the results won’t be what you want.

(As a side note, master SEO copywriters can often handle this phase for you. It can be useful to have someone outside your company create your campaign.)

Your SEO copywriting campaign is important. Take the time, develop an air-tight strategy and do it right.

You’ll be glad you did.

Save 25% on the SEO Copywriting Certification training through September 30th, 2013 – just use coupon code SEPTEMBER. Or, if your team is overwhelmed, my writers can help create top-converting content. Contact me for details.

Write sexy SEO content (for any industry!)

Are you faced with writing content for a “boring” industry?

You don’t need to replicate your competitor’s campaigns. Nor do you have to write page after dull page (resisting the urge to poke your eyes out with every word.)

You just have to think of an unique angle to “sexify” your content!

When I say “sexy,” I don’t mean pictures of well endowed women wearing low-cut shirts and push up bras. You may get some temporary play with that technique, but it will also turn off a certain segment of your audience.

What I mean by sexy is something that grabs your readers’ attention and doesn’t let go. Something that’s unique, viral – and miles away from what your competitors are doing.

Here’s an example:

Blend your way into your users’ hearts

Do a search for “blenders,” and you’ll find all sorts of resources. Buying guides, spec sheets, recipes – everything that you would expect. If you’re a hard-core juicer and foodie like me, you realize early on that conventional blenders won’t cut it anymore. You need a beast of a machine to grind nuts and smooth out the most kale-stuffed smoothie.

Vitamix is a premium brand well-known for their powerful blenders. Their home page is pretty standard:


Is Vitamix’s approach “wrong” or “bad” – no. But is the content inspiring? Meh. It’s cool, but not so cool that you want to run out and see one in action right now.

In short, it doesn’t inspire you to change.

Compare this to Blendtec’s “will it blend” campaign:

Will It Blend


Got an iPad? You can blend it. Got superglue? You can blend it. It kind of makes you want to grab a new Blendtec blender and start grinding things up, doesn’t it?

Now that’s sexy.

Look at your man…now back to me

Another example is the fantastic Old Spice ads. Aftershave commercials are typically pretty formulaic – man uses aftershave, hot women flock. And of course, these ads were typically targeted to men.

Old Spice did things dramatically differently. Yes, it’s a product for men – but certainly, the ad campaign was made for a woman (but done in a way that even men can appreciate it!).

Old Spice

(I still laugh every time I hear, “I’m on a horse.” The ad campaign may be an oldie, but it’s a goodie.)

Did this campaign work? Heck, yeah. Sales increased over 107 percent from June to July, 2010. Obviously, people changed their behavior and started buying Old Spice – even if a lot of men previously thought that Old Spice was what “their dad used to wear.”

Could you use a shirtless male model to sell pipe fitters? Probably not. But what the Old Spice and Blendtec example shows us is – you can do things differently. You can shake it up. And yes, your target audience will reward you for it.

It just takes a little out-of-the-box thinking.

What about you? What are your favorite “sexy” sites for boring industries?

Do you want inspiring content for your site? Yes! My team can write pages for you – or I can  personally train your team. Contact me for details.

What Seth Godin can teach you about SEO content

Heart puzzleTell me if this sounds familiar.

The marketing and SEO teams brainstorm the keyphrases, do the research and determine the keywords that represent strong content opportunities. Then, the writing team takes over and writes 500-word articles on “How to find the right cataraft for your trip,” or “Why Pilates reformer classes help people with back injuries.”

This process is technically accurate. But it doesn’t capture the essence of creating commanding SEO content. It’s a piece of the puzzle – but it’s not the whole puzzle.

What you really want to ask is: How can your content help people to change?

This difference struck me as I was reading a comment by Matthew Newman on this blog post. He quoted Seth Godin as saying:

“The only reason to build a website is to change someone. If you can’t tell me the change and you can’t tell me the someone, then you’re wasting your time.”

Certainly, the “someone” would be your target reader (if you don’t have a customer persona document, you need to implement this step before writing another word.)

But let’s talk about change.  Here’s the reality:

The content you create – whether you are a B2B or B2C – can help your readers make changes they want to make. In fact, the more your content prompts that change, the more successful your site will be.

Deep, yes. But think about it…

Buying behavior is driven by emotion, pure and simple. The unspoken question during every buying decision is how can this product or service help the purchaser:

  • Make more money
  • Feel superior
  • Feel sexier
  • Relieve themselves of guilt
  • Calm fears
  • (And a host of other emotions)

Sure, we say that our buy process is rational and logical. But that’s just what we tell ourselves. We don’t cancel our cable because of FOMO (fear of missing out.) We buy the anti-aging cream because we want to feel young and sexy. We invest in the get-rich-quick scheme because – well – the possibility of having unlimited funds feels powerful.

We buy solutions (not things and not services) that lead us closer to how we want to feel. We want more happiness, less fear and a whole lot of peace of mind.

Commanding SEO content taps into these fears, hopes and desires. Because that’s where the “change agent” lives. It’s not in the readers’ rational brains. It’s deep, deep down.

Rather than writing another dull buying guide, think about your reader. Really think about what turns her on, what makes her happy and what inspires her. That changes the focus from “write another guide” to “help someone make a change.”

The key to this is telling stories – stories you know will resonate with your reader.

If you’re writing about Pilates reformer classes for back injuries, you could share how people are finally living pain free – without drugs – for the first time in years. All they did is take a couple classes a week for three months. Interviews, video and before and after shots can help prompt that change (getting people to sign up for their first class.)

If you’re writing about catarafts, help the person feel the strength and security of the raft as it careens through Class IV Grand Canyon rapids. Pictures, stories and highly descriptive text can make your case (and help someone feel like they can make it through the Canyon successfully.)

It’s all about how you frame your writing.

Isn’t it fun helping people make a change?

Is it time for a change? Learn how my SEO copywriting services and my customized training solutions can help your company.