Looking to take your SEO writing knowledge up a notch? These advanced tips will help!

Does Your E-Commerce Page Make This Big SEO Mistake?

One of my father’s favorite things to say was, “Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you have to do it too.”

As you may imagine, his wise words had zero impact when I was a teenager. I probably rolled my eyes and replied with something snarky. After all, doing what the cool kids did was all that mattered.

As an adult, I see this aphorism in action all the time — especially in SEO.

Case in point: E-commerce category pages.

This situation recently came up with a wonderful long-term client. He asked me to write “SEO copy” for a product subcategory page to replace what was there.

When I clicked through to the category page, I saw a common issue…

…all the text was shoved way below the fold. There was a headline, lots of product thumbnails, and around 300 (fortunately, well-written) words at the bottom.

Oops. No wonder he called it “SEO copy.” Chances are, nobody saw (or paid attention to) the copy. It was solely there for Google to have some keyphrase-rich copy to work with.

So, I sent him this article, that explains Google’s stance on this SEO writing technique. Google’s John Mueller even says, “from our point of view, it’s essentially keyword stuffing.” 

It doesn’t get more clear than that. 

Yet, my client had a (very good) question. “If it’s so bad, why do I see other sites do this all the time?”

Yup. He’s right.

I totally understand his confusion. After all, a quick e-commerce site check shows a number of sites doing the exact same thing. Home Depot does it. Brookstone does it. Land’s End has almost 1,200 words of tiny type crammed on the bottom of their women’s clothing category page.

Sad.

The thing is, these sites are missing huge opportunities. Instead of thinking “SEO text,” they should be thinking of ways they can make the page better — and yes, showcase their benefits.

The cool kids aren’t always right.

You don’t need to write a below-the-fold novel on your category pages. You just need to rethink how to give your readers (not just Google) the information they need. 

For instance…

Glossier has a short, benefit-full copy block at the top of their category pages.

Even a small amount of content can pack a big bunch!

Tektronix’s spectrum analyzer category page has a snazzy, benefit-rich slider plus two short (and keyphrase-rich) copy blocks.

See? Smart, keyphrase-rich category page content that’s not visually overwhelming.

The Lowe’s exterior doors category page is clean, clear and concise. It’s easy to find what you need, and the benefits are clear.

Keyphrase-rich copy and helpful content! Yes!

See the difference? Yes, there’s text — but, it’s not “SEO text” (although the text is optimized.) It’s good for Google and for readers.

It’s a double win.

This is the technique that Google’s John Mueller recommends, too. From the Search Engine Roundtable transcript:

“Maybe shifting that giant block of text into maybe one or two sentences that you place above the fold below the heading is a good approach here because it also gives users a little bit more information about what they should expect on this page. So that’s that’s kind of the direction I would head there.”

That’s way different than a 1,200-word text block shoved at the bottom of the page, eh?

After all, just because the big-site SEO departments are doing it, doesn’t mean you have to do it, too.

Especially when it won’t help your site. ;)

What do you think?

Has a client (or your boss) ever asked you to write “SEO text” for your e-commerce pages? Have you wondered why all the text was being shoved down to the bottom of the page? Let me know in the comments!

What the Death of Google+ Teaches Content Creators

So, did you hear the news?

Google is shutting down the consumer version of Google+. Just like they did with Google’s other social network, Orkut.

Remember Orkut? I didn’t think so. :)

I can’t say that I’m surprised to hear the Google+ news. Neither is anyone else. Here’s some more information about the shutdown and the security breach. Joy.

Google+ went from a “you MUST be on it, because…Google” platform to a virtual ghost town. Heck, Google cites “low user engagement” as a reason why they’re sunsetting the product.

Sadly, Google+ was pretty cool. You could segment your followers and could write posts just for them. You could link your content to your Google+ profile, which caused your photo to pop up next to your blog articles. You could +1 posts you liked.

(Ah, I do miss Google Authorship…seeing author photos on the search results page was cool.)

Some people went all out on Google+. They posted multiple times a day, wrote about Google+ hacks, and put a lot of eggs in their Google+ basket.

Now, all of that information will be gone within 10 months.

Poof.

What’s the big takeaway, here?

(Other than Google seems to have problems creating social networks?)

The only marketing platform you can rely on is the one where you have 100 percent control.

(Typically, your website and your newsletter.)

Everything else could go away in an instant.

Poof.

For instance, Facebook has changed their algorithm so many times that paying for advertising is the only sure thing.

What was once a cool way to build social engagement and to connect with customers has gotten way more challenging. Even big brands aren’t seeing engagement anymore. 

But, what about those people who put a lot of time and resources into their social networks? For instance, I know someone who creates one Facebook live video every day. 

Let’s look at worst-case scenario. What happens if Facebook bans her? Or if it changes its algorithm again? Or if people leave Facebook in droves?

Yup, that could effectively hurt her business…and she would have no control over what happens.

Ouch.

Putting resources into a site other than your own is called “digital sharecropping.” Here’s a great explanation from Copyblogger:

“In other words, anyone can create content on sites like Facebook, but that content effectively belongs to Facebook. The more content we create for free, the more valuable Facebook becomes. We do the work, they reap the profit.”

Sound familiar?

I’m not saying you should ignore social, because we know that people turn to social sites as part of the buyers’ journey. You may have tweeted a company to get faster customer support or checked out a company’s Instagram for deals.

Social is here to stay. I always recommend that companies find right “mix” of social that works for their business and provides measurable ROI. 

But…

Remember this…

Don’t focus on social (or anything else you can’t totally control) at the expense of your website or your newsletter. Make these assets shine and keep improving them.

That way, you don’t have to worry about the “rules” changing on you. You get to make your own rules! 

What’s more, even if Google and SEO went away tomorrow (doubtful), you’d still have a functioning website and a targeted email list. 

It’s the ultimate insurance.

So, yes, post on Twitter. Enjoy Instagram. Reach customers on Facebook. Just don’t put all (or most of) your eggs into social baskets that could change on someone’s greedy whim.

Make sense?

What do you think?

Are you bummed that Google+ is going away? Or, did you think, “Wait, Google had a social network?” Leave a comment and let me know.

Does your content spark profits?

Does Your Content Spark Profits?

Have you heard of the KonMari method?

In a nutshell, the idea is to go through all your belongings and to ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” If the answer is yes, you keep it. If not, you thank the item and get rid of it.

I’m asking you to KonMari your content — with a twist — by asking yourself one simple, powerful question:

“Does this content spark profits?”

Here’s what I mean…

A few years ago, Laura, my ex-blog editor, used to spend hours creating a weekly content marketing roundup post. Every post had a theme and a minimum of 20 links.

They are impressive posts.

Out of curiosity, I recently combed through some analytics. No matter how good and authoritative and extensive the roundup posts were, they didn’t drive any direct conversions. No newsletter signups, no leads. Nothing.

In short, they didn’t make money.

In fact, those pages are (sadly) my #1 source of, “I wrote this post, will you link to it?” spam.

Sad.

What does drive conversions for me? Being a webinar or podcast guest. Conference speaking. LinkedIn. My newsletter. My cornerstone posts, like this one. My sales pages.

I’ve learned to let go of the other stuff.

Sure, I’ll try new tactics, or revisit old ones from time-to-time. This year, I’ll probably guest blog here and there, just to see what happens. I’ll try video (ack!) Maybe even more conferences.

I like to tweak, to test, and to shake things up. It sparks joy.

But, I primarily focus on what makes me money.

How can you KonMari your content?

Dive deep into your content and determine if it sparks profits for you. Pinpoint the content assets that drive traffic, get great newsletter signups, and help you get noticed.

These are your money pages. Treat them like gold.

At the same time, you also want to take a hard look at all the content you produce and make sure it’s truly working for you.

For instance:

— Are your Facebook posts consistently falling flat, no matter what you’ve tried?

— Is your podcast a pain to produce, and people aren’t tuning in?

— Are you guest blogging everywhere and still not seeing any returns?

Let them go. Thank them and set them free.

Even if you have to kill your favorite projects.

Sometimes, you may be so proud of something you’ve created, you’re blinded to the fact that it’s not helping your bottom line.

Looking back, I should have pulled the plug on those roundups after the first year. I loved them too much to let them go (or to examine their analytics too closely.) That’s on me.

I’m not saying that these tactics are always off the table. If the perfect blog post opportunity pops up, why not give it a shot? If your social media results suck, you can hire a consultant to see what’s up.

The key is — you’re focusing on what works RIGHT NOW — and then, you can prioritize the other stuff.

What happens when you streamline your content?

Sure, it may feel like a short-term ego hit to discontinue something you’ve been doing for a while.

Trust me. People probably won’t notice (much.) I don’t think one person ever said, “Hey, I miss your weekly roundups.”

But, when you do let go of what’s not working, your life will feel smoother — and the content creation process will be way more streamlined.

And truthfully, letting go feels like a relief.

But, what happens if you LOVE doing something?

This one is trickier.

Sometimes, we know we’re doing something that doesn’t necessarily drive profits — but, it does spark joy.

For instance, I love responding to emails you guys send me every week. Does responding to 20+ emails every Tuesday drive profits? Possibly, here and there.

Although I’m 99.9% sure a consultant would tell me, “You don’t have time to respond to every email.” In fact, other people specifically state on their sites, “I do not respond to questions unless you pay me first.”

I get that. There may be a day that I have to go that route. But, for right now, I like to respond. I just limit the amount of time I spend doing it.

It’s my “best of both worlds” solution.

So, yes, keep what sparks joy (even if the returns aren’t there.) But, know that you’ll only spend X amount of time doing it. No matter what.

What do you think?

Does ALL of your content spark profits? Or, is it time to thank one of your current tactics and to let it go? Leave a comment and let me know!

How Often Should You Publish New Content?

Have you heard that publishing more often makes the Google gods smile upon your site and bless your content with top rankings? 

You’re not alone.

Many companies require their writers to post multiple time a week — sometimes even multiple times a day — because they believe it helps with search rankings. Their reasoning isn’t driven by what their readers want. Instead, it’s all about what they think Google needs to see.

Unfortunately, this can have an unintended side effect. 

I’ve chatted with many writers — and worked with many companies — who saw the quality of their content decrease after their publication schedules ramped up. There was less of a focus on creating authoritative content, and more focus on, well, more.   

The writers were writing as fast as they could, trying to keep up with “Google’s demands.”

Were the writers (and powers-that-be) comfortable with the approach? No. They knew the content wasn’t the best, and often felt embarrassed about the quality.

They just thought that publishing more often was the “magic bullet” that got Google’s attention.

Fortunately, they were wrong.

Here’s what Google says about publication frequency… 

In March 2018, Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz reported on a Twitter interaction between Google’s John Mueller and another Twitter user.

Here’s what went down.

The Twitter user asked:

“Do Google’s algorithms take into account the frequency/volume/schedule of publishing new content for a site? Say a site publishes 5 new URLs daily, but then begins to publish 2-3 instead. Does that make Google looks differently at the site?”

Good question. After all, it seems like a sudden drop in a publication schedule could be a negative signal to Google. It’s not like a print publication can suddenly change its publication schedule. Is a website any different?

Here’s what John Mueller said in response:

“Nope. A site isn’t a machine that pumps out content at a fixed rate. Well, it shouldn’t be :-).”

This means Google doesn’t care about your publication frequency. (Woohoo!)

And, your focus should be on quality — not on content quantity.

So, what does that mean to your content strategy?

If your company publishes a lot of content, and you feel the quality is slipping, it’s time to take a hard look at your analytics.

Check your bounce rates, your time on site and time on page statistics. Are people interacting with your content? Or taking off after a few seconds? Is it getting traction on social? Or is it falling flat?

You may find that you get better traction (and better positions, and more social shares) from publishing bigger, meatier content assets than from writing multiple, low-quality posts.

(Isn’t that why we create content in the first place — so people actually read and enjoy it?)

What’s more, you can easily repurpose a strong content asset. A large guide can be repurposed into multiple blog posts. You can use quotes and statistics for Instagram and Twitter. You can create PowerPoints that dovetail with parts of the main content asset.

Why not do it right the first time — and save yourself loads of time?

 What do you think?

Does reading, “Google doesn’t care about your publication frequency” make you breathe a sigh of relief? Or is your company (or your client’s company) stuck in the MORE CONTENT mentality?  Let me know in the comments!

Why Do Keyphrase-Stuffed Pages Position?

In a perfect world, our well-written content always positions top-10.

In reality, well, weird things happen.

Sometimes, a keyphrase-stuffed page makes it to the top of Google’s search results. And stays there.

How can that be?

Did someone pay Google for that listing? (No.)

Is repeating the keyphrase over and over a viable SEO writing tactic again? (Thankfully, no.)

Or, is there something else going on? (Yup.)

Here’s your answer…

We all know that keyword stuffing is bad, m’kay? 

Google advises against keyphrase stuffing. It’s old-school, spammy SEO.

Plus, from a conversion aspect, your readers don’t enjoy it, either. People don’t like to read keyphrase-stuffed pages. People don’t like to buy from sites that keyword-stuff their copy.

It’s not a good tactic.

Yet, last week on Twitter, Google’s John Mueller said that keyword stuffing, “shouldn’t result in removal from the index.”

In fact, some keyword-stuffed pages may still position because there is “enough value to be found elsewhere.” 

Here’s the Search Engine Roundtable post sharing the news.

Um, what? 

So, what does this really mean?

This doesn’t mean that Google is giving keyword stuffing a pass. It’s still bad, and Google still calls it out as spammy.

What it does mean is Google is smart enough to ignore repeated keywords and look at other factors. Maybe the keyword-stuffed page has a lot of good information, despite the bad SEO. Or, the page has some quality links pointing to it.

Is this a mixed message? You bet. When Google says, “thou shall not keyword stuff,” we expect there to be consequences if a site does stuff.

Maybe not total removal from the index….but spammy pages shouldn’t position. 

So yes. This is frustrating.

On the flip side, this is Google’s circus and Google’s monkeys. We can’t control what Google does. We can only control what we do…so…

Here’s what I would recommend…

I wouldn’t try stuffing just to “see what happens.” Best-case scenario, it DOES work…and new visitors read your spammy copy and immediately surf away. Remember, Google doesn’t buy from you — your readers do. Poorly-written copy reflects poorly on your brand.

Period.

Now, what if you have a spammy legacy page that’s still positioning?

That’s a different story.

If we extrapolate what John Mueller said, and Google can “strip away” excess keyphrase use when evaluating page, that means the page should stand on its own.

Which means that it should be fine to rewrite it, dial back the keyphrase usage, and see what happens.

Notice the word “should” in there. I even italicized it twice. There’s a chance your page position drops after fixing the spam, despite what Google says. 

Annoying, isn’t it?

Is it worth it? I would argue yes. At the same time, I’d check the page analytics to see if people are taking action on the spammy versus non-spammy version.

Let the data be your guide. You may find fewer people visit the rewritten page, but they are taking action. Or staying on your page/site longer. Or even making a purchase from you.

After all, there’s no reason to celebrate a top-10 position if you find people are immediately leaving the page when they land on it.

What do you think?

Have you encountered a keyphrase-stuffed page, and wondered, “why is Google letting this fly?” Have you had to patiently explain to your boss why you shouldn’t repeat [b2b blue widget] 50 times in 250 words…even if your top competitor is positioning with the same tactic?

Sigh. I hear you. Share your tale of woe in the comments!

Did someone steal your content? Here's what to do

Did Someone Steal Your Content? Here’s What to Do

Imagine this…

You’re checking positions for a page you wrote, and you see something that stops you in your tracks…

Another site has taken your content and has claimed it as their own. There’s no link, no byline, nothing. They copied your page and pasted it into their site.

What’s worse, the page is positioning for the keyphrases you targeted.

AHHHHHH!

Unfortunately, content theft happens all the time — even to smaller sites.

Sometimes, it’s because the offender is totally clueless and thinks it’s OK to post your content on their site.

Sometimes, it’s because the site owner paid for “original” content and an unscrupulous writer copied your post and sold it as their own.

Sometimes, it’s because someone wants to steal your content (and traffic) because they are too lazy to do things the right way. I had a large SEO agency do this to me.

And sometimes (fortunately, not as often,) someone is doing it to target your site specifically and to hurt your rankings.

Fortunately, you DO have recourse — and there are things you can do.

Here’s how to handle content theft (ugh)…

Best case scenario, all it takes is an email to the site owner that says, “The article originally appeared on my site. You need to take it down.” 

The site owner may email you back and beg for forgiveness. Or, you may not hear a peep out of them — but the post magically disappears. 

When the above SEO company swiped my article, it took a couple emails to the CEO to set things right again. But, I got it taken down. (Oddly, the CEO kept insisting he wrote the article, and he only took it down after “agreeing to disagree.” That still irks me to this day.)

So, what happens if your “hey, take it down” email goes into a deep, dark hole and nobody responds? 

Fortunately, you have the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) on your side. This means you can do two things:

You can file a signed DMCA notice with the offending site’s web host. This site helps you track down the host and has an easy-to-use DMCA notice generator. Some hosts may require you to mail this information, while others have an online form.

You can go straight to Google and file a complaintGoogle is typically very responsive and will sometimes respond to DMCA notices the same day (at least, that’s what happened when I’ve had to do it.)

Here’s what the form looks like — and you have the option of choosing, “I have found content that may violate my content” on another page:

How to remove content from Google

If you’re short on time, there are also companies that will handle this for you. You can Google [DMCA takedown companies] for a list. 

Know this process can be extremely time-consuming. It takes a long time to research URLs, to make a list of offending pages, and to submit notices.

Plus, the process is like playing wack-a-mole. You may “beat” one content thief, just to have another pop up in its place.

That’s why some people choose not to bother with it unless the stolen content is out-positioning theirs. 

Sigh.

The good news is, it’s extremely fun to see stolen content disappear from Google’s search index. And oh-so-satisfying when it’s gone.

What about you?

Have you had someone steal your content? What did you do? Is it still there? Hit “reply” and let me know!

Why Writers Should Look for “Easy” Content Wins

Did you grow up hearing, “If it’s easy, there must be something wrong with it”?

Yeah. Me too.

Instead of looking for the easy way out, we often look for the most challenging, brutal way to do things. We work harder. We work longer hours. If we’re not suffering, we aren’t trying.

It’s all about the hustle.

Granted, this mentality helps us to a certain extent. Busting out of our comfort zones is important. Sometimes, we have to go through some pain to see some gain (for instance, starting a new workout routine.)

But, what does this mean to our content marketing strategy? Should we always push the content marketing envelope?

My answer: Nope.

Here’s why…

Easy has a huge benefit.

A parallel I like to make is around exercise.

I love high-intensity exercise. It’s the only thing that makes my brain turn off.

But, it’s hard.

The only way I can do it is to build in rest days. I go to yoga. Or I take a walk. I’ve even thought about Zumba (don’t laugh.) If I push myself too much, I burn out, get sick and have zero energy.

Now, think of this in terms of your content marketing campaign.

Constantly writing (and researching, and promoting) detailed long-form posts is hard.

Publishing daily (or even weekly) for some companies may be the equivalent of engaging in high-intensity exercise without a break.

Balancing search and social without a sustainable plan can cause burnout — fast.

The result? The post quality goes down. The writers (you!) burn out. Sales go down.

You’re pushing so hard towards your goal, you don’t realize you don’t have to push so darn hard all the time.

So, what can you do instead?

Look for easy.

Here are some ideas:

  • Repurpose old blog posts and turn them into an email series.
  • Re-optimize old blog posts that have so-so positions.
  • Send social traffic to old posts (hey, those old posts need love too.)
  • Revise older posts and republish them as new.
  • If a task has been challenging in the past (say, getting subject matter experts to blog,) work around it (for example, interview the experts instead and post the transcripts.)
  • Slice your publication schedule (it’s OK. Really!)

If you’ve been hitting roadblocks, find the easy workarounds rather than beating your head against the wall.

You’ll be happier. Your content will be better for it.

And yes, you still want to stretch yourself and try new things. Challenging yourself to try something new is a good thing  (I’m challenging myself to hold more webinars this year.)

But, you still need those “rest days.” You still need the easy to balance out the hard.

(Need a place to start? I updated my post on how to conduct a content audit – please check it out and share it with your friends.)

What do YOU think?

Are you feeling like you’re on a never-ending content creation hamster wheel? Does it feel like “easy” isn’t good enough? What are you doing to simplify your SEO content creation efforts? Leave your feedback below — I’d love to hear from you!

Are Two Sites Better Than One?

Every once in awhile, someone will call me with this great, “guaranteed not to fail” idea.

The conversation goes something like this.

“Why don’t we build out another site, write a whole bunch of new, optimized content and target the same keyphrases. That way, BOTH sites can position in Google, and we can dominate the search listings. Cool idea, eh?”

Unfortunately, I tend to be the cold, dreary rain on their SEO parade.

This strategy can be a cool idea — for the right reasons.

But, if you’re doing this purely for SEO, splitting your site will be a major hassle for little return.

Here’s why…

Twice the sites can mean triple the efforts

Think about your current site (or your clients’ sites.) How much content do you produce a month? How are you promoting it on social media? How long does everything take — and how much does it cost?

Building a brand-new site just for Google means tripling your efforts, costs and output. It means a new wireframe, a new design, and new technology to manage.

Plus, it takes a long time for new sites to position, even if there’s a solid content strategy in place. Assuming the site does position.

Many times, the ROI never pencils out.

What does Google say?

The SEM Post reported how Google’s John Mueller had this to say during a Twitter chat:

“If you split a site into two sites, each site will have to rank on its own. That can result in the 2 sites not being as visible in search (or as much traffic) as the single old site (eg, very simplified: 2x page 2 probably gets fewer visits than 1x page 1).”

So, if you’re splitting out your existing site — or creating a new site “just for Google,” you may be creating more trouble than it’s worth.

You have been warned. :)

But (because there’s always a but…)

Some companies create multiple sites because it makes sense for their customers. For instance, a company may have separate sites for B2B and B2C customers.

Or, a company may offer a new service/product that’s completely unrelated to their main target audience — so, a new site makes sense. For instance, my coaching site will be a brand-new site. It won’t have anything to do with SEO writing.

Or, a company may have another, technical reason. My SEO Content Institute site is where my products (and training back-end) live. It used to be all under my SEO Copywriting domain, but selling products AND services AND the training/technical back-end caused things to be confusing. And break. A lot.

As you may have noticed, I am the queen of multiple sites — but, I do it because it makes business sense. Not for Google.

And yes, it’s a pain to manage multiple sites. :)

What do you think?

When I first talked about multiple sites in my newsletter, many subscribers emailed me saying, “Yes, our company has multiple sites, and its a nightmare.” Sometimes, the multiple site strategy was for SEO. Sometimes, the powers-that-be thought it was a “good idea” to build something new.

In almost all cases, unless there was a compelling business purpose, the ROI wasn’t there.

But, what do YOU think? What do you see? Leave a comment below and let me know what’s on your mind. I’d love to get your take.

How to Master Meta Descriptions With the Google Snippet Trick

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Last week, I came across a Yoast article discussing Google’s longer meta descriptions (Google doubled the room we have for meta descriptions last year — from 160 characters with spaces to 320.)

The first paragraph contained a sentence that made me laugh:

“It appears that Google very often creates a meta description by itself…”

Basically, the author is saying that Google will often disregard our submitted meta descriptions and use a snippet of text from the landing page, instead.

(For those new to snippets, you’ll find the meta description snippet underneath the clickable link on the search engine results page — and the search term — or close variations — are typically bolded.)

Is this true? Is Google doing a meta description switcheroo?

Yes. But, here’s the deal…

This has been true for a long time. In fact, I remember writing about the Google Snippet Trick back in 2003 or so.

What’s the Google Snippet Trick? I’m glad you asked…

It’s simple.

When you write your page copy, try to include a benefit statement or call-to-action near the first instance of your main keyphrase (which is typically in the first paragraph.)

That way, when Google does grab a snippet of text for the search engine results page, your copy has as much marketing oomph as possible.

For instance, if you do a search for [SEO copywriting training], the search snippet for my site reads:

Endorsed by organizations such as seoPros.org and AWAI, the SEO Copywriting Certification training is a self-directed training focused on web content and social media writing. The materials are continually updated, reflecting the latest search engine changes.

Yes! I’ll take it!

Yoast recommends spending extra attention to your main paragraph. Although I would agree, remember that Google can pull the snippet from anywhere on the landing page (for instance, my snippet is from the bottom of the page.)

So, yes, every word counts — not just with your readers, but with Google, too. If you write a bloated, sloppy page, your search snippet may also read bloated and sloppy.

And, since meta descriptions help your readers convert and click through to your site, sloppy writing will hurt more than help.

What should you do now?

Take a peek at Google search results for your main keyphrases (or, if you work as a content strategist, your clients’ keyphrases.)

How do the search snippets read to you? Are they strong, or is there room for improvement?

If you find your snippets suck, you could gently tweak the site content, and add benefit statements or calls-to-action. Per Yoast’s recommendation, you may also want to pay special attention to your first few sentences.

Remember, search snippets are something that Google “controls,” so you may not be able to move the needle.

But, it’s worth a try. Especially if a keyphrase is super-important to you, and you want your Title and meta description to sing.

After all, the more compelling your Title and description are, the more chance your prospect will click through to your site — even if you’re not #1.

Cool, eh?

BTW, it’s still important to create a meta description, even if Google doesn’t always use it. After all, you don’t know when Google will make up its own snippet — or rely on your site for the answers. Why not err on the side of caution and spend three minutes crafting a cool description?

What do YOU think? Post your comments below — I’d love to hear from you!

What If B2B Keyphrase Research Doesn’t Work?

Looking for B2B keywords?

What do you do when conventional keyphrase research tools do you wrong?

Here’s what I mean.

Last February, I spoke during AWAI’S Web Content Intensive (woot — what a fun event!) During my presentation, a woman asked how she could find reliable keyword research metrics for her niche B2B.

Her problem? Conventional research tools, like SEMrush, told her there was “no data” for her B2B keyphrase searches.

The offering was so niche, and the keyphrases received so few searches, that conventional keyphrase research tools didn’t help.

Maybe that’s happened to you too.

B2B keyphrase research is quirky.

I’ve discussed before how many B2B searches receive low search volume. One keyphrase may drive just 20 searches a month — but, those searches represent a highly-focused and motivated audience.

You won’t necessarily see high numbers with B2B keyphrase research, but that’s OK. The keyphrases are often highly profitable in terms of lead generation and sales.

But, sometimes, there’s NO data to work with — and you have no idea how people are searching for you, what words you should include in your copy, or what to do next.

There's always a keyphrase research workaround

Fortunately, there’s always a workaround.

Here’s how to do it.

Chat with your prospects and customers.

Sometimes, the easiest ways to learn how prospective customers are searching for a company like yours is to simply ask. For instance, when talking to a prospect, ask, “What search terms did you type into Google to find me?” Or, include the question on your “contact us” form. While you’re chatting with your prospects, you can also…

Peruse their pain points.

Discovering your target customers’ specific pain points is a great way to unearth useful blog post ideas. Plus, when you interview your target customers, you can hear the verbiage they use to explain their problems. This allows you to write extremely laser-focused and customer-focused content using the terminology your readers use every day.

Review specialized forums and check out the discussions.

This isn’t quite as good as speaking to a customer, but it still gives you an idea of what’s on your target audience’s minds, their pressing pain points, and what’s important to them. Plus, mining specialized discussion lists for your industry is a great way to brainstorm blog post ideas.

(Bonus tip: industry publications can give you some insight too — although they aren’t quite as good as mining discussion list data.)

Check out the competition

Fair warning: take this advice with a grain of salt. Some competing sites are bad, and you won’t learn anything useful by surfing around. Having said that, you can (sometimes) learn a lot by checking out a competing site. Look at how the competitor structures their content, review their blog post topics, and try to reverse-engineer their keyphrase focus. You can also use tools like SEMrush to see what phrases your competitors are ranking for.

Type your keyphrases into Google and see what happens

Google some possible search term ideas and look for competing sites. If you see some competitors — and the search results are relevant to what you offer — look for “searches related to [your search term]” at the bottom of the page. Voila! Those phrases are all possible keyphrase ideas.

Analyze your analytics

Unless you’re writing for a brand-new site, you should have some clickthrough data. Check out Google’s Search Console and Google Analytics to get a sense of how people are finding you now. You can even attribute exact keywords to URLs in Google’s Search Console — here’s how.

Checking out your analytics is always a smart move. Why guess at how people are finding you when the data is right there? To paraphrase a BuzzFeed headline, what you find may surprise you.

What do YOU think?

Are you stuck in a B2B keyphrase research rabbit hole? Does keyphrase research freak you out entirely? Let me know in the comments!