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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Planning Your Content Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Implement Your Content Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Measure Results

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

Remember the formula to a scalable content generation strategy?

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

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

About the Author ~ Lyena Solomon

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

Does Your B2B Content Strategy Target All the Key Influencers?

I came across this great post on HubSpot the other day that answered and negated the commonly cited shortcomings of inbound marketing their sales teams often hear from site owners and marketing managers.

This section in particular really stuck with me:

Claim: Decision-makers don’t spend their time online researching products and services…The idea is that the typical C-suite executive doesn’t spend his or her time online reading blogs, conducting searches in Google, or participating in social media.

Rebuttal: Decision-makers are influenced by online channels when it comes to purchasing decisions…Even if a C-suite executive doesn’t spend a lot of their time reading blogs, using social media, and conducting research online, that doesn’t mean there aren’t others within their company who are doing those things. And chances are, these people have some level of influence on the decisions of those C-suite executives.

The B2B content marketing challenge: multiple influencers throughout the buying cycle

A lot of B2B companies struggle with content creation in one way another, whether it be coming up with topics to write about or having a hard time publishing a steady stream of content. Either way, most B2B companies realize the importance of content marketing but some still struggle with the actual implementation.

One of the most common issues I see is that B2B content marketing doesn’t take into account all of the possible influencers, nor each stage of the buying cycle.

B2B content marketing campaigns might be too heavily weighted at the beginning of the buying cycle, which is great for driving information-seeking visitors to your site, but not as good at actually converting them. Or, they are too heavily weighted at the end of the buying cycle, so companies are missing the opportunity to connect with potential customers early on.

For instance, say your company sold various enterprise software products. Your end decision maker is probably the CIO or CTO, right? But is that CIO the one actually doing the grunt work and investigating all the possible vendors out there? Probably not.

Perhaps the Director of IT is the one that does a lot of the leg work and presents the CIO/CTO with the top few choices. But is the Director of IT the only one involved in the research and information gathering process? Again, probably not.

A B2B content strategy scenario…

Say one of the products your company offered was a contact center software product. The CIO isn’t the one actually using that product, your enterprise’s contact center agents are. But they don’t have the authority to make a buying decision, so they turn to their contact center manager with their needs/complaints about their current system.

The contact center manager in turn might look up the chain of command to the Customer Experience Executive or the Chief Customer Office, and explain why/how a new contact center software solution can help improve the customer experience. They, in turn, have to get the okay from the CTO or CIO to make sure this new software will work within their existing system that in turn might have to check-in with the CFO to get the budget approved.

Each person, from the contact center agent all the way up to the C-suite, can influence the final decision in one way or another, and each individual is looking for different pieces of information.

The call center agent wants to make sure that your software will actually make their jobs easier, not harder. The contact center manager wants to know that your software will easily integrate and “play nice” with other applications already being used so their agents don’t have to waste time learning a new program.

The CCO wants to see how a software program can actually impact the customer experience and everyone wants to know how spending money on new software will help them make or save money in the long run.

Content marketing that targets all of the influencers

Does your B2B content marketing campaign hit each of those influencers and their needs? If not, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities to connect with and influence each member of your target audience.

In a large enterprise, unlike a small business, no one person makes a decision that impacts the rest of the company on his or her own. Many B2B sales and buying cycles are extremely long and involved, and require a substantial monetary investment from your potential clients.

You don’t want them to have any lingering questions or doubts regarding your product or company, and your B2B content marketing campaigns are how you answer those questions.

About the Author ~ Nick Stamoulis

Nick Stamoulis is the President of Brick Marketing, a Boston-based search marketing firm that specializes in B2B SEO services. With over 13 years of industry experience Nick Stamoulis shares his SEO knowledge by writing in the Brick Marketing Blog and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 120,000 opt-in subscribers.

5 Steps to Building a Powerful SEO Copywriting Business Network with LinkedIn

After 2-3 years of trying several different social networks for my SEO copywriting business, I had a breakthrough.

In the past six months, most of my biggest web projects came from one source: LinkedIn.

I’ve come to realize that my LinkedIn connections have been more fruitful for my business, BY FAR, than any other marketing method I’ve tried. Here’s why I believe it’s a terrific resource for you too:

  • Your LinkedIn connections are truly business-focused connections.
    People are using LinkedIn primarily for business conversations, sharing business tips, finding business contacts and opportunities, and asking questions about business success. I have not found this to be true with the other social media.
  • LinkedIn connections are often from companies with decent marketing budgets.
    The clients who reached out to me via LinkedIn were mainly from companies looking for a skilled SEO copywriter to help improve an existing website or launch a new site. This work was in their marketing budget for the year and they were ready to go. They were happy to find me and were willing to pay my fees for quality SEO copywriting. The same can happen for you too.
  • LinkedIn connections represent all types of opportunities for your business. Over the last couple of years, I’ve connected with more than 600 people I know personally from my career and my school days. I have connections with former colleagues, associates I met through business groups, college classmates and friends, high school friends, graphic designers, web developers, ad agency people I’ve met, fellow copywriters, industry leaders like Heather, and many, many other types of people. Any one of them can be a great source of referrals or business. You never know!

It’s not just me that’s having better luck with LinkedIn than some other social networks when it comes to finding business clients. HubSpot’s 2011 State of Inbound Marketing report shows that, “the effectiveness of particular social media channels varies according to the type of business.”

In a survey of over 600 professionals, they found that “LinkedIn is clearly more effective (than Facebook) for B2B businesses.

So why not try it and see for yourself? It’s incredibly easy and it’s FREE. Try these five ways to dive in and create a powerful network for your business, all from the comfort of home:

Create an optimized profile of yourself.

For example, include the phrase “SEO copywriter” in your SUMMARY and in the description of current business. Include all past work you’ve done as a virtual resume under EXPERIENCE, but be sure to showcase the work you’ve done that’s relevant for today’s potential clients.

You don’t need to do it all at once, but eventually you’ll want to create a robust profile with relevant content in each prompted section.

Start connecting with the most obvious folks on your list.

This will include current employers (if you’re still working at a company), current colleagues, past colleagues, college friends, local business folks you know… anyone who comes to mind. You might make a big list on paper and then search for those people in LinkedIn’s SEARCH area.

When you send a request to connect, always add a little personal note to say “hi” and let the person know what you’re doing. Here’s an example:

“Hey Bob! Great to see you here. Just letting you know I’m now a Certified SEO Copywriter focusing on improving website performance for clients. Perhaps you know someone who could use my help? In the meantime, I’d love to add you to my LinkedIn Connections. What are you up to these days? Cheers, Pam”

Continue connecting with “People you may know.”

As you begin building a network of connections from all your past jobs, etc., LinkedIn feeds you a list of people who you may know based on your new connections. This list is a goldmine, so make the most of it!  You’ll find people you completely forgot about or you haven’t seen in years. With a quick invitation to connect, you suddenly strike up a new relationship that could lead to a great referral or project.

I check out the “People you may know” at least once a week and send out at least 10 invitations each time. It adds up quickly.

 Join Groups that are relevant to your business.

If your SEO copywriting work is for a particular niche market (which I highly recommend), join groups in that market. For example, I’m focused on the pet industry, so I’ve joined Pet Business groups and Veterinary groups.

Joining groups helps you keep track of questions and topics that are important to your specific market, and when it makes sense, chime in on a discussion (without promoting your business of course, because no-one likes spammy participants).

Be an amazing contributor.

Whenever you can, use the “Share an update” box on your home page to post helpful tips, links, ideas, questions, answers, sources, industry news, etc. that your connections may find helpful. Try not to be overly promotional. Just be helpful. That’s the simple rule of thumb for all your social media efforts.

And don’t forget to use relevant keywords in your posts! This helps potential clients find you in LinkedIn search.

Bonus tip: Ask for recommendations and give recommendations.

LinkedIn makes it very easy to reach out to folks and ask for a personal recommendation of your work. By clicking on the Recommendations button, you can send a simple request via email. Be sure to add a personal message and offer to return the favor.

Not everyone will stop and write a recommendation, but it’s great when some people do take the time. I’ve accumulated a nice list of testimonials through this feature.

This gives you a solid start on making the most of LinkedIn. There are many other ways you can make the most of this free resource once you get your foundation going.

Keep linking and good luck!

Connect with me on LinkedIn

Pam Foster is the director of copywriting training for AWAI. She is also the author of  The Web Copywriter’s Clear Path to Profits, a Certified SEO Copywriter and Sr. Content Marketing Consultant at ContentClear Marketing 

5 Sure-Fire Ways to Create a Killer Home Page

Greetings! Glad you’re here, because today’s SEO copywriting how-to video is about creating a killer home page.  However powerful your copywriting and skilled your SEO, if you’re making these all-too-common, conversions-killing mistakes with your home page copy, your business will suffer.  The good news is, bad as it may seem now, it is easily corrected!

If you’ve been following Heather’s weekly how-to video posts, you’ll notice the progression from the inaugural 3 skills every SEO copywriter must have to this step-by-step series, aimed at providing you with explicit guidance to creating a fantastic website.

Beginning at the beginning, Heather first addresses the home page: what you should include on your home page to serve both the search engines and your target audience, as well as what tactics to avoid.

So let’s review:

Why Focus on the Home Page?

Because the home page is the most important page on your site!  It is your second conversions opportunity following the search engine results page.

The Home Page:

  • Is the page most indexed by the search engines
  • Sets the “tone” for the entire site
  • Orients people: they know they’re at the right “place” and that you offer what they want/need

Your Home Page is Like a Funnel:

From a sales perspective, you should assume that your prospects are coming to your site directly from search engine results, a link, or an offline source.  Your objective is to first, immediately let these folks know that they’re at the right place and then second, direct them to exactly where they need to go next.

Your home page serves to segment your audience and then prompt them to move around your site. Your home page is a great “preview” of all that you offer, not an index of every single benefit you offer.

Tried and true strategies for writing a killer home page, whether B2B or B2C, are:

  • Use overarching benefit statements & general, overarching keywords/keyphrases

A well-written home page should serve as a “teaser,” offering a preview of the great benefits your company has to offer.  It isn’t the place to discuss each and every benefit you offer, or list each and every keyword or keyphrase in your arsenal.  It is the place to offer your readers a taste, then clearly direct them to exactly where they need to go for the full entrée.

Trying to say too much too soon overwhelms the reader, dilutes your message, and detracts from those keywords and phrases that actually apply to the home page.  The same goes for your home page footer:  jamming keywords and phrases into your footer doesn’t do anybody any good, period.  Don’t do it.

It is better to sprinkle your benefit statements and related keyword/keyphrases throughout your site.  You’ve product/service pages to address specific product/service benefits, about pages to discuss your company and mission statement, etc., and to include the corresponding, relevant keywords and phrases for those pages.

  • Link intelligently from your home page to your product/services page

Again, your home page should serve as a funnel, directing your readers deeper into your site.  As with benefit statements and keywords/phrases, you want to avoid linking out to each and every product or service you offer.  It serves all concerned far better to link to main sections/categories of your site.

Far too often, otherwise well-written home pages go wrong with this “link-o-rama” (mal)practice, whereby your prospect is confronted with one big hyperlink.  It only sabotages your home page content to jam it up with numerous internal links.  For the reader, it is both visually overwhelming and psychologically overwhelming.  Easy does it!

  • Write copy that is focused around your customer persona

Write as if you were addressing an audience of one:  your ideal customer.  You want to reach and resonate with that one person.  Writing general, untargeted copy will get you general, untargeted results.

This is a great opportunity to change up your copy to increase conversions by honing your message specifically for your customer persona.  Even if you have multiple customer personas, you can readily structure your home page copy to address each persona and then direct the prospect to vertical-specific, niche landing pages within your website.

  • Create a fantastic, benefit-oriented home page title

We’ve already discussed the importance of creating compelling, “clickable” page Titles.  Far, far better to compose a powerful home page Title that couples one or two of the main keywords/phrases specific to the home page with a strong benefit statement, than to write a so-so title that is stuffed with keywords.  You want to match your targeted home page copy with an equally targeted, clickable page Title.

  • Get to the point

Stay on track and relay your message to your customer persona as succinctly as possible.  Ruthlessly edit your copy and strive for an economy of words:  if you can say something in five words as opposed to 25, do it.  Your home page isn’t the place for waxing poetic!

So, what information should you have on your products or services pages? Stay tuned, as next week Heather will discuss how to craft conversions-driving copy for your company’s products/services!

Thanks for checking in!  As always, your questions and comments are most welcome.

 

Want Better Conversions? Get Specific with Your Benefit Statements

Want to sell more?

Make your benefit statements specific. Very specific.

Heather developed this piece in response to a reader question about how to increase the effectiveness of their web copy. In looking through the reader’s web content, Heather realized that one of the opportunities the copywriter could leverage was to make their marketing copy more specific.

While the general reader benefit statements were powerful, honing them to highly tangible and specific “what’s-in-it-for-me” language is what this copywriter needed to do to improve their conversions. So for those of you who have been struggling with writing better sales copy and are looking for any advantage you can find, you should find this most helpful:

1. So these are so-so benefit statements. (Let’s make them better…)

  • Boost your revenue!
  • Let us help you save time!
  • Save money!

The challenge? People have different ideas about what “boosting revenue,” “saving time” and “saving money” mean. The web copy doesn’t paint a picture. This is where the specifics come in…

2. Specifics take a good marketing statement and make it sexy

  • Boost your revenue by 30%!
  • What would you do with an extra hour every day?
  • Slice your expenses by $2,000 a month!

So you can see how these highly specific benefits, expressed in such personalized, concrete and precise terms, can be something simple to leverage…

3. So what does this mean to your online writing?

  • Track how you’ve helped your customers – what specifics can you uncover?
  • Try to back up any “general” benefit statement with an exact number or percentage.
  • Don’t feel compelled to “round up.” If you’ve boosted profits by 27.6%, it’s OK to use that stat.

If you haven’t yet asked your customers for testimonials, now would be a great time to start. Ask them if they can provide you with any precise specifications in terms of numbers and percentages. Studies have shown that accurate, factual spec’s (e.g., 27.6% as opposed to 25- or 30%) are found to be more credible by prospects. And besides, it’s the truth of the matter!

Try these suggestions and watch your conversions improve!

What Does an SEO Copywriter Do, Anyway?

Welcome back!  In today’s video post, Heather answers a question from the LinkedIn SEO Copywriting group:  What does an SEO copywriter do, anyway? It is an excellent question, as many folks are somewhat mystified by the words “SEO copywriting.”  Whether you’re in the online writing profession, or are considering hiring a SEO copywriter, you will learn a lot in just a few minutes,  as Heather tackles this question in her second Q & A video post.

What Do They Write?

  • An SEO copywriter may create content for blogs, Facebook posts and tweets (often know as a social media writer), or…
  • She may create sales and informational copy for Websites, writing content that helps people take action and buy the product or service offered.

The common denominator is that in SEO copywriting, all writing is “wrapped around” keyphrases.  The SEO copywriter knows how to research those keyphrases, or knows what the keyphrase research means, and she also knows how to skillfully incorporate those keyphrases within the page copy in a way that they fit and flow smoothly.

SEO Copywriters Are a Crucial Part of the Equation in a SEO Campaign

The image of the well-known marketing expert, Seth Godin, is shown because he is quoted as saying that “the best SEO is great content.”

How he meant that is, when you have a really well-written page, people will want link to it, because they want to link out to good quality content.  Well-composed, high-quality pages tend to attract more readers, and keep them on the site longer.

This is important to consider when hiring or working with a SEO copywriter, because you need to have solid, quality content on your site.  The writing needs to be good, and read smoothly.  You want to steer clear of clunky, keyphrase-riddled copy.

The Words SEO Copywriters Use Help Drive Traffic and Make Money

SEO copywriters are also crucial to the equation from a sales and conversions perspective, because their incorporation of keyphrases within the copy helps to drive traffic and income.  Their skilled writing will help visitors take that next conversions step, whether it’s going to another page in the site, or buying a product, or requesting more information.

SEO Copywriters Work in Conjunction with a Great SEO/Social Team

The chart by Matt McGee aptly demonstrates the many components that make up a successful SEO campaign.  The SEO copywriter plays an essential role in the overarching campaign, as noted, and may work with a number of team members such as programmers, web designers, social media and content strategists.  Ultimately, it is the SEO copywriter that creates the content that attracts traffic, engages the audience, and encourages site conversions.

 

SEO Copywriting Overwhelm? What to Focus on First

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

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

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

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

1. Analytics

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

2. Site Goals

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

A sampling of low-hanging fruit tasks includes:

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

Yo! Yo! SEO’s Dana Lookadoo on Re-branding and SEO+

Today we’re honored to feature our interview with Dana Lookadoo, founder of Yo! Yo! SEO and one of the second wave of SEO women professionals who pioneered the SEO and search industry. Dana passed away a few years ago, but she was well ahead of the SEO/Search industry curve when she decided to integrate social media and education into her brand. Here, Dana shares her story with us. Enjoy!

Laura: Would you share with us how you came to be a second-generation SEO (woman) professional?

Dana: First, thank you for listing me in your Women who rock SEO: the second wave post! I give credit to the women who were part of the first generation for my inspiration.

Having been in the tech and Web development industry years before focusing on SEO, I was used to male-dominated conferences and meet-ups. My first Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose in 2005 sealed the deal for me: I was inspired by how many women were leaders in search marketing at SES!

I learned a lot from those 1st generation women, i.e., Shari Thurow, Jill Whalen, and Heather Lloyd-Martin, during this time. They openly shared best practices about information architecture, SEO, and copywriting.

I became even more excited that women were such successful technologists, marketers, and communicators! You could say I followed in their footsteps.

I also want to credit a couple of “first generation” men – Andy Beal and Lee Odden. From them I learned a well-rounded perspective about integrated marketing strategies (and less SEO-only approaches).

My initial focus on SEO was birthed out of a fork in the road in 2003.

I had previously co-owned a successful web development agency in Monterey, CA. Maybe we grew too fast, but my business partner attempted suicide. Pandora’s Box opened up. The result was dissolution of the business.

I regrouped and refocused. Web 2.0 was in its infancy. The shift to a more consumer-centric Web was underway. This fit perfectly with my passions – people, writing, and website usability.

I had no idea the choice to focus on SEO would be so pivotal.

I started Pixel Position, a firm to help people “position” their sites and marketing messages. That was in 2003, and I devoured as much information as I could to help clients develop and design search-friendly websites and content that people wanted to link to and talk about.

The road to a fairly good track record of success was paved with a lot of hard work, study, and doing what’s right for other people. Paying it forward and donating time to help non-profits has been part of that journey. “Give back, and it will be given back to you” has proven true.

Laura: So what is the story behind Yo! Yo! SEO:  What does it mean? (“Word-of-Mouth SEO”)?

Dana: It was time for a change. The importance of social media was growing, and I decided to rebrand, again. Listening and engaging people (online & offline) were pivotal aspects of marketing online. I called it “Conversational SEO.” I wanted to rebrand to express how Social Media and SEO fit hand-in-glove. I was also teaching clients how to optimize their digital content and their online conversations. I wanted an agency name that reflected such.

I played around with names and spent a lot of time researching available domains. I wanted something that expressed the combination of search and social, while also expressing my educational approach.

“You’re NOT On Your Own in SEO” was my initial tagline. Remove the “NOT,” and the resulting acronym is YOYOSEO. The domain was available. The rebranding began.

BUT, I didn’t want people thinking of a yoyo. To reflect the urgency of the growing importance of word-of-mouth and shouting out in social media, exclamation points were added : Yo! Yo!

Yo! Listen up … Yo! Shout it out …

Then there was the logo, which took a few months to perfect. The lips, conversation bubble, and information architecture outline summarized it all.

The Yo! Yo! SEO process is “Word-of-Mouth SEO.” We help companies optimize their online conversations, which means their websites and how they engage in social media.

The rebranding was a lot of fun, and it has paid off 3+ years later.

Laura: Describe for us a classic “day in the life of Dana Lookadoo” in or outside of Yo! Yo! SEO.

Dana: Oh, the days vary dramatically. I’d like to draw a picture of my ideal work day when I feel totally in control, but during the past couple years, days are more “reactive” than I’d like to admit.

Interestingly, working with corporate clients often means you’re part of their team rather than acting as an outside agency calling the shots. Helping to optimize and manage their social media presence often means I spend more time interacting with and getting to know a client’s audience and less time socializing and sharing with my own. I’m closely involved in the content optimization and creation process as well.

Lyena Solomon and I take an advisory and training approach, which means close collaboration is key. We analyze stats and campaign performance while researching to ensure clients are staying ahead of the competition. A lot of time is spent writing and critiquing content while documenting processes and helping clients prioritize their many tasks and needs.

Daily work hats include content developer, community engager, designer, business advisor, marketing strategist, conversion optimizer, analyst, and circus juggler! ;-)

Daily non-work hats? I admit it’s hard to turn off the optimization flow outside of work, but I do shut down from social and the computer. I spend time with non-search friends and family and log mile-after-mile cycling. My physical and spiritual parts of my life get a lot of attention as well. Then there’s gardening and organic foods.

I guess you could say I’m addicted to more than SEO.

Laura: You have an impressive list of clients as a business trainer. You also develop classes for corporate in-house training: What is it that you do as a business trainer? (i.e., is it strictly SEO copywriting, or a broader range of subjects?)

Dana: You’ve touched my passion point. Sharing, downloading, showing, teaching, and empowering others with the skills to make a difference fulfill me beyond end. I could sit on the phone or in-person for hours just explaining the hows and whys of various aspects of online marketing, or how to use software.

I used to teach and write a lot of technology courses, including train-the-trainer sessions, Web development, how to use the Internet, software, and Web tools.

Currently, training involves showing marketing and non-marketing departments the importance of SEO, copywriting, and social engagement and how they are a pivotal aspect of reaching out to clients and prospects.

The focus of most training revolves around helping companies in their paradigm shift from “me” messages to “you” terminology, focusing more on personas and their audience. Not-so-glamorous training involves showing best practices for using Photoshop, optimizing meta and Open Graph tags for search and social, tagging URLs with campaign variables, etc.

Laura: If you had to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, what would they be?

Dana: Hmmm… You had to ask the tough stuff. I’ll focus on Yo! Yo! SEO’s strengths and weaknesses rather than my own. (Isn’t that a nice way to skirt a tough question?)

STRENGTHS: We specialize in helping companies understand their audience (personas) to guide them with their online marketing.

That ranges from terms they use (keywords for SEO & PPC) to what attracts them and keeps them engaged (quality content) to what keeps the relationship going (social media interactions). The ultimate goal is to help them close more sales and/or generate leads.

Our key offerings include this approach with SEO at the core:

  • Website design/redesign and CMS migration
  • Content development and social engagement
  • Online visibility audits (SEO, Social, PPC, Usability)
  • Training

WEAKNESSES: Limited bandwidth. ;-)

Laura: As an SEO professional of some 9 years, what are your thoughts/perspective on the state of the SEO industry?

Dana: It’s an exciting time to be part of SEO and search. Google’s latest algorithms, especially Panda and Penguin, coupled with focus on Author Rank, mean companies who create quality content can finally win without link wheels and article spinning.

We’re not totally there with “clean” spam-free SERPs, but Google & Bing’s increased focus on social signals is helping weed the garden. In other words, companies who focus on the needs of their audience can reap the fruits of their labors.

It’s also a fast-moving time, and “integrative marketing” is key. Pure SEO is a thing of the past.

  • Marketers have to take a holistic approach and work closely with clients to help them understand that stuffing keywords and link schemes is not going to produce ROI and may hurt them.
  • Companies must be willing to listen by putting the customer first, taking time to build relationships online.
  • Quality content is essential, and companies need to stand out from the crowd.
  • In other words, they should not be afraid to shout out a Yo!, and show some leg!

Laura: Any words of advice for those just beginning their career in SEO?

Dana: Good question.

  • First, realize you can’t specialize in it all. Work your strengths.
  • Be realistic to know that this is a career and not an 8-5 job. You have to dedicate to constant study.
  • As a minimum, learn how to code HTML.
  • Learn how to write for the Web and an audience who has ADD.
  • Build relationships with peers in the industry. Don’t go into SEO if you don’t like people.

One more thing, don’t put “Guru” as part of your bio anywhere on the Web!

Laura: Thanks Dana!  :)

Dana: And thanks to you, too!

About Dana Lookadoo – Founder of Yo! Yo! SEO, Dana called herself a “search geek who prefers people over search engines but optimizes for both.” Her specialty was in coupling audience engagement and social media with SEO. Dana began a career in computing/PC training in 1984, then moved into website development and online marketing. As a business trainer, Dana developed and conducted technology classes for Sun Microsystems Open Gateway Programs, Monterey Institute of International Studies, U.C. Santa Cruz Extension, and Walmart’s MEM Technology Conference Series.

photo/image thanks to Top Rank blog

SEO Content Strategies for Google’s Penguin Update

Welcome back! In today’s SEO copywriting video how-to, Heather addresses the latest topic that has the industry abuzz: Google’s Penguin update. Specifically, she discusses SEO content strategies for dealing with the Penguin.

While Google’s Penguin update is targeted towards outright webspam (and suspect linking profiles), like it’s cute animal predecessor the Panda, it still has many site owners frozen in their tracks.

Take a deep breath and join Heather as she explains why you’ve nothing to fear from the big bad Penguin, and how you can move forward with specific SEO content strategies…

Yes, Google is at it again!

Here we had just recovered from Google’s Panda – another black-and-white animal – and now we are faced with its Penguin update:

  • The Penguin update targeted “web spam”.
  • Impacted about 3-percent of Web queries – especially those with “unnatural” links.
  • Site owners are scared. Again.

About those “unnatural” links: in Google’s eyes, unnatural links might have been those that a company purchased, or those resulting from a link exchange where the company may have been getting a large number of incoming links that were not targeted to its market.

Regardless, the net result of the Penguin update is that site owners are scared, yet again. They are afraid that whatever they do is going to be “wrong,” that Google’s not going to like it, and that they’ll be popped by yet another animal in algorithmic update form in the future.

So here Heather gets into what the industry is saying about how to deal with the Penguin update, and how to move forward without fear.

Here’s what the industry is saying…

Pulling quotes from three different industry sources, Heather notes (and you can see) that the quotes are very similar in that they all discuss content:

“Blog more and blog regularly:  Writing content that is useful for end users will not just increase your reader base but force search engines to crawl, index, and rank your site. After all, engines need good content just as badly (to be relevant to their searchers) as you need their “free” traffic.”

– Bob Tripathi, founder and chief marketer at Instant E-Training, as reported in Search Engine Watch.

  • This first quote makes the direct correlation between “[w]riting content that is useful for end users” and your site rankings.

“The thing about great content is that it will generate links. But more importantly, great content will add more value to your site’s visitors. Just be sure to promote your new content. Encourage your visitors and customers to share your content and products.”

– Kerry Dean, Search Engine Land

  • “…add more value to your site’s visitors.” : That’s an important point. It’s not just adding content for the SEO benefit of it – that has never been the point of adding content – it’s about adding value to your readers. And yes, people will link to it because it’s an exceptionally good article or blog post.

“Always remember that content is (and will always be) king. That is the rule of thumb in white hat SEO. Do you think websites like SEOmoz and Search Engine Journal need to do any link building in order to rank high in search engines? Probably not, they simply focus on delivering high quality content that people constantly link to from their websites and from their social profiles.”

– Amine Rahal, YOUmoz/SEOmoz

So there is your Penguin, right there in these three quotes: now, you have an opportunity to evaluate your site, asking yourself, “All right, how good is my content?” and “Is this something that is good for readers?”

And this is a great opportunity for all sites – occasionally it’s wise for all of us to go back into our site, look at our content, and see what we can do to make our site even better for the visitors who are coming to us!

So what does this mean?

What we know is that: 

  • Well-written content is still a safe SEO (and social) bet.

The operative words here are “well written”: this isn’t content driven by a magical keyword density formula or content that’s been written just for search engine purposes or to attract links. This is content that we know is good for our readers.

So what you can do is:

  • Review your site, look for content opportunities, and remove any content mullets.

An example of content opportunities is the humble yet powerful FAQ page.  If you are receiving a lot of customer questions about a product or service that you offer, and you don’t have a FAQ page on your site that answers these questions, then that could be an amazing content opportunity! Develop that FAQ page, and maybe create some blog posts that discuss the FAQ answers in more detail.

As for content mullets – they’ve been addressed here before. You definitely want to remove, change or tweak any kind of out-dated content – you know, that old content that makes it look like your site hasn’t been touched in the last couple of years!

  • Ask how you can make your content even better.

Again, this is a great opportunity to go back and look through your site, paying attention to elements like your benefit statements: are they still valid?

How about your site’s tone and feel – how your copy “sounds” to the reader: is there anything that you could tweak to help increase your conversion rate? Or the amount of time folks are spending on your site?

And the final tip is to let your editorial calendar work for you:

  • Use your editorial calendar to track content changes/creation.

As with the content mullet, editorial calendars have been discussed here before.  And although it may sound like a complicated process, it’s really as simple as looking at what you want to accomplish and then setting it up on a calendar.

Simply write in what you want to have accomplished on your calendar, so you can keep track of your content and understand where those milestones and deadlines are. Then it’s a matter of creating the content and making it happen!

A few closing thoughts

So don’t fear the Penguin – use it as an opportunity to do all we’ve discussed above.

And while it’s understandable why site owners may be a little spooked by yet another Google update, remember that throughout all of the updates visited upon the SEO content industry, well-written content has proven itself to be a very, very safe bet.

Well-written content is good for Google, but more importantly it’s good for your site and for your readers…and don’t forget: well-written content will help your site make more money!

 

photo thanks to *christopher* (Christopher Michel)

 

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.