Case study: LC Designer Homes website copywriting

Background

Leonard Construction and Design in Auckland were rebranding to LC Designer Homes, to:
(a) emphasise the design aspect of their service, and
(b) focus on a new target market of luxury bespoke homes.

Problem

The previous website was functioning well in terms of Google rankings and generating enquiries, but as the target market had shifted it was attracting enquiries that were no longer relevant to the business.

Words by Cornelia had written the SEO website content for the previous content, and Trisha Cupra at Quokka Creative (my go-to web designer) had created the previous website. LC Designer Homes approached both of us to work on the new website, but were understandably concerned that a new website with new keywords and also a new domain could negatively impact search engine rankings.

Solution

I had a briefing meeting with Michelle at LC Designer Homes to understand their new target market, and the services they were offering (existing and new). Together, we also looked at competitors’ websites and identfied what we did and didn’t like about them, to get a feel for what was needed in terms of both the content, and the look and feel of the website.

From that, I conducted an in-depth keyword brainstorm, collaborating with Michelle. This resulted in 37 pages of relevant keywords and URLs to run through the keyword research tool, which created over 27,000 rows of keyword data. I manually sifted through this data to formulate the keyword strategy for the new website. Once the client had signed off the keyword strategy, I set to work on the website copywriting, liaising with Michelle as needed to ask questions and obtain further information.

The website copywriting work was tackled in a specific order, so that the things I learned in one section would enable me to write other sections in an informed way. In this instance, it meant writing the Services sub-pages first, because the information I learned from that then allowed me to write the main Services page, and also the Home page. Also, writing the content in sections and gaining client approval along the way means a big project is broken down, and also lessens the need for revisions.

Michelle also bounced ideas off me, relating to the choice of colours and fonts for the website. It’s great to be involved in the website project as a whole, that way the words are in harmony with the visual aspects of a site.

Also, having worked with Trisha at Quokka Creative on numerous websites before, it meant that Trisha is skilled with laying out my words so they form a coherent and attractive part of the design. Too many web designers see the words as an annoyance, or clutter, yet they’re so vital for SEO!

Outcome

The outcome is best described by Michelle at LC Designer Homes in her own words:

“182% increase in new users and a 215% increase in page views”

“Cornelia wrote our previous website for us, and it performed well on search engines. However, as we were rebranding our business; refocusing on a new target market; and moving to a new website domain, a re-write was necessary. But I was nervous about making changes to the content and losing our Google rankings in the process.

Cornelia worked with us on the new content, and advised us on how we could achieve our branding and marketing objectives, but without losing search engine rankings. It was also important to us that our new website looked slick and uncluttered – in other words not too wordy – yet at the same time I know the search engines like a certain amount of content. So Cornelia worked closely with our web designer to make sure the copy was laid out in a way that tied in with the imagery on the website, so it’s got that clean look, but still with a decent word count.

Has Cornelia been successful with maintaining our Google rankings? Absolutely – and then some! I’ve been monitoring the results of the new website closely, and the visitor numbers and average session durations are consistently up on the same period last year. We’ve even seen 182% increases in new users; a 215% increase in page views; and an 83% increase in the average session duration. We’re getting great feedback, reach, and engagement – and a reasonable number of leads are coming through already.

Working with Cornelia was really easy – as we’ve worked together before, it was simple to pick up where we’d left off last time. And Cornelia was able to transform our words in a way that suited our new brand and new target market. Outsourcing this type of work is awesome – it can be a real burden doing it yourself.

What I really like about Cornelia’s copywriting is that the keywords for SEO (search engine optimisation) are weaved naturally into the copy she writes. She puts the reader first and foremost, using a tone that reflects our business, yet the copy is still really amazing for SEO.

Cornelia also liaised with our web designer on the visual aspects of our website. For example, giving ideas on our new brand colours; providing feedback on our new logo; and sharing ideas on how to incorporate some of the imagery so that our new website would look slick but would also be user friendly.

I would definitely recommend Cornelia to any business that’s serious about getting the most out of their online presence.” June 2020

 

 

Contact Cornelia to discuss your website project →

15 inspiring content ideas for social media

Are you feeling stuck as to what to post on social media? Whether you’re just getting started, or have been posting for a while, it’s not unusual to second guess what you’re doing. Many business owners I speak to struggle with generating content ideas for social media. Is it too salesy? Are you posting too many (or too few) selfies? What else could you be doing?

If this dilemma with generating content ideas for social media is familiar, keep watching and reading…

 

 

15 inspiring content ideas for social media

  1. You and/or your team in action.
  2. Your product/service.
  3. Showcase a customer.
  4. Behind the scenes, e.g. tools of your trade, or something about your local area.
  5. Share industry news.
  6. A special offer or promotion
  7. Helpful tip, or answer a frequently asked question.
  8. Ask a question or run a poll.
  9. Announce a competition.
  10. Remind people about the competition.
  11. Announce the competition winner.
  12. Client testimonial.
  13. Humour, such as a meme.
  14. Inspirational quote.
  15. Cute pets.

If you’re posting 3 times a week, for example, this is enough content to keep you going for over a month! When you’re done, simply repeat these themes.

Why have so much variety in the content?

Social media isn’t about making a sales pitch in every (or every other) post. That gets really old and boring for your followers, and very quickly. No one likes being sold to all the time!

Instead, posts that add value and personality to your brand present your business in a multi-dimensional, relatable way. After all, it’s called ‘social’ media for a reason, and the varied content brings your company to life.

And another great reason for producing this kind of content is that it’s very shareable. It can get your brand and products/services in front of a wider audience, as well as getting you more followers and likes.

It does take persistence and consistency, however! It’s a matter of keeping going, and being as useful and engaging as possible.

Use videos as well as photos

Mix up your social media posts by using:

  • Single photos.
  • Sets of photos.
  • Videos.

This keeps the content varied, fresh and interesting. Also, some social media channels give more weight to certain types of content (e.g. videos), so by mixing up your media you will help to maximise your organic (free) reach.

How to give these social media content ideas some structure

Have a big brainstorming session and write down all your ideas under each of these headings. You will probably generate enough content ideas to last you for a number of months! So put a date next to each content idea, and diarise it. And voilà, you have a social media content calendar.

Pro tip: Use any down time or quiet periods to pre-prepare your content, so it’s ready to go. Blitzing it in this way is absolutely invaluable when you get busy with ‘real’ work.


 

Next step: Get some help with your marketing content

If you’d like some help with any marketing content, drop me a line.

Contact Cornelia →

How to present your business in an authentic way

Now is the time to be authentic. To tell the story of your brand in a way that connects with your audience at a deeper level. Customers aren’t just looking for a product – they’re looking for fulfilment. To feel that their purchase is enriching the lives of workers, and helping to heal the planet.

How do you do that? It’s done with words and photography that are thoughtful, honest, and give a candid glimpse behind the scenes.

Storytelling with words is a good start, but photography adds a layer of richness, which makes your story truly unique and memorable.

Visual stories capture people’s imaginations. They create engagement on social media, and elevate your business from the noise of competitors. It can boost your sales, brand awareness, and customer loyalty. All of which are vital at a time when consumers are giving more consideration as to what and how they’re spending.

I can help you promote your business in an authentic, customer-centric way. As well as being an experienced copywriter with a strategic marketing background, I’m also a photographer, meaning I can take care of both the words and the pictures.

My images have been used by BBC, Forbes, Air New Zealand, the NZ Herald, and more. The photos shown here were for Bay of Islands Farmers’ Markets.

 

Authentic storytelling with words and photos

Latest projects: May 2020 – case studies

Is your business amazing at solving your customers’ problems?

But do you struggle to communicate the full extent of your awesomeness in your marketing?

Case studies are a wonderful way to communicate how your business adds value, and in a way that’s customer centric and credible.

I can help you create compelling case studies, including interviewing key staff/customers, and writing up their story in a way that’s succinct and effective.

You can use the case studies on your website (hello SEO!); link to them via social media; use them in sales presentations; add them to your proposals… it’s an investment that has many uses, and for years to come.

Case studies

Contact me to discuss your case study needs →

Here’s just a small sample of the case studies I’ve written for clients over the last while:

Dustex case study    SPM Assets case study

 

SPM Assets case study   Dustex case study

 

Contact me to discuss your case study needs →

 

 

Latest projects: March 2019 – magazine articles & photography

This summer I’ve been busy writing magazine articles and shooting photos for ‘Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations’ magazine

Fishing for snapper at Mangonui

 

Northland cheese trail

 

Riding high in Waitangi Mountain Bike Park

 

The magic of Lake Manuwai

 

Kerikeri’s impressive ‘new’ waterfall

 

Need some article writing work? Contact me →

Latest projects: January 2018

Website copywriting, design, and photography

I created just about every aspect of this website for MaxPaddles, a craftsman who makes tailormade Greenland kayak paddles.

(I have affordable web design packages that take care of the website design, copywriting, and photography.)

 

SEO website copywriting, plus website project management

DUSTEX wanted a more modern-looking website, and better search engine rankings. After a thorough keyword research exercise, I re-wrote the whole website from ground up to incorporate SEO copywriting techniques – as well as making the information more customer centric.

The website design was created by Quokka Creative, with me project managing the process, so that DUSTEX could focus on their core business.

Photography

OK, so this has nothing to do with copywriting, but I’m just a little bit proud that Air New Zealand used one of my stock photos of Samoa as the hero image on their website for a campaign. 🙂

Email newsletter editing and layout in MadMimi

I work on lots of email newsletters each month, this is just one of them. The client is a beauty therapy business. I also work in MailChimp.

Social media graphics

Here are some Facebook graphics I made for my beauty therapy client. (This service is exclusively for monthly retainer clients.)

    

    

 

Would you like Cornelia to write something for you?

Contact me and tell me a bit about your project.

Contact Cornelia for help with your copywriting projects →

Why it’s important that your website uses keywords – and uses them wisely

Why it's important that your website uses keywords - and uses them wisely

Discover why it’s important that your website uses keywords – and uses them wisely

It’s easy to assume that the copy for your website is simply a matter of promoting your business to the world.

And yes – your website does need to promote your business.

But it also needs to do more than that…

Do you want your website to be found by prospects on Google?

These days, Google is the #1 place where customers (businesses and consumers) go to find new suppliers. Therefore it follows that most businesses want to rank reasonably well on Google.

Google rankings don’t just happen by chance. Oh no. Google uses a complex and continually-evolving algorithm to analyse, grade and rank websites.

So if you want your website to rank well on Google, you need some awareness (or a copywriter with awareness) of what Google is looking for. This type of copywriting is often called SEO copywriting – i.e. Search Engine Optimised copywriting.

So what is Google looking for?

Despite the multitude of algorithm changes over the years, what Google is looking for boils down to websites that contain high quality, unique content, and are regularly updated.

That’s the simple version. It gets more complicated than that though. Here are the SEO copywriting methods that I’ve been using with great success for many years now:

1. Use just one topic per web page

In the ideal world, every web page would have just one topic, e.g. one page about your services – or a separate page for each of your sub-services. And another page with your company profile. And another page with your contact details. And so on. This is why most one-page websites, where there are sections rather than pages for all these things, will seldom rank well on Google.

2. Use one focus keyword per web page

What is a “keyword”?

A keyword is simply a search term that people use on Google when looking for a product or service.

For example, if I were looking for a plumber in Auckland, I’d probably type “plumber Auckland” into Google. So “plumber Auckland” is the keyword.

And yes, you can discover keywords and their search volumes on Google’s Keyword Planner.

Therefore the first stage in any website copywriting project I work on is to do in-depth keyword research. After that, comes the keyword strategy work, where I assign one focus keyword (plus a bunch of secondary keywords) to each web page – and no two pages should have the same focus keyword.

Think of it this way: each web page with its unique focus keyword is like a fishing rod with bait. The more baited lines you have out, the bigger the chance of catching your prospect. If you’re in an industry that’s not overrun with competitors, you can get away with less bait (fewer pages). But if you’re in a highly-competitive industry, the more bait (keyworded web pages), the better.

3. Implementing the keywords in a specific way

Once you’ve identified a focus keyword for each page, it needs to be implemented. This is how a website uses keywords:

  • On the visible page copy: This means using the keyword in headings, sub-headings, and the body copy… but not so many times that it sounds stilted. Indeed, Google hates “keyword stuffing” (i.e. using too many keywords, or using them too often), and will actually penalise websites for this. So a good rule of thumb is that if it reads well to human ears, then Google will like it too.
  • In the behind-the-scenes meta data: Specifically the Meta Title and Meta Description. This copy also often displays in Google search results, so the copy needs to be enticing to encourage click-throughs, as well as being keyworded. I write this as standard in my website copywriting projects.
Your website's Meta Title and Meta Description are likely to show in Google search results, so it's vital that your copy is enticing to encourage click-throughs.

Your website’s Meta Title and Meta Description are likely to show in Google search results, so it’s vital that your copy is enticing to encourage click-throughs.

 

  • In the website URL: Example – if the focus keyword for the Industrial Widgets page on Acme Limited’s website is “industrial widgets”, then the address of that page should be /industrial-widgets
  • In photo meta data: It’s important to keyword the image file name, and ALT tag. Again, I write this as standard in my website copywriting projects.

As well as all that, the words on your website also need to be customer friendly; build trust; and compel people to contact you.

If that sounds like it’s complicated and difficult – relax. Cornelia Luethi at Words By Cornelia will guide you through the steps one by one, so you can focus on your business, while she takes care of the geeky website copywriting work.

Other website ranking factors

Without doubt, the use of keywords on your website play a huge role in your site’s Google rankings. There are other factors that are also used:

  • The amount of time website visitors spend on your website – which is why it’s a good idea to use relevant and engaging video content on your website, plus a blog and resources.
  • The quality of inbound links to your website: i.e. authoritative websites linking to your site. (Outbound links from your site do have some value, but it’s the inbound links that really matter.)
  • Website loading speed. This, and a range of factors related to website design and coding, have a significant impact on search engine rankings.
  • People following links from social media to your website.

There are other factors too – and the ranking factors do continually change with Google’s algorithm updates. But if you focus on having a high quality website with useful information that’s updated regularly – you will have the best chance of succeeding.

How much effort you will need to put into this depends on your industry; how many competitors you have; and how much your competitors are spending on search engine optimisation (SEO). If you only have a handful of competitors, and they aren’t doing online marketing, your job will be much easier than if you have dozens or hundreds of competitors that are all clued up and spending big bucks on online marketing. However, you have to be in the race to stand a chance of winning it.

Summary

Getting good results from your website doesn’t come from luck – it comes from using keywords on your website, and using them wisely. That requires good planning and good implementation of your website copy.

And I’m here to help with that, to make the website copywriting process as simple as possible.

The first step is a briefing and consultancy meeting, so we can get to know each other, and I can ask all the questions I need to ask to understand your business, and your website objectives. Read more about my website copy services.

 

 

Contact me to find out more about website copywriting →


 

“We went from zero to hero within a week of going live with the new website”

Perry Mundell, DUSTEX

Perry Mundell, DUSTEX

“When we approached Cornelia, we already had a website that was doing a good job of creating enquiries, but we wanted a better, more up-to-date and modern web presence. I must admit we were anxious that a complete rewrite – and a complete redesign – of the website would affect the level of enquiries in a negative way.

Happily, we needn’t have worried: we went from zero to hero within a week of going live with the new website! We’re now getting more enquiries than we have time to deal with.

I think it made a big difference that Cornelia spent a good amount of time in getting to know us and understand our business. The time she put in at the front end is now paying dividends big time. Not only has she done a great job at communicating what DUSTEX is about, but she’s also done an amazing job on the SEO and keywords to get the traffic to our website.

A big part of the success is also due to the design. Cornelia’s web designer gave our website the wow-factor we were looking for, and Cornelia’s project management of the website made the whole process easy and efficient, so we could concentrate on our core business.

I’d recommend Cornelia’s copywriting and website services to any business that’s serious about getting the best results from their online presence. It’s absolutely worth the investment, and we’re looking forward to continuing working with Cornelia on our case studies and other website updates.” May 2017

Perry Mundell – Director and Senior Design Engineer, DUSTEX https://www.dustex.co.nz

 

Contact me to find out more about website copywriting →

Latest projects: August 2015

Magazine editing and layout

I’m the editor of Richmond Yacht Club’s quarterly magazine, and do all the layout work as well as editing the content and writing some articles.

Plain-Sailing-Aug15-cover-web

Magazine editing and layout by Cornelia Luethi.

 

You can download and read ‘Plain Sailing’ magazine in PDF format from http://richmondyc.org.nz/social/plain-sailing/

Website article writing

How to get your tenant to say “yes” every time – an article for a property manager.

Contractor & tenant negotiation: ask for what you want! – some handy tips for landlord and home owners from my property manager client.

Keyword research and research strategy

There have been lots and lots and lots of keyword research and keyword strategy projects recently! All for new website copywriting jobs I’m working on.

The clients I’m working with are in a range of industries, including an overseas company that manufactures consumer durables; as well as a locally-based trades business, and a business-to-business service.

Cornelia has been working on keyword research and keyword strategy projects for a number of clients in different industries.

Cornelia has been working on keyword research and keyword strategy projects for a number of clients in different industries.

Website proofreading and online updates

I have just finished proofreading all 100 or so pages of the Carter Holt Harvey Woodproducts New Zealand website. I also made any of the required edits in the CMS of the website on behalf of my client.

Email newsletter editing and layout in MailChimp

I work on lots of email newsletters each month, this is just one of them. The client is a yoga and holistic fitness business.

Jul15-Evolve-newsletter

Email newsletter editing and layout by Cornelia Luethi – using MailChimp.

 

Social media graphics

Here are some Facebook graphics I made for my beauty therapy client. (This service is exclusively for monthly retainer clients.)

Phytostat-offer

 

aspect-peels

Would you like Cornelia to write something for you?

Contact me and tell me a bit about your project.

Contact Cornelia for help with your copywriting projects →

Latest projects: May 2015

It’s been a busy few months! Here’s what I’ve been working on for my clients:

Magazine editing, photography and layout

I’m the editor of Richmond Yacht Club’s quarterly magazine. As well as editing the content, I also do all the layout work – as well as shooting photos for the mag.

PlainSailing-May15-cover


Magazine editing, cover photo, and layout work – all done by Cornelia Luethi.

 

Love this gorgeous cover photo (shot by yours truly), taken on a Wednesday Night Race on Auckland Harbour.

You can download and read ‘Plain Sailing’ magazine in PDF format from http://richmondyc.org.nz/social/plain-sailing/

Website project management

Wine Technology website


Cornelia Luethi project managed this e-commerce directory website.

 

A client needed a new website, but didn’t know what they wanted or what they needed.

So I project managed the whole thing, making it an easy, straightforward experience for my client.

Thanks to Quokka Creative‘s web wizardry, NZ Wine Technology now has a fab new website and online directory with e-commerece system.

Website article writing

Wine technology articles – the new website I’d project managed for NZ Wine Technology needed some SEO articles. Here’s what I researched and wrote:

Property management articles – these are working really well for my client in terms of SEO and also converting readers into prospects and clients:

Print magazine article

The editor of NZ Wine Technology magazine was so impressed with the articles I wrote for his new website, that he combined some of them and published them in the print magazine.

The editor of NZ Wine Technology magazine was so impressed with the articles I wrote for his new website, that he combined some of them and published them in the print magazine.

 

As a website copywriting specialist, it’s rare for my work to make it into print. But it just happened!

The editor of NZ Wine Technology magazine was so impressed with the articles I wrote for his new website, that he combined some of them and published them in the print magazine.

The orginal articles are here: http://winetechnology.co.nz/resources/

Email newsletter editing and set up in MailChimp

I edit and set up lots of email newsletters each month, this is just a small selection of what I’ve done this quarter:

2015-newsletters2

This is a selection of the newsletters I edited and set up in MailChimp. They’re all for the same client – a publishing and media business.

 

Social media graphics

Here are some Facebook graphics I made for my beauty therapy client. (This service is exclusively for monthly retainer clients.)

HappyMothersDay-500

 

facial-massage

Would you like Cornelia to write something for you?

Contact me and tell me a bit about your project.

Contact Cornelia to see if she can help with your copywriting projects →

Latest projects: February 2015

Happy (belated) new year! I’ve been working through the holidays on lots of exciting new projects…

Magazine editing and layout

As the editor of Richmond Yacht Club’s quarterly magazine, I do all the layout work – as well as editing articles and contributions.

Magazine editing and layout by Cornelia Luethi.

Magazine editing and layout by Cornelia Luethi.

 

You can download and read ‘Plain Sailing’ magazine in PDF format from http://richmondyc.org.nz/social/plain-sailing/

Website article writing

Property management articles – these are working really well for my client in terms of SEO and also converting readers into prospects and clients:

Recruitment and HR:

Website design, copywriting and photography

Website design, copywriting and photography by Cornelia Luethi.

Website design, copywriting and photography by Cornelia Luethi.

 

Just launched: a brand new website for Peninsula Marine Services – made by me (www.WebsitesByCornelia.co.nz). If you’re in Auckland and you need new dock lines, superyacht mooring lines, winch servicing or any kind of marine project management, give Kevin a call.

Details of my website design, copywriting and photography service are here.

Website project management

These websites were actually launched last year, but as I haven’t mentioned them here before, here they are now!

Both websites have complex functionality in terms of the directory listings system, and the subscription system (both of which are e-commerce enabled). The websites are fully responsive and were created by the talented Trisha Cupra at Quokka Creative.

My role was to project manage the site, which included:

  • Scoping the requirements of the new website.
  • Ensuring that existing content from the legacy websites were transferred over.
  • Scope and set up the SEO of the new websites.
  • Develop and implement online advertising options, and creating an online media kit with ad specifications etc.
  • Test the new websites.
  • Launch the websites internally, including training staff on how it all works. This included face-to-face training; writing training notes; and creating video screencasts.
  • Launch the websites to my client’s customers via email, informing them of the new features and functions.
  • Ensuring the sites were delivered on time and to budget.

The new websites have proven to be very profitable for my client; the new sites paid for themselves within a few months of launching.

Website project management by Cornelia Luethi.

Website project management by Cornelia Luethi.

 

Website project management by Cornelia Luethi.

Website project management by Cornelia Luethi.

 

Website audits

A corporate client liked the initial website audit I did so much, that they ordered 2 more for their other websites!

All 3 website audits contained a Website Effectiveness Report (where I look at SEO and conversion factors), as well as a Statistics Summary Report (a plain English review of what’s happening in Google Analytics).

website-effectiveness-reports-3

 

Email newsletter copywriting and set-up in MadMimi

I work on lots of email newsletters each month, here’s one of the nicest looking ones I’ve done recently. I wrote the content, created the graphics, created the layout, and set it up for sending.

Jan15-Rubywaxx-newsletter

Newsletter copywriting, layout and graphics by Cornelia Luethi. This newsletter uses MadMimi.

 

Would you like Cornelia to write something for you?

Contact me and tell me a bit about your project.

Contact Cornelia for help with your copywriting projects →

Don’t wipeout! How to check for target market viability

How to check for target market viability in the post-recessionary world. Are you still on target?

How to check for target market viability in the post-recessionary world. Are you still on target?

Have you ever seen the game show ‘Wipeout’?

Contestants have to complete assault courses over large pools of water – and the quickest person wins.

Indeed, if contestants are too slow, the obstacle might tilt, shift or even shove the contestant into the pool below. If you snooze, you lose – but if you’re quick, you might just win.

The post-recessionary business world is just as harsh on the slow movers

The recent recession (or Global Financial Crisis – or GFC if you’re into your biz-buzzwords) shook up the business world as we know it.

Many businesses failed due to mis-management (financial and otherwise).

A large number of small business owners decided that running a business was too hard, and went back to paid employment.

At the same time, China was booming. Here in New Zealand, we saw an influx of Chinese immigrants* and consequently Chinese-owned businesses. These businesses are able to undercut New Zealand-made products with cheap imports – the downside of a very small country doing a free-trade deal with a very large country.

*In 2001, 3% of the New Zealand population was Chinese; in 2013, that number increased to 4%. In terms of numbers of people, that represents a 63% from 105,057 to 174,411. Source: Statistics New Zealand.

New business models emerged during the recessionary period too: for example, the one-day coupon industry boomed. However, that turned out to be a double-edged sword as these one-day deals commoditised many industries: customers were trained to shop around on price, and customer loyalty dwindled. The coupons might have generated cash flow, but to the detriment of businesses’ medium term viability.

So yeah, the post-recessionary business world is a bit of a mess

Most industries have been shaken, stirred and rattled around, so it’s worth doing a bit of a reality check.

Specifically, be sure to check where your target market is at. There’s a very good chance that the target has moved, and therefore your aim may be off target.

Questions to ask yourself when checking market viability

In my eBook, The Leaky Bathtub – Marketing 101, (which you should check out, by the way, if you’re not clear on marketing stuff, such as target markets), I suggest that business owners ask themselves the following questions periodically:

  • Is your target market big enough to be profitable?
  • Can you reach your target market with your marketing?
  • And can you reach your target market profitably with your marketing?
  • Is your target market suitably stable?

With the assault course of changes that have taken place during and after the recession, I’d now add the following questions into the mix too:

  • Is your target market willing to spend money on your industry?
  • Does your target market value what you do? Or has it become commoditised?
  • How does your target market treat your industry? Is it with warmth? Suspicion? As a partnership? As a last resort? With trust?
  • Is your target market engaged with you all year round? Or do they lose interest over holidays or other periods? Or do they treat business as a hobby?
  • How has the competitive landscape changed?
  • How have your competitors altered the marketplace?

How can you answer these questions on market viability?

Chances are, you already know some of the answers in your heart of hearts (even if you don’t want to admit it to yourself).

Also, have a chat with some of your customers; ask them for feedback. You can do this face to face when you see them, or you could consider running a survey. (But face to face will allow you to naturally progress the conversation.) They key is to find a customer that’ll be totally open and honest with you, rather than say what they think you want to hear.

Analyse the questions new prospects are asking you: that’ll give you an idea of what’s going through their minds. You’ll get an insight into their concerns and challenges, and how they view your industry as a whole.

And as for seasonality, look at your website statistics, for example. Do you get a lot more traffic for some months, while other months are very low? Or do you get lots more phone and email enquiries at certain times of the year?

What about your marketing campaigns: are previously successfully marketing tactics falling flat?

All these things indicate a shift in the market.

Shifting markets can mean opportunities – or wipeouts

Many of the businesses I’m speaking with at the moment have faced some major changes in their competitive environment and target market(s). And many businesses are struggling to adapt, because they’re not sure of where the new opportunities lie.

The key here is to be nimble and quick. It’s a bit like the ‘Wipeout’ assault course: if you’re too slow, you might go under. But if you’re quick, you’ll win the prize.

So I’d urge you do seriously evaluate these market viability questions; weigh up your options; crunch the numbers; and go for the prize.

Summary

The business world has changed dramatically in the last few years. Answer these questions (honestly) to check on your target market’s viability:

  • Is your target market big enough to be profitable?
  • Can you reach your target market with your marketing?
  • And can you reach your target market profitably with your marketing?
  • Is your target market suitably stable?
  • Is your target market willing to spend money on your industry?
  • Does your target market value what you do? Or has it become commoditised?
  • How does your target market treat your industry? Is it with warmth? Suspicion? As a partnership? As a last resort? With trust?
  • Is your target market engaged with you all year round? Or do they lose interest over holidays or other periods? Or do they treat business as a hobby?
  • How has the competitive landscape changed?
  • How have your competitors altered the marketplace?

Keep your eye on the target; move nimbly; and the prize can be yours. 🙂

 

What is duplicate content? A simple guide for website owners who don’t want to lose their Google rankings

What is duplicate content? Here's a simple guide for website owners who don’t want to lose their Google rankings.

What is duplicate content? Here’s a simple guide for website owners who don’t want to lose their Google rankings.

Remember your schooldays?

All that homework – man that was a chore! Let’s face it, it was just so much more fun to spend your afternoons playing with your buddies than slaving over books and numbers and essays. Ugh!

Worst of all was studying for tests.

Perhaps you didn’t want to cram for the test, or you simply forgot about it.

And then, to try and save the humiliation of a Fail, you tried to copy the answers off the brainbox you’d cunningly sat next to in the exam room.

Except, of course, the teacher noticed what you’re up to, and you got a far greater humiliation than the Fail. Perhaps you were made an example of, or made to stand out in the corridor. Or you had to see the scary Headmaster. And, of course, your parents would be notified – horrors!

You soon learned that copying other kids’ work wasn’t in your best interests.

The same lesson about copying relates to your website

When it comes to your website, copying other people’s content is also a bad idea.

While there’s no teacher to punish you, instead there’s Google. (And a punishment from Google, be it a down-graded ranking or total black-listing, is a lot harder and more difficult to recover than even your teacher’s worst punishment.)

Why does Google punish you for copying?

Let’s look at copying content from Google’s point of view.

The bottom line is that Google wants to give its users a good search experience. And a good search experience means that people can quickly and easily find the information they’re looking for. Google also wants the information you find to be helpful and meaningful.

Website content that’s helpful and meaningful is usually unique: it is a bespoke, one-off article that someone has researched and written.

Conversely, low quality content is not so desirable. And over the years, some website owners have tried to “cheat” the Google ranking system by copying other people’s content. And if the internet is full of copies of people’s work, it all gets a bit tedious, spammy and not a very nice or exciting place to be.

Google hates spammy websites. And it hates spammy webmasters who copy content from other people. Google would much rather point to the original source of material – and penalise those who try to copy it. These penalties come in the form of downgrading the rankings of those sites with copied content, or, worse still, removing a website from its search results altogether.

So what is duplicate content, exactly?

You get the general idea that duplicate content is not a good thing, but defining “what is duplicate content” exactly is a little trickier.

If you refer to Google’s official advice, there are some tips there (albeit quite technical), but it’s still not crystal clear. So let me explain some of the more common duplicate content problems in practical terms.

Before I cover common duplicate content problems, one thing you need to be aware of is that duplicate content doesn’t just apply from one website to another, but it also applies to pages on your own website.

The reason for this is that some spammy webmasters create dozens of pages on the same topic, to try and artificially increase their Google rankings. That doesn’t work any more, because of Google’s dislike of duplicate content.

Does Google say what percentage they consider duplicate content?

There are a number of online tools, such as Page Similarity Check Tools, where you put in two website addresses (URLs) and it tells you how similar the pages are as a percentage.

The problem is that Google doesn’t give a percentage in their guidelines, so these online tools aren’t a whole lot of use!

Rather than worry about percentages and other technicalities, here are some practical suggestions on how you can avoid common duplicate content problems.

Common duplicate content problems – and how to avoid them

On a practical level you need to be very careful with the following types of duplicate content:

  • Mobile versions of your website that have the same content twice. The solution here is for your webmaster to use the ‘noindex’ meta tag so that the duplicated pages aren’t indexed. (Or better still, build your website so that it’s mobile responsive, and doesn’t need recreating for handheld devices.)
  • Printer-only versions of web pages. The printer pages should have the ‘noindex’ tag applied so that these duplicated pages aren’t indexed.
  • Similar content that appears across a number of pages. The solution here is to make the copy, order of information and other content as different as possible.
  • On e-commerce sites, avoid using the manufacturer’s generic blurb. Chances are that every other re-seller is using the exact same copy, so be unique and write your own product descriptions.
  • Syndicate articles carefully. Some people think they’re doing you a favour by ‘promoting’ you on their website by repeating an article. Wrong! Their site could get penalised for duplicate content – but so could yours, if Google hasn’t indexed you as being the original source. The way round this is for the other site to use the ‘noindex’ tag, and to include a link back to your original article. So you can syndicate articles, but do it carefully… and if the other website owner doesn’t know what a ‘noindex’ tag is, or they’re not willing to apply it, then don’t do it. (Note: A bigger problem is that some spammy webmasters use ‘scrapers’ to steal content without your permission. If that happens, you can ask Google to remove the scraped content from their search results.)
  • Avoid cheap copywriters. Not all copywriters create unique content; and if you’re buying an article for $5 from someone in India, there’s a good chance that they might have copied someone else’s work. Or they’ve taken someone else’s work, and then put it through a ‘spinner’ which is an automatic software tool that rewrites content. And yep, Google hates ‘spun’ content! If you use a quality copywriter, the content will not only be unique, but it will reflect your tone of voice; demonstrate your company’s expertise; and compel readers to buy from you or otherwise take action.

Those are some of the main duplicate content issues I’ve come up against. There are others, too (as listed in the Google article I linked to) but they are there for your web developer to action, rather than a copywriting issue.

Ask your website developer to help you

The best advice I can give you is to focus on creating unique content, and that your website developer does their part in the programming. Go through the list of action points in Google’s article point by point.

Don’t assume that your web developer knows all this stuff, or will automatically do it: I’ve come across numerous web developers who have never heard of 301 redirects, or will only do them for an extra fee.

Remember that it’s YOUR website and your business at stake, so you have every right to ask questions of your suppliers.

If you play nicely, you should be fine

Just like schoolteachers punish only the naughty kids, Google only intends to punish those website owners who deliberately engage in deceptive practices. Google doesn’t like people who try to cheat the system and take shortcuts; they’ll be punished, sooner or later.

So if you focus on creating unique, high quality content for your website (and have a web developer on side who’s clued up in this area), you should be absolutely fine. (And if the worst does happen, and your site gets blacklisted by Google, you can submit your site for reconsideration.)

Summary

Here are some of the steps you can take so that your website doesn’t suffer from problems with duplicate content:

  • If there is a separate mobile version of your website, ensure that the ‘noindex’ tag is used for them.
  • If your website has printer-only pages, use the ‘noindex’ tag for them.
  • Avoid using similar content across a number of pages.
  • On e-commerce sites, avoid using the manufacturer’s generic blurb and write your own.
  • Syndicate articles carefully, and get the other website to use a ‘noindex’ tag, and also link back to your original article.
  • Avoid cheap copywriters who might steal or ‘spin’ content.
  • Ask your web developer which steps they’ve taken to avoid duplicate content issues. Go through the Google article with them as a starting point.
  • Focus on creating unique, high quality content for your website.

Need unique copy for your website? Discover the ‘Words by Cornelia’ writing service →

This article was originally published by me, Cornelia Luethi, on my copywriting website: http://wordsbycornelia.com/what-is-duplicate-content