Category Archives: Research Tips

Keyword Research Ideas for Content Writers

Keyword research

When creating content, you want to be sure that you’re strategically using keywords that will enhance your search engine optimization (SEO) and help readers find your work. To give your writing a competitive advantage, it’s not enough to blindly write and hope that search engines will find your work. Rather, you must carefully think about the words you’re using. Even words with similarly meanings can have drastically different search engine results and so you want to be sure to pick the keywords that will serve you best.

Before you even begin writing, there are some key steps you should take to identify the most relevant and powerful keywords to include in your content. Here are five pieces of advice that will help to point you in the right direction for researching effective and meaningful keywords.

Think like your audience

Try and place yourself in the mindset of the audience you’re trying to reach. What are these people likely searching for? What terms or words are they most likely to use in their searches? For some audiences, these might be very technical and professional terms, for others the keywords might be more common and casual. Even before you research your keywords, research your audience and the terms they most commonly use.

Choose a popular niche

The terms “popular” and “niche” may seem to contradict each other, especially when it comes to keywords. Should you pick popular and frequently searched terms and risk competing with millions of other writers or should you pick a smaller niche where you have a better chance of making an impact? The answer is you need a balance of both. Research keywords that are popular and research keywords that are unique. Then develop a short list that includes some from both. This balance will help give your content strengths in both areas and increase your SEO.

Use meta descriptions

Meta descriptions are descriptions of your content (in 150 characters or less) and are excellent opportunities for search engine optimization. Before you begin writing, create your meta description as a way to focus your content and highlight your most relevant keywords. This description will then act as a very succinct summary that will help tailor the rest of your writing and help search engines to more easily find and archive your content.

Take advantage of free tools

There are a lot of free tools out there that can aid in your keyword research. Keywordspy.com provides a stealthy way for you to review the keywords that your competitors are using and clearly identify the most profitable combinations of keywords and ad copy to use. Another tool with a free option is semrush.com which most uniquely provides you with a visual comparison of various SEO metrics. This is helpful for identifying trends and opportunities that might be missed when looking only at numbers.

Additionally, one of the most effective websites for researching keywords is InboundWriter.com. With a free account you can research terms and phrases before you begin writing to see how they rank among other options. Then, as you incorporate high ranking keywords into your content, you will be given a score for how optimized your content is, while being offered tips for how to improve its ranking.

Don’t overdo it

Overloading your article with long lists of keywords won’t better serve your SEO or your readers. Instead, the keywords will appear crammed and read awkwardly since they likely won’t flow with the text. Narrow down your long list of keywords to just the top few that will provide you with the most powerful results. Then, spread your keywords evenly throughout your writing so they appear to be more organic.

Use these five pieces of advice to make your content even more powerful with the use of keywords. While SEO can sometimes be an intimidating and confusing topic, these tips offer some easy and straightforward ways that will help you to write even more effectively and reach an even broader audience!    ~Stephanie

Share your insight! What other ways have you found helpful for researching keywords?

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Filed under Blog Writing Tips, Keywords, Research Tips

Advanced LinkedIn Tips for Writer Research

By My Web Writers

LinkedIn is often thought of as purely a job networking site, but today’s LinkedIn can be a writer’s secret researching friend, too. We’ve dug into the LinkedIn site and found some advanced ways that it can help writers research people, articles, and stories:

Use it to Network

This is perhaps the most obvious way to use LinkedIn for research.  The network is filled with professionals and experts in every field imaginable. The key is not being afraid to ask about what you’re researching. Many writers are surprised to find that the experts are more than happy to offer material or guidance on where to find information on their area of expertise. They will probably have plenty of ideas that you never even thought of! Personally message an expert and see if they can help you out.

Join a LinkedIn Group

There are LinkedIn groups on just about every subject possible. Consider joining a group or even just taking a look at what others have been sharing. LinkedIn will suggest some groups you may like, you can join a group already established, or you can create your own group. Using Groups on LinkedIn is a great way to research. You’ll have an entire network of people ready to answer your questions or at least give you advice on where to find the best information.

Create a Poll

On your LinkedIn homepage, click on “More” and then “Polls.” Type in what you’re researching to see if anyone has already posted a poll about your topic. If they haven’t, create your own poll and see what types of responses you get. Not only can people participate in your poll, but they can comment on it as well. This is a great way to do research and your poll is open to all of LinkedIn, getting a wide range of responses for your research.

Use your Posting ModuleLinkedIn Research

If you have question you want to post to your network on LinkedIn, consider posting it in your “Posting Module” on your homepage. This is almost like a “status update” or a “Tweet.” You can decide if only people in your network can respond, or if it is open to anyone. You might be surprised at the number of responses you get to the question in your Posting Module.

Current Events

LinkedIn Today holds the latest news on the topics you’re researching. Most of this information is coming directly from the experts, not from the general news media. Use LinkedIn Today to research what the professionals are saying about your topic. You’ll find some articles and information that you might not find anywhere else.

LinkedIn might not have the actual information you are looking for when it comes to research, but it can definitely point you in the right direction if you know how to use it. Don’t be afraid to ask the experts for help, and take some time to do some digging in Groups and LinkedIn today.  ~Natalie

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Filed under Pinterest, Research Tips, Writing Resources

Tricks to Using LinkedIn and Quora to Research Topics and Articles

By My Web Writers582041_computer_1

LinkedIn and Quora can be used for much more than meets the eye. Most think of LinkedIn as a professional website for job hunting, and some see Quora as a question-and-answer site with no more credibility than Wikipedia. If you know a few tricks, however, both can be excellent resources for researching topics and articles. Whether you’re a content writer or researching for a school assignment, turning to these sites can provide some great information, or at least point you in the right direction for other outstanding sources.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is no doubt a great source for networking and showcasing your list of job skills for potential employers, but it can also be used to research topics and articles. LinkedIn Today is the perfect spot to see what other professionals are sharing. Like the “How to use LinkedIn Today” video says, “There’s too much information out there, and not enough time in the day.”

LinkedIn Today gives you information from industry professionals and experts who have knowledge to share about specific topics. Not only can you search for a specific topic on LinkedIn Today, but can then filter down the results even further based on time posted, industry, or even company.

You can also set up your LinkedIn Today posts to show up on your LinkedIn homepage. You can select specific topics or even people to follow. The articles will be catered to your specifications!

Join a LinkedIn Group and read what others are asking or sharing.  Some of the best, blog post topics can be formed just by looking at forum questions.

Quora

“Anyone can ask, answer, or edit questions on Quora,” is the welcome you get once you’ve logged in to your Quora page.  Get answers from real people from all over the world. The answers might come from doctors, lawyers, writers, etc.

Quora has some great tips on getting started and how to decide which information makes for a good answer. For example, a good answer will often include a link to a research article or website that will provide more detailed information. The best answers are voted to the top of the often long list of answers.

If you can’t find a question that’s already been asked about your topic, ask the question yourself! You’ve got a world of people out there waiting to answer, so why not ask? The answers could open up a world of information you had no idea was out there and can be quoted in your blog post.

While LinkedIn and Quora shouldn’t be your only means of researching, the information found can certainly point you in the right direction. LinkedIn and Quora can offer analysis from industry experts and professionals that you might not otherwise find. ~Natalie

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Filed under LinkedIn, Quora, Research Tips, Revising & Proofreading, Social Media, The Writing Process

6 Tips for Proper Linking in Blog Posts

My Web Writers

Linking to other blogs builds relationships and gets you noticed in the content marketing world. When content generators see they are receiving links from you, they are more apt to visit your site, and possibly link back to it.  But, be advised that linking for linking’s sake is not recommended. Search engines have made it clear that content needs to offer readers value and not a plethora of junky links.link

Consider these six tips to building community by connecting to others when the connections fit your content:

1)     Link to those in your network: Regardless of your industry, you’ll likely have peers worthy of referrals.  Providing a positive endorsement or a link to a colleague or vendor builds community and ultimately drives traffic to your site.

2)      Link to fans: If you have an active readership, linking to their blog or other social media account is an effective way to foster engagement. Plus, it never hurts to thank readers for their loyalty.

3)     Link to supplemental/complementary information: In general, anything relevant to your blog topic is worthy of link consideration. Driving readers to other links can provide context and supplemental information on the topic to your readers. In time, readers will come to view you as an expert in your respective field.  As a word of advice, limit these types of links to five per post.  It’s possible to overwhelm readers with too much content.

4)      Provide link explanations. A good way to encourage visitors to click on external links is to provide a brief description about the content. Readers will be more apt to click than if the link lacks an explanation. No one wants to click on a link to find it’s really a virus or not what they expected. You could lose credibility or trust. And that translates into less traffic, and perhaps a shrinking bottom line.

5)     Make friends. If you’ve found a compelling blog post, why not contact the blog owner and inquire about exchanging links, or even guest posts? If your site is a source for relevant, high-quality information many will be willing to reciprocate to reap the rewards. Another scenario: Link to the other blog, then email the blogger to introduce yourself, mention the link, and ask them to consider linking to you.

6)      Another pro tip: Set your links to open in a new window. This keeps visitors on your site longer, and helps maintain fluidity in reading. For example, if you’re linking to a story about analytics, they might be interested, but want to keep reading your post. Opening the story in a new window allows them to browse to that tab or window–on their own time.

In short, linking is one of the many activities you can do to help better your SEO. The links should literally stand out and entice readers to click them. Make sure the links are relevant to the rest of your content and not too cluttered on the page.  Finally, familiarize yourself with the Penguin update, if you haven’t already, to ensure that you avoid exact match anchor text. When you properly link in your blog, you offer the reader other avenues to explore your topic more deeply.

~Lauren

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Filed under Blog Writing Tips, Citing Sources, Content, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Website Linking

Follow this Basic Style Guide for Writing in APA

by My Web Writers

Image Courtesy of the American Psychological Association- APAstyle.org

APA style is used broadly among academics, students, and researchers working in the social sciences and allows for the proper citation of the findings of others in a recognizable format. APA style breaks papers into manageable sections that help writers to effectively organize their thoughts and allow readers to more easily navigate material. Here are the basics to get you started.

APA papers should…

–          Be typed with 12-point font.

–          Use 8.5 x 11 inch paper with one-inch margins.

–          Contain a running header. The header should include the title of the paper flushed left and the paper number flushed right. The title page should be numbered page 1.

–          Contain four sections: Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.

Title Page

–          The title page should contain the running head. Note that the title should be in all capital letters.

–          The following—title, authors first, last name, and middle initial if applicable, and institution affiliation—should be centered at the upper half of the paper and should appear on separate lines.

–          The title page should be double spaced.

Running Head: TITLE OF YOUR PAPER                                             1

Title

Betty Ann Sue

University of the North Pole

Abstract

–          An abstract should be between 150 – 200 words.

–          It should include a summary of the paper’s main research points.

–          Do not indent the abstract.

–          List key words at the bottom of the text by indenting, writing keywords in italics and then listing them.

 Main Body

–          The paper should begin with the title centered below the header.

–          Use headings for each section of the paper.

–          Double space.

In-Text Citations

In-text citations include the author’s last name, year of publication and page number. The year of publication is specifically important to the social science field because it helps readers to quickly identify whether or not research is current. Here are a few samples.

According to Patterson (2001), “The subjects exhibited nervous behavior in unfamiliar environments” (p. 56).

Patterson (2001) found that “the subjects exhibited nervous behavior in unfamiliar environments” (p. 56); this is different from his earlier studies.

He stated, “The subjects exhibited nervous behavior in unfamiliar environments” (Patterson, 2001, p. 56); this is different from his earlier studies.

Reference List

–          The reference list appears on a separate sheet at the end of the paper.

–          The title should be centered and plain text.

–          Citations should be double-spaced with no extra spaces between citations.

–          Entries should be alphabetized by the last name of the first author listed for each resource.

–          Make sure you have an entry for each resource cited in your text.

–          For entries that are more than one line, all the subsequent lines should be indented one-half inch.

–          EasyBib is a free site that generates reference pages in a variety of writing styles. Using this resource may save time when compiling a reference list.

Check out the basic web and book formats below.

The format for citing a web resource is:

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of Online Periodical, volume number (issue number if available). Retrieved from http://www.includeaddresswithfullurl

The format for citing a book is:

Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Location: Publisher.

~Lindsey

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Filed under Citing Sources, Expository Writing, Persuasive Essay, Research Tips, Revising & Proofreading, Technical Writing, The Writing Process, White Papers

The Basics of Writing in MLA Style

by My Web Writers

Image Courtesy of the Modern Language Association- MLA.org

Formatting is an important component of any researched-based writing from high school essays to college term papers to published, academic work. For those who aren’t familiar with them, formatting styles can cause quite a headache, especially when left to the last minute. The best way to avoid the rush is to format before you begin writing and to follow the guidelines as you write.

In the humanities, MLA is the standard writing style for scholarly work. Students and professionals working in literature, cultural studies, media, and many commercial publications will need to understand and apply this style. Check out these tips to help you along the way.

MLA papers should…

–          be typed with 12-point font

–          use 8.5 x 11 inch paper with one-inch margins.

–          be double-spaced, with no spaces between paragraphs.

–          contain paragraphs with the first line indented one-half inch.

–          Page numbers should appear in the upper right hand corner. The author’s last name should appear before the page number.

First Page Formatting

–          List your name, the instructor’s name, the class and the date on separate lines. Like the body of the paper, the heading should be double spaced.

–          Include a centered title.

–          There should be one space between the title and the first line of text.

Betty Sue                                                                                            Sue 1

Mr. Howard

English 101

3 April 2012

Title

The first line of text should appear here. It should be followed by a second line of text. Notice that the first paragraph is indented.

In-text Citations

Generally, MLA uses author-page in-text citations. Citations allow the writer to give credit for ideas, paraphrases, and direct quotes that are not his or her own. Citations also allow readers to identify the sources for specific information in the paper and to correlate to the works cited page. In-text citations occur either directly after the quote or paraphrase or at the end of the sentence in which the quote or paraphrase is contained.  Notice that the end punctuation always appears after the last parenthesis. See the examples below.

“I sure hate flying airplanes” (Rider 16).

The girl says, “I sure hate flying airplanes,” even though she doesn’t mean it (Rider 16).

According to Rider, the girl “sure hates[s] flying airplanes” (16).

Works Cited Page

–           The works cited page appears on a separate sheet at the end of the paper.

–          The title should be centered and plain text.

–          Citations should be double-spaced with no extra spaces between citations.

–          All entries should identify the medium of publication (i.e. Print, CD, and Web).

–          EasyBib is a free site that generates reference pages in a variety of writing styles. Using this resource may save time when compiling a work cited page.

Basic book and web citations are shown below.

The format for citing a book is:

Author Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Year Published. Publication type.

The format for citing a web resource is:

Name of Author or Editor. Website Name. Version Number. Publisher or sponsor of site, date resource was created. Medium. Date material accessed. <URL> (If providing the URL is required.)

Additional Information

Most colleges and universities now have online writing labs with style guides that explain formatting in-depth. A few useful sites are listed below. MLA also prints style guides. Be sure to check out their website for any annual updates.

Modern Languages Association 

Purdue University Online Writing Lab 

Texas A&M University Writing Lab 

Utah Valley University Online Writing Lab 

~Lindsey

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Filed under Citing Sources, Queries & Articles, Research Tips, Revising & Proofreading, Technical Writing, The Writing Process

Guidelines for Writing E-Tail Category Content

by My Web Writers

Photo Courtesy of Geek Philosopher

As shoppers flock to stores for the holidays with their mobile phones, to buy everything from personal care products to electronics to even vehicles, consider the status of your product descriptions and category content.  When you update your e-stores, follow these guidelines for writing e-tail content.:

Inform Customers About the Details

Your first and greatest responsibility should be to inform readers about the e-tailer’s products. Take the time to read about the product you’ll be writing about. If possible, review it in person. Consider it as a potential customer would: what would you like to know? What stands out about the product? What is it made of? Where is it made?

Anticipate questions that customers would want answered, and then answer them. After you’ve written your content, read it aloud to someone. Ask her whether she feels your description adequately described the product. Is anything unclear? If so, address those issues.

Entertain

Your main goal in writing e-tail category content is to inform. But, you’ll also want to entertain. Let’s face it, most customers are more drawn to clever copy than to a dry recitation of facts. What is unique about the product? What is relevant about it today? Pull in those details and come up with a funny or intriguing “hook” that will make customers want to read further to learn more.  Category pages draw readers into the sales funnel of product level pages.  A sense of humor or smile that offers intriguing product uses or customer testimonials can build credibility and time on site.

Create Urgency

E-tailers are in business to sell. It’s great if your copy draws customers to the site, but the ultimate goal is for those customers to make a purchase. You can encourage purchases by writing content that creates a sense of urgency. You might mention multiple ways customers could use a product. You could mention that the product’s sale price is only valid for a limited time. Suggest that customers stock up by buying several of clearance items while they’re still available.

SEO Matters

Even if your writing is informative, entertaining, and creates a sense of urgency, you won’t reach many potential customers if you don’t employ good search engine optimization (SEO) principals.

There are many sites giving good information on how to optimize your content. But some basic ideas involve filling your copy with key words and phrases that potential customers would search for. In your content, link to other pages on the e-tailer’s site. Use popular keywords in your content’s titles and subtitles.

 Research

What if you utilize all these ideas, but your competition is still ranking higher than you in search engines or in sales? Research them! Look around their sites and take notes on what they do that seems to be effective. Try making a change or two on your own site and give it a few weeks to see whether those changes made a difference in traffic or sales. Then, try more ideas. Constantly be aware of what your competitors are doing, and use those ideas that will work for your site.

It’s not an easy environment to do business in. But by following a few basic rules, your e-tail company can achieve success.

~Susan

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Filed under Content, Descriptive Writing, E-Tail Category Content, Product Descriptions, Research Tips