Tag Archives: SEO

The social media FAIL you can’t afford

So you’re a small business—maybe you’re or a startup—and cash is tight, I get it. I totally get it.

You’re building pretty decent word-of-mouth through your social media strategies: Your Facebook page is hopping with customers chatting with you (and with each other!) about your company and your offering. Twitter’s all abuzz with people raving about you, and hashtagging you all over the place. Your company page on LinkedIn is gaining a lot of followers, and potential partners and employees are reaching out proactively to you. And don’t even get me started on your Pinterest boards!

So with all this incoming love, you’re basically good to go with your marketing, right?

Wrong!

Whether it’s PPC, promoted social media postings, or whatever, at some point you’re just gonna have to invest in some paid advertising in order to take that fab word-of-mouth to the next level. Here’s why:

  • Word-of-mouth isn’t measurable
  • Word-of-mouth can’t geo-target
  • Word-of-mouth has no CTA
  • Word-of-mouth misses some demographics you need
  • Word-of-mouth doesn’t always reach people actively searching for your offering

Now, if you’re in it to tread water for a while and have the conversation about you eventually become, “Hey, whatever happened to. . .?,” stick with word-of-mouth. It will absolutely get you where you wanna be.

But if you don’t want a competitor to grab your share of the market while they’re proactively working to expand their own, you need to plan for paid advertising—sooner rather than later.

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What calico kittens can teach you about SEO

OK, the short answer here is: Yes, yes it probably is.

The longer answer is a bit more complex. While I see the importance of keywords for search purposes, I also think a case can be made for value over discoverability. Using smart, targeted keywords to drive those searching online is great—but don’t alienate them with crappy copy once they get to you!

So if you’re blogging about calico kittens, this may get you found, but not liked:

For those of you who enjoy calico kittens, there is a calico kitten discussion group, Calico Kittens Anonymous, every Thursday at the public library. The Calico Kittens Anonymous group spends about an hour each week talking about calico kittens, looking at pictures of calico kittens, and researching the history of calico kittens. If you like calico kittens, contact us for more information about the Calico Kittens Anonymous calico kitten discussion group.

See how much fun that was? Not even a little bit, right? And all that just to show up in a little over 12,000 monthly searches for “calico kittens”. . .

So let’s look at some copy that will still get the point across, but will actually add value for the reader while broadening and increasing search results:

Are you into cats and kittens? What about calico kittens? If so, you’re in luck, because I just found out about a group of pet lovers who meet monthly at the public library to socialize and share pictures of calico kittens. The group, Calico Kittens Anonymous, raises funds for cat rescue and pet adoption non-profits, and they also volunteer at “adopt-a-pet” events all over town. They’re a great group, and are looking to add more members, so contact us if you’d like more information.

With a simple re-write and a bit of creativity, we not only ended up with copy that is much more enjoyable to read, we also used a variety of related keywords and increased our reach from appearing in about 12,000 monthly searches to nearly 70,000,000.

Now of course, this is just an example, and obviously a local cat discussion group has no need to reach 70M global web searchers (Do they? No.). But you get the point.

People who are out trolling the web for information want just that—information. They don’t want to be beaten about the head and shoulders repeatedly by your targeted keywords. If the point is to engage a potential fan or customer, you need to provide value.

A bit of kick-ass copywriting doesn’t hurt, either.  :)

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Wizards, Robots, and Branding Cluelessness

I recently came across a practice that is unfortunately growing by leaps and bounds as businesses try to cut corners to save on marketing dollars. I call it robo-writing.

Startups, mom & pop companies, and other organizations that generally have little-to-no marketing resources at their disposal can be most at risk here. In searching for a bargain, they fall into the trap of trying to get something for nothing, assuming that wizard-generated copy is better than no copy at all. So they give it a whirl.

There are dozens of free downloads of sales, marketing, and ad copy wizards out there. Most are easy to use, and many are based on so-called “proven” algorithms, so really, why NOT use one?

Here’s why:

  • Keywords are not everything. Keywords can be part of your copy strategy, but not all of it. They help with online searches, but do nothing to directly impact marketing and sales. Most copy generators put all their eggs in the keyword basket, so beware.
  • “Test-tube copy” is not engaging. If your target audience is a computer, fine. But most companies I know are ultimately trying to sell to humans, and processed, clinically correct copy is not going to capture their attention.
  • Wizards don’t know jack about branding. If your company wants to project a specific vibe, you need to use a writer that can give some personality to your content—to reinforce your brand, and develop trust.

Still think you can’t afford professionally written copy? Talk to a reputable freelancer and find out if he or she can accommodate your near-term needs at a reasonable cost (can you say, short-term introductory rate?)—or if they can refer you to someone who can. Then as your business grows (thanks to your kick-ass, professionally written marketing copy), you’ll be able to expand and extend your relationship with your writer as you move forward.

You don’t feed your kids processed cheese; why would you feed your customers processed copy?

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The Write Tool for the Job

Do you know the difference between needing to hire a marketing writer, vs. needing to hire a tech writer? Unless you are deeply ingrained with a major player in the technology industry, such as Microsoft HP, Adobe, Apple, or Google, you’re probably getting it wrong.

There have been many occasions when I’ve been contacted by a potential client (who has presumably read my Web site and already done a bit of research on me) about a new project. Once we start chatting about their needs, however, it often bubbles up that they are looking for someone to develop a reviewer’s guide, user documentation, or possibly even a technical white paper.

Now, there is nothing at all on my Web site that would lead anyone to believe that I am a technical writer, yet this person somehow assumes that this is what I do for a living, simply because I write. And people just like this seem to land on my doorstep almost weekly, looking for my assistance.

A writer is not a writer is not a writer is not a. . .well, you get the drift.

Getting your tech writing project done correctly and on time is not merely a factor of “insert writer here.” You have to have the correct resource for the job. To help alleviate any further confusion, here’s a quick cheat sheet on these two types of writers, and the types of content can realistically expect them to produce for you:

Tech Writer

  • software documentation
  • operating instructions
  • assembly manuals
  • technical blogs
  • technical white papers
  • e-learning materials
  • online help files

Marketing Writer

  • case studies
  • Web sites
  • direct marketing
  • e-mailers
  • newsletters
  • slide presentations
  • banner ads
  • business white papers
  • demo scripts
  • brochures
  • advertisements
  • social media content
  • data sheets
  • SEO copy
  • messaging frameworks

This of course is not an exhaustive list, but it should at least give you a concrete idea of the kind of resource you need to get your job done. Got questions? Just ask!

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Do Your Readers Hate Your Blog?

The saying goes that you can’t please everyone. But then another one—OK, it’s really a song—says that, even though you can’t always get what you want—if you try sometimes, you get what you need.

So where am I going with this exactly? Well, I guess the message I really want to deliver is this: Sometimes a controversial blog posting or two that generates some passionate or negative responses from your readers can be a good thing.

Of course, you obviously want to stay away from the gratuitous and in-your-face stuff, and you don’t want to generate so many consistent flames as to alienate your readership (or your industry). But, when I’ve got my PR hat on (it’s purple and sparkly, in case you were wondering), I would advise hesitant or timid bloggers to go ahead and float that sort-of-out-there idea or controversial theory, if only to spark some lively debate (and maybe get some ideas for your next blog!).

So yeah, so ahead and make ‘em hate you–you might even boost your page hits in the process!

 

 

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There’s More to Marketing Than SEO

Lately, everything I see or hear about copywriting ultimately leads back to SEO. Yes (rolling eyes), that SEO: Search Engine Optimization. I think that marketers have gotten so caught up in the drama and sheer competition driven by the Internet that SEO has somehow become the be-all end-all of copywriting.

Not true.

For one thing, the explosion of the communications force of nature we know as Twitter doesn’t necessarily lend itself to SEO-heavy writing. I mean, 140 characters is 140 characters, and if you’re trying to cram in too many keywords, your Tweets are just going to look like Mike Tyson wrote them.

And then there are case studies. Lovely case studies demonstrate how happy your product or service makes your customers. Case studies actually develop a bit of a relationship with that browsing customer who is looking to read something that gives her the feeling of, “Hey, this guy had my problem, and look how he solved it!”

Friends, good copy is about more than just keywords. It’s crisp, focused, compelling, and persuasive. It engages and informs.

So next time you are reading about the Importance of SEO Copywriting, smile, nod, and give it its due. . .but also take time to remember the artistry of the writer whose copy actually resonates with your customers, long after they’ve read it.

 

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