Category Archives: E-Tail Category Content

From Blah to Fab, Freshen Up Your Web Copy Like These Sizzling Sites

By My Web Writers

The dreaded website.  You’ve been delaying that “website refresh” (for like, months now.)  Why is it so difficult to keep an online presence current? Most likely, it’s because writing website copy as a non-web writer can be very intimidating and time consuming. There are search engine optimization guidelines to garner the best possible results, flair to create, and brand enforcement guidelines. Sometimes, it’s easier to just leave the website alone.

But making (and updating) a great website doesn’t mean adding thousands of words of copy. You just have to choose the right words. Take apple.com, for example. Known for its minimalist style, this website doesn’t inundate you with words; in fact, you’ll be blown away by the size of the main image (usually an ad for its latest and greatest product) on its homepage. It utilizes perhaps the most important trick in website copywriting: succinct headlines and subtitles. If you’re looking for something other than its latest release, the navigation pane at the top is simple and clean. And Apple’s search tool is highly effective in helping you find specific information if you want to drill down further.

Another great, easy-to-read website is Groupon.com. With the flattering green background, easy-to-read details, and simple font, browsing through Groupon is better than a walk through a mall on any given day – and probably less expensive! Once you click on a deal, the copy is succinct, usually a bit entertaining, and easy-to-follow. Groupon speaks one-on-one with the customer, one of the most important tools in a web copywriter’s bag. The vendor site is also a breeze at grouponworks.com. Success stories in video form line the top half of the page, and navigation tools are just below.

Would you believe a public library’s annual report is one of our favorite sizzling sites? The St. Louis County Library District 2012 Annual Report is a unique presentation. It’s chock full of visuals (videos, pictures, graphs), easy-to-read content with great font choices, simple navigation tools, and links to its website when necessary. It’s a unique way to tell a story, from a library, the home of many stories.

Mailchimp.com subscribes to the belief that less is more. “Send better email,” it says on its homepage. By stating this one fact, there is no question about the sole purpose of MailChimp, which is yet another web writer’s trick. They even have compelling, well written success stories in their MailChimp at Work section.

In general, when freshening your web copy:

  • make sure that titles and subtitles include that page’s keywords,
  • check for grammar, spelling, and usage issues.
  • run questionable copy through Grammarly and Copyscape.
  • make sure sales, product, and seasonal information is up-to-date.
  • check analytics to see which pages visitors usually flow to before and after visiting the page you’re working.
  • update broken, old, or non-converting hyperlinks.
  • try writing to capture a new audience.  Add semantically relevant keywords to the copy.

There are many other factors to consider when writing your web copy, too. Font style and size, colors, images, accurate and concise page titles, use of white space, and killer headlines all count toward the legibility of your website. So tell us, what are your favorite websites? What makes yours easy to read?

~Joanne


Other Posts:

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Guidelines for Writing E-Tail Category Content

Seven Local Angles to Address in Content

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Filed under Analytics, Audience, Blog Writing Tips, Capturing Audience, Content, E-Tail Category Content, Grammar, Revising & Proofreading, SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Content Improved our Client’s Keyword Reach and Searchlight Mapped It

By My Web Writers

Today, I’m off to the 2013 Conductor C3 conference in New York to talk about actionable, content strategies and ideas.  As a sneak preview, huddle in for a snapshot of how adding and refreshing content was successful for one of My Web Writers’s clients. We used Searchlight to map the progress.

Before Content:

It amazes me how some Internet Marketers glibly preach, “content is king” and yet remove content fields at the tops and bottoms of their web pages.  Why?

Some e-tailers believe that words clutter a page’s look, while others lack the manpower, planning, and budget for content.  “Pictures are worth a thousand words,” right?

A year ago, one of My Web Writers’s clients embarked on a site redesign.  Two weeks before launch the redesign team informed us of the project and that they needed a lot of content quickly.  Unfortunately, this customer did not plan for content and thus didn’t have the budget until 2013 to add content to a significant number of blank pages.  Sales and SEO suffered during the wait.

Our team was able to put the final pages of content up by February 2013.  Then, we went back and attacked pages that hadn’t been touched in over a year.  Because we kept spreadsheets of what had been refreshed and when it had been refreshed and had the advantage of using Searchlight, Conductor’s keyword tool and Google Analytics, we were able to identify which urls needed new and improved content.For Slideshow- Where to start optimizing

What Kind of Content?

In 2012, I’d worked with Conductor’s Searchlight tool for about a year before attending the C3 conference as a participant.  During one of the evening socials, a camera crew interviewed me about my Searchlight experience.

This year, I’m going to touch on what content to add and where to add it on your website.  In general, deliver the content that your keywords promise, be mindful of spelling and grammar, show and don’t tell the story, and reach out to customers to help you with user-generated content.  Employ writers who combine product knowledge, category facts, and persona data with SEO, marketing, and customer-service savvy.

After Content

June- August 18, 2013 Conductor Keyword Pipeline Graph

By April we were beginning to see traction with not only the client’s most strategic keywords, but a plethora of other industry terms that had been under-performing, simply because picture-only pages now offered conversion-inspiring content.

Sales improved.

Do you have a similar story?

By all means, if you’ll be at #C3NY, please come over, say “hi,” and share your story!

~Jean


Other Posts:

Twenty-five Effective, Call-to-Action Phrases in E-commerce Content

Ten Tips for Starting a Social Media Conversation

Tell a Better Story: Tips and Tricks from Mark Twain

Content for Less, Fat Brain Toys Involves Customers in Content Creation

Learn from Websites with Above-the-Fold Content

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Filed under Algorithms, Analytics, Conferences, Content Marketing, E-Tail Category Content, Keywords, My Web Writers Introduction

Learn from Websites with Above-the-Fold Content

By My Web Writers

It’s amazing how many e-commerce companies don’t offer content in the top half of their web pages.  A picture is worth a thousand words, but an Internet page without words is an opportunity missed and it leaves room for confusion.

When we write content for e-commerce sites, the ultimate goal is to entice consumers to buy the website’s products or services.  Written content is an additional tool in your conversion toolbox.

Let’s see how above-the-fold content successfully reaches out to customers on the following websites:

Starbucks

Starbucks warms its readers up to a cupful of coffee with its content.

Starbucks

The adjectives and story go down smoothly and the font sizes and styles are easy on the eyes.  There’s an obvious call to action that drives the reader deeper into the purchasing funnel.  Starbucks doesn’t confuse the reader with too many choices.

Baby Einstein

Each page at Baby Einstein ties together what you see with how you use it. Baby Einstein

Sharing ideas about how to play with and teach baby using Baby Einstein products is exactly what new parents and Google appreciate.

Fanimation

You can use words to better direct traffic through your site. Fanimation

Fanimation invites customers to take personal tours through the major categories in their fan store.

American Spice

AS Baking Content

 

The content on this American Spice category page marries baking with memories from a certain time of year.  You can create emotional and psychological connections to categories or products with word pictures.  We like the play on the words, “Hot Deals” with spices warming up customers.  However, the link takes buyers to a horizontal category page verses a vertical product page. This link might serve better at the bottom of the baking supplies page, after customers have searched through all of the products, but still are looking for more suggestions. We’d also change the graphic’s wording into two sentences.

Amazon

Amazon isn’t pretty, but it gets the job done and it ranks at the top of search engine results. Amazon tv

Notice that Amazon also moves buyers deeper into television verticals through the content linking.  Some people notice words before they notice pictures.  Don’t forget the words!

White CastleWhite Castle

White Castle has a social media presence to go with their yummy pictures.  They haven’t forgotten to make your mouth-water with words that sell burgers!  Notice they suggest how to freeze and reheat sliders.  Did you know how to do that?  Now, you might buy a few extra just to try a reheated, late-night snack at home.

White Castle offers recipes and videos to sell even more burgers. Show people how to eat and they will eat!

 Your Favorite?

What are some of your favorite above-the-fold content pieces?  Share them with us!


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Filed under Capturing Audience, E-Tail Category Content, Website Linking, Words Which Sell

Content for Less- Fat Brain Toys Involves Customers in Content Creation

By My Web Writers

Toys that Use Words

Fat Brain Toys doesn’t play around when it comes to website content.  Owner, Mark Carson, has always supported written content on the site’s category and product pages; but, Matt Hansen, Director of Marketing, says that it was only about three months ago that the educational toy retailer really started developing blog content.

It seems like many marketers attend webinars and read articles that explain the importance of content to conversions and search engine rankings, but then they return to work and leave out the paragraphs.  Why?

Content creation is expensive.

Blog Sales Powered by Writers

Hansen says that Fat Brain Toys “employs three in-house writers with a variety of skill levels, but listens to feedback from many internal and external stakeholders.”  You can sense the community when you visit the site.

Play is Fat Brain Toys’ blog.  Each week, the writers add videos, newsy snippets, and creative articles around a theme.  But, how does the company curate so much content without straining their budget?

play

In a green box at the top of the Play blog, writers click and find a call for

 “content from leaders in the toy industry, leaders in the world of raising children, and great thinkers who believe in pure play. Each piece of content will be shared with HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of visitors. As a contributor to PLAY, you’ll be given full contributor/byline credit with a short bio listing. We will also actively encourage link sharing. Fat Brain Toys will share a link to your site, and we hope you’ll share a link to your published PLAY content on your site as well.”

Who Would Write for Free?

The secret to securing inexpensive content is to embrace loyal fans and toy industry leaders, who want to build authorship profiles by using Play as their publisher.

The potential sales win-fall for Fat Brain Toys is notable. Many writers will write for article bylines just to increase exposure of their own personal brands, products, books, and speaking portfolios. Google authorship gives incentive for many writers to secure their personal brands this way. Between the free content and social sharing by writers, Play is revving up a sales engine.

This is the content creation model that many business leaders are thinking about and talking about at conferences and in meetings, but few are making it happen.  Fat Brain Toys is connecting and creating the model.

If You Can’t Buy It, Build It

Mark Carson also created the company’s unique review system.  He and his in-house team built an automated content contributor under each toy’s product description.

FBT Reviews

Consumers find content that details available options and hazards, linked articles from Play, related products and categories, accessory options, and other consumer reviews and rankings of age/gender usage. All of this data aggregates and moves the products up or down in the “new”, “shop by age”, or “shop by gender” sections of the site.

Google wants valuable content and this system offers it to parents.

Parents Help Parents with Special Perspectives

Carson also invented another consumer-generated content resource that is highly-valuable to the special needs and elderly populations.

Special needs

Parents, teachers, and caretakers explain how they use the toys with children and adults with special needs. There is a ranking system for the toy’s value index and the toy’s IQ that helps shoppers evaluate how their child or adult might use the toy.

Toy IQ

Again, the content offers value to shoppers and there’s a community of trust and interaction being built with the brand through the content interaction.

The Future of Content Creation

If you love or believe in a brand, chances are you won’t care about getting paid to promote it. You’ll contribute for intrinsic rewards like attention or the sense of helping others.

Fat Brain Toys knows that its core consumers are passionate about educating children and contributing to a better world through play and it has tapped into these passions.

Does this totally remove the need for in-house or freelance writers and editors? No.  Someone needs to curate and optimize the content.  The in-house team fills in where the consumer leaves off.

Your website still needs writers and editors who are masters of brand positioning, product knowledge, spelling, grammar, sentence structure, usage, and search engine optimization.  Fat Brain Toys hasn’t lost sight of that fact, but it does demonstrate how to involve your audience.

What would inspire your shoppers to interact more with your website’s content?

~Jean


Other Posts:

What is Google Authorship and What Do Writers Need to Know About it?

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Filed under Audience, Blog Writing Tips, Business Strategy, Capturing Audience, Content, Content Marketing, E-Tail Category Content, Editors, Favorite Websites, Local, Product Descriptions, Project Management, Queries & Articles, Reviews, Social Media, Time Management, Writing Careers

Internal Linking in Content: Dos and Don’ts

By My Web WritersContent Linking

Now more than ever, links are everywhere! Anything that’s dynamic, from web sites and social media to e-newsletters and PDFs, often contain live links. This is how we reference information and more importantly, how we drive traffic from one place to the next. Internal linking is an especially powerful tool because it keeps visitors browsing a web site longer and helps to strategically direct them to other content. This following guide of Dos and Don’ts will help to highlight the most effective ways to use internal linking in content.

DO use specific anchor text

The anchor text is what is highlighted with the link and made clickable. Most commonly this text tends to be a phrase such as “click here” or “read more here,” but this is considered to be non-specific. When search engines index your web site, they count the anchor text as a keyword. Instead, you should use a specific and strategic word or phrase as your linking anchor to further increase the search engine optimization of your web pages.

DO link to each page at least once

Every page within your web site should have at least one link that directs viewers to it from another page. It’s easy to remember to link to some of your biggest and most popular pages over and over, such as your homepage, about page or contact page. But don’t forget that you created each page on your web site for a reason and so they should be able to flow easily from one other. Additionally, you need to link all of your pages for best SEO results.

DON’T overwhelm your content with links

In an effort to link internally to each page at least once, you may begin to overwhelm your content with too many links. Choose the content carefully and strategically. Make sure it makes sense to visitors as to why you’re directing them to another page within your site. Linking should feel natural and helpful, not misplaced or forced.

DON’T forget to check and double your links

You’ve put the effort into carefully picking out the content and placement for your links; now don’t waste this on directing visitors to a dead or incorrect URL. Check and double check every one of your links to be sure they point in the direction in which they were designed. Capturing a visitor’s interest enough to get them to click on a link is a very valuable thing. If this takes them to an error page, you will likely lose their interest and possibly their business.

 DO make your URLs into links

This may seem like an obvious “Do,” however, this error can still be found on many web sites big and small. Rather than turning anchor text into a live link, web sites will mistakenly list the URL of another page. By doing this, you miss out on the opportunity to index additional keywords, hurting your SEO. Also, this hurts the professionalism of your web site. Listing a “raw” URL makes the content look sloppy and unfinished. Instead, choose strategic anchor text and link this directly to where you wish visitors to go next.

This list of Dos and Don’ts has hopefully helped to provide you with a better understanding of the industry’s best practice of internal linking in content. Whether this is for your business web site or your personal blog, you can better harness the power of internal linking by recalling the information of this quick guide. ~Stephanie


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Filed under Blog Writing Tips, Content, E-Tail Category Content, Local, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Website Linking

Seven Local Angles to Address in Your Content

My Web Writerslocal angle

As a local business or blogger, location alone is not enough to help maximize your reach to your target audience. It’s equally important to highlight local angles in your online content as well. In doing so, you create a niche market and improve search engine optimization (SEO) for those who may be searching by specific location. This is a powerful tool that can be easily incorporated into any type of content, no matter the size or industry. Take a look at these seven ideas for addressing local angles in your content:

1. Highlight other well-known businesses

As a local business you should be in touch and in tune with the fellow businesses that surround you. If you have a synergistic relationship with them, it’s easy to incorporate their services or skills into your own content by including their name and location. In doing so, you harness a portion of their SEO power for yourself. Link back to their web site and refer to them by their full business name. For content ideas, you can write about how your services complement each other and create an even greater benefit for customers who patronize you both.

2. Include landmark photos and tag appropriately

Another way to highlight your immediate surroundings is to include a mention of local landmarks, well-known businesses or tourist destinations in your content. All of these are heavily searched terms online. By including these same terms in your content as well as photos that are tagged with relevant keywords, you will improve your SEO for local searches. Try taking your own photos and writing about the personal meaning they have to you or your business. Maybe they’re something you see every day or something that inspires you.

3. Feature a local blogger

A quick search should provide you with many options for local bloggers in your area. They can cover an array of topics including opinion, sports, community events or night life. Reach out to one that is relevant to your content and ask if they would be willing to contribute a guest post for you to use. Even more simply, ask for permission to re-blog an article that relates to your business. Be sure to link back to the blogger and include their name and bio in your own content to maximize the impact.

4. Write a review

If you’ still stumped with how to include a local angle in your online content, try writing a review for a business or event that you know well. People are often searching for reviews online and by offering relevant and valuable content you will draw in more viewers to your own web site.

5. Make a resource guide

This is similar to writing a review, but instead you create an entire guide of multiple businesses or events in which you can offer some expertise. Give tips and advice that people can use to get the best experience and utilize links and keywords to your resources as much as appropriate.

6. Cover a community event

Businesses and night life are hot topics for local content, but so are community events. People are often looking for things to do or more information on a festival or community gathering they heard about. To incorporate an event into your content, try writing a “what to expect” feature where readers can learn what all is going on and when. Again, this creates valuable content which drives more readers and increases SEO.

7. Link to other local sites as often as possible

For all of the local angle ideas mentioned, it is critical that you include links to external sites for the different businesses, events and resources you reference. Linking to a web site that has strong SEO will help improve yours as well and will rank you higher in searches for the keywords you both share.

By adding a local angle to your content on a regular basis, you will improve your reach toward your target audience. For local businesses and bloggers this is a critical tool for maximizing your online potential and the impact of your content marketing! ~ Stephanie

Other MWW Articles:

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National Brands Without Physical Stores Struggle to Rank

 

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Filed under Business Strategy, Content, Content Marketing, E-Tail Category Content, Local, Mobile, Product Descriptions, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media

Is Your e-Store Prepared for Summer Shoppers?

My Web Writers

E-StoresAre you marketing and merchandising your website for this summer’s sales potential? According to Internet Retailer, the U.S. Commerce Department said that U.S. online sales totaled $225.5 billion in 2012, up 15.8% from $194.7 billion in 2011.  With the exception of sales in categories not commonly bought online—

Internet Retailer estimates that e-commerce accounted for 7.6% of total retail sales during the year, up from 6.8% a year earlier. Commerce Department estimates are based on a quarterly survey of more than 11,000 U.S. merchants.

It’s no wonder that such a large marketing emphasis is placed on preparing shopping web sites for each new season and sale.  Every effort counts.   As the weather finally heats up for the summer, many e-stores have rolled out their new merchandise and revamped their web sites. All businesses, regardless of size or industry, can learn from other creative and competitive websites. Let’s take a look at three examples of big name brands and how they’re poised to sell more this summer:

 

1.  Target.com

Target is known for its chic and trendy styles and its unique in-store shopping experience. Target pays special attention to creating this same vibe in its e-store. The web site design is simple, clean and incorporates the signature Target red color to promote brand recognition. Though this main design remains the same year-round, the homepage content is customized to the upcoming holidays and season. Going on right now is a sale on patio furniture and family swimwear.  Aside from the featured sales, Target has changed the photos to represent each of its main shopping categories to be summer-themed. For example the “Women’s” category shows a summery dress and the “Sports and Outdoors” category is represented with an above ground pool. These images, though subtle, entice shoppers to click and browse in areas they may have had no original interest in shopping.

What you can learn: The takeaway from Target’s summer-poised marketing is that images are powerful. If you are trying to sell seasonal items, then every image should be carefully chosen to remind shoppers of all the things they enjoy about that season. Even if they weren’t originally in the market for a pool, customers will be intrigued to click on images that pique their interests.

Target.com’s weakness is its lack of content.  It’s missing tips or suggestions to help customers visualize how to use its products.

Target.com is ready to go for the summer, though the "d" in "deals" should be capitalized.

Target.com is ready to go for the summer, though the “d” in “deals” should be capitalized and the exclamation point should be dropped. Oops. Can you spot the other capitalization errors?

2. Petsmart.com

Petsmart’s images are ready for summer.  The web site’s main sliding banner greets customers with various pictures of dogs running outside on sunny days. The other still images on the homepage are also of animals in outdoor settings. Moving beyond the homepage, the main items featured are geared toward use in the summer. For example, the dog section has leashes, harnesses and bike trailers aimed at outdoor lovers on the go.

What you can learn: While it’s only April, Petsmart has already positioned its web site with the most summer-related items first.   Like end-caps in physical stores, identify your store’s most desirable and in-demand products and place them at the forefront of the e-store.

Petsmart needs to add seasonal content.  Currently, its homepage bottom content is duplicated on several category pages, which isn’t great for search or for customers.  Petsmart.com could address pet owners’ most frequently asked questions about each category in those spaces.  It’s missing opportunities to educate new animal owners about the pros and cons of buying fencing, habitat accessories, and other pet supplies.

 

Petsmart.com was ready to take us outside for the summer, even though it was still snowing in the East and Midwest.

Even though it’s a cold spring in many parts of the United States, Petsmart.com helps consumers visualize summer outside with Fifi and Fido.

3. Gap.com

Gap is a brand that adapts to every new season. The colors and styles of their clothes act as decorations for the web site and can change the whole tone from summer to winter.  Clothing stores start advertising their new lines nearly a season in advance. Today, Gap.com is vibrant, bright and cheery with summer apparel.  Even the background graphic on the web site has been changed to read “Be Bright” in art-deco style lettering. From shorts and capri’s to sundresses and tank tops, one would think it’s already August at Gap.com.

Gap.com employs a clever trick with it's images. Notice the blue highlight of phrases that look like hyperlinks. You're encouraged to click the phrase, which leads to products.

Gap.com employs a clever trick with some images. Notice the blue highlight of “uniform shorts.” This phrase looks like a hyperlink. It’s not, but when clicked, the image is linked to the corresponding shorts store. Also, on this page, Gap transitions from spring to summer through use of a jacket with shorts and words that close out spring, while promoting summer.

What you can learn: Not all e-stores and web sites can be as adaptable to changing for each season as Gap, but if you are – utilize it! Tailor your font, graphics, background and colors to represent each season. Summer products seem to “pop” so much more when accompanied by other summer colors on the site and when your products look good, they sell.

However, the Gap is content light.  Sentences are placed over images like memes; but, there are very few words in text above or below page folds.  The Gap performs fairly well in search, but it’s likely that online conversions would improve with carefully-crafted content that adds value to the customers’ shopping experiences.

Overall, the common theme among these e-stores is to move your seasonal and most desirable products to the front. Incorporate the colors of the seasons, but stay true to your brand.  Place seasonal items on your homepage and tailor your images and content toward creating vibes that put shoppers in the mood for summer.

Don’t forget those whose experiences are enhanced beyond the layout, art, and images by the words they read.  Store content should educate the consumer, complement images, and describe the feel of the season.

Is your e-store prepared for summer shoppers?

~Stephanie & Jean

Other MWW Articles:

National Websites without Physical Stores Struggle to Rank

Guidelines for Writing E-Tail Category Content

Five Ways to Prepare Your E-Store for the Holidays

Nab These Call-to-Action Verbs

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Filed under Business Strategy, Content, Content Marketing, E-Tail Category Content, Favorite Websites, Local, Marketing, Merchandising, Mobile, SEO (Search Engine Optimization)