SEO via Media Relations with @SpinSucks Gini Dietrich

pr-seo-handshakeYou’ve most likely heard of Spin Sucks and the force behind it, Gini Dietrich. She entered the public relations (PR) business after graduating from college, working her way up from her initial position as an account coordinator.

True to form, Gini eventually set out on her own and started her PR business (Arment Dietrich, Inc.) in 2005. The following year, she launched Spin Sucks (she quips, “embarrassingly so”). Fast forwarding to today, Gini has authored Spin Sucks: Communication and Reputation Management in the Digital Age and co-authored Marketing in the Round. She is also a co-host of the podcast Inside PR, and the primary voice of the Spin Sucks blog.

We were fortunate enough to grab some of Gini’s precious time for an interview, focused around her thoughts on leveraging media relations for SEO.

Enjoy!

A few months ago, you hosted a fascinating webinar on leveraging media relations for SEO using a three-pronged approach (readers can download the free webinar on demand here). Could you summarize this three-pronged approach?

You bet! We look at earned media, as it relates to building brand awareness, increasing your search engine optimization, and generating qualified leads. If your efforts don’t do all three of those things, it’s not working for you. This gets a bit into one of your questions below, but you want to work with media outlets to write stories about you, interview you on topics of expertise, accept contributed content, or run OpEds.

In those stories—all of them—should be anchor text, as it relates to your targeted keywords, and a link to something on your website or blog. There are very few journalists who won’t do this for you. Once you have that link on a higher domain authority site than your own, you have the opportunity to track your own domain authority, your search engine optimization, the qualified leads hitting you up online, and your brand awareness.

In this webinar, you also discuss how to create content hubs around a specific keyword or phrase. What content hubs would you recommend for an in-house copywriter, versus a freelance business owner? Are there hubs that would perform better for B2Bs than B2Cs?

I hate this answer, but I’m going to use it anyway: It really depends. Your content hubs should be focused around your targeted keyword or phrase. For instance, PR metrics is a big one for us because I am focused on changing the way PR pros measure their efforts. Our content hubs are built from that. It’s less about the job you’re doing (in-house vs. freelancer) and more about the search terms you need to use. And no, B2B vs B2C does not matter. This is about content around your keyword or phrase.

Earlier this year on the Spin Sucks blog, you described how to use media relations to get on the first page of Google by demonstrating your expertise on a topic. Specifically, you talked about how to leverage media relations via guest blogging on a site with relatively high domain authority to earn a link from it. Given the amount of solicitations authority sites receive from link wheel spammers, what steps would you recommend an online writer take to successfully pitch a guest post to an authority site for an “unknown” client, or for that matter, his or her own new business?

The very best way, just like any other relationship, is to build trust. I get TONS of solicitations from the wheel spammers…and it’s gross. I also receive really bad pitches and integrated news releases from PR pros, which makes me very sad. However, if someone were to pitch me and say, “I know you’re on a mission to change the way PR pros measure their efforts. I have content that fits that perfectly. Here’s a quick outline.” That would most definitely get my attention.

There’s been a lot of SEO industry talk about making links “no follow” and avoiding keyword-rich anchor link text so as not to invite a manual penalty per Google’s Penguin. Have you encountered any issues with backlinks that use a keyword or specific website domain name? How do you deal with link fear?

Nope. I’ve never had an issue, but it’s because we approach it with a “white hat.” I can’t even speak to link fear because it’s never been an issue for us.

Returning to the question of how to establish authority in the eyes of Google: what would you recommend a “noobie” do to market her content to influencers, aside from pitching a guest post? How can a new copywriter demonstrate her credibility when trying to forge a relationship with an influencer?

I recommend you start a relationship online just like you would offline. You find something in common. You share content. You comment on their content. You scratch their back and, eventually, they’ll scratch yours. Every day we have new commenters on Spin Sucks. They’ll say things such as, “First-time commenter, long-time reader.” I love that because I can dig a little to see who they are, welcome them into the fold, and provide some context about them to our community. This always helps start the relationship.

Finally, in a recent Spin Sucks post referring to the Narrative Science genesis of news storytelling via computers – or more precisely, algorithms spawned from artificial intelligence software — you discuss how “[i]t’s a new world where algorithms and humans are working hand-in-hand to produce some of the world’s best content.” Assuming the trend towards algos and writers working together will only grow, where do you see this new world heading for content creators, SEO copywriters, and online communicators?

It scares me! I joke that a computer will win a Pulitzer before I do. But I’ve talked to the founders of lots of these companies, and they’re focused solely on creating content that humans won’t do. For instance, they’ll write stories about Little League games and the Fortune 450 company because it doesn’t make sense for the newspapers to spend resources on that type of content. It’s also impossible for an algorithm to add color, irony, or even sarcasm. So, even if you use an algorithm to pull the data and science you need for a story, you still need to do the human part of it.

Well said, Gini! Thank you for spending time with us here!

You’re welcome! 🙂

Connect with Gini Dietrich via Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+

Photo credit to Garfield Anderssen | Flickr.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Powerful SEO Strategy for Crazy Conversions

SEO Conversions Strategy

Drive conversions with this mini-USP strategy!

When I work with new clients, I send them a creative brief so I can gather the best information for my SEO copywriting project.

And quite often, when I receive the completed brief from my clients, the following scenario unfolds:

Me: “I reviewed your creative brief, and I see that you left your company’s USP section blank.”

Client: “Yes, we need help with that. What’s a USP again?”

Me: “That’s your company’s Unique Selling Proposition — the main, unique reason a customer will choose your company, products or services over other options in your market.”

Client: “Oh… OK. So our USP is that we’ve been around since 1975.” (Or) ” Our USP is that we’re the leading manufacturer of [fill in the blank].”

Me: “Cool! Let’s dig deeper to find something exciting for customers; something that will stop them in their tracks and choose you now.”

Client: “OK, sounds good.”

This is where your genius work as an SEO Copywriter truly begins.

Let me be clear: you’re not just helping the client articulate a single company-wide USP.

For each page of a company’s website, you’re writing “mini USPs” that set each product, service or offer apart from the competition so customers will become excited and make an immediate choice.

I’d guess that about 80% of companies (maybe more!) never consider their USP when writing web content for products, services, free trials, enewsletter sign-ups and other offerings. They just put it out there as a flat statement (“We have this product…”) It seems that way, anyway, when I search for various things in Google.

For instance, if you Google a specific topic on any given day, you’ll probably find that most search result descriptions simply list what they do (“We’re the leading supplier of…”). Or include a list of keywords with no context or inviting sentences. Or say something like, “Save 25%!”

They don’t make an effort to set themselves apart with mini USPs. And therefore, potential customers scan right by them, searching for something special.

I tried this with all kinds of keywords, from “dental equipment” to “party supplies” to “corporate training programs.” Most descriptions in the search results look very similar; it’s hard to tell them apart.

In contrast, Southwest Airlines does a great job of standing apart from other airlines with mini USPs. For example, they offer “Bags fly free” and “No change fee.” I love that about them, plus these are great examples of mini USPs — unique reasons to fly Southwest. And guess what? Southwest shows up first in Google search results for “free bags” and “no change fee.”

To give you some more ideas, here’s a variety of website headlines that articulate mini USPs in customer-friendly ways, using keywords:

• Nest Protect: “Programs Itself. Then Pays for Itself. Meet the Nest Learning Thermostat.”

• ShopKeep: “ShopKeep Point of Sale transforms chores to child’s play, while providing genius reporting and analytics.” (I also like this cheeky line: “Make sure that ‘love’ is the only four-letter word you associate with business.”)

• The Honest Company: “Honest Organic Baby Powder: Extra gentle natural dusting powder with probiotics.

So, how do you create mini USPs for your SEO copywriting projects?

Here are three simple steps to help your clients help YOU identify mini USPs for each product or service, and then articulate them beautifully (with keywords) through SEO content.

1. Create a mini USP table for the products or services you’ll be writing about.

• Column A lists each product, service or offering (free trial, watch our demo, etc.).

• Column B lists the USP(s): the benefits or attributes that make the product or service better than any other relevant options. There could be 1-5 or even more mini USPs. (Saves more time, easier to use, delivers more robust reports, etc.) You’ll work with your clients to go through each one and confirm that you’ve covered the best possible USPs.

2. Match up the USPs with keywords you’ve discovered during your keyword research.

For instance, if the USP is “this tool is the only one that eliminates manual data entry” — perhaps there’s a keyword for “automated data entry.”

3. Review the list with your client to make sure the keywords accurately reflect the prospect’s intent.

We all know that keywords can have various or ambiguous meanings at times, so this is a good time to do a gut-check: would potential customers truly use these phrases when searching for the products/services your client offers?

That’s it! Now you have a roadmap for creating mini USPs for each page of your SEO copywriting efforts in headlines, bullets, photo captions, page title tags, meta descriptions, calls to action and other strategic locations.

Here’s to your web success!

Pam Foster is a SuccessWorks Certified SEO Copywriter and the owner of ContentClear Marketing and PetCopywriter.com. She works mainly in the highly competitive pet-veterinary industry and enjoys helping her clients drive conversions by creating mini USPs.

Photo credit to SEOPlanter | Flickr.com

Want to Create Irresistible Content? Be Sure to Do This First!

Make your SEO content positively irresistible with this technique!

Make your SEO content positively irresistible with this technique!

Let’s say you’re about to start a new SEO copywriting project, and as always, your mission is to write appealing sales copy that turns site visitors into customers.

Sure, you’ve worked on a creative brief with your client (or in-house team). Plus you’ve poured over company brochures, existing content, trade show materials and other helpful information. And yes, you’ve had meetings with the marketing manager, creative director or web team. That’s all great for getting ready to write excellent SEO content.

But it’s not quite enough.

To write authentic, powerful content that truly resonates with prospects and converts them into customers — you need to go beyond “arm’s length” research.

Read more

4 Things You Can Learn From Fitmob’s Seductive Copywriting

I was completely seduced by fitmob’s seductive copywriting.

I went from “what the heck is fitmob,” to “let me give you my credit card number right now.”

Here’s what happened–and how you can use their sexy tactics for your own copywriting campaigns.

Fitmob is a new service targeted towards gym rats. Instead of having to purchase separate memberships for your Pilates studio, your CrossFit class, etc., you can work out at a variety of gyms for $99/month. The price is just $1 to start and $99/month after that.

I’m a gym rat. And $99/month is a darn good price. When I visited their site, I saw a list of some great Portland studios on their home page. And of course, there was a huge call to action prompting me to enter my email address and zip code. Figuring, “what the heck,” I entered my information and waited to access the site.

I was greeted with this message:

What do you mean I can’t sign up right now? I read this note and immediately felt frustrated. Not in the “what is this company doing” way, but the “I want to start this RIGHT NOW. How long will I be on this freakin’ waitlist” way.

My brain started calculating how I could save money if my gym bill was $99/month.

I imagined how fun it would be to try different workouts at different studios.

I started to pre-plan pockets of time when I could try out some new classes (and this was before I saw one class schedule!).

I was hooked.

Finally, I took a deep breath and started laughing. Yeah, I was the victim of some really great copywriting. Fitmob was making me want them.

They were playing hard to get.

And they were good.

I had to see what would happen next. I wasn’t just hooked on their product, I was hooked on their copywriting. I couldn’t wait for their next email.

The next day, I received the email I was waiting for. I was off the fitmob waitlist! But the email didn’t come from just anyone. The email came from “Raj, CEO of fitmob.”

Ooh, the CEO emailed me. I felt special. (OK, I know the CEO didn’t really email me. But it was a cool touch.)

Did I sign up right away? No. I can play hard to get too.

I received this note the next day:

(Oh no! I may lose my exclusive price to the next person in line? I better sign up right now!)

Did I finally give in and let fitmob have its way with me? Yes. Their copywriting (and overall marketing plan) was specifically designed to build momentum and get me excited. I did exactly what they wanted me to do. And I did it willingly. 🙂

So, let’s discuss why their campaign was so darn effective.

Scarcity drives desire. 

Do you book a flight faster when you learn there are only two seats left at that price? Yeah, I do too. When we think we can’t have access to what we want, we lust for that item even more. In my case, the waitlist got my engines revving. Knowing it was a (supposedly) hugely popular service made me want instant access.

Think about how you can integrate the scarcity principle into your own copywriting. For instance, saying “I only work with three clients at a time and I handpick my clients,” is a different value proposition than, “I’ll work with anyone, anytime.”

Limited-time offer? I better act now!  

Want your buyers to take fast action? Limited-time offers are a great way to give prospects a gentle kick in the pants and help them commit. I had 48 hours to give fitmob my credit card number, otherwise my deal would have “expired.” (I signed up again under another email address just to see what happens after the 48-hour deadline. I have a feeling the offer will be “extended.”) 🙂

Using limited-time offers to promote your products or services is easy. For instance, you can set a registration deadline for a training program. Or, offer a sale. Or give away something free for 24 hours (such as a Kindle book.) The possibilities are endless.

A taste of exclusivity. 

I didn’t receive a random note from a customer service rep. It came directly from the C-E-freaking-O (again, supposedly.) I felt like I was in an exclusive club where I could call up the CEO and ask, “What’s up, Raj. Remember me? You invited me personally.” We’d go out for coffee and bond.

Your CEO doesn’t have to send personal notes, but it is smart to make your customers and prospects feel like they’re part of the in crowd. Do you offer customer-only incentives? Do you give your newsletter subscribers exclusive discounts? Think about ways you can wow your customers and provide an unforgettable experience. It will make your loyal evangelists love your company even more.

Low barrier to entry.

I wouldn’t have signed up if fitmob would have asked for $99 up front. They’re an unknown service and I have no idea if I’ll actually use them. But getting a taste for just $1? Heck yeah. I wouldn’t mind losing $1. I would mind losing $99.

Providing your prospect a low-cost preview (for instance, the first lesson of a training, a Webinar or ebook,) can be a great way for them to “try before they buy.” For instance, software companies promote limited-time free trials. Or, some companies offer a no-obligation, 15 minute consultation. Creating a low barrier to entry can overcome a host of objections, so it’s smart to experiment with it.

Yes, fitmob is definitely doing it right. I haven’t used their service yet, but I’m hooked on their copywriting. I can’t wait to see how they’ll try to seduce me again around renewal time…

Have you fallen for a smart copywriting strategy? Do you have another example of a company that writes their content right? Discuss it in the comments!

Photo credit: © Nkrivko | Dreamstime.com – Seductive Athletic Girl In Tracksuit Eating A Red Apple. Photo