Archive for the ‘SEO Copywriting’ Category

How to Create a Great How-To Article

Monday, August 6th, 2012 |

The Internet is fast becoming a preferred way to get information. This may help explain the proliferation of how-to articles across the web – they help satisfy a person’s curiosity and, more importantly, they often supply quick solutions for everyday problems. However, some of them are better than others. Follow these tips to create a great how-to article

Pick a solution-based topic that will benefit your readers

How-to articles appeal to readers, in part, because they offer useful information quickly and teach a skill. Some of the best articles isolate a part of life that burdens many people and explains easy ways to alleviate it. They are usually packed with tips that someone can apply to his or her life immediately. They offer implementable solutions, in other words.

In order to create a great how-to article, you need a great idea. Pick a topic that is accessible and solution-based. Readers flock to those kinds of articles.

Research well

Once you have lured people in with your great topic, you need to provide good advice. Many will simply leave an article that, while based on an interesting idea, seems to be full of shoddy, under-researched information. Use the Internet and books; if the article calls for it, secure an expert opinion. Solid research will help you develop a solid article.

Give your ideas time to form

Not all writers have the luxury of time, but if you do, use it to your advantage. Allow ideas for your topic to bounce around your mind for a day or so after you have wrapped up most of your research. That extra time to reflect can allow new, creative ideas to form out of the information you recently absorbed.

Create a title that matches search queries

If you have invested time and energy into a great how-to article, you want people to find it. Increase the odds that interested readers will find it by incorporating relevant keywords into your title. In other words, make sure your title contain words that potential readers are likely to enter into search engines when researching the subject. Your article stands a better chance of ranking well and those searching are more likely to click your link.

Write clear instructions

Make it easy for readers to take something valuable from your how-to article. Divide instructions into clearly defined steps with subheadings. Ask yourself whether someone could take your tips and, without confusion or hesitation, use them as a solution to a problem. If not, you may need to rethink your tips.

Revise your article

When you have finished your article, step away from it for at least a few hours. Then, with fresh eyes, make sure that the ideas in your article flow together well. Double check that the tips you share are accurate, easy to understand, and logically structured.  Eliminate grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, as they can be distracting.  In short, make sure your article is polished and professional.

Add images

Not every how-to article needs images, but many would benefit from at least one or two. That especially holds true for articles on the longer side. Images can break up extended segments of text and, if selected well, reinforce the ideas in your writing.

In an Internet swarming with how-to article, you need to separate yours from the pack to get noticed. One way to catch readers’ eyes is to make your article great. Accomplish that by giving ideas time to form, writing clearly, sharing useful solutions, and incorporating relevant words into your title so interested readers can find it.

David Kendall contributed this guest post on behalf of WebHostingHub.com- see here for more information on their hosting reviews. David is a freelance technology writer who enjoys writing for various online publications.

image source

Article Writing: Why Quality Trumps Quantity

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 |

Article writing is the single most effective tactic for driving traffic to any website. Unfortunately, there are too many webmasters out there that place a greater importance on quantity than on quality. For every webmaster out there that focuses on writing quality content, there are at least a few who simply do keyword research and pump out as much content as possible to hit those keywords.

In the earlier days of Google, this was an effective strategy. However, things have changed and it is now more effective to spend time writing a few quality articles than it is to build a content farm out of mediocre articles. Low quality articles litter the internet, frustrate visitors and make the lives of legitimate website owners that much more difficult.

High quality articles are not written with the sole intention of hitting keywords. High quality articles are written with the reader in mind first. The best articles are those that are unique, well-written and backed by research. Visitors to your website can tell instantly whether or not the content is worth spending the time to read.

Here are four reasons why quality trumps quantity in the realm of article writing:

Quality Articles Provide Value to the Reader

By “value,” I’m referring to articles that readers find useful, interesting, entertaining or though-provoking. These articles reward website visitors for spending the time to read what you’ve written. This generates good will among your visitors and encourages repeat website visits. Every visitor that bookmarks your website is one less visitor that you have to earn through Google.

High quality articles also generate more natural links to your website. When people stumble upon well-written content, they are more likely to share that content with other people. This generates links on social media sites such as Facebook and on third party websites. Those links bring more direct traffic and help your site rank higher in search engines.

Let’s look at an example:

A 500 word article on the topic of wireless internet is way too short to fully explore such a wide-open subject. There’s nothing inherently wrong with short articles, but a 500 word article on “wireless internet” is highly unlikely to provide any real value to the reader. A better approach would be to drill down to a more specific topic and then thoroughly cover that topic.

Quality Articles Generate Trust

If you consistently provide your readers with useful information, your readers will come to trust you. Not only does this trust earn repeat visitors and more backlinks, but it also makes your readers more likely to listen to your recommendations. People who trust you are more likely to buy your products and click on your affiliate links.

But remember: trust is not earned in a day. Trust is earned over time by posting high quality articles again and again. No matter how many articles you publish every day, it takes time to develop a relationship with your visitors. That is why it is so important for you to always write high quality articles, even if it means a slower rate of production.

Quality Articles Last Longer

High quality articles last longer because they remain useful to your readers. A thorough “how-to” guide of some sort can last for years if the subject remains relevant. Once again, these articles encourage repeat visits to your website.

As an added bonus, high quality articles stick around longer in search engine results. When people share high quality articles over a long course of time, those articles slowly generate new links and maintain high rankings in search engines. Low quality articles eventually fall off the top page of Google and collect dust in the vast archives of the internet.

Google No Longer Rewards Content Farms

Google has actively stepped up its efforts to weed out obvious content farms from its search engine results. The recent Panda update was designed specifically for this reason. Google has always stated that its goal is to provide the most relevant and high quality search results possible for its users. Websites that simply pump out low quality content all day long do not provide searchers with the information they want.

The Panda update goes to show how important quality content is. Hate ‘em or love ‘em, you have to admit Google has a good handle on what kind of search results people like to see. If Google places greater importance on quality than on quantity, you can bet the people that use Google do as well. Besides, common sense tells us that people would rather find a few snippets useful information than a truck load of filler text.

by James Wilson

Does Your Website Suffer from These 4 Common Copywriting Mistakes?

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 |

You can have a well-designed website. You can even have an optimized website that ranks high in the search engines for top keywords. But if you don’t have conversion-driven copy, it’s all for nothing. Simply put, your website copy is what determines whether or not a visitor becomes a customer.

writing-mistakesThe good news is writing web copy that sells is actually easier than you might think. The key is to avoid these common copywriting mistakes.

  1. Too much “we-we” talk—I hate to burst your bubble, but your customers don’t want to hear you rambling on and on about how great you think you are. Customers only care about one thing: What’s in it for me? With that in mind, you shouldn’t be saying “we, we, we”, but instead, you need to say “you, you, you.” Here’s a cool tool I like to use when writing web copy: We We Calculator. It grades your copy based on how custom-centric it is.
  2. The copy is difficult to scan—Eye-tracking studies show that users tend to scan online content rather than read it word for word. In fact, online readers scan in an F-shaped pattern. That means you need to focus on making your copy as easy to scan as possible. You can do this by using short paragraphs, bulleted lists, bolded phrases, and by putting the most important information at the beginning of each new paragraph.
  3. Weak headlines lose readers—Your headline should never be an afterthought. It needs to be something you put a lot of thought and effort into. Remember, this is the first thing a new visitor will see. The headline needs to suck them in. You can do this by focusing your headline around a unique benefit of your product or service. Keep it customer-centric!
  4. What’s the benefit?—Speaking of benefits, your copy needs to clearly explain the main benefits of your products and services. In other words, let readers know how your product or service will improve their lives. Just don’t fall into the trap of trying to cover too many benefits as it becomes overwhelming and too much to process. Narrow it down, and focus on the biggest benefits of doing business with you.

What are some other web copywriting mistakes you’ve seen? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment!

Eric Brantner is a website copywriter who has helped hundreds of clients achieve online success. Beyond writing for the web, he also handles brochure copywriting and other print copywriting services.

Optimization of Search Engine Results in Bing

Thursday, June 11th, 2009 |

I’ve played around with Bing over the last few days to see what it offers. Most of my evaluation has been of the results page from the user’s point of view.

  • Are the results I’m getting relevant?
  • How would I use the tools on the left side (“refined” results, Related Searches, Search History, etc)?
  • How would I pick which result to click on?

As an SEO company, we know it’s important that the client’s site ranks well and that search engine users click through (more traffic + more sales = more revenue which makes our clients happy). Users only have a few pieces of information to help them decide what site to visit when they’re looking at a results page: the title (that is also the link to the page), a short description, and the URL of the page.

From what I’ve seen of the results in Bing so far, it looks like the results page is pulling the title tag and meta description, which is pretty standard. However, they’ve added a little something extra to help users decide if this is the site they want before they click. When you hover over a search result, a horizontal line with an orange dot appears on the right. Mouse over the dot and a Preview window opens. In that Preview there is copy from the page, maybe a phone number and/or email address for the site, and sometimes even 5 deep links. So where is this information coming from?

It looks as if Bing is pulling the first content on the page and the first links. This isn’t so great if you’ve put a tag line at the top or Global navigation above your more-customer friendly links. Here I did a search for “diamond engagement rings” and found MySolitaire as the #3 result. The Preview included the first content on the page (double bonus, it also contained the terms “diamond”, “engagement”, and “rings”) and the first links.

diamond-header-page

But wait, there’s more to it. A search on “Lucero CDs” gives us Amazon as the #7 result. But its Preview copy is not what appears at the top of the page (and the code). Instead, the Preview pulls information father down; it is actually a customer review.

amazon-results

In this case it looks like Bing is pulling the first “unique” content on the page since many of Amazon’s pages share the same information at the top.  And the content it pulled did not contain “Lucero” or “CDs”.  In a few other results for different searches, it seems they are pulling content near the top but not what I would’ve guessed. So it seems like  Bing is looking for copy that:

  • Is near the top of the page
  • Is unique
  • Has the keywords in it (which is like when there is no meta description and the SE pulls content from the page, that includes the keywords, for the description of the listing on the results page)

Bing is so new that I’m not suggesting your run out and change the key pages of your website to maximize what could be in the Preview window. But, if you are thinking about site optimization for Bing’s result, you might want to consider what content and links are at the top of your page and the copy around your prominent keywords for the page.

Reason 1,000,001 Why Quality Writing Matters

Sunday, May 11th, 2008 |

While I’ve discussed why having quality writing is important for various reasons on our SEO Copywriting Blog, the following image shows why not only is writing quality content important, but paying attention to your meta descriptions can be equally important.

While the website bullysticks.com may be ranking in the top position for the keyword “bully sticks”, their meta description “boasts” that their “prices do not compare!” Clearly not the message they meant to send to potential customers. While bullysticks.com seems to be claiming that their prices are higher than their competition, our client, Best Bully Sticks, has a meta-description that clearly states how their high quality product, low prices, and customer service make the difference.

Meta descriptions do get read so make sure your’s says something useful. Amazing how four little words can make a difference.

bully-sticks-results.png

Unique Product Descriptions – SEO Tip Week 40

Monday, October 8th, 2007 |

SEO TipsThis is a niche SEO tip, but if you fall into the category of those who resell products and are going against many other competitors selling the same item you will find this extremely valuable. If the manufacturer supplies you with the product description then it is likely that many of your competitors are using that same description which means you may be devaluing your product page because the search engines see your product page as duplicate content. Or your page might not even show up as Google would consider your site duplicated material not relevant enough to make the cut due to lack of popularity when compared against other sites showing the same results.

Here is a perfect example of how duplicate content can hurt your site rankings and your traffic. I picked a random child’s toy: Turbo Twist Math by Leap Frog. I did a search using the manufacturer’s initial text in the product description (“Be a Math Whiz with Turbo Twist Math”) and here are my Google search results. If you visit the link you will see only one result with the following text underneath:

In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 1 already displayed.
If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.”

Google is telling you that this description is used so often that they are only showing you one result. You must expand the list to see other results which is still only 6 which could mean they are not even including the dozens or hundreds of other similar listings in the results. This is an extreme case since I’ve searched for a specific phrase, but the theory still applies: Duplicate content will hurt your rankings.

You will have a much better chance of showing in the search results if you add your own unique information about the product you are selling or the service you are providing. This is good for SEO but also for better converting potential customers. Feel free to interject your own opinions or thoughts on why the product is useful and include information your visitors might be wary to know. Anything you can write of add to distinguish your product information from other sites will help.

Being different is better.

Click Here For More Information – Bad Text Links – SEO Tip Week 26

Friday, June 29th, 2007 |

If you have been following this blog or looking into SEO you know how very important building links can be to your site’s success in the search engine rankings. Link building involves two types of links: Links pointing to your site (external linking), and links on your site pointing to other pages of your site (internal linking). While we don’t always have the ability to control external linking, a poorly worded internal link is inexcusable. The single, easiest and least low effort thing to remember is to make your links descriptive. If that is too much to remember, then just remember this, no links should be labeled “click here,” “more information,” “read more” or any other variation of these words.

I realize this might bring disagreement from the user experience community but I think we can all agree that your average user doesn’t need to be told to click a link and if it isn’t obviously a link (underlined) you have bigger problems on your site with usability.

Every time I see a “click here” link I shake my head at the wasted link opportunity that is being lost. You probably know how powerful link text can be in helping your rankings so it shouldn’t be a surprise to find that the site that ranks for the term “click here” doesn’t even have those words within the text of the page that is ranking for “click here”. Care to guess what company’s site is ranking for it?

I’ll give you a hint; you’ve most likely downloaded the application and probably more than once. The site, or page actually, ranked number one for the term “click here”is the Acrobat Reader download page. Make sense? This clue might help: Click here to download Acrobat Reader. This proves the power of the text in your link, so why waste it with a non-descriptive textual link?

I can provide thousands of examples, but let’s look at a few examples where a descriptive text link would be much better.

Early Detection Key to Preventing Vision Loss from Glaucoma More than 2 million Americans over the age of 40 have glaucoma, but many of those living with the disease don’t even know it. – Find out more HERE

Instead, remove the “Find out more HERE” and place the link on the headline text and best of all it doesn’t require any rewriting:

Early Detection Key to Preventing Vision Loss from Glaucoma
More than 2 million Americans over the age of 40 have glaucoma, but many of those living with the disease don’t even know it.

  • Apple’s iPhone Page
    Being the huge Apple fan that I am it pains me to point to them as a bad example, but the new iPhone page is just that, a bad example. On this page I count five “read more” links and one “learn more”. It can be argued that Apple doesn’t need SEO help for the iPhone, but the principal and lost opportunity still applies.
  • Joint Commission Home Page
    I count five “read more” links, incredibly listed below descriptive titles without a link. What better way to get listing for their top stories than linking to them with keywords in the story? Placing the link on the headline would solve this, much like we suggested for the Prevent Blindness site.
  • Burst Media Contact Page
    One of the more ridiculous offenders of the “click here” mistake.

Making simple changes would have helped all of these sites make better use of their internal linking as well as helped with their site’s ranking for the words in the link.

Of course, going beyond the decision to not use useless text links and thinking about the best keywords and phrases to use will help even more. A few seconds, or better yet, a few minutes applied to thinking about your internal, contextual linking can bring in great rewards. Take the time and…Think before you Link!

SEO Titles, Using the Title Tag – SEO Tip Week 25

Friday, June 22nd, 2007 |

52 SEO TipsPage titles are one of the most important parts of any web page, especially when performing search engine optimization. A page title is located at the very top of your browser’s window. It can bring traffic in abundance or completely isolate your site. Knowing how to properly word a page title is critical to your site’s SEO success. Let’s look at how page titles can be used to increase your site’s traffic.

Snowflakes and Titles
It is said no two snowflakes look exactly the same. Well, the same should be said for page titles on your site.

Every page on your site should have a different focus from the other pages on your site, or you are repeating yourself and duplicating content. So if all your pages are telling a different story, shouldn’t they all have a different title? And that title should effectively reflect the content of the page.

Missing an Opportunity
In my daily web searches, I see many missed opportunities with poorly titled web pages. Pages simply named “Untitled” or “Untitled Document” can be found in the millions (79 million were found in a Google search). Search engines depend on titles to gather information about your web pages. And a page title without a unique description does not help the search engines – in fact, a generic page title makes the page nearly impossible to find…

Putting Your Company Name in the Title Tag
I’m not against putting your company name in your page title – after all, it will help build brand awareness. But, I am against putting only your company name in the title and until you become a household name, I would suggest putting your company name at the end of your title. The focus of your web pages should be on what people would search for to find your company. In other words you want targeted keyword phrases in the title. Let me give an example:

If your company name is “Miller & Sons” and you sell fishing equipment near Whitefish, Montana you should not limit your title to “Miller & Sons”. Instead try “Fishing Rods & Reels in Whitefish, Montana – Miller & Sons“. With this you are netting traffic searching for your product, your location and your company name. Keeping the location in the name is very important if you are serving only a regional or local market.

Let Your Copy Be Your Guide
When deciding on your page titles, read the page first and let that guide your decision. If you can’t confine the theme of your page copy into a concise page title, you may need to break the copy into more than one page.

If you sell toys on your site, your page copy should have the keyword “toys” and so should your page title. Even better it should include what type of toys. Do you sell dog toys? Cat toys? Children’s toys? Your title should convey this. Adding in other possible search terms is also a good idea. An example of a toy site home page title could be “Children’s toys and games – toys for boys and girls of all ages” You have your most important keyword, “toys,” listed twice and have added some other important keywords such as “games,” “boy” and “girl.”

Suppose one of the sub pages of your toy site showcases Leap Frog’s Discovery Ball. What type of toy is this? It’s an educational toy and you should use that in your title along with the actual toy name. This gives you an opportunity to be found in the search results for the toy name, the popular toy company and the heavily searched key phrase “educational toy.” A title catering towards SEO for this example would be: “Leap Frog Discovery Ball – Educational Toys“. Since the more targeted term is the name of the toy you put that first. Educational Toys would be shown first on a category page.

Now that you have integrated your keyword phrases from your page copy into your title, you’ll find that getting found in the search engines is a much easier task.

Submit Press Releases – SEO Tip Week 16

Friday, April 20th, 2007 |

Submit Press Releases for Link Building

52 SEO TipsFinding one-way links to your website can be a tough task. Finding quality one-way links to your websites can be even more difficult.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people put links to your site without you even asking them to? Well, submitting a press release can help accomplish this. Similar to my tip on SEO with articles, using a press release to build links and increase search engine rankings can also be effective. What so many people overlook submitting press releases, which are copyright free, is the fact that you can put links to your site within the content of the press release. We used this method of promotion for our online toy store client and you can see one of their press releases.

Not only can you place helpful links to your home page in the body of the press release but you can use deep linking and link to interior pages of your website. Deep linking is often harder to do as most websites would rather link to your home page. We use PRweb.com and the cost is higher to use text links rather than actual URLs.

Press Release Submit Site

As I wrote, PRweb.com does charge a fee for submission, but there are many free press release submission sites as well. Here are some that we also use:

Press release submission is not the magic bullet for SEO success, but it is a valuable tool in the SEO consultant’s toolbox. Whether it is a product release, a major hire, or a strategic acquisition you can make the press release perform double duty as both a internet marketing tool and a link building tool. Big Oak provides press release writing & submission as part of our SEO strategy.

Keyword Density Myth – Find the Bonsai Trees

Monday, April 2nd, 2007 |

Is their an optimal keyword density?Our SEO copywriters have wrestled with this question for years. I believe there used to be an optimal keyword density, but nowadays I don’t think there is. I do believe there is a density level that will get your site penalized, but an optimal density is just a myth. Don’t believe me, then take a look and do a few searches in Google. Let’s try “bonsai trees”.

Here are the top four results and the keyword density for the term “bonsai trees” on each page.

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonsai – 0.17%
  2. http://www.bonsaiboy.com/ – 5.74%
  3. http://www.bonsaisite.com/ - 0% (Yes, that is zero percent)
  4. http://www.helpfulgardener.com/bonsai/ – 1.38%

From these examples you can clearly see that keyword density shouldn’t be a major consideration in your writing efforts.

Instead, focus on the on-page factors that help the search engines determine the ranking of your web page: title tags, link text, navigation, heading tags and quality content.

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Comprehensive Article on Linkbaiting

Friday, February 9th, 2007 |

Well, I was going to write a post on linkbaiting and while doing some research I came across a thorough linkbaiting article already. The author, Andy Hagans does a masterful and clever job of outlining the types of linkbait, the methods of linkbaiting and the reasons to use linkbait. He even goes into social media bookmarking for good measure.

He notes that page titling is extremely important, but not just for SEO purposes, but to attract attention. He references Copyblogger’s 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work as a starting point when trying to create linkbait. I like the list so much I am adding it to my blog too. When creating titles for your linkbait here are some title templates to start with or a cheat sheet, if you will.

Copyblogger’s title cheat sheet:

  1. Who Else Wants [blank]?
  2. The Secret of [blank]
  3. Here is a Method That is Helping [blank] to [blank]
  4. Little Known Ways to [blank]
  5. Get Rid of [problem] Once and For All
  6. Here’s a Quick Way to [solve a problem]
  7. Now You Can Have [something desirable] [great circumstance]
  8. [Do something] like [world-class example]
  9. Have a [or] Build a [blank] You Can Be Proud Of
  10. What Everybody Ought to Know About [blank]

I won’t go into this any further, but visiting Andy Hagans’ Ultimate Guide to Linkbaiting and Social Media Marketing would be a worthwhile use of your time.

Big Oak SEO Blog

This SEO blog is provided by Big Oak SEO, a SEO Company. Most blog posts are related to search engine optimization, short reviews, SEO tips and increasing site conversions. Email us at contact@bigoakinc.com or give us a call 804-741-6776 to see how we can help your company. More

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