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5 things your SEO copywriter needs to create powerful content

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For targeted, conversions-driving content, your SEO copywriter needs to know these 5 thingsSending a list of keywords to your SEO copywriter is a good start for your new web project, but it’s not everything he or she needs to turn your pages into gold.

Your writer needs to have a solid understanding of you, your products/services and your audience. Here are five key pieces of information to send their way so you can maximize your investment.

1.   A detailed ideal client profile.

Your web copy pages should be written for your client – not for your industry peers. The pages should be written as if your company is speaking directly to your customers.

Think about it this way: you’d have a much different style of speech planned if you were presenting to the residents of a local senior center instead of fellow business executives.

Your writer needs to know who they are speaking to. They’ll use this information to do some research about who your ideal clients are, how they speak and how they like to be spoken to.

2.   A tone or approach for your brand.

The way your ideal clients communicate isn’t the only thing that your SEO copywriter needs in terms of voice. The tone or approach for your company is essential information for your writer. They need to speak in the voice of your company.

Is your company a trusted advisor who is formal and informative? Is it the best friend who is giddy and excited to share? Is it the gentle coach who is encouraging and helpful?

If you’re not sure, now is the time to decide. Getting down your tone and feel is important for your SEO copywriting project – and for conversions!

3.   A short list of competitors.

Your direct competitors represent the environment in which you’re making your digital pitch. Your SEO copywriter needs to know who you’re up against, and how your competitors are approaching the same topics that you’ll need to cover.

A review of competitor websites can help tweak a headline or perfect a call to action that will make sure that website visitors convert on your site instead of heading back to the search engine results.

4.   The per page call to action.

Speaking of conversions, your SEO copywriting webpage plan needs to outline the call to action per page.

If this is going to be part of the web design, let your writer know. If they need to use a specific phrase or call to action that will be repeated throughout the site, make that clear. Or if you need a new idea for a site-wide call to action, now is the time to establish that.

5.   An hour interview with your top products/services expert.

Handing off the reins via email or project management system is a good start, but your SEO copywriter will greatly benefit from an exploratory call. Having an exploratory call has become standard operating procedure at Endurance Marketing because we get so much from the experience – and that reflects in the copywriting.

Even if you have thousands of pages of research material, getting on the phone with your top sales person or VP of marketing can help your SEO copywriter sharpen his or her focus and determine where to start first.

Make the effort – and the time – to give your SEO copywriter these key pieces. You’ll see better results in engagement, search engine rankings, conversions and general satisfaction. And who doesn’t want that?

About the Author ~ Courtney Ramirez

Courtney Ramirez is the Director of Content Marketing Strategy for Endurance Marketing. She’s an SEO Copywriter and content marketing specialist who creates clickable content for clients in both B2B and B2C markets. As a proud graduate of SuccessWork’s SEO Copywriting Certification training program, she geeks out on algorithm updates and content marketing metrics. She’s always in the mood for a good cat-based meme. You can connect with Courtney on Google PlusLinkedIn or Twitter.

photo thanks to Tomas Sobek

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Wooing the Googlebot: 5 Steps to an Irresistible XML Sitemap

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Make you site irresistible to Google bot with these top 5 sitemap strategies

You can have the best site in the world but you won’t rank well if your site is difficult to crawl and navigate by a robot.

All sites should have an XML formatted sitemap including the pages of their site as a standard. This is what search engines use as part of their crawl and subsequent indexing.

It is always a good idea to make these files as easy as possible for a search engine bot to read, as it can make the indexing of your site faster.

In this post I will show five of the best practices for the set up and submitting of your sitemaps. Not all will apply to all sites, but on the whole if you put these into practice then your sitemaps will be much easier to read and manage, and your site will be easier to index.

1. Split out into sections/categories

There is a standard limit on the size of a sitemap of 10MB or 50,000 URLs, and while a search engine robot will read a sitemap up to this size it can take too long and may compromise crawl time.

What to do:

For larger sites or sites with a clear structure, you can create a few different sitemaps to split out the pages to crawl. For example, you could create a general sitemap for all your top level pages and a separate sitemap (or sitemaps) for your category page(s).  Alternatively you could create different sitemaps depending on how frequently they change to set different crawl priorities across the different pages.

How does this help?

Splitting out your sitemaps makes it easier for search engine bots to crawl them. It also allows you to identify with more ease which pages have yet to be indexed by a search engine in Webmaster Tools. It allows you to manage changes to your site much easier. You also don’t have to create a new sitemap for the entire site if things change on your site.

2. Show the links to all your sitemaps in your robots.txt file

This is a pretty simple thing, but it is surprising how often this isn’t done right. A robots.txt file is a small text file that essentially tells a search engine robot what it should and shouldn’t crawl. You can disallow entire directories or pages on your site as well as manage other parameters that pertain to a site crawl. It is always best practice to show the location of your sitemap in the robots.txt file as it is usually the second place the robot will go to when it crawls your site.

What to do:

If you have more than one sitemap you can list them here too in the following format:

User-agent: *

Allow: /

Disallow: /wp-admin/

Disallow: /category/

Sitemap: http://www.mysite.com/top-page-sitemap.xml

Sitemap: http://www.mysitee.com/category-page-sitemap.xml

How does this help?

Essentially it is your first signpost to a search engine, pointing it in the direction that will allow it to crawl your site along the easiest path possible.

3. Make sure there are no broken links

Many sitemap generation tools will crawl your entire site using its internal link structure and produce a sitemap.xml file for you. This has its benefit – it’s quick and easy – but it is not accurate. In some cases where your site has old pages that are still linked to internally by mistake this could result in a 404 error. Sometimes these can end up in your XML sitemap and that isn’t good when a search engine crawls them and hits a dead end.

What to do:

Once you have generated your sitemap you can run it through a validator to see if it can be read properly and if there are any errors such as ones created through broken links. I use the {W3C Validator http://validator.w3.org/} most often.

If you find broken links you should identify their location on your site and remove them. You can then re-generate your sitemap. If there are a lot of pages that have broken links you will want to resolve these as soon as possible to ensure your site doesn’t suffer in other ways.

If you have a large site or lots of pages you need to remove from the sitemaps you can use crawling software like {Screaming Frog http://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/seo-spider/} and open the file in a text editor, identify the pages and remove them. Be careful with this though as if you don’t edit the file appropriately it can corrupt it.

How does this help?

By removing broken links search engines won’t hit any dead ends in your sitemap and this can speed up the crawl. Also, with both Bing and Google Webmaster Tools errors like this can show up in the dashboard and in some cases stop the search engine even looking at the file.

4. Remove 301 redirected pages

If you have internal links which are 301 redirected it makes sense to replace the links with the new destination URL on a sitemap rather than have an internal link which is redundant. It would slow a crawl down and it can also slow site navigation down as well!

When it comes to creating a sitemap file, if you have internal links which redirect these may get picked up by whatever tool you use to create it. This means that you could end up with a sitemap that contains old redirected links and the intended destination URL too.

What to do:

Quite simply, scan over your site and ensure that all internal links are pointing to the intended destination rather than to a page which has a redirect on it. I’d recommend using the Microsoft SEO tool for this as it will pick these up easily for you (You can find out about the tool and its other uses {here http://www.koozai.com/blog/search-marketing/microsoft-seo-toolkit-review/}).

How does this help?

By removing redundant links and only leaving your site and sitemap with links to live pages it can reduce the size of the sitemap and reduce the time it will take for a search engine to read it leaving valuable milliseconds for on-page crawling of your site.

5. Submit your sitemap to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools

Once you have a sitemap created it is important that you submit them to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools. This way you can offer an additional (and quicker) opportunity for them to crawl the sitemap and site itself.

What to do:

In Google Webmaster Tools you navigate to the sitemaps tab on the main dashboard, click the red box on the top right which says ‘Add/Test Sitemap’ and add your sitemap(s) URL excluding the main domain. This then adds it into the dashboard.

In much the same way as Google, in Bing Webmaster Tools whilst in the dashboard you will see in the middle right section of the screen ‘Submit A Sitemap’. Click that and add the sitemap URL to show it in the dashboard.

How does this help?

Submitting to both these Webmaster Tools platforms will allow you to better monitor your sites’ indexing, re-submit sitemaps to the search engines manually when there are changes and also allow you to better understand what areas of your site are getting crawled more often (if you split your sitemaps out).

Having a well-structured and easily accessible XML sitemap will make it much easier for search engines to find the pages on your site and crawl them. Again – you can have the best site in the world but you won’t rank well if your site is difficult to crawl and navigate by a robot! It is within any site owner or developer’s best interests to make it as easy and quick to crawl as possible.

I hope this post has been useful and if you have any questions or other sitemap related comments please feel free to add them!

About the AuthorChris Simmance

Chris Simmance is a Digital Marketing Consultant. You can connect with Chris on his website, and Twitter.

Real link building requires sales

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Want to build links? Jon Ball advises you to put your sales hat onThere are a lot of buzzwords right now in SEO such as ‘link earning’, ‘inbound marketing’, and ‘relationship building’. But the truth is, successful link building requires sales.

The simple fact is that if you’re going to spend time creating quality and linkable content, you need to spend an equal amount of time outreaching that content – which is really just a form of sales. Basically, you’re selling the concept of the content and pushing for a specific result – further sharing.

There’s an internal movement in the SEO industry to rebrand from a technical field to a marketing sub-department. I support this in part—it’s a natural fit, and increases the power of SEO—but I believe the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater. Specifically, I’m talking about link building.

With the release of Penguin (and more recently, Penguin 2.0), Google has changed the face of link building. No more can SEOs go out and build 100 quick links and expect to see positive results. Now, links need to be authoritative, editorial, and more than anything relevant.

Many SEOs struggle with this new link building, and are afraid to aggressively pursue links.

And that fear is a good thing. We shouldn’t be building links like they were built in the past. We need to keep in mind Google’s guidelines, because if recent years have taught us anything, it’s that eventually punishment will come.

But that doesn’t mean link building should be left behind.

Baldy said, link earning is too passive. Building content and authority and hoping for links is a result of trying not to anger the Google gods, and it’s erring too far to the left. ‘Link earning’ leaves too much to chance, too much to hope. Creating great content deserves promotion, in the form of sales as well as marketing.

So, if you’re really trying to get some serious link building done, put on your sales hat.

Marketing vs. Sales

Inbound marketing can earn links. Unfortunately, it’s a spray and pray approach. Instead of targeting your efforts, you create great content and market it to a large audience hoping something sticks to the wall.

Link building is sales. You’re vetting a specific target audience, approaching them on a one-on-one basis, and working to acquire a link. You’re actively working for each specific link.

Although there are no guarantees, link building as a strategy will produce far more results for 99% of sites over inbound marketing.

That other 1%? They’re the sites that have established authority, credibility, popularity, and have a large amount of eyeballs on everything they do. Something that doesn’t happen overnight. Or even a year. Just ask Rand Fishkin how long it took to grow SEOmoz (now Moz) into an inbound titan.

A quote from his AMA on Inbound.org earlier this year:

“We had to flee an office space we were renting at one point, because we couldn’t afford to pay the next month’s rent. Matt (Inman, who was the first real programmer we hired) and I traded off who was taking paychecks home a few times (that sucked). Gillian didn’t take a paycheck from ~2001 to ~2006.”

You can’t help but to admire Fishkin’s bootstrapped success. But will his business model work for everyone? I’m not so sure.

Real Link Building is Sales

The very essence of link building is sales – we’re basically selling our website, directly or indirectly, to other webmasters. We’re convincing them that the site is worth sharing with their audience, and that their audience will appreciate the link.

Indirect sales can work if you’ve already built trust, brand, content, and popularity. Which means, of course, that the majority of sites on the web have to rely on direct sales if they really want to build links.

A direct sale within link building looks something like this:

  1. Consistent creation of quality content
  2. Marketing to the public
  3. Pursuing leads
  4. One on one outreach to a specific site/webmaster (warm lead)
  5. Selling both the site and content (product)
  6. *Negotiating the link (sale)
  7. Closing the sale (link acquired)
  8. Nurturing the relationship

*Please note, I absolutely don’t mean paying for a link. Negotiating a link can take a variety of forms – including the placement, anchor text, specific page, content exchange, interview, etc., etc.

That’s what real link building looks like. As much as it would be nice if you could simply stop at step number 2 – marketing your content to the public – and see the links roll in, sadly that’s very very rarely the case.

Instead, let’s take a look at a real example of link building.

Link Building in the Real World

First, let’s take a look at a common example, a guest post.

For the sake of contrariness, let’s say you’re starting from scratch, with no contacts and a relatively fresh website.

Of course, you’ve spent time making a great website that’s useful, user friendly, and an overall betterment to the web (right?). Now you want to share it with the world, drive traffic and build great links. In order to do so, you’ve decided to contribute across your industry and build links in the form of guest posting.

Here are the steps you’d take:

1)  Compile a list of target sites you’d like to contribute to and receive a link from

  • Make sure they’re relevant to your industry
  • Make sure they have the authority and traffic to justify time investment
  • Make sure they’re open to communication and contribution

 

2)  Begin the outreach process. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Social media engagement
  • Commenting on their blog or community websites they’re also contributing to
  • Directly emailing (don’t forget to follow up if at first you don’t receive a reply)
  • Web form (try and avoid this – web forms receive terrible response rates)

 

3)  Build trust

It’s not enough to simply outreach – you need to establish trust. Often this takes the form of honest communication and thoughtful interaction. Ask an intelligent question, praise their website, find common ground.

4)  Negotiate a link

Once you’ve introduced yourself and (hopefully) had some positive interaction, it’s time to negotiate the link. Ask appropriately, based upon your previous interactions. In the case of guest posting, mention that you have an idea for an article and if they’d be interested in seeing it and sharing with their audience.

While discussing article details such as content, length, angle, etc., don’t forget to mention that you’d like a link back to your site in the post. Communicating clearly and up front prevents any ill feelings down the line and gives you the power to negotiate up front. Will they give you a link in content? A branded link in the bio?

5)  Deliver and Close

Once you’ve negotiated make sure you deliver in a timely manner. Closing the sale and securing the link is more than just simply emailing over the article. Ask for feedback. When will it be posted? Promote it through your social media channels. Thank them for their time and the opportunity.

6)  Follow up

Finally, don’t get a link and disappear. Nurture the relationship; drop them an email from time to time commenting on the industry, their site, your shared interests, etc. Often the next link opportunity comes through the contacts you’ve already made.

Characteristics of a Successful Sales/Link builder

I’ve employed a few successful link builders in my time, and I’ve found that it truly helps to share a core set of personality characteristics with salesman (salespeople?), which help them thrive in the link building world.

A few characteristics I always look for when the time comes to hire, outside of technical knowledge:

  • Natural charisma
  • Optimism
  • High energy level
  • Naturally friendly/open personality
  • Social intelligence
  • Problem solving
  • Persuasiveness
  • Determination
  • Competitiveness

All these traits definitely have value in the link building world. They’ll help empower link builders to pursue their job successfully, and make them resilient to a harsh reality faced by both sales and link builders – rejection.

Link building is a hard pursuit, and can be a rather thankless job. Having the built in drive to succeed and secure links is very similar to the desire to close a sale.

Recap

At the end of the day, link building requires sales – or at least a close approximation to it. Simply marketing your content isn’t enough. Real link building requires dedicated members going out, finding targets, and outreaching in a personal one-on-one environment.

The process is already naturally parallel to a sales position, so don’t forget to look for key sales characteristics when finding professional link builders.

What do you think? Is there anything I missed? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

 

About the Author ~ Jon Ball

Jon Ball is VP of Business Development for Page One Power. Jon specializes in the implementation of highly effective link building strategies for clients across the globe. In his previous life he was a professional portrait photographer, and still passionately pursues photography. Page One Power is a link building firm that focuses on relevancy and transparency.

You can connect with Jon on Twitter at @pageonepower.

photo thanks to Denise Krebs (mrsdkrebs)

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Leveraging content relationships & social proof for conversion rate optimization

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How to leverage social proof from content relationships for CROThough content marketing has only recently reached buzzword status within the search industry, guest posting has been a popular method of promoting products and services online for a long time.

It’s often cited as a great link building technique and when done well, can help your website in more ways than just search.

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) has long been a technical art within digital marketing, but there are also a few ways in which you can utilise guest blogging and the relationships you build in the process to help improve conversions:

Qualified Traffic

Search is a fantastic driver of traffic for many businesses but it can also be wasteful in terms of conversions.

This is where content marketing can have more of an impact, as you’re segmenting your market before you ever set out your stall. When quality content marketing campaigns are focused around specific sets of users, they can be a powerful tool to drive qualified traffic to a website.

Social Proof

Wikipedia describes social proof as “a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect the correct behaviour for a given situation… driven by the assumption that the surrounding people possess more information about the situation.”

In other words, in observing the behaviour of others the decision process is simplified, providing us a convenient mental shortcut to responding to the task in hand.

The Blueglass UK website provides a prime example of using social proof from content marketing:

SEO Social Proof - 1

As you can see above, they have chosen to highlight their relationships with outlets that have featured their content as well as with other brands using their services, leaving visitors to ask themselves, “If it’s good enough for the Guardian, it must be good enough for me right?”

Authorship

While I could talk about the benefits of Authorship (and the fabled AuthorRank) all day, suffice it to say there is a huge amount of value to be had in including your author profile within content.

As you begin to write and publish more content, your author picture will become synonymous with your writing. Use the same image across all platforms and content and searchers will recognise the visual clue as a familiar and trusted face within the search results. Not only does this lead to improved CTR but it also allows the user to personify the company, transferring their views of the individual content creator to the organisation.

Relationships and Testimonials

Once you’ve placed your content with a high profile blogger, don’t let that be the end of the relationship. There are so many more mutual benefits to be had!

One such example is Testimonials. Rand Fishkin wrote about this method for attracting links back in 2009, but I find it serves a double purpose. Not only does the content creator get a nice link back to their website, but you get a glowing reference that can be used as further proof of your credentials to potential prospects.

Distilled does this very well on their consulting pages, thanks to their close relationship with SEOMoz (now Moz):

SEOmoz Social Proof - 2

 

Custom Landing Pages

A personalised landing page can be a great tool to help create a seamless transition from your guest content onto your own website, and maintain the brand connection between the two.

This is particularly potent when looking to gather blog or whitepaper subscriptions without the user feeling like they are just being “handled”.

From these pages you have much more control over the user journey and can look to move the prospect onto a proven conversion path as soon as possible.

One great example of this is from James Agate who guest blogged for Raven Tools and used a custom landing page to squeeze users towards subscribing to his newsletter.

Simple, yet effective.

We all know that content marketing is here to stay, but as you can see there is so much more to it than meets the eye. By using the relationships we garner through our content outreach we can help further our business goals long after the article has been published.

Have you used social proof to help improve conversions? What are your thoughts on using brand relationships for CRO?

About the Author ~ Andrew Isidoro

Andrew Isidoro is a Cardiff-based SEO Strategist at Box UK, a software development consultancy, helping to run the digital marketing department. You can find him on his blog talking about digital marketing and the state of semantic search, or on Twitter: @andrew_isidoro.

Could your conversions use a boost? I can help. Check into my direct response SEO copywriting services today!

Bad SEO content, good Google rankings: What now?

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Bad SEO content  performing well in search? Here's some corrective strategies to useGreetings! Glad you’re here, as today marks the start of a new video series, SEO Content Writing Tips. The inspiration for this new series comes from you, our blog readers, and the questions you ask Heather.

So thank you and keep ‘em coming!

Today, Heather discusses a question that she gets all the time, which is: should I rewrite “bad” pages that have good Google rankings?

This is an excellent question, because a lot of folks have pages on their sites that position well, but the content itself doesn’t really thrill them.

So what’s an SEO copywriter to do? Listen in as Heather shares some strategies…

Are You Afraid To Fix Your SEO Content?

You may have SEO content that is doing well in terms of search rankings, but yet you’re not altogether happy with the copy. And this can be for a variety of reasons:

– The SEO copy may be “borderline spammy.”

– Your content may not have the right tone and feel.

– Conversions may be low and bounce rates may be high.

So while your content hasn’t been hit by a Google algorithm update, it may seem a little too keyphrase heavy.

Or, it might be that your copy isn’t really clicking with your target audience, which in turn may eventually affect conversions: you might find that conversions on certain pages are low, and bounce rates are high.

Now I understand that when you have a page that’s positioning well, it’s really scary to change it. But at the end of the day, if the content isn’t performing the way you want it to perform, it’s time to take the plunge and rewrite it.

So here’s some to strategies to use:

It’s Time To Take The Plunge

– Too keyphrase stuffed? Rewrite it. You may be able to use the same # of keyphrases.

If you’re feeling like the content is too keyphrase stuffed, it could be because of how it was written. Maybe you add more content to the page, and that way you still have the keyphrases there but they make more sense with a longer word count.

You can play with that, and you may find that you’re able to use the same number of keyphrases in the rewritten content. Or, in other cases, you may need to dial them back a little bit and see if that makes the content read better.

– Determine how to best rewrite the content (changing format, tone and feel, call to action.)

You’ll also want to determine the best way to approach the content from your reader’s perspective: do you need to change the tone and feel? Do you need to make the call to action more obvious? These are just examples of the tweaks you can make so your content is perfect for your readers.

– Upload the content and monitor rankings/conversions.

And then it’s definitely taking the plunge when you upload your content and see how it performs!

You’ll want to monitor both the page rankings and conversions to see if people are taking those action steps that you want them to take. Chances are, with a content rewrite, you’re going to see some success!

Certainly you can A/B test your content to see if you can further tweak elements to make it even more successful.

And if you notice a huge drop in rankings for whatever reason, then you might want to add a few more keyphrases, and maybe change up the content a little bit more – but you’ll know how to play with it, and you’ll be more happy with this new content because it will be doing its job!

Thanks for tuning in! Again, as this series draws its inspiration from you, please let me know if you have any SEO copywriting questions. You can find me on Twitter @heatherlloyd, or you can email me at [email protected]

photo thanks to brian liu (RolutionAsia)

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The 4 C’s of a smokin’ hot YouTube marketing strategy

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A powerful YouTube marketing strategy is distilled into four elementsWith over 100 hours of video uploaded every minute and over one BILLION people across the world accessing the site every month, YouTube is no longer just a destination for one hit, viral videos.

In fact, with Channel partners such as the Warner Music Group and Machinima, its video content rivals that of popular streaming services Netflix and Hulu.

It’s no wonder that an astounding 87% of online marketers use YouTube video content in their marketing mix. In addition, YouTube is the number 2 search engine on the planet, making it a fantastic platform to grow your audience.

In this post, I’ll walk you through the four C’s you need in your online video strategy to successfully drive traffic and sales from YouTube:

– Captivation

– Consistency

– Conversion

– Community

Captivation

Simply put, you need to hook your viewer from the start and continue to engage them throughout the video. This is especially important since YouTube has changed its algorithm to give more weight to average watch time than number of view counts.

Also, videos that retain viewers throughout the entire video rank higher in YouTube search and are more visible in YouTube’s related videos algorithm (suggested videos at the end of each video and related videos on the right sidebar).

But how do you go about captivating your audience? Here are 3 easy steps that you can implement today:

1. Compelling Content Comes First

Many viewers decide whether they are going to keep watching your video within the first few seconds. Attention spans are short, and viewers are just one click away from abandoning your video.

Having an animated intro is a great way to instantly captivate your audience. You can find some great templates over at VideoHive or get a custom one at SmartShoot.

It’s even more important to have an animated intro if your video only uses one camera angle (such as a webcam) or is a talking head video.

If you are creating a “how-to” video, consider showing the final outcome first then show the instructional steps. Hooking the viewer from the onset will keep them engaged through your video.

2. Vary the Camera Angle

There’s no hard and fast rule to how long you can stay on one angle, but I would recommend that you keep it at about 30 seconds and no longer than 1 minute.

Think about a trailer to your favorite movie. There are multiple cuts to different scenes and no scene receives longer than 15 seconds of airtime.

If you’re doing a talking head video, consider varying the angles or background for the different sections of your topic.

3. Add Transitions, Overlays, and Graphics

Caution: adding a transition does NOT mean inserting a “page over” effect on your video.

Transitions can be as simple as a single frame that introduces a new section or topic of a video.

An excellent example of adding a simple transition to break up different sections can be found in this video by CopyHackers’ Joanna Wiebe.

Remember, it does NOT need to be complicated.

Consistency

“Consistent audience requires consistent content!” – Freddie W., Top YouTuber.

We all understand the importance of consistency when it comes to growing a blog.

And although creating a video can be more time consuming, the same principle of creating consistent content should be applied to marketing on YouTube.

By creating regular content on YouTube, you will keep your channel feed active, increase your reach, and build more subscribers. While there’s no hard and fast rule for how often you should produce content, YouTube suggests a minimum of one video per week.

However, the right amount of content depends on your audience and your goals.

A quick and easy way to create more frequent content is to do a Google+ Hangout interview with an expert in your industry. You can then use this material for your YouTube channel and blog.

Here’s an example of a video SmartShoot created from a Google+ Hangout expert interview, outlining the process that goes into creating an animated explainer video.

Conversion

While conversions are always top of mind on your website, they somehow become an afterthought on YouTube.

Remember, online video is an interactive experience and prompting your viewers to take action will help you build engagement and a larger audience.

Depending on your message, you can use the middle or end of the video to prompt your viewers to take action.

Here’s a sampling of a few actions that you can use on your videos:

  • Subscribe: Give viewers a reason to subscribe by highlighting how often you’ll produce new videos. If you’re a host or personality, you could also end your videos asking for viewers to subscribe.
  • Like / Add to Favorites / Share: Simply asking your viewers to Like, Favorite, and Share within your video can yield some amazing results. The more you can get from your viewers the more likely the video appears in more places across YouTube.
  • Comments: Encourage your audience to participate by asking a specific question or a topic that they’d like you to cover in an upcoming video.
  • Video Graphics: Create a video “end slate” that appears at the end of the video to direct viewers to your website. Give them a lead magnet to increase email subscribers.
  • Link to your website: Within the first 2 lines of the YouTube description, make sure that you include a link back to your website. Be sure to include the “http://”, otherwise YouTube will not make the link clickable.

Here’s a great example from the Nerdist channel using Conan O’Brien to ask viewers to subscribe to their channel:

Nerdist Conan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community

While YouTube is a massive online video platform, don’t forget that it’s also one of the biggest social networks.

People are drawn to online video because unlike regular broadcast television, they can interact with their favorite channels and YouTubers. From video responses to parodies to musical covers, YouTube is an engaged community of viewers and creators.

So, listen to your audience and speak to them in a way that grows your following and empowers them to become your biggest ambassadors.

3 Easy Ways to Build Your Community on YouTube:

1. Ask the Viewers

Ask viewers for their opinions, ideas, or feedback on videos by leaving a comment. Ask them if they have any specific questions that they’d like you to cover.

Rather than asking general questions, ask specific questions. This will lead to more responses and a more engaged community.

For example, rather than saying “what would you like me to cover in my next video?” instead say “would you like me to cover a) Facebook marketing; b) Twitter marketing; or c) YouTube marketing?”

2. Feature the Community

Once you have feedback from your viewers, feature them and their content in your video. The goal is to make your community feel as if this is their channel by highlighting their comments and/or user-submitted content.

Consider doing a Google Hangout Q&A with a few of your most loyal fans. Seeing other viewers within your videos will not only build a loyal following, but also encourage passive viewers to become more active on your channel.

3. Reward Your Super Fans

Beyond the typical mention in your videos, look for ways to reward your super fans (both on and off YouTube).

Simple things such as a discount code, free month to your service or even a t-shirt can go a long ways to building an engaged and loyal following on YouTube.

Concluding Thoughts

While online video in general is still a confusing medium to most businesses, it does provide a fantastic platform for businesses looking to grow their audience beyond their blog.

Remember, Blendtec, a company that some may say sells a boring product (blenders), has over half a million subscribers on YouTube and is proof that when done correctly, YouTube is a powerful social network to attract new customers!

About the Author ~  Steve P. Young

Steve P. Young is the Director of Product Marketing for SmartShoot where marketers go to get stunning photos and video from the best local photographers and filmmakers. Connect with Steve on Twitter or LinkedIn.

image thanks to Maurits Knook (mauritsonline)

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SEO Copywriting Checklist: Why your site needs a newsletter. Right now.

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Newsletters have several SEO benefits for site ownersGreetings! Welcome to another installment in the SEO Copywriting Checklist video series.

In today’s video, Heather addresses a content must that a lot of small business owners – and even medium- to large-sized businesses – completely forget about, and that is having an email newsletter.

This discussion came up when Heather was doing the SEO Copywriting Certification training in Phoenix last week. She was talking about how newsletters can be really good for business, and people came back with: “Why do I need to worry about a newsletter? I already have a blog. Why would I have a newsletter on top of a blog?”

Tune in to hear Heather’s response: Here’s why your site needs a newsletter. Right now…

Think A RSS Feed Is All You Need? Think Again.

The folks at the SEO Copywriting workshop had a really good question about why the need for an email newsletter as well as their blog, because a lot of site owners think “Oh, I have a blog, and people can subscribe to it through my RSS feed, so I’m good. I don’t need to worry about taking that extra step.”

But the thing is…

– Many people don’t know what RSS is or how it works.

– Weekly (or monthly) newsletters provide quite a few benefits – and are definitely worth the time and effort.

Email Newsletters Have Some Great Advantages

Some of the benefits of email newsletters are…

– They can drive traffic to your site and increase social shares.

So for example, the SEO Copywriting newsletter that I run comes out every Tuesday. Even if I couldn’t tell the day of the week in analytics, I could certainly see that spike in web traffic and know it must be a Tuesday, because of the surge in social shares and site visitors.

And what I do to encourage that with my newsletter is to include a little preview of what the blog post is about, and then a link that takes readers directly to that post on the site.

So the article isn’t printed in the newsletter, just a little snippet with a link that sends readers back to the site.

– They provide you an opportunity to “connect” with your readers. 

Newsletters are a fantastic way to keep in touch with your readers. One of the things I enjoy doing with my newsletter is to write a brief introduction that maybe talks about the theme of the newsletter, or just about what’s been going on.

Especially if you are the brand, this is a great way you can connect with your readers as well!

– They are a great way to build a loyal following.

Newsletters also can help build an incredibly loyal following. You’ll have this core group of people who are really excited to read your newsletter every week. And they’ll even email you if they didn’t receive it, and say “I didn’t get your newsletter – can you send it to me? I really look forward to reading it!”

And that’s always fun!

– Newsletters help you sell more stuff.

Finally, newsletters provide an ideal channel for selling more stuff!

If you’re writing blog posts on a daily basis, chances are those posts are not promoting your products and services – because you’re writing strong, quality, informational content.

But say you’re having a sale, or there’s something special going on that you want folks to know about? Within the body of the newsletter, you can always include a little call-to-action block letting readers know about your sale or special event.

You can even set it up so that your newsletter subscribers are the first to know about sales or other special events. That way you can have that V.I.P. “velvet rope” appeal to readers, granting them access to exclusive benefits just by signing up!

So if you don’t have a newsletter, I encourage you to get one going. Or if you do have a newsletter but you haven’t done much with it in awhile, you might want to think about kicking it back into shape – and figure out what you need to do in order to build a bigger subscriber list and get more folks visiting your site.

Because I guarantee, once things start rockin’ and rollin’, you’re going to see some huge benefits!

Thanks for joining me! As always, if you have any questions or comments please let me know – you can leave them here in the comments below, or find me on Twitter @heatherlloyd, or email me directly at [email protected].

photo thanks to FontShop

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Make your SEO content shine in search with Schema

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SEO expert Carrie Hill shows how using Schema mark-up can be a valuable SEO skill setAs an SEO content writer, you’re constantly looking for ways to expand your offerings and set yourself apart from others in your niche.

While skill and great training can set you apart from a good many, being able to offer marked up content that is search-engine friendly is going to set you apart from 99% of the others.

It is an advanced SEO skill set worth its weight in gold!

Adding Schema.org protocols to the content you write – and that of your clients – can improve ranking results and add some much needed click-through support to search engine listings.

Advising clients to mark up their existing content with address, product, and review or event markup can expand the reach of the SEO content you write and, in turn, increase your freelance copywriting rates accordingly!

A few weeks ago, I gave a presentation to Heather Lloyd-Martin’s SEO Copywriting Certification students and grads about how to use Schema mark-up and its value as a prized SEO copywriting skill set. Here are some of the highlights:

What are the best Schema protocols to learn as an SEO content writer?

First, I recommend you start small.  Learn how to do one type of markup and do it well.

You can write the code for Schema.org and place the code in the Rich Snippets Testing Tool to see if it validates correctly.

Always check your validation before publishing and right after publishing.  (See the tools I like in the “Tools” section below.)

1. Location & Mobile

If your client has a location-based brick-and-mortar business, marking their address up with Schema.org/LocalBusiness markup makes a lot of sense.  It’s one of the easiest schemas to implement and it can affect not only search engine traffic, but I speculate this could help immensely with Mobile search in the future.

If you use Google Now, and are familiar with their “card’ system – you can see how data that is structured could be very useful to search engines and other local search websites.

Use this code by copying and pasting into a text editor like Notepad and replacing the generic text with your clients’ data:

<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/LocalBusiness”>

<a itemprop=”url” href=”http://www.ClientWebsite.com”><div itemprop=”name”><strong>Client’s Company Name Here</strong></div>

</a>

<div itemprop=”description”>A short description here – maybe 1-2 sentences. You CAN leave this out, but it helps if you can use keywords and the city state in the description</div>

<div itemprop=”address” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/PostalAddress”>

<span itemprop=”streetAddress”>1234 Oak Street, Suite 444</span><br>

<span itemprop=”addressLocality”>Anytown, </span><span itemprop=”addressRegion”>CO </span><span itemprop=”postalCode”>55555  </span><span itemprop=”addressCountry”>USA</span><br>

<div itemprop=”telephone”>555-123-4567</div>

</div>

</div>

2. E-Commerce Product Descriptions

Many writers are contracted to write new products descriptions for their clients.  Adding the markup to outline a product with Schema.org/Product or Schema.org/Offer code can help your client’s product stand out from the pack.

To go along with product and offer schema, review schema will add the rating stars to the search engine result listing, which can have a big impact on click through rates:

Bunn Thermal Coffee Maker

 

 

 

 

3. Events

Event markup is a fairly easy process, but is done rarely, and surprisingly  – not very well.

There are a handful of event companies and directories that do it right (check out Eventful.com for a good example) and that lack of accuracy is an opportunity for you.

Are you writing content about an event your client is putting together? Creating a listing that has an enhanced look in the search engine results is a great side –benefit.

You can see from the example below how useful that would be to the viewer:

Upcoming Events:Colorado

 

 

 

 

 

Essential Tools to Use

 

Closing Thoughts

This is an opportunity for you as an SEO copywriter to set yourself apart from your competition!

Some of the implementation of the Schema.org markup may take collaboration with the clients’ website teams, but the results could definitely be worth the effort.

You may consider offering the first bit of markup as a “freebie” to show the benefits with regards to ranking and click-through, proving to the client the value behind your expertise.

However you approach it, knowing more about how to make content rank well, and achieve a larger number of clicks, can only enhance your reputation as an SEO content writer.

 

About the Author ~ Carrie Hill

Carrie Hill is the Director of Online Marketing for KeyRelevance, LLC.  She specializes in technical SEO and social media – and absolutely loves email marketing.  She is also a regular author for SEMClubhouse.com.  When not immersed in all things search, she’s a big fan of hanging with her kiddos, reading, cooking, gardening.  Find Carrie on Twitter @CarrieHill or on Google+.

image thanks to crazyseo20 (Crazy Seo)

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Of Penguins, linkbait, and the user experience: #SEO best practices

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A mashup of Heather Lloyd-Martin's post about Google updates & SEO best practicesDid you hear that?

It’s the sound of Google finally dropping the other shoe.

Google distinguished engineer and head of web spam, Matt Cutts, announced yesterday that Google’s much-anticipated Penguin 2.0 has arrived. In his blog post, Cutts said “…the rollout is now complete…” and that “[a]bout 2.3% of English-US queries are affected…”

Cutts went on to say that the Penguin update has also finished rolling out for other languages worldwide.

For those SEOs, webmasters, and site owners that had taken heed and cleaned up their site content and backlink profiles beforehand, this “…next generation of the Penguin webspam algorithm…” shouldn’t cause any problems (although there is always a remote chance of collateral damage with any algo update).

More to the point, those who never engaged in any spammy linking or keyword-stuffing practices in the first place, and instead focused on providing a valuable user experience, shouldn’t be overly anxious about the Penguin 2.0 launch.

Would it surprise you to know that before Panda – much less Penguin – was even a twinkle in Google’s eye, Heather was talking about the need to create quality content focused on the persona-defined reader? And encouraging SEOs and site owners to move beyond linkbait?

Me neither.

So as a nod to Penguin 2.0’s arrival, and as a shout-out to Heather for her vision and passion, here’s a mashup of her written and video posts around Google’s Penguin updates and SEO copywriting best practices… Enjoy!

 

SEO content strategies for Penguin UpdateSEO content strategies for Google’s Penguin Update

From this video post published just over a year ago when the first Penguin update hit, Heather’s counsel retains its relevancy. It is every bit as applicable to this second Penguin rollout as it was to the first!

Her message? Do the right thing and don’t fear the Penguin.

 

Going beyond linkbaitGoing beyond linkbait – why you need good, original content

In this post written in the fall (October) of 2009, long before the arrival of those cute black-and-white animal updates, Heather urges SEO content writers and online businesses to write for their audience, not for SEO’s sake.

“…better search rankings, better conversions and a better connection with your customers. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all about?”

 

Dont fear the PenguinHow to stop worrying about Google updates…and learn to love writing really great SEO copy!

Here is a second video post Heather addressed to the Google-stressed, written after Matt Cutts warned that the next Penguin update would be “jarring” to SEOs and webmasters.

Published in August of 2012, here Heather encourages site owners to move past their Google-fear and learned helplessness, and their ensuing content generation paralysis.

“…instead of being all fearful about what Google is going to do next, think of what’s going on as an opportunity: Good content is still good for Google.”

 

Suffering from Content Mullet Syndrome?Does your site suffer from “content mullet” syndrome?

Remember those mullets from the 70’s and early 80’s? You know – “business up front, party in the back”?

Once upon a time they were considered hip, even attractive. But today…not so much.

The same goes for your site content. Tune in to this video post as Heather explains what a “content mullet” looks like, and what to do about it.

 

Keyword DensitySEO keyword density: lose this relic and adopt best practices

Know how to make Heather grind her teeth? Ask her about “keyword density”…

In this video post published exactly two years’ ago today, Heather explains why there is no such thing as keyword density anymore.

Unless you’re stuck in a time warp and writing content for Alta Vista rankings, it’s time to put this SEO bone down. Really.

“You can party like it’s 1999, but don’t write SEO copy that way!”

 

image thanks to cnystrom (Chris Nystrom)

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

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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.