21 Ways a Copywriter Can Help a Small Business

If you ask a small business owner to give a presentation in public, you can see beads of perspiration forming almost immediately. That is, if your attention isn’t drawn to their knees knocking or their leg imitating a piston right where they sit.

While public speaking is a known and easy-to-admit fear of many, writing is a more subtle fear. Accepting the task is easy, but when it comes to stringing words together, many business owners are like a deer in headlights.

Just as the best speakers value speech writers, and professional athletes have coaches, business owners need copywriters and copy editors. Here are a few areas where most small businesses could use a wordsmith:

Writing Big Pieces

  • Web Page Copy: There are plenty of small business web pages filled with mangled text, piecemealed and pasted from multiple sources, not always from their own pages or brochures.
  • Ebooks: Every business owner likes to think they are an expert in their field (ask their employees). Every business owner would like a bigger mailing list. Ebooks can prove the former while building the latter.
  • Press Releases: While some writers think press releases are a thing of the past, small business owners (your potential clients) do not. In smaller towns, well written press releases can mean local media coverage.
  • Blog Posts: This type of writing is the mud where many businesses get stuck. Providing conversational copy, relevant to a targeted audience, with a clear call-to-action, often means bigger profits in less time (and agony).
  • Articles: Most business owners are not familiar with terms like article marketing, advertorials, or native advertising. They like the concept, but shy away from the writing.
  • Sales Pages and Landing Pages: Most small business owners are familiar with the concept of long-form sales letters. Few are adept at putting the copy, the callouts, and the calls-to-action together.

Small Bits & Pieces

  • Commercials: Television and radio remain a popular platform for small business advertising dollars, especially in smaller local markets. As you know, short-and-quick is not always synonymous with clear-and-concise.
  • Catalog or Product Descriptions: Small blurbs like product descriptions, catalog copy and menu items are often difficult for a small business owner. It becomes an exercise of the ketchup trying to read its own label – from inside the bottle.
  • Email: Canned responses are time savers. Template sales emails or inquiry emails can also save time and increase outreach. When written clear and concise, a small business can send these emails with confidence.
  • Display Ad Copy: From taglines to internal signage, chamber directory ads to phone books, some small businesses haven’t changed their ad copy in years.
  • Brochures: Still viewed as an expected leave behind, sales collateral like brochures and sales cards hold a lot of value to some businesses. Creativity can be a key in creating a library of copy to be used elsewhere within the business.
  • Status Updates: If a small business is active in social media, status updates read more like commercials than conversations.

Mouth Pieces

  • Speeches and Presentations: Whether the full body of the speech or an outline, some of the best presenters tap into the strengths of a writer. Presentation slideshows are often in need of a good writer or editor.
  • Profiles and Bios: A lot of business leaders have difficulty writing about themselves. Bio pages on the web, in print or media kits, and social media profiles can all use the touch of a professional writer.
  • Video and Podcast Scripts: The “ums” and “ers” along with the always popular “so” and “basically” fill video voice overs and podcast episodes across the mediums. Good writing and a tool like CuePrompter will make your clients sound eloquent when they say the words you’ve written.
  • Transcription and Re-purposing: Smart business owners are starting to realize the value of recorded presentations or conversations, capturing large portions or small money quotes they can use elsewhere. A writer or editor who can extract the value from the whole is an asset to the company.

Specialty Pieces

  • SEO Copywriting: Writing title tags, headlines, and meta data is a specialized writing skill all its own. Recognizing how to improve copy for findability is also a strength many business don’t have internally. SEO copywriting is one of the most sought after types of writing.
  • Infographics: This style of writing also requires talents for both research and design. Being able to partner with a graphics person can strengthen the copy and the flow.
  • Tutorials: Technical writing or instructional manuals are very important to many kinds of businesses. Small businesses with a high turnover of employment are often seeking operational guidelines for new employees. Manufacturers are always on the lookout for a simpler way to teach customers how to use their products.
  • Grant Writing: If writing blog posts strikes fear into the minds of a business owner, grant writing can send them running for cover.
  • Policies: Terms of service, disclaimers, and codes of conduct are sought after as more businesses launch their own websites. This type of writing often includes a back-and-forth approval process with a legal department.

A lot of small business owners will avoid writing at all costs, sometimes delegating to someone within their company. Not every business will use all of the writing types listed above. It’s likely they haven’t yet considered the possibility of most of them.

As I work with small business owners daily, writing is clearly one of their weakest areas. If you’re a copywriter, or learning to build a copywriting business, I strongly encourage you to reach out to the small business owners in your area and help them in these areas.

About the Author

Mike Sansone works with small business owners and solopreneurs in building a better business presence online and offline. You can connect with Mike on Twitter.

6 Steps to a Smart (Sane) Google+ Strategy

Another social network? What’s a brand to do!

There’s no denying it – Google+ is going to be an important part of social media and search from now on. Its enormous growth in the past seven months has gotten the attention of the search industry, competing social networks and marketers alike. Google+ has more than 90 million users – nearly as much as LinkedIn, but not even close to Facebook’s 800 million.

Even though the Google+ numbers pale in comparison to Facebook (for now), its “Search Plus Your World” (SPYW) integration in Google search results opens up Google+ content to the billions of worldwide Google users.

With the introduction of SPYW, Google+ social content is becoming part of Google search engine results. If you’re logged into Google while doing a search, you’ll see Google+ pages from related users and brands. You’ll see pages that people in your circles have given a “+1” and you’ll also see images under individual search results of users who have shared that particular page. In addition, sites that have been “+1’ed” are pushed higher in search engine results.

Even if you aren’t logged into Google while doing a search, your search results are still being affected by Google+. A search for the term “SEO” displays two user profiles related to the term:

Imagine your brand or personal profile getting this kind of exposure in regular search results! Clearly, Google+ deserves more of your time.

With the popularity of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – how does your company find time to embrace Google+? With so many social networks on your plate, adding another can seem like a major challenge.

Here are six steps that you can use to embrace Google+ and get all of its benefits without losing your mind.

1. Claim Your Page and Manage Your Circles

If you don’t have a Google+ brand page, it’s time to get started. You can create a Google+ business page from a personal Google+ account, which in turn requires a Gmail account.

If you’re a larger organization, you’ll need to decide which person in your company will create and manage the page. (This is one feature that has sparked some criticism of Google – if that employee or manager leaves, what becomes of the company’s Google+ page?)

There are dozens of guides out there that detail how to circle other users and optimize your profile. I’m not going to delve into that here, but keep in mind these two points:

  • You can promote your Google+ business page on your personal profile in order to encourage more users to migrate to your business page.
  • You can also circle users via your business profile in order to get them to circle you back.

Focus on developing circles for specific purposes. You’ll get a lot more leverage from your sharing if it is targeted to user groups.

For instance, you can create circles for current customers and prospects, and then additional circles for competitors so you can see what they are up to on the social network.

2. Focus on Becoming a Topic Expert 

With its strong SEO capabilities, it’s possible to make a big splash in your niche industry with Google+. Since the platform is relatively new, there’s still ample time to stake your claim as a top provider of small business financial advice, cloud-based communications apps, or gourmet chocolate gift baskets.

Optimize your business profile for your niche keyword terms and then make a habit of sharing related news. Pretty soon, your company will be well known for your topic specialty.

Remember to select a topic that is related to your product and/or service and supports what your ideal customers are interested in. Users are more likely to take interest in “Tips for Great Road Trips” then “Come See How Awesome Our Tires Are.”

3. Share Content Regularly

There’s nothing worse than sharing content on social media and then disappearing for an indefinite amount of time. No matter what your marketing schedule looks like, pick a frequency and commit to it for at least 8 weeks.

After that time, you can look back at your results and decide whether less or more sharing would be best for you.

As well as sharing your own posts and content from other sources, you can also make use of Google+’s longer post length. You can post entire articles on the platform rather than having to direct users to a different location.

In addition to sharing regularly, be sure to participate in the community. The same rules for Twitter and Facebook apply here – respond to comments, comment on other shared content, and engage with your audience.

4. Use Photos More Often

Google+ is a beautiful platform for photos and they really stand out in the stream. Unlike Facebook,  where users can upload photos in albums, Google+ images are loaded as individual posts. This feature gives your photos much more prominence.

Make it a point to use photos as part of your regular updates. You can add images from your company, charts and slides from presentations, infographics, and more to enhance your presence on the platform.

5. Share Your Posts Directly With Your Circles

With just an extra step you can “push” special posts and updates directly to your circle members. While you shouldn’t use this feature all of the time, it’s helpful for promoting your most important blog posts or company announcements.

When you post an update, you can hover over the name of a circle with your mouse. A box will pop up listing a few of the members of the circle and asking if you want to notify the users of the post.

Your circle members will then get an email about the post (if they’ve opted to receive notifications from Google+).

It’s a good way to highlight important content and make sure it’s being read by your relevant audience – just don’t abuse this feature and alienate your target readers.

6. Analyze Your Results and Plan Accordingly 

Like other forms of marketing, analysis and planning are going to be the key to success with Google+.

However, with Google+ the process is a little different.

Unfortunately, due to Google’s encryption, it’s impossible to analyze the visits you’re receiving from the Google+ platform in any meaningful way.

So, the best way to monitor your Google+ results is to take note of how many responses you’re getting, which topics are being reshared and whether or not your profile (or business profile) is showing up in the search engines.

Once you’ve gathered your results, look at how you can improve your performance:

  • Do you need to actively circle more users?
  • Do you find that your photo updates are getting more comments and shares than other updates?
  • How are you doing in the search engine rankings: Do you need to optimize your profile and updates to include important niche related keywords?

With these steps, you can make sense of Google+ and leverage it for your business. I’d love to hear how you’ve adopted Google+ and how it’s working. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

For further reading:

  • SEOmoz: Why Every Marketer Now Needs a Google+ Strategy
  • iMedia Connection: 6 Reasons Why Adding Google+ to Your Web Presence & SEO Strategy is a Good Idea
  • Marketing Land: Seeing Long-Form Post Success On Google+, Facebook Raises Character Limit By 1100%
  • SEO Copywriting: Google Circles and the future of SEO Copywriting

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 LinkedIn, and on Twitter @CourtneyRamirez.

photo thanks to Bruce Clay, Inc. 

A 9-Step Guide to Creating & Marketing Your Own Video Content – for Free!

Guest Author, Andy Havard

All too often, bloggers and small businesses miss out on great content marketing opportunities due to budgetary constraints. Does that resonate with you?

Did you know that online video couldn’t be a more cost-effective and convenient marketing approach for any product, brand or service?

And you must know that online video is the hot and growing – and most likely indefinite – trend for content marketing?

Here, I’m going to tell you exactly how you can master this medium with 9 steps to creating and marketing your own videos from home, for free!

1. Location Is Everything (Yet Nothing at All!)

A common misconception about creating video content to market on the web is that you need to hire out lavish studios or rent out a space in which to film. In fact, all you really need is a room in your apartment or house that has a wall or a space you can stand in front of comfortably. (You could even use a bit of garage space for that matter).

Once you’ve found a space, you need to make your background as tailored to your niche and style as possible.

For instance, if your brand is quite personable and informal you might find the natural look of your room suits your video perfectly.  Or if you’re looking for that Apple-esque, Google-ish white sheen, there are a few simple ways to create that effect:. use a white wall, white papered walls, or a white sheet to cover the wall to form your sleek white background.

You can boost the brightness and overall look of this background with your lighting and post-production editing.

2. Set Up Your Camera

More than likely, you already have a variety of cameras in your possession – for instance your mobile phone, tablet, computer, and obviously your camcorder or digital camera. If you don’t have access to any such equipment, then alas! You’ll need to purchase or borrow a means of recording video.

You’ll want to steady and stabilize your camera to make your footage as good (i.e., professional and non-wobbly) as possible. This can easily be accomplished using a desk, chair, or even a bookshelf – anything that serves to keep your camera level and still during filming.

You’d be surprised at what household furniture you can use to do the same job as a $100 tripod!

3. Set Up Your Lights

Understandably, hanging a sheet on your living room wall might not fill you with a lot of confidence or optimism. The slick , professional background look you (may) want to achieve starts to take shape when you add your lighting.

Your choice of lighting can range from industry-standard fluorescent lights to three strong standing lamps.

You’ll need to position two of these lights on either side of your backdrop (one to the left, the other to the right of your subject). Then place a third light near your camera at a 30-degree, downward angle to your on-screen subject. This set-up will help to illuminate your backdrop and make it look crisp and bright.

As with your makeshift tripod, you can use household lamps to do the job of studio-grade lighting. To maximize your light level, try to shoot in an area that is naturally light, but not over-exposed to sunlight. You can then use household lamps to smooth out the lighting in your shot. Try to make sure that no shadows are being cast on your subject or background.

4. Record Your Sound

You’ll probably find your digital camera has a built-in microphone that provides a good sound quality for your video. Failing that, your computer or phone more than likely will, which you can sync up later on.

If for some reason there’s no microphone present in any of your devices, you will have to invest in an inexpensive external microphone to capture your audio.

When you’re recording your sound, try to keep audio levels consistent as changes in volume could cause the sound to distort. Try to allow time for a sound recording test before you record your final audio.

5. Edit Your Video

If you’re feeling a little discouraged or cynical about the bedsheet stuck to your wall, your computer camera, living room lamps and make-shift tripod, take heart: your editing process is where the magic happens. You really can make your online video the exciting, engaging piece of online content that you envisioned!

You can get download free, easy-to-use editing software for a PC (Windows) or Mac, such as Windows Movie Maker or iMovie, both of which are more than sufficient for your video editing needs.

By altering your contrast/brightness you will be able to boost your backdrop and improve the lighting of your shot, creating that studio-quality background. You’ll also be able to use your software to edit your video into a short, sharp, essential piece of online content.

6. Upload Your Video To The Web

There is a wide array of free video-sharing sites to which you can upload your video content, such as Vimeo, Viddler, DailymotionFlickr, Tumblr, and of course, YouTube.

Considering that YouTube  is the worlds’ #2 search engine and the most popular video-sharing platform, it’s the obvious choice as an upload point for any web video. But if you have the time, it’s worth uploading your video to as many platforms as possible.

After you’ve uploaded your masterpiece, you can then link from the video-sharing platform to an embed on your own website or blog, giving you some link-love while ensuring you reach your target market.

7. Optimize Your Video For Search Engines

When you upload your content to free hosting sites be sure you’ve optimized it for the search engines. You may have guessed that Google’s YouTube content is especially visible in Google’s search engine results – if properly optimized.  And as a platform, YouTube offers a considerable array of video SEO tools.

By using titles, descriptions, tags, and closed captions that feature the keywords and phrases relevant to your brand and video content, you can be sure that your video is ticking all of the SEO boxes.

8. Market Your Online Video with Social Sharing

The video-hosting sites (in Step 6) offer some fantastic marketing avenues. The majority of them readily integrate with Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn, allowing you to post your content in Pages, Groups, Discussions, Wall Posts and Statuses.

You can also explore features such as YouTube’s Video Response, where you can use your online video content to comment on other users’content. By making use of the tools free hosting sites offer, you can market your content easily and cost-effectively to a staggeringly wide audience.

9. Track Your Online Video with Analytics

Tracking the analytics of your video is the most effective way to ensure it is achieving the goals you’ve set out to accomplish.

Google Analytics, YouTube Analytics and Facebook Insight are all great free tools for measuring conversion rates, social media growth and viewership. By tracking your video through these three tools you can measure the success of your video on every level.

It’s always advisable to check your video data frequently in order to keep an eye on its progress. If it’s failing to achieve your goals, you can alter your current strategy to better optimize your content and improve the numbers.

This is the year of content marketing with video, and it is a “trend” that’s here to stay. Don’t be left in the dust – follow these steps and take full advantage of this truly awesome opportunity to grow your business and readership with video content!

About The Author: Andy Havard

Andy Havard is a Marketing Executive at Skeleton Productions, a UK based Internet video production company. You can connect with Andy via his company’s Facebook page, or directly via LinkedIn and Twitter.

5 Keys to Easy Small Business Content Marketing

Guest Author, Courtney Ramirez

Publishing quality content can help your small business get new leads, develop a bigger presence online and convert more prospects into clients. But the process of planning, creating and distributing content can be a tall order for many small businesses who have limited resources.

An outstanding content marketing plan doesn’t have to be out of your reach! By following these keys you can put content marketing to work for your small business.

1. Get clear on your content budget.

There are literally dozens of different content pieces that you can use to market your business online – and that doesn’t count all of the distribution methods you can use to get your content out there. It’s a bit like going shopping at Costco. Before you know it, you’ve turned a short trip for ice, bulk candy bars and a new Magnum flashlight set into a $200 excursion.

Setting a clear budget for content will help you spend your marketing budget wisely and narrow in on the techniques that will be most effective for your business.

How much should you spend on content marketing? According to a recent survey from the Content Marketing Institute, 27% percent of businesses spent 15 to 30% of their marketing budget on content development. Small business marketing budgets are typically 8% of revenue. So for a small business with yearly revenue of $250,000, a monthly content marketing budget would be around $550.

Of course you may need to invest more initially for new content marketing plans and development. But having a clear figure in mind before you start developing content in house or looking to outside providers can help you stay focused and spend wisely.

2. Know your customer.

Your content marketing has to be customer-centered to be effective. Content marketing isn’t a promotional brochure. It’s a way to connect with your audience and help them solve problems with information. You can’t create content that is all about you and you alone.

Your job with content is to provide the information that your customers are looking for in a way that is attractive to them. For example, your customer does a search for “fax machines” and you have a high ranking article titled “5 Things to Look For in New Fax Machines.” They read your article and are impressed with your small office supply store’s insight into buying a fax machine. They explore the rest of your site and sign up for your weekly newsletter with more informative articles and regular deals. Then they become a customer.

Apply the same strategy to your own business. Figure out what your customers need to know and create content that responds to those needs.

3. Repurpose wherever you can.

One of the biggest challenges that small businesses face in content development is time. They don’t have enough time to actively create multiple content pieces each month. An effective content marketing strategy requires consistency – but repurposing can help you bridge the gap between what you should be publishing and what you can spend on content development.

Repurposing isn’t about copying someone else or repeating yourself endlessly. With repurposing, you can take one piece of content and make it stretch. Just like you’d make spaghetti sauce and then use it with several different meals, you can create an ebook and then draw several blog posts out of the content. You can then turn those blog posts into fodder for your email newsletter and use tips from the blog posts for your social media updates.  It’s less work for you and you’ll get more content to keep your marketing machine going.

4. Don’t be afraid to curate!

Although it’s important to create your own content for your small business, you can also supplement your marketing with strategic curation. Curation is sharing helpful content created by other people.

Curation can be as simple as highlighting blog posts from other companies on social media or as complex as creating a blog post or white paper that reviews content from others. Not only does curation help round out your content schedule but it helps “spread the love” around. If you’re sharing content from related companies, they’ll be more likely to share your content with their fans and followers.

There are several different tools and platforms that can help you become a content curator. Google Alerts is a good way to start. Once you’ve started to see what is out there, you can use more sophisticated tools like Paper.li, Scoop.It or Storify to easily capture and share relevant content.

5. Support content with social media.

If a great article is published online and nobody read it, is it really that great? Content marketing and social media go hand in hand. You need to support your content marketing plan with regular social media usage.

Develop a following on Twitter and Facebook, at a minimum (LinkedIn if it’s appropriate) and then update your fans and followers when you post new content. Look for opportunities to post your content on additional sites or guest post with related businesses.

Small business content marketing doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you follow these five keys. Take time to map out your content budget, get clear on what your customer wants to know and then use repurposing, curation and sharing to make content marketing work for you.

Courtney Ramirez is a certified SEO copywriter and content marketing consultant. As a student of search engine marketing, web usability and social media, she’s been able to craft a writing style that is both inviting to readers and ranking factors.

Overwhelmed? Go Back to the Marketing Basics

Feeling like you’re suffering from marketing ADD?

Maybe it’s time to take a step back and get back to basics.

Marketers are slammed with all sorts of shiny online marketing options. Ooh…there’s Instagram. And Twitter. And Facebook.  It’s not enough to just have a site. Now, companies are “supposed” to add all sorts of other bells and whistles to their online marketing mix.

The challenge comes when marketers try to jump on the latest online marketing bandwagon without shoring up their marketing foundation. Some folks chase latest and greatest opportunity and ignore the half-assed campaigns they started a long time ago (how many deserted Facebook pages have you seen?). Or, new opportunities are put into the “yet another thing that I should be doing” category. Chris Brogan talks about social marketing fatigue – and I think that’s a real phenomena.  Many site owners are so overwhelmed with options, they choose to do nothing.

Both scenarios are bad for business. So here’s what to do.

Rather than chasing the next big shiny social media thing, why not shore up your current marketing foundation? That way, you know that the basics are covered – and then you can check out new opportunities. For instance:

  1. When is the last time you reviewed your company’s autoresponder copy (or your other marketing collateral?). Is it up to date? Are there typos? Are there ways you can use your autoresponders to drive more leads or sales?
  2. When is the last time you checked your site’s analytics (c’mon – be honest!). Are there pages with high bounce rates that you can revamp and relaunch? The best social media campaign can’t help you if your site sucks.
  3. If you’re a local business, have you considered advertising in local publications (display advertising – although a tad bruised – is still alive and well.) Would it make sense to pitch an article idea to a local publication to see if you can drive traffic? Are there free or low-cost marketing alternatives?
  4. Did you start a social media campaign (such as a Facebook page,) only to leave it half-done (perhaps to go chase the next shiny social media thing..) :) Either fix it up and measure it – or let it go and decide to focus on other things.
  5. When’s the last time you revised your company’s features and benefits list? A lot has changed over the last few years – and what was a benefit statement 2 years ago may not be as powerful today.
  6. How often do you follow up with your existing customers, especially your “big fish”evangelists? If you don’t have a follow-up procedure in place, set one up. It’s always less expensive to upsell to an existing customer than acquire a new one.
  7. How often do you poll your clients/readers and ask them what products/services/features they’d like to see? You have all the market research capabilities you need – you just have to ask the questions.
  8. Are there a bunch of low-hanging SEO fruit opportunities that you can leverage? This list of headsmacking SEO copywriting opportunities may spark some ideas.
  9. Consider if your customer persona (s) has changed. Or, if you haven’t created your customer persona documents, now is an excellent time to start. After all, if your customers aren’t on Facebook, you can probably stop worrying about a Facebook campaign – and focus your efforts on getting the biggest bank for the buck

What “marketing foundation” steps would you add to this list? Please “like” the post and let me know your thoughts – thanks!

Photo credit gratitude to garryknight

3 Cash-Free Ways to Market Your Local Business Online

Welcome back! Today’s SEO copywriting tip is in response to a question from the SEO Copywriting Facebook grouphow do you market a (local) business online when you don’t have any money?

This can be tricky, because ideally if you’re launching a new business, you usually have a marketing budget, however small. At the same time, Heather has worked with local companies that invested all they had just to get their business up and running – only to find themselves scrambling to figure out how to get the word out.

Tune in as Heather shares three ideas for marketing online when you have no cash, and under the conditions that it’s possible to do so:

It’s possible…but under certain conditions:

It is possible to market your business online with no budget, but only for the short term, and under certain conditions.

  • The owner has time to educate him/herself in online marketing.
  • The owner makes marketing his/her business a priority and can dedicate a couple of hours (or more) a day to getting the word out.
  • Know that this is a stop-gap measure. In most cases, businesses will benefit from having an actual site.

Marketing Idea #1 – Twitter

  • Twitter can be a great way to “meet” new local people.
  • It’s important to know how and what to tweet. Too much self promotion will turn prospective clients off.
  • Be a good community member. Don’t forget to RT (retweet), thank people for their RT’s, etc.

Marketing Idea #2 – Facebook

  • Facebook can provide your company a “home” until your site is launched.
  • Spend time building a good Facebook page that encourages community and sparks conversation.
  • Check on your Facebook page throughout the day and comment/add new wall posts.

Marketing Idea #3 – Local Publications

It’s easy to forget that not all marketing has to be done online (and that print often has an online component).

  • Does your local newspaper have a monthly “new business” interview or column? Pitch your business and ask to be interviewed. Don’t forget local business journals, too.
  • Make note of local influential bloggers in your community. How can you connect with them?
  • Whenever possible, try to meet people in person.

 

3 Ways to Save Money on SEO Copywriting

Greetings! In today’s Q&A video post, Heather addresses the question: how can I save money on SEO copywriting services? You may have noticed that professional SEO copywriting isn’t cheap. You do get what you pay for. So the challenge is if you want to build out really good content for your site, you’re looking at either:  A) learning how to do it yourself, which is an investment in time, or B) outsourcing your SEO copywriting to a professional, which will cost you money.

Sorry, but there’s no way around this one. If you want great SEO copywriting that gets results, you’ll have to pay for it one way or another. But there are ways you can save money on SEO copywriting services, right now!

Heather explains, focusing on saving money on your SEO content generation:

1) Repurpose Existing Content

There are very powerful ways you can leverage existing content: for instance, maybe someone on your staff has written a book, or possibly a “meaty” white paper: you can take these raw materials and repurpose some of the content into FAQ pages, blog posts, and tweets.

This is an especially smart strategy if your company has been around for awhile and you’ve archived content handy to revise and repurpose.

2) Get Trained in SEO Copywriting Best Practices

This applies to larger companies that have been outsourcing their SEO copywriting for all this time, as well as to those smaller to mid-sized businesses (SMB’s) that have talented writers on staff.

  • For larger companies: It can pay off in a big way to have everyone involved with content and content marketing trained in SEO copywriting best practices, be it marketing, branding, or even I.T. personnel: it’s important that they understand why SEO copywriters write the way they do, and how SEO copywriting fits into the whole web development process.
  • For SMB’s: It can be extremely cost-efficient to train those talented writers on your staff in SEO copywriting best practices, rather than relying on an outsourced SEO copywriter to create content.

3) Consider Guest Blog Posts from Loyal Customers or Readers

It can prove to be a costly investment of time and effort trying to figure out fresh, quality content for your blog. Having one of your loyal readers or customers write about their perception of your products or services via a guest blog post can help to pull in other readers/customers.

  • This will not only save you money, but will also serve to fill out some of those content “holes” in your editorial calendar, and serve your readers by highlighting fresh perspectives from others.

The main thing to consider is that whatever you do, think Quality. Make sure the content on your website, blog, or social media site is something you’re proud of, and want to share with others.

5 Reasons Why Social Media Is Good for SEO

Do you like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? Well I’ve got a reason to love all of these social media platforms. We use these outlets to learn new information, disseminate interesting information we find, engage with new people and share ideas. But what most don’t realize is that social media is in fact great for SEO and can help boost your search engine rankings. Here’s how:

1)   The same way you use keywords to optimize your blog posts can be used to optimize your posts in social media. Leveraging keywords improves search traffic when you use keywords that rank highly for your topic.  Use a keyword research tool such as Google Adwords to figure out which search terms rank higher, and infuse those terms into your posts.

2)   Social media encourages the sharing of multimedia, and multimedia is shown to increase time on page. PRWeb did a study which concluded that including multimedia in news releases increases time on page by an average of about 30 seconds. Imagine what that could do for your blog and social media posts. That’s the difference between someone reading your post and clicking the “X” and someone reading your post and getting hooked—you want the latter.

3)   Social media influence increases link sharing, which ultimately results in better search ranking. Every link into your portal improves your chances of ranking well in Google and other search engines, according to informIT. I like to call it link-love, and give plenty of it when tweeting throughout the day. Tweeting information from a variety of sources is important because those sources might notice this and tweet you back: creating lots of link love.

4)   Google’s crawling, indexing and rankings are directly influenced by Tweeted links and Facebook shares. The easier it is to link to your content via sharing buttons, the more likely someone will use them to share your content, according to SEOmoz.

5)   SEO is based on relevance and authority. You build relevance and authority by creating and sharing original content (such as blogs) and building communities on platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. The more relevant and authoritative you are on your topic, the better search engines will view you.

Are you convinced yet? Try your hand at increasing your SEO using social media and share with us what you find! Keep one thing in mind: all SEO takes time and patience.

For more information on social media and SEO, I recommend visiting the TopRank Online Marketing Blog, Mashable or SEOmoz.

Stacey Acevero is the social media community manager at Vocus and PRWeb. Part of the PR team and an early adopter of social media, she blogs frequently about public relations, social media, marketing and search engine optimization at BloggingPRWeb.

3 Tips for DIY Small Business SEO Content Writing

I’ve said it before – small businesses can write killer SEO content. When the owner’s passion for their business is translated to the page (or, in this case, to the site,) the end result is entertaining, persuasive and powerful.  I’ve profiled two small businesses, Portland Adventure Bootcamp and Studio Blue Pilates who have both gone the DIY route and seen some spectacular results.

However, many site owners – even folks who are fairly SEO savvy – make some common copywriting 101 mistakes. Here are three most common ones:

  • Embrace your size – don’t hide it! Why is it that we’re all size queens when we’re talking about our company? Even if we’re a company of one, we say “we” when we talk to prospects (As in, “We’d be happy to discuss your marketing strategy,) count pets as “team members” and make ourselves sound as big as the big boys. People, small (business) is beautiful. Really. Small businesses provide many advantages that big firms just can’t offer: Flexibility, customization, customer service – sometimes even pricing. Making your company sound bigger than it is can actually lose sales – if people get a whiff that you’re not being completely honest with them, they’ll scoot to your competitor.
  • Let your passion shine through. There’s something about the writing process that makes people feel that they’re back in high school English class. The purpose of your site is to connect with your customers, and you can’t do that if you start your home page with, “Welcome to our website. You’re visitor number [insert counter here.]” To break through your block, sit down and think of what you’d tell a prospect during a phone conversation. Now, write that down. See the difference? One version is formula and personality-free, while the other version lets your passion shine through.
  • Tell people how you can help. It’s easy to think, “Well, I’m a Pilates studio, so the benefits are pretty self-explanatory.” Yes they are – to you. Your prospects aren’t as familiar with your product or service. They don’t have the history. They aren’t thinking, “Pilates will help me sleep better and have more energy throughout the day.” In fact, your prospects are often thinking negative information like, “Last time I tried an exercise program, I didn’t lose an ounce. Can these guys help me, or is it more of the same B.S.?” Showcasing your benefits isn’t “bragging” or “talking about yourself.” It’s merely helping your prospects understand how your product or service meets their needs.

Why aren’t I mentioning keyphrase placement?  Of course DIY small business owners should go through the necessary keyphrase research and SEO content writing steps  – that’s just smart marketing. At the same time, focusing on these three foundational copywriting steps in addition to your keyphrase placement will help convert curious prospects into committed clients. It’s really that easy.

Have a SEO copywriting tip for small businesses? Tell us about it!

Yes, Small Businesses Can Kick SEO Butt!

 

Bob Bly, copywriting guru, asks if small businesses can really compete in SEO. He says:

A bigger company can afford to dedicate one or more employees full-time to each of these major tasks. For instance, I know a company with a full-time staff person who does nothing but seek incoming links, one of the steps in SEO.

And my answer is, “Hell yes, small businesses can compete!” Read more