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Want to Write A Sizzling Services Page? Check Out These 7 Tips!

Want to know the secrets to writing a top-converting services page?

Unlike product pages, which are all about landing the sale, service pages are different.

It’s all about getting the lead.

With that in mind, here are seven smart strategies for capturing leads with savvy SEO copywriting.

Watch the video for all the juicy information, or check out a summary of the tips below:

1. Focus on benefits, not features

Don’t bury your benefit statements! It’s important to address how your service can specifically help your prospect. For instance, will your service save your customers money? Help them make more money? Streamline their operations? Tell them!

Features are important– but it’s your unique sales proposition (U.S.P.) and benefit statements that will grab your prospect’s interest and make them contact you. Merely listing features makes you sound the same as everyone else providing the same or a similar service. Who wants that?

2.  Consider persona-specific landing pages

Creating landing pages specifically addressing your main targeted audiences is a powerful strategy.

Constant Contact, an email platform, used to show vertical-specific landing pages targeted towards individual industry niches. I LOVE this approach. Why? Vertical-specific pages have very cool SEO and reader benefits.

From the SEO side, vertical-specific landing pages allow you to target highly specific keyphrases, for example [email marketing for real estate agents].

From the reader side, you can tie your writing back to your customer persona and drive home the “what’s-in-it-for-them” benefits. For instance, in the case of Constant Contact, people won’t just read about how cool email marketing is — instead, they’ll read an entire page focused on the benefits of email marketing for their industry. That’s a pretty powerful message!

3.  Don’t write skimpy copy

67% of the B2B buyers’ journey is done digitally, according to Forrester Research. That means if your site offers skimpy information and little copy, you run the risk of prospects leaving your site and checking out another vendor. Remember, people won’t “just call” or send you an email. No solid services information = no sale.

4. Include solid, vertical-specific testimonials

Yes, testimonials are smart to have on your site as social proof — but they are only as credible as you make them. Whenever possible, use the full, real names of your testimonial clients rather than just initials.  The latter can look fake (however real they might be) and could prove counter-productive.

5.  Highlight your company’s overarching benefits, too

Besides individual, specific service benefits, you want to highlight the larger, big-picture benefits that your company has to offer on every single page of your website.

Do you offer free, fast shipping? Does your company offer “white-glove” services, while your competitors offer a DIY solution? Shout your overarching benefits from the rooftops!

Boring B2B and B2C companies list technical features and facts, assuming that’s all their prospect wants (or needs) to know. Don’t be like those companies! In the words of Theodore Levitt from Harvard University, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”

6Pay close attention to your page Titles

Yes, Titles are very important to readers and for SEO purposes — and it’s crucial to write them right.  If you create vague, non-descript Titles with broad keywords, such as “marketing services” or “web design,” you won’t see the positions you want — nor will you see much organic search traffic.

If your Titles are so-so, consider revisiting your keyphrase research and making some strategic tweaks. You may see a boost in page positions (and search traffic) if you do!

7.  Consider conducting keyphrase research before you name your services 

A cool-sounding, unique service name may seem edgy — but it may not be intuitively searchable. Naming your service something like “Revenue $ucce$$” when you offer “accounts payable services” may make your service hard to find online.

Some companies will conduct keyphrase research before naming a service. That way, they know what words people are using to search for what they offer — and they can consider using those search terms as part of the service name.

Looking for more how-to information? Learn how to write a killer home page and a revenue-driving product page!

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

 

On Viral Headlines & Bad Listicles: Interview with BuzzSumo’s Steve Rayson

Steve Rayson discusses viral headlinesSince our first interview with Steve Rayson in June 2015 — and only two years after he and co-directors James Blackwell and Henley Wing launched BuzzSumo — the SaaS company has grown by quantum leaps to become a leading content data and analytics platform. And it shows no signs of slowing down.

Nor does Steve, for that matter. We caught up with him to ask about his latest article sharing his insights into viral headlines, which closely parallels his year-end analysis of 2015’s most-shared content. (If you read through all that Steve has researched and published over the past year, you’ll appreciate just how busy he’s been). Enjoy!

In your recent BuzzSumo article reporting on the findings from your research into viral headlines, you break down the viral headline structure into five common elements: Is there one that is absolutely essential to a “clickable” headline?

I don’t think there is a single element. I think if I had to point to the most important element I would probably say the clarity of the promise is key: What will I get if I click through to your content?

I think one of the interesting aspects was how the performance of headlines varied so much from network to network. See the top three word phrases (headline trigrams) across FB and Twitter as an example. So you do have to craft different text when promoting content on the different social networks.

tirgams-twitter-facebook-2

BuzzSumo just released research findings from its joint study with HubSpot on B2B vs. B2C content performance across all the major social networks. Did you find any surprises that relate to your viral headline study?

Not that relate to viral headlines per se, but I think it is interesting to see the importance of Facebook to B2B sharing. Whilst I understand the focus on LinkedIn, I think B2B marketers should not ignore Facebook as it seems to be growing in importance.

b2b-v-b2c-social-sharesIn discussing how well list and “how to” content formats perform across all social networks, you express reluctance in sharing your findings for fear that the web will be saturated with them – particularly in B2B marketing. Why are you especially concerned about B2B?

One concern is simply that we will see the same headlines again and again as people are lazy. My other concern is the appallingly poor quality of many list posts — I mean really poor.

For example, today I clicked to read a post on ‘10 Tips for a Successful Product Launch’. The post was one of those short list posts that add zero value. The advice recommended was that you should:

  • Plan
  • Set measurable goals
  • Launch a product your customers need
  • Define your key message
  • Beta test your product
  • Etc.

You get the idea. It is just a list almost anyone could sit down and write, but it is actually not helpful.

In fact, it is worse than not helpful as it wasted my time. I get frustrated when I click through to these posts. So much so that I am actually developing an app which uses a combination of algorithms and human filtering to suggest helpful or valuable content so you don’t waste time on these types of list posts.

This sounds similar to what Google does with its Panda algorithm and Search Quality Raters guidelines. Is this the case? Will the app be integrated into the existing BuzzSumo platform or will it stand alone as its own set of search returns?

It is called Anders Pink (B2B Marketing) and is separate from BuzzSumo. In essence, you set up an Anders Pink stream and our algorithm filters content for your team.

You can add RSS feeds, content shared by influencers or published by specific sites. For all of them you can filter by keywords; for example, “only show content shared by these 10 influencers about influencer marketing”. Then your team can rate, flag and comment on new content, so you can further filter it by the most highly rated by your team and ignore the rest.

So in the wider scheme of marketing things, what overall headline creation and content sharing strategies would you suggest? 

Headlines matter and you can increase shares by adopting the viral content elements and structure in your headline that I outlined in my blog post.

That said, I think you have to research and test what works in your area. As I always say, you need to be clear about your amplification strategy before you write content: who will share or link to the content, and why?

You also need to spend as much time on amplifying your content as creating it.

Finally, findings from a study of 3 million paid link headline click-through rates conducted by HubSpot and Outbrain (Data Driven Strategies for Writing Effective Titles & Headlines) seem to contradict BuzzSumo’s. Specifically, they report that headlines with the words “how to” and “amazing” all hurt CTRs by as much as 59 percent. What do you make of that? Is it merely a difference between “clicks” and “shares”? Or does it have to with the nature of the headlines studied?

This Outbrain study from 2013-14 was very different and was about the clicks through from headlines on Outbrain promoted content. Thus it was not about content headlines per se but the adverts that promote content.

I think this explains some of the differences but it is mainly about a different context. The Outbrain study is about Outbrain-promoted content and the headlines they use to get people to click through to a promoted article. Its headlines are the featured posts you see at the bottom of an article on say “Time” or a major publisher, as shown in the image below. This example is typical — the 4 ‘around the web’ stories are from Outbrain.

TimeThus Outbrain-promoted headlines occur in the context of an article someone is reading on a major publisher.

What are people looking for at the end of an article on say Time? I think it is very unlikely to be a tip or a how to post. Thus you wouldn’t be surprised to see ‘how to’ posts perform badly in this context. However, if you were on LinkedIn or a social site and browsing for ideas on how to improve performance, you are probably going to be much more interested in a ‘how to’ post.

So context to me plays an important role and explains the differences, I suspect. If you look at the article from Time on the Federal Reserve as an example, at the bottom OutBrain are promoting a set of articles that are not relevant to the post.

Personally I don’t like these article placements, but people say they work as you can get your content exposed on major publications.

So the Outbrain survey is very specific; it is not about article headlines but the headlines used in these article promotions. I don’t think this is typically how people find content, particularly when it comes to B2B content. I can see how entertaining content may work better.

And yes, the Outbrain survey was on click-throughs to articles while our focus of course was on the articles people shared, i.e., they were engaged with the content or felt it had enough value to share the post. There is a big difference between what motivates me to click through to an article advertised on Time and what motivates me to share with my audience. So you can’t really compare.

That said, Outbrain actually found “When used in the headline, the words ‘amazing’ and ‘photo’ increase page views per session”. This is consistent with our findings about these terms when it comes to engagement and shares.

OutBrain

OutBrain says “while ‘amazing’ may only attract a small audience, this is an audience that continues to be highly engaged.” Thus it seems to me that this is consistent, that this highly engaged audience is more likely to share the content.

I hope this explains my views.

Abundantly, thank you! And thank you for sharing  your time with us, Steve. 🙂

Connect with Steve on Twitter and LinkedIn

Photo thanks: Phoebus87 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia.org

 

 

 

Powerful Sales Writing Formulas for Creating Killer Content

sales writingDo a search on “sales writing” or “copywriting” and you’ll see that the body of content around it is ginormous. And that’s no surprise. After all, copywriting is the substance of all the print and digital marketing materials out there, from headlines to calls to action (and all that stuff in between).

The art and science of writing persuasive copy as we know it has been around for some time, and the principles and best practices of David Ogilvy’s day still apply today. In part 1 in our 4-part series on conversions writing, we review some evergreen resources that feature time-saving copywriting formulas, as well as helpful how-tos on creating compelling headlines and email subject lines.

Copywriting Formulas: Acronym Soup 

Creating solid sales copy takes precious time and energy. To help you use both most efficiently, here are several resources for your virtual library.

The Ultimate Guide to No-Pain Copywriting (or, Every Copywriting Formula Ever)

By Joanna Wiebe via Copy Hackers

“Because only rookies write from scratch…” So begins Joanna Wiebe’s introduction to Copy Hackers’ ambitious taxonomy of copywriting formulas (as well as several templates, methods and checklists).

Beginning with the widely known AIDA (Attention-Interest-Desire-Action) model and its myriad variations to more obscure ones such as HELLYEAH (Holler-Empathize-Lambast-Legwork-Yes-Educate-Action-Handle) for long form sales letters, this guide is rich with links and examples. Definitely a keeper!

The Ultimate Guide to Copywriting

By Hassan Ud-deen via Kissmetrics

In this “ultimate guide,” author Hassan Ud-deen discusses the multiple elements that make for superlative copy. He offers a detailed description of how to apply the AIDA formula (including a great YouTube clip of Alec Baldwin’s tutorial from Glengarry Glen Ross), and delves into the psychology behind intriguing headlines, compelling openings and persuasive sales copy. Ud-deen even touches on the use of closed vs. open bullet points. A handy resource you’ll consult for most any copywriting project.

Why Most Copywriting Formulas Stink (and How to Really Write for the Web)

By Henneke Duistermaat via Enchanting Marketing

Authored by the self-described “irreverent copywriter and marketer” Henneke Duistermaat, this post takes aim at the AIDA copywriting formula. Her main objection to AIDA is the redundancy (and potential overkill) of the “attention” part. Unlike the days of print advertising when AIDA was conceived (circa 1900), you’ve already got the attention of readers — they’ve clicked on your site (several others echo this observation, including Wiebe).

Duistermaat favors the FAB (Features-Advantages-Benefits) formula (listed in Copy Hackers’ guide as “A single, solitary formula for body copy”), with the emphasis being on the benefits your product or service offers your prospect (which propels the desire called for by the AIDA model).

She also addresses the PAS (Problem-Agitate-Solution, or -Solve) formula premised on the avoidance of pain, whereby you describe a problem, stir up the emotions associated with it, then offer your solution. Regarding PAS, she quotes copywriting legend Dan Kennedy:

“When you understand that people are more likely to act to avoid pain than to get gain, you’ll understand how powerful this first formula is. (…) It may be the most reliable sales formula ever invented.”

Master This Copywriting Formula to Dominate Any Social Media Platform

By Demian Farnworth via Copyblogger

The applications for the PAS (Problem-Agitate-Solve) copywriting formula (above) are “endless”, writes Demian Farnworth, citing and linking out to examples of its use in product descriptions, landing pages and sales letters.

Farnworth then delves into how to apply the PAS formula to any text-based social media platform (rather humorously), including Twitter. He further notes that “PAS gives your writing consistency, precision, and persuasion” and is a tool you can keep handy to be an efficient writer because you “don’t have to recreate the wheel every time.”

Compelling Headlines: Key to Conversions

You’re most likely familiar with David Ogilvy’s famous quote about headlines: “On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.”

Here are some resources to help you spend that 80 cents wisely.

A Simple Formula for Writing Kick-Ass Blog Titles

By Corey Eridon via HubSpot

Corey Eridon succinctly underscores the importance of creating truly compelling titles in prefacing his post: “Titles are what sell the content.” He continues, “They represent it in search engines, in email, and on social media.”

Guided by best practices, notably keeping the reader experience paramount by delivering on the promise of the title, Eridon’s headline-writing formula starts with the key step of distinguishing an overarching topic from a specific, working title that “guides the creation of a blog post.”

Other requisites of a stellar title include making it sexy while keeping it accurate, as deceptive clickbait titles are liable to backfire by alienating readers (they may well lose trust in you or the brand you’re representing). Additional steps entail optimizing the title for search while keeping it short, and then brainstorming with someone else to hone it to perfection. A smart, from-the-trenches formula!

#Copywriting ALERT! 902 Headline Banging Words, SRSLY

By Marty Weintraub via aimClear

aimClear CEO Marty Weintraub and his team share a list of 902 words to use when creating blog, article and ad headlines. According to Weintraub, these words are “likely to distinguish professional from amateur copy when well used.”

The list is divided into “an array of permutations” that include emotions, expletive punch words and a set of synonyms that serve as a kind of “headline-stemming lateral thesaurus.” Then to assist with ad headline and SEO title brevity, the list is color-coded according to the word’s character count. This resource is something best understood firsthand, so definitely check it out!

How To Create Headlines That Grab Attention And Convert

By Michael Brenner via Marketing Insider Group

A study conducted by HubSpot and Outbrain of more than 3.3 million blog headlines looked into those attributes that increased or inhibited content reach as measured by click-through rates (CTRs), engagement and conversions. In a nutshell, their analysis reveals that readers have become wary of clickbait, demonstrating a strong preference for transparent titles.

Michael Brenner summarizes the study’s findings, writing that headlines with the words “who” and “photo(s),” as well as those with clarifications in brackets (such as [Webinar]), generated higher CTRs, while the latter two also drove higher engagement. Bracketed descriptions were further found to generate more conversions.

The analysis found that overused sexy words such as “secret” and “magic”, those that directly address the reader (“you”) and those that convey urgency (such as “now”) all hurt CTRs by as much as 59 percent. You can download the full study (“Data Driven Strategies for Writing Effective Titles & Headlines”) at HubSpot.

Hate this Headline? You’ll Probably Share the Story.

By Barry Feldman via Kissmetrics

While an 8-word headline of a 1300-word post represents less than 1% of the content, I’m 99% sure it will be the line that dictates the destiny of your post,” writes Barry Feldman in his own post about how to get your content shared on social media…so much so that it delivers a “sudden and pronounced spike in traffic”. The key: giving your post an emotional headline to invoke reader response by using words that pack a powerful punch.

Such “power words” can be positive (connoting pleasurable feelings), or negative (i.e., painful feelings) and there are scads of them. Feldman shares links to CoSchedule’s “cheat sheet” of over 180 power words, and to PsychPage’s equally impressively list of feeling words, both pleasant and unpleasant. He also shares a tool that scores the emotional mojo of your headlines, so you can test alternative variations. Go forth and make that headline emote!

Email Subject Lines: Stand Out in the Inbox Crowd

Email marketing is one of the most effective content marketing strategies available. You can think of email subject lines as headlines for your reader’s inbox, with their open rates the equivalent of headline click-through rates. Here are resources to assist you in persuading your readers to open your email.

The 112 Best Email Marketing Subject Lines (so far) in 2016

By Joey Barker via Unfunnel

It’s not yet mid-January, yet Unfunnel has already sent out 1.25 million emails. Their analysis of the email open rates rendered a list of their best 112 email subject lines, organized as benefit-driven, logic- and threat-based types. In turn, each type is broken down into categories.

For instance, benefit-driven email subject lines may drive open rates by appealing to the reader’s self-interest, or pique her interest with news or by telling the beginning of a story. (Their benefit-driven email subject lines accounted for nearly half of Unfunnel’s most successful ones).

Logic-based email subject lines may arouse the reader’s curiosity, invoke social proof, or appeal to her humanity with a more one-on-one, intimate tone.

Finally, threat-based email subject lines play on the reader’s fear of loss, whether by implying scarcity or urgency.

The 9 Best Email Subject Line Styles to Increase Your Open Rates

By Megan Marrs via WordStream

You needn’t look farther than your own inbox to know that subscribers are inundated with emails vying for their attention. Here Megan Marrs discusses nine types of email subject lines to boost open rates: simple and no-nonsense; funny; controversial/shocking; single-word; numbers and lists; personalized; questions and other punctuation; “missing out” and other scarcity tactics; and finally, mysterious.

She then lists several general best practices for writing email subject lines, including writing ten different lines for every email and then choosing the best, keeping the character count to under 50, playing with alliteration and using CAPITALS sparingly.

How Consumers Really Feel About Your Subject Lines

By Elyse Dupre via Direct Marketing News

To gauge the impact that emotional words and phrases in email subject lines have on reader engagement, Persado (an “automated persuasive language generator” software company) analyzed 436 of those from retail and e-commerce companies.

The specific subject lines studied were from last year’s Black Friday emails, and “engagement” was measured by open rates.

Elyse Dupre reports that Persado studied five performance-driving emotions: urgency, achievement, exclusivity, anxiety and excitement. Of them, exclusivity (such as, “Your exclusive $15 coupon is here!”) performed the best with a 28-percent average lift in open rates, and achievement (for instance, “…you’ve earned it”) a distant second with 18-percent.

An excited tone actually resulted in an 11-percent fall in open rates, compared to an 11-percent increase above the baseline in 2014. Paraphrasing Presado’s director of marketing, Julia Spano, Dupre writes that while it may seem counterintuitive, “excitement is rarely a top performing emotional category”.

[Note: You may be interested in this related story by Dupre on the impressive success Angie’s List has experienced in leveraging emotionally engaging email subject lines generated by Persado.]

Your Turn

Have you come across any evergreen sales writing resources you’d like to share? Please include them in the comments below!

Stay tuned for Part 2 next Thursday! We’ll share resources for creating conversions-driving blogs and web page copy, as well as tools and tips for promoting content. 

Photo thanks: ID 59022955 © Wujekjery / Dreamstime.com

 

 

 

SEO via Media Relations with @SpinSucks Gini Dietrich

pr-seo-handshakeYou’ve most likely heard of Spin Sucks and the force behind it, Gini Dietrich. She entered the public relations (PR) business after graduating from college, working her way up from her initial position as an account coordinator.

True to form, Gini eventually set out on her own and started her PR business (Arment Dietrich, Inc.) in 2005. The following year, she launched Spin Sucks (she quips, “embarrassingly so”). Fast forwarding to today, Gini has authored Spin Sucks: Communication and Reputation Management in the Digital Age and co-authored Marketing in the Round. She is also a co-host of the podcast Inside PR, and the primary voice of the Spin Sucks blog.

We were fortunate enough to grab some of Gini’s precious time for an interview, focused around her thoughts on leveraging media relations for SEO.

Enjoy!

A few months ago, you hosted a fascinating webinar on leveraging media relations for SEO using a three-pronged approach (readers can download the free webinar on demand here). Could you summarize this three-pronged approach?

You bet! We look at earned media, as it relates to building brand awareness, increasing your search engine optimization, and generating qualified leads. If your efforts don’t do all three of those things, it’s not working for you. This gets a bit into one of your questions below, but you want to work with media outlets to write stories about you, interview you on topics of expertise, accept contributed content, or run OpEds.

In those stories—all of them—should be anchor text, as it relates to your targeted keywords, and a link to something on your website or blog. There are very few journalists who won’t do this for you. Once you have that link on a higher domain authority site than your own, you have the opportunity to track your own domain authority, your search engine optimization, the qualified leads hitting you up online, and your brand awareness.

In this webinar, you also discuss how to create content hubs around a specific keyword or phrase. What content hubs would you recommend for an in-house copywriter, versus a freelance business owner? Are there hubs that would perform better for B2Bs than B2Cs?

I hate this answer, but I’m going to use it anyway: It really depends. Your content hubs should be focused around your targeted keyword or phrase. For instance, PR metrics is a big one for us because I am focused on changing the way PR pros measure their efforts. Our content hubs are built from that. It’s less about the job you’re doing (in-house vs. freelancer) and more about the search terms you need to use. And no, B2B vs B2C does not matter. This is about content around your keyword or phrase.

Earlier this year on the Spin Sucks blog, you described how to use media relations to get on the first page of Google by demonstrating your expertise on a topic. Specifically, you talked about how to leverage media relations via guest blogging on a site with relatively high domain authority to earn a link from it. Given the amount of solicitations authority sites receive from link wheel spammers, what steps would you recommend an online writer take to successfully pitch a guest post to an authority site for an “unknown” client, or for that matter, his or her own new business?

The very best way, just like any other relationship, is to build trust. I get TONS of solicitations from the wheel spammers…and it’s gross. I also receive really bad pitches and integrated news releases from PR pros, which makes me very sad. However, if someone were to pitch me and say, “I know you’re on a mission to change the way PR pros measure their efforts. I have content that fits that perfectly. Here’s a quick outline.” That would most definitely get my attention.

There’s been a lot of SEO industry talk about making links “no follow” and avoiding keyword-rich anchor link text so as not to invite a manual penalty per Google’s Penguin. Have you encountered any issues with backlinks that use a keyword or specific website domain name? How do you deal with link fear?

Nope. I’ve never had an issue, but it’s because we approach it with a “white hat.” I can’t even speak to link fear because it’s never been an issue for us.

Returning to the question of how to establish authority in the eyes of Google: what would you recommend a “noobie” do to market her content to influencers, aside from pitching a guest post? How can a new copywriter demonstrate her credibility when trying to forge a relationship with an influencer?

I recommend you start a relationship online just like you would offline. You find something in common. You share content. You comment on their content. You scratch their back and, eventually, they’ll scratch yours. Every day we have new commenters on Spin Sucks. They’ll say things such as, “First-time commenter, long-time reader.” I love that because I can dig a little to see who they are, welcome them into the fold, and provide some context about them to our community. This always helps start the relationship.

Finally, in a recent Spin Sucks post referring to the Narrative Science genesis of news storytelling via computers – or more precisely, algorithms spawned from artificial intelligence software — you discuss how “[i]t’s a new world where algorithms and humans are working hand-in-hand to produce some of the world’s best content.” Assuming the trend towards algos and writers working together will only grow, where do you see this new world heading for content creators, SEO copywriters, and online communicators?

It scares me! I joke that a computer will win a Pulitzer before I do. But I’ve talked to the founders of lots of these companies, and they’re focused solely on creating content that humans won’t do. For instance, they’ll write stories about Little League games and the Fortune 450 company because it doesn’t make sense for the newspapers to spend resources on that type of content. It’s also impossible for an algorithm to add color, irony, or even sarcasm. So, even if you use an algorithm to pull the data and science you need for a story, you still need to do the human part of it.

Well said, Gini! Thank you for spending time with us here!

You’re welcome! 🙂

Connect with Gini Dietrich via Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+

Photo credit to Garfield Anderssen | Flickr.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top SEO, copywriting and content news of the week

Can grandma predict the future of SEO?Here it is, folks! This is a compilation of the most important SEO, copywriting and content news of the week from the Internet marketing experts.

Wondering what the future holds for content and SEO? The search professionals have read your mind and offer their predictions.

SEO and content marketing continue to evolve as consumer intent plays a bigger role in website writing. So, if your fortune-telling talent about equals grandma’s over there, here’s some help! Enjoy tips for living in a post-Hummingbird and Penguin Web as well as insights into persuasive writing and consumer behavior.

Search Engine People’s Maciej Fita writes 15 Strategic Questions You Need Answered to Power Your Content Marketing.

Trond Lyngbo shares The New SEO — It’s About People, Intent, & Meaning for Search Engine Land.

Search Engine Land also gives us Schema.org – 7 Things For SEOs To Consider Post Hummingbird by John E. Lincoln.

Marketing Land offers The Future Of SEO Reporting: A Call To The Industry by Benjamin Spiegel.

(Dang, Search Engine Land and Marketing Land dynamic duo – you’re just way too awesome this week!)

Who doesn’t want to read about Matt Cutts Live at #Pubcon? Check out this post by Search Engine Journal’s John Rampton.

Search Engine Watch shares The Impact of Penguin 2.1: Recovery, Knockout Punches & Fresh Hits by Glenn Gabe.

Learn The Future of SEO and What it Means for Inbound Marketing [SlideShare] by HubSpot’s Meghan Keaney Anderson.

Stefanie Flaxman writes 15 Copy Editing Tips That Can Transform Your Content into Persuasive and Shareable Works of Art for Copyblogger.

Michele Linn tells us What the Future Holds for B2B Content Marketing: Experts Look Ahead in her post over at Content Marketing Institute.

Our very own Heather Lloyd-Martin tells us How to make more money as a freelance copywriter: 20 tips on SEO Copywriting. (I refuse to let you guys miss this one!)

KISSmetrics gives us How We Acquired 100K Early Bird Signups with Zero Marketing Budget by Kseniya Maksimova.

Ian Lurie writes The Comprehensive Guide to Dealing with Content Plagiarism on The Hub.

Austin Copywriter blog’s Kristen Hicks gives us 5 Key Takeaways for Freelancers from Content Marketing World 2013.

Monique Torres shares The secret ingredient to successful marketing content on iMedia Connection.

Ross Hudgens gives us Link Reclamation – Whiteboard Friday on the Moz blog.

Belle Beth Cooper writes Why procrastination doesn’t need a cure: A guide to structured distraction for buffer.

Douglas Van Praet writes More Effective Than Advertising for Psychology Today.

Rae Hoffman tells you WHAT YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT GOOGLE PENGUIN RECOVERY on Sugarrae.

Social Media Today’s Virginia Bussey shares How to Make the Web a Better Place Through Inbound Marketing.

Jo Turnbull writes Copywriting for Conversion – Know What Matters over at State of Digital.

Diane Charton gives us 5 big ways behavioural economics is changing traditional marketing on memeburn.

 

Photo thanks to Kristy. (Grandma’s Predictions)

Why do some freelance copywriters rake in the bucks while others struggle to make ends meet? Hint: It’s all about tightening up the back end of your business. Learn how to make more money, faster with the Copywriting Business Bootcamp. Save 10% until 11/13/13 with coupon code SECRETS.

How a swipe file can conquer writer’s block

Greetings and welcome back! Today, Heather discusses her favorite writing tip that can benefit all writers, whether you’re an in-house copywriter, freelance writer, blogger, or even a novelist. And that tip is: how to use a swipe file.

Swipe files are spectacular because they offer a great way to conquer writer’s block and provide inspiration on those days that you really need it!

So tune in to learn what a swipe file is, and how to use it to infuse your writing muse…

What’s a swipe file?

A swipe file is as simple as:

– Writing examples that inspire you and give you ideas

– Your swipe file could contain headlines, snippets of text, photos, online or offline writing – it’s whatever gets your brain moving in the right direction

So for example, say you are looking at a website and see a fantastic headline and think, “I need to remember that headline!”

All you would do is copy down that URL and put it someplace where later, when you need inspiration, you could refer to that URL and recall how the headline was crafted.

Having a swipe file makes it easier to jumpstart your brain when your writing muse is languishing, providing the impetus you need to write your own brilliant stuff!

The key is to save those great text snippets in the moment…

– Don’t think “I’ll save this later.” Do it now…otherwise, you’ll forget.

And you’ll be back home or back in your office thinking “What was that headline again?” and it will be *poof* out of your brain, so save it in the moment, and…

– Find the method that works best for you. Evernote and Instapaper are fantastic tools.

Historically, swipe files used to be file folders, and we used to tear out articles and shove them in the file folders and thumb through them when we needed to get some ideas.

But today we have a lot of really cool electronic options for the swipe file. My two favorites are Evernote and Instapaper because it is very easy to just instantly send your great find to Evernote, or hit “read later” on Instapaper, and have it saved someplace where you can access it from anywhere.

So even if you’re not in front of your laptop, you can pull it up on your smartphone and boom! There it is.

And it might be that a traditional file folder where you clip or print stuff out and put it in the file is the best way for you to go! That’s cool. It’s just when you need that little burst of inspiration, you want to be able to access it wherever you are.

– Consider organizing your swipe file by theme (blog post ideas/headline ideas/etc.)

A time-saving strategy is to organize your swipe file by theme so you can readily find exactly what it is you’re looking for, be it a blog post idea, a great headline, or especially great content that you want to be able to refer to.

Thanks for joining me for this week’s SEO copywriting video! If you’re looking for more SEO copywriting tips, I encourage you to sign up for my free SEO Copywriting Buzz Newsletter. You can choose either (or both) daily or weekly updates, and receive my free “How to write for Google” whitepaper as a thank you!

Also, if you’re having some issues with your website(s) – you might know that you’re having some content challenges but you’re not sure what they are, or if you’re preparing for 2013 and want to jumpstart your content marketing efforts now, please let me know! I’m offering my new SEO Content Review – a fantastic low-cost, high-value service!

And as always, if you have any questions or ideas/requests for my next SEO copywriting video, please contact me via heather@seocopywriting.com, or on Twitter via @heatherlloyd.

Thanks again! I look forward to hearing from you.

 

photo thanks to Jennie Farber

Would you like prime search engine positioning and powerful SEO copywriting that converts? At a reasonable price? Check into SuccessWorks’ Direct response SEO copywriting services!

OMG! How NOT to Write Business Web Content

In today’s text, Twitter, social media world, people are getting more and more lazy about their grammar and spelling, according to This Embarrasses You and I*, an article in the Wall Street Journal.

The article begins with:

When Caren Berg told colleagues at a recent staff meeting, “There’s new people you should meet,” her boss Don Silver broke in. “I cringe every time I hear” people misuse “is” for “are,” Mr. Silver says. He also hammers interns to stop peppering sentences with “like.” For years, he imposed a 25-cent fine on new hires for each offense. “I am losing the battle,” he says.

And it’s not just Mr. Silver who is losing the battle. Companies across the country are fighting the same and it’s becoming an epidemic.

Schools have stopped teaching cursive handwriting. That makes sense, of course, as many of us no longer write longhand. But, along with it comes shorthand acronyms – LOL, WTH*$, 2nite, <3, AISI, IMO, OMG – and they’re all reaching corporate world communications.

Heck, they had to create an entire dictionary on the lingo so those of us who didn’t grow up in the text world know how to understand what’s being said.

But it’s not just affecting the business world. According to BBC News, students are turning in homework completely written in text.

My smmr hols wr CWOT. B4, we used 2go2 NY 2C my bro, his GF & thr 3 :- kids FTF. ILNY, it’s a gr8 plc.

It’s fairly easy to figure out this person went to NY to see her brother and his family during summer break, but it certainly takes more energy and thought to figure out what message is being delivered.

If this is how your customers and prospects are being communicated to/with, do you think they’re going to want to do business with you?

But it’s not just text speak that is bringing down the corporate world of writing and communications. Most don’t know the difference between their, they’re, and there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following are six tips for better business writing. And, if you’re so inclined, for better Facebook status updates, too.

  1. Always use spell check. Internet browsers, content management systems, Pages, Word, and most software have spell check built in. Use it!
  2. Cut down on text slang. We all use LOL or OMG or WTH with the best of them, but when writing, spell out your acronyms. You don’t say LOL when you speak. Don’t write it, either.
  3. Know the difference between your and you’re. Your is possessive, as in “your car” or “your business.” You’re is short for you are. Know which you’re trying to say.
  4. Same for its and it’s. It’s is short for it is. Read your sentence out loud. If you can say “it is” without it sounding goofy, it’s is the proper use. If it sounds ridiculous, you can use its.
  5. The word “that” is rarely necessary. If you can write the sentence without the word “that,” remove it. It’s very rare it’s a necessity.
  6. Stop using the word “like.” Just like Don Silver in the example like above, like too many people like use the word like.

If you want to get serious about your writing, check out the Associated Press Stylebook, the Chicago Manual of Style, or Strunk and White’s Elements of Style.

 

About the Author ~ Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of the PR and marketing blog Spin Sucks and co-author (with Geoff Livingston) of the book, Marketing in the Round. You can find her on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Facebook.

 

photo thanks to proudcanadianeh

 

 

8 tips for writing content that sticks

The web is filled with mushrooming content, with no real score of what is worth our time to read. What most people do is scan and skim through pages of articles with fast mouse-clicks, only to actually spend time to read cornerstone content. In this article, we will talk about eight tips to writing cornerstone content. But before anything else, let’s define what it is.

What is Cornerstone Content?

Cornerstone content is one that is composed with powerful data, outstanding facts, creative out-of-the-box opinions, and true advice that leave great emotional impact on readers, and/or impart a strong and positive sense of your brand’s identity.

With more and more of these cornerstone content pieces produced on your site, you will notice that the number of likes, shares, re-tweets, and plus-one’s will increase via both social media and word-of-mouth marketing.

How to Write Cornerstone Content

1. Follow best practices of grammar.

Remember when your high school English teachers keep on reiterating the correct subject-verb agreement?

Now is the time that you should pay extra attention to your tenses, your sentence buildup, correct usage of words, formation of phrases in relation to the topic and the like. If you have a good topic but your reader gets frustrated and sick of your wrong grammar, every writing effort will be a waste.

2. Write to a specific audience.

When you have a niche or specific topic, you should write with a conversational tone speaking directly to one target audience.

For example, if you are writing about the cures for a medical disease, don’t write in medical jargon – relate to your readers with a personal tone. You need to express your ideas with an energetic voice that strikes a balance between seriousness and wit for them to remain focused.

3. Do your homework.

By “homework,” this means research.

Readers are impressed by – and will stay “hooked” to – your content if it contains useful and informative information. These are people who trust that your content can give them the answers to their burning questions.

To achieve this without sounding like you’re trying too hard, write on subjects that you’re most knowledgeable, familiar, and comfortable with. First-hand knowledge is never second best, and research data only comes second. You can get a plus when you have interviewed experts in the chosen field and share the lessons and insights learned as part of your content.

4. Be clear on the objective.

Let your readers know that the article is well-planned and well-structured – and one that attains a clear, specified goal in the end.

You should begin to capture your audience through your introduction, telling them what the article is about and what the intent is. The details fall in the body, following through on the main intent and pointing out the solutions to tackle and solve the issue at hand.

You should provide a clear explanation as to how you end up with your conclusions, thereby matching your objective as determined in the first paragraph.

5. Stay inspired.

Reading fuels your mind—particularly, your creativity.

Look for interesting articles with similar cornerstone content, and try to model them to improve your own work. Also, delve into places that can spark inspiration. Travelling to experience new adventures, communicating with strangers, and eating exotic food might be good ways to start.

The key is to not write the same things repeatedly. Strive for the inspiration to offer fresh and exciting content every time.

6. Inject interaction.

Don’t fill your content with dry facts from beginning to end.

This type of writing is too formal and should be left to newscasters, “hard copy” journalists, technical writers, etc. If you’re blogging or promoting something on your site, you should try to look for ways to call your readers’ attention to action. You can do this by asking questions in the middle or at the end.

For example, if your topic is about shopping, ask your readers about their shopping strategies and make them feel free to respond by leaving their comments below. You can also assure them that you’ll reply to their e-mailed queries.

7. Be original.

Make use of Google Trends, Adwords, and other traffic searching tools to see how many hits a keyword gets.

Search for the keywords you intend to use and see how many original posts this niche has. Many content on the web are just copycats, rephrased time and again. Your writing efforts will pay off when you set a different angle and perspective to it. Give it a different spin, weave the story and make it more interesting than the rest. In this way, readers will be more likely to like your content than others’, though you have the same topics.

8. Make sections.

There’s nothing more boring than reading a text chockfull of unending paragraphs.

If you don’t want to be scanned and ignored, follow the golden rule: break your article into sections. Usually, readers know about two-thirds of the information or message you’re conveying already. What they want out of your article is the gist and the distinct juices that they can squeeze out of it.

So it’s important to break your text into manageable and readable chunks (e.g. bullet-point form or numbered list) to highlight the main points and let them see immediately what they came looking for. This article is an example!

Concluding Thoughts

Writing cornerstone content is largely about presenting your thoughts differently from the other thousands of existing pieces of content on the web with the same idea. By applying these tips, you can watch your content (and “space”) soar in traffic and popularity. Start and end with a bang and you’ll stick your brand, ideas and content to their minds like gum sticking to their hair…but far more pleasantly so.

 

About the Author ~ Celina Conner

Celina Conner is a Yoga Instructor, an alumna of Marketing Management at Martin College Australia and a mother of a beautiful daughter, Krizia. She has a passion in cooking and formulating vegan recipes.Follow her adventures on Twitter.

 

photo thanks to teamstickergiant (John Fischer)

 

You’re invited! Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 22nd, Heather will be holding an open Q & A at noon Pacific / 3pm Eastern. Email our Heather G. for call-in information: vip@seocopywriting.com. Look forward to “seeing” you there!

 

 

Copywriting lessons from the masters

Greetings and welcome back! Today we’re featuring Heather’s 3-part video series on “lessons from the masters,” in both copywriting and editing.

From the disparate worlds of literary fiction, psychology, and television, Heather pulls valuable insights for the Web writer from Stephen King, Abraham Maslow, and infomercials. (Plus, a bonus post about what the creative genius behind Dr. Seuss, Theodor Geisel, can teach you about writing).

Tune in to learn what these masters can teach you…and enjoy!

 

What Maslow can teach you about copywriting

Based on psychologist Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs,” Heather walks us through the emotional (and motivational) levels of the psyche and illustrates how to tie your copy into each one with specific website examples.

Learn how to make your copy resonate with your customers on their deepest psychological levels, from their most basic physiological needs to their lofty esteem needs and aspirations.

 

What Stephen King can teach you about editing

Following through with the literary theme of last Thursday, on “What Dr. Seuss can teach us about copywriting,” this week’s video is on what Stephen King can teach us about editing.

King has already shared great advice for writers, but there’s far more to tap from this master storyteller. Learn the 4 solid tips for smart and successful online editing, via the example set by Stephen King!

 

What infomercials can teach you about conversions writing

Heather demonstrates how informercials can inform your writing with structure, clear calls to action, and benefit statements that scream value to the prospect.

She admits that she’s actually addicted to informercials because of what they show you about the process of building excitement and getting people really pumped about buying a product, and showing that product’s value so well.

Learn how watching infomercials can improve your writing…

 

What Dr. Seuss can teach you about writing engaging copy

In this (non-video) post that started it all, Heather writes:

“Confession time: I love Dr. Seuss.

“The words to One Fish, Two Fish are stuck in my brain. I have a Dr. Seuss watch. I have Dr. Seuss books on my iPad. I watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” ever year. I even have a limited edition print hanging in my bedroom.

“Why? The words that Theodor Geisel (otherwise known as Dr. Seuss) wrote had an impact on me. Yes, his books taught me how to read (and they always bring back fond memories of my mother reading them to me.) But it’s more than that.

“His books taught me that reading (and writing) is fun. And engaging. And interesting.”

Read more on what Dr. Seuss can teach you about writing engaging copy.

 

Want to learn more about SEO copywriting, but not sure what training would best suit your needs? Check out the different low-cost training options available to you, with a guide to help you choose the best one!

 

photo thanks to Enokson

 

On the business of freelance SEO Copywriting

Welcome back to another “slice of Heather,” featuring the best of her best blog posts grouped by theme.

Last week, we covered small business freelance copywriting, which had to do more with the personal struggles we as small business owners face in trying to cobble together a viable career for ourselves.

Today…we cover the same topic, but from a decidedly different angle: so get ready for another slice of Heather, focusing on the strictly business part of small business freelance copywriting!

1) How to spend less time writing proposals (and still get the gig!)

In this reader favorite, Heather delineates 7 specific strategies for getting that client to say “yes!” without spending precious hours laboring over a proposal. Learn how to save yourself time, energy and grief by simplifying your client proposal to give your prospects what they really want!

2) What to do when you don’t get the gig

So what happens when you don’t get the gig? Facing rejection sucks, especially if you’ve spent hours examining a prospect’s site and writing up a detailed (and what you thought, a killer!) proposal (see above). However you’re taking the news, what’s important is what you do next. Here, Heather shares 10 actions to take to move on when you don’t get the gig.

3) Are you charging enough for your time?

As a freelancer and small business owner, you know that your hours are precious. But you may be stuck in a place, especially if you’re new to the online writing market, where you don’t dare charge more than mere peanuts for your hard work. Heather declares: stop it! And encourages you to consider if you’re perhaps not selling yourself short with 5 clearly illustrated scenarios – and dares you to believe in yourself.

4) Are you making your clients fire you?

In this post, Heather warns you to remember that your clients’ needs come first: they are paying you to make their problems go away, and timely and responsive communication is the way to keep them happy and yourself employed. If you’ve been “fired” by a client, here are some things to keep in mind so that it doesn’t happen again.

5) Your SEO is not the problem

Sales slow? Don’t be too quick to blame your SEO, link builders, competitors or Google. It’s your content. All the marketing and optimization in the world can’t save you from bad content. Here, Heather discusses 4 common bad content issues, and suggests to be highly mindful of them when writing your site copy.

Bad, fluff-stuffed marketing subscriptions got you down? Cheer up! Sign up for the SEO Copywriting’s free daily or weekly newsletter, lean with industry news, expert interviews, and otherwise meaningful content, and receive Heather Lloyd’s How to write for Google whitepaper free!

 

photo thanks to Better Than Bacon