Tag Archives: 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.

Pick the Best Blog Keywords

Keywords are words or phrases that you plan on targeting to get more traffic to your website or blog from search engines. Once you pick the best blog keywords, you write articles and other content with the keywords strategically placed in the content in order for people to find your blog or website through the internet. The first step in using keywords for your blog is identifying the best keywords. So, how do you pick the best blog keywords?

Keyword Types

  • Short tail keywords are shorter keyword phrases (i.e. phone case); broad search results that target a mass audience which results in more competition and minimal chance of ranking in search engines.
  • Long tail keywords are longer keyword phrases ((i.e. iPhone 5c case for girls); specific search results that target a smaller audience, which results in less competition and a solid chance of ranking in search engines.

Google AdWords

You can choose any preferred keyword analysis tool. There are several free tools available but the best option is Google AdWords because the data is highly accurate and comes from the most used search engine in the world. If you have an existing Google or Gmail account, access to Google AdWords is very easy; it is located in Google Apps. Setting up your account is simple and again, it is free.

The Keyword Planner in Google AdWords is a great free tool for developing keyword campaigns by finding keyword ideas and closely estimating the performance of your keyword ideas. You can start with as many keyword phrases as you want and branch out from there, developing the best blog keywords for your needs. It is suggested to start with one or two keyword ideas and see where that takes your search in finding the best blog keywords. Here are some important terms to help navigate Keyword Planner:

  • Average Monthly Searches is the number of times the exact keyword phrase has been searched in the past month. This is the popularity number.
  • Competition is based on the number of advertisers that selected the keyword phrase across Google. If the competition is “High”, the chance of your content showing up in the search engine results is low and vice versa for “Low”. You have some additional options, such as bidding and sharing, if you want to pay for cost-per-click campaigns. These additional options are not necessary for picking the best blog keywords. Another feature of Keyword Planner is inputting your website homepage as well as a specific category and sub-category of your blog or business. This will show tailored keyword suggestions based on your blog content and business category.   The Keyword Planner shows dozens of alternative keywords based on the one initial keyword idea. The tool allows for easy recreation of your keyword plan, as needed. If the first keyword phrase does not show the results you want, the additional results should give you a better idea of how similar keywords are performing. The tool allows for easy recreation of your keyword plan, as needed. The possibilities are limitless.

The Easiest Way to Write a Blog Title

First impressions are everything and your business blog title is that first impression. A blog title must be eye-catching and make the reader think, “I have to see what this article is all about”. A successful blog title will get readers to your website or blog, thereby increasing the potential to gain a return viewer and the high likelihood for your content to be shared through social media and other networks. As you can see, a strong blog title is absolutely essential to your success.

Titles sell the content. Titles are responsible for the search engine ranking and increasing traffic to your business blog. All the great content within the article will not get read unless you have a solid title. Some writers start with the title and others generate a killer title after the content has been written; it is entirely your preference but one of the easiest ways to get started is to create a “working” title.

The Working Title is NOT a Topic

A blog topic is very general and can yield numerous results in a potential viewer’s search. Examples of a topic are “CRM systems”, “recognition programs”, or “new hire packet”. Topics can go in many different directions. The working title creates the direction of the topic and is a very specific statement. For example; “The Best CRM System for a Top-Performing Sales Team”, “How Recognition Programs Boost Employee Productivity”, or “Organize Your New Hire Packet for Easy On-Boarding”. No working title is perfect and can require revision after the content has been written.

Set Clear Expectations for the Reader

Do not deceive your readers and always be completely accurate in your title. If your content is about recognition programs increasing employee productivity, then make sure your title matches the specific topic. If readers go to your blog expecting to see a results-oriented blog post about boosting employee productivity through recognition programs, but you spend all your time talking about the different types of employee programs, you will lose followers and potential customers. Be respectful and build trust.

Keep SEO in Mind

Make every effort to include hard-hitting keywords in the blog title. Use your SEO keyword research in the title as well as in the content of your blog. However, never compromise the clarity of the blog’s title for SEO best practices. If it makes sense to include the keywords or phrase into the title, go ahead; but if the title sounds weird or confusing, leave out the keywords.

Short and Sweet

A business blog title should be short and direct. The best blog titles that rank high in search engines are under 65 characters (no more than approximately 12 words) in length. If you post your blog content to social media, specifically Twitter (and you should be for a hefty increase in blog traffic), shoot for a title and tag of no more than 117 characters in length. You do not have to be exact with every single blog post, but remember this guideline.

Tips for Titles

Provide your business blog titles with a pop that will grab the attention of readers.

  • Alliteration is using the same beginning letter repeatedly. “Tips for Titles”, “Write With Wonder”.
  • Use strong language such as “Things Employees Hate”, “Qualities of Awesome Bosses”.
  • A helpful tone goes a long way. “10 Free Tools for…”, “Simple Ways to…”.
  • Bounce ideas off a colleague and brainstorm if revisions are needed and have fun developing your business blog title.

Ten Quick Tips for Improving SEO Content Writing

If you run a business with an online presence, chances are you’ve heard of search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is vitally important to ensure that you have a good website ranking in search lists which, it turn helps drive more traffic to you site – which hopefully helps to improve your bottom line. SEO should be handled in part, by your website developer. But if your business has a blog, or engages in social media, you can also improve your own SEO through quality content writing.

Writing for SEO however is a bit different than other types of writing. You need to craft your prose in a way that works well both for the search engine crawlers as well the real live breathing human beings who you ultimately would like to communicate with.

Here are the ten tips for improving your SEO content writing. They are simple, easy, and highly effective at boosting SEO keyword optimization and density as well as providing a better overall viewing experience to your readers. Please Note: Since Google is the most common search engine used (5 billion searches per day), I will be using their analysis methods as a guide. It should also be mentioned that all other search engines follow similar methods.

  1. Put the keyword or keyword phrase in the title of the content writing. An interesting title grabs the interest of the reader, while a title with the keyword grabs the attention of the search engine algorithms. In fact, Google focuses on the content’s title in their keyword analysis. This puts you at a great advantage for getting your content in front of readers.
  2. Use the keyword or phrase in the first paragraph of the content; even better if you can logically fit it into the first sentence. Search engines place great emphasis on keywords in their algorithms.
  3. Avoid complex phrases. Focus on action verbs and industry buzz words to engage the reader and sell your products or services. Keep the content interesting and avoid sounding “too wordy”.
  4. Be mindful of keyword density. You should place the keyword once every 125 to 150 words for an appropriate amount of SEO keyword placement. “Keyword stuffing” is does not reflect quality writing and readers will not read your content. Also, if Google picks up too many keywords, the content can be registered as spam and search engine rankings will decrease for the business.
  5. Links increase search engine rankings, whether the links take the reader to another location within your website or leave your website to another piece of content. Use links for products, industry references, and other applicable services or information. The best placement for a link is in the last paragraph with a call to action statement.
  6. The layout of your content is important in order to grab and maintain the readers’ attention. Keep your writing within organized paragraphs or lists. Make use of the headers. Since readers scan content, make sure the headers reflect the most important topics of your writing.
  7. Make use of metatag descriptions. A metatag is scanned by search engines and this is a powerful place to put SEO-filled content. The metatag describes the product, service, or blog within 160 characters (approximately 30 words) or less. Make the metatag to-the-point and specific.
  8. Include images with the content writing. People are visual and images catch the readers’ attention. Images provide for a description that can include SEO content. Do not use pictures that are protected; always ask permission before using the pictures as your own.
  9. Use social media. Anytime you post content to your website or blog have it automatically post to all your social media outlets. If you have a blog, enable the “share” option. This will allow your content to reach substantially more people than the regular reader.
  10. Keep variety in your SEO content writing. Always stay within your industry but mix up the content. For example, maintain your product or service descriptions but include industry news updates or fun infographics about your industry.

Why Companies Outsource Content Writing

When explaining my business to someone recently, I was asked how do I convince companies to outsource their content writing. After pondering this for about half a second, I realized that outsourcing content was not something I had to convince companies to do. They are already doing it. The only thing I ever have to do is show them a writing sample and quote my rates. If they like my writing and accept my rates, it’s simply a matter of determining whether we are a good fit for each other.

Still, I was curious about the question. Why do companies outsource their content writing? I had my own theories of course, but like most good freelance web writers, I decided to consult with Professor Google. Naturally, I found lots of theories, but one very interesting fact that I discovered was that 74% of tech companies outsource their writing.  And not surprisingly, a large percentage of my own freelance work comes from tech companies.

But suppose, your business is not a tech company. Are there reasons for you to outsource your writing as well? Here are a few reasons that you might like to consider it:

1. Every business should be blogging! As I wrote in an earlier post, creating regular useful and engaging content is not only good for your SEO, but it will give potential customers reasons to come back to your site. In their minds, you become the authority. Then, when the user is ready to buy your goods or services, there is a much better chance that they will give their business to you and not to your competition.

2. Writing takes time and effort. Even if you or someone else in your company is a very good writer, adding regularly to a company blog is one more thing on your already full plate. Outsourcing to an experienced writer saves you time.

3. You run out of blog ideas. An experienced content writer can take even the most boring business, and find ways to come up with engaging content.

4. You aren’t getting results. Even if you have the time and the talent to write amazing articles every week for your website, if you aren’t getting your desired results, it may be time to change tactics. An experienced content writer, knows a thing or two about keywords, article length and creating the right call to action.

5. Your competitors are already outsourcing. It is estimated that anywhere between 64-72% of all companies outsource their writing.

Four Strategies for Better Web Content Writing

For many of your prospective customers, your website is the first impression that they will have of your business. It’s safe to say that you may win or lose your prospect based – at least in part – on the strength of your web content writing.

So whether you are doing your own writing in-house, or whether you are hiring a freelance writer, here are a few content strategies that can really help your website to sing.

Strategy 1: Write content that is easy to read in electronic format

When writing for a website – you have to remember that you are “screen writing” – no, you are not writing a Hollywood movie script, but you are writing content that is intended to be read on the screen of a computer, tablet or smartphone.

Anyone who reads often will tell you that reading a print book or magazine is not the same as reading from an electronic device. For one, screens are harder on the eyes. According to a study by Neilson Norman Group, we actually read screens 25% more slowly than we do print.

So when “screen writing”, we need to use strategies that make our content easier and more efficient to read.

  • Break up your content with short paragraphs and sub-headings
  • Avoid being overly wordy – get to the point
  • Use bullet points for lists

Strategy 2: Write efficiently

When people read website copy, it’s usually because they are looking to do something such as research a product, make a purchase, or find an answer to a question.

The same descriptive language that might draw a reader into a novel and make them fall in love with the central character, might only serve to annoy the reader who is browsing your site to purchase a product or learn whether the service that you offer can help them with their problem.

Write your content more efficiently by:

  • Getting to the point – tell your reader who you are and what you can offer them.
  • Use plain language.
  • Have a clear call to action – indicate how your visitor can make a purchase or get more information.

Strategy 3: Write for SEO

That’s right – as much as you have to write for your reader, you also have to write for the search engine spiders. The reason why SEO (search engine optimization) is so important is that 93% of web traffic comes through search engines.

And if people can’t find your content, they clearly can’t read it.

To write effectively for SEO, use the following tips:

  • Use keywords – do a bit of research to find out what keywords your potential customers are searching and make sure you incorporate those words in your headings and content.
  • Don’t overuse keywords – keyword stuffing used to be an effective technique for giving your website a good ranking in the search engines, but now it can get you penalized.
  • Make your content sharable – when others share your writing on social media or it is linked back to in blogs and professional articles, it helps your SEO.
  • Write often – new content in the form of regular articles and blogs will let Google and the other search engines know that you are still relevant.

Strategy 4: Write for People

In addition to writing for SEO, you also need to remember that you are writing for people. But not any and all people – you are writing for your customers and prospective customers. Your writing should be targeted to them.

  • Write quality, useful content – If visitors to your website find what you write helpful – even if they are not ready to buy today — they will be more likely to return to your site when they are. Writing helpful and relevant blogs and articles is a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your industry.
  • Structure your writing in a way that makes sense – just as your website’s link navigation should be easy to follow, it should be easy to follow your writing from one point to the next. Clear headings and subheading are a way to accomplish this.
  • Keep your content up to date – don’t let your readers think you have gone out of business or simply don’t care because you have old, irrelevant content.
  • Be action oriented – make it simple for your reader to find and follow your call to action.

Writing compelling and effective web content does take some time, but your readers will appreciate content that has been written with them in mind – and your efforts will pay off if you keep at it.

How to write SEO friendly content (and human friendly content) for your business blog

There are many advantages to writing a regular blog for your business – not the least of which is that it can help with your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). Done correctly, your blog will not only attract customers, set your business up as an expert in your industry and improve your search rankings.

Done incorrectly however, you can alienate potential customers and actually get penalized by Google and the other major search engines.

One of the important things to remember when writing for you business blog is to write content that is both SEO friendly and human friendly. SEO friendly content will help search engine crawlers to find your content and in turn, give your site a better ranking.

Human friendly content will help to ensure that visitors to your site have a great experience. Content needs to be well written and engaging.

The following are a few tips to make your blog appealing both to search engine crawlers and your future customers:

1. Think about your content (and keywords).

What are your potential customers searching for? If they don’t specifically know the name of your business – or haven’t heard of you – what are they typing into their internet search bar? Think about these keywords and write a blog that incorporates them. Just don’t overuse them – not only does this make your blog harder to read but it looks spammy and it can actually hurt your SEO. Generally speaking, keywords should only be in about one to two percent of your content. (And don’t forget to include them in some of your subtitles and tags).

2. Be an original

Sorry but copy and paste is not going to do it here. When you were in school, this was called plagiarism. In SEO world, duplicate content is going to get you Google-slapped. You need to make sure that your content is original.

3. Length matters!

Blogs should be long enough to be informative – think articles rather than tweets! Your article length will also help with your SEO. A minimum of 300 words is recommended.

4. Keep Writing

The whole point of having a blog is to write regular content. As more people discover your business blog, they will begin to follow it – or start returning regularly for updates. Search engines will notice return visitors and your ranking will increase.

5.  Make your blogs sharable

When your site visitors read a blog that they find fascinating, they will naturally want to share it on Facebook, Twitter etc. When they share it, this will naturally create backlinks on those sites – once again improving your SEO.  Use share and tweet buttons to make sharing easy!

6. Link to your other blog posts

As you write more and more posts, topics will naturally start to overlap – so link to your previous posts where it makes sense to do so! This will help your readers move easily between posts that interest them – and Google likes it too!