Why Isn’t My SEO Strategy Working?

Stress

Getting their SEO strategy to perform at peak levels is a common challenge for business owners. In fact, their SEO might actually be taking them in the right direction, only needing a few simple tweaks to maximize results.

Business owners who manage their own SEO strategy often follow the self-optimization tools provided in SEO packages, such as Yoast, to guide them through the tricky waters of search marketing.

As robust as these tools can be, there are some key custom elements of a complete SEO strategy that many businesses tend to overlook, causing them to potentially miss out on better rankings. Much of them have to do with content generation, which SEO software won’t (and shouldn’t) help you with, and where you publish your content outside of your own domain.

Here are examples of those little extras that can help better your search results:

  1. Long-Tail Keywords: Let’s say you sell shoes in Seattle. You decide to implement an SEO strategy on your website and start brainstorming SEO keywords. The first one you might think of is “shoes”. “Footwear” might come in second, followed by a list of your top brands. While these keywords are certainly relevant, they’re also in high demand and might not rank you very well in search results. This is why long-tail keywords play an important role in setting you apart from your competition. Try something like “Imported leather shoes from Italy in Seattle” or “Steve Madden shoes Seattle”. There – you just improved your odds of being found. Long-tail keywords also work great for your blogs, such as: “Which shoe polish is best for brown leather shoes?”
  2. Write for People: Have you ever tried to read pure SEO-oriented content? It’s not a compelling read for humans or search engines. That’s right – search algorithms are so intelligent that they can separate good content from keyword-stuffed mumbo jumbo. And even if the keyword-stuffed mumbo jumbo ranks highly, who’s going to read it and be moved to convert? The bottom line is to write for humans, optimize for search, not the other way around.
  3. Off-site SEO: Here’s one that a lot of businesses miss. Off-site SEO refers to “authority building” that Google uses as a ranking factor. This authority is measured by inbound links from external sources that are of high authority themselves. If these sites are linking to yours, Google will perceive your site as having authority as well. Guest blogging and social media syndication are two great ways to raise your off-site authority.

On a final note, remember that, like content management, an SEO strategy can’t be successful with a “set it and forget it” philosophy. It needs to be revisited from time to time to reinforce what’s been successful, and tweak what hasn’t.

Richard Todd,Editor's Desk,About Us,About The Editor's Desk

Richard S. Todd is President at The Editor’s Desk, creating web copy that attracts, engages, and converts your audience into qualified leads.

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Your FAQ Page: An Added Opportunity for Conversion

richard todd,self-publishing coach,copywriting torontoYou might not feel you need an FAQ page, but having one gives you another opportunity to attract, engage, and convert customers.

Here’s how to optimize yours.

 

Do you have an FAQ page? If so, are you using it to its full potential?

FAQ pages are great ways to inform your audience about important information they need when doing business with you. You can, however, use your FAQ page as a strategic marketing tool to convert more website visitors into qualified leads.

Think about it. People who invest their time to read your FAQ page are doing so for a reason: they’re interested in doing business with you. Why not just give them a little extra push to move them through their sales journey, and develop a relationship that could make you money?

Here are some ideas for optimizing your FAQ page for conversion:

  1. Use Real Questions: What do your customers ask you about the most? Maybe they want to know about your team’s experience, return policy, or what certain industry terms mean. Just like the rest of your site, only include the most relevant information here.
  2. Include Keywords and Links: Be sure to include lots of keywords on your page, as well as internal and external links where the reader can go to learn more information.
  3. Encourage Engagement: Even though you’ve included all the FAQs you could think of, there will always be some prospects who will ask more. This is a great reason to include a call to action at the bottom of the page, encouraging inquisitive folks to submit their own question. Be sure to personally answer them ASAP to start them on their sales journey.
  4. Use Landing Pages: One of the questions might be solved with a white paper you’ve written. Include the link to its landing page in your answer.
  5. Watch the Length: More isn’t always better when it comes to content, and FAQ pages are no exception. If your FAQ page is too long, your reader might give up halfway down. For longer pages, try installing a search function or hyperlinks to the answers.

You need every chance you can get to convert your audience. By optimizing your FAQ page, you’ll be giving your business an extra chance to attract, engage, and convert website visitors into qualified leads.

Corporate Storytelling

 corporate storytelling,copyediting,The Editor's Desk,business copy“Content…is an important component of sales and marketing in a company.” – Flavian DeLima, Corporate Storyteller

This week, copywriter Flavian DeLima explains to The Inside View why corporate storytelling is an important part of any business’ overall marketing strategy.

1)   Do small businesses have different challenges, in terms of content, than larger businesses?

Yes, the main difference is that small businesses often have several people performing more than one task. Small businesses have resource constraints and may not have systems and processes in place.

Regarding completing projects, when one person performs many tasks, it is challenging to meet deadlines. Deadlines get pushed back and quality often suffers due to lack of expertise internally. Today, customers expect quality content.

Content, whether a blog post, case study, article or white paper, is an important component of sales and marketing in a company. While large companies have internal communications people, they often outsource content creation and focus on other strategic initiatives.

Small businesses are busy and often less clear about content requirements. Their skills are often spread across various roles. When a company outsources projects to an outside writer, a higher degree of trust often develops. The writer works closely as a company expert and the company often views them as a strategic advantage of the company.

2)   How do businesses strike that balance between writing enough copy to keep a reader interested without overloading or boring them with too much?

Writing is about doing needs assessments and identifying the customer and what motivates them to buy.

When you listen and pay attention to a company’s customers, they tell you how they want to receive information and learn in order to help them make the best decision. The copy reflects the top customer personas and their preferences.

3)   What would you say is the single most important practice in copywriting for business, and why?

Pay attention to the customer personas. Customers want to engage with companies and want bi-directional communication. They will let a company know when they are happy and when they want improvement. Customers increasingly want the values of an organization to be in line with their own values. Customers also want to belong to communities, so it helps when SMBs are visible in the community as well as the having a presence on LinkedIn or other social media channels.

4)   Copywriting clearly doesn’t involve just sitting down and writing. What steps should a good writer take when preparing to write great copy?

It starts with the business and their customers. It is very important to always be talking to customers in person and by telephone. Email and surveys are not as effective to gauge customer needs and wants. The closer one can get to the emotional reasons that motivate a customer to buy, the easier it is to write the copy.

5)   Do you find that businesses tend to outsource their copywriting or do it in-house? Which would you say is a better practice?

Companies often try to do everything internally. If their business benefits from sharing expertise with prospects and existing customers, they recognize the value of outsourcing their copywriting.

A better practice is to have an objective external writer, who focuses on high valued content rather than writing sales oriented content. Objective quality content drives traffic to a website.

6) How would a business go about finding the perfect copywriter for them?

Successful business people believe in finding great people before they need them. One of the best ways to achieve this is to attend business and professional networking events. Meet people and follow them on LinkedIn and other relevant social networks. It will not take long for you to discover if you think alike and if you share similar values.

Questions about Corporate Storytelling? Send them to info@editorsdesk.net.

Reprinted from The Editor’s Desk series: The Inside View.

If you’re a writer, write. And if you’re a reader, keep reading. We need you

Author Richard S. Todd

Richard Todd is a novelist, screenwriter, and president at The Editor’s Desk. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.

Using Simple English

Simple English,copyediting,business writing,Editor's Desk

Let’s say you’re shopping for computers. You go into a store and ask two different salesmen about the graphics on a particular model.

Salesman #1 says: “This baby is configurable to dual AMD FirePro D700, each with 8GB of GDDR5 VRAM, 2048 stream processors, 384-bit-wide memory bus, 264GB memory bandwidth and 3.5 teraflops performance.”

Salesman #2 says: “Top of the line. Graphics, photos, games, and movies will leap off the page. And if you’re designing graphics or web pages, you can’t beat the power or memory capacity.”

Which salesman would you buy from?

Chances are Salesman #2 will be getting your money. He didn’t intimidate you with jargon or feel he had to impress you with fancy tech talk like Salesman #1.

Salesman #2 simply spoke to you. And if that rings true in a brick-and-mortar location, why should your business copy be any different?

Just like that savvy salesman, your website should be using Simple English.

Simple English doesn’t mean “dumbing down” your text. It means making your page easier to read by not using large words, overly-techincal jargon, or complex phrasing.

In other words, it reflects how most people speak in both personal and business conversation. You want your website to reflect that casual tone. After all, your customers most likely don’t need to know how it works, just that it works.

So how can you test the readability of your business copy?

The Flesch Reading Scale measures the reading ease of text using a complex formula. The higher the score out of 100, the easier the page is to read. Can you guess what this page scored? I’ll tell you at the bottom.

I would also recommend reading your copy out loud, possibly to a friend or colleague. If your friend curls an eyebrow, or if something doesn’t sound quite right, chances are it won’t read well. Novelists use this technique all the time.

Also, consider your customer’s level of understanding of your product or service. Put yourself in their shoes. Would they really understand all the impressive technical words you’re using? If not, time to reconsider your strategy.

Still wondering how this page scored? It got a 69.8%, which is considered OK to read.

For this, I blame Salesman #1.

Questions? Contact us at info@editorsdesk.net.

Reprinted from The Editor’s Desk.

If you’re a writer, write. And if you’re a reader, keep reading. We need you

Author Richard S. Todd

Richard Todd is a novelist, screenwriter, and president at The Editor’s Desk. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.

Writing Good Copy for Author Websites

author website,content,writer,copywriting

“It’s important for the author to have a hand in what the web copy says, yet some authors have a really hard time writing about themselves…” Lissa M. Cowan, Associate Copywriter for The Editor’s Desk

The Inside View’s first instalment features Lissa M. Cowan, Associate Copywriter for The Editor’s Desk. Lissa shares her insights on writing copy for author websites.

1)   What are some of the most important aspects of  an author’s website? 

Give visitors a taste of his or her latest book to draw them in right away. That might mean presenting them with a video teaser on the homepage that recounts or reenacts some of the book without giving away the ending, or maybe it’s a hypnotizing paragraph from the book that is prominently displayed on the homepage. Another important aspect is for an author to provide two or three testimonials from readers and media that clearly showcase his or her talents, and make people want to buy the book. And finally, an author needs to give readers a way to contact him or her, and to follow the author on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest or Instagram. Choose just one or two of these social media. Also, don’t forget to ask them to share, share, share the website with their friends!

2)   Should an author write his or her own web copy or hire a professional copywriter? 

I think it’s important for the author to have a hand in what the web copy says, yet some authors have a really hard time writing about themselves and so, for something like a bio, it makes sense to have someone else write it, or at the every least, edit it. If an author does write his or her own copy, then I suggest having it edited by a professional, as even writers make writing mistakes.

3)   How often should an author update his or her blog? What kind of topics should they write about? 

It’s important to update blog content regularly as it will help an author’s website rank better online, which means driving more traffic to the site. I suggest posting once a week or twice a month. To determine what kinds of topics to write about, an author need to figure out who his or her audience is. For example, if it’s crime readers, then it makes sense to post on topics that interest these readers. It’s important for authors to remember that they don’t have to write a new post from scratch each time. Authors can comment on something they’ve read in the news, or post captivating pictures or illustrations. Depending on how long the author has been blogging, he or she can recycle and update content from previous posts, and can also request guest posts from other authors in a similar genre. If you’re not sure what topics to post about, then ask your readers via a survey. People love filling in surveys and it will give authors some useful information to draw from.

4)   Most authors are on some type of social media platform these days. Which, in your opinion, is the most effective for authors? 

I think this really depends on what kind of books the author writes, and also his or her readership. For Young Adult authors I would seriously recommend Twitter and Instagram, as young people are moving away from Facebook and spending more time on these social media. Facebook is good for some audiences, and makes it easy to set up a fan page and to send out invites for book-related events. Pinterest is really popular these days so I would definitely suggest that authors look into how this platform might work in their favour. As an example, if an author writes cookbooks then something like Pinterest or Instagram would be perfect as it is visually based. Although it’s important to be on social media for connecting to readers, I think one can overdo. Better to pick one or two and to post regularly than to be on all of them and not keep up-to-date.

5)   What’s the one thing you can recommend for an author websites that many authors haven’t thought of? 

I find that many authors still don’t have video on their websites, and video is one of the most popular ways of communicating online. In fact, experts say that in a few years it will replace social media altogether. Not sure about that, yet it’s super popular and super shareable so definitely worth doing. Author videos can range from an author reading his or her work, to a Q&A, to an animated video explaining a book’s storyline.

Questions for Lissa? Send them to info@editorsdesk.net.

Reprinted from The Editor’s Desk series: The Inside View.

If you’re a writer, write. And if you’re a reader, keep reading. We need you

Author Richard S. Todd

Richard Todd is a novelist, screenwriter, and president at The Editor’s Desk. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.

Love Your Corporate Copywriting Job

So you want to be a corporate copywriter. Why not? Who wouldn’t want to get paid to do something they love?

Well, you might not love it so much if you don’t believe in what you’re writing.

What do you do if you’re a staunch environmentalist and an oil company wants to hire you? Or you’re a strict vegetarian that can make big money writing for a big fast-food burger chain?

As writers, do we really want to sell our souls just to make money?

The good news is that we don’t have to!

By strategically using such online resources as LinkedIn or Twitter, it’s easy to connect to the companies we love.

The environmentalist can offer to write donor pleas for not-for profit environmental foundations or white papers for green energy companies.

And the vegetarian? How about contacting that local nutritionist to help them with their website or newsletters?

With small, independent companies sprouting up all the time, there’s lots of room for all of us to find that dream writing gig. Or two.

Just plug into whatever it is you love. Even if that something is money.

See you out there!

PS: Welcome to all my new subscribers. If you like what you’ve been reading, please click the Facebook “like” button on the sidebar of web version of this page.  And while you’re there, follow me on Twitter too. Thanks a lot!

If you’re a writer, write. And if you’re a reader, keep reading. We need you!

Richard Todd is an author, blogger, and Social Media guy. Plus a few other things that get lost in the clutter. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.

Measuring Success

Here in North America, one of the first questions you’re asked when you first meet someone is “What do you do for a living?” And because success is too often equated with money, status, and possessions, the rest of the conversation (and ensuing relationship) could very well hinge on your answer.

For authors, success should be measured by accomplishments, not by book sales. I’ve had many people (writers and non-writers alike) call me a success simply because I wrote a book and had it published. People seem astounded, without even knowing any sales figures.

And now I’ve written a second? Amazing!

So for all you writers out there, the next time you are disappointed at lagging sales, be proud that you were committed enough to see such an enormous project straight through to the end. I know it’s not easy. And I can attest to the fact that many people admire your efforts as well.

Come to think of it, the only ones who consider low book sales as a sign of failure are the traditional publishers. So self-publish away and hold your head high!

You’re already a success. Believe it.

If you’re a writer, write. And if you’re a reader, keep reading. We need you!

Richard Todd is an author, blogger, and Social Media guy. Plus a few other things that get lost in the clutter. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.