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Yes, SEO Can Ruin Content. Here’s How

Do you think keyphrase usage destroys well-written content?

Well, you’re right. Up to a point.

Way back in 2011, Lee Odden wrote “Content Strategy and the Dirty Lie About SEO.” At the end of the post, he posed the question – the question that’s been debated ever since “writing for search engines” started:

Do you think SEO ruins content?

My first reaction was, “Of course not. Good SEO writing is good writing — period.”

I still feel the same way.

But…the haters have a point.

Six years later, there’s still a bunch of SEO writing B.S. floating around:

  • Focus on one keyphrase per page, and repeat it at least X times.
  • Focus on X keyword density (why won’t keyword density die?)
  • Include a keyword every X words.
  • Exact-match your keyphrase at least X times in your copy.

Maybe you believe some of this B.S., too (it’s OK. This is a judgement-free zone.)

This B.S. is why some SEO copy is horrible.  Is it any wonder why some folks think SEO ruins everything?

So, here’s the real deal:

Yes, SEO can completely decimate content — if you’re doing it wrong.

Here’s how:

When the content is written/optimized by someone who has no idea what they’re doing

Most keyphrase-stuffed content I read comes from folks operating on incorrect information.

They do what their clients tell them (for instance, focus on one keyphrase per page) without knowing it’s wrong. These writers don’t know there’s a better way, so they keep doing the same (incorrect) things. Over and over and over.

The result is stuffed, stilted-sounding content that has no conversion flow. The page doesn’t position. The page doesn’t convert. It’s sad.

via GIPHY

Sadly, many writers think ALL SEO writing is poorly-written content. So, here’s a news flash:

Folks, if you ever think, “This post sounds bad. I had to work hard to add all those keyphrases,” you’re doing it wrong.

When the content is written “for Google,” without readers in mind

Raise your hand if you’ve been asked to write “1,000 words for Google.”

Yeah, me too.

SEO writing isn't "writing for Google"

Sadly, some folks believe that following a strict writing formula will help them magically position. These folks don’t care about the content’s readability. They only care about the keyphrase usage.

They may even come right out and say, “I don’t care if anyone reads this. I just want the page to position.”

Ouch.

This magical SEO copywriting formula may include things like:

  • Specific word counts because “all posts should be X words for Google.”
  • Exact matching a nonsensical long-tail keyphrase multiple times (for instance, [portland relocation real estate oregon].
  • Bolding or italicizing words that shouldn’t be bolded or italicized.
  • Repeating all keyphrases X times in the first paragraph.

If you find yourself following a weird writing formula that makes the content read like gibberish, know it’s not true SEO writing. What’s more, following a writing formula won’t help you position. The best bet is to learn the right way to do things and throw those useless old rules out the window.

Don’t believe me? Check out Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines and see how Google defines low-quality content.

When the Titles are filled with keyphrases, with no conversion focus

This is a pet peeve of mine.

Get rid of Title pipes

I’ve discussed before how overly-optimized Titles are an inefficient branding method. The search results page is your first conversion opportunity. A Title that’s chock-full of keyphrases isn’t as persuasive as one that’s benefit-rich:

Which listing would get YOUR click?

GEICO’s “you could save $500+” is a fantastic benefit statement, and blow’s Progressive’s keyword-focused Title out of the water. Esurance is a runner-up since they include the benefit “fast” — but the Title could still be better.

Need more “good” and “bad” Title examples? Here’s a great post from Search Engine Watch.

SEO doesn’t ruin content. It’s “stupid” SEO that messes things up

Smart SEO doesn’t ruin good content. It enhances it – making it easier to be found in search engines and shared via social media. If you’ve mastered the art of online writing for both engines and people, you have a very valuable skill set.

On the flip side, yes, stupid SEO will ruin content. And your conversions, too. As my father used to say, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” – and repeating a keyword incessantly will not suddenly transform the page into “quality content.”

It reminds me of what some folks say about sales copy being too “sales-y.” There’s a way to include a call-to-action that gently leads someone to the next action step. And there’s a (wrong) way to do it that beats them over the head with hyped language, bold and italics (Hmm. now that I think about it, what IS it about bolded and italicized text?).

What do you think? Is SEO the death of good writing?

Looking for a low-cost way to learn the SEO writing ropes. I’m running a 3-part webinar series! Check it out!

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!

Looking for a low-cost way to learn the SEO writing ropes? Check out my SEO Writing: Step-by-Step webinar series.

 

SEO Editing vs. Copywriting for SEO

Should you create original content? Or, should you SEO optimize a page that’s already on the site?

Freelance and in-house writers ask this question all the time. Their emails say, “My boss (or client) wants me to add keyphrases to this existing page. The problem is, the page isn’t very good. Will the keyphrases help? Or is better to rewrite it?”

That’s an excellent question that I address in the video  — or, you can read the modified transcript, below.

SEO copywriting and SEO editing — what’s the difference?

First, let’s go over the differences between SEO copywriting and keyphrase editing.

Keyphrase editing is also known as “on-page optimization,” “optimizing the text,” or “SEO copyediting.” The technique is to add keywords — either derived from the writer’s keyphrase research or received from an SEO — to existing text.

When a page is optimized (or edited,) the content is not rewritten. The writer may edit the page Title and meta description, but for the most part, she’s working with the existing content.

SEO copywriting usually refers to creating original content. The writer still conducts keyphrase research (or receives the keyphrases from an SEO.) However, rather than editing the existing content, she would write brand-new content and include the keyphrases (along with synonyms and related words.)

So you see, SEO copywriting and keyphrase editing are very different: one is working with existing text, and the other is throwing away the existing text and starting fresh.

Should you optimize your site? Or rewrite your pages?

So, when is a better strategy to edit existing pages rather than rewrite them?

It’s best to optimize a page (keyphase editing) when:

  • You (and your readers) already love the content
  • The page isn’t crucial to the sales process
  • The bounce rate isn’t too high

If you have content on your site you (and your readers) already love and it’s performing well, but it wasn’t written with keyphrases the first time around, the page may be a good candidate for keyphrase editing.

It’s also OK to edit the page when it isn’t crucial to the sales process. For example, I’ve worked with companies that have edited old blog posts and saw a great bump in search positions as a result. Editing FAQ pages and articles can offer the same benefit.

Finally, optimizing the page is OK when the time on page (or bounce rate) isn’t too high. You know that people are sticking around and reading the page once they’ve landed on it, so adding in some strategic keyphrases here and there is typically fine for that page.

An SEO content editor or an SEO copywriter usually handles the keyphrase editing. He may be someone you employ in-house, or a freelancer.

There are also certain times when it’s better to write original content, such as:

  • When the page is crucial to the sales process
  • When the page is a duplicate
  • When page conversions or time on page is low

If a page is crucial to the sales process, or is somehow intended to make money — like the home page, and subcategory pages such as products and services — it’s better to rewrite it.

You also want to rewrite the page if it’s a duplicate. This is common with  local landing pages, where two (or more) pages may be basically the same (outside of the city name.)

Also, when you know that the page isn’t working — you’re not getting conversions, the time on page is low, and people are bouncing out quickly —  rewrite it. Readers are telling you they don’t like the page by leaving as soon as they can.

Sure, you can edit the keyphrases into a poorly performing page and sure, hypothetically that page might position a little better, but it won’t help boost conversions.

Either a freelancer or an experienced in-house SEO copywriter can rewrite your pages. Also, an SEO content strategist could do the keyphrase research for you, as well as dovetail her research with the rest of your SEO plan.

Make sense? There’s clearly a difference between when you would write original content and when you can work with the existing content — and it’s smart to know those differences before you proceed.

(Editors note: I originally wrote this post in 2011. A lot has changed since then, so I updated the video and the transcript. I hope you enjoyed the post!)

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Photo thanks: © Bakhtiar Zein | Dreamstime.com

 

What Is SEO Copywriting and Why Is It Important?

Wondering what SEO copywriting is  — and if it’s important for your site?

SEO copywriting is a specialized form of online writing that:

  1. Contains keyphrases — words your target reader types into a search box to find the information she wants.
  2. Helps online content rank higher in search results (such as Google.)
  3. Drives qualified traffic.

SEO copywriting is quality writing. Period. The keyphrases shouldn’t make the writing hard-to-read, sound repetitive, or lose its conversion focus.

Want to learn more about the definition of SEO copywriting? View the video below — or read the modified transcript.

How is SEO writing different from traditional copywriting?

The main difference is: SEO writing contains keyphrases. For instance [blue cashmere sweaters] is a keyphrase.

Typing keyphrases into Google is what we do every day, right? We type words into Google’s search box to get answers to our questions.

But the thing is, SEO copywriting is much more than just inserting keyphrases into content: Google also wants to see authoritative content that fully answers your readers’ questions and stands out from competing content.

Some people believe you can shove a bunch of keyphrases into the content and still get a high ranking (commonly known as “keyphrase stuffing.”)

Not anymore.

SEO copywriting serves two masters

Google has gotten smarter, and things have changed. Now your content needs to be high-quality content for Google to position it in the top spots.

So in actuality, your content satisfies two masters.

On the one hand, your readers need to love it. Your content needs to be relevant and a resource your readers enjoy — something that educates, entertains or enlightens them.

On the other hand, Google needs to see the content written in a certain way to understand what the page is about. Understanding how to make this happen helps your content “compete” with other pages for rankings.

This is where SEO copywriting best practices come into play.

What helps content rank in search results?

There are many factors that influence search engine rank (how a page positions in Google’s search results.)

If you look at the periodic table (which you can find on Search Engine Land), you’ll see that most of the elements on the left-hand side focus on the quality of the content.

The research, the words and the freshness of content are all important to your SEO success.

So if you’re concerned that…

  • Your pages aren’t showing in Google
  • Your pages aren’t converting
  • Your content is outdated and you never really liked it, anyway
  • Your content was never optimized, and now you think it is time to do so

The good news is that SEO copywriting could represent a huge opportunity for you!

After all, as Seth Godin said, “The best SEO is great content.”

If you can create content that grabs your readers attention, answers their questions and drives incoming links, you can finally start seeing some tasty search engine positions.

And that is a very cool thing.

Want to learn more about SEO writing? Sign up for my weekly newsletter — and don’t forget to check out my low-cost SEO writing webinar series.

Photo thanks: © Cacaroot | Dreamstime.com

Beyond Keywords: Understanding Semantic Analysis

Semantics ~ The meaning of a word, phrase, sentence, or text

semantics-hummingbirdI spent quite a bit of time thinking about what I could best offer the world of copywriting from the “technical” SEO perspective. At the end of the day? It all comes down to words and the associations they convey. So let’s deal with the singularly most important concept that comes to mind: semantics.

Going down this road is important because far too often you will run into clients that express their need to have a given group of keywords to be hammered on ad nauseam. This not only leads to some poorly constructed content, but often doesn’t leverage how search engines actually look at it.

You need some ammunition to combat this short-sighted approach, so that’s what we’re going to look at today!

No, We’re Not Talking Code

First things first, when we talk about “semantics” in this context, it’s not about the code that also bears the same name. (You know, the mark-up that is part of the world of web development and surfacing content.)

We are, in fact, talking about information retrieval and how search engines perform semantic analysis on content as they crawl and index it.

There are myriad flavours, including some you may or may not have heard of such as:

  • Latent Semantic Analysis
  • Probabilistic Latent Semantic Analysis
  • Hidden Topic Markov Model
  • Latent Dirichlet Allocation
  • Phrase Based Information Retrieval

Yes, a whole bunch of fancy names to be certain. Feel free to research those, but we’ll avoid the uber-geeky definitions for now. They’re all just variants of natural language processing that search engines may or may not be using. It’s not related to the code-based approaches known as the “semantic web”. This is about words.

Keywords are Short Sighted

Now that we’re past that, let’s get back to the problem we looked at off the top: clients that are addicted to keywords. Sadly, the SEO world has yet to fully move past this. In the modern search world we want to target “phrases” more so than singular keywords. One- and two-word searches are rare in comparison with more complex search tasks performed by the end user. This is enough for us to consider using (“long-tail”) keyphrases over keywords.

The next issue that arises is that clients will want to stuff multiple instances of said keywords in the copy and, in an attempt to feed the perceived semantic engine, synonyms. Again, this is short-sighted and doesn’t really embrace the concepts related to today’s semantic search capabilities.

You will need to educate clients to break that habit.

Identifying the Concepts

The good news is that most writers will naturally create content that satisfies the food a search engine wants to dine upon. It is often the client of the copywriter that attempts to drag them into the wrong direction.

Let’s look at this in simplistic terms with my favorite example from over the years…

Consider the search query [jaguar]:

  • A big cat
  • A car
  • A football team
  • An operating system
  • …etc…

semantic-equivalents

 

 

 

 

While crafting the content on our page we want to flesh out the concept being expressed with related words, phrases and concepts to build upon the topicality.

Singular terms and/or phrases might include:

  • Automobiles
  • Cars
  • Autos
  • Vehicle
  • Auto
  • Car

But these are mere synonyms, so we’d expand on that with other relations which might include:

  • Engine
  • Garage
  • Tires
  • Hood
  • Spark plug
  • Keys
  • High Performance

Any guesses which [jaguar] this page is about? Once more, these are singular terms — we’d also build out the core concepts with various phrases, as well as related entities.

In a very simplistic understanding, phrase-based approaches look at top ranking/performing pages for variants of related terms and phrases for scoring purposes. I would recommend reading this post on phrase-based IR (information retrieval) to get a better grip on that stuff.

This ain’t yer daddy’s keyword density myopic approach.

Query Classifications

Another area worth mention in combination with these concepts is “query classification” (more here). This looks at user intent (when searching), and it’s something we should be cognizant of when constructing concepts and terms to be included in any piece of content.

They generally break down into:

  • Informational (seeking information)
  • Transactional (performing an action)
  • Navigational (finding a known entity)

query-classification

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While a given piece of content may offer multiple classification states, it is always important to understand the target, from an SEO perspective, when constructing the “semantic baskets” to be used for said piece of content. (Refer to the link above to learn more about that.)

Putting it All Together

Ok… so we want to consider phrases and terms that buff out the core targets of a given piece of content. Consider optimal occurrences of related phrases when crafting your semantic baskets for a given piece of content. What words, phrases, entities and concepts would a search engine expect to see on that page? (Don’t ever again think in terms of keyword density!)

Some things to consider, as a content manager/editor and/or as an SEO copywriter:

  • While doing the keyword research, use various tools to also create a list of “related phrases”
  • Layout content program and structural hierarchy
  • Map out terms to pages
  • Give your writers not only core/secondary target terms, but related phrases as well
  • Review and tweak pages prior to launch
  • Vary link texts when possible and remember themes/concepts as well as keyword phrases
  • Understand the relations of concepts

I like to think in terms of semantic baskets when researching and preparing any important piece of content that will be used for targeting. As stated off the top, in most cases a good copywriter will do most of this naturally.

One Final Thought…

Search engines love words. It’s what users type into it. Words are used to convey concepts and are constructed into phrases, entities and intent. This is what you want to look at when building out your pages. But we’re moving into a world where it goes beyond…. into voice search.

Back in 2013 Google announced what they called “Hummingbird”. And one of the elements within that was called “conversational search” which will treat a search task as an ongoing journey through a given search task. This consideration also drags us away from the truly limited concepts around keyword density and simple synonyms. (For more on that, have a read here.)

google-hummingbird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The point being, copywriters need to stay on top of the ever-evolving world of search. If you’re clients haven’t? You need to educate them. They’ll thank you for it.

Oh and hey, if you’re feeling real adventurous, you can watch this session on it:

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. ” – Mark Twain

Connect with David on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+

 

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

[Updated] How to Write a Title That Gets Clicks

How to create web page Titles for readers and Google

Here’s how to make your search listing stand out!

I feel a rant coming on.

Recently, I stumbled across an old “how to write Titles” post. In it, the author discussed how her preferred method of Title creation was to separate the keywords with pipes.

So, a Title would read like:

keyword | here’s another keyword | yet another keyword

Before I start my rant, I need to get a few things out of the way first:

  • The article I mentioned is from 2012. Although it’s still a very popular article, it’s an older resource.
  • I have the utmost respect for the author. My rant is not directed at her.
  • Her advice was not technically wrong. In fact, the author did admit that there are many ways to craft a Title.

And now begins my rant:

My call to action is – can we please let pipes die? Please?

Instead, write the title like a headline and make it more “clickable” instead.

Titles are extremely important to your SEO campaign. There are two reasons for this:

  • Titles help with a page’s SEO. So, a strong Title can help a page position.
  • The search engine results page (SERP) is your first opportunity for conversion. A strong Title can help get the click from the SERP to your site. However, a so-so Title may not wow your reader.

To me, using pipes is an old-school method that doesn’t leverage any conversion opportunities. Sure, the keyphrases are in there. Sure, Google can tell what the page is about. But the Titles aren’t written for the users. They don’t scream “click me” from the search engine results page. They’re “SEO’d” – but that’s it.

In my opinion, pipes makes your Title blend into the background. After all, who wants their Title to blend in when it can stand out instead?

Want to see what I mean?

I discussed Titles during a 2012 video post. In it, I compare two SERP listings – one written like a benefit statement and one written with pipes. Judge for yourself which version is the more compelling. And let me know if my rant is justified. 🙂

Enjoy!

</rant>

For those of you who don’t like watching videos, here’s a transcript summary. Enjoy!

Don’t ignore your Titles. Embrace them!

– The search engine results page is your first opportunity for conversion.

– Think of Titles like headlines – write them to get the click.

– Include your main page keyphrases.

– Keep the character count to around 59 characters (with spaces).

A lot of people look at page Titles as “the place that we stick our keyphrases so Google knows what the page is about.” But Titles are much more than that – they are actually your first conversion opportunity off the search engine results page.

So it’s essential to create a clickable Title – one that people will read and think “That site has exactly what I need” and will select your listing over the others.

Given that your page Title is competing for the first conversion – that first click – off the search engine results page, you want to write it as you would a headline. You want to make it compelling and yes, you’ll want to include your main keyphrases for that page in the Title.

You also want to keep the page Title to around 59 characters, with spaces. After crafting such a masterful Title, you certainly don’t want any yummy parts of it to be truncated out (with “…”).

As an example of missed opportunities in page Title creation, here are screenshots of two Titles. The first example is representative of what you see a lot of today, where the Title has a keyphrase | keyphrase | construction. Is it incorrect? No, it’s okay – but not as persuasive as the second page Title shown below it.

Action step: Review your Titles

For your action step, take a peek at your own site and see if its page Titles present an opportunity for you to improve click-through.

To review your Titles, type this command into the Google search box: site:your domain. Google will return a list of all the pages it has indexed, and you can readily review your Titles.

If you see any Titles like the one pictured, you may have an opportunity to not only write a more persuasive, clickable Title, but also to go back to the page content and see if there are other things you can do to tweak the Title and make it better for readers.

Updated note – you can also check out your Titles during a content audit. Here’s more information on how to make it happen. Have fun!

Photo thanks to Andy Hay

SEO Copywriting roundup: Hottest posts week of Jan. 28, 2014

building relationships

I love hojusaram’s description of this image:
“This is taken at Namsan Tower, where young couples lock padlocks together to show their love. While looking through these ‘couple locks’ I was laughing at some that had three padlocks instead of the more usual two, when I saw this bunch.
I guess relationships are complicated. Or maybe someone’s just been busy…”

At first, we shared each other’s social posts.

Then we had a conversation.

Before long, we were writing guest posts for each other.

We became friends by helping each other out online.

Does this sound familiar? Welcome to relationship marketing!

This week’s roundup is chock full of posts about guest blogging, relationship marketing and the importance of social media in content marketing campaigns.

Read on and get social!

Content Marketing Institute’s Mike Murray writes 4 Online Content Creation Best Practices for Success in 2014.

IMedia Connection’s Bob Robinson writes How to run a better creative brainstorm.

CopyPressed’s Nicole Jones writes Guest Posting Pink Slip: Dave Snyder explains what actually matters [Webinar].

Search Engine Journal’s Pratik Dholakiya writes SEO After Hummingbird, Penguin, & Panda: How Link Building & Content Marketing Are Really Changing.

Search Engine Land’s Barry Schwartz writes Google’s Matt Cutts: We Don’t Use Twitter Or Facebook Social Signals To Rank Pages.

SEOBook shares Yahoo! Secured Search Rolls Out.

Rachel Sprung writes 30-Day Blog Challenge Tip #22: Start a List of Blog Post Topics on HubSpot.

Daniel Dannenberg writes Three Ways Google Plus Ripples Can Increase Your Visibility Online on Vertical Measures.

Garrett Moon writes Long-Form Content: It’s Time We Take it Seriously on Spin Sucks.

Alan Bleiweiss writes SEO Penalty and Algorithm Recovery Timelines for ISOOSI.

Barry Adams writes Prioritising SEO Tasks Effectively for State of Digital.

Seth Godin writes Copyediting, line editing and the other kind

Scott Cohen writes 7 Areas of Focus for An SEO Friendly Website in 2014 for Daily SEO Tip.

Eric Enge hosted the webinar What’s In a Relationship (And Who Cares)?

Maddie Russell writes I STARTED BLOGGING, SO WHERE ARE MY SALES? on Social Media Explorer.

Michael Stelzner writes Relationship Marketing: How to Build Meaningful Connections that Lead to Business on Social Media Examiner.

Nick Cicero posts Social Media and the Law [Infographic] on Social Fresh.

John Haydon writes Facebook News Feed Now Gives Text Updates Less Reach on Social Media Today.

Coming through with a rare short-titled post, Steve Morgan writes The SEOshank Reconsideration on SEOno.

Roger Dooley writes Can You Double Your Clicks with the Jeopardy Effect? on Neuromarketing.

Dave Davies writes What is Duplicate Content? on Search Engine Watch.

Amy C. Teeple writes Take your content marketing to the Super Bowl on SEO Copywriting.

Brad Shorr writes How to Evaluate the Quality of Your Business Content for Straight North.

Jennifer Slegg writes Matt Cutts: Facebook, Twitter Social Signals Not Part of Google Search Ranking Algorithms for Search Engine Watch.

Share your relationship marketing experiences in the comments below!

Photo thanks to hojusaram (relationships are complicated)

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SEO copywriting roundup: Hottest posts week ending Jan. 21, 2014

Search is changing

Search is always changing; stay up to date!

Search is always changing – as you can see to the right, there – but right now it’s changing quickly and drastically.

A lot of the posts in this week’s roundup discuss the rapid evolution of search: topics vs. keywords, links, authorship, searcher intent and more.

And by more, I mean: Matt Cutts Declares Guest Blogging ‘Done’ … Are We All Screwed? (Thanks for that little panic attack, Jerod Morris of Copyblogger!)

Content Marketing Institute’s Allen Narcisse writes Planning Your B2B Marketing Approach to Social Media: 3 Key Angles.

Moz’s Matthew Barby gives us The Power of Authors and Content for Link Building.

Iain Dooley writes The Secret Power of the AdWords Search Terms Report for unbounce.

State of Digital’s Bas Van Den Beld gives us The Future of Search Discussed.

Caroline O’Donovan shares How a free email newsletter turned a computer programmer into a Newsweek columnist on Nieman Journalism Lab.

Copyblogger’s Robert Bruce writes How to Build an Audience with Story (From America’s Greatest Living Playwright).

Ethan Ross shares How to reach the male demographic on mobile on iMedia Connection.

Search Engine Watch’s Jennifer Slegg writes Google Cuts Authorship in Search Results by 20-40%.

Trevor Klein gives us Announcing the Brand New Beginner’s Guide to Social Media on Moz.

UpCity posts The 2014 Definitive SEO Software List: 215 Apps, Platforms, and Tools.

HubSpot’s Greg Wise writes Post-Hummingbird Search: An (Almost) A-Z Glossary of Winning at SEO.

Heather Lloyd-Martin shares The SEO content writers’ manifesto on SEO Copywriting.

Bill Slawski asks Will Keywords be Replaced by Topics for Some Searches? on SEO by the Sea.

State of Digital’s Peter Young writes The Changing Landscape of Search – Expect More Bumpy Times Ahead.

ISOOSI’s Dan Shure gives us Voice Search: Strings Not Things.

CopyPressed posts Content ID and the Fall of Original Content by Jonathan Wray.

Search Engine Journal’s Clay Adams writes SEO Beginner’s Guide: 5 Things Every Business Owner Should Know About Google.

Garrett Moon tells us How to Growth Hack Your Content Marketing on KISSmetrics.

Social Media Today’s Tom Treanor shares The 3 Step Strategy for B2B Content Marketing.

SEO Copywriting’s own Amy C. Teeple warns Lay off on the butter … and the keywords.

Search Engine People’s Brian Dean gives us 5 Things a Marketer Needs to Tell Her SEO in 2014.

Jason Falls shares Understanding Consumer Sharing on Social Media Explorer.

Memeburn’s Anton Koekemoer writes 3 top tips on optimizing your campaign for social search.

Mark Traphagen writes The Great Google Authorship Kidnapping: What Happened to Your Author Photo in Search? for Stone Temple Consulting.

Photo thanks to Enokson (Library – the original search engine)

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SEO copywriting roundup: Hottest posts week of Jan. 14, 2014

Google changes authority

Is Google killing your authority?

Is Google killing your authority?!

OK, maybe that’s a little dramatic.

Google’s changing the way authorship markup appears in search results, which, naturally, caused quite a stir around the Web this week.

You’ll find a few posts on Google authorship and authority, along with the usual awesomeness from our beloved Internet marketing experts.

What are your questions or conclusions about Google’s authorship changes? Share in the comments below!

Meanwhile, read on and enjoy!

TopRank’s Nick Ehrenberg tells us How to Build Your Brand’s Voice Through Blogging #NMX.

Content Marketing Institute’s Grant Butler shares How To Hire Effective Content Marketing Writers and Editors.

Social Media Today’s Barry Feldman asks How Does One Guy Produce So Much Content?

Social Fresh’s Jeremy Goldman gives us 14 Top Marketing Pros Give Their Best Tip For 2014.

HubSpot’s Rachel Sprung writes 30-Day Blog Challenge Tip #8: Crowdsource Ideas From Sales.

Moz’s Pete Meyers shares Google’s December Authorship Shake-up.

Econsultancy’s Ben Davis writes Bloggers and PRs: the 10 commandments.

Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz gives us Google’s Matt Cutts: Yea, Google Changes Search On Average Twice A Day.

Search Engine Journal’s Matt Southern shares Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone Launches Jelly, A Social Q&A Search Engine.

Tracy over at Brandalism shares The difference between a content marketer and a content strategist.

Barry Schwartz writes Experts Say Google’s Authorship Reduction Not Related To Author Authority on Search Engine Roundtable.

Adam Dorfman gives us 4 Local Search Tactics That Will Matter More in 2014 on Search Engine Watch.

Gini Dietrich writes Brand Journalism: Embrace the Trend for Your Organization on Spin Sucks.

Margot da Cunha shares 6 Social Media Marketing Strategies to Drastically Improve Your Efforts in 2014 on WordStream.

Marketing Land’s Danny Sullivan gives us FAQ: How The New Gmail “Send To Anyone On Google+” Feature Works.

James Walker writes Growth Hacking: 5 Fundamentals To Get You Started for Social Fresh.

Social Media Impact’s John Souza shares Dawn of The Mini-Blog and How It Will Impact Your Content Strategy #Blogging.

Henley Wing writes 20 Contrarian Rules on Content Marketing from 20 Experts for Buzzsumo.

Eric Enge conducted a Google+ hangout on How to Scale Content Marketing. (Thanks to Ammon Johns, who’s also in the hangout, for letting me know in the SEO Copywriting LinkedIn group!)

Andrew J. Coate writes Freelancers: How to Find Them and What to Pay Them (Part 1) on kapost.

Shane Arthur gives us 7 Simple Edits That Make Your Writing 100% More Powerful on Boost Blog Traffic.

Jay Baer shares The 3 Ways to Succeed at Content Marketing When Everybody in the World is Doing Content Marketing on Convince & Convert.

Julie Joyce writes 15 Ways Clients Can Build a Better Relationship With Their SEO Provider on Search Engine Watch.

Heledd Jones shares Do you really need a search agency in 2014? Three reasons to bring it in-house on Econsultancy.

Amy Teeple says Sing to your customers on SEO Copywriting.

Carrie Hill posts Use Google Analytics To Create Campaigns, Not Just Track Them on Marketing Land.

Kristina Kledzik writes How to Create a Prioritized SEO Action Plan on Moz.

Unbounce’s Eric Sloan gives us 10 Landing Page Mistakes You’ll Never Make Again.

Daniel Burnstein shares Content Marketing: How to serve customers when they shouldn’t buy from you on Marketing Sherpa.

Claire Jackson writes Four Ways to Shatter Your Writer’s Block on ISOOSI.

Laura Lippay gives us Laura Lippay’s Randomly Weird SEO & Tech Predictions for 2014 on SEO Gadget.

Carrie Hill’s back on the list with Schema Markup for Reviews for SEO Copywriting.

Heather Lloyd-Martin asks Freelance writers: Are you making this costly mistake? on SEO Copywriting.

Michael Stelzner posts Why We Fail to Create and What You Can Do to Fix It on Social Media Examiner.

Sanchit Khera writes Why Google+ Will Demand Our Attention in 2014 and Andrew Hutchinson shares Five Key Elements in Writing High Quality, Engaging Content on Social Media Today.

Photo thanks to Eliya Selhub (Suicide King)

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