How to write killer sales copy: a video guide

Greetings! Today we’re featuring our top three SEO copywriting video posts on how to write killer sales copy.

Writing sales copy can be difficult! The art of persuasive writing does not always come naturally or easily to copywriters, especially if they are not trained in direct response theory and best practices. Good sales copy does not need to be heavy handed – the key is to have it flow naturally, while providing a clear call to action to inspire conversions.

Tune in as Heather guides us through how to write powerful, conversions-driving sales copy – as well as what to avoid…

How to tell if your sales copy sucks

In this reader favorite, Heather discusses how to check your sales copy to avoid common and costly mistakes. If you are a DIY small business or new to sales copywriting, there are several ways you can inadvertently go wrong. Learn how to detect these deadly sales copy killers.

 

3 ways to transform your sucky sales copy into conversions-driving gold

Here, Heather builds on the original video above, with three more tell-tale signs of bad sales copy. Learn how to refine your website’s tone and feel, create specific benefit statements, and use keyphrases deftly to turn your sucky sales copy into conversions-driving gold!

 

How to translate testimonials into killer sales copy

Finally, Heather shows us how to drawn on customer testimonials to write better sales copy. The benefits conveyed by your happy clients in their testimonials are a fantastic resource to tap for writing your sales pages, providing you with specific benefit statements in a natural voice that can improve both the actual content and tone of your writing. How cool is that?

Thanks for tuning in! If you have a question or suggestion for Heather about an SEO copywriting, Web writing, or content marketing topic, please zip it on over to her [at] heather@seocopywriting.com, or tweet her [at] @heatherlloyd.

 

In the meantime, would you like to learn more about writing killer sales copy? Check into the SuccessWorks’ SEO Copywriting Certification training to learn not only how to be the best in SEO copywriting, but also how to excel in the lucrative field of direct response/sales copywriting! The combination of these skills will make all the difference in your copywriting career.

 

photo thanks to Vectorportal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to write high-ranking copy for your one-page site

Welcome back! In this week’s Web-writing video tip, Heather addresses a question that she’s been asked repeatedly in the past week: “How can I write high-ranking copy for my one-page site?”

You may be wondering why you would even want a one-page site, thinking “wouldn’t I just want to build out more content to the site?” And in most cases, yes, you would. But some companies decide on a one-page site for various, specific reasons, which Heather explains.

Of course, the biggest challenge of having a one-page site in the post-Panda SEO world is being found and ranked well in the search engines. So tune in as Heather discusses how you can optimize your single-page site with four specific strategies…

Many companies have one-page sites

  • Direct response sales pages

You probably have seen a one-page site that is essentially a very long direct sales letter. The purpose of that page is to get you to buy something or to sign up for something – and the site itself is just that one page.

  • Lead generation pages

You may also have encountered a one-page site if you’ve searched for something like car or home insurance. These are often lead generation pages that have their own separate domain name/URL, and where the sole purpose of the site is to collect your contact information.

  • Home pages (and the rest of the content is behind a firewall)

This third scenario is one in which the site technically isn’t just one page. There may be hundreds or even thousands of additional pages on the site, but all the yummy, meaty content is behind a firewall.

With this type of site – where all the “goodies” are reserved for paying members – the only page visible to “non-members” and the search engines is the home page.

In this scenario, the only page the site owner has to work with for optimization is the home page.

So if you have a one-page site that suits your purposes, that’s cool…

But here’s the challenge…

  • The search engines reward resource sites…and one-page sites aren’t considered a resource.

Resource sites are larger (than one page) sites that go in-depth about a particular topic, and one-page sites don’t fit that description. They are not considered a resource – no matter what.

  • You can tweak the content until you’re blue in the face…but it won’t position.

For example, if you have a one-page site about “internet marketing” and you pit that site against all the thousands of other sites out there that have multiple pages dedicated to internet marketing, your site is not going to position – no matter what you do, and no matter how many times you tweak the content.

In order to position that one-page site, you will have to do more to it…

So what can you do?

  • Can you make the one-page site part of your main site?

What a lot of companies do when faced with this SEO dilemma is rather than having that one-page site as a separate domain, they incorporate that landing page into their main site.

This is a really easy workaround. This way, you’re not marketing two separate domains, and you’re not worried about two domains: everything is happening on your one main site.

  • Can you build out the site with informative, keyphrase-rich content? (This will take some time).

Now if you’d rather not go with option #1 (above) because you have an awesome domain name for your one-page site and you want to do more with it, you can just go the traditional route of building out more content.

That way, you’ll build relevancy for your single-page site, and you will see not only a search engine ranking boost, but also more people sharing your content – because there’s more content to share!

The flip side is that it’s going to take some investment of time as you’ll be writing a lot of content as you build out the site.

  • Can you make any of the password-protected content public?

If you have a membership-exclusive site, or a similar situation where the majority of the content is password-protected, then the best-case scenario is if you can pull some of that content out to your home page so it is accessible both to non-members and the search engines.

Granted, you’d still have the “meat” of the content behind a firewall, but you’ll have more content that the public can look at and the search engines can work with.

This is actually a great way to work with conversions off of membership site: non-members can get a little taste of what they’d get in the way of content if they were to sign up for member status, and that can encourage them to convert a bit faster.

  • If worse comes to worse…what other ways can you drive traffic to your one-page site?

Finally, if none of the above strategies appeal to you, and you want to keep that one-page site as it is, then consider other ways to drive traffic to it.

It should be clear that traditional SEO via organic search is not going to work for you – but certainly there are other ways you can drive traffic and get the targeted visitors you want landing on your site. Explore social media, and all the other options available to you!

Thanks for checking in to this week’s SEO copywriting how-to video! Do you have a burning question about SEO, Web writing, or content marketing? Fantastic! Zip an email on over to Heather via heather@seocopywriting.com, or tweet her @heatherlloyd. And be sure to tune in next week – we’ll see you then!

 

Do you have questions about SEO Copywriting Certification training? Writing services? Customized SEO copywriting training? Heather’s always available to help you out! Feel free to email her at heather@seocopywriting.com or tweet her @heatherlloyd.

 

photo thanks to Danard Vincente

 

 

Do you feel like a fraud?

When people ask “What do you do,” do you find yourself making excuses?

“Well, I’m a writer…but I haven’t written anything that you’ve read.”

“I own a small business. ::quickly changing the topic:: What do you do?”

“I have a newsletter that I send out to a small list” (when your subscriber base is in the thousands.)

Chances are, you envy those folks who can “pull off” a fantastic, 30-second elevator pitch. You’ve tried to create your own so you can clearly explain what you do…but it never comes out right. Which makes  you wonder what’s wrong with you.”Everyone else sounds so polished and smart when they pitch their business. Why can’t I do that?”

Maybe it’s because…deep, deep down…you feel like a fraud.

Guess what. Every business owner, writer, and famous person has felt the exact same way.

Years ago, talking to big brand clients used to freak me out. I was convinced that everyone knew more than I did. What’s worse, I thought that someone would call me on my “you don’t know what you’re talking about” fear. It was almost guaranteed that I’d have a sleepless night before a big conference call or training gig.

Guess what? No one said, “Wow, why did we hire you again?” In fact, the emails I received after my presentation were exactly the opposite. People thanked me for helping them make more money, write better copy and finally being able to understand what the search engines were looking for.

So, nobody else thought I was a fraud…except for me.

This is a quirky issue that can hold you back in unexpected ways. When you feel like you don’t deserve your success, you…

– Don’t approach smart people who can help your career (what if they see right through me?)

– Don’t go for high-profile gigs that can make a lot of money (what if I mess up?)

– Don’t market your business effectively (I don’t have anything to say, so why bother.)

– Don’t spend money on things that could improve your business/life (I know that would help me, but I’m not sure where my next dollar is coming from. Better hold off.)

– Don’t let yourself out of your (very small) comfort zone (I’d love to try public speaking. But wow, I’m not ready yet…)

– Don’t feel good about your success, your business savvy or your craft (Well, yeah, I’m doing OK – but it was right place, right time.)

– You sabotage yourself financially.

(And all of these things spiral you right back into “I’m a fraud” mode.)

There’s a great post by Jodi Chapman that addresses the “fraud” feeling. Jodi said:

We are all simply playing the game. It’s a game that we are really good at – it’s a game that we know so well. Except, this game is truly exhausting, isn’t it?

Goodness, yes. It’s truly exhausting. And unnecessary.

So, next time you feel like a fraud, here’s what to do:

– Own it. Don’t ignore the emotion. Look at it – really look at it. Why do you feel like such a fraud? How real is the emotion?

– Read nice notes from happy clients. This helps you remember how good you really are.

– Remember that other people go through the same thing. You may think that they have it all together – but they don’t. They’re faking it too. :)

– Write down cool milestones and revel in your success. Starting a business is a BIG DEAL. Landing your first client is a BIG DEAL.

– Talk to someone about how you’re feeling. I know that this one is tough – it really is. But if you can share your insecurities, they’ll go away faster and help put things in perspective.

– Make a list  of what you are grateful for. Gratitude is a sure way to help drag yourself out of the “I’m a fraud” funk and ground you back into reality. (If it’s a Monday, you can tweet your grateful thought by using the #gratefulmonday hashtag).

– Refuse to let your feeling mess up your success.  You have come too far to sabotage yourself.

Remember that you deserve every drop of success. It’s not a “fluke” that you’re here. It’s not luck. It’s not right place, right time. It’s because you really are that damn good.

Isn’t it time to own it?

 

Photo gratitude to iJammin

 

 

 

Are you suffering behind the scenes?

Have you ever said, “If I have to write one more post about (something you’ve been writing about a lot) I’m going to go completely insane?”

Yeah, me too.

Once upon a time, it felt like I wrote copy for every cosmetic dentist in North America. At the drop of a hat, I could talk about veneers, teeth whitening and “laser gum surgery.”  Yeah, I was great fun at cocktail parties.

I was also bored too. So very, very bored.

I’ve seen this happen to in-house and freelance copywriters. Every day feels exactly like the day before. Your writing no longer energizes and excites you.  Everything you write starts to sound exactly the same.

If you’re being really honest with yourself, you know that your writing is starting to suck.

Here’s a reality check: This is very common.

And here’s another: You need to get a handle on this and stop suffering behind the scenes. Fast.

Here’s what to do:

Take some time off. Have you been working some heavy-duty deadlines? Is it hard to remember your last vacation? Your lack of creativity is a big red flag with “You’re burning out” in big, block letters. If you’re thinking, “I can’t afford the time. My clients/employer needs me,” consider this: They hired you for your writing ability. If your writing quality is dropping, you owe it to your client to take a break.

Give yourself some space.  Is a short-term holiday not possible right away? Start giving yourself “writing breaks.” I’ve found that scheduling one or two non-writing days during the week makes an incredible difference – and what I do write is sharp, flows easily and is even fun to write.

Take on a new challenge. Consider taking on a new client that’s not in your current niche. Or writing a short story just for fun. The key is to break out of your writing rut and stretch your wings. It’s amazing how focusing on something else for awhile can help us regain passion for our current gig.

Split up the work. Do you have 100 pages of personal injury law copy staring you in the face? Are you wondering how you’re going to write all those product descriptions without losing it? Sometimes, the best way to give yourself a break is by letting someone else do the work. If you’re still feeling the burnout blues, see if another writer can take some pages off of your plate. Not only will you get a break, but reading someone else’s copywriting approach may spark some new ideas.

Let it go. Does another type of writing (or client) excite you ? There’s no law that says that you have to keep working with the same niche group – or writing about the same topic. Slowly phase out the work that’s making you suffer and make room for your new profit center. Sometimes, a new direction is all it takes – and you’ll finally remember what you love about copywriting.

What about you? What do you do when you’re “suffering in silence?”

Do you have too much content to write, and no time to write it? My Certified SEO Copywriting team can write blog posts, product descriptions sales pages and more. Contact me for details – I’m happy to help!

 

 

 

 

Screw resolutions. Take action instead!

Lately, I’ve been seeing quite a few posts discussing how SEO content marketing should be on the top of every businesses’ resolution list.  For instance, there’s this post. And this one. And this one.

These are all great posts. But here’s the thing…

…I’ve read these “write more quality content” resolutions before. For about 14 years now.

And you know what? Very, very few companies follow through. They want to. They mean to. But then, content marketing gets pushed to the back burner. Or, even worse – someone does a half-assed job just to get it off their plate – and the results (and writing) shows it.

To me, putting something on a “resolutions” list is the same as saying, “Here’s what I’d like to have happen. But I don’t have a plan to get there.” It’s a fuzzy goal – and I can’t get invested in a fuzzy goal. As soon as the next shiny thing comes along, I’m more apt to focus on that and ignore whatever resolution I created.

But here’s what does work: Taking action. Don’t just say, “I’m going to write more content in 2012.” Get off your butt and do something.

You’ve probably heard of creating S.M.A.R.T goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

The S.M.A.R.T framework gives you an easy way to bring your resolutions into reality. The next step is breaking down the goal into action steps.

For instance, maybe you want to revamp your site’s copy. You know that sales have been slow for awhile, and you suspect that the writing may not “hit the mark” anymore. Action steps could be:

  • Reviewing your analytics – what pages are doing well? Where are you losing your readers?
  • Contemplate your customer persona – is your target market the same as when the content was last written? Are the benefits still relevant?
  • Review your SEO effectiveness – are the search engines driving qualified traffic? Are you positioning for your main keyphrases?
  • Review your sales copy – does it match your customer persona? Does the copy pop, or is it flat?
  • Consider your resources – who would rewrite your content? Do you have the resources to do it in-house, or would you need to outsource?
  • Do you need to find qualified vendors? If so, how would you find them?
  • What’s your drop-dead, deadline for all content to be on the site? Make sure you give your team plenty of time to complete everything necessary. My recommendation: Figure out how many months you’d need to finish the job, and then double that amount.

See? That’s much more specific than “I resolve to revamp my site’s sales copy.”

If you’re a freelance copywriter, one of the most popular resolutions is to “make more money.” Unfortunately, that won’t magically happen without you making some business changes. For instance, some action steps could be:

  • Contact old clients and see if there’s anything that you can help with.
  • Research a new marketing technique (such as Twitter) to help get the word out.
  • Go to a local business networking meeting.
  • Expand your skills and specialize in a new niche (for instance, going through the SEO Copywriting Certification training.)
  • Raise your prices (I know it’s scary. But you need to do it.)
  • Get a handle on your taxes (Eva Rosenberg developed a module for my Copywriting Business Boot Camp that discusses tax issues for copywriters.)
  • Find a mentor and get expert guidance.

The key is: all of these action steps will move you forward rather than leaving you stuck. Instead of “resolving” to do something, you’re actually doing it and making progress.  Before you know it, you’ll have a SEO content marketing plan that rocks – or a freelance career that gives you the lifestyle you want.

It’s all about taking action.

Now, what are you going to do right now to improve your business and personal life? Leave a comment and let me know! :)

Photo thanks to Acererak

 

Balancing SEO and copywriting best practices: a true story

Guest Author, Nick Stamoulis

I was working with one of my social SEO clients on their blog. My SEO company, Brick Marketing, was responsible for writing two blog posts each week, which we would then promote through the client’s various social networks as they went live.

We were specifically instructed to make sure the blog posts were “SEO friendly” and would do well in the search engines. However, before we even scheduled the blog posts I would send the new posts over to my client for their approval. If they had any changes or comments about the post, they just had to email me back and I would have my writing staff change the post as directed.

One day, they sent back a blog post with so many edits, changes and corrections that you could hardly discern the original article. When I asked them what they didn’t like about the original post, my client responded “Oh no, we really liked the post. We just didn’t understand why you had put those links in there. The blue text is really weird looking. And we thought we should only focus on the same keyword through the whole post, so we removed the variations so as to not confuse our readers.”

They essentially threw the SEO component of the blog post out the window!

I’ll be the first to say that any content, whether it is a blog post, article or webpage, should be written for the reader first and the search engines second. But even great content needs a little help getting found and read by your target audience. That’s where SEO and content optimization come into play.

Here are 4 ways to balance content optimization and traditional copywriting:

1. Don’t dumb it down.

Have a little faith in your readers. Writing generic and generalized content so you can target broad keywords won’t do anyone (you or your readers) any good. Don’t be afraid to target long-tail keywords that someone further along in their research process might be using to find related information. The most specific audience you can write your content for is the best chance you’ll have of earning their business.

2. Incorporate keyword variations.

Speaking of specific keywords, there is no rule that says you have to target the exact same keyword throughout the entire blog post. Obviously you want to stick with keywords that accurately reflect the theme and messaging of the content, but don’t be afraid to throw some variations in there. This not only makes your content much more natural sounding, it also helps your content appeal to more searches. Not everyone searches for the same thing in the same way, so variations help ensure you aren’t accidentally alienating a segment of your target audience.

3. Use anchor text to get the link.

Interlinking your blog posts is a great way to keep your readers engaged, educate them further on related topics and show off your industry savvy. No blog post is an island! Obviously you don’t want to pepper your blog posts with dozens of links (it can get a little distracting for your reader) but incorporating 2-3 links via anchor text is a great way to beef up your blog’s SEO! By using anchor text instead of the full URL to direct readers to another blog post (or even a page on your site) you are keeping the flow of your content intact and spreading the link juice from more popular posts across your blog, lending more value to other posts.

4. Write first, optimize second.

Getting the words down on paper is probably the hardest part about writing a blog post. Yet some site owners seem like gluttons for punishment and think that every word has be to perfect for SEO before they can move onto the next. You don’t have to sacrifice great content in order to make a blog “SEO friendly!” In fact, site owners should write the post first and THEN go back in and see how you can tweak it for SEO. If you can’t make a keyword fit, then don’t force it in. If you can’t find a reason to link, don’t bother. Trying to stuff SEO into a blog post is only going to ruin the integrity of the post.

About the Author – Nick Stamoulis

Nick Stamoulis is an SEO consultant and President of Brick Marketing. With over 12 years of B2B SEO experience, Nick Stamoulis shares his knowledge by posting daily SEO tips to his blog, the Search Engine Optimization Journal, and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 160,000 opt-in subscribers.

Give yourself the gift of a more prosperous new year! Get your certification in SEO Copywriting by the recognized founder of SEO, Heather Lloyd-Martin.

 

 

 

10 hottest SEO copywriting posts of 2011

Wow, it’s the end of 2011 already…

…And that means that it’s time for the “Most popular posts of the year” roundup (cue applause!) :)

2011 was a big year for Google updates – and a big year for SEO copywriting. Most of the top-10 post topics aren’t overly surprising (Panda, anyone?) Other top ten posts surprised me – and showed that many folks are still mastering the “writing for search engines and social” balance.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 hottest SEO copywriting posts of this year. Enjoy!

#10: Did Panda kill SEO copywriting?  Did Google’s Panda update mean the death of SEO copywriting? Not just “no” but “hell no!” Quality SEO copywriting is here to stay – and always has been. If you’ve thought “Why bother with a SEO content campaign,” read this before you give up.

#9: 3 skills every SEO copywriter should have.   2011 was the year of the freelance SEO copywriter. I received more questions than ever about how to launch an SEO copywriting career, how to get an in-house job and how to build a writing brand. Whew!  It’s nice to know that more folks are entering the wild and wooly world of SEO copywriting. Welcome!

#8: The trouble with SEO copywriting. The Panda update taught some folks a lesson: What they thought was “SEO copywriting” was nothing but keyword-stuffed crap. This great guest post by Eric Enge shows how to mix keywords with your value proposition to create tasty, high-converting copy.

#7: “How to write for Google’s Panda update. In the Brady Bunch, the keyword is “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.” In the SEO industry, it’s “Panda, Panda, Panda.” “Panda” was certainly the SEO buzzword of 2011.  It’s no surprise that this two Panda-themed posts made it into this year’s top ten.

#6: Keyword density: Lose this relic and adopt best practices  Confused about keyphrase density? Apparently, you’re not alone. I’m a little surprised that this post made it into the top 10. My thought: Folks are scrambling post-Panda to figure out what quality copy means. And that’s a wonderful thing. (Side note: I can’t help but notice that Matt uses my “read the copy out loud” tip in his most recent video.)

#5: 5 sure-fire ways to create a killer home page  Yet another “back to basics” post (and the third video post) makes it into the top 10!  If you’re wondering what information is great to have on your home page – and what’s not so hot (hint: don’t shove every keyword you have into the footer) – this one is a must-read.

#4:  How to be an SEO copywriter: The ultimate guide for beginners  I wrote this post a few weeks ago, but it’s already zoomed to the top 10 list.  If you know someone who is feeling “stuck” in their in-house writing job – or someone who is thinking about being an SEO copywriter – send them this post.

#3: How many words should be on your home page? Is your boss (or client) insisting that your home page have a certain word count “for SEO reasons.” Or worse – no words at all?  In this post, I build upon a video post by Google’s Matt Cutts and add my own SEO copywriting spin.

#2: Why social media is good for SEO.  Yes, SEO and social DO play nicely together. In fact, they can definitely help you build exposure, brand – and yes, search positions, too. In the second guest post to break the top-10 list, PRWeb’s Stacey Acevero explains why social media is yummy for SEO. If you’re wondering how the two dovetail, check out this post. It’s a good one!

And the #1 most popular post of 2011 is…..(drumroll please)

Wow. This one was a surprise. I expected a “sexier” topic to be the #1 most popular post. Instead, the post answered an age-old question: How to turn a boring FAQ page into a sales star!

Looks like basic SEO copywriting information is always in style.

Happy holidays to you and yours! We’ll be taking next week off for the holidays – and we’re back in the blogging world on January 3rd. Thank you for reading the posts and sharing them with your friends and colleagues.  I smile every time I see a retweet. Really.

Here’s hoping that 2012 is your best year ever! Happy New Year!

 

Is your SEO copy crap? 8 ways to tell

Last week, a prospect asked what I thought of his site copy.

I took one look and resisted the urge to say, “Um, how much did you pay for this?” The writing was…bad.  Picture a 500-word, below-the-fold paragraph with no hyperlinks, no call-to-action…and what’s worse…

All of the copy was italicized. All of it.

Imagine reading that on a mobile device.

The prospect knew that something seemed “off.”  But he thought, “I hired someone who specializes in SEO copy. Well, maybe the copy should be that way.”

Not by a long shot.

Life is too short to pay for bad copy. If your SEO copy sucks, that means that it’s time to send it back to the writer and get her to fix it.

Here’s how to separate the stupendous from the sucky:

  • Read the copy out loud and hear how it “sounds.” If your content sounds clunky – or if the keyphrases stand out like a sore thumb – send it back to the writer. Over-optimized copy will not do you any favors – and you don’t want your readers bouncing out of your site the second that they arrive.

 

  • Do you have the urge to bring out your red pen and slice unnecessary words? Smart SEO copywriting is tight – which means that the writer is using as few words as possible to bring the point home. If you feel like the content is “fluffy,” send it back for editing.

 

  • Does the copy make your company’s benefits “pop?” Or is it all focused around features? One tip: Review how many times the writer used the words “we” and “our company.” If you find that it’s focusing too much on features and not enough on benefits, send it back.  If the page is live, try out this fun “We-We Calculator” for feedback.

 

  • Is the copy focused around one single keyword? Good SEO copywriting focused on two-to-three keyphrase variations. If you’re seeing the same word repeated over and over, have the writer rewrite it.

 

  • Are there spelling or grammatical errors? Granted, your writer is human – and things happen. But if you are seeing multiple errors and you’re finding yourself correcting the document, stop. That’s what your writer is supposed to do for you.

 

  • Is there a call-to-action? This could mean linking to a sales page, another blog post, or encouraging folks to sign up for a newsletter. Your writer needs to weave your site’s (and your page’s) conversion goal into the copy. If they haven’t, it’s time for a rewrite.

 

  • How is your page Title (what appears as the clickable link on the search engine results page.) Does it include the page keywords? Is it enticing? Or is it a bunch of keyphrases separated by pipes? If you’re thinking, “Hmm, I don’t think I’d click on this result,” send it back to the writer.

 

  • Is the page easy to read? Long, scrolling paragraphs are visually overwhelming – especially on a mobile device.  If the paragraphs are long – and you’re not seeing any subheadlines that break up the text – have your writer check out these Web writing tips before they rewrite the copy.

What happens if your writer revises the content – yet your SEO copy is still crap? It may be time to let the writer go and find someone else who better suits your needs. Better to take the loss now and move on, then upload crappy copy and suffer the consequences.

 

Why you should love the long tail

Are you looking for more Google love?

Want to drive highly qualified traffic?

Do you want to reach readers at all phases of the purchase cycle?

You got it. All you have to do is learn how to leverage the long tail.

Google just announced another algorithm tweak, and this time, it’s targeting long-tail documents. According to the Google Inside Search blog:

More comprehensive indexing: This change makes more long-tail documents available in our index, so they are more likely to rank for relevant queries.”

What does this mean to you (and your clients?) Plenty.

Long tail search queries are hidden nuggets of search engine gold.  These multi-word search queries are highly specific and incredibly targeted. If you know exactly what you want – you type in a long-tail search query like “Portland Beaumont condo walk to Starbucks.”

What’s more, they make up around 70 percent of Web searches. According to Rand Fiskin:

“There’s so much traffic in the tail it is hard to even comprehend. To illustrate, if search were represented by a tiny lizard with a one-inch head, the tail of that lizard would stretch for 221 miles.”

Wow. That’s one heck of a visual. :)

From an SEO perspective, these search terms don’t have much competition. If you’re working in a competitive environment, optimizing for the long tail can give you more exposure for less stress.

Or, in the brilliant words of Ian Lurie from Conversation Marketing, “Long tail phrases are the blue collar workers of the search world. They make it happen. Ignore them and your whole internet marketing economy may fall apart.”

So, let’s see how the long tail works.

Imagine that you’re looking for a vacation home in Manhattan. You may start by searching for “Manhattan vacation rental” – and these may be the results you’d see:

But let’s say that you have other requirements than just find a Manhattan vacation rental. Maybe you’re attending a conference – and you’d need wifi, too.  To save time, you’d narrow your query to:

“Manhattan vacation rental wifi close to Javits center”

(I actually typed in this search query when I was looking for lodging during SMX East.)

Here are the search results:

See the difference? The results are highly specific. Heck, you may not have even known about these places without performing a super-specific search.

And that’s where the power of SEO content creation comes into play. The more content you have, the more opportunity you have to position for random long tail search queries.

These queries can drive brand new, laser-targeted readers who are more likely to convert.

(Did I mention that they reflect 70% of Web searches. So, this isn’t something to ignore…)

By now, you should be saying, “I need me more of that long tail! How do I do it?”

Here are some tips:

 – Look beyond your head search terms. If you think that your site is only relevant for a few main keyterms (such as “Manhattan vacation rental,” think again. Then read this great post by Rand that explains why you are so, so wrong.

 – Check your analytics to see how you’re currently benefiting from the long tail. Notice any content trends that may help you plan future articles. Plus, this post in Search News Central can help you create a directional long tail keyword list.

– Determine what your readers want to learn more about. Keyphrase research can help you discover long tail terms. Ask your customer service department what questions they frequently hear – you can develop content that answers these questions. Plus, you can explore other content opportunities, too – this blog post by Hubspot talks about how to handle your “content holes.”

– Don’t worry about “traditionally” optimizing for long-tail terms. You may be thinking, “Heather, how in the heck am I going to exact match a phrase like “Manhattan vacation rental wifi close to Javits center?” You don’t need to. You’ll notice that the search results in the second example aren’t “optimized” for those terms. But, those terms are on the landing page – and that’s why the listings position for that term.

Granted, if there’s an entire page that you can write that reflects a long tail phrase – go for it. But just know that the more         content you have – the more possibilities that you can position for a variety of searches.

 – Be prepared to build more (quality) content. Resist the temptation to kick out fast, cheap content just to capture long tail keyphrases. If you do, Panda may bite you in the butt.  Plus, you want readers to actually stay on your site once they’ve clicked through, so quality is crucial.

If you’re working as a freelance copywriter, share with your clients why long tail optimization is so important to their bottom line. And if you’re writing content in-house, help your team understand why more content is a good thing – and can help drive more traffic and make more money.

– Know that a little progress is better than none at all. Can you only blog once a week? Fine. Your marketing team will only commit to three articles a month? OK. Some progress is better than none –  and once folks start seeing some long tail success, they’ll feel better about creating more content, more often.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How percolation time can make you a better writer

I’ve been reading a few posts about how meditation can help the writing process.  One person insists that meditation will make you a better writer. Another person uses it for business brainstorms.

I would agree with these statements. Shutting down your external thoughts – even for a short time – can lead to transformative results.

The challenge is, the word “meditation” means different things to different people. For some people, meditation is like “coming home” and an important part of their day. Others may have tried meditation and found it frustrating – after all, sitting still for 20 minutes can be hard. Instead of sticking with it, they figured that they weren’t cut out for this meditation stuff, got frustrated and stopped trying.

If the second scenario sounds familiar, then this blog post is for you.

Taking time to be quiet is crucial in today’s online marketing space. We are bombarded by news, ads and “stuff” every second that we’re online. Our brains are trying to process what we see, plus keep track of what we’re supposed to do. Is it any wonder that we’re so exhausted at the end of the day (yet sometimes, we have a hard time sleeping?). It’s like our minds are constantly running on a high-speed treadmill.

Rather than forcing yourself to spend 20+ minutes a day meditating, why not spend some “percolation time” instead?

For instance, before I start writing for a client, I spend about 10-15 minutes thinking about the project. If a really fantastic sentence pops into my brain, I write it down. If I think of an interesting angle or tone and feel tweak, I write that down too. I’m not at my computer when I do this. I’m usually somewhere else (typically my couch or a cafe) far away from my laptop.

I may initially think that “I don’t have percolation time to spare.” And heck, it can be hard to come down from a go-go-go mindset some days. But the more I sit, the more I relax – and the creative solutions start flowing.

I’ll spend entire days in percolation mode. When my brain gets too jammed up with “stuff,” I take the day off. I don’t check email or respond to Tweets. Instead, I find things to do that are quiet and relaxing, like getting a massage or going to a museum (or both!). I may start the day by telling myself, “I would like to figure out the solution to X issue,” but I don’t really think about work.

I let whatever is going on in my brain percolate. And at the end of the day – or the next morning – I have my answer. It’s a form of meditation for me (and, oddly, I’ve found that the more “percolation time” I have, the easier it is for me to meditate. Go figure.)

This is something that you can easily try before your next writing assignment.  Simply spend a little bit of time away from your computer and allow your mind to drift. Write down whatever comes to mind without analyzing it. Then, when you feel that the process is “done” (yes, you’ll know,) check out your notes and see what you find.

I can guarantee that you’ll find some gems that will give you new perspective on your writing – and sometimes, even your life. I took yesterday off and came up with a  business insight that slapped me across the face, hard. But in a good way.

Percolation is powerful like that.

Try it and let me know how it goes. I guarantee that it will become part of your ongoing process.

Photo thanks goes to antmoose