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!

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

 

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

 

 

 

6 (easy) ways to transform your content from meh into memorable

Guest author Jon Ball shares 6+ ways to transform content from ok to fantastic!The internet revolves around content. Communities, friendships, enemies, audiences, traffic, links, exposure – much of it comes directly from the quality of the content you’re able to produce.

So, if you’re looking to start a brand new blog, add a little zing to your content, or simply understand the basic rules of creating for the internet, read on.

First, a word – all content lives and dies based around added value. If you can’t find a way to add value within your content, you’re not going to see the results you want.

So, without further ado, here are six easy ways to beef up your content.

 

1) Include Research

Did you know that as of 2010, we are creating as much information every two days via the internet as we did from the dawn of civilization until 2003? (Techcrunch)

Take a moment and think about that. Seriously – from the dawn of time until 2003. That’s a lot of information. In 2010 we were creating that much every two days. Two days!

Make sure to involve some research in your content to liven up your material. With the amount of information circulating the web today there’s bound to be some data on any subject for which you’re looking to write copy .

Especially deep dive and dig for data that is:

  • Fresh
  • Unique
  • Timely
  • Surprising
  • Interesting

 

2) Add Personality

The biggest problem most corporate blogs face is a lack of personality. People are afraid to include their own humor, insights, and personal thoughts into their work when creating company content.

While this is understandable, content suffers heavily if personality is withheld. There’s nothing more boring than reading flat content. Inject a little life into it!

One of the best ways to ensure your personality shines through is to share a story in the content. Even a quick snippet injects a wondrous amount of vivaciousness into an otherwise vanilla piece.

 

3) Define the Value

Added value is the best recipe for great content. Create content that continually adds value for your target audience and you’re well on your way to success.

It’s not enough to simply have added value however – you need to define it. First to yourself, and then to your audience.

Start by telling how you’re going to enrich their lives. Explain what the value added is. Explain why the value is important to them.

Here I’d refer to the adage ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink’.

If you don’t explain the added value, there’s a chance it will be missed. Especially since at least 90% of readers are actually doing more of a fast scan that actually reading each individual word.

So, save yourself and the reader some time and be upfront about the added value of your content. Your audience’s attention span demands it.

 

4) Use Intelligent (Descriptive) Titles

Intelligent, descriptive titles are an absolute must. With the amount of content being produced online each and every day, readers don’t have time to read a synopsis of each and every piece of content they encounter. They’re going to devote minimal amounts of time (think 5 seconds or less) to scanning titles and deciding whether or not it’s worth clicking on.

80% of readers never make it past the headlines!

There are many ways to optimize headlines, but your number one goal should be to spark interest. With such a low click through rate in online usage, if you don’t capture your reader’s attention you’re wasting your own time.

Good headlines should incite at least two of the following:

  • Interest
  • Curiosity
  • Humor
  • Surprise
  • Controversy

 

Don’t be afraid to aim for the feels and hit them right in the emotions. A good title is provocative, and demands to be read.

And don’t forget the basics – things such as including strong adjectives, direct value, important keywords, numbers, and calls to action.

 

5) Know Your Audience

Never write a single word until you know who it’s for. Personal writing for yourself is okay, just don’t expect people to take a look at it.

Many treat their blog as a sort of online journal, and then are frustrated when no one wants to read it. The world doesn’t revolve around you, nor your company.

So, if getting traffic is an inherent goal of your writing, you better be writing with a specific audience in mind.

Knowing your audience can lead to:

  • Targeted writing
  • Tighter focus
  • Better engagement
  • Actual value (it’s not valuable unless it’s valuable for the people actually reading)
  • Content ideas

 

The short and sweet truth is that if you’re writing without a well-defined audience (often referred to as a persona) then you’re wasting your proverbial breath.

 

6) Format for Readability

Optimizing your content for readability is extremely important on the web. Once again, you need to bear in mind the deluge of information facing the average internet dweller these days. Nothing will keep your writing from being read like a good old-fashioned wall of text.

So, break your writing in easily consumable chunks. Use elements such as:

  • Bulleted/numbered lists
  • Images
  • Charts/graphs
  • Short paragraphs
  • Snappy sentences
  • Videos

 

The internet is no place to wax eloquent – leave the prose where it belongs.

 

7) (Bonus Tip) – Include Links Out!

Often overlooked, don’t be afraid to have outward-bound links. Some site owners are afraid of directing traffic away from their site, but your audience will be much happier if you use links properly – to help support your content.

Supportive links can be the difference between subpar content and truly outstanding, informative content. If there’s a website that will support your message, don’t be afraid to provide a link. The internet being what it is, it’s impossible to give readers the full story in a single piece of content. Links are the perfect solution to this problem, by breaking the story into digestible chunks and allowing each reader to decide when and where to stop.

So don’t be afraid to link out!

 

And Finally – Make it Sharable!

If you’re creating content for the web – whether for personal or professional use – make sure you’re creating content worth reading and worth sharing.

The internet is a portal of information unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, and the average readers are responding by lowering their attention span – we see more advertisements, information, videos, headlines and just stuff than ever before. We’re absorbing more than ever before. And, if you can’t deliver meaningful content in mere moments, then odds are you’re speaking primarily to yourself.

So create content worth sharing – hopefully these tips will help you do just that!

 

About the Author ~ Jon Ball

Jon Ball is VP of Business Development for Page One Power. Jon specializes in the implementation of highly effective link building strategies for clients across the globe. In his previous life he was a professional portrait photographer, and still passionately pursues photography. Page One Power is a link building firm that focuses on relevancy and transparency.

You can connect with Jon on Twitter at @pageonepower.

photo thanks to *brilho-de-conta

Learn how to write content that both readers and search engines love! Sign up for my SEO Copywriting Certification training today.

 

 

 

Penguin 2.0: Should you rewrite your evergreen site copy?

The pending Penguin 2.0 update may require you to rewrite your evergreen site copyWelcome back! In this video of the SEO Copywriting Checklist series, Heather discusses the impending Google Penguin 2.0 update and what it means for site owners and evergreen web content.

Matt Cutts, a distinguished engineer from Google, recently released a video announcing the next wave of Google algorithm updates. He specifically discussed Penguin 2.0, saying it will roll out this summer.

So Google is giving site owners a big heads up!

Also, on last weeks’ SEO Copywriting Certification call with Bruce Clay, he discussed Penguin 2.0 and what it means for site content. So Heather thought she would address this update today because it is a big deal to a lot of site owners!

Tune in to learn what web copy on your site might need rewriting, before the imminent Google updates hit:

Are Some Of Your Pages So-So At Best?

– Does your site have any low-quality posts or articles?

– Does your sales copy walk a keyphrase-stuffing line?

When speaking to the SEO Copywriting Certification folks last week, Bruce Clay advised listeners to go through their websites and locate those pages that are of so-so quality, and make them as good as they can be.

A lot of companies have these so-so pages on their site. They might not be technically keyphrase-stuffed, but they’re not necessarily high-quality or well-researched either.

These mediocre pages might be articles that you kicked out all at once and under deadline, so maybe you or the writer in question were working a little bit more quickly than normal. Or you might have some lower-quality blog posts on your site from way back when you first started out.

There also may be old sales copy on your site, where you thought you were supposed to include more keyphrases than you really should, and they are walking that keyphrase-stuffing line.

These are all examples of evergreen content that is ripe for a rewrite.

Also consider that you’re probably not getting much promotional value from them, because you know they’re not good. You never link to them, you never talk about them, and you may haven’t had the time or the inclination to go through your site and make those posts or those sales pages as good as they can be.

Well…

Now Is The Time To Make Some Changes!

– Google wants to recognize authority sites.

– Identify low-value and low-quality content and rewrite it.

– If your blog hasn’t been updated in months, it’s time to start blogging again.

In his Google Webmaster Help video, Matt Cutts made it very clear that Google wants to recognize – and reward – authority sites. And Bruce Clay emphasized in his presentation that if you have those kinds of pages on your site that are so-so at best, now is the time to revisit and rewrite them.

So identify that low-value and low-quality content! And if you don’t have time to go through and rewrite those pages, now is the time to find someone who can help you with it.

That way, when the Penguin update does hit, you know that all of your pages are exactly the way you want them to be: they are well-written and well-researched, and you’re able to link to them and refer to them without embarrassment!

And if you’ve neglected your blog for months, now is the time to get back to it. Again, Google wants to recognize and reward authority sites, and the way that you can establish yourself as an authority in your niche is by blogging about it – consistently!

If you tackle this evergreen content rewriting project now, then when Penguin 2.0 and other Google SEO updates roll out, you should be in good shape!

Thanks for tuning in! Have any questions or feedback? I’d love to hear from you! You can leave them in the comments, or email me directly at heather@seocopywriting.com. You can also find me on Twitter @heatherlloyd.

photo thanks to nick.amoscato (Nick Amoscato)

Learn the latest SEO copywriting developments, shared firsthand by industry experts each month: Save 20% off the SEO Copywriting Certification training with code CELEBRATE through June 1st!

SEO Copywriting Checklist: Are you writing content “for Google”?

Write SEO content for your readers, not for GoogleGreetings! Welcome to another installment of the SEO Copywriting Checklist series. Today, Heather gets back to the basics in discussing whether you’re writing content “for Google”.

The idea that you need to write content in a particular way for it to position well in search results is a tenacious misconception. It’s also an unhealthy one, both in terms of search engine appeal and user experience.

Tune in to hear what Heather has to say about writing “for Google” and how to correct for this stubborn tendency in your own SEO content:

“Gift Baskets” Is Repeated 9 Times!

So here’s an example of what writing content “for Google” can mean, where the term “gift baskets” is repeated nine times within a teeny-tiny block of copy!

I’m sure that the person who wrote this content didn’t do so thinking “Im gonna try to spam the engines and get up to the top results!” But the problem is that a lot of folks still think this kind of keyword stuffing is the way you write good SEO content.

Relax! Google Wants You To Write Good Content

So if this has been your mindset – that you have to write separate pages “for Google” or stuff the page full of your keyphrases in order to get a good ranking – you can relax: Google wants to you to write good, quality content. Really!

– Never write copy “for Google”. Write it for your readers.

Instead of hanging onto the notion of writing your content for Google, think about writing for your readers – always focus on their experience!

You don’t want to include a keyphrase so many times that it becomes distracting. People may well bounce off your page and out of your site to find another source of information that sounds more reputable, and offers content that is easier to read.

Additionally…

– Keyword stuffing won’t help your SEO.

Google has closed that loophole. Once upon a time, sure, jamming your copy full of keywords might’ve worked – but not today. So there’s no reason to do it!

– Unsure if you added too many keyphrases? Read the copy out loud.

If you aren’t sure whether or not you’ve been heavy-handed with the use of keyphrases in your content, sometimes the best thing to do is to just print that page and read it aloud.

The same applies if you’re a site owner working with a copywriter: when s/he submits the copy, read it out loud. That way you’ll hear if the keyphrase has been used too many times.

– Think quality – not quantity.

When thinking about your content, it’s always best to think of it in terms of quality.

It’s not about how many pages you can kick out so Google starts thinking you’re an authority on “X”. It’s about how many good pages you can write for your readers, so you attract more traffic and build your brand that way!

Thanks for joining me for this week’s video! As always, if you have any questions about today’s post, or anything else for that matter, I’d love to hear from you! You can email me directly at heather@seocopywriting.com, or find me on Twitter @heatherlloyd.

image thanks to warrantedarrest (Tomas de Aquino)

Learn how to build a happy, healthy freelance copywriting business from 12 of the world’s leading experts! My next Copywriting Business Boot Camp starts June 3rd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

3 Web writing no-no’s to avoid

Greetings! In today’s how-to SEO copywriting video, Heather takes a different approach to her weekly “lesson” by discussing three Web writing mistakes to avoid.

If you’ve been following this weekly video post series by Heather, you know that she’s devoted much discussion to what you should do with online writing, such as what will help your make more money, get better rankings, and make your content more easily shared.

But today, Heather takes a different tact in discussing those things that you do not want to do when creating web content – and especially these three definite no-no’s. Tune in and see if you may be guilty of one of them…

In surfing the web, I continue to see these three fatal flaws in website content. If you have any of these terrible 3’s on your own site, now’s the time to go back and redress them!

1) Putting your company’s mission statement on your home page

The first thing that I notice – and especially on B2B sites, or sometimes on smaller business sites – is the tendency to put the company’s mission statement on the home page.

I understand that when a company has invested considerable time and resources into creating their mission statement that they want to share it with their readers. But the home page is not the best place to do that. Somewhere on the “About Us” section, perfect! But please, not on your home page.

  • Reality check: your audience doesn’t care.

And this is because what your site visitors are looking for is what’s in it for them: how can your company help solve whatever problem they have in the first place, for them to visit your site?

  • It won’t help you position better…nor will it “make more money”.

Putting your company’s mission statement on your home page will do nothing to make you more money, drive new business, or position better. Certainly, if it’s important to you, again, you can put that content in the “About Us” section. But leave it off the home page.

  • Focus your content on what you can do for your reader.

Speak to your readers and tell them exactly what it is you can do to help them.

2) Telling only part of the story…

The second thing I will see is where companies only want to tell part of the story. So you might have a services page that tells a little bit about the service, and then there’s “contact us for more details”.

In this instance, they’re only giving their reader peanuts – they’re not giving them the full story.  And there’s a couple of reasons for this that I hear:

  • Some people think that short, “incomplete” content will drive emails/leads.

The thinking here is that the site owner assumes that their readers will think ‘Oh wow! That sounds really interesting! I don’t know much about it, but now I really want to know! I’m going to contact them right now!  Nope. Doesn’t happen that way.

  • Other people are afraid of giving too much away.

I’ll hear this a lot in more competitive industries, when the business owner says ‘Well, we don’t want to have all of that information on our services page, because our competitors might copy us and then where will we be?’

The thing is that in order to get people to contact you, you have to give them a reason. Those sexy blurbs that don’t really tell the story probably won’t be enough to help increase your conversion rates, because folks usually want to make that your service is a good fit for them before they contact you.

  • The solution? Give your readers the information they need to know.

If you’re not sure about this solution, test it!

Send your readers to two different pages on an A/B split test, wherein the first you provide just a little bit of information, and the second you provide a more robust explanation. I’ll almost guarantee you that the page that provides more information will drive a higher quality and more motivated lead, and probably more leads altogether!

3) Writing “techie” content in order to sound smarter.

Finally, the third thing I see – and this is definitely a syndrome in the B2B world, although sometimes I’ll see it with B2C sites as well – is where companies have obviously told their copywriters to write “techie” content.

Why? Because they want to sound smart online.

Certainly, if you are targeting your site to highly technical people, you want to create content that appeals to them. So in that case, technical writing is perfectly okay!

  • It’s important that readers understand your content.

But if you’re trying to write over your readers’ heads just to sound smart, that’s probably going to backfire on you. At the end of the day, you need people to actually understand your content.

So remember:

  • Using big words and long sentences won’t impress most readers.

You also really need to think about this in terms of who comes to your site when they’re looking for vendors.

If you’re writing highly technical content, but the person visiting your site isn’t necessarily technical – such as an administrative assistant, or someone who needs to figure out if you’re a good fit for the company they work for – if you’re writing over their heads, they may think “Oh, I’m not sure this is a good fit, I don’t think I’m going to pass this along to my boss. I think I’m going to look for another source, instead.”

  • Your solution? Write for your target audience.

You want to write for your readers in a language that they will understand, and that in turn will definitely help you increase your time on site, and it will increase your conversion rates as well!

Thanks for joining this week’s SEO Copywriting video! Remember, if you have a question or topic suggestion, we’re all ears! Simply email Heather via heather@seocopywriting.com and she may well answer your question or address your topic next week! See you then!

 

If you are writing your own content and you’d like some tips about how to write Panda-safe and Penguin-safe content – and how to write for Google – simply sign up for the free SEO Copywriting Buzz Newsletter and download the How to Write for Google white paper – also free!

 

photo thanks to DanBrady

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drive targeted Web traffic by answering questions

Welcome back! In today’s SEO copywriting video how-to, Heather shares a really fun content strategy that is especially attractive if you find yourself stuck for new ideas for fresh content: answering questions.

Not only does this strategy generate useful, relevant content for your readers, but it also drives targeted traffic to your website! What’s more, answering questions allows you to show off your expertise, and it’s easy!

Tune in as Heather explains how answering questions can drive Web traffic…

Your target market has questions

  • Shouldn’t your company answer them?

Your target market has questions. They’re typing them into Google every day, and while the query might not be sales related – they might not be looking for a product or service, at that point – it might be related to something that you offer.

So for example, the screenshot shows a search for “how do I file estimated taxes?” and that is followed by suggested results. If you were a bookkeeper or a CPA, someone who was targeting folks who would be filing taxes, this would be an opportunity for you – because you could build out an article or blog post about this topic.

You could also expand that out to Twitter and other social media channels, but just in terms of your website, this gives you stuff that you know you can write about!

Make a list of the most common questions you hear

So when you’re trying to figure out what kinds of questions to answer, the first thing to do is to think about what your prospects are asking you.

  • What are your prospects asking?

When you’re picking up the phone and talking to people, chances are that you get very similar types of questions. So what you can do is to answer these questions via an article or post for your website, or via a guest post at a relevant blog.

  • If you employ customer service representatives, what are they hearing?

If you work with customer service rep’s, this is something that you can ask them, because you might find out that they are hearing questions that you’ve never even considered.

So again, that gives you a really cool opportunity to create a blog post around those questions and then post it on your website!

  • Make a list and prioritize it.

Start making a list and prioritize it: if you know that there’s a question that comes up all the time, and that everybody asks, list that first.  And then that’s something you can plan for later.

Do a little more research…

The second thing to do is conduct a little more research – internal brainstorming is fun, but you can also look externally, such as…

  • What are your competitors writing about? Are they addressing anything that’s not on your list?

Go to competing sites and figure out what they’re writing about: are they using the same strategy right now? And if so, what kinds of questions are they answering? Are there any that you don’t have on your list already?

  • Does keyphrase research give you any other ideas?

Keyphrase research is always a great way to get ideas.

  • What about social media?

Check out what’s happening on social media: what’s trending? Look at your competitors’ social media. See if there are questions on Twitter that are different than those you’re hearing from your customer service rep’s.

Do a really broad-scope investigation of the types of opportunities that are out there, and continue adding questions and ideas to your list.

Develop your content strategy

Once you have a pretty solid list, then it’s time to develop your content strategy.

  • Will you write a blog post? An article? A FAQ page?
  • How many articles/posts can you write a month?

Some folks get amped and set an impossibly ambitious goal given their reality, like “I’m going to write one per day!” Then shortly after they burn out and nothing gets done.  So however this works for your content marketing, consider what’s realistic for you and put that info in your editorial calendar.

  • Who’s gonna do the writing?

If you’re going to write the content yourself, then you need to set aside some time. If  you’re going to outsource it, they you’ll need to find a writer who’s really good and can write in a voice that’s going to benefit your brand and make you money.

Avoid the cheap content trap

Something to consider if you do outsource the writing: avoid the cheap content trap! Consider your content an asset that will make you money.

  • Low-quality content will hurt – not help – you.

I (Heather) have seen a lot of companies who look at these types of articles and posts as merely an “SEO play,” thinking ‘Oh, well, we don’t have to share that much info’ or ‘It doesn’t have to be good writing – it’s just an article to drive traffic.’

But the important thing to remember is that article represents your brand. And even though it’s not meant to be a sales letter or something that directly promotes a product or service, if it reads poorly and it really doesn’t go into depth in answering the questions you reader is asking – that is not going to help you…It’s going to cost you money.

A good article will actually help make you money, because people will think ‘Wow! This company really knows what they’re talking about – maybe I should learn more…and it might be easy to work with them!’

  • If you choose to outsource, find the best writer for your needs (not the one who offers the lowest price.)

Some people approach outsourcing as an equation: “We only want to spend X for content – $10 a page” because it fits with some magical budget of theirs, but what they receive for that is not necessarily going to be the best reflection of their brand.

You want to find the best writer for your needs, not the cheapest. You need to be open to price at that point, if you expect any kind of quality content that drives traffic to your site!

 

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

photo thanks to Micky.! (Micky Aldridge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which should it be: Pinterest or Google+?

Pinterest or Google+?

Both of these social networks have broken up the Twitter/Facebook monopoly. In the last year, Google+ has gained 100 million active followers and Pinterest has expanded rapidly to become the 3rd most popular social network.

Not surprisingly, marketers have taken notice. Making Google+ and/or Pinterest part of your social media strategy is a smart move. Based on their early performances, these social networks will be an integral part of an effective social strategy from here on out.

Choosing one or the other isn’t necessary – but it’s a smart move if you want more targeted social media marketing. Each social network has distinct user groups, specific benefits and a few drawbacks.

Taking a Look at the Stats

Understanding the difference between Google+ and Pinterest is as simple as looking at the stats for each social network:

What to know about Google+:

  • As of April 2012, Google reports that Google+ now has 170 million active users. (Google)
  • As of January 2012, American users spent an average of 3.3 minutes on Google+. (eMarketer)
  • Websites using the +1 button generate 3.5x the Google+ visits than sites without the button. (HubSpot)
  • Two of the biggest user groups on Google+ are college students and software developers. (Remcolandia)
  • 63% of Google+ users are male. (Remcolandia)
  • Over 40% of marketers report that Google+ is “useful to critical” for their business. (HubSpot 2012 State of Inbound Marketing Report)
  • Google+ is expected to attract 400 million users by the end of 2012. (Remcolandia)

What to know about Pinterest:

  • As of February 2012, Pinterest had accumulated 10.4 million users. (AppData)
  • As of January 2012, American users spent an average of 97.8 minutes on Pinterest. (eMarketer)
  • As of January 2012, Pinterest accounted for 3.6% of referral traffic. (Shareaholic)
  • The top interests on Pinterest in the U.S. include crafts, gifts, hobbies/leisure, interior design, and fashion designers/collections. (Ragan.com)
  • 80% of Pinterest’s users are female. (comScore)
  • Pinterest referrals spend 70% more than visitors referred from non-social channels, including search, according to industry reports. (Wayfair)
  • With over 11 million unique monthly visitors (and counting), Pinterest became the fastest standalone website to eclipse the 10 million per month mark ever. (PR Daily)

The growth of both social networks has been impressive – but they clearly have different audiences and different benefits. In order to use one or the other effectively, you need to evaluate your goals.

Know What You Want from Social Media

Knowing your organization’s needs and capabilities for social media marketing will help you select between Pinterest and Google+.

Is your business targeted specifically toward a particular industry, job or gender?

Use the social network that your ideal clients are using. For example, if your target market is developers and other marketers, Google+ is a natural fit. For crafts based businesses, food related companies and products for a female audience; Pinterest would be a much better choice. Speak to the crowd by picking the right platform.

What Type of Traffic are You Seeking? 

Google+ has some unique search engine optimization benefits. Sharing your own links and resources can improve your quality score for your entire site. Having Google+ can enhance your chances for a higher search engine ranking.

Alternatively, Pinterest is a terrific referral traffic generator. If you have some interesting visual elements, product pictures or infographics that you want to spread across the social web, Pinterest is the way to go. Sharing visuals and images can bring more targeted visitors directly to your website.

Can You be Involved Enough to Make an Impact?

Before diving in, do you have the resources to manage another platform effectively? Although Google+ users spend less time on the site than Pinterest users do on their social media platform choice, both require investment and community involvement.

You can’t expect to start a profile, update it infrequently and reap any benefits. It’s better to be involved on a few platforms effectively than spread your resources too thin.

Pinterest vs. Google+ isn’t an issue that will go away anytime soon. With their meteoric rise in users and traffic potential, one or the other is worth your businesses’ time. It just depends on your target market, your traffic goals and your resources.

Do you use Google+ or Pinterest? Or both? Why?

 

About the Author – Courtney Ramirez

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

Today is it: the SEO Copywriting Certification training program – the only online training independently endorsed by the SEO Copywriting watchdog, SEOpros.org – is raising its price! Grab some huge savings and sign up now! Tomorrow will be too late.

photo thanks to TheBusyBrain

 

SEO content marketing roundup, week ending May 9th

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes: This week’s latest and greatest Web writing news is about adaptation, whether it’s to changes in content, SEO/search or social media marketing. Google’s string of 52+ updates keep SEO & search pro’s dancing, content marketers take a hard look at their websites, and social media marketers respond to all the new developments in their field with a plethora of how-to’s.

So let’s turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes, shall we? Enjoy this week’s picks!

Content Marketing

In part two of her series on the “annual website cleanup,” Lyena Solomon details 2nd quarter analytics and usability audits at Net Sprinter.

Jason Amunwa pens “Help Your Website Sell More: 11 Overlooked Page Elements That Drive Online Sales” at KISSmetrics.

Beth Fox discusses how to make your content pop with five bullet point basics at Content Marketing Institute.

Pamela Vaughan posts “20 Simple Ways to Boost Blog Subscribers” at HubSpot.

Are you insane? It may help: Neil Patel discusses “How to Become a Blogging Superstar” at SEOmoz.

Dewane Muntunga shares “20 Content Marketing Ideas That Really Work!” at Conversion Cues.

Marketing Sherpa’s weekly Marketing Research Chart shows the results of its survey  of 1500+ marketers that answered: “What are the most valuable inbound lead sources?”

Events:

SEO & Search

Danny Goodwin summarizes the more notable updates (of 52+) that Google launched in April, besides the Penguin update and Panda “refreshes”, at Search Engine Watch.

Heather Lloyd-Martin’s weekly SEO copywriting YouTube post focuses on “SEO content strategies for Google’s Penguin Update,” at SEO Copywriting.

Eric Ward debates the definition of “unnatural” links and lists 15 of the most obvious examples with (his self-described link-bait title) “Can There Really Be 85 Types Of Unnatural Links?” at Search Engine Land

Aaron Wall presents a reality check on negative SEO with “Ha! Bullets Can’t Hurt ME” at SEOBook.

One of the original SEO copywriters, Susan O’Neil, discusses how she keeps her clients a step ahead of their competition with “disruptive innovation,” at SEO Copywriting.

Wasim Ismail interviews Heather Lloyd-Martin on SEO, the Penguin update, and more at his blog site.

Jenny Halasz continues her “Keyword Seed Method” series of how-to’s for beginners with “Time To Reap What You’ve Sown From Keyword Seeds” at Search Engine Land.

The source of the SEO industry’s “reputation problem” – “Google Perhaps” – is brilliantly explored by Aaron Wall at SEOBook.

Events:

Social Media Marketing

Cindy King’s weekly wrap of social media marketing news at Social Media Examiner features Google’s new set of social reports designed to “help you measure the impact of your social marketing initiatives and evaluate the effect social media has on your goals and commerce activities.”

Jason Falls posts “Why Forums May Be the Most Powerful Social Media Channel for Brands” at Entrepreneur.

Google v. Facebook, the mobile version: Greg Sterling cites comScore data in discussing the relative time spent on mobile channels with “Most Mobile Time Spent In Apps: Google Has Top Reach, Facebook Has Highest Engagement,” at Marketing Land.

Noting that highly visible box on the upper right hand corner of Google’s search results page, Newt Barrett posts “Why You May Be Screwed if You Don’t Take Google+ Seriously,” at Content Marketing Today.

Lee Odden discusses search and social optimization with “Is Your Optimization Meaningful or Mechanical?” at Top Rank.

Citing Bitly data, Danny Sullivan discusses optimum times for social sharing with “For Social Success, Post to Twitter & Facebook In Early Afternoons, Tumblr in Evenings” at Marketing Land.

Michael King (“iPullRank”) pens a detailed how-to on maintaining your social shares after a site migration, at Search Engine Watch

Events:

 

photo thanks to Thuany Gabriela