Category Archives: SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

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:

Ten Content Tips for the Zero Moment of Truth Marketing Plan

My Mother Had ALS

Fat Brain Toys and User-Generated Content

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!


Other Posts:

How do I write content based on buyer personas?

Ten Tips for Starting a Social Media Conversation

Prioritize Your Social Media Channels

10 Content Tips for ZMOT Experts

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

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

A Beginner’s Guide to Penguin 2.0

by My Web Writers

You’ve heard of Penguin 2.0, but you feel like you’re living on an iceberg as far as understanding it. What exactly does this Google algorithm update do to your site?  We’re here to give you an overview of the latest on Penguin 2.0, which was launched May 22, 2013.

A Brief History

Penguin 1.0 was launched in April 2012. It targeted sites with inappropriate and/or questionable link profiles and poor anchor text that was too keyword-rich. The goal was to serve Google users with better, more relevant search results. Simple SEO was a great idea at first, but people began to manipulate the system. Google stepped up and created Penguin 1.0 to weed out the good from the bad.

Penguin 2.0 Targets Links

Penguin 2.0 differs from Penguin 1.0 in that it’s more comprehensive. It takes a look at the internal pages of a website and targets inbound shady linking behavior.

What are some common forms of shady linking?

  1. Paying another website to link to yours.
  2. Commenting on blog posts just to leave your exact match anchor text link.
  3. Posting your content on questionable blogs with links back to your blog.
  4.  Creating thin, run of the mill articles with links that get posted here, there, and everywhere.
  5. Receiving malicious, inbound links.  Check your link profile in Webmaster tools to find these.

Content is Still King

It’s simple, really. Your site needs stellar content. Remember, as you’re creating content, to not get “link happy.”  Mix up the anchor text in your links.

A few years ago, SEO’s would match link anchor text with the keyword associated with the link’s page.  Today, too many exact match links flag Google that the site might be over-groomed by spammers.  Penguin is sometimes known as the “over-optimization” penalty because of this action to make content less mechanical.

It is not a contest to see how many times you can link to your site- quite the opposite actually. Linking should occur naturally.

Penalties and Rewards

Google penalizes shady behavior like buying mass links, spamming social media or blogs, or displaying paid advertorials. Sites that follow the rules are rewarded with higher, overall search rankings.

You’ve been penalized. Now what?

If your site has been penalized and dropped in the overall rankings in search, don’t worry that all hope is lost forever. Find out why you were penalized, and fix the problem. Google’s Webmaster tools can help. Make sure your links are relevant.  In some cases, you may need to disavow or content site owners to ask them to remove the links.

As long as you’ve been creating good content with trustworthy and relevant links, Penguin 2.0 likely didn’t change where you rank in search results. If it did impact your rankings, find out what you did wrong and how to fix it. Let Penguin 2.0 be your friend in figuring out what good content is and how you will present it. ~ Natalie

Other Articles about Penguin 2.0 across the Web:

Google’s Penguin 2.0 Algorithm; The Definitive Guide

SMX West Insights

Google’s Penguin Update: 5 Types of Issues Harming Some Affected Websites

How to Identify a Link Profile Susceptible to Penguin

5 Important Link Removal Facts Post Penguin 2.0

Writer Tips for the Google Penguin Penalty

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Filed under Algorithms, Penguin, Website Linking

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


Other Posts:
Seven Local Angles to Address in Your Content

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What Would History Say About Google Authorship Profiles?

Writer Tips for Google’s Penguin

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

How to Optimize YouTube Content and Maximize Hits

By My Web WritersYouTube-Official-Logo

YouTube stores videos of every genre imaginable. From inspiring, educational and serious videos to funny, cute and creative ones, if you search for something on YouTube you will likely find hundreds of results. But the videos that appear in searches are not as random as you might think. Rather, they are the result of content that has been properly optimized to maximize its visibility. Content optimization is a critical part of increasing search traffic, views, subscribers and ultimately hits to your web site. The good news is that you too can optimize your YouTube video content by paying special attention to these areas when uploading your next big hit:

Title

You video’s title is the first way it communicates with potential viewers. This means it’s critical that the title captures interest and compels people to not only click play, but to continue watching the entire video. First, be sure that the title accurately represents the content that is within the video. Don’t trick the viewer or use gimmicky language like “YOU MUST WATCH THIS NOW” which can make people feel as though they’re being solicited rather than informed or entertained. Next, incorporate the most important keywords from the video into the title first. Finally, be sure to include words that help promote your brand or business after the keywords. For examples of some optimized titles, simply check out YouTube’s homepage! These are the videos that have made it to the top for their popular content and optimization.

Tags

Pay attention to your tags! First think, “What are popular search terms people may use to find my type of video?” These are the general tags you should aim to include with every video you post. Examples may include: sports, news, events, funny, prank, educational, inspiring. In addition to these general tags, you will also want to add specific tags that are unique to your video. This is a good opportunity to include your business name or branding in the tags. General tags are great for including you in the big pool of search results, but specific tags will help your video get more visibility since its competing against such fewer results. Finally, be sure to place any phrases in quotations. This will ensure YouTube will read them as one term and will keep your tagging accurate and optimized.

Description

Your video’s description should tell a story, but not just any story. It should tell the most compelling story possible while strategically using keywords related to your video’s content. That’s right, the importance of keywords continues into the description as well. Keep the description concise and carefully craft the first sentence so that if viewers read nothing else, they would have a good understanding of what they’re supposed to take from the video. Finally, think of what call to action you want to leave viewers with. If the goal is to get them to visit your blog or web site, be sure to include the URL. If the goal is to get them to view your other videos or become a subscriber to your channel, be sure to include links to these videos and their titles. The description is an important opportunity to say with words what your video is showing with action. And don’t overlook the power of keywords!

In closing, it is important to remember that it is never too late to improve the optimization of your YouTube videos. You can put these strategies to use for videos that were uploaded two days ago or two years ago and achieve effective results. ~Stephanie


Other Posts:
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Filed under Algorithms, Social Media, Video Production, YouTube

How Do I Write Content Based on Buyer Personas?

By My Web Writers

She was the portrait of a Language Stars mom.  As a teacher, she understood that the window of language development was wide open between the ages of one to five years old, so she enrolled her children in Language Star’s Spanish immersion classes.  She communicated the company’s mission with enthusiasm to other Moms.  She organized free classes for neighbor children in her home and coordinated an after school program at her children’s elementary school.  She was the ideal brand ambassador and thus, felt very honored when the company’s executives asked her to spend two hours with them.

They wanted to pick her brain to better understand what drove her involvement with the brand.  She gladly did it in exchange for $200 and a few discounted classes for her kids.  Was it worth Language Star’s time and effort to identify personas with the help of this customer and others like her? Absolutely.  The company grew from three sites in the Chicagoland area to over twenty-one in two states in just ten years.

What are Personas?

Good writers clarify their client’s audience, so that they can accordingly adjust language choice, accent, tone, logic, and voice.  Personas are basically audience segments.

Ardath Albee, author of Up Close and Persona, defines personas as, “a composite sketch, representative of a segment of your target market.”  The sketch is much more defined than a broad audience overview.  For example, Language Stars could have stopped short of realizing all income avenues by categorizing their target demographic as “moms.” Their product or service development and marketing would have been relegated to what their employees felt all moms would appreciate.  Those categorizations would be based on subjective verses empirical information.

Successful authors use personas to organize fictional characters and their relationships with others. Businesses use information from real people to create profiles of the customers they represent.

Image courtesy of the Mind Mapping Software blog

As a web writer you’re often at the mercy of the company’s SEO or marketing manager to provide vision for the content you write.  Your knowledge beyond periods and comas becomes evident when you ask for customer personas to help you to write blog posts, social media posts,  and web content. As a marketing manager, it ought to be standard practice within your organization to interview customers, to develop profiles based on observation and data, and to deliver detailed personas to the brand’s writers.

How Much Content Does Each Persona Need?

There is a formula floating around the web.  Jay Baer suggests:

“Essentially, your initial list of questions can be generated using this formula:

Number of Personas X Number of Buying Stages X Number of Questions in Each Stage = Number of Questions You Need to Answer

In our hypothetical example, we’d need 5 X 8 X 3 = 120 questions answered. Even if you have a FAQ today, I can almost guarantee it covers far less than 120 questions.”

Albee didn’t factor in buying stages when she made the following comment:

Let’s say you come up with 12 questions that you know your prospect or your persona has to answer in order for them to agree that the decision to buy is the best choice, to buy from you. So, let’s say you can answer each question two or three different ways. So, now you have the possibility, the possibility of 24 to 36 pieces of content.

You can do the math as to how much personas will cost you, but what of the value?

Success with Personas

Rachel Sprung highlighted seven companies that successfully understand their buyers’ personas.  Like Language Stars, the company that understands its customers and niches is going to have more success interacting with them.  From Jenny Craig to Orbitz companies are creating personas to better understand their customers and to connect through interests.  

Tips for Writing Content Based on Personas

1. Research the persona’s interests, hobbies, activities, and stances.

2.  Play with the voice of the article based on your persona’s gender, ethnicity, age, and experience.

3. Work on the opening lines, supporting arguments, and conclusions of your blog posts to make sure they are in line with the way your persona would view the world. For example, would the persona be persuaded more by data or by personal success stories?

4.  Align vocabulary with your persona’s education level.  Learn how to raise or to lower the reading level of your content through MS Word’s spelling and grammar tool in Tools and then Options menus.

5. Make connections. Who would your persona look up to as a mentor or fellow brand enthusiast? Link to their content and connect with these individuals through social media.

6.  Ask one of these connections to read your article for feedback before publishing.

7.  Think about the pictures and infographics that will most likely move your persona to buy or move into the next stage of the buying cycle.

What are some of the techniques you’ve used to write articles based on appealing to certain personas?

~Jean

Other Posts:

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Articles on Audience

Overcoming the Beautiful Little Fool

What Would History Say About Google Authorship Profiles?

Writer Tips for Google’s Penguin

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Filed under Blog Writing Tips, Business Strategy, Content Marketing, Customer Profile, Marketing, Personas, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media