The do’s & don’ts of partnering with other web content providers

Thinking of partnering up with another web content provider? Consider these tips from the trenches.I took a big step this week for my company – I closed its virtual doors.

But I’m far from being out of business. I’ve decided to focus on content marketing clients who are also working with a marketing company for complementary services like social media and inbound marketing strategy.

Working with partners – whether formal or informal – has helped me reach new levels in my business. And it can do the same thing for yours too. But you need to be careful you aren’t compromising yourself, your ethics, or your sanity when you strike up a partnership.

Here are some of the do’s and don’ts that I wish I’d had when I first started working with partners.

DO look for complimentary partners for your SEO copywriting services.

Fortunately, we’re working in a time where the demand for copywriting and content marketing is at an all time high. Anyone involved with providing web marketing services to clients – from web designers to social media consultants – needs to know great content creators. If they don’t have one they trust an email away, they are doing their clients a big disservice.

Start your search by finding complimentary providers on LinkedIn, exploring small business sites, or looking for freelancing blogs where similar, but not competing, providers might be hanging out.

DO learn about the different ways of partnering with other providers.

Partnership doesn’t have to mean going into business together.

You can work with other providers under a referral agreement or set up a deal where you provide a service as part of their company – but still retain your own clients. It all depends on what you and your potential partner decide to do.

Consider where you want to take your SEO copywriting business and then pick an option that works best for you.

DON’T jump into a partnership too soon.

Finding a good partnership is a lot like dating. You’re not going to run off to Vegas to get married the first night you go out. And if you do, you’re going to end up getting the partnership version of an annulment.

Network with other providers, but take things one project at a time until you get a good feel for how you work together. There’s nothing worse than getting into a contractual relationship with someone whose business practices you don’t respect.

DO evaluate your potential partner’s target market and marketing approach.

There are dozens of opportunities out there for working with another provider – so you can afford to be choosy.

Pay close attention to your potential partner’s own marketing. Who are they working with and speaking to? This is important for two reasons. Finding a provider that works with your own target audience will make it easy for you to create client content – and easy for you to create content for the fellow provider. Everyone needs blog posts and website copy, so chances are your partner will be looking to use your content services at some point. It helps to be familiar with their target audience and know who you’re writing to.

DON’T work without a contract.

No matter how friendly you may be with another provider, you’ll want to treat them just like any other client.

There needs to be contracts in place for each project or – depending on the nature of your partnership – for the length of time you’re working together. Even if you’re working with a fellow business owner it doesn’t mean that they have your best interests in mind.

DO pay close attention to their business practices.

Finding a good fit with another provider goes beyond the leads or projects you can bring one another.

Are you truly on the same page when it comes to growing your businesses? Case in point, after a single project with a particular SEO provider I came to realize his opinion of clients (that they were stupid and deserved to be duped) didn’t jive with the way that I want to do business. This isn’t always apparent based on their website, marketing and social media usage – so keep things low on commitment until you know more about their business practices.

DON’T explore partnership unless you’re sure you can handle it.

If you’re someone who prefers to work on your own, partnership probably isn’t for you.

For me, I found the life of a solo copywriter to be sort of lonely. I always found myself conferring with SEO providers, web designers, and social media marketers so I decided to make it official. Do some soul searching and figure out what you want your business to look like in the future.

Have you worked with referral partners or other partners? What was your experience like?

About the Author ~ Courtney Ramirez

Courtney Ramirez is the Director of Content Marketing Strategy for Endurance Marketing. She’s an SEO Copywriter and content marketing specialist who creates clickable content for clients in both B2B and B2C markets. As a proud graduate of SuccessWork’s SEO Copywriting Certification training program, she geeks out on algorithm updates and content marketing metrics. She’s always in the mood for a good cat-based meme. You can connect with Courtney on Google PlusLinkedIn or Twitter.

photo thanks to buddawiggi

Need a partner to help your web copy sizzle in search and convert like crazy? Check into my SEO content services today!

 

The 4 C’s of a smokin’ hot YouTube marketing strategy

A powerful YouTube marketing strategy is distilled into four elementsWith over 100 hours of video uploaded every minute and over one BILLION people across the world accessing the site every month, YouTube is no longer just a destination for one hit, viral videos.

In fact, with Channel partners such as the Warner Music Group and Machinima, its video content rivals that of popular streaming services Netflix and Hulu.

It’s no wonder that an astounding 87% of online marketers use YouTube video content in their marketing mix. In addition, YouTube is the number 2 search engine on the planet, making it a fantastic platform to grow your audience.

In this post, I’ll walk you through the four C’s you need in your online video strategy to successfully drive traffic and sales from YouTube:

– Captivation

– Consistency

– Conversion

– Community

Captivation

Simply put, you need to hook your viewer from the start and continue to engage them throughout the video. This is especially important since YouTube has changed its algorithm to give more weight to average watch time than number of view counts.

Also, videos that retain viewers throughout the entire video rank higher in YouTube search and are more visible in YouTube’s related videos algorithm (suggested videos at the end of each video and related videos on the right sidebar).

But how do you go about captivating your audience? Here are 3 easy steps that you can implement today:

1. Compelling Content Comes First

Many viewers decide whether they are going to keep watching your video within the first few seconds. Attention spans are short, and viewers are just one click away from abandoning your video.

Having an animated intro is a great way to instantly captivate your audience. You can find some great templates over at VideoHive or get a custom one at SmartShoot.

It’s even more important to have an animated intro if your video only uses one camera angle (such as a webcam) or is a talking head video.

If you are creating a “how-to” video, consider showing the final outcome first then show the instructional steps. Hooking the viewer from the onset will keep them engaged through your video.

2. Vary the Camera Angle

There’s no hard and fast rule to how long you can stay on one angle, but I would recommend that you keep it at about 30 seconds and no longer than 1 minute.

Think about a trailer to your favorite movie. There are multiple cuts to different scenes and no scene receives longer than 15 seconds of airtime.

If you’re doing a talking head video, consider varying the angles or background for the different sections of your topic.

3. Add Transitions, Overlays, and Graphics

Caution: adding a transition does NOT mean inserting a “page over” effect on your video.

Transitions can be as simple as a single frame that introduces a new section or topic of a video.

An excellent example of adding a simple transition to break up different sections can be found in this video by CopyHackers’ Joanna Wiebe.

Remember, it does NOT need to be complicated.

Consistency

“Consistent audience requires consistent content!” – Freddie W., Top YouTuber.

We all understand the importance of consistency when it comes to growing a blog.

And although creating a video can be more time consuming, the same principle of creating consistent content should be applied to marketing on YouTube.

By creating regular content on YouTube, you will keep your channel feed active, increase your reach, and build more subscribers. While there’s no hard and fast rule for how often you should produce content, YouTube suggests a minimum of one video per week.

However, the right amount of content depends on your audience and your goals.

A quick and easy way to create more frequent content is to do a Google+ Hangout interview with an expert in your industry. You can then use this material for your YouTube channel and blog.

Here’s an example of a video SmartShoot created from a Google+ Hangout expert interview, outlining the process that goes into creating an animated explainer video.

Conversion

While conversions are always top of mind on your website, they somehow become an afterthought on YouTube.

Remember, online video is an interactive experience and prompting your viewers to take action will help you build engagement and a larger audience.

Depending on your message, you can use the middle or end of the video to prompt your viewers to take action.

Here’s a sampling of a few actions that you can use on your videos:

  • Subscribe: Give viewers a reason to subscribe by highlighting how often you’ll produce new videos. If you’re a host or personality, you could also end your videos asking for viewers to subscribe.
  • Like / Add to Favorites / Share: Simply asking your viewers to Like, Favorite, and Share within your video can yield some amazing results. The more you can get from your viewers the more likely the video appears in more places across YouTube.
  • Comments: Encourage your audience to participate by asking a specific question or a topic that they’d like you to cover in an upcoming video.
  • Video Graphics: Create a video “end slate” that appears at the end of the video to direct viewers to your website. Give them a lead magnet to increase email subscribers.
  • Link to your website: Within the first 2 lines of the YouTube description, make sure that you include a link back to your website. Be sure to include the “http://”, otherwise YouTube will not make the link clickable.

Here’s a great example from the Nerdist channel using Conan O’Brien to ask viewers to subscribe to their channel:

Nerdist Conan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community

While YouTube is a massive online video platform, don’t forget that it’s also one of the biggest social networks.

People are drawn to online video because unlike regular broadcast television, they can interact with their favorite channels and YouTubers. From video responses to parodies to musical covers, YouTube is an engaged community of viewers and creators.

So, listen to your audience and speak to them in a way that grows your following and empowers them to become your biggest ambassadors.

3 Easy Ways to Build Your Community on YouTube:

1. Ask the Viewers

Ask viewers for their opinions, ideas, or feedback on videos by leaving a comment. Ask them if they have any specific questions that they’d like you to cover.

Rather than asking general questions, ask specific questions. This will lead to more responses and a more engaged community.

For example, rather than saying “what would you like me to cover in my next video?” instead say “would you like me to cover a) Facebook marketing; b) Twitter marketing; or c) YouTube marketing?”

2. Feature the Community

Once you have feedback from your viewers, feature them and their content in your video. The goal is to make your community feel as if this is their channel by highlighting their comments and/or user-submitted content.

Consider doing a Google Hangout Q&A with a few of your most loyal fans. Seeing other viewers within your videos will not only build a loyal following, but also encourage passive viewers to become more active on your channel.

3. Reward Your Super Fans

Beyond the typical mention in your videos, look for ways to reward your super fans (both on and off YouTube).

Simple things such as a discount code, free month to your service or even a t-shirt can go a long ways to building an engaged and loyal following on YouTube.

Concluding Thoughts

While online video in general is still a confusing medium to most businesses, it does provide a fantastic platform for businesses looking to grow their audience beyond their blog.

Remember, Blendtec, a company that some may say sells a boring product (blenders), has over half a million subscribers on YouTube and is proof that when done correctly, YouTube is a powerful social network to attract new customers!

About the Author ~  Steve P. Young

Steve P. Young is the Director of Product Marketing for SmartShoot where marketers go to get stunning photos and video from the best local photographers and filmmakers. Connect with Steve on Twitter or LinkedIn.

image thanks to Maurits Knook (mauritsonline)

Learn the latest SEO copywriting and content marketing strategies with SuccessWorks’ SEO Copywriting training!

 

 

 

Make your freelance copywriting pay – every time!

Time is money: don't invest your time in a freelance writing project until you secure a deposit. Greetings! Today Heather presents the second video of her series, How to start an SEO copywriting business, with a topic near and dear to any freelancer’s pocketbook: how to make money.

Whether you’re new to freelancing or have been doing it for awhile, this is a very important subject. In order to make money, you need to know how to ask for it before you start a writing project. In other words, you need to know how to ask for a writing deposit.

Tune in to learn about this business-building (and money-making) essential!

Many new copywriters are afraid to ask for money…

– They’re afraid that the client will be “put off” by the request.

– They’re afraid that they’ll ask for too much up front and lose the gig.

– We’ve been brought up to believe that asking for money is bad.

But here’s what can happen if you don’t ask for a deposit: you can do the work, put in all the time to compose a killer blog post or web page (and you know how much time it takes to produce quality content), only to get stiffed by the client.

The other scenario is that you do get paid by the client, but ever so slowly. Instead of receiving your money in a couple of weeks as you expected, you don’t have the money in hand for a couple of months.

So setting up that deposit really protects you. And by agreeing to pay a deposit, the client is showing that s/he is serious, and wants you to do the work – after all, s/he’s already fronted you some money!

Now let’s talk about how to make that happen…

Reality check: Always get a 30 – 50% deposit before starting work

Always, always, always, always!

– Setting up payment terms is perfectly reasonable and OK.

You’re not asking for anything weird or different or out of line. Requiring a deposit is good business, and it is something that you should do! Otherwise, in essence, you’re extending the client credit: you’re doing all of this work for free, on credit, until they pay you.

Sometimes clients will say things like, “Oh, well, I don’t quite have that money now, but I will have it in a couple of weeks…can you just start now and then we’ll settle it later?”

No!

Tell the client: “I’m perfectly happy to wait a couple of weeks until you get that deposit in, so not a problem!”

– If a new client won’t give you a deposit and set up terms, walk away. Don’t start before the check is cleared.

If a new client refuses to agree to your terms, you’ll probably want to walk away – that can be a very big red flag. I’ve talked to many copywriters who have said that the times that they didn’t get paid are the times that they didn’t get an initial deposit.

– Small (quick) job? Get all the money up front.

If it’s a new client and you know that you can turn the writing project around in less than a week – and it might be a small amount of money – ask for the entire amount up front.

It’s not unreasonable to do that. In fact, I know many copywriters who will ask for the money up front even on larger jobs. And if you’re sufficiently established and you’ve worked with enough clients, that’s definitely something you can go for as well!

But if nothing else, be sure to get a 30- to 50-percent deposit, and try to get all the money on your side of the table before turning in the final page. That way, you know for certain that you’re going to be paid the entire amount owed you!

Thanks for tuning in! As always, your comments and questions are welcome. You can write them below, or contact Heather via email (heather@seocopywriting.com) or on Twitter (@heatherlloyd).

Be sure to check in next Monday for the third video of the series, when Heather will discuss how to handle revisions of your work. See you then!

 

photo thanks to Tax Credits

 

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Matt McGee on SEO & small business search marketing

Today, Matt McGee honors us with an interview on how he came to be the Executive News Editor of Search Engine Land and its sister site, Marketing Land, as well as his motivation for starting his own blog, Small Business Search Engine Marketing.

Matt also shares what small business site owners should focus on now, and what Google’s Panda and Penguin updates mean for them in the current search engine marketing environment.

Enjoy these insights from one of the industry’s most respected and authoritative individuals!

You’re well known as the Executive News Editor for Search Engine Land and its sister site, Marketing Land. Would you share a bit about how you came to be so?

Basically, no one else wanted the job, and I was feeling sorry for Danny (Sullivan) and the crew, so….

No, just kidding!

I was one of the columnists for the “Small Is Beautiful” column on Search Engine Land while I was simultaneously working for a big local marketing company called Marchex.

At around the same time that Marchex decided it didn’t want to do SEO anymore, Third Door Media – the company that owns Search Engine Land and Marketing Land – was also looking to add more writers. Since I was already writing regularly, and since they knew that I spent the first seven years or so of my post-college life in the journalism business, it was a natural fit.

I think my first title was Assignment Editor, and as we added more people and expanded into two editorial sites, I took on some new, additional responsibilities and got the fancy Executive News Editor title.

I love what I’m doing, couldn’t be happier, and get to work every day with some of the smartest and most fun people in the industry.

You also own the blog “Small Business Search Engine Marketing”: what was your motivation in starting up your own small business search marketing blog?

That blog started in 2006, when I was still doing web design and SEO for a small company here in my hometown.

It was becoming pretty obvious that blogging was the key to growth and advancement in the SEO industry, and I got a really amazing pep talk from Todd Malicoat that finally convinced me to start my own blog.

I chose the small business angle because there wasn’t much being written on SEO blogs and websites geared toward the low-budget audience. There was Search Engine Guide and maybe a couple others that I knew about. But everything else seemed like it was geared toward big clients (and trying to land big clients).

So, my motivation was not only to help small business owners, but also to help advance in the industry.

If there were one message you would convey to the small business owner online, what would that be?

Be patient. Think long-term.

Most of the snake-oil and low-budget stuff that scammy SEO companies peddle to small business owners are based on false promises of quick fixes and rapid improvements.

There’s no overnight success when it comes to SEO and online marketing; building trust and building a successful online presence takes time.

What are the important search industry developments that the small business owner should be aware of now?

I think it’s the same idea.

SEO in 2012 and going forward is more about quality than it’s ever been. Google has really gone hard after low-quality content and low-level link building with the Panda and Penguin updates.

The quick and easy stuff isn’t going to work. Focus on quality and do stuff that will last for the long haul.

Small business owners need to build their own brand. They need to become a company that people care about and talk about – a company that Google needs in its search results.

There are all kinds of content on the web and all kinds of noise on social networks. Quick-and-easy isn’t gonna help you cut through that.

Quality and hard work, along with patience and persistence, give you a shot.

What would you recommend as the most valuable online resources for the small business owner (besides your Small Business Search Engine Marketing site, of course!)?

You’re too kind – thanks!

For small businesses that target local customers, Mike Blumenthal’s blog is a must-read, and once a year David Mihm publishes the Local Search Ranking Factors, a vital read!

There are also a few great daily newsletters I’d suggest for the way they cover a variety of online marketing, from SEO to analytics to email marketing and social media: The Search Cap from Search Engine Land and Marketing Day from Marketing Land.

And then once a month on my own blog, I publish a roundup of the best online marketing articles that I’ve found during the month. It usually posts on the last day of each month.

I’m involved in all of these recaps, so apologies for the self-promotion, but I do think they’re all very valuable resources for small business owners!

Thanks so much for sharing your insights with us!

You’re so welcome, Laura! Thanks to you and Heather for the opportunity to be featured on the SEO Copywriting blog!

 

More about Matt McGee

Besides being Executive Editor of Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, Matt McGee has a passion for helping businesses of all sizes succeed online since the late 1990s, with a specialty in SEO, local search marketing, and blogging/social media. (In other words, if you need help with your PPC campaigns, he’s not your guy.) You can find Matt on Twitter via @mattmcgee and on LinkedIn.

 

Turn your freelance copywriting career around before the year’s end with SEO Copywriting Certification. Check out what graduates of the SuccessWorks SEO Copywriting Certification training have to say about what it did for them!

Increase conversions, sales, & coverage with behavioral targeting

Two words – “behavioral targeting” – describe a technique that seems far too foreign to the world of online marketing and website optimization. In fact,  it’s something that most web developers are not even aware of.

However, the possibility is quite high that the sites that you frequent and find pretty impressive already use this technique. And chances are the popular sites of top grossing businesses owe it to this magnificent technique.

So what is behavioral targeting anyway?

Behavioral Targeting – Entering the Basics

Behavioral targeting are two important words that you need to be familiar with as you develop your website. In the world of online business and site competition, behavioral targeting is a very effective technique used to increase campaign prowess and reception. It is a technique often used by advertising companies to capture and hold the interest of their target market.

The Magic of Behavioral Targeting – How It Works

Behavioral Targeting requires a good study of the target market and the interests to which they directly cater.

Two kinds of behavioral targeting coincide with two types of website content advertising. First is onsite behavioral targeting, and second is network behavioral marketing.

Onsite behavioral targeting is what you would most often see in sites that publish news and other similar updates. It taps directly into the browsing patterns and behavior of the user and analyzes his or her interests from this data.

From this set of characteristics and analyzed patterns, the site conveys a pre-programmed offering of content in order to satisfy the interests and tastes of the site visitors – encouraging them to dig deeper into the site and stay longer.

Then we have network behavioral marketing. This type of marketing is more suited for advertising companies, since it taps directly into networking sites where potential customers are. This type of marketing also observes the browsing history and behavior of the site visitors, thereby enabling the advertiser to directly show the visitor the type of product promotions that s/he is most likely interested in seeing and actually buying.

Increasing Conversion Rates with Behavioral Targeting

When you visit a site, in reality, these two types of targeting are coupled so as to bring you the content and advertisements that you’re most likely interested in.

On one hand, the steady flow of related content is brought by the programmed data, via the virtue of onsite behavioral targeting. On the other hand, the ads generated in the site itself as you browse is brought by network behavioral targeting.

A visitor is bound to be more receptive to, stay longer on, and delve deeper into the site because of the relevant, targeted content that s/he receives. The ads are specifically targeted to cater to his interests as well, which makes the site all the more captivating.

How Does Behavioral Targeting Increase Sales?

Illustrating how behavioral targeting increases sales is relatively easy. If you’ve ever browsed online marketing sites such as eBay or Amazon, you know that as you “click around” those products you find interesting, you will be prompted to check out a list of recommended items based on your apparent tastes. These lists have been created with the interests of the visitor in mind and surely, it has worked wonders for generating secondary on-site sales.

How Does Behavioral Targeting Increase Coverage?

By providing the most targeted, relevant content to site visitors, online marketers are likely to inspire them to share their positive experience with other potential prospects.  And by very simple math, more recommendations will mean more visitors, which in turn will mean more reach for your site.

For more information, check out Maxymiser‘s guide to behavioral targeting and personalization.

Happy targeting!

 

About the Author ~ Ruben Corbo

Ruben Corbo is a freelance copywriter who specializes in tech, online marketing, and smartphone related topics. He’s recently been diving into Behavioral Targeting & Personalization and A/B Testing. When Ruben is not writing, he is writing and producing music for short films and other visual arts. You can find Ruben on Twitter via @WriteOnTheDot.

 

 

photo thanks to heretakis (Lefteris Heretakis)

 

 

 

3 steps to ensure competitor-crushing SEO copywriting

Welcome back! In today’s SEO copywriting video, Heather discusses the three things that you should do before either hiring an SEO copywriter, or starting to write your own new website.

This how-to was inspired by an email Heather received, in which the woman said she had her domain purchased and business registered with the state, and was really excited to hire a copywriter, then asked “What else do I need to do before I hire the SEO copywriter?”

Heather’s lengthy reply spoke to all the other things that need to happen before the writing begins, which she has summarized in three steps. Tune in to learn how to ensure your website content will crush your competition!

Plan on a lot of legwork before the writing takes place

As a business owner, there is legwork you will want to do – ideally on your own – because it will help you with your marketing, and it will also help you with your overall business strategy. Plus, taking these steps will ensure that everything your copywriter does create is highly targeted to your market.

  • You’ll want to spend a lot of time researching and planning before you launch.
  • These steps are very important. Skipping them literally puts your new business at risk.
  • A good copywriter can do some of this legwork for you. Ideally, though, you should know this information before you start.

The thing here is that it’s really easy to skip these steps because you’re amped to get your new business site out there, and want to hire an SEO copywriter right away. But skipping these steps can literally prove fatal to your business.

Heather has talked to a lot of small business owners that have skipped these steps, and they’re not making that much money, and their marketing is scattered all over the place.

There may come a point where, in taking these steps, that you find yourself stuck, or you may want somebody else to look at what you’re finding and perhaps offer suggestions for other types of research. So while certainly a good copywriter might be able to do some of the legwork for you, you’ll want to be sure to work in tandem with him/her, because what you learn during this 3-step process will help you with your business plan, as well.

Step #1: Who is your target audience?

The first step to take is to define your target audience.

  • Hint: the answer is not “everyone” or “all business owners should have this product”

Heather has heard these answers from folks, and they are not necessarily true.

  • What niches will your serve? Why that niche?

Where you want to really dial it in is what niches you’ll serve: are there particular types of verticals where you know your product or service is going to have the most impact?

And you’ll want to ask yourself: why that niche? For example, if you worked in the construction industry for a long time and want to start providing marketing services, then it follows that marketing services for construction companies might be a really good niche for you, because you understand the market, the pain points, and it might be all that much easier for you to market your services to that audience.

  • Get specific. Not “home business owners” but “home business owners with X characteristics who have been in business for Y years.”

The key here is that you want to get really precise and focused in defining your target audience.

  • You should know your target audience like you know your best friend.

This is one of Heather’s favorite sayings. Ideally you should be able to walk into a Starbuck’s, look around at folks, select a handful, and say “okay, you guys are the ones that I serve in my business”: that is how intimately you want to know your target audience.

This is the purpose of creating a customer persona: to precisely define the people that you serve and their characteristics, so when you are sitting down to write – or have hired an SEO copywriter to do so – you have this highly specific information and are then able to tightly focus everything you write around that persona/target audience.

And you might have multiple target audiences – so if you find that you’re going to be serving three or four markets, that’s okay! A lot of site owners do that; it’s just a matter of different target audiences.

Step #2: Check out your competition

The second step is to check out your competition and find out what they’re doing.

  • What other companies are doing what you do?
  • Carefully check out their sites. What do they do well? What could you do better? How can you differentiate yourself?

Learn how they’re structuring their site, how they’re structuring the writing, and find out what they do really well: consider ways you can do it even better!

Part of this exercise is to figure out how to differentiate yourself from your competition, so when a prospect says, “I’ve looked at this company and I’ve looked at your stuff – why should I hire you over this other company?” then you have an answer, because you know exactly what your relative strengths are.

  • You don’t want to copy your competition – but you do want to learn from them!

The point here is that while it may be tempting to copy a worthy competitor that’s clearly making money with their site, your business is going to be different from theirs, so you want to create a brand and site that are unique.

So certainly, do learn from them, but don’t copy your competitors.

Step #3: What unique benefits do you bring to the table?

Finally, the third step is to have a clear handle on the unique benefits you offer.

  • What makes your company unique?
  • How does your product or service solve a problem?
  • Why should someone work with you instead of your competition?

Folks who are familiar with Heather’s YouTube webinars know that the guy pictured is her “What’s In It For Me” guy, shown here because that is what prospects want to know.

What is in it for your target audience?

And this is really important, because people think in terms of benefit statements.

When potential customers land on your site, they’ll immediately want to know how you can help them, and how you can do it better-faster-cheaper, than your competitors. Know what your unique benefits are! That will help you hone your copy, help you sell more products/services, and you’ll be able to do more with your online business faster.

Thanks for tuning in! If you have a question for Heather, email her [at] heather@seocopywriting.com, or tweet her @heatherlloyd. See you next Monday!

 

Of Panda’s and Penguin’s: learn how to write for Google and avoid a bamboo spanking! Just sign up for the free SEO Copywriting Buzz newsletter for lean, no-fluff industry news, either daily or weekly, and get Heather Lloyd’s “25-Point Checklist on How to Write for Google” free!

 

photo thanks to andjohan (Andreas Johannsen)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to write for Google’s over-optimization penalty

Greetings and welcome back! Today, Heather addresses a collective, anxious concern about writing SEO copy given Google’s latest Panda slap, the “over-optimization” penalty:  Help! Is my Web content over-optimized?

While it is true that Google has made a lot of changes and is cracking down on content, the upshot is: don’t freak out! It will be okay, if you follow the three basic guidelines laid out for you in today’s SEO copywriting video post.

It’s unfortunate that this latest Panda update has DIY Web writers afraid of the “Big G,” and wary of optimizing their Web content. Either you’re worried about what you may be doing wrong now, or that Google will tweak yet something else and what’s okay today may not be tomorrow, then your current ranking will plummet, etc., ad nauseum. So you freeze and do nothing, which is not helping your conversions.

In an effort to calm your fears and help you relax, Heather brings some perspective to Google’s over-optimization penalty. Tune in as she discusses the three “over-optimization” questions to ask yourself if you’re concerned that you may have crossed the line…

Over-Optimization Question #1:  Have I used “too many” keyphrases?

There are three things to look at when considering this question:

  1. How does the copy sound when you read it out loud?
  2. Did you try to match a (mythical) keyphrase density?
  3. Did you write 1,000 words of content “for Google”?

First, how does the copy sound when you read it out loud

As Heather has discussed in previous posts, one of the easiest ways to figure out if you’ve used too many keyphrases in your Web content it to simply print off the page and read it aloud.

If you hear yourself tripping over a keyphrase every third word or so, then yeah – you’ve probably pushed that optimization envelope a little bit too far. Time to scale back your keyphrase use until it sounds easy and natural to the ear.

Second, did you try to match a (mythical) keyphrase density?

Again, as Heather has pointed out before (as well as Google’s spam-master, Matt Cutts) there is no such thing as “the (perfect or magical) keyphrase density for Google.” Period.

If you’ve been trying for such a mythical goal, then you most likely have pushed the optimization envelope too far with overuse of keyphrases in your Web content. Repeat the exercise, above.

Third, did you write 1,000 words of content “for Google”?

If you have a super-long Web page where you wrote on for 1,000 words – and you really didn’t need that many – be honest with yourself: did you extend your copy beyond its usefulness thinking that’s what Google wants in terms of word count or page length? Think again.

The simple solution? Dial it back.

Slicing the word count and tightening your message will not only serve your conversions better, but it will also save you from the Google Panda slap. Get in there and try to figure out if the copy you wrote is targeted to your readers: is it what they would want to know? Or have you added some keyphrase-laden fluff that detracts from the user experience?

Over-Optimization Question #2:  Is my bolding and linking out of control?

This occurs a lot on small business sites, where the DIY site owner thinks: “Okay, so if I bold all of my keyphrases and link to everything I can possibly think of, that will help me with Google.”

And it really doesn’t.

Here are three things to keep in mind when using bold font and links:

  1. Hyperlinking to related pages = good.
  2. Bolding headlines/subheadlines = good.
  3. Linking or bolding every third word = bad.

If your linking or bolding is really overdone – and your reader is confronted with links all over the place and all this copy bolded that really doesn’t need to be – it’s not helping her or your Google ranking.

  • Ask yourself: What makes sense to your reader?

Forget about Google for a minute…strictly from the reader perspective, is copy riddled with bold font and links inserted in every other sentence really going to help her convert?

No. Just like the previous example of having too many keyphrases stuffed in your Web content, you want to focus on what makes for a good reader experience.

  • If you keep your reader’s needs in mind, then the way you bold copy in your text and the way you hyperlink to other pages will be much more natural.

Over-Optimization Question #3:  Are my Titles written for readers? Or Google?

As we know, page Titles are those clickable links on the search engine results page. It follows that your page Title should be written like a compelling headline.

  1. Remember that the search engine results page is your first opportunity for conversion.
  2. Shoving every keyphrase you can think of in the Title tag won’t help you.

A solid, optimized page Title should have keyphrases, of course. But it should not read like a string of keyphrases separated by commas.

Outside of the fact that a page Title of “keyphrase, keyphrase, keyphrase” (or “keyphrase|keyphrase|keyphrase”) is pretty spammy, it is not going to help you with that first, crucial conversion. If someone encounters that listing on the search engine results page, chances are they’re going to click on another Title.

As with the previous two questions to consider when judging if you’ve over-optimized your Web content, if you focus your efforts on the reader – in this instance by asking yourself “what will make the reader click on my listing over the nine others?” – then you will be on the right track with both your readers and Google.

Thanks for joining us for this week’s SEO copywriting video how-to! Do you have an SEO copywriting question or topic suggestion for Heather? Love it! Send it on over to her [at] heather@seocopywriting.com or tweet her [at] @heatherlloyd. See you next Monday!

 

Perk alert! Sign up for either the daily or weekly SEO Copywriting Buzz newsletter and receive a free download of Heather Lloyd-Martin’s white paper, How to write for Google!

And psssst – a head’s up! If you’ve been thinking about becoming certified in SEO Copywriting best practices, you have until May 15th to register for Heather Lloyd-Martin’s SEO Copywriting Certification training at its original price! Sign up now and save $170!

 

photo thanks to me’nthedogs (Mark Robinson)

Tap your customers’ psyche to create powerful content

Greetings! You’re in for an intriguing SEO copywriting video today, as we enter the realm of customer psychology – specifically, tapping your customers’ psyche to create truly engaging, powerful content!

Based on psychologist Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs,” Heather walks us through the emotional (and motivational) levels of the psyche and illustrates how to tie your copy into each one with specific website examples.

So tune in to learn how to make your copy resonate with your customers on their deepest psychological levels, from their most basic physiological needs to their lofty esteem needs and aspirations.

As you’ve most likely gathered from Heather’s webinars and/or some of her blog posts, she discusses the psychology of copywriting a lot. The reason?

  • People make their buy decisions based on psychology: they ultimately buy based on their emotion.

Granted, they do their research, talk to their friends, and do their due diligence, but at the end of the day, their buy decision is an emotional decision.

That’s why…

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

…is so important to copywriting.

  • If you can tie your ad or website copy to something that is part of your customers’ psychological hierarchy of needs, you can write more compelling and powerful copy – content that resonates with what your customers’ are thinking about, are worried about, and/or want to achieve.

This first graphic is a little reminder of what Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are, which you may recall from high school or college: at the base of the pyramid are the basic physiological needs for survival, then progressing (evolving) upwards through safety needs, social needs, esteem needs, and finally, self-actualization.

This psychological “needs” pyramid represents what Maslow thought we all experience, as we move beyond our instinctual physiological needs of food, water, etc., to the need to become self-actualized human beings.

So what follows is how Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can inform and improve your copywriting, illustrated with specific examples from the Web.

Physiological Needs

The Help-4-Homes (Save Your Home Today!) website is a great example of content that is targeted to basic, physical needs: it is geared towards people who are almost in foreclosure and face losing their house.

This is very freaky situation for folks to deal with – they’re confused, they’re scared, and they’re looking for options. The web copy reflects the readers’ feelings with a checklist of concerns: has your mortgage rate been reset (and you can’t afford it)? Have you suffered a financial hardship?

Then at the end of the copy is a really powerful testimonial from a client who affirms that she was going through this problem and contacted the company, and the company was able to help her.

  • The copy ties into those elemental physiological needs and hits those high points with a checklist of concerns, followed by reassurance via a strong testimonial.

If you’re in an industry where physiological needs are the motivating factor, you can look to this example as a template for writing copy that is far more detailed and compelling than just “We can help you save your house” or “We can help you beat foreclosure.”

Safety Needs

An example of a website that addresses the psyche’s need for safety is ADT: they “specialize in home security.”

If you’re in the mindset where you want to buy a home security system, ADT’s benefit statements are most reassuring: it is the gold standard in home security; they offer a personal emergency response system; there is video surveillance plus intrusion detection.

  • These benefit statements are crucial because they help the reader feel safe. They let the reader know that he’s at the right place, he’s working with a company that can help him, and that understands his needs.

So if you’re working with a company that deals with safety, ADT’s web content is a fantastic example of a different way to approach the copy. And again, it is far more powerful than just “We’ll help keep you safe”, as it details specific benefits to help the reader feel at ease.

Social Needs

Here is another core psychological need that we all have, and one that can be tapped in creating copy (and images).

In this example of Pottery Barn’s website, you’ll notice that it really doesn’t say all that much. The company’s writers could do a lot more to flesh it out and make it seem more social, certainly.

But what grabs you is the picture: this cozy table setting with four glasses of wine. It tells a story. Somebody has been there, hanging out with friends, and enjoying the view of the water (presumably Chesapeake Bay). It conveys a very comfortable, social type of environment.

  • So not only can you use words to tie into one of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but you can also use images. Remember that you’ll want to make sure that your images are helping to reinforce what you’re saying in the copy.

Esteem Needs

Finally, we’re going to end our discussion with the psyche’s esteem needs: these are the people that want to impress, and that want the best of the best.

The website example here is Dream Homes Magazine.com, where you can browse these spectacular homes and luxury rentals located all over the United States and Mexico.

It is definitely about “living the dream.”

So if you’re working with luxury goods and things that are more exclusive, you could tie your copy into Maslow’s “esteem needs” in his hierarchy: that will help people connect better, because that is precisely what they’re looking for.

  • Folks with esteem-based psychological needs are seeking that exclusivity, that rarity and privilege of an experience that not everyone can have – one that they know they’ll be able to talk about and remember all their lives.

A Concluding Thought

If you’re a copywriter and want to learn how to write better, especially for conversions, then you’ll want to do a lot of reading around psychology. The more you understand about what makes people “tick” and the underlying psychology of their motivation, the better your content will be!

Thanks for tuning in to this week’s SEO copywriting video how-to! Do you have a question about SEO or Web writing for Heather, or a suggestion for a topic, please let her know via email, at heather@seocopywriting.com, or Twitter, @heatherlloyd. See you next Monday!

 

Don’t miss a post: we’re now offering our readers the option of a daily email alert so you can be notified of our blog posts as soon as they’re published! Sign up at dailySEOCopy@aweber.com to receive your reminder that your dose of SEO Copywriting’s tips, expert interviews, or weekly industry news awaits you. No post that day, no email for you.

 

photo thanks to BetterWorks, Inc.

 

 

 

6 steps to a smart (sane) Google+ strategy

Another social network? What’s a brand to do!

There’s no denying it – Google+ is going to be an important part of social media and search from now on. Its enormous growth in the past seven months has gotten the attention of the search industry, competing social networks and marketers alike. Google+ has more than 90 million users – nearly as much as LinkedIn, but not even close to Facebook’s 800 million.

Even though the Google+ numbers pale in comparison to Facebook (for now), its “Search Plus Your World” (SPYW) integration in Google search results opens up Google+ content to the billions of worldwide Google users.

With the introduction of SPYW, Google+ social content is becoming part of Google search engine results. If you’re logged into Google while doing a search, you’ll see Google+ pages from related users and brands. You’ll see pages that people in your circles have given a “+1” and you’ll also see images under individual search results of users who have shared that particular page. In addition, sites that have been “+1’ed” are pushed higher in search engine results.

Even if you aren’t logged into Google while doing a search, your search results are still being affected by Google+. A search for the term “SEO” displays two user profiles related to the term:

Imagine your brand or personal profile getting this kind of exposure in regular search results! Clearly, Google+ deserves more of your time.

With the popularity of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – how does your company find time to embrace Google+? With so many social networks on your plate, adding another can seem like a major challenge.

Here are six steps that you can use to embrace Google+ and get all of its benefits without losing your mind.

1. Claim Your Page and Manage Your Circles

If you don’t have a Google+ brand page, it’s time to get started. You can create a Google+ business page from a personal Google+ account, which in turn requires a Gmail account.

If you’re a larger organization, you’ll need to decide which person in your company will create and manage the page. (This is one feature that has sparked some criticism of Google – if that employee or manager leaves, what becomes of the company’s Google+ page?)

There are dozens of guides out there that detail how to circle other users and optimize your profile. I’m not going to delve into that here, but keep in mind these two points:

  • You can promote your Google+ business page on your personal profile in order to encourage more users to migrate to your business page.
  • You can also circle users via your business profile in order to get them to circle you back.

Focus on developing circles for specific purposes. You’ll get a lot more leverage from your sharing if it is targeted to user groups.

For instance, you can create circles for current customers and prospects, and then additional circles for competitors so you can see what they are up to on the social network.

2. Focus on Becoming a Topic Expert 

With its strong SEO capabilities, it’s possible to make a big splash in your niche industry with Google+. Since the platform is relatively new, there’s still ample time to stake your claim as a top provider of small business financial advice, cloud-based communications apps, or gourmet chocolate gift baskets.

Optimize your business profile for your niche keyword terms and then make a habit of sharing related news. Pretty soon, your company will be well known for your topic specialty.

Remember to select a topic that is related to your product and/or service and supports what your ideal customers are interested in. Users are more likely to take interest in “Tips for Great Road Trips” then “Come See How Awesome Our Tires Are.”

3. Share Content Regularly

There’s nothing worse than sharing content on social media and then disappearing for an indefinite amount of time. No matter what your marketing schedule looks like, pick a frequency and commit to it for at least 8 weeks.

After that time, you can look back at your results and decide whether less or more sharing would be best for you.

As well as sharing your own posts and content from other sources, you can also make use of Google+’s longer post length. You can post entire articles on the platform rather than having to direct users to a different location.

In addition to sharing regularly, be sure to participate in the community. The same rules for Twitter and Facebook apply here – respond to comments, comment on other shared content, and engage with your audience.

4. Use Photos More Often

Google+ is a beautiful platform for photos and they really stand out in the stream. Unlike Facebook,  where users can upload photos in albums, Google+ images are loaded as individual posts. This feature gives your photos much more prominence.

Make it a point to use photos as part of your regular updates. You can add images from your company, charts and slides from presentations, infographics, and more to enhance your presence on the platform.

5. Share Your Posts Directly With Your Circles

With just an extra step you can “push” special posts and updates directly to your circle members. While you shouldn’t use this feature all of the time, it’s helpful for promoting your most important blog posts or company announcements.

When you post an update, you can hover over the name of a circle with your mouse. A box will pop up listing a few of the members of the circle and asking if you want to notify the users of the post.

Your circle members will then get an email about the post (if they’ve opted to receive notifications from Google+).

It’s a good way to highlight important content and make sure it’s being read by your relevant audience – just don’t abuse this feature and alienate your target readers.

6. Analyze Your Results and Plan Accordingly 

Like other forms of marketing, analysis and planning are going to be the key to success with Google+.

However, with Google+ the process is a little different.

Unfortunately, due to Google’s encryption, it’s impossible to analyze the visits you’re receiving from the Google+ platform in any meaningful way.

So, the best way to monitor your Google+ results is to take note of how many responses you’re getting, which topics are being reshared and whether or not your profile (or business profile) is showing up in the search engines.

Once you’ve gathered your results, look at how you can improve your performance:

  • Do you need to actively circle more users?
  • Do you find that your photo updates are getting more comments and shares than other updates?
  • How are you doing in the search engine rankings: Do you need to optimize your profile and updates to include important niche related keywords?

With these steps, you can make sense of Google+ and leverage it for your business. I’d love to hear how you’ve adopted Google+ and how it’s working. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

For further reading:

  • SEOmoz: Why Every Marketer Now Needs a Google+ Strategy
  • iMedia Connection: 6 Reasons Why Adding Google+ to Your Web Presence & SEO Strategy is a Good Idea
  • Marketing Land: Seeing Long-Form Post Success On Google+, Facebook Raises Character Limit By 1100%
  • SEO Copywriting: Google Circles and the future of SEO Copywriting

 

About the Author – Courtney Ramirez

Courtney Ramirez is a proud graduate of the SuccessWorks’ SEO Copywriting Certification training program, and CEO of Six Degrees Content. She is passionate about helping small businesses compete with the big boys with skilled SEO copywriting and content marketing. You can connect with Courtney at her brand’s Google Plus page, Facebook, LinkedIn, and on Twitter @CourtneyRamirez.

 

Want to dramatically increase your income as a freelance copywriter? Consider getting your certification in SEO Copywriting, taught by the widely-recognized pioneer of the SEO industry, Heather Lloyd-Martin. Her training is the only online SEO Copywriting Training Program independently endorsed by SEOPros.org. Check into it and make 2012 the year you turn your biz around!

 

photo thanks to Bruce Clay, Inc. 

A 9-step guide to creating & marketing your own video content – for free!

Guest Author, Andy Havard

All too often, bloggers and small businesses miss out on great content marketing opportunities due to budgetary constraints. Does that resonate with you?

Did you know that online video couldn’t be a more cost-effective and convenient marketing approach for any product, brand or service?

And you must know that online video is the hot and growing – and most likely indefinite – trend for content marketing?

Here, I’m going to tell you exactly how you can master this medium with 9 steps to creating and marketing your own videos from home, for free!

1. Location Is Everything (Yet Nothing at All!)

A common misconception about creating video content to market on the web is that you need to hire out lavish studios or rent out a space in which to film. In fact, all you really need is a room in your apartment or house that has a wall or a space you can stand in front of comfortably. (You could even use a bit of garage space for that matter).

Once you’ve found a space, you need to make your background as tailored to your niche and style as possible.

For instance, if your brand is quite personable and informal you might find the natural look of your room suits your video perfectly.  Or if you’re looking for that Apple-esque, Google-ish white sheen, there are a few simple ways to create that effect:. use a white wall, white papered walls, or a white sheet to cover the wall to form your sleek white background.

You can boost the brightness and overall look of this background with your lighting and post-production editing.

2. Set Up Your Camera

More than likely, you already have a variety of cameras in your possession – for instance your mobile phone, tablet, computer, and obviously your camcorder or digital camera. If you don’t have access to any such equipment, then alas! You’ll need to purchase or borrow a means of recording video.

You’ll want to steady and stabilize your camera to make your footage as good (i.e., professional and non-wobbly) as possible. This can easily be accomplished using a desk, chair, or even a bookshelf – anything that serves to keep your camera level and still during filming.

You’d be surprised at what household furniture you can use to do the same job as a $100 tripod!

3. Set Up Your Lights

Understandably, hanging a sheet on your living room wall might not fill you with a lot of confidence or optimism. The slick , professional background look you (may) want to achieve starts to take shape when you add your lighting.

Your choice of lighting can range from industry-standard fluorescent lights to three strong standing lamps.

You’ll need to position two of these lights on either side of your backdrop (one to the left, the other to the right of your subject). Then place a third light near your camera at a 30-degree, downward angle to your on-screen subject. This set-up will help to illuminate your backdrop and make it look crisp and bright.

As with your makeshift tripod, you can use household lamps to do the job of studio-grade lighting. To maximize your light level, try to shoot in an area that is naturally light, but not over-exposed to sunlight. You can then use household lamps to smooth out the lighting in your shot. Try to make sure that no shadows are being cast on your subject or background.

4. Record Your Sound

You’ll probably find your digital camera has a built-in microphone that provides a good sound quality for your video. Failing that, your computer or phone more than likely will, which you can sync up later on.

If for some reason there’s no microphone present in any of your devices, you will have to invest in an inexpensive external microphone to capture your audio.

When you’re recording your sound, try to keep audio levels consistent as changes in volume could cause the sound to distort. Try to allow time for a sound recording test before you record your final audio.

5. Edit Your Video

If you’re feeling a little discouraged or cynical about the bedsheet stuck to your wall, your computer camera, living room lamps and make-shift tripod, take heart: your editing process is where the magic happens. You really can make your online video the exciting, engaging piece of online content that you envisioned!

You can get download free, easy-to-use editing software for a PC (Windows) or Mac, such as Windows Movie Maker or iMovie, both of which are more than sufficient for your video editing needs.

By altering your contrast/brightness you will be able to boost your backdrop and improve the lighting of your shot, creating that studio-quality background. You’ll also be able to use your software to edit your video into a short, sharp, essential piece of online content.

6. Upload Your Video To The Web

There is a wide array of free video-sharing sites to which you can upload your video content, such as Vimeo, Viddler, DailymotionFlickr, Tumblr, and of course, YouTube.

Considering that YouTube  is the worlds’ #2 search engine and the most popular video-sharing platform, it’s the obvious choice as an upload point for any web video. But if you have the time, it’s worth uploading your video to as many platforms as possible.

After you’ve uploaded your masterpiece, you can then link from the video-sharing platform to an embed on your own website or blog, giving you some link-love while ensuring you reach your target market.

7. Optimize Your Video For Search Engines

When you upload your content to free hosting sites be sure you’ve optimized it for the search engines. You may have guessed that Google’s YouTube content is especially visible in Google’s search engine results – if properly optimized.  And as a platform, YouTube offers a considerable array of video SEO tools.

By using titles, descriptions, tags, and closed captions that feature the keywords and phrases relevant to your brand and video content, you can be sure that your video is ticking all of the SEO boxes.

8. Market Your Online Video with Social Sharing

The video-hosting sites (in Step 6) offer some fantastic marketing avenues. The majority of them readily integrate with Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn, allowing you to post your content in Pages, Groups, Discussions, Wall Posts and Statuses.

You can also explore features such as YouTube’s Video Response, where you can use your online video content to comment on other users’content. By making use of the tools free hosting sites offer, you can market your content easily and cost-effectively to a staggeringly wide audience.

9. Track Your Online Video with Analytics

Tracking the analytics of your video is the most effective way to ensure it is achieving the goals you’ve set out to accomplish.

Google Analytics, YouTube Analytics and Facebook Insight are all great free tools for measuring conversion rates, social media growth and viewership. By tracking your video through these three tools you can measure the success of your video on every level.

It’s always advisable to check your video data frequently in order to keep an eye on its progress. If it’s failing to achieve your goals, you can alter your current strategy to better optimize your content and improve the numbers.

This is the year of content marketing with video, and it is a “trend” that’s here to stay. Don’t be left in the dust – follow these steps and take full advantage of this truly awesome opportunity to grow your business and readership with video content!

About The Author: Andy Havard

Andy Havard is a Marketing Executive at Skeleton Productions, a UK based Internet video production company. You can connect with Andy via his company’s Facebook page, or directly via LinkedIn and Twitter.

Would you like to upgrade your copywriting skills and income? Learn the latest SEO copywriting content marketing skills and techniques through SuccessWorks’ SEO Copywriting Certification training and make 2012 your best year ever!