10 B2B SEO Copywriting Tips for 2016

Is 2016 the year you take your B2B content writing campaign to the next level?Need some SEO writing tips for your B2B company?

If your answer is, “I don’t have time to take it to the next level. I’m barely holding on as it is,” consider these statistics:

94 percent of B2B companies research online for purchase decisions, according to the Acquity Group. Plus, according to the Corporate Executive Board,

  • 57 percent of the buying journal is digital.
  • 82 percent of companies reviewed at least five pages of site content from the winning vendor.

Upping your B2B SEO copywriting game can provide your business with an incredible ROI. Unfortunately, many companies are still trying to get their SEO content act in gear. These companies may have worked with multiple SEO consultants, all with their own process, best practice tips (many of which are outdated) and tactics. Or, the company tried to DIY without a set plan.

The result is typically a mishmash of old, keyphrase-stuffed pages, writers who are barely keeping up and a patchwork strategy.

This isn’t good.

If this sounds like your company, here are 10 B2B SEO copywriting tips for 2016 that will take your site to the next level.

Create (or revise) your buyer persona

Creating a solid buyer persona should be your first SEO copywriting step. Unfortunately, it’s a step many companies decide to “get to later” — or they may have no idea how to create one. In fact, a study by Tony Zambito found that 60% of respondents, “had no to very little understanding of buyer persona best practices.”

If you haven’t created your buyer persona, do it now. If it’s been awhile (say, over a year) since you checked our your buyer persona document, revise it. Don’t forget to share your new or revised buyer persona with everyone involved in the content generation process (which, yes, may mean sharing with other teams or different departments.) The more everyone is on the same page, the more consistent the brand voice will be.

Understand the core content issues

So, why aren’t you positioning for your main keyphrases? Is it because your content sounds like every other vendor? Is it because your team hasn’t mastered keyphrase research (more on that below.) Or does your company have unrealistic expectations (no, you’re not going to get a #1 position for the keyword SaaS no matter how hard you try.)

Yes, this is a back-to-basics step — but one that’s extremely important. I challenge your B2B company to run an SEO content audit before writing another word. Stop what you’re doing RIGHT NOW and run one. If you don’t have time, find a consultant to help. The insights you’ll learn will help you develop a smart, data-driven SEO content process.

It makes sense to review your keyphrase research document and confirm the phrases are still on track. Many companies are still optimizing for old keyphrases that don’t perform, sound clunky in the copy or are otherwise subpar. A keyphrase research refresh can help you find new opportunities and cut out any dead keyphrase weight.

Train your content team

Many in-house writers have little-to-no knowledge of SEO copywriting best practices. For instance, I worked with a B2B publisher who employed super-smart print copywriters — but they didn’t “get” SEO copywriting. Although their content was semantically rich, their Google positions left a lot to be desired. My job was to show the writers the SEO light and bridge the gap between print and online copywriting.

Unfortunately, your writing team isn’t going to magically understand SEO writing without some sort of intervention. Your best course of action is gathering all your writers in the same room, training them on best practices and following up with additional mentoring. I’ve seen remarkable “a-ha” moments when writers received a little keyphrase research training — and those “a-ha” moments transformed their web traffic.

Here’s Eric Enge’s great take on training your in-house team.

Review your analytics

You can learn amazing things from analytics. For instance, I once worked with a company that was extremely proud of a resource-rich page they created. When I checked out the analytics, I found that people were only spending 30 seconds on the page — not enough time to read the page, and far below the company’s usual page metrics of over two minutes.

Why create content in a vacuum when the data is right there? Having just a little analytics knowledge can go a long way. After all, there’s no reason to spend hours creating content your target reader doesn’t want to read.

Be fascinating

People don’t want to read your press releases (your site has a press release section for that.) Nor do they want to read a soft-sell article extolling the virtues of your products. Instead of using your blog as a promotional tool, use it as a way to connect with your prospect. Answer common questions. Provide useful information. Be fascinating.

One company’s most popular blog post was written by their in-house programmer. He scribbled some code on a couple of napkins, took photos of the napkins and wrote a blog post that described the code in-depth. Analytics-wise, this post blew the others away. Why? Because the author (and the company) wasn’t afraid of fascinating content. They knew such a nerdy piece of art would resonate with their audience. And they were right.

Understand how to “write to sell.”

First, let it be said that technical writers should never write sales copy. Ever. You’re not saving money by having your lead programmer write the content. You’re costing yourself conversions (and search positions), instead. Just say no.

Smart sales writing doesn’t sound like a car salesman wearing a plaid suit and a Donald Trump toupee. Instead, it warms your reader up to your product or service and gives them the exact information they want to read. Yes, that involves using some traditional sales-writing tactics. But by doing so, you’re answering your reader’s questions and moving them ever closer to a conversion.

To be clear: having internal subject matter experts (SMEs) write content is a good thing. Having them write sales pages is not. Save the sales writing for someone who specializes in it.

Speaking of SMEs….

Get your SME to contribute…somehow

Your company’s internal subject matter experts are a fantastic source of information. Remember the earlier story about the programmer’s scribbles being the company’s top-trafficked blog post? Your SMEs have a lot to say — and readers typically enjoy their perspective.

But here’s the thing…

Many SME’s aren’t good writers and/or, they don’t like to write. That means your requests like, “please write a blog post about something…anything…” will be ignored. It’s not that your SME doesn’t want to help. It’s because she’s busy — and if she doesn’t enjoy writing, she probably isn’t going to prioritize your post.

One smart solution is to have someone interview the SME, record it and then transcribe the transcript (of course, this could also turn into a podcast, too.) That way, the SME won’t get trapped into a writer’s block dark hole, and you have the great content you want.

As a pro tip: consider editing (sometimes, heavily editing) the transcripts before taking them live. That way, you can smooth out any speaking bumps and make the interview even better.

Be aware of reader overload

Information is good. Including every benefit, technical specification, sales sheet, video, newsletter signup, comparison chart and photo on one page is not.

I type that like it’s a no-brainer, but we ALL know companies that break that rule. Every page makes your eyes bleed. You don’t know where to look or what to do.

If this is what your sales pages sound like, know that analysis paralysis is real. Giving people too many options will cause your readers to overwhelm and do…nothing.

A simple way of conquering overload is to ask yourself if the information needs to be on the page — or could you include it on a supporting page, instead? For instance, the technical specifications could be a downloadable PDF. That way, the information is still on the site. You’re just not making your readers’ eye bleed anymore.

This is a good thing.

Related to this tip is…

Be clear on the desired conversion step

If you want people to sign up for your newsletter, do not put your “newsletter” link at the bottom of your web page (and in 10 point font.) Similarly, do not crowd the page with seven other conversion opportunities like, “download the PDF,” “watch the video,” or vague ad copy asking if a company “wants gains of 212% or more!”

Ask yourself what you want your reader to do. Is it make a purchase? Is it to sign up for a newsletter? Request more information? Make the call-to-action easy to find — and easy to take action.

Create a sustainable editorial calendar

The “experts” will tell you to publish multiple times a week and promote every post. While this is a good solution for a larger company, it’s the content kiss of death for a smaller one. If the content workload isn’t sustainable, your team members won’t hit the deadline — no matter what the editorial calendar says.

As an example, one of my clients is the CEO of a small consulting firm. Like many experts, he travels, he works with clients and he’s the chief SME — so all of the good information is in his head. In a perfect world, we’d create a myriad of content assets every month. Is that workable for his schedule? No (and yes, we’ve tried to make it work.)

Having said that, creating a sustainable editorial calendar has made all the difference. Blog posts are getting written, podcasts are being recorded, and a couple of larger content assets are in play. More importantly, prospects call my client and say, “I keep seeing your information online, and I finally got around to calling you.”

May 2016 be the year that prospects pop out of the woodwork and call you because they “keep seeing your information online.” It’s a very good feeling.

Photo thanks: ID 32073442 © Stuart Miles | Dreamstime.com

 

 

 

4 B2B Content Marketing Experts Share How They Rock LinkedIn

LinkedIn logosAre you cultivating relationships with colleagues and potential clients?

Have you built a solid company page?

Are you actively participating and posting your content in key LinkedIn groups relevant to your industry’s vertical?

Have you considered establishing your own LinkedIn group?

If not, you really should: LinkedIn is an ideal platform for B2B content marketing, as well as for boosting your brand’s visibility, forging valuable connections, and generating leads.

Still not convinced? Then read what four expert B2B content marketers have to say about leveraging LinkedIn, in response to this question:

 What’s your favorite way to use LinkedIn for B2B content marketing?

 Miranda Miller

 Miranda Miller (@MirandaM_EComm), Founder of MEDIAau

As a content marketing agency, our clients are other business people, marketers and executives, so LinkedIn is an important tool for us. I syndicate content published on our blog, as well as columns we publish in industry publications, to my personal LinkedIn.

Each of your connections and subscribers receive a notification from LinkedIn letting them know you published a new post, so it’s far more effective than organic Facebook in exposing your content to the people with whom you’ve already connected. It’s also dead simple to use, with easy image uploading and very few formatting options. If you aren’t publishing on LinkedIn, you’re missing out!

 

Tom Pick

Tom Pick (@TomPick), Founder of Webbiquity

The first step to optimizing B2B content marketing efforts on LinkedIn is to build a great company page. LinkedIn actually provides some helpful guidance and resources around best practices for creating an effective company page.

Once you’ve created a great page, promote it and encourage people to follow it from your website, blog, email newsletter, at live events, and any other opportunities that arise. This won’t make your company awesome at B2B content marketing on LinkedIn by itself, but it’s an essential first step.

Next, find, join, and utilize LinkedIn Groups. Precisely “how” this is done is a moving target, as LinkedIn has made significant changes to how groups work over the past 18 months, and it continues to do so.

Just as Google has made changes to its algorithm to minimize spam in search results, so LinkedIn continues to evolve groups to eliminate unwanted, low-value posts.

While groups have traditionally been an excellent place to share content, abuse by some members (e.g., trying to pass off promotion for their upcoming webinar as “news”) has led LinkedIn to clamp down on discussion items’ submissions and exposure.

What’s most important to remember when contributing to groups, or using features like publishing on LinkedIn or integrating SlideShare with your LinkedIn profile, is to focus on adding value. Increasingly, thinly veiled promotion posts will be punished on LinkedIn, while adding value — helping others in your network and groups to do their jobs more effectively — will be rewarded.

 

Steve Rayson

Steve Rayson (@steverayson), Co-Director of Buzzsumo

I find LinkedIn is a great place to build relationships. My tip is to share content from people you respect and make a point of commenting on their posts. It is good relationship building, but I also really enjoy the debate and learn a lot this way. LinkedIn groups also have great potential for discussion but in my view, they work best as small private communities. There is little engagement in many large groups.

In terms of content, I find my LinkedIn audience is very interested in industry news, trends and current issues. In every industry there are points of debate or controversy that generate a lot of engagement. Thus I try to keep many of my posts focused on these issues. Overall I find my posts appear to have greater visibility on LinkedIn. I may have a smaller audience, but I get a lot more engagement on LinkedIn than on other networks.

 

Steve Slaunwhite

Steve Slaunwhite (@steveslaunwhite), Founder of Copywriting Training Center

My favorite way is posting strategically written, highly targeted articles. It’s competitive (there are thousands of articles posted on LinkedIn each day), but pays off big when done right.

An article on LinkedIn can get read by dozens, perhaps hundreds, of new prospects — some of whom will subsequently visit your profile or website. In addition, a well-crafted, optimized article can be repurposed in numerous ways: email newsletter, blog post, printed piece (as a handout), part of an ebook, etc. It’s a winning strategy no matter how you look at it.

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5 Ways to Spice Up Your B2B Content

SpicesNews flash: B2B content doesn’t have to be boring.

I know, I know. Writing for B2B sites isn’t easy. Products like lanyards and construction helmets aren’t necessarily sexy. Your competitors’ sites are probably just as boring. And the powers-that-be may feel more comfortable with “just the facts” feature-filled content.

Yet, for many (most) B2B sites, there’s room for so much improvement. By adding just a little bit of spice, you can connect with your readers and boost your conversion rates.

Here’s how to do it:

Use the word “you” in your copy

You are not selling to robots. Nor are you selling to a “company.” You are selling to people. And people (otherwise known as your target readers) respond to the word “you.”  Using the word personalizes your message and makes your content more compelling. For a great example, check out Basecamp’s homepage. Their line, “Our job is to help you do your job better” is a fantastic mission statement. It’s punchy, personal and implies a pretty big benefit. Plus, it makes you want to look more closely at their services – so the content is definitely doing it’s job.

Shorten your sentences

Many B2B companies are guilty of zombie run-on sentences. You read one endless sentence and BOOM you see another one. They’re everywhere. And they suck the life out of the content.  Guess what? Nobody wants to read your 35+ word sentences.  If you find yourself writing long, paragraph-like sentences, mix up your sentence structure, stat! Write one longer sentence and then follow it up with a shorter one. Experiment. Your copy will be much punchier as a result.

Get inside your readers’ heads

What is your reader really thinking? It’s not, “Hey, I’m going to purchase these firefighting helmets for our team.” It’s probably something like, “I need to find the safest, most comfortable helmets for the best possible cost.” You shouldn’t start writing until you have fleshed out what your unique sales proposition is, what’s driving your reader to make a purchase and what motivates them. If companies in your industry are known for poor customer service, play up the fact that you have staff on call 24/7. If your solution is high value (and more expensive,) overcome any price objections within your copy and show how paying more is a great investment. The more you know what your reader is thinking when he or she reaches your landing page, the more persuasive your content.

Boost your benefit statements

Have you ever wanted to scream “HOW DOES THIS PRODUCT HELP ME?!” Yeah. Me too. Features are nice but they don’t tell the whole story. It’s one thing to sell a hard hat. It’s another to discuss how your hard hat won’t slip off, is ultra comfortable and won’t cause headaches. Statements like that will cause your target reader to sit up and take notice.

Dare to be different

I am so tired of people saying that their content has to be boring. Why? It’s “industry standard.” If they write it any differently, their target market may respond negatively. Look at companies like AppSumo. Their content for their Piktochart product not only tells a story, it tells a funny story – plus weaves in some impressive benefit statements. They even use the words “you” and “your.”  Their sales copy shows being different works and can truly differentiate your product line. Sure, I’m sure they’ve tested their results to confirm that the tone and feel is spot on. But at least they took a chance rather than following the herd.

Instead of making excuses, why not go out on a limb? Try one (or more) of these spicy techniques and see what sticks. Rewrite a landing page. Test new approaches via social media.

You may be surprised at the results. And you may make more money, too.

Photo thanks to Clyde Robinson. 

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5 SEO copywriting tips for B2B companies

I love working with B2B companies. Many times, they have scads of unique content opportunities – they just need someone to point them out and send them in the right direction.

If you work for a B2B company and you’ve been wondering, “Why are people bouncing out of our site so fast” or “Why don’t we position for X keyterm,” read on. You may benefit from one (or all) of these five SEO copy tips.:

  • Do you know who you’re writing for? Who is your target audience? Do you serve multiple target audiences?  For instance, you may serve real estate agents, solopreneurs and large corporations.  That means three different audiences (or personas) – and each persona will have different goals, motivations and needs. Creating personalized content for your company’s different personas allow you to customize the content around what they need to see – and can help conversion rates skyrocket. For instance, Paymo clearly outlines their target markets on their home page, and lists persona-specific benefits.

  • Qualify your keyphrases for the B2B market. Many B2B keyterms can cause “keyphrase confusion” if they aren’t qualified for your market. For instance, when you think “blades,” you may think “server blades.” However, “blades” could also mean “hockey blades,” or “razor blades.” If you were a B2B company focusing on the single term “blades” when you really mean “server blades,” you’ll be missing the search engine boat.

Adding the qualifying word (in this case, “server”) will help the page position for the B2B phrase. Here’s how Dell does it:

  • Consider your tone and feel. One of the easiest ways a B2B company can differentiate itself is through well-written, engaging copy. That doesn’t mean that the content should sound “fluffy” or be inappropriate for the brand. But it does mean that you probably have more room to move than you think. For example, check out FreshBooks’ home page. I never thought an invoice could “Earn the awe of your clients,” but hey, the copy gets the point across in a fresh, snappy way.
  • Create clickable Titles. A common B2B Title is structured like this:  keyword | keyword | keyword| (insert company name here.) You wouldn’t write a headline like that – so why would you let the first opportunity for conversion (getting the click from the search engines results page) pass you by?  Create a compelling, “clickable” Title by including a benefit statement or even a call to action. For instance, check out this example from PSPrint. Their Title has keyphrases. It has a benefit statement. And it positions in the top ten, too. Triple score!

  • Leverage the content you have. B2B companies tend to have many content opportunity. For instance, newsletter content can be re-purposed for a blog post. You could create transcripts of past Webinars and post them online. Existing site copy could be transformed into top-positioning SEO copy through strategic keyphrase editing. The possibilities are out there – it’s just uncovering them, setting an editorial calendar and making it happen.

 

You inherited crap legacy content. Now what?

Does your company's site content make you cry?

Does your company’s site content make you cry?

Good news: You were just hired as the content manager for a well-established site.

Bad news: The content is horrible, it hasn’t been optimized for SEO and every page makes you want to cry.

This scenario is extremely common. Maybe it’s because the company has had various people overseeing the site’s content. Or, no-one “owned” the content before – so there’s no strategy, no cohesion and everything is a big, fat mess.

If this sounds like your company, take a deep breath and relax. The key is to tackle your site in baby steps. Here are some places to start:

Review the site’s analytics.

Even crappy pages can convert – maybe not to their full potential, but they can do it. Determine the pages that contribute the most to the conversion process. These top pages will probably be the ones you “touch” first. You’ll also want to review bounce rates and time on site. If people are clicking into your site and not taking action, you know you have a problem.

(As a side note, if your company doesn’t have analytics and goals in place, get those set up first. You can’t manage what you can’t measure.)

Review the existing customer persona.

Is it still relevant? Do you need to create a new one? If your company is serving a new vertical market, is there content just for them?

Check out your existing keyphrase document (assuming there is one.)

Do the keyphrases represent all phases of the buy cycle? Or are they mostly brand-specific terms that are only relevant when someone wants to make a purchase? Just to be safe, I’d re-run the data. You may find opportunities the previous person didn’t see.

Determine the overarching primary and secondary issues.

For many sites, the core issue is that the pages haven’t been optimized. This means poor Titles, and inconsistent (or no) keyphrase usage. Other sites may suffer from a variety of different writing styles that don’t fit the customer persona. Once you determine what the main problems are, you’ll be able to focus your efforts and get more done.

Are the pages written to sell? Or do you have a “meh” response?

A huge problem many companies (especially B2B companies) face is their sales copy is boring, benefit-free and basic. Tightening up the top sales pages and rewriting them can often result in an almost immediate “win” (that is, you’ll make money.) Consider testing pages with services like Optimizely. That way, you’ll KNOW what works rather than making an educated guess.

Can you find any easy wins?

Rewriting sales pages can certainly be an easy win. So can optimizing existing blog posts that lead to conversions. If you know a page is important to the sales cycle and it’s keyphrase-free, making it more SEO friendly can often have a huge impact. You’ll be able to drive more qualified traffic that should result in increased leads or sales.

Get organized – not overwhelmed.

Remember those top pages that drive conversion rates? Tighten those up and make those shine first. After that, have a plan for going through the site in organized, sequential chunks. That may mean focusing on your “easy win” pages next. Or focusing your efforts around a particular site section. Tie your efforts back to what you know makes your site money rather than doing a little bit of everything. You’ll see better results, faster, if you do.

Reviewing your site is something you can easily do yourself. Or, if you need an outside opinion, it sometimes pays to bring in a content expert who can develop an action plan. That way, someone with a fresh perspective (and perhaps a better understanding of the latest SEO content techniques) can help you along your path.

The good news is – even crappy legacy content can be transformed into a top-converting asset. It may take some time and you’ll be working in baby steps. But the end result will be a site that you’re proud to be associated with (and won’t make you cry when you look at it.)

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Thank you, migasun, for the great photo!

 

 

 

 

Does your B2B content strategy target all the key influencers?

Your B2B content strategy should reach all key influencersI came across this great post on HubSpot the other day that answered and negated the commonly cited shortcomings of inbound marketing their sales teams often hear from site owners and marketing managers.

This section in particular really stuck with me:

Claim: Decision-makers don’t spend their time online researching products and services…The idea is that the typical C-suite executive doesn’t spend his or her time online reading blogs, conducting searches in Google, or participating in social media.

Rebuttal: Decision-makers are influenced by online channels when it comes to purchasing decisions…Even if a C-suite executive doesn’t spend a lot of their time reading blogs, using social media, and conducting research online, that doesn’t mean there aren’t others within their company who are doing those things. And chances are, these people have some level of influence on the decisions of those C-suite executives.

The B2B content marketing challenge: multiple influencers throughout the buying cycle

A lot of B2B companies struggle with content creation in one way another, whether it be coming up with topics to write about or having a hard time publishing a steady stream of content. Either way, most B2B companies realize the importance of content marketing but some still struggle with the actual implementation.

One of the most common issues I see is that B2B content marketing doesn’t take into account all of the possible influencers, nor each stage of the buying cycle.

B2B content marketing campaigns might be too heavily weighted at the beginning of the buying cycle, which is great for driving information-seeking visitors to your site, but not as good at actually converting them. Or, they are too heavily weighted at the end of the buying cycle, so companies are missing the opportunity to connect with potential customers early on.

For instance, say your company sold various enterprise software products. Your end decision maker is probably the CIO or CTO, right? But is that CIO the one actually doing the grunt work and investigating all the possible vendors out there? Probably not.

Perhaps the Director of IT is the one that does a lot of the leg work and presents the CIO/CTO with the top few choices. But is the Director of IT the only one involved in the research and information gathering process? Again, probably not.

A B2B content strategy scenario…

Say one of the products your company offered was a contact center software product. The CIO isn’t the one actually using that product, your enterprise’s contact center agents are. But they don’t have the authority to make a buying decision, so they turn to their contact center manager with their needs/complaints about their current system.

The contact center manager in turn might look up the chain of command to the Customer Experience Executive or the Chief Customer Office, and explain why/how a new contact center software solution can help improve the customer experience. They, in turn, have to get the okay from the CTO or CIO to make sure this new software will work within their existing system that in turn might have to check-in with the CFO to get the budget approved.

Each person, from the contact center agent all the way up to the C-suite, can influence the final decision in one way or another, and each individual is looking for different pieces of information.

The call center agent wants to make sure that your software will actually make their jobs easier, not harder. The contact center manager wants to know that your software will easily integrate and “play nice” with other applications already being used so their agents don’t have to waste time learning a new program.

The CCO wants to see how a software program can actually impact the customer experience and everyone wants to know how spending money on new software will help them make or save money in the long run.

Content marketing that targets all of the influencers

Does your B2B content marketing campaign hit each of those influencers and their needs? If not, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities to connect with and influence each member of your target audience.

In a large enterprise, unlike a small business, no one person makes a decision that impacts the rest of the company on his or her own. Many B2B sales and buying cycles are extremely long and involved, and require a substantial monetary investment from your potential clients.

You don’t want them to have any lingering questions or doubts regarding your product or company, and your B2B content marketing campaigns are how you answer those questions.

 

About the Author ~ Nick Stamoulis

Nick Stamoulis is the President of Brick Marketing, a Boston-based search marketing firm that specializes in B2B SEO services. With over 13 years of industry experience Nick Stamoulis shares his SEO knowledge by writing in the Brick Marketing Blog and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 120,000 opt-in subscribers.

photo thanks to Robert Gaal

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your B2B site doesn’t need more freakin’ words

b2bHi. My name is Heather, and I’m pissed off (“Hi, Heather!”)

Here’s why.

Last week, an SEO agency called me. They represented a B2B company that was in need of content – OK, that’s fine.

And then, the prospect started talking about the gig…

“The client needs three blog posts a week, all an average of 500 words. That’s what Google wants, you know”

“The pages should have a keyphrase density of 6.7 percent.”

“We don’t want to spend much for this content – our budget is around $30/article.”

That was strike one, strike two, and strike three for me.

The client pointed me to an example page, and here’s what I found:

– The content was filled with grammatical errors

– There was no call-to-action anywhere. So, it was a content “dead-end” page that wasn’t helping with conversion rates.

– The post didn’t dovetail with anything that the client offered.

– The post drifted off and stopped making sense at about the 300 word mark. Obviously, the writer tried to “fluff it up” and added an additional 200 words because they were “supposed to.”

And who only knows how much the agency charged the B2B end client. I’m willing to bet that the $30 content “investment” turned into a $250-$300 content charge to the client.

I had a little fun with the agency person and started asking hard questions like, “So, tell me how X post is converting for the client? What’s the call to action here? Is this the right voice that works with the target audience?”

Sure, I was letting my inner bitch come out and play – but I asked nicely. And they were highly valid questions.

The agency person didn’t know what to say. He stammered and hemmed and hawed and finally said…and I bet you can say it with me…

“Well, the content is good for Google – so that’s all we care about.”

Here’s the deal:  Google doesn’t give a shit about your word count. Nor does it care how many blog posts you upload a week. And it really doesn’t care about keyword density.

What your site needs are the right freakin’ words. Not necessarily MORE words – the right ones. The ones that connect with your prospects, build trust and encourages a conversion.

Sadly, this attitude is extremely common with SEOs and agencies (not all of them – there are “good guys” out there. But the crappy ones outweigh the good ones.) They may talk a good game and say that “content is king.” And then they turn around and order cheap content that has nothing to do with the site’s conversion goals and pass it off as SEO gold.

What’s worse – the poor B2B client doesn’t know. They think that the SEO is looking after their best interests.

So, here are a few reality checks:

– If your SEO/agency is recommending daily blog posts (or any other kind of content,) ask them how that content ties into your conversion goals. If they say the content is “for Google,” – and that’s the only benefit – don’t do it. The world doesn’t need more crappy content.

– If your first concern is the content price – you’re having the wrong conversation. Good content makes you money, period. It’s like paying a higher salary to a sizzling-hot salesperson who closes big deals. That doesn’t mean that you have to pay $500 a page every time. But it means that you have to weigh the cost of the content against return on investment. The best writing firm (or writer) isn’t the cheapest writer. The best writer is the person who will make you more money.

– If your SEO/agency is pushing “more content” when your sales copy sucks, run away. You need to pay attention to where your money comes from – and that means taking a hard look at your sales and lead generation pages. I’m sure that your CEO didn’t wake up one morning and say, “Our new mission statement is to have our content +1’ed all over the place.” The name of the game is to make more freakin’ money. Shore up your sales pages first. Make sure that they are connecting with your customers and converting like crazy. THEN look at your other marketing collateral.

Sheesh…rant over. 🙂

 

Is your B2B site using the right keywords? Are you sure?

Greetings! Today’s SEO Copywriting video post is in response to a question put to Heather during her recent Inbound Writer webinar (7 Steps to SEO Copywriting Success):  “How do you address competing keywords where the keyword attracts multiple audiences?”

This is a very good question, and one that poses a particular challenge for business-to-business (B2B) copywriters.  Tune in to learn the common mistakes made by B2B writers in their keyphrase research – and hence, site optimization – and how to avoid (and correct) them:

Challenge #1: Using too broad a keyphrase

A big challenge is when a B2B company employs copywriters who may not be that savvy in SEO and keyphrase research: they may make the easy mistake of optimizing a webpage or entire site for too broad a keyphrase.

For example, let’s look at the screenshot of a chemical blender company and the search results shown on the right side of the page. Now, within that company folks might routinely refer to their chemical blenders simply as “blenders.” So it may be that the copywriter who is unfamiliar with SEO would optimize the product page for the word “blenders.”

  • The challenge is, in Google’s world, when you type the word “blenders” into the search query box, what you come back with are consumer results – not B2B industry results. The consumer results aren’t focused on mixing chemicals, they’re instead talking about how to mix smoothies.

So copywriters who do not understand SEO end up optimizing their webpage or site for too broad a keyphrase (or a single keyword) that fails to reach their intended audience and drive that targeted, quality traffic.

Challenge #2: Not understanding SEO keyphrase research results

A second B2B challenge (and common mistake) comes from not understanding keyphrase research results.

  • The inexperienced copywriter might be using keyphrase research tools, but upon seeing that “chemical blenders” isn’t returning that much traffic they may make the mistake of going with the more generic keyword, “blenders,” because, it get greater search volume. Again, the problem is that while “blenders” may be far more heavily trafficked, those folks searching the term “blenders” aren’t looking for “chemical blenders” – they’re looking for consumer blenders. So again, the copywriter ends up optimizing the webpage or site for the wrong term, and the business doesn’t get the target traffic and sales they need to see.

Tip: Quick keyphrase research reality check 

For a quick reality check of your research results, one of the things you can do is to feed your keywords/phrases into Google’s search query box and see what kind of results come up.

For example, using the word “blade” in the I.T. world, that word can mean “blade server,” but in Google’s world, it can mean something completely different.

So, if you see those kinds of mixed results, then you’ve a huge opportunity. By looking at your keyphrase research through a search engine’s literal eyes, you can start targeting those folks who are actually looking for your products or services.

Think “specific” when choosing keyphrases

In the “blade” example, you can see how changing from “blade” to “blade server” dramatically alters the search results.

  • If you’re in B2B copywriting, think “specific.” Go into Google and double check your keyphrases and be sure the results returned are relevant to the webpage you’re optimizing for and don’t have a lot of consumer results mixed in.

photo credit to: cliff1066™

 

How good pick-up lines can help you write better B2B Web copy

When you were single, did you use the same pick-up line every time?

If you were talking to the smart guy (or girl,) you probably led with a brainy comment.

If a hockey fan caught your eye, you’d chat about the Stanley Cup and the Bruins.

If you thought an outdoorsy-looking person looked hot, you may mention your love for everything REI.

The key is, you’d change what you’d talk about depending on your, um, target audience. I bet it even came naturally. You’d do it to make a a better connection, faster – and move him or her to your next conversion step (asking them out.)

Why don’t we take the same care with our web copy?

Many B2B websites use the same pick-up line, expecting it to work with every audience they serve.

Rather than personalizing the reader pitch, their copy is the equivalent of “Hey, baby. How YOU doin’?”  It’s general. It’s untargeted. It’s all about them. And it doesn’t show that the company understands anything about their target audience.

Sure, this approach may work some of the time. But it won’t work most of the time. Here’s what to do instead:

I’ve talked before about creating vertical-specific landing pages for B2B copy. This gives companies two distinct advantages:

  • You can speak specifically to what’s important to a defined customer persona. For instance, dental offices and real estate agents buy mailing lists. However, the benefits to a real estate agent (finding possible home buyers within a certain demographic group,) is different than dental offices (finding families within a certain zip code.)
  • Splitting your pages up by vertical allow you to capitalize on less competitive (but still highly targeted) keyphrases. For instance, it could be tough to gain a competitive ranking for the phrase “mailing list.” It’s a heck of a lot easier to position for “real estate agent mailing lists.” Plus, searchers entering your site off that phrase would be highly targeted.

For instance, let’s look at this example from Constant Contact:

You can see how the company was able to customize the copy (and the application list) for the target audience.

Compare this to another Constant Contact page targeted towards consultants:

See what they’re doing? Their pick-up lines are personalized for the audience. They know what real estate agents and consultants want to hear – and it’s addressed in the copy. The “voice” is personal and friendly, not the B2B equivalent of “How YOU doin’?”

In short, the way they wrote their copy helps them make a better connection, faster, with their audience.

And I bet their copy converts like crazy, too.

What do you think? What’s your favorite way of connecting with your target audience?

Think CIAO for B2B SEO Copywriting

Whenever I chat with in-house and freelance SEO copywriters, I’m typically asked “the B2B question.” It goes something like this:

“I think I understand how to write optimized Web copy for B2C sites. But what about B2B SEO copywriting? Isn’t it different?”

It’s true that B2B SEO copywriting often has a slightly different tone and feel than its consumer counterpart.

After all, if you’re targeting executives with buying authority, the copy will read differently than if you’re writing about pet accessories or Pilates mat classes.

But that doesn’t mean that B2B copywriting has to be straight, dull and “just the facts.” Nor does B2B copywriting have different SEO copywriting “rules.”

If you’re confused about writing for the B2B market, just remember one simple acronym: CIAO. Here’s how it breaks down.

C – Customer focused copy

Your first step before you start writing is to develop a customer persona:

  • Who will purchase this product or service?
  • What are her pain points?
  • What objections does she have?
  • How can you help?

Just like in B2C SEO copywriting, every word you write should be laser-focused towards your audience’s needs. Consider how your product or service helps to shave expenses, provide peace-of-mind, improve profits or somehow simplifies a process. Specific benefits sell in the B2B market – so make sure you tell your prospect exactly how you can help them.

I – Interesting copy

B2B copy doesn’t have to be boring. Spec sheets, product features and case studies are important. However, the information doesn’t have to put people to sleep (really!)

In fact, one way to instantly differentiate from competitors is to write engaging copy that speaks directly to the prospect while providing benefits in an easy-to-read manner.  It’s true that you won’t necessarily be able to use a “peppy” tone and feel like you could with a B2C page. But you do you have more creative room to move than you think.

A quick rule of thumb: If you’re even bored by the copy, it’s time for a rewrite.

A – Action-oriented

It’s scary to see product or service Web pages without a call-to-action.

The last thing you want to do is frustrate your prospects when they’re trying to make a purchase or contact you for more information.

– If you want folks to make a purchase, make the purchase link prominent.

– If you want folks to contact you, make sure you tell them and make it easy for them to take action.

See? Easy!

If your prospects have to hunt around your site just to figure out how to buy from you, there’s a good chance that they’ll boogie away and find another vendor.

O – Optimized

The B2B world can be highly competitive, and optimization can make the difference between a nice site that gets a little bit of traffic – or a huge powerhouse site that gains massive market share.

The same “rules” apply when optimizing a B2B site.

  • Hire a content marketing strategist to help plan your campaign.
  • Choose topic-specific keyphrases and related words.
  • Create a clickable Title and strategically insert your keyphrases within the copy.

Remember, just like a B2C SEO copywriting campaign, skipping a step (like creating strong, keyphrase-rich Titles) can decimate your campaign, rendering so-so results rather than stellar.

See? SEO copywriting for the B2B market is easier to create than you think! Just follow the same “rules” you would for B2C SEO copywriting (keeping in mind that you’ll need a different tone and feel) and you should be fine.

Ciao, baby!