Archive for October, 2011
Most business owners get them every day. Unsolicited emails about the ‘one true SEO tactic’. Tada! Inbound link building. Yes, you can buy links by the thousand … and yes, you can do that cheaply. But is it a smart move?
All links are good links
Let’s just come straight out with it and say, not so. All links are not created equal.
Search engines use inbound links to establish site credibility and influence. That’s why page origin, context and anchor text are important. But there’s more. As much as authority site back-links help online performance, low quality in-links can cause harm. That takes the form a site demotion.
Many purchased links are of the low value ‘no follow’ variety originating from poor authority sites. That means search engines never arrive at the linked content. Often, these low authority links are simply ignored anyway.
Will a few low quality links cause your site to be demoted? Probably not. But is it worth the risk? Here’s an idea … concentrate on quality link creation from the outset.
Content is king
This old chestnut has been doing the rounds for ages. It is true sites with lots of topical content do well. That’s not because they create masses of web content. It’s because they publish interesting, relevant material.
Authoring masses of web content is not the goal of any online business presence. Engaging visitors and converting prospects is. You do that by adopting web copywriting conventions and gaining attention with appealing web content.
Why? Because content isn’t king. Your customer is.
On site SEO doesn’t matter
Without on page SEO, search engines only get half the picture. Just think about this logically:
- Why do search engines trawl websites? To discover what they’re about.
- How do they determine that? By crawling the web content.
- Why do they do it? To decide site relevance to given search terms.
Information architecture, SEO copywriting and optimised code all contribute to helping search engines understand your website context. Flying without on-the-page SEO isn’t a strategy, it’s shooting yourself in the foot.
Page titles and meta tags don’t matter
Yes they do. But not just for the reason you might think.
OK, search engines place less emphasis on this data than they used to. But they aren’t irrelevant. That’s point number one.
More importantly, think about what shows up in a search engine results page. Bells and whistles if you said the page title and meta description. These two pieces of content need a deft copywriter’s hand. Why? Because they have the biggest influence on click through. And that’s a fact.
There’s no such thing as too many keywords
Oh yes there is. There are two reasons you really don’t want to go there.
- Firstly, intense keyword repetitions detract from the quality of the read. That’s another way of saying appalling copywriting that visitors don’t read. Of course, that means they don’t engage or buy either.
- Secondly, search engines actually don’t like this practice. There’s even a name for it. It’s called keyword stuffing. It’s actually a good way to cause negative impact and get your site demoted.
High Google page rank is the goal
Winner! Page one position one gets the most traffic. But do they convert? What if capturing a coveted high organic search rank doesn’t reflect in your bottom line?
If your SEO campaign is solely about driving traffic, you need a rethink. Any effort your business puts into online marketing has one clear goal. To make sales.
You do that with great copywriting and presenting compelling web content to visitors … once they arrive.
3 take away tips
- Look out! All inbound links are not created equal.
- Web content isn’t king. Your customers should be.
- You’re not winning if high search position doesn’t drive sales.
How good is your copywriting? Are you serving up lashings of engaging, benefit-driven content or publishing Mt Everest for readers to climb? The success of your business marketing depends on quality communication. Even if you aren’t an expert copywriter, there are quick and easy ways to keep your content customer-centric. Here’s the top 5:
Me or you focus
Read through your content critically. Is it saturated with the pronoun We? Does Our make a frequent appearance? If the answer is yes, there’s a good chance your copywriting has missed its audience focus.
Readers find second person, conversational content more engaging. Talk with your reader, not at them. Change ‘We’ and ‘Our’ for ‘You’ and ‘Your’ right through the content to alter its emphasis.
Make it easy
Content formatting has a huge impact on what gets read. We’re not talking about design here. The fact is, most readers browse through headings, bullets and break-out text before taking on the whole article.
To make it simple for readers to find the information they’re after, your copywriting should include:
- Bullets – used judiciously to highlight really important points
- Headings – to give a clear indication what readers can expect
How well is your content laid out?
Is it believable
There’s plenty of marketing content out there brimming with empty claims like:
We’re the best”
So what sets your business apart? Proof. If your copy is just telling readers how great you are, time to present some facts:
In a recent survey, 9 out of 10 customers said they’d recommend us to family and friends”
No such data? No problem. There’s a raft of studies and research available online you can quote or refer to. Connect with a genuine selling benefit to add real strength.
Sell the benefits
Buying decisions are emotional, because prospects are looking to fulfil a need. They will make a buying decision to feel happier, safer, smarter, beautiful etc. To be effective, your copywriting needs to present benefits in response to key motivators. Does yours?
If your content is feature heavy, it’s much less likely to be persuasive. Features and facts are what people use to justify their decision after the purchase. If your copywriting gets into product nitty gritty without offering a positive, outcome focus, you’re selling features instead of benefits.
Call to action
Even the most engaged and motivated reader can be left dangling (and precariously close to checking out the competition) if you don’t ask them to act. A call to action is an essential ingredient in every piece of marketing communication. Yours especially.
3 take away tips
- As per marketing 101, create content with an audience focus.
- Your content layout has almost as much impact as what it says.
- Buying decisions are emotional so sell benefits over features.
There’s been quite a few posts lately setting us straight on business writing. Two I’ve seen this week are Three people who should not be writing your content and 10 Things Never to Tell Sales Prospects. The fact is, most businesses need an internal level of writing expertise. It’s simply not feasible to send every client letter out for copywriting.
At the same time, the simplest things are often what lets business writing down. Spelling and grammatical errors that could easily be eliminated by proof reading. Or simply using the wrong word.
Here, in no particular order, are 10 business writing bloopers where spell check won’t help …
Whether / Weather
Weather is today’s temperature and the chance of rain.
Whether is a choice between two or more options.
Compliment / Complement
A compliment is a nice thing someone says about you.
Complement is when one thing completes another.
Check / Cheque
Check is what you do to make certain the door is locked.
A cheque is what you write to pay someone money.
Accept / Except
Accept is when you willingly take something like a gift, or a ride home.
Except means not included, like when you don’t eat the red smarties.
Assure / Ensure
Assure is a promise or undertaking you make to others.
Ensure is making certain about something.
Principal / Principle
Principal means most important, so the main point you’d like to make.
Principle is an ethic or code of conduct you observe.
Affect / Effect
Affect is when you cause something else to happen.
Effect is the end result.
Diffuse / Defuse
Diffuse means spreading out, like what the cover over your fluorescent light does.
Defuse is what they do with bombs … or when you take the heat out of an argument.
Discreet / Discrete
Discreet means showing good judgement, especially in the way you do things.
Discrete means something completely separate, individual or distinct.
Premier / Premiere
Premier is a person or thing of the highest rank and importance.
Premiere means the very first public showing or performance.
While I’m at it, here’s a couple of little words that trip a lot of business writers up:
Guess what? Both of these are actually plural. If you ever need to refer to either in their singular form, use:
Every piece of writing you or your organisation produce is out there speaking for the business. So don’t write double Dutch. Keep your professional reputation intact and banish the bloopers.
3 take away tips
- Most businesses need some form of internal writing expertise.
- Proof reading business communication can reduce writing errors.
- All business writing can reflect on your professional reputation.
Ever been tempted to ‘Call now and enjoy this bonus’ or ‘Sign up for daily bargains now’? You’ve been lured by a Call to Action. And powerful additions to web content they are.
Copywriters use the Call to Action to encourage readers to do something. You’ll find them:
- emblazoned across landing pages
- showcased on website buttons
- tucked discretely into online text
In fact, you’ll find the copy includes a Call to Action in almost every promotion: print, radio & TV or digital.
Why is it important?
Let’s look at the job your copywriting does:
- First there’s the headline: that’s for getting attention
- Second the subheading: adds enough detail to get me interested
- Next the body copy: provides all the benefit-driven reasons I should buy
You’ve provided the reader with almost everything they need to make a decision. But the communication isn’t resolved. So far, it’s just an information download. You haven’t told them what to do next.
Order now and we’ll deliver by Friday”
You see, if your web content, advertising or promotional copywriting is going to propel prospects, it needs a Call to Action.
For web content, buttons, banners and other graphics including a Call to Action can add value to your success measurement. Does the red or blue banner work best? Or test different versions of your online copy for click through results.
What works & what doesn’t
When we talk about writing in a Call to Action, it must have some reader benefit. Those old ‘Click here’ and ‘Signup’ buttons you’ll find on many websites are old hat. As your reader, what’s the advantage to me of doing that? I know you’re harvesting my email address to build your contact list. So where’s the kick back that makes it worthwhile?
In her Marketing Profs article, From Action to Engagement: The call to action comes of age, Shreesha Ramdas suggests useful and engaging Calls to Action work best. Her ideas include:
- Watch Demo
- Request a Quote
- Webinar Signup
- Free Trial Signup
- Buying guides, comparative guides, RFPs
- Free e-books
- ROI calculators
- Chat Now buttons
If you’re thinking of your web content with dismay, don’t panic. It only takes a little cluey copywriting to give a Call to Action some kick. But remember, that’s for today only!
3 take away tips
- A Call to Action is a powerful addition to your copy that propels readers to act.
- Most marketing content includes a Call to Action because it completes the message.
- Don’t fall into the trap of tired expressions like Call Now that offer zero reader benefit.