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

Will Google Penalize Your Site for Duplicate Content?

Have you heard that any duplicate content is a Google no-no?

Are you worried that repeating the same sentences (or paragraphs) across your site will have dire Google consequences?

You’re not alone. I received this question last week…

Is there an acceptable percentage for duplicative content that I can set for each blog post?

I write a blog post for a small law firm once a week. When completed, I run all the blog posts that I write through two separate plagiarism filters to see what comes up as duplicative content and what the percentage is. I’m not sure if there is an acceptable percentage — say 10% or 12% — that I can set as a benchmark. I don’t want the attorney for whom I blog to get a Google penalty based on duplicative content.

Also, would that acceptable percentage include the call to action — “if you have a legal issue, call so-and-so at 000-0000 for a free consultation.”

Here’s the deal with duplicate content…

Back in the SEO old days, duplicate content was was as common as that horrible “Somebody That I Used to Know” song by Goyte back in 2012.

It was everywhere.

For instance, people would write one article about a general topic, swap out the keyphrases, and create multiple articles. The articles were exactly the same (or very similar) — but the keyphrase focus was different.

For instance, one “how to buy running shoes” article would be spun into multiple articles like:

  • “How to buy women’s running shoes”
  • “How to buy men’s running shoes”
  • “How to buy children’s running shoes”
  • “How to buy kids’ running shoes”

You still see this technique used for local landing pages. How many times have you seen something like a [plumbing in Bellingham, WA] page with the exact same copy as a [plumbing in Mount Vernon, WA] page?

And no, it’s not a smart technique. Google says creating doorway pages is bad, m’kay.

(As a side note, building local landing pages is an excellent strategy if you do it the right way. Here’s some additional information.)

But, what about if you use the same turn-of-phrase on multiple pages?

Or, if you have to include a legal disclaimer at the bottom of every page?

Or, if you have the same (or similar) calls-to-action on multiple pages?

Are you going to get slapped by a penalty by big G? Or see your site kicked out of the index?

No.

Here’s why…

Google understands that sites may have duplicate content issues because of legal requirements or content platform issues. Google even recommends workarounds for common scenarios (for instance, how to handle boilerplate copy.)

These issues aren’t ideal — and could mess up the SEO results you want — but they won’t get you in trouble.

At the same time, this is not a free pass to spam all over the place. Google’s not down with anything deceptive. In fact, Google states,

“Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results.”

It all boils down to intent.

So yes, it’s safe to have some “duplicate” content scattered throughout your pages. At least from Google’s perspective. 

Having said that, you may want to take a peek to see if some of your duplicate content is clunking with your target audience. You may find that mixing up your CTAs and changing some of your similar-sounding content could grab some conversion gains.

What do you think?

Have you heard that any content duplication — even just a few words — was a no-no? Leave a comment and let me know!

Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Long Tail Keyphrases

Have you ever looked at a keyphrase research report and thought, “That keyphrase only gets 20 searches. It’s not worth it.”

Well, my friend, this article is for you.

Recently, I came across a great example of a long-tail search content strategy. I was looking for free ways to track my sales pipeline (because, yes, I am cheap,) when I came across this page by Salesflare. 

They were promoting a Free Sales Funnel Template, which was exactly what I wanted.

It was free. I needed a template. I was into it.

But then, as I dug in more, I noticed their SEO and conversion strategy was actually pretty brilliant.

Here’s how their long-tail conversion strategy went down — and what they did right along the way.

First, these guys were #8 in Google for [free sales funnel template]. You may think that a #8 position would equal no clicks — but this is where their Title sparked a conversion.

I clicked their link because their Title “Free Sales Funnel Template For Excel And Google Sheets” was exactly what I needed.

Conversion win #1: Top-ten ranking and a clickable Title

When I hit the landing page, I quick-scanned the page to make sure I wanted the download. Then, I happily gave them my email address in exchange for the freebie.

 

Conversion win #2: They have my email address and can remarket to me. 

Next, I scrolled down the page, looking for more specific instructions about how to use their template. The company does a good job breaking the how-tos into five short paragraphs, including how to customize the document.

But if you look down just a little further, a big subheadline jumps out. 

When you’re tired of using Excel

The follow up copy reads:

Excel templates are good but manually entering data gets time-consuming and unreliable. When you’re sick of wasting time manually entering data to manage your customers in Excel, try Salesflare for free. No more complex excel formulas and losing time. 

And then, readers are given the option to try their solution free for 14 days.

Conversion win #3: Calling out the pain points of the free solution and removing the risk of trying the paid version.

Now, here’s another cool thing about this page…

SEMrush shows around 50 keyphrases positioning top-10. The big winner is [sales funnel template excel] at 1,300 searches a month — and they position #8 for that term. 

The majority of phrases see a drastically different search volume. [sales pipeline spreadsheet] only sees 30 searches a month. Others, like [sales pipeline template xls] weighs in at 90 searches a month.

Combined, however, those other low-volume keyphrases see over 2,000 searches a month. Individually, long-tail search terms may not drive much sales volume. But, in aggregate, long-tail searches are a powerful force.

Plus that traffic is highly qualified and targeted.

Conversion win #4: Doing their keyphrase research and writing their page right.

So, let’s break down what Salesflare did right.

— They conducted keyphrase research and wove their keyphrases into the content.

— They created a compelling Title and meta description to increase click-through from the search engine results page. 

— They collected my email address in exchange for a free template.

— They brought up the pain point of using a free Excel template and…

— They offered a solution that I could try risk-free for 14 days.

Nicely done, eh?

It’s time to learn to love the long tail.

Sure, it’s tempting to want to spend your time chasing after those tasty high-volume head keyphrases that get all the clicks.

But, let’s face it. Sometimes, it’s impossible to position for a head term unless you’re a big brand site. Chasing after such a challenging goal is going to cost you time, money and your sanity. 

That’s why long tail is truly where it’s at. Especially if you’re looking for highly qualified traffic.

(Want to check out a blast from the past? I wrote about the long tail way back in 2011. Check out what Google’s search results page looked like way back then. Wow.)

What do you think?

Does your company leverage a long-tail content strategy? Do some of your clients insist on positioning for impossible head terms like [travel]? Leave a comment and let me know!

Site Traffic Down? Do This!

Does your site seem uncommonly…quiet…lately?

It’s not just you. In fact, 60 percent of SEOs are seeing a traffic drop. This is up from 49 percent just a week ago.

Yes, it depends on the industry (for instance, videoconferencing and fitness equipment sites are going gangbusters.) But for the rest of us, things are slow.

As for the reason? You guessed it. COVID-19. Thanks, coronavirus.

I discussed last week how you should take this slow time to ODYCP (optimize your damn content, people!) But, there’s one other opportunity your business can leverage, right now — and it doesn’t even involve Google.

What is it?

Your email newsletter.

For instance…

In my quest of trying to keep my workout game tight, I learned that Powerblock adjustable dumbbells were an awesome alternative. They were sold out on Amazon, so I visited the Powerblock site hoping that I could buy direct. 

I could…but the company was so swamped with orders that they had a huge “we’re backordered and everything is taking an additional 2-3 weeks” banner on their site. 

(Sadly, it’s been replaced with a “we’re shut down until the stay-at-home order is lifted” message.)

That was a bummer, but I was still interested in making a purchase. My next step was to search for a newsletter subscription link. After all, I wanted to know the second their products were back in stock, and I figured their newsletter subscribers would be the first to know.

There was no newsletter subscription link. There was no way to stay in touch with the company. The only way to learn about product availability was by checking the site or their social platforms. 

That’s a huge miss.

Think of all those motivated buyers who are happy to wait — they just need to know when to buy. They aren’t going to check a company’s site or social platforms every day. But they will check their email.

A stylist friend of mine has a similar issue. Hair salons are shut down in Oregon, so she’s not making her normal income. Now is the time that she could sell hair products (that can be mailed), promote touch-up hair color kits (that can be dropped off at her clients’ front door), and give hair styling tips to those of us who haven’t had a haircut in four months (ahem.)

Unfortunately, she’s stuck. She doesn’t have an opt-in list, so she doesn’t have the (easy) option.

On the flip side, one of my friends is a Pilates and nutrition instructor. She was able to send a newsletter out to her clients saying that she was teaching Pilates via Zoom and charging for classes. (Hi, Ishbel!) Another friend took his Pilates studio online and is emailing clients about the new online schedule. (Hi, Dan!)

Their newsletters allowed them to easily get the word out and still make money during this weird time.

Unlike Google, newsletters are 100 percent under your control. You don’t have to worry about algorithmic updates messing with your visibility. You don’t need to think about SEO or keywords. You don’t need an expensive keyphrase research tool.

All you have to do is create content and push “send.” Boom.  

What if you have a newsletter, but you haven’t published in a long time?

What are you waiting for? People gave you their email addresses because they want to hear from you. Why not use this time as an opportunity to reach out to your subscribers and help them through this weird time?

No, I don’t mean hitting them with sales messages. Or, the standard “Here is our COVID-19 policy” that every company is sending right now.

I mean helpful content that solves your readers’ pain points, provides valuable information — heck, maybe even gives them a laugh or two. 

As I said last week, now is not the time to go dark. Your readers need you. It may not result in a sale right now. But, building your “know, like and trust factor” will help people remember you when they are ready to buy.

Plus, writing a newsletter can be immensely satisfying. I can’t see you guys — but I still feel connected to you, even if it’s through an email newsletter. We may not have any in-person get-togethers anytime soon. But, we have email.

And that’s pretty cool.

In this time of uncontrollable situations, sending a newsletter is one of the smartest, easiest things you can do. Show the person behind the brand. Offer to help your readers. Make them laugh. Control what you can control.

Chances are, you’ll even see a little business from it too.

(As a side note, I wrote about email newsletters way back in 2012. Here’s the blog post and video.)

What do you think?

Is your newsletter active or is it gathering dust? How do you feel about sending emails during major world events? Leave a comment and let me know!

Here’s hoping you’re stocked up on T.P. and hand sanitizer! 

I’m here if you need me!

Heather

Is Google Out to Get You?

A few times a year, every year, I receive a panicked “What should I do?” email.

The emails read something like this…

“We used to be position three for our main keyphrase. Now, we’ve dropped to the second page. Our other keyphrases aren’t positioning as well as they had been, either. I think Google penalized our site and now we’re losing leads every day…”

Ouch.

I totally understand why someone would freak out about lost positions. Hey, even I get cranky when I see the occasional dip. For many sites, losing positions directly translates into lost revenue — so seeing a positions drop can mean an income drop, as well. 

But, is that drop because Google is out to get the site, and the powers-that-be slapped them with a manual penalty?

Or, is it a normal algorithmic fluctuation — meaning other sites are now positioning because Google “decided” those other sites deserve a top position?

Let’s break this down…

Just because your positions have dropped (even severely) doesn’t mean that your site has been “penalized” by Google. 

Kristine Schachinger, in a recent Search Engine Journal article, clearly defines what a penalty is…and isn’t. Her quote:

“The only true penalty (officially) is a “manual action” from Google.

A manual action is when a Google human reviewer has looked at your website and dampened your visibility in the search engine result pages (SERPs) for violating the Webmaster Quality Guidelines in some manner.”

If your site (or your client’s site) wasn’t hiding text, participating in link schemes, or doing other things on Google’s bad list, it’s probably not a manual penalty.

Which is good news — and bad news.

The good news is, you haven’t annoyed Big G, causing them to slap you with a manual penalty.

The bad news is, it means that Google finds other sites more relevant for your desired keyphrases. It’s called “algorithmic devaluation.”

That’s like hearing your baby is ugly.

Sometimes, getting positions back is easy. It means looking at your existing content and determining how to add more value. I’ve tweaked some pages that had dropped in position, and they bounced right back up.

But…

Sometimes, the process is much harder. Getting those positions back may require you to change your content, to tweak some technical aspects, and to revise your existing process. This can take a long time and may require multiple experts.

Especially if Google changed the game and you were hit with a big algorithmic update (for instance, health and medical sites got hit this year.)

Fortunately, in cases like this, we have Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines to help us understand what Google considers high-authority content. Yes, it’s a long, boring document — but it provides so much insight. 

I’d recommend reading it, even if your site isn’t in trouble. It’s a great way to peek inside Google’s brain and to figure out what it really wants. 

How can you tell if you were hit be a penalty — or an algorithmic burp?

This one is easy. You won’t have to guess — in fact, Google tells you when you’ve been bad (assuming you have Search Console set up on your site.)

This is valuable for an older site that may have had multiple SEOs providing “expert” advice. A site owner may not know that a past employee set up a spammy link campaign — or pages with hidden text. Fortunately, Google will pinpoint the issue, provide helpful resources, and give you the opportunity to make it right. 

Once you’ve made the necessary fixes, you can submit your site for a reconsideration request. Google will either determine that you’ve changed your spammy ways and will remove the penalty (yay,) — or it will let you know there’s more work to do.

You’ll know either way.

What do you think?

Have you heard, “Google keeps penalizing me”? Is Search Console set up on your site — or your client’s sites? (If not, this resource will help.) Leave your comment below!

Scalable Content Generation Strategy: The Online Marketer’s Formula for Success

When you are a large company or an agency, generating large volumes of good content can be quite a challenge. It can get expensive pretty quickly.  It is also time-consuming.

And in the end, high quality content is not a guarantee of explosive attention and viral sharing.

In order for your content generation to be sustainable, it needs to be scalable. The formula for success is using fewer resources to generate more high quality content.

In addition, your content needs to provide an excellent user experience and convey a consistent brand message, in compliance with brand standards.

Yes, I know, it is easier said than done!

The only way you can sustain content generation without breaking the bank is by making your content strategy scalable.

Planning Your Content Strategy

Planning your content strategy can be broken down into three foundational steps: defining your target audience, doing a content audit and regular inventory, and setting your content marketing goals.

1. Audience.  You will be using your content to speak to the customers you are trying to reach.  Of course, it makes sense to learn about these people to determine what is important to them.  Why would they listen to you?

Once you know what they want and what message they respond to, you will be able to craft your brand message more effectively.

There are many ways to collect information about your website visitors.  You can run surveys, look at feedback and contact email, or talk to customer support. You can follow your tribe on social media. You can interview your most typical clients.

Once you know who your audience is, look at your website analytics. If you can, segment the data to fit your audience profile better. Trace their routes on your website and make note of what they are doing with your content.

Find out which content they like and share. Learn which content prompts them to take action and become your customer. And finally, which content does not affect them whatsoever.

Note what type of content they prefer – text, video, audio, etc. You will also notice if your audience likes to comment or they prefer sharing.

2. Content audit and inventory.  It is important to do a content inventory regularly.  Audit your content to avoid duplication and ensure accuracy and freshness.

You can combine the audit with your audience review.  The analysis will show if your content corresponds with the interests of your visitors.

When reviewing your site, mark the pages that need to be updated or expanded.  These should be popular pages that your visitors share and comment on.  Review the comments and note ideas for new pages or blog posts.

Some of the content can be re-purposed, some needs to be deleted.  Mark the pages accordingly.

3. Set goals. You know what your audience wants. You know what you have to offer.  It is time to define your content marketing goals.

Revise your business objectives and align them with your content strategy.  Use your business and branding goals to guide your marketing.

At this step, you need to craft your brand message:

  • What are you trying to communicate to your audience?
  • What is your tone?
  • What do you expect your audience to do once they receive your message?
  • Why would they care about what you have to say?
  • What is the benefit for them to know that you exist?

If you have answers to these questions, you are ready for the next step – implementation.

Implement Your Content Strategy

The only way to achieve scalable content generation is to have good processes in place.

 – You can start with a content schedule. Define tools and technology you will need to build work flows, help with the planning, approval, optimization, and distribution of your content.

 – Now you are ready for resources.  Train them. Assign specific roles for each person. Your staff needs to be held accountable for the results and, therefore, they need to own their part of the process. Outsourcing content generation is also an option.  With clear goals and processes, outsourcing can be very successful.

 – Create a process for generating a content pipeline. It should start with ideas. Then you can take each idea and cover different angles for a series of (un)related posts.

  • Take one idea and create content in multiple formats – video, audio, text, infographic, white paper, etc.
  • Use one idea, same content, but different delivery channels: blog, social media, email, press release, conference presentation, advertising, interview, etc.

 – Define types of content that match your goals.  Consider options like how to’s, tutorials, guides, checklists, or glossaries. These are usually very popular types of content.

 – Determine how much of each type of content you need. Create a process for generating each type of content.

 – Remember that content you needed to update? Go for it. Re-purpose those other pages. Put the deadlines on the content calendar.

Measure Results

The only way to determine success is to measure your results. Here are some things to consider:

 – Determine how you will measure success. Go back to your goals and objectives, review your content strategy, and set KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and targets.

 – Define reports and their frequency. Who is your audience for the reports?  What are the next actions for them based on the data you are reporting?

 – What you measure will show you how you are doing.  Base your metrics on data that matters to achieving your goals. A high bounce rate on a blog post might be okay, if the time-on-page is high enough.  But a high bounce rate on a conversion page means that your message missed the mark.

Final Thoughts

Remember the formula to a scalable content generation strategy?

Fewer resources generating more high quality content make a scalable strategy.  Good processes will ensure that few resources are used. They will also streamline the very process of content generation.

As a result, you will receive large quantities of different types of content. Applying audience knowledge to your company message will solidify the quality.

About the Author ~ Lyena Solomon

Lyena is the localization director at Service Now. She has extensive experience in SEO, analytics, website usability and navigation. You can connect with Lyena on Twitter.

14 Things I’ve Learned During My 20+ Year Career

Recently, someone asked me what I’ve learned in 20+ years of being in the SEO world.

Her question initially made me go “hmmm” — and then, the ideas started flowing.

I originally posted nine of these tips on LinkedIn. Here’s my original list, as well as five bonus tips! Enjoy!

🌀The only SEO constant is change.

🌀The smartest SEO expert is usually not the one with the biggest social following.

🌀Feeling weird about a prospect, but you can’t put your finger on why? Trust your gut and let them go. It’s not worth the pain.

🌀ALWAYS get a deposit up front. ALWAYS. Paying an initial retainer is a standard practice. If your prospect complains about paying you, don’t work with them.

🌀The only thing standing in the way of your success (and charging higher fees, and working with better clients, and taking more time off) is you

🌀Gaming Google only works short-term, and only if you know what you’re doing. It’s not worth it.

🌀Keeping up with the latest SEO changes is crucial. If you’re optimizing sites like it’s 2010, you’re doing yourself (and your clients) a disservice.

🌀Spend extra attention on your page Titles/headlines. They matter.

🌀If you’re writing content “for Google,” stop it. Your content is for readers, not algorithms.

🌀You *can* learn SEO by yourself — but, it will save you time, money and brain cells if you hire someone to help.

🌀Not every “SEO trick” you read about works in every situation. YMMV

🌀Social platforms go in and out of style. Remember MySpace? Or Friendster? Or Vine? Leverage them while they’re hot (assuming your target market lives there,) but know that your audience will eventually move on.

🌀”Writing naturally” and ignoring keyphrase research will hurt you. Even if you’re a big brand. Even if you “know how people search.” Put in the time and do the keyphrase research. It’s worth it.

🌀Google giveth, and Google taketh away. Authorship. Google Reader. Google+. Orkut. Decent keyword data. All gone. Poof. Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because Google gave us something free (in exchange for our data, of course).

What would you add to this list? Leave your comment below!

Is Bigger Search Volume Always Better?

Let’s play a game!

Let’s say you were a freelance copywriter specializing in pharmaceutical content.

Which keyphrase is the better one to target?

  • The term [freelance copywriter] with 1,900 searches a month.
  • The term [freelance pharmaceutical copywriter] with 10 searches a month.

What’s your answer?

At first glance, [freelance copywriter] looks like the better option. After all, there’s a huge difference between almost 2,000 searches a month and…10.

But, does that mean [freelance copywriter] would be the better keyphrase to choose?

Nope. Not by a long shot.

Why?

Let’s look at the Google search results and break this down…

But why ISN’T bigger search volume better?

I know, I know. You see 1,900 searches a month and start salivating. That’s a whole lot of search traffic. Who wouldn’t want all that traffic…and more?

But, is it a smart goal? In this case…no.

Here’s why…

First, let’s do a search for [freelance copywriter].

  • Eight of the top-10 results are informational and targeted toward people looking at freelance copywriting as a career choice (for instance, “how to become a freelance copywriter.”)
  • The other two results? Upwork.

When you see the majority of the top-10 listings filled with informational results with a completely different user intent — the term won’t help you. 

Especially when you figure that prospects are seeing the same informational search results and refining their search accordingly.

After all, they don’t want information about how to start a freelance writing career.

They want to find a freelancer. Like you.

So, let’s take a peek at [freelance pharmaceutical copywriter]. Sure, the search volume isn’t the greatest (10 searches a month versus 1,900.)

Still, the prospects typing in this search term are highly targeted. And that’s the important thing to consider.

There may only be 10 searches this month — but, those 10 people are looking for someone just like you!

When I search Google for [freelance pharmaceutical copywriter], I see some informational results — and, I see competing copywriting sites, too. 

So yes, this keyphrase is a keeper. 

“But Heather — just TEN searches? How are terms like that worth my time?”

I get it. What I’m saying sounds counterintuitive.

Remember the keyphrase is highly targeted. The only time someone will type in something like [freelance pharmaceutical copywriter] is if they are looking for a….you got it…pharmaceutical copywriter who freelances.

You’re not wasting time trying to position for a competitive keyphrase with a totally different user intent.

You’re not focusing on general key terms that your target audience won’t type into Google.

You’re focusing on what works — even if those search volume numbers aren’t ginormous. 

Perfect.

Do you write for B2B sites?

You will see the low search volume issue all the time. 

Heck, you will even see “no results found” for some keyphrase searches — even when it’s a common industry term that returns relevant pages when you type it into Google.

This is normal. It happens because the search terms see such few searches, they aren’t shown in keyphrase research tools.

It doesn’t mean they’re bad terms. They’re just…unique.

Just remember that relevance trumps search volume every time.

In fact, focusing on keyphrase specificity (and user intent) can be one of the most difficult things for a new SEO writer to master. Especially when the high search volume numbers are calling.

What do you think?

Do you have clients that ask you to land them a top-10 result for an untargeted search term? Have you personally fallen into the “bigger search volume is better” trap? (It’s OK — it happens to a lot of people.) Leave a comment and let me know!

3 Ways to Re-Ignite Your Web Copy Right Now

Welcome!  Today we’re introducing a fun new feature to Heather’s Monday how-to video blog series: answering your questions!  Yes, Heather is accepting questions you may have regarding anything SEO, content marketing, and web writing, then answering via her video blog post.  How cool is that?  

Today’s post answers one of Heather’s most frequently asked questions:  “I’ve had this website for awhile and I want to make some changes, but I don’t know what to check out or where to start.”

Listen in, as Heather addresses what you should be checking out right now, and other tips to ramp up your web copy and content marketing!

1. Revisit Your Marketing  (A Good Thing)

It’s an inescapable truism: with any website or marketing material that we’ve been looking at for awhile, we tend to lose the “fresh” perspective of our prospect and it simply gets stale.  But this sticking point is actually a fantastic opportunity to revisit your marketing, and the starting point for that is analytics.

2. What’s Working?  What’s Not?  (Check Your Analytics)

For those of you who are averse to analytics, please don’t be!  No need: it’s not too difficult or techie. Really! Embrace analytics as your friend!  Analytics offer incredible information at your fingertips that shows you what pages are resonating with your audience, as well as those that are “clunky” and could be improved upon to do more for your conversions.

But if you’re simply allergic to analytics, consider bringing on some one who can help you.  Once you’ve a handle on the data, you can start making some really smart, informed decisions about what is working for your site as well as what needs tweaking.

3.  Are You Boring Your Readers or Engaging Them?  (Customer Persona, Tone and Feel)

It’s always a smart move to revisit the tone and feel of your site: is it resonating with your customer persona?   How does your content “sound” to your perfect prospect?  Are you engaging your reader?

Now that companies have begun to emerge from the recession, it’s delightful to see them want to reinvest in their website copy, and especially to re-invest in their sites’ tone and feel.  This renewal presents a fabulous opportunity for reviewing and updating their customer persona — or begin to build one — by figuring out what makes their prospects tick.

This doesn’t mean that you have to sound “corporate” in your tone and feel.  But by all means, play with the tone and feel and see what happens, then write content that is tightly wrapped around your customer persona.

Again, this is where you check your analytics to see what is working and what is not.

4.  What New Opportunities Can You Explore?

Some folks may have had to hold back due to tight finances, and so haven’t invested the time, energy, or other resources necessary to building a blog, a Twitter presence, or other social media profile.  Maybe now is the time to do so, as blogs and other social media platforms present great new opportunities to:

  • Connect and engage with your customers
  • Show prospects that you have what they’re looking for
  • Prove yourself as an “expert resource” for your customer

And that is when your customers are going to feel more comfortable and confident in buying from you, asking you for more information, or otherwise converting!

5. Think of Content Opportunities That Might Make Sense for You

Some social media platforms or venues may make far more sense for you than others.  There are so many opportunities out there, and it truly is up to you to decide what works best for you! For instance, Facebook might be best for B2C, while LinkedIn and white papers may prove the best venue for B2B.

Thanks for tuning in to this inaugural Heather Q&A how-to!  

 

SEO Copywriting Overwhelm? What to Focus on First

Greetings! Today’s video post answers the common reader question: “What should I focus on first in an SEO copywriting campaign?” This question is asked ever more frequently, by businesses both large and small, because there are so many SEO copywriting and content marketing opportunities out there that it can be overwhelming.

Back in the day, SEO copywriters were primarily concerned with creating websites and producing content for those sites. Now, there’s that plus social media venues like Facebook and Twitter, blogs, perhaps e-books and white papers, all vying for your attention. While all these opportunities are great, the typical content marketer can get completely overwhelmed by all the competing options and lose her momentum because she has no idea where to start first.

Tune in as Heather suggests solid ways to find your focus and get the SEO copywriting and content marketing ball rolling again:

You can figure out ideas for a starting point for your SEO copywriting campaign based on:

1. Analytics

If you don’t have any kind of website analytics installed on your site (such as Google Analytics, which is free), then it is strongly recommended that you do so. Analytics helps you make informed decisions about your website and related marketing content – anything else is only an educated guess. Analytics allows you to drill down into your data so you can figure out exactly what is going on.

2. Site Goals

What are your website goals? What do you want to be when you grow up with your site? After creating your website, it’s easy to want to move on to the next big thing, such as starting a Twitter campaign, when really – considering where your business is at right now – it may not be the best thing to focus on first. It may be a smarter and more cost-effective move to start with smaller, readily do-able things which many companies have realized great gains from…

A sampling of low-hanging fruit tasks includes:

  • Conduct keyphrase research/revise your current research: While this especially applies to new sites, if you haven’t revisited your analytics for awhile this may be the time to do so.  You may well find that some keyphrases that worked when you started out are no longer performing.
  • Train your staff in the latest Web SEO writing techniques: This particularly applies to those of you stuck in the “I need to produce content but don’t have the budget” track. It can prove very cost-effective to have a staff member involved with your content marketing trained in SEO copywriting best practices.
  • Determine what content is working and write more of it.
  • Repurpose existing content (e.g., turn a blog into tweets).
  • Poll your customers/readers and ask what they’d like to see.
  • Guest blog: this is a great way to get exposure to other markets.
  • Get outside help: We all sometimes suffer from being so close to our work that we don’t see content opportunities. There’s no shame in having someone on the “outside” review your content with a fresh perspective.

Here’s an Easy Way to Test New Messaging

Does your site’s tone and feel seem…off…somehow?

Maybe your current copy is too formal, and you know you’re losing your audience. (I’m looking at you, B2B, legal and financial sites.)

Or, your target audience has changed — and what worked for your Gen X audience doesn’t quite click with your new Millennial market.

Or, you may just hate your content. That happens too.

Sure, you may be motivated to make some big changes. But, let’s face it. Rewriting pages to reflect a new voice is time-consuming, expensive and a huge gamble.

After all, your challenge is figuring out the right tone and feel that grabs your reader’s attention and doesn’t let go. 

So, how can you easily (and safely) test different “voice” approaches — plus, get almost instant feedback?

This is where things get interesting…

As many of you know, I launched a side hustle business called Pivot Hacks. I coach entrepreneurs who want to have more fun, make more money, and not work so darn hard.

This is a brand-new business with a brand-new target audience, so I’m still playing with the messaging.

To get better data, I’ve been running a little experiment over the past six months…

LinkedIn is where I see the most social leads. So, every week, I post different “types” of posts with slightly different messaging. Some of my posts are SEO-related (I test those posts, too.) Some of them are more motivational and “coachy.”

My goal?

I wanted to see what “clicked” with different target audiences and sparked great conversations.

I tracked the comments, reactions (including who reacted), sentiment, and who was reading my content. Granted, LinkedIn doesn’t give the greatest metrics — but I had enough.

Here’s what I learned:

What do my SEO readers love?

This won’t surprise you. My readers love irreverent musings with a dash of snark.

Yes, my newsletter already reflects this style. (I know you love my snarkiness.) Now, I’m experimenting rolling it out to my main site pages.

For instance, I’ve made some tweaks to my in-house SEO training sessions page. So far, the response has been positive — even from larger brands. 

That makes me happy.

Now, here’s what really surprised me…

Remember how I said I posted some motivational and “coachy” posts? 

Those posts outperform my SEO posts every. single. time.

Especially, my recent posts about taking a digital detox and #rewindthegrind. One of my posts even trended (#hustle.)

Which teaches me what people really want.

People are craving a digital detox. They don’t want to “check in” while they’re trying to relax. Instead, they want a true vacation from their businesses. And, they are looking for systems and processes to make it happen.

I had no idea.

(If you feel this way too, please leave a comment. I’m curious to know who else is feeling the grind.)

So, what was cool about this test?

It was free (other than the time it took to write the posts.) Free is good.

I felt free to experiment. I wasn’t worried about SEO or Google.

I learned things. Sure, I’ll keep posting my SEO posts. But, now that I know my more motivational posts reach a wider audience and spark a different conversation, I’ll post more of them. Which is a fun challenge after 20+ years of SEO.

What do you think?

How do you test your messaging? Is this something you could try for your own site? Leave a comment and let me know!