Tag Archives: business content writing; search engine optimization; seo

Six reasons why quality still matters in content writing

Adding fresh content to on a regular basis to your website is important for a number of reasons. Blogs, articles and other updates work to help keep your SEO healthy – allowing your site to rank better with the search engines and thereby attract a greater amount of traffic.

But how important is it that those articles actually be good? Well-written? Informative? Original? Is simply churning out a high volume of articles enough or does quality still matter?

I was recently confronted with this question meeting with a prospect who was interested in having me do some content work for him. The prospect represented a marketing agency who was looking to outsource some of their work to me.

He said, “My clients don’t care about quality. We can take existing articles and spin them for two dollars a piece.”

I politely wrapped up the meeting know that this prospect and I would not be able to reach an agreement. But I should actually thank this prospect because he really got me thinking about what differentiates quality writers from spinners and content mills.

The quantity argument

Let’s start with the argument for quantity and why some companies choose it over quality for their websites.

As I’ve mentioned before – regular content – sometimes even poor content can give you a boost in your Google or Bing ranking. The natural result of this will be more traffic to your website.

Spinning articles (that is taking someone else’s work and changing the wording just enough so that it does not appear to be plagiarized) is one way to produce a lot of content in a short amount of time. It’s easy – and it can be relatively cheap. There are even software programs that can do it for you – albeit rather poorly.

But hey, if you can get lots and lots of articles for your site and do it quickly and cheaply, why not right?

It’s a tactic that might just work – for some businesses.

So why would a company choose to spend more and hire a content writer who produces high quality and engaging content?

Here are six reasons why I would argue that quality is not dead:

  1. Quality content shows your reader that your company is an authority. When people do Google searches, they are looking for answers. If your site contains a blog that is truly able to answer their question and not just repeat what has been said on every other site, that can make you their go-to expert next time they have another question about your industry.
  2. Engaging content helps you build an audience. There are so many company blogs out there that merely rehash what’s already been said hundreds and thousands of times. Engaging content stands out. If your business has a blog that makes people think; or that entertains them; or that challenges them on some level, they’ll be more likely to return to your site or start following your business on social medial.
  3. Quality content writers will learn to speak your company’s language. It is more important than ever before for businesses to distinguish themselves through brand image. Do you want to portray an all-business get er done kind of image? How about a quirky fun image? Or perhaps an image that appeals to a certain gender or age group? A skilled content writer can work those goals into the “voice” of your articles.
  4. Quality attracts your niche customer. While putting out hordes of low quality content, may boost SEO and bring more traffic to your website, it may not be attracting the right audience. What’s the point in attracting visitors to your site who never do business with you? The best articles are the ones that attract, engage and eventually convert your target customer.
  5. Google’s algorithms are continually evolving. Many spammy tactics that were used only a few years ago to draw traffic to websites have now been dubbed “black hat” by Google. Using these same tactics today can get your site penalized or even banned by search engines. Google’s spiders already have algorithms to detect quality – and they are getting better all the time. Sheer volume of poorly written content will not give companies an SEO advantage for much longer. Businesses that choose quality now are ahead of the game.
  6. Readers are demanding better content. Let’s face it – the internet has become polluted. Anyone and everyone can post whatever they want and there is a lot of crap out there. There is also a lot of really good content. And your readers know the difference. Companies that wish to keep their readership have to recognize that the modern business website is about giving just as much as it’s about getting. Sure, they want to “get” traffic and conversions – but they are also expected to “give” value to those that visit their site.
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Five Reasons Your Business Should Be Blogging

A common question of entrepreneurs is whether or not they really need a blog for their business. These days it’s almost impossible to have a discussion about marketing your business without hearing the phrase – content marketing. And there is good reason for this.

As the internet becomes a more and more social place, through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. businesses are realizing that they are now part of a two-way dialogue with their customers and prospects.

Still, you may wonder whether blogging is really relevant to your business. After all, shouldn’t you be focusing more on selling your product or service than writing a blog every week? I mean, what does banging out 500 or more words of content actually add to your bottom line?

Glad you asked!

There are some good reasons why businesses should have blogs:

1. They help with your SEO – Search Engine Optimization – that’s another phrase you can’t escape these days. Regularly adding relevant content to your website, earns you major points with search engines such as Google. As a result, your search engine ranking improves – meaning that more people will able to find your site. Of course, you need to make sure that you write in an SEO friendly manner, but that’s a post for another day. But more people to your site potentially means more business and more sales.

2. It helps you to position yourself as an expert. When people want to know something about the service or product that your business provides, many will search for the answer on the internet. They may not be looking to buy anything then and there, but if you’re site regularly provides them with great information – when they are ready to buy – they will think of you. Surveys conducted by HubSpot and others have found that businesses who blog on average, do more business than those who don’t.

3. Blogging is sharable.  When you create really interesting content, it is only natural that people want to share it on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Try placing a share or tweet button on your blog to make this as simple as possible for your audience. And more sharing means… more traffic!

4. It’s a cost effective marketing tool. Whether you do your own blogging or pay someone else to do it, this is a cost effective tool when compared to other forms of marketing. And when others share your blog through their social channels, it’s like expanding your reach for free.

5. You’ll get to know your audience. When you advertise through traditional channels such as print or radio, it can be hard to know who is hearing your message and what they are getting from it. Blogging however comes with analytics tools that you can use to find out how many views, click-throughs and conversions you are getting. Allow for likes and comments, and it can help you start a dialogue. It can give you insight into what the popular topics are and what resonates with your audience and help you plan future content.

Does your business have a blog? Share your thoughts in the comment section below! 

3 Habits for Overcoming Motivation Block

As a content writer, I seldom get writer’s block. I have a number of clients who, in most cases give me the topics that they want blogs or other web content for. What I do struggle with from time to time is motivation block. And that usually happens with topics that I don’t find overly interesting.

For example, this past weekend was spent writing 6000 words about dent repair. I know, right! I did get it done, but boy did it take me awhile to get started.

The following are a few habits that I’ve developed to help me overcome motivation block.

1. I don’t write when I’m tired or hungry

When I’m writing about a topic that I find completely fascinating, I can sit in front of my computer all day and barely notice that I haven’t eaten. Not so, when I’m struggling with the topic! If motivation is an issue, then fatigue and hunger are big distractors. So if I’m hungry, I’ll have something to eat. If I’m tired, I’ll take a nap. I’ll do what it takes to feel refreshed before trying to tackle the subject matter at hand.

2. I think about who will be reading the content

Imagining my audience is a great motivator for me. Who wants to read about dent repair? Someone who has recently had a dent to their vehicle. I think about how they got that dent, the frustration they felt and the information that they are now looking for. I use that to start writing their story – something to engage them. Doing this actually makes me more interested in the topic as well.

3. I set a goal and get to it

When all else fails, I determine an amount of time that I’m going to write for – or a certain word count that I wish to reach before taking a break. I don’t worry too much about keywords or even if I’m writing great content for that matter (I can always edit afterwards right?). And once I get going, do you know what? I start to feel more motivated – just because I’m making process.

Do you have any tips for overcoming motivation block? Please share in the comments!

Time to Quit Slacking on my Blog

I’ve been slacking off with my own blog these days. That’s a big no-no in the world of search engine optimization. If you’d like people to visit your website on a regular basis, you need to give them good reason to do so. Regular infusions of fresh new content is one way to get people to keep coming back to your site.

That said, however – I’m busier than ever with my regular freelance jobs. (Part of the reason why my personal blog has been taking a back seat lately).

I’ve also been preparing for my second degree black belt in seikido (which is a combination of taekwondo and aikido). And now that the test is over, it seems that a semblance of a more normal life and schedule is more achievable. Of course, now we’re getting into the Christmas season, so maybe not!

On the freelance writing front, I’ve recently completed the content for several landing pages for a European style patisserie in Toronto. Fortunately, I didn’t get too much drool on the keyboard while writing about chocolate mousse cake and macarons!

And now I’m on to the topics of spray foam insulation as well as a good deal of content for a Toronto based law firm. Add to that, I have just pitched some more gardening blog ideas to another client (which can be somewhat of a challenge during the winter.)

It’s much easier to write about the weather.

Overall though, it is a pretty exciting time in my freelancing career. I’ve recently obtained my hst number, as I expect no shortage of work in 2015. Quality web content for business has never been more important.

But I’m not trying to do it all. I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to be successful is to do what you’re good at and recruit a really good team to do the rest.

That’s why I met with my accountant after getting my hst number so he could explain to me how to file with the government – plus I had my husband (who is a financial advisor and numbers guy extraordinaire) with me because he’s an important part of my team and in all likelihood, the one I’ll be getting to file for me. J Because my strengths are with words – not so much with numbers.

And when you think about it – that’s why clients hire me. Because I play an important role on their team. They are lacking either the time or expertise to write their own web content. Their time is much better spent on other aspects of their business.

So there you have it – do what you’re good at – and recruit a great team to do the rest – it works!

On the Side – Learning About “Everything” Through Freelancing

As a freelance writer – especially one that does web content for business, you have to be good a researching quickly. And you have to be good at researching pretty much everything. For several years I have worked for clients in which the generally theme or topic of each blog or article stayed pretty much the same.

I wrote articles about wine for an entertainment magazine – the focus of each article was different of course, but the article were – for the most part – always about wine.

I currently have a client for whom I write articles about gardening – and another client for whom I write articles about the weather.  And these are pretty constant.

But I have another client for whom I write articles about EVERYTHING. Ok, maybe that’s a stretch – not everything – but certainly some topics that have been new to me – forklifts, asbestos removal, dental implants and methadone clinics to name a few.

So as a freelancer, you need to become a Google Master. You need to become a student of the topic you are writing about – keeping in mind this is not a four year dissertation but a crash course because your client needs your content quickly.

Not every topic is exciting at first – sometimes you have to work at making it exciting. But it can be done.

Learning about new topics is also one of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts about content writing for business. There are some topics that I think I’m not going to like and they turn out to be far more interesting than I would have imagined.

Topics that I find less interesting, I take as personal challenges. “How can I present this topic in a way the would appeal.. to me?… and you? … and anyone else visiting a particular website?” One way to do this is to relate it to everyday experiences. Starting a sentence with “imagine if” can do wonders for a topic that seems dull at first. Using just the right amount of humour can also be extremely helpful in getting you into a writing groove.

And you know what – when you take the time – any topic can be rewarding both to learn and write about!

 

 

On the Side – Why Hire a Freelance Writer for Your Online Content?

No one knows your business better than you right? So it only makes sense that you should be the one to do the content writing for your business right? Well… not necessarily! You might be a great writer who understands SEO and perhaps you have the time to do all of your own writing. If that’s the case, you can stop reading and get back to work on your blog.

But if that’s not you, it might make a lot of sense to hire a freelance writer. The following are a few reasons that you might want to consider hiring a freelance writer for your business content.

Search Engine Optimization

It is becoming increasingly common that the first impression that you make on your future customers is an online impression. But in order to make that happen, it must first be possible for your customers to find you.

A good freelance writer for online content understands how to write for search engine optimization (SEO). In other words, they know how to incorporate keywords and phrases into your content in such a way that it will help your website to be listed higher in the search results – ultimately meaning more traffic to your website.

More than this however, your writer still needs to write for your end audience. The keywords must be there but they must not interfere the flow or become obnoxious.

Versatility

It’s common for a business owner to think that – if they are going to hire a freelance writer – they need to hire someone who knows a great deal about their business.

Let me assure you that this is not the case. Business content writers do however have to be great researchers! Over the past month, I’ve written content for business about a number of subjects (forklifts, basement waterproofing, and custom cabinetry) that I was not overly familiar with when I started.

Having a writer who is not an expert in the subject matter also has a distinct advantage and that is that it is often easier for a non-expert to write in a way that another non-expert can understand. When I am writing about a subject that is new to me, I instinctively write in the way that I would want someone to explain it to me.

When a potential customer finds your content on the internet, you have no way of knowing what their level of knowledge is concerning your products or services. It is therefore best that your content explains your business in a way that most people will understand.

Time

One of the biggest reasons that business owners hire freelancers to write their content is that they simply don’t have time to do it themselves.

It has been estimated that business websites that contain blogs receive 55% more traffic than sites that do not. Those visits can eventually translate into more customers and more sales.

But if you are running your business, do you really have time to blog every week?

Money

If time is the biggest reason that a business owner hires a freelance writer, then money may be the biggest reason that they do not. After all, why hire someone to do something I can do myself?

As a business owner, you hire experts to design your website and to do your accounting. You are likely have the capability to learn how to do these things and do them for yourself – but you do not because in the end your time is more valuable spent on the core functions of your business. And outsourcing this type of work ultimately costs you less in resources than doing it yourself.

So if your business is at a level where you need to delegate the important job of content writing to an expert, then the freelance model may be just the right fit for your business.