Friday, January 25, 2019

Keywords in Content, or SEO 2019 Style

As search evolves to favor natural language, is it worth your time to select and incorporate keywords in your web content? 

The question came up in a recent blogging presentation I was leading. My short answer ("yes") was met with some surprising resistance from other marketing folks. For small businesses, and particularly small local businesses with equally small marketing budgets, I understand a reluctance to spend a lot of money on keyword research. But spending more than a few minutes on it in the content development process is still important - even in 2019.

Rather than allowing the discussion to devolve into a disagreement, I moved the presentation along with a soothing (and accurate) "of course you should always write with your reader in mind."

But this is my blog so let me be clear: yes, keywords still matter in 2019.  Small businesses can and certainly should spend the time necessary to use keywords and phrases (naturally, and in helpful content) in their marketing content.

Good Business Copywriting Helps Prospects and Customers

Auto Parts Warehouse provides an excellent example of how keywords (in this case, longtail keywords) can be used in truly useful blog content. Headlines like "Where to Buy Wiper Blades" and "Grinding Noise When Braking" get the attention of humans and search engines alike.

I'm willing to bet Auto Parts Warehouse puts more than a little bit of loose change into advertising, link building and other SEO endeavors, too. But let's focus on the humble human with squeaky breaks.

"Grinding Noise When Braking" strikes the right note with said human. In fact, it's probably exactly what he typed in to search. (Hello, keywords.) And when the reader clicks on that search result, guess what happens? That human with squeaky brakes is rewarded with a legitimate article (not an ad or a screaming landing page) chock-full of helpful information. The format is important, too. The article is easy to read with very scannable subheads, sprinkled with keywords, like:

"Worn out wheel bearing"
"Faulty brake pads"
"Rusty Rotors"

See what Auto Parts Warehouse did there? It's the perfect trick - because it's not a trick. The human gets what the human wants: information on the web. The search engines reward Auto Parts Warehouse because the click delivers on those keyword promises. It meets the EAT guidelines in Google's 2018 Q3 update, providing Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. 

Creating good content that's useful and establishes your business as an authority (thereby making people want to do business with you, and refer other customers to you) isn't rocket science, but it takes a little time and planning.

If you know a blog could help grow your business, but don't have time to do it yourself, step on the brakes long enough to get in touch. I'd love to help drive your business forward.
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Want to learn more about Semantic Search? Search Engine Journal's article is a good place to start. Really big on DIY projects? You can learn how to create a natural language search for arbitrary objects with deep learning (in 5 easy steps) on Towards Data Science. Just need a copywriter who can reach your customers? I'm right here.


Photo credit: Auto Parts Warehouse blog January 24, 2019




Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Blogging as More Than a Sales Tool

I recently spoke to a group of small business owners about blogging. The focus was that in addition to being a big-payback element of your content marketing mix, blogging can also help integrate customer service, operations, and other departments with sales and marketing to create a more effective, efficient organization.

Sure, that sounds a little bit pie-in-the-sky, but I'm telling you, I've seen it happen.

Turns out I'm not the only one.

Blogging for Sales & Marketing & Everything Else

Buried in some very good articles (like this one from Moz) are suggestions that blog content isn't "just" good for generating leads and turning prospects into customers.
blogging content for small business

Here's the key: while your blog content is developed for leads and prospects, it can also be useful to YOUR organization, from the inside out.

A blog post about what to do when your widget fails unexpectedly - directed at your prospects - can also be required reading inside your organization. Then, when a customer comes in complaining that a widget failed unexpectedly, no matter who handles that complaint, they'll be prepared.

Blog posts about services you provide, or high-end products that are new to your mix, are another good example.

Again, the content created with your prospects in mind should be required reading within your company. That will ensure that everyone in your organization is on the same page - so when a sales opportunity presents itself, whoever recognizes that opportunity is ready with a response that advances the sales process.

Make Your Blog Useful, Inside and Out

I'm a big proponent of cross-training and think silos are silly (except on farms). I've found that blogging about a problem is a great way to solve (or at least, productively address) that problem.

Look no further than your complaint box (or Twitter feed) and you'll see plenty of fodder for your next few (dozen) blog posts.
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Cross-training sometimes gets a bad reputation. In some cases, it can be used to train highly competent people to do the jobs of their less-productive co-workers. But when used as a tool to improve overall operations, it really rocks. 

For help creating a content mix that works for you and your customers and your employees, contact a writer who understands business. That's me. Get in touch.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Excellent Example from Neiman Storyboard

I appreciate writing about writing that's really worth reading. Nieman Storyboard delivers, often. I found a recent article about how to get the attention of an editor at Smithsonian magazine especially instructive.

Hope you do too!




It's hard to ignore Smithsonian's great graphics.  Cover image from the article by Katia Savchuk







Here's to a holiday season filled with great reading and writing.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Your Website Doesn't Have to Be Fancy to Be Fantastic

Here's another #ExcellentExample - in this case, a good-looking website that does its job.

Take a look at the Halvorson Design website. It's not fancy, but fancy isn't the point.

The point is to get prospects to call the firm.

So Why Does This Website Work? 


  • It's clean, easy to navigate and understand. (Life is distracting enough.) Hint: white space helps!
  • It's up-to-date! Prospects can see right away that the firm is busy and on the ball. Sharing succinct messages about recently-completed projects tells the world: we get things done.
  • A site visitor's next step is obvious. In this case, the call to action is subtle, but clear. (For professional services, subtle is good. If you're selling consumer goods, you'll NEED TO BE A LITTLE LOUDER.)  On each page of the design firm's site, the contact is clearly listed on the right of the page. With a lot of white space...nothing to get in the way of your decision to call. Nice.
#ExcellentExample, Halvorson Design!

If You Don't Have a Website, Don't Panic

You don't need an expensive website. You do need a plan. Clean design and updated content gives prospective customers confidence; it makes them want to work with you. 

You can do this. We can do this. Not sure? Here's a shot of confidence for you.



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Website Reality Check summer special

Do you need a little help with your website? Have you been managing your site in-house and find you're falling behind?

Want a different set of eyes and a fresh perspective on your site?

A Website Reality Check can make a BIG difference, and through the end of the month, it comes at a much lower rate. Find out more; book now to save.

What do you get from a Website Reality Check? 

  • Broken links, typos, missing tags identified
  • Initial review of UX/UI 
  • More...
What's the discount?
More than 50%! The initial consultation is reduced to $45; per-page rate just $35* for the month of July only

*Limited to the first 5 projects booked. 


Remember: in most cases your website is the first impression customers get of your business. Make sure it's a good one.

Video Marketing May or May Not Be What Your Business Needs

Video is everywhere, and there are dozens of tools to help you do it well and inexpensively. The cost to hire an expert video firm is dropping, too, thanks to competition.

But before you say, "hey, maybe it's time we invest in video," here's another idea:

Ask yourself if you really need it. Ask yourself if your prospects and customers want it. Ask yourself if you're committed to making it worthwhile.

Because if the answer to any of those questions is less than an enthusiastic yes, you need to go back to the Content Drawing Board, also known as Marketing Plan 101.

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Yes, I'm a copywriter, content manager, marketing communications professional and all-around lover of words. But, I don't believe in content for content's sake. Want to talk about how content can help you attract the right kind of prospects and turn them into customers you'll love doing business with? 
________________________________


<< This is a good example of smart video marketing. Why?
1. The right tool for the right audience - college students and interns are eating up video.
2. What's better than a testimonial? a testimonial on video!
3. The live event will live as relevant marketing collateral for at least the rest of the summer, probably well into the fall, or even spring semester.


New to video? Periscope is Twitter's video tool; Facebook Live threatened to eclipse it in 2016. Instagram has its own (stories). It's important to note that you don't need to use social media to use video (and vice-versa) - and the tools to create video are getting better, cheaper, and easier to use every day. 

So while it's easy to get overwhelmed (or excited) about the tools, the important thing to remember is that, unless you're in the movie-making business, video is about marketing. 


The tools change constantly; the principles remain pretty much the same. File under "Common Sense Marketing." If you like the sound of that, get in touch





Monday, June 26, 2017

So Maybe You Should Have a Blog

I've played devil's advocate and come up with some instances in which you may not want or need a blog for business. But for the most part, blogging is good for business - any kind of business.

Interestingly, GoDaddy has a lot of good stuff to say about blogging. I say interesting because GoDaddy isn't really big in supporting its users with blogging tools. Go figure.

Anyway, blogging is good for business. Seriously.  See what GoDaddy says about it here:
https://www.godaddy.com/garage/smallbusiness/launch/how-to-write-a-great-blog-post/

Here's another perspective on how blogging augments your PR efforts, too:
http://ducttapemarketingconsultant.com/blogging-is-public-relations-tool/

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Need help starting or updating your blog?
I can do that.








7/7/17 UPDATE: Yet another article with some good advice on making your blog more productive, from Mark Shaefer's Businesses Grow.