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


The word on SEO copywriting: what, how & why

Greetings dear Web writers! Today we’ve gathered our top 5 down-and-dirty, most elemental SEO copywriting videos for you. Whether you’ve lost your SEO way or have yet to find it, or if you  just need an SEO 101 refresher, these 5 brief videos will help you get your SEO mojo on. Kinda like finding a five-leaf clover, you’re in luck to have these five vid’s at-a-click here!

So tune in as Heather explains just what SEO copywriting is, the three essential skills you need to be an SEO copywriter, how to make money at it, how to tell if your stuff’s any good, and more…

What is SEO copywriting (and why is it important to my site)?

Heather strips SEO copywriting down to its bare essentials: what it is (and is not), how it differs from straight copywriting, and why it is so important for web pages and sites.


3 skills every SEO copywriter must have

In Heather’s inaugural YouTube video post, she addresses the three essential skills that you need to be successful (and satisfied) in the SEO copywriting profession. Tune in to find out what this golden triangle is!


3 ways to learn the SEO copywriting ropes

In her second YouTube video post, Heather details three specific ways to learn the ropes of the SEO copywriting business, from self-edifying reading in SEO and direct response theory to tapping online communities to finding a mentor…and much more in between. Essential reading/viewing if you are serious about learning SEO copywriting!

Is your SEO copywriting any good? 3 tell-tale tests

Here, Heather shares three solid tests to tell if your SEO copywriting is up to snuff, as well as what you should watch out for: from the actual writing to keyphrase usage to conversion power, learn if your SEO copy cuts it. You may well be surprised!


How to make money as an SEO copywriter

No doubt, this question is heavy on the freelance copywriter’s mind: how can I make this SEO copywriting set of skills pay? Heather delves into the guts of the business with how much you can expect to charge for your SEO copywriting, where to find clients, and what kinds of work you can pursue. A must-read for anyone considering entering the SEO copywriting profession!


Are you considering a career in SEO? Check into one the several affordable  SEO copywriting training options offered by the original SEO pioneer, Heather Lloyd-Martin. You’re sure to find the right training to suit your needs!


photo thanks to cygnus921 (John)




How to write killer sales copy: a video guide

Greetings! Today we’re featuring our top three SEO copywriting video posts on how to write killer sales copy.

Writing sales copy can be difficult! The art of persuasive writing does not always come naturally or easily to copywriters, especially if they are not trained in direct response theory and best practices. Good sales copy does not need to be heavy handed – the key is to have it flow naturally, while providing a clear call to action to inspire conversions.

Tune in as Heather guides us through how to write powerful, conversions-driving sales copy – as well as what to avoid…

How to tell if your sales copy sucks

In this reader favorite, Heather discusses how to check your sales copy to avoid common and costly mistakes. If you are a DIY small business or new to sales copywriting, there are several ways you can inadvertently go wrong. Learn how to detect these deadly sales copy killers.


3 ways to transform your sucky sales copy into conversions-driving gold

Here, Heather builds on the original video above, with three more tell-tale signs of bad sales copy. Learn how to refine your website’s tone and feel, create specific benefit statements, and use keyphrases deftly to turn your sucky sales copy into conversions-driving gold!


How to translate testimonials into killer sales copy

Finally, Heather shows us how to drawn on customer testimonials to write better sales copy. The benefits conveyed by your happy clients in their testimonials are a fantastic resource to tap for writing your sales pages, providing you with specific benefit statements in a natural voice that can improve both the actual content and tone of your writing. How cool is that?

Thanks for tuning in! If you have a question or suggestion for Heather about an SEO copywriting, Web writing, or content marketing topic, please zip it on over to her [at] heather@seocopywriting.com, or tweet her [at] @heatherlloyd.


In the meantime, would you like to learn more about writing killer sales copy? Check into the SuccessWorks’ SEO Copywriting Certification training to learn not only how to be the best in SEO copywriting, but also how to excel in the lucrative field of direct response/sales copywriting! The combination of these skills will make all the difference in your copywriting career.


photo thanks to Vectorportal











How to write high-ranking copy for your one-page site

Welcome back! In this week’s Web-writing video tip, Heather addresses a question that she’s been asked repeatedly in the past week: “How can I write high-ranking copy for my one-page site?”

You may be wondering why you would even want a one-page site, thinking “wouldn’t I just want to build out more content to the site?” And in most cases, yes, you would. But some companies decide on a one-page site for various, specific reasons, which Heather explains.

Of course, the biggest challenge of having a one-page site in the post-Panda SEO world is being found and ranked well in the search engines. So tune in as Heather discusses how you can optimize your single-page site with four specific strategies…

Many companies have one-page sites

  • Direct response sales pages

You probably have seen a one-page site that is essentially a very long direct sales letter. The purpose of that page is to get you to buy something or to sign up for something – and the site itself is just that one page.

  • Lead generation pages

You may also have encountered a one-page site if you’ve searched for something like car or home insurance. These are often lead generation pages that have their own separate domain name/URL, and where the sole purpose of the site is to collect your contact information.

  • Home pages (and the rest of the content is behind a firewall)

This third scenario is one in which the site technically isn’t just one page. There may be hundreds or even thousands of additional pages on the site, but all the yummy, meaty content is behind a firewall.

With this type of site – where all the “goodies” are reserved for paying members – the only page visible to “non-members” and the search engines is the home page.

In this scenario, the only page the site owner has to work with for optimization is the home page.

So if you have a one-page site that suits your purposes, that’s cool…

But here’s the challenge…

  • The search engines reward resource sites…and one-page sites aren’t considered a resource.

Resource sites are larger (than one page) sites that go in-depth about a particular topic, and one-page sites don’t fit that description. They are not considered a resource – no matter what.

  • You can tweak the content until you’re blue in the face…but it won’t position.

For example, if you have a one-page site about “internet marketing” and you pit that site against all the thousands of other sites out there that have multiple pages dedicated to internet marketing, your site is not going to position – no matter what you do, and no matter how many times you tweak the content.

In order to position that one-page site, you will have to do more to it…

So what can you do?

  • Can you make the one-page site part of your main site?

What a lot of companies do when faced with this SEO dilemma is rather than having that one-page site as a separate domain, they incorporate that landing page into their main site.

This is a really easy workaround. This way, you’re not marketing two separate domains, and you’re not worried about two domains: everything is happening on your one main site.

  • Can you build out the site with informative, keyphrase-rich content? (This will take some time).

Now if you’d rather not go with option #1 (above) because you have an awesome domain name for your one-page site and you want to do more with it, you can just go the traditional route of building out more content.

That way, you’ll build relevancy for your single-page site, and you will see not only a search engine ranking boost, but also more people sharing your content – because there’s more content to share!

The flip side is that it’s going to take some investment of time as you’ll be writing a lot of content as you build out the site.

  • Can you make any of the password-protected content public?

If you have a membership-exclusive site, or a similar situation where the majority of the content is password-protected, then the best-case scenario is if you can pull some of that content out to your home page so it is accessible both to non-members and the search engines.

Granted, you’d still have the “meat” of the content behind a firewall, but you’ll have more content that the public can look at and the search engines can work with.

This is actually a great way to work with conversions off of membership site: non-members can get a little taste of what they’d get in the way of content if they were to sign up for member status, and that can encourage them to convert a bit faster.

  • If worse comes to worse…what other ways can you drive traffic to your one-page site?

Finally, if none of the above strategies appeal to you, and you want to keep that one-page site as it is, then consider other ways to drive traffic to it.

It should be clear that traditional SEO via organic search is not going to work for you – but certainly there are other ways you can drive traffic and get the targeted visitors you want landing on your site. Explore social media, and all the other options available to you!

Thanks for checking in to this week’s SEO copywriting how-to video! Do you have a burning question about SEO, Web writing, or content marketing? Fantastic! Zip an email on over to Heather via heather@seocopywriting.com, or tweet her @heatherlloyd. And be sure to tune in next week – we’ll see you then!


Do you have questions about SEO Copywriting Certification training? Writing services? Customized SEO copywriting training? Heather’s always available to help you out! Feel free to email her at heather@seocopywriting.com or tweet her @heatherlloyd.


photo thanks to Danard Vincente



Do you feel like a fraud?

When people ask “What do you do,” do you find yourself making excuses?

“Well, I’m a writer…but I haven’t written anything that you’ve read.”

“I own a small business. ::quickly changing the topic:: What do you do?”

“I have a newsletter that I send out to a small list” (when your subscriber base is in the thousands.)

Chances are, you envy those folks who can “pull off” a fantastic, 30-second elevator pitch. You’ve tried to create your own so you can clearly explain what you do…but it never comes out right. Which makes  you wonder what’s wrong with you.”Everyone else sounds so polished and smart when they pitch their business. Why can’t I do that?”

Maybe it’s because…deep, deep down…you feel like a fraud.

Guess what. Every business owner, writer, and famous person has felt the exact same way.

Years ago, talking to big brand clients used to freak me out. I was convinced that everyone knew more than I did. What’s worse, I thought that someone would call me on my “you don’t know what you’re talking about” fear. It was almost guaranteed that I’d have a sleepless night before a big conference call or training gig.

Guess what? No one said, “Wow, why did we hire you again?” In fact, the emails I received after my presentation were exactly the opposite. People thanked me for helping them make more money, write better copy and finally being able to understand what the search engines were looking for.

So, nobody else thought I was a fraud…except for me.

This is a quirky issue that can hold you back in unexpected ways. When you feel like you don’t deserve your success, you…

– Don’t approach smart people who can help your career (what if they see right through me?)

– Don’t go for high-profile gigs that can make a lot of money (what if I mess up?)

– Don’t market your business effectively (I don’t have anything to say, so why bother.)

– Don’t spend money on things that could improve your business/life (I know that would help me, but I’m not sure where my next dollar is coming from. Better hold off.)

– Don’t let yourself out of your (very small) comfort zone (I’d love to try public speaking. But wow, I’m not ready yet…)

– Don’t feel good about your success, your business savvy or your craft (Well, yeah, I’m doing OK – but it was right place, right time.)

– You sabotage yourself financially.

(And all of these things spiral you right back into “I’m a fraud” mode.)

There’s a great post by Jodi Chapman that addresses the “fraud” feeling. Jodi said:

We are all simply playing the game. It’s a game that we are really good at – it’s a game that we know so well. Except, this game is truly exhausting, isn’t it?

Goodness, yes. It’s truly exhausting. And unnecessary.

So, next time you feel like a fraud, here’s what to do:

– Own it. Don’t ignore the emotion. Look at it – really look at it. Why do you feel like such a fraud? How real is the emotion?

– Read nice notes from happy clients. This helps you remember how good you really are.

– Remember that other people go through the same thing. You may think that they have it all together – but they don’t. They’re faking it too. 🙂

– Write down cool milestones and revel in your success. Starting a business is a BIG DEAL. Landing your first client is a BIG DEAL.

– Talk to someone about how you’re feeling. I know that this one is tough – it really is. But if you can share your insecurities, they’ll go away faster and help put things in perspective.

– Make a list  of what you are grateful for. Gratitude is a sure way to help drag yourself out of the “I’m a fraud” funk and ground you back into reality. (If it’s a Monday, you can tweet your grateful thought by using the #gratefulmonday hashtag).

– Refuse to let your feeling mess up your success.  You have come too far to sabotage yourself.

Remember that you deserve every drop of success. It’s not a “fluke” that you’re here. It’s not luck. It’s not right place, right time. It’s because you really are that damn good.

Isn’t it time to own it?


Photo gratitude to iJammin




Are you suffering behind the scenes?

Have you ever said, “If I have to write one more post about (something you’ve been writing about a lot) I’m going to go completely insane?”

Yeah, me too.

Once upon a time, it felt like I wrote copy for every cosmetic dentist in North America. At the drop of a hat, I could talk about veneers, teeth whitening and “laser gum surgery.”  Yeah, I was great fun at cocktail parties.

I was also bored too. So very, very bored.

I’ve seen this happen to in-house and freelance copywriters. Every day feels exactly like the day before. Your writing no longer energizes and excites you.  Everything you write starts to sound exactly the same.

If you’re being really honest with yourself, you know that your writing is starting to suck.

Here’s a reality check: This is very common.

And here’s another: You need to get a handle on this and stop suffering behind the scenes. Fast.

Here’s what to do:

Take some time off. Have you been working some heavy-duty deadlines? Is it hard to remember your last vacation? Your lack of creativity is a big red flag with “You’re burning out” in big, block letters. If you’re thinking, “I can’t afford the time. My clients/employer needs me,” consider this: They hired you for your writing ability. If your writing quality is dropping, you owe it to your client to take a break.

Give yourself some space.  Is a short-term holiday not possible right away? Start giving yourself “writing breaks.” I’ve found that scheduling one or two non-writing days during the week makes an incredible difference – and what I do write is sharp, flows easily and is even fun to write.

Take on a new challenge. Consider taking on a new client that’s not in your current niche. Or writing a short story just for fun. The key is to break out of your writing rut and stretch your wings. It’s amazing how focusing on something else for awhile can help us regain passion for our current gig.

Split up the work. Do you have 100 pages of personal injury law copy staring you in the face? Are you wondering how you’re going to write all those product descriptions without losing it? Sometimes, the best way to give yourself a break is by letting someone else do the work. If you’re still feeling the burnout blues, see if another writer can take some pages off of your plate. Not only will you get a break, but reading someone else’s copywriting approach may spark some new ideas.

Let it go. Does another type of writing (or client) excite you ? There’s no law that says that you have to keep working with the same niche group – or writing about the same topic. Slowly phase out the work that’s making you suffer and make room for your new profit center. Sometimes, a new direction is all it takes – and you’ll finally remember what you love about copywriting.

What about you? What do you do when you’re “suffering in silence?”

Do you have too much content to write, and no time to write it? My Certified SEO Copywriting team can write blog posts, product descriptions sales pages and more. Contact me for details – I’m happy to help!





Screw resolutions. Take action instead!

Lately, I’ve been seeing quite a few posts discussing how SEO content marketing should be on the top of every businesses’ resolution list.  For instance, there’s this post. And this one. And this one.

These are all great posts. But here’s the thing…

…I’ve read these “write more quality content” resolutions before. For about 14 years now.

And you know what? Very, very few companies follow through. They want to. They mean to. But then, content marketing gets pushed to the back burner. Or, even worse – someone does a half-assed job just to get it off their plate – and the results (and writing) shows it.

To me, putting something on a “resolutions” list is the same as saying, “Here’s what I’d like to have happen. But I don’t have a plan to get there.” It’s a fuzzy goal – and I can’t get invested in a fuzzy goal. As soon as the next shiny thing comes along, I’m more apt to focus on that and ignore whatever resolution I created.

But here’s what does work: Taking action. Don’t just say, “I’m going to write more content in 2012.” Get off your butt and do something.

You’ve probably heard of creating S.M.A.R.T goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

The S.M.A.R.T framework gives you an easy way to bring your resolutions into reality. The next step is breaking down the goal into action steps.

For instance, maybe you want to revamp your site’s copy. You know that sales have been slow for awhile, and you suspect that the writing may not “hit the mark” anymore. Action steps could be:

  • Reviewing your analytics – what pages are doing well? Where are you losing your readers?
  • Contemplate your customer persona – is your target market the same as when the content was last written? Are the benefits still relevant?
  • Review your SEO effectiveness – are the search engines driving qualified traffic? Are you positioning for your main keyphrases?
  • Review your sales copy – does it match your customer persona? Does the copy pop, or is it flat?
  • Consider your resources – who would rewrite your content? Do you have the resources to do it in-house, or would you need to outsource?
  • Do you need to find qualified vendors? If so, how would you find them?
  • What’s your drop-dead, deadline for all content to be on the site? Make sure you give your team plenty of time to complete everything necessary. My recommendation: Figure out how many months you’d need to finish the job, and then double that amount.

See? That’s much more specific than “I resolve to revamp my site’s sales copy.”

If you’re a freelance copywriter, one of the most popular resolutions is to “make more money.” Unfortunately, that won’t magically happen without you making some business changes. For instance, some action steps could be:

  • Contact old clients and see if there’s anything that you can help with.
  • Research a new marketing technique (such as Twitter) to help get the word out.
  • Go to a local business networking meeting.
  • Expand your skills and specialize in a new niche (for instance, going through the SEO Copywriting Certification training.)
  • Raise your prices (I know it’s scary. But you need to do it.)
  • Get a handle on your taxes (Eva Rosenberg developed a module for my Copywriting Business Boot Camp that discusses tax issues for copywriters.)
  • Find a mentor and get expert guidance.

The key is: all of these action steps will move you forward rather than leaving you stuck. Instead of “resolving” to do something, you’re actually doing it and making progress.  Before you know it, you’ll have a SEO content marketing plan that rocks – or a freelance career that gives you the lifestyle you want.

It’s all about taking action.

Now, what are you going to do right now to improve your business and personal life? Leave a comment and let me know! 🙂

Photo thanks to Acererak


Balancing SEO and copywriting best practices: a true story

Guest Author, Nick Stamoulis

I was working with one of my social SEO clients on their blog. My SEO company, Brick Marketing, was responsible for writing two blog posts each week, which we would then promote through the client’s various social networks as they went live.

We were specifically instructed to make sure the blog posts were “SEO friendly” and would do well in the search engines. However, before we even scheduled the blog posts I would send the new posts over to my client for their approval. If they had any changes or comments about the post, they just had to email me back and I would have my writing staff change the post as directed.

One day, they sent back a blog post with so many edits, changes and corrections that you could hardly discern the original article. When I asked them what they didn’t like about the original post, my client responded “Oh no, we really liked the post. We just didn’t understand why you had put those links in there. The blue text is really weird looking. And we thought we should only focus on the same keyword through the whole post, so we removed the variations so as to not confuse our readers.”

They essentially threw the SEO component of the blog post out the window!

I’ll be the first to say that any content, whether it is a blog post, article or webpage, should be written for the reader first and the search engines second. But even great content needs a little help getting found and read by your target audience. That’s where SEO and content optimization come into play.

Here are 4 ways to balance content optimization and traditional copywriting:

1. Don’t dumb it down.

Have a little faith in your readers. Writing generic and generalized content so you can target broad keywords won’t do anyone (you or your readers) any good. Don’t be afraid to target long-tail keywords that someone further along in their research process might be using to find related information. The most specific audience you can write your content for is the best chance you’ll have of earning their business.

2. Incorporate keyword variations.

Speaking of specific keywords, there is no rule that says you have to target the exact same keyword throughout the entire blog post. Obviously you want to stick with keywords that accurately reflect the theme and messaging of the content, but don’t be afraid to throw some variations in there. This not only makes your content much more natural sounding, it also helps your content appeal to more searches. Not everyone searches for the same thing in the same way, so variations help ensure you aren’t accidentally alienating a segment of your target audience.

3. Use anchor text to get the link.

Interlinking your blog posts is a great way to keep your readers engaged, educate them further on related topics and show off your industry savvy. No blog post is an island! Obviously you don’t want to pepper your blog posts with dozens of links (it can get a little distracting for your reader) but incorporating 2-3 links via anchor text is a great way to beef up your blog’s SEO! By using anchor text instead of the full URL to direct readers to another blog post (or even a page on your site) you are keeping the flow of your content intact and spreading the link juice from more popular posts across your blog, lending more value to other posts.

4. Write first, optimize second.

Getting the words down on paper is probably the hardest part about writing a blog post. Yet some site owners seem like gluttons for punishment and think that every word has be to perfect for SEO before they can move onto the next. You don’t have to sacrifice great content in order to make a blog “SEO friendly!” In fact, site owners should write the post first and THEN go back in and see how you can tweak it for SEO. If you can’t make a keyword fit, then don’t force it in. If you can’t find a reason to link, don’t bother. Trying to stuff SEO into a blog post is only going to ruin the integrity of the post.

About the Author – Nick Stamoulis

Nick Stamoulis is an SEO consultant and President of Brick Marketing. With over 12 years of B2B SEO experience, Nick Stamoulis shares his knowledge by posting daily SEO tips to his blog, the Search Engine Optimization Journal, and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 160,000 opt-in subscribers.

Give yourself the gift of a more prosperous new year! Get your certification in SEO Copywriting by the recognized founder of SEO, Heather Lloyd-Martin.




10 hottest SEO copywriting posts of 2011

Wow, it’s the end of 2011 already…

…And that means that it’s time for the “Most popular posts of the year” roundup (cue applause!) 🙂

2011 was a big year for Google updates – and a big year for SEO copywriting. Most of the top-10 post topics aren’t overly surprising (Panda, anyone?) Other top ten posts surprised me – and showed that many folks are still mastering the “writing for search engines and social” balance.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 hottest SEO copywriting posts of this year. Enjoy!

#10: Did Panda kill SEO copywriting?  Did Google’s Panda update mean the death of SEO copywriting? Not just “no” but “hell no!” Quality SEO copywriting is here to stay – and always has been. If you’ve thought “Why bother with a SEO content campaign,” read this before you give up.

#9: 3 skills every SEO copywriter should have.   2011 was the year of the freelance SEO copywriter. I received more questions than ever about how to launch an SEO copywriting career, how to get an in-house job and how to build a writing brand. Whew!  It’s nice to know that more folks are entering the wild and wooly world of SEO copywriting. Welcome!

#8: The trouble with SEO copywriting. The Panda update taught some folks a lesson: What they thought was “SEO copywriting” was nothing but keyword-stuffed crap. This great guest post by Eric Enge shows how to mix keywords with your value proposition to create tasty, high-converting copy.

#7: “How to write for Google’s Panda update. In the Brady Bunch, the keyword is “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.” In the SEO industry, it’s “Panda, Panda, Panda.” “Panda” was certainly the SEO buzzword of 2011.  It’s no surprise that this two Panda-themed posts made it into this year’s top ten.

#6: Keyword density: Lose this relic and adopt best practices  Confused about keyphrase density? Apparently, you’re not alone. I’m a little surprised that this post made it into the top 10. My thought: Folks are scrambling post-Panda to figure out what quality copy means. And that’s a wonderful thing. (Side note: I can’t help but notice that Matt uses my “read the copy out loud” tip in his most recent video.)

#5: 5 sure-fire ways to create a killer home page  Yet another “back to basics” post (and the third video post) makes it into the top 10!  If you’re wondering what information is great to have on your home page – and what’s not so hot (hint: don’t shove every keyword you have into the footer) – this one is a must-read.

#4:  How to be an SEO copywriter: The ultimate guide for beginners  I wrote this post a few weeks ago, but it’s already zoomed to the top 10 list.  If you know someone who is feeling “stuck” in their in-house writing job – or someone who is thinking about being an SEO copywriter – send them this post.

#3: How many words should be on your home page? Is your boss (or client) insisting that your home page have a certain word count “for SEO reasons.” Or worse – no words at all?  In this post, I build upon a video post by Google’s Matt Cutts and add my own SEO copywriting spin.

#2: Why social media is good for SEO.  Yes, SEO and social DO play nicely together. In fact, they can definitely help you build exposure, brand – and yes, search positions, too. In the second guest post to break the top-10 list, PRWeb’s Stacey Acevero explains why social media is yummy for SEO. If you’re wondering how the two dovetail, check out this post. It’s a good one!

And the #1 most popular post of 2011 is…..(drumroll please)

Wow. This one was a surprise. I expected a “sexier” topic to be the #1 most popular post. Instead, the post answered an age-old question: How to turn a boring FAQ page into a sales star!

Looks like basic SEO copywriting information is always in style.

Happy holidays to you and yours! We’ll be taking next week off for the holidays – and we’re back in the blogging world on January 3rd. Thank you for reading the posts and sharing them with your friends and colleagues.  I smile every time I see a retweet. Really.

Here’s hoping that 2012 is your best year ever! Happy New Year!


Is Your SEO Copy Crap? 8 Ways to Tell

Last week, a prospect asked what I thought of his site copy.

I took one look and resisted the urge to say, “Um, how much did you pay for this?” The writing was…bad.  Picture a 500-word, below-the-fold paragraph with no hyperlinks, no call-to-action…and what’s worse…

All of the copy was italicized. All of it.

Imagine reading that on a mobile device.

The prospect knew that something seemed “off.”  But he thought, “I hired someone who specializes in SEO copy. Maybe the copy is supposed to read that way.”

Not by a long shot.

Life is too short to pay for bad copy. If your SEO copy sucks, that means that it’s time to send it back to the writer and get her to fix it.

Here’s how to separate the stupendous from the sucky:

 – Read the copy out loud and hear how it “sounds.”

If your content sounds clunky — or if the keyphrases stand out like a sore thumb — send it back to the writer. Keyphrase-stuffed copy won’t help you drive traffic (in fact, it will do the exact opposite.)  Plus, over-optimization is bad from a conversion standpoint. After all, you don’t want your readers bouncing out of your site as soon as they arrive.

 – Understand that good SEO writing is good writing, period.

Do you have the urge to bring out your red pen and slice unnecessary words? Smart SEO copywriting is tight, which means that the writer is using as few words as possible to bring the point home. If you feel like the content is “fluffy,” lacks focus, or misses important elements (such as citing sources), send it back for editing.

 – Does the copy make your company’s benefits “pop?” Or is it all focused around features?

Your readers care about one thing: How can your product or service solve their problem. That means your writer needs to transform your company’s features into hard-hitting benefit statements. If your web copy is filled with features (a common problem,) ask for a revision.

Bonus tip: Review how many times the writer used your company name, “we” and “our company.” Ideally, your copy is focused around the word “you” — otherwise, you may sound like a bad date.

 – Is the copy focused around one single keyword?

This is old-school SEO writing that will tank your Google positions. Good SEO copywriting is topic-focused, and contains synonyms, related words — and, yes, well-researched keyphrases. Not only should you send this content back to the writer, you should consider if you ever want to work with her again. This kind a mistake is a huge red flag screaming, “Hey, I haven’t updated my SEO content writing methods since 2009!”

–  Are there spelling or grammatical errors?

Granted, your writer is human – and things happen. But if you are seeing multiple errors and you’re finding yourself correcting the document, stop. That’s what your writer is supposed to do for you.

 – Is there a call-to-action?

This could mean linking to a sales page, another blog post, or encouraging folks to sign up for a newsletter. Your writer needs to weave your site’s (and your page’s) conversion goal into the copy. If they haven’t, it’s time for a rewrite.

 How is your page Title (what appears as the clickable link on the search engine results page.)

Does it include the page keywords? Is it enticing? Or is it a bunch of keyphrases separated by pipes? If you’re thinking, “Hmm, I don’t think I’d click on this result,” send it back to the writer.

 – Is the page easy to read?

Long, scrolling paragraphs are visually overwhelming – especially on a mobile device.  If the paragraphs are long – and you’re not seeing any subheadlines that break up the text – have your writer check out these Web writing tips before they rewrite the copy.

What happens if your writer revises the content – yet your SEO copy is still crap? It may be time to let the writer go and find someone else who better suits your needs. Better to take the loss now and move on, then upload crappy copy and suffer the consequences.