Posts

Want to Write A Sizzling Services Page? Check Out These 7 Tips!

Want to know the secrets to writing a top-converting services page?

Unlike product pages, which are all about landing the sale, service pages are different.

It’s all about getting the lead.

With that in mind, here are seven smart strategies for capturing leads with savvy SEO copywriting.

Watch the video for all the juicy information, or check out a summary of the tips below:

1. Focus on benefits, not features

Don’t bury your benefit statements! It’s important to address how your service can specifically help your prospect. For instance, will your service save your customers money? Help them make more money? Streamline their operations? Tell them!

Features are important– but it’s your unique sales proposition (U.S.P.) and benefit statements that will grab your prospect’s interest and make them contact you. Merely listing features makes you sound the same as everyone else providing the same or a similar service. Who wants that?

2.  Consider persona-specific landing pages

Creating landing pages specifically addressing your main targeted audiences is a powerful strategy.

Constant Contact, an email platform, used to show vertical-specific landing pages targeted towards individual industry niches. I LOVE this approach. Why? Vertical-specific pages have very cool SEO and reader benefits.

From the SEO side, vertical-specific landing pages allow you to target highly specific keyphrases, for example [email marketing for real estate agents].

From the reader side, you can tie your writing back to your customer persona and drive home the “what’s-in-it-for-them” benefits. For instance, in the case of Constant Contact, people won’t just read about how cool email marketing is — instead, they’ll read an entire page focused on the benefits of email marketing for their industry. That’s a pretty powerful message!

3.  Don’t write skimpy copy

67% of the B2B buyers’ journey is done digitally, according to Forrester Research. That means if your site offers skimpy information and little copy, you run the risk of prospects leaving your site and checking out another vendor. Remember, people won’t “just call” or send you an email. No solid services information = no sale.

4. Include solid, vertical-specific testimonials

Yes, testimonials are smart to have on your site as social proof — but they are only as credible as you make them. Whenever possible, use the full, real names of your testimonial clients rather than just initials.  The latter can look fake (however real they might be) and could prove counter-productive.

5.  Highlight your company’s overarching benefits, too

Besides individual, specific service benefits, you want to highlight the larger, big-picture benefits that your company has to offer on every single page of your website.

Do you offer free, fast shipping? Does your company offer “white-glove” services, while your competitors offer a DIY solution? Shout your overarching benefits from the rooftops!

Boring B2B and B2C companies list technical features and facts, assuming that’s all their prospect wants (or needs) to know. Don’t be like those companies! In the words of Theodore Levitt from Harvard University, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”

6Pay close attention to your page Titles

Yes, Titles are very important to readers and for SEO purposes — and it’s crucial to write them right.  If you create vague, non-descript Titles with broad keywords, such as “marketing services” or “web design,” you won’t see the positions you want — nor will you see much organic search traffic.

If your Titles are so-so, consider revisiting your keyphrase research and making some strategic tweaks. You may see a boost in page positions (and search traffic) if you do!

7.  Consider conducting keyphrase research before you name your services 

A cool-sounding, unique service name may seem edgy — but it may not be intuitively searchable. Naming your service something like “Revenue $ucce$$” when you offer “accounts payable services” may make your service hard to find online.

Some companies will conduct keyphrase research before naming a service. That way, they know what words people are using to search for what they offer — and they can consider using those search terms as part of the service name.

Looking for more how-to information? Learn how to write a killer home page and a revenue-driving product page!

Want to learn how to work where you want, when you want and make the money you want to make? Discover profitable SEO writing tips, business strategies, and proven productivity hacks.

Learn how to be a rebel writer — sign up for my weekly newsletter!

 

Create Killer Content: Copy These Powerful Formulas

sales writingDo a search on “sales writing” or “copywriting” and you’ll see that the body of content around it is ginormous. And that’s no surprise. After all, copywriting is the substance of all the print and digital marketing materials out there, from headlines to calls to action (and all that stuff in between).

The art and science of writing persuasive copy as we know it has been around for some time, and the principles and best practices of David Ogilvy’s day still apply today. In part 1 in our 4-part series on conversions writing, we review some evergreen resources that feature time-saving copywriting formulas, as well as helpful how-tos on creating compelling headlines and email subject lines.

Copywriting Formulas: Acronym Soup 

Creating solid sales copy takes precious time and energy. To help you use both most efficiently, here are several resources for your virtual library.

The Ultimate Guide to No-Pain Copywriting (or, Every Copywriting Formula Ever)

By Joanna Wiebe via Copy Hackers

“Because only rookies write from scratch…” So begins Joanna Wiebe’s introduction to Copy Hackers’ ambitious taxonomy of copywriting formulas (as well as several templates, methods and checklists).

Beginning with the widely known AIDA (Attention-Interest-Desire-Action) model and its myriad variations to more obscure ones such as HELLYEAH (Holler-Empathize-Lambast-Legwork-Yes-Educate-Action-Handle) for long form sales letters, this guide is rich with links and examples. Definitely a keeper!

The Ultimate Guide to Copywriting

By Hassan Ud-deen via Kissmetrics

In this “ultimate guide,” author Hassan Ud-deen discusses the multiple elements that make for superlative copy. He offers a detailed description of how to apply the AIDA formula (including a great YouTube clip of Alec Baldwin’s tutorial from Glengarry Glen Ross), and delves into the psychology behind intriguing headlines, compelling openings and persuasive sales copy. Ud-deen even touches on the use of closed vs. open bullet points. A handy resource you’ll consult for most any copywriting project.

Why Most Copywriting Formulas Stink (and How to Really Write for the Web)

By Henneke Duistermaat via Enchanting Marketing

Authored by the self-described “irreverent copywriter and marketer” Henneke Duistermaat, this post takes aim at the AIDA copywriting formula. Her main objection to AIDA is the redundancy (and potential overkill) of the “attention” part. Unlike the days of print advertising when AIDA was conceived (circa 1900), you’ve already got the attention of readers — they’ve clicked on your site (several others echo this observation, including Wiebe).

Duistermaat favors the FAB (Features-Advantages-Benefits) formula (listed in Copy Hackers’ guide as “A single, solitary formula for body copy”), with the emphasis being on the benefits your product or service offers your prospect (which propels the desire called for by the AIDA model).

She also addresses the PAS (Problem-Agitate-Solution, or -Solve) formula premised on the avoidance of pain, whereby you describe a problem, stir up the emotions associated with it, then offer your solution. Regarding PAS, she quotes copywriting legend Dan Kennedy:

“When you understand that people are more likely to act to avoid pain than to get gain, you’ll understand how powerful this first formula is. (…) It may be the most reliable sales formula ever invented.”

Master This Copywriting Formula to Dominate Any Social Media Platform

By Demian Farnworth via Copyblogger

The applications for the PAS (Problem-Agitate-Solve) copywriting formula (above) are “endless”, writes Demian Farnworth, citing and linking out to examples of its use in product descriptions, landing pages and sales letters.

Farnworth then delves into how to apply the PAS formula to any text-based social media platform (rather humorously), including Twitter. He further notes that “PAS gives your writing consistency, precision, and persuasion” and is a tool you can keep handy to be an efficient writer because you “don’t have to recreate the wheel every time.”

Compelling Headlines: Key to Conversions

You’re most likely familiar with David Ogilvy’s famous quote about headlines: “On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.”

Here are some resources to help you spend that 80 cents wisely.

A Simple Formula for Writing Kick-Ass Blog Titles

By Corey Eridon via HubSpot

Corey Eridon succinctly underscores the importance of creating truly compelling titles in prefacing his post: “Titles are what sell the content.” He continues, “They represent it in search engines, in email, and on social media.”

Guided by best practices, notably keeping the reader experience paramount by delivering on the promise of the title, Eridon’s headline-writing formula starts with the key step of distinguishing an overarching topic from a specific, working title that “guides the creation of a blog post.”

Other requisites of a stellar title include making it sexy while keeping it accurate, as deceptive clickbait titles are liable to backfire by alienating readers (they may well lose trust in you or the brand you’re representing). Additional steps entail optimizing the title for search while keeping it short, and then brainstorming with someone else to hone it to perfection. A smart, from-the-trenches formula!

#Copywriting ALERT! 902 Headline Banging Words, SRSLY

By Marty Weintraub via aimClear

aimClear CEO Marty Weintraub and his team share a list of 902 words to use when creating blog, article and ad headlines. According to Weintraub, these words are “likely to distinguish professional from amateur copy when well used.”

The list is divided into “an array of permutations” that include emotions, expletive punch words and a set of synonyms that serve as a kind of “headline-stemming lateral thesaurus.” Then to assist with ad headline and SEO title brevity, the list is color-coded according to the word’s character count. This resource is something best understood firsthand, so definitely check it out!

How To Create Headlines That Grab Attention And Convert

By Michael Brenner via Marketing Insider Group

A study conducted by HubSpot and Outbrain of more than 3.3 million blog headlines looked into those attributes that increased or inhibited content reach as measured by click-through rates (CTRs), engagement and conversions. In a nutshell, their analysis reveals that readers have become wary of clickbait, demonstrating a strong preference for transparent titles.

Michael Brenner summarizes the study’s findings, writing that headlines with the words “who” and “photo(s),” as well as those with clarifications in brackets (such as [Webinar]), generated higher CTRs, while the latter two also drove higher engagement. Bracketed descriptions were further found to generate more conversions.

The analysis found that overused sexy words such as “secret” and “magic”, those that directly address the reader (“you”) and those that convey urgency (such as “now”) all hurt CTRs by as much as 59 percent. You can download the full study (“Data Driven Strategies for Writing Effective Titles & Headlines”) at HubSpot.

Hate this Headline? You’ll Probably Share the Story.

By Barry Feldman via Kissmetrics

While an 8-word headline of a 1300-word post represents less than 1% of the content, I’m 99% sure it will be the line that dictates the destiny of your post,” writes Barry Feldman in his own post about how to get your content shared on social media…so much so that it delivers a “sudden and pronounced spike in traffic”. The key: giving your post an emotional headline to invoke reader response by using words that pack a powerful punch.

Such “power words” can be positive (connoting pleasurable feelings), or negative (i.e., painful feelings) and there are scads of them. Feldman shares links to CoSchedule’s “cheat sheet” of over 180 power words, and to PsychPage’s equally impressively list of feeling words, both pleasant and unpleasant. He also shares a tool that scores the emotional mojo of your headlines, so you can test alternative variations. Go forth and make that headline emote!

Email Subject Lines: Stand Out in the Inbox Crowd

Email marketing is one of the most effective content marketing strategies available. You can think of email subject lines as headlines for your reader’s inbox, with their open rates the equivalent of headline click-through rates. Here are resources to assist you in persuading your readers to open your email.

The 112 Best Email Marketing Subject Lines (so far) in 2016

By Joey Barker via Unfunnel

It’s not yet mid-January, yet Unfunnel has already sent out 1.25 million emails. Their analysis of the email open rates rendered a list of their best 112 email subject lines, organized as benefit-driven, logic- and threat-based types. In turn, each type is broken down into categories.

For instance, benefit-driven email subject lines may drive open rates by appealing to the reader’s self-interest, or pique her interest with news or by telling the beginning of a story. (Their benefit-driven email subject lines accounted for nearly half of Unfunnel’s most successful ones).

Logic-based email subject lines may arouse the reader’s curiosity, invoke social proof, or appeal to her humanity with a more one-on-one, intimate tone.

Finally, threat-based email subject lines play on the reader’s fear of loss, whether by implying scarcity or urgency.

The 9 Best Email Subject Line Styles to Increase Your Open Rates

By Megan Marrs via WordStream

You needn’t look farther than your own inbox to know that subscribers are inundated with emails vying for their attention. Here Megan Marrs discusses nine types of email subject lines to boost open rates: simple and no-nonsense; funny; controversial/shocking; single-word; numbers and lists; personalized; questions and other punctuation; “missing out” and other scarcity tactics; and finally, mysterious.

She then lists several general best practices for writing email subject lines, including writing ten different lines for every email and then choosing the best, keeping the character count to under 50, playing with alliteration and using CAPITALS sparingly.

How Consumers Really Feel About Your Subject Lines

By Elyse Dupre via Direct Marketing News

To gauge the impact that emotional words and phrases in email subject lines have on reader engagement, Persado (an “automated persuasive language generator” software company) analyzed 436 of those from retail and e-commerce companies.

The specific subject lines studied were from last year’s Black Friday emails, and “engagement” was measured by open rates.

Elyse Dupre reports that Persado studied five performance-driving emotions: urgency, achievement, exclusivity, anxiety and excitement. Of them, exclusivity (such as, “Your exclusive $15 coupon is here!”) performed the best with a 28-percent average lift in open rates, and achievement (for instance, “…you’ve earned it”) a distant second with 18-percent.

An excited tone actually resulted in an 11-percent fall in open rates, compared to an 11-percent increase above the baseline in 2014. Paraphrasing Presado’s director of marketing, Julia Spano, Dupre writes that while it may seem counterintuitive, “excitement is rarely a top performing emotional category”.

[Note: You may be interested in this related story by Dupre on the impressive success Angie’s List has experienced in leveraging emotionally engaging email subject lines generated by Persado.]

Your Turn

Have you come across any evergreen sales writing resources you’d like to share? Please include them in the comments below!

Stay tuned for Part 2 next Thursday! We’ll share resources for creating conversions-driving blogs and web page copy, as well as tools and tips for promoting content. 

Photo thanks: ID 59022955 © Wujekjery / Dreamstime.com

 

 

 

A Powerful SEO Strategy for Crazy Conversions

SEO Conversions Strategy

Drive conversions with this mini-USP strategy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Client: “OK, sounds good.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s to your web success!

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

Photo credit to SEOPlanter | Flickr.com

Adapting to visual content: 3 musts for the SEO copywriter

The SEO copywriter needs to adapt to visual content marketingWith each new photo-friendly social network (and updates to existing networks to make images look even better), I cringe a little. There was a time when the best way to get your message across online was through some high quality, optimized text. As writers, we were kings and queens among content creators.

But now the tide is shifting. The web has become, for many, a primarily visual experience. Here’s some food for thought:

  • 40% of people respond better to visual information than plain text. (Zabisco)
  • On Facebook, photos perform best for likes, comments and shares. (Dan Zarella)
  • Pinterest generated more referral traffic for businesses than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube. (PriceGrabber)

(stats courtesy of Hubspot)

So what is the SEO content writer to do? It’s time to adapt. You can’t deny the power of images, and if you want your clients to reach their business goals through marketing you need to offer what is best.

Text is still important – but smart content writers need to make some strategic moves to stay on top of what clients (and search engines) are looking for.

Here’s how to do it:

1.   Think strategist instead of writer.

Many copywriters and content creators don’t realize that they are playing an important strategic role in their clients’ success. The writing you’re delivering isn’t just writing – it plays into your client’s ongoing success.

As content shifts heavily towards images rather than writing, put on your strategist hat. Help your clients understand how your writing is supported by images, and vice versa. Craft a strategy for them that combines your words with key images for maximum impact.

When you take this position, you’ll be able to overcome any qualms your clients might have about spending money and time with a content writing specialist.

2.   Partner with a graphic designer.

There’s never been a better time to form a strategic partnership with a graphic designer who can add beautiful images to your artwork.

Here’s an example: You write a lengthy, thought leadership blog post for  a client and the graphic artist creates a series of beautiful quote images from that article. Your client can use those images to market the piece on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and more. Or you could formally offer presentation creation services so your clients can leverage SlideShare, LinkedIn and Google+ promotion opportunities.

3.   Make incredibly awesome content.

The goal of most visual marketing is to get your audience to click back to a website and take action. That’s where your role as an SEO content creator comes in.

You get to create an incredibly awesome landing page that speaks directly to your client’s audience and gets the conversions that they are looking for. Plastering the web with cat memes and dancing Picard gifs will only get you so far (it will get you really far with me…but I’m a unique case).

If your client wants to leverage visual marketing they need somewhere to send that traffic. Put effort into developing incredibly awesome content in the form of landing pages, websites and blog posts.

Is visual content here to stay? Most definitely. But that doesn’t mean that our days are numbered as web writers. We just have to adapt.

How are you incorporating visual content into your approach? I’d love to read your ideas.

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 LinkedIn.

photo thanks to Ron Mader (planeta)

Hurry! Only 6 days’ left to claim 25% savings on the SEO Copywriting Certification training. Use coupon code SEPTEMBER

 

 

Conversions optimization: Does your sales copy sing?

This week's SEO content challenge is conversions optimization with sales contentLast week, we discussed whether your home page was doing its job. If it is, then your site visitors are clicking through to your sales pages.

So today the question is: how are your sales pages performing? Are you seeing the conversions you want?

If you’re selling products, how do your product descriptions read? Are they targeted to your market with the appropriate tone and feel? Are they highly descriptive? Or are they generic, abbreviated blurbs?

Neglecting to flesh out your product descriptions could be costing you customers.

Beyond product and service descriptions, how does your sales copy read overall? Is it so laden with keyphrases that it’s difficult to read? Are your keyphrases still relevant?

Is your call to action prominently displayed?

Does your sales content sing with specific benefits? Or does it simply list your product or service features?

This week’s SEO content challenge: Review your sales pages. Check your analytics, and look at bounce rates.

Then seek out every opportunity to improve your sales copy, and watch your conversions take off!

image thanks to Cea

Not sure what to do with your SEO content – just know that something needs to be done? Check into my low-cost SEO content review service!

 

 

 

 

5 things your SEO copywriter needs to create powerful content

For targeted, conversions-driving content, your SEO copywriter needs to know these 5 thingsSending a list of keywords to your SEO copywriter is a good start for your new web project, but it’s not everything he or she needs to turn your pages into gold.

Your writer needs to have a solid understanding of you, your products/services and your audience. Here are five key pieces of information to send their way so you can maximize your investment.

1.   A detailed ideal client profile.

Your web copy pages should be written for your client – not for your industry peers. The pages should be written as if your company is speaking directly to your customers.

Think about it this way: you’d have a much different style of speech planned if you were presenting to the residents of a local senior center instead of fellow business executives.

Your writer needs to know who they are speaking to. They’ll use this information to do some research about who your ideal clients are, how they speak and how they like to be spoken to.

2.   A tone or approach for your brand.

The way your ideal clients communicate isn’t the only thing that your SEO copywriter needs in terms of voice. The tone or approach for your company is essential information for your writer. They need to speak in the voice of your company.

Is your company a trusted advisor who is formal and informative? Is it the best friend who is giddy and excited to share? Is it the gentle coach who is encouraging and helpful?

If you’re not sure, now is the time to decide. Getting down your tone and feel is important for your SEO copywriting project – and for conversions!

3.   A short list of competitors.

Your direct competitors represent the environment in which you’re making your digital pitch. Your SEO copywriter needs to know who you’re up against, and how your competitors are approaching the same topics that you’ll need to cover.

A review of competitor websites can help tweak a headline or perfect a call to action that will make sure that website visitors convert on your site instead of heading back to the search engine results.

4.   The per page call to action.

Speaking of conversions, your SEO copywriting webpage plan needs to outline the call to action per page.

If this is going to be part of the web design, let your writer know. If they need to use a specific phrase or call to action that will be repeated throughout the site, make that clear. Or if you need a new idea for a site-wide call to action, now is the time to establish that.

5.   An hour interview with your top products/services expert.

Handing off the reins via email or project management system is a good start, but your SEO copywriter will greatly benefit from an exploratory call. Having an exploratory call has become standard operating procedure at Endurance Marketing because we get so much from the experience – and that reflects in the copywriting.

Even if you have thousands of pages of research material, getting on the phone with your top sales person or VP of marketing can help your SEO copywriter sharpen his or her focus and determine where to start first.

Make the effort – and the time – to give your SEO copywriter these key pieces. You’ll see better results in engagement, search engine rankings, conversions and general satisfaction. And who doesn’t want that?

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 Tomas Sobek

Could your in-house team use training in SEO content writing? Check into my customized in-house SEO copywriting training options today!

Leveraging content relationships & social proof for conversion rate optimization

How to leverage social proof from content relationships for CROThough content marketing has only recently reached buzzword status within the search industry, guest posting has been a popular method of promoting products and services online for a long time.

It’s often cited as a great link building technique and when done well, can help your website in more ways than just search.

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) has long been a technical art within digital marketing, but there are also a few ways in which you can utilise guest blogging and the relationships you build in the process to help improve conversions:

Qualified Traffic

Search is a fantastic driver of traffic for many businesses but it can also be wasteful in terms of conversions.

This is where content marketing can have more of an impact, as you’re segmenting your market before you ever set out your stall. When quality content marketing campaigns are focused around specific sets of users, they can be a powerful tool to drive qualified traffic to a website.

Social Proof

Wikipedia describes social proof as “a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect the correct behaviour for a given situation… driven by the assumption that the surrounding people possess more information about the situation.”

In other words, in observing the behaviour of others the decision process is simplified, providing us a convenient mental shortcut to responding to the task in hand.

The Blueglass UK website provides a prime example of using social proof from content marketing:

SEO Social Proof - 1

As you can see above, they have chosen to highlight their relationships with outlets that have featured their content as well as with other brands using their services, leaving visitors to ask themselves, “If it’s good enough for the Guardian, it must be good enough for me right?”

Authorship

While I could talk about the benefits of Authorship (and the fabled AuthorRank) all day, suffice it to say there is a huge amount of value to be had in including your author profile within content.

As you begin to write and publish more content, your author picture will become synonymous with your writing. Use the same image across all platforms and content and searchers will recognise the visual clue as a familiar and trusted face within the search results. Not only does this lead to improved CTR but it also allows the user to personify the company, transferring their views of the individual content creator to the organisation.

Relationships and Testimonials

Once you’ve placed your content with a high profile blogger, don’t let that be the end of the relationship. There are so many more mutual benefits to be had!

One such example is Testimonials. Rand Fishkin wrote about this method for attracting links back in 2009, but I find it serves a double purpose. Not only does the content creator get a nice link back to their website, but you get a glowing reference that can be used as further proof of your credentials to potential prospects.

Distilled does this very well on their consulting pages, thanks to their close relationship with SEOMoz (now Moz):

SEOmoz Social Proof - 2

 

Custom Landing Pages

A personalised landing page can be a great tool to help create a seamless transition from your guest content onto your own website, and maintain the brand connection between the two.

This is particularly potent when looking to gather blog or whitepaper subscriptions without the user feeling like they are just being “handled”.

From these pages you have much more control over the user journey and can look to move the prospect onto a proven conversion path as soon as possible.

One great example of this is from James Agate who guest blogged for Raven Tools and used a custom landing page to squeeze users towards subscribing to his newsletter.

Simple, yet effective.

We all know that content marketing is here to stay, but as you can see there is so much more to it than meets the eye. By using the relationships we garner through our content outreach we can help further our business goals long after the article has been published.

Have you used social proof to help improve conversions? What are your thoughts on using brand relationships for CRO?

About the Author ~ Andrew Isidoro

Andrew Isidoro is a Cardiff-based SEO Strategist at Box UK, a software development consultancy, helping to run the digital marketing department. You can find him on his blog talking about digital marketing and the state of semantic search, or on Twitter: @andrew_isidoro.

Could your conversions use a boost? I can help. Check into my direct response SEO copywriting services today!

Bad SEO content, good Google rankings: What now?

Bad SEO content  performing well in search? Here's some corrective strategies to useGreetings! Glad you’re here, as today marks the start of a new video series, SEO Content Writing Tips. The inspiration for this new series comes from you, our blog readers, and the questions you ask Heather.

So thank you and keep ‘em coming!

Today, Heather discusses a question that she gets all the time, which is: should I rewrite “bad” pages that have good Google rankings?

This is an excellent question, because a lot of folks have pages on their sites that position well, but the content itself doesn’t really thrill them.

So what’s an SEO copywriter to do? Listen in as Heather shares some strategies…

Are You Afraid To Fix Your SEO Content?

You may have SEO content that is doing well in terms of search rankings, but yet you’re not altogether happy with the copy. And this can be for a variety of reasons:

– The SEO copy may be “borderline spammy.”

– Your content may not have the right tone and feel.

– Conversions may be low and bounce rates may be high.

So while your content hasn’t been hit by a Google algorithm update, it may seem a little too keyphrase heavy.

Or, it might be that your copy isn’t really clicking with your target audience, which in turn may eventually affect conversions: you might find that conversions on certain pages are low, and bounce rates are high.

Now I understand that when you have a page that’s positioning well, it’s really scary to change it. But at the end of the day, if the content isn’t performing the way you want it to perform, it’s time to take the plunge and rewrite it.

So here’s some to strategies to use:

It’s Time To Take The Plunge

– Too keyphrase stuffed? Rewrite it. You may be able to use the same # of keyphrases.

If you’re feeling like the content is too keyphrase stuffed, it could be because of how it was written. Maybe you add more content to the page, and that way you still have the keyphrases there but they make more sense with a longer word count.

You can play with that, and you may find that you’re able to use the same number of keyphrases in the rewritten content. Or, in other cases, you may need to dial them back a little bit and see if that makes the content read better.

– Determine how to best rewrite the content (changing format, tone and feel, call to action.)

You’ll also want to determine the best way to approach the content from your reader’s perspective: do you need to change the tone and feel? Do you need to make the call to action more obvious? These are just examples of the tweaks you can make so your content is perfect for your readers.

– Upload the content and monitor rankings/conversions.

And then it’s definitely taking the plunge when you upload your content and see how it performs!

You’ll want to monitor both the page rankings and conversions to see if people are taking those action steps that you want them to take. Chances are, with a content rewrite, you’re going to see some success!

Certainly you can A/B test your content to see if you can further tweak elements to make it even more successful.

And if you notice a huge drop in rankings for whatever reason, then you might want to add a few more keyphrases, and maybe change up the content a little bit more – but you’ll know how to play with it, and you’ll be more happy with this new content because it will be doing its job!

Thanks for tuning in! Again, as this series draws its inspiration from you, please let me know if you have any SEO copywriting questions. You can find me on Twitter @heatherlloyd, or you can email me at heather@seocopywriting.com.

photo thanks to brian liu (RolutionAsia)

You can get a steady stream of SEO content writing tips and how-to’s each week (or daily) with my free SEO Copywriting Buzz newsletter. Sign up today!

 

 

SEO Copywriting Checklist: Is your content personality-challenged?

Learn how to bring technical content to life with tone and feelHello and welcome back to another installment of the SEO Copywriting Checklist video series! Today Heather addresses the question of whether your content is personality-challenged.

And while you may not be quite sure what “personality-challenged” means, chances are you have come across sites that, well…bore you to tears. Elicit the yawn. Have the charisma of a rock. That kind of thing.

So tune in as Heather discusses how you can avoid the yawn response to your website, no matter how technical your profession:

Are you boring your reader?

– This can happen in any industry, but especially medical and legal.

– The text often sounds dry, boring and technical.

– Yawn.

I see personality-challenged sites most frequently in the medical and legal fields. Typically these sites have content that is very dry, very technical, contains lots of really big words, and doesn’t forge a connection with the reader.

People will write their content this way for a couple of reasons:

1. Because that’s how they’re used to writing.

For instance, if they are a physician or an attorney and they’re writing their own content, their day-to-day technical writing style transfers over to their website.

2. Because they think it makes them sound smart.

Some site owners think that the more technical their content is, the smarter they sound, and that will dazzle their readers into contacting them. Actually, the opposite may very well happen. If people hit a site that speaks over their heads and they can’t connect with the copy, they might just back out and find another site they do connect with.

You don’t want folks to have the yawn response when they visit your website! You want them to think “Wow! I can really connect with this person. I love what they have to say, and I want to learn more!

Great example of a friendly, accessible tone and feel

Here’s an example of a site that’s done right.

You can find it at DrBaileySkinCare.com. Dr. Cynthia Bailey is a dermatologist based in California who has an office, but also sells products on her site and writes a blog. If you look at her content – and she’s written 99.9 percent of it herself – you’ll see how approachable it is.

Dr. Bailey’s site has a very friendly tone and feel.

Even her “About Us” page (shown in the screenshot) makes her sound very friendly and approachable. She talks about how patients describe her like a trusted sister – where people can come to her with their embarrassing skin problems and she can help fix them.

Her site does really well.

She writes tremendous blog posts that get great traffic, and she sounds like a human being – not like the scary doctor behind the scenes. She sounds like someone that you would actually want to call, and visit her office or buy her products, because you feel like you can trust her.

Takeaways:

– Friendly, approachable content works.

– You can still sound smart and experienced with a more casual tone and feel.

– Consider your readers’ needs carefully.

The example of Dr. Bailey’s site is something to consider with your own website if you’re working in the medical or legal profession: is there a way to shake up the tone and feel where you still sound smart, and you’re still outlining your expertise, but it’s not so technical?

Really think about your readers: What do they want to see? How do you connect with them in person, or on the phone or in an email? That’s the tone and feel you might want to capture in your web content to connect with your readers. It might work a lot better than copy that sounds dry, boring and technical!

Thanks for joining me! As always, if you have any questions at all or comments about today’s video post, I’d love to hear from you! You can reach me at heather@seocopywriting.com, or on Twitter @heatherlloyd.

photo thanks to johnc24

Want to learn how to write engaging, optimized web content that converts like crazy? Check into my SEO Copywriting training and see what option best suits your needs!

 

How to make readers do (and buy) what you want

Most writing is persuasion, be it promoting a product or convincing a reader to turn the page.

Authors seek to persuade readers to reach a story’s conclusion.  They do this with compelling characters, an entertaining plot and accessible themes.

But in marketing, the “conclusion” is typically some type of conversion: an email sign-up, a social media interaction, a sale.

How do we do that?  How do we break through the cacophony of sales pitches, banner ads, product placements, billboards and the like to land our product or service front and center?

With good writing.  Writing macro enough to maintain branding, specific enough to achieve an objective and malleable enough to adjust to the wants and needs of various consumers.

Persuasive Techniques

Winning an argument is usually the result of one thing: the superior persuasive ability of one of the parties.  A good point in the hands of a bad debater is often lost, and the reverse is also true.  Therefore, in many cases, being “right” is irrelevant.

However, to understand how to use copy to persuade readers, there are a number of tools effective writers employ.

  • Tone and Voice

Knowing one’s audience is essential when crafting an advantageous marketing message.  Depending on customer demographics and the desired action or outcome, good writers modify their tone and voice to better appeal to the core audience of their product or service.  Copywriters need to know when to finesse, when to order, when to guilt, when to ask, when to beg, when to dare.  Your readers are real people – you just can’t see them.

  • The Personal Story

The personal story can be a powerful method of influencing action, which is why many marketers turn to testimonials.  Personal stories draw readers in, investing them mentally and emotionally, forming a bond between product / service and story.  Think of the Olympics: a Russian gymnast who falls off the balance beam is sad; but a Russian gymnast who’s just told us her story of hardship, loss and attending 4 a.m. practices for a decade – her fall is devastating.

  • Passivity vs. Persistence

A big part of being persuasive is recognizing the time to push and the time to hold back.  Considering when (and whether) to press an angle is vital for a copywriter.  Marketers should be very conscious of the passivity-persistence continuum when crafting a message.  In a worst case scenario, a misstep with a particular piece of content can translate to a dislike of the brand in general.  Humor, however, is a great method of diffusing a reader’s annoyance with your persistence.

  • Selling the Dream

A tried and true method of influence is aspiration – convincing targets that your product or service is the answer to their wants, needs and dreams by showing someone who has the life they want.  Subtext is everything here (drink Miller Lite and you’ll be popular, buy your kids Sunny D and they’ll love you).  Aspiration is one of the main reasons celebrity endorsements are so powerful; by using the same product or service, a consumer puts himself in the celebrity’s league.

  • Appeal to the Collective Unconscious

There are a number of things the vast majority of us culturally agree upon: Mom, apple pie, puppies, freedom, the hotness of Brad Pitt, baseball, sliced bread, Elvis, warm socks, heavy duty aluminum foil, Jiffy Pop.  By citing some of these “truisms” in copy, writers are able to tether their product / service to these mores, convincing consumers that to be against a particular product or service is to be against one of the aforementioned.

  • The Call-to-Action

But all of your persuasive, inspired copywriting is for naught if, at the end of the day, you aren’t shooting for a conversion.  This conversion can be anything from posting a blog comment to selling a Leer jet.  You have to tell the reader what you want.  You have to define the goal.

You have to call on them to ACT.

What Makes a Good Call-to-Action?

A good call-to-action must be specific, achievable and measurable.  It must accomplish the desired conversion.  And, finally, it must be singular – multiple calls-to-action leave the reader confused and overwhelmed.

If you integrate the aforementioned suggestions into your copywriting, you can expect a surge in reader interest and interaction.  And while not every target will convert, your odds improve exponentially when you keep these persuasive techniques in mind.

 

About the Author ~ Katie Fetting-Schlerf

Katie Fetting-Schlerf is a writer — SEO copy, screenplays, angry letters to the editor and greeting cards. She is a senior copywriter at Portent, Inc., a full service web marketing company based in Seattle (where she regularly drives her co-workers nutty with various marketing diatribes). You can follow Katie on Twitter (@KatieLFetting), but she rarely tweets.  When she does, it’s usually either about brand equity or serial killers.

Photo/image thanks to The UMF (Paul Inkles)

 

Is Web writing and blogging one of those tasks that you’d rather outsource? Cool. We can help: Learn more about our SEO copywriting services (and check out our case studies while you’re there. We’ve done some awesome things for clients!)