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.

(Websites by Cornelia has affordable 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 →

New (shorter) Google character limits for Page Title and Meta Description tags

In short: Google has changed the number of characters it displays for your Page Title and Meta Description in your search results.

Introducing new (shorter) Google character limits for Page Title and Meta Description tags.

Introducing new (shorter) Google character limits for Page Title and Meta Description tags.

The old Google character limits were:

70 characters for Page Title tag, and 150 characters for Meta Description.

The new limits are:

50 to 55 characters for Page Title tag, and 115 characters for the Meta Description.

Why worry about these new limits?

If you don’t shorten your meta data, your search engine listings risk looking incomplete – or worst case scenario, looking like complete gibberish. This is very likely to hurt the click-through rate to your website.

Let’s look at an example:

The Page Title for the home page of this website used to be as follows (and this was previously displayed in full on Google):

Writing service: Words By Cornelia is all about helping you sell more!

But now, the end of the sentence gets cut off and replaced with “…”:

Google-character-limit-page-title-tag

Eh?! “Words By Cornelia is all about helping you dot-dot-dot”? That doesn’t make much sense! An important part of my message (helping you sell more) has been rudely cut off!

And that’s not all – the Meta Description is getting truncated too – especially on mobile devices.

For example, here’s how the Google listing for my website copy page looks when viewed on Google on a desktop computer:

Google-character-limit-meta-description

But here’s how the same search result looks on my iPhone:

Google-character-limit-meta-description-iphone

Ugh, that’s not what I want! (So yes, I’ll be re-writing my own meta data, page by page, to get rid of the dot-dot-dots, and get my message across the way I want it.)

But why did Google make this change to character limits? And when?

Google most likely made the change to provide a better experience for people using their phones for search. After all, people are increasingly accessing the internet from smart phones.

This change started appearing around May 2014 , so even if your website went live or got updated quite recently, you will be affected by this change.

If beforehand you had a nice, catchy headline showing, it won’t be so catchy if there’s a bunch of dot-dot-dots!

Are these new Google character limits set in stone?

Nope, nothing with Google is permanent or set in stone.

And as you can see, there are variations from the desktop search experience to what you see on your smart phone – even with these changes.

But I definitely think it’s wise to embrace these shorter character limits. Any website copy I write for new clients will include meta data with these shorter character limits (and I’m contact existing clients to let them know if these changes to see what they’d like to do).

After all, website useage on mobile devices is on the rise all over the world, and it’s best practice to give users the best possible online experience.

What you need to do:

You need to review your existing meta data and make sure it’s working as hard for you as possible. After all, a bunch of dot-dot-dots isn’t going to compel Google users to click through to your site. Your meta data needs to be short, keyworded and punchy.

Also, make sure that any new pages (and also blog articles) stick to the new character limits.

Further reading

Here are some helpful articles on this topic: New Title Tag and Meta Description Character Lengths and New Title Tag Guidelines & Preview Tool from The Moz Blog.

 


Next step: Do you want help with writing Meta Data – or other website copy?

I’d love to help you with your website copy! You can see the kind of results I’ve achieved for my clients, and also get an idea of my pricing… and if that sounds like the level of attention and service you’re after, please contact me and tell me a bit about what you need. 🙂

 

 

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

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? Contact Cornelia today →

Does it keep falling off?

Does copywriting and marketing keep falling of your To Do list? Then let Cornelia take care of it for you.

Does copywriting and marketing keep falling off your To Do list? Then let Cornelia take care of it for you.

Does copywriting and marketing keep “falling” off your To Do list?

Goodness, the first two months of 2014 have gone already and it’s officially Autumn in this part of the world (or “Fall”, as our American friends call it).

Did you have any copywriting and marketing projects planned this year?

But have those tasks “fall”-en off your To Do list already?

Then let me help you!

Stop struggling with your writing and marketing projects, I’ll make it a breeze to create unique messages for your business:

  • Website content: Web pages, news articles and blog posts that the search engines will love.
  • Email content: Newsletters, autoresponders and sales emails to keep your customers and prospects engaged and informed.
  • Ebook writing: Want to give your customers and prospects a Free White Paper or eBook? They’re a great way to add value and demonstrate you’re the best in your industry.
  • Video scripts: Video is the latest and greatest online marketing trend… I can write compelling scripts for intro videos, how-to videos, and sales videos.

How to get started…

Just tell me a bit about what you have in mind and we can take it from there. 🙂

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Cornelia

Cornelia Luethi BSc (Hons), DipM

Contact Cornelia for copywriting help →

Small business marketing tips: The best articles from 2013

January’s a time of new beginnings – and a great time to review your marketing plans for the year.

If you’re wondering what to focus your marketing efforts on this year, this round up of small business marketing tips from me, Cornelia Luethi, will help to get the ideas and motivation flowing.

Cornelia’s copywriting secrets…

Discover Cornelia's copywriting secrets...

Discover Cornelia’s copywriting secrets…

Writing marketing and sales copy for businesses is my bread and butter… and here I share the techniques I use to get great results for my clients. (My writing work has again helped my clients win awards this year!)

Video marketing for small businesses

Video marketing is the cool new kid on the marketing block – but getting started can be a bit daunting for a small business owner.

These articles sort out the facts from the fiction, to help you get on the right path…

Website tips for small businesses

Get better results from your website with these small business marketing tips.

Get better results from your website with these small business marketing tips.

Even though websites have been around for a while now, there’s still a lot of confusion and misinformation out there.

Here are website myth-busting articles to help small business owners figure out the facts from the fiction. 🙂

Customer retention articles

The key to customer retention is to get clients to climb the magic beanstalk of customer loyalty.

The key to customer retention is to get clients to climb the magic beanstalk of customer loyalty.

From a series of articles I ran over a number of months, covering all the different technologies and modalities you can use for customer retention.

General marketing tips

Here’s a treasure trove of marketing articles – and best of all, it’s the kind of stuff your competitors probably don’t know about. 😉

Time management tips

The biggest marketing challenge many small business owners have is actually a time management challenge. Or in other words, there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day.

Um, well yours truly has managed to write all these marketing articles in a year; script, record and edit a bunch of marketing videos; AND launched a couple of new books. (As well as completing all my clients’ copywriting projects.) And I have just as many hours in the day as you have. 🙂

Here are my top time management tips:

Whoa, that’s a lot of small business marketing tips… and those are just the articles from 2013!

If you like these small business marketing tips, be sure to check out the eBooks written by Cornelia Luethi!

If you like these small business marketing tips, be sure to check out the eBooks written by Cornelia Luethi!

If you want more of my small business marketing tips, be sure to check out my eBooks. The content of my eBooks is totally unique (i.e. they’re written by me, Cornelia Luethi, and you won’t find the eBook content on this or any other blog).

The only way you can get the eBook content is to buy them!

So check out my eBooks! (And buying is easy, as there’s a 60-Day Money Back Guarantee)

Happy reading,

Cornelia

Cornelia Luethi BSc (Hons), DipM
Author of small business eBooks on Marketing

Shop for eBooks written by Cornelia Luethi →


PS. Want even more small business marketing tips?

Here’s the summary of 2012 articles with even more small business marketing tips!
You’ll find articles on topics such as website conversion, writing photo captions, email marketing, plus more copywriting secrets.

Why do video marketing? Video marketing strategies for small businesses…

Before you invest in a web video, make sure you're clear which video marketing strategies you're working towards.

Before you invest in a web video, make sure you’re clear which video marketing strategies you’re working towards.

“You need to put a video on your website.”

“Video marketing’s the latest thing, y’know.”

… Does that sound familiar?

Chances are you’ve heard plenty of folks saying things like that to you. I know I’ve heard plenty of such statements!

Sure, people love watching videos. Here’s some 2013 data from YouTube:

  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube every month.
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube – that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth, and 50% more than last year.
  • 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

Crazy, huh?

It’s little wonder that business owners and marketers are so excited about video marketing: video is huge!

Whoa, wait a mo before you jump on the video marketing bandwagon!

Before you jump on the video marketing bandwagon, it’s important to consider where the wagon’s heading, and how much the wagon ride will cost you.

After all, video marketing represents a reasonable investment in either time (if you DIY) and/or money (if you hire professionals), so it’s worth giving your goals some thought before you get started.

I’ve seen too many business owners get all enthusiastic about video; make some random videos (based on the first ideas that popped into their head) without any clear thoughts on objectives… and then claim that “video marketing didn’t work” because they had no clear measures or goals in place. Duh!

So rather than making that kind of expensive and disappointing mistake, ask yourself what you want to achieve from your video marketing.

Here are some of the different video marketing strategies available to you…

Effective video marketing strategies

Go through this list, and see which of the following video marketing strategies would be most helpful in your business.

Or in other words: What do you want to achieve?

1. Create a more personal connection with your prospects

Type of video: This is where you make a personal introduction in the video, and briefly explain your product or service. This should take no longer than a minute.

Bonus benefit of using this kind of video: This video selects-in your target customer, but will help to weed out the personality types you’d probably clash with. If you are a single-person service-based business, this can be gold!

Example of an intro video: I use an intro video on my Words By Cornelia copywriting website – it’s at the top of the right-hand side bar.

2. Explain your product or service to prospects

Type of video: This is where an overview is provided, either by yourself, a colleague or an actor. Alternatively, an animation-style video can be used.

Bonus benefit of using this kind of video: Video can help explain complex things in simple terms – and very quickly. You’ll often see these sorts of videos for software services, for example, and you get a quick demo of how the software works and what the benefits are to the user. Some things are simply easier to explain by demonstration rather than in writing… so using this type of video can increase your sales, whilst lowering the work burden of your sales team or customer services team.

This kind of video also works well for businesses where your customers visit your premises: it lets them know what to expect, and can help take the fear out of going somewhere new. It’s also a great way to highlight your company’s culture, and really bring your uniqueness to life.

Example of an explanation video: The video below features my beauty therapy client, Rubywaxx. The video was made as part of Rubywaxx being Awards finalists (and then winners), but the video is also a useful addition to the company’s ‘About Us’ web page:

3. Demonstrate your expertise to prospects or customers

Type of video: “How to” videos that provide hints and tips to viewers. Such videos may be from 30 seconds to about 5 minutes in duration, depending on the content you’re communicating. (Read about video lengths for web videos.)

The viewers may be prospects, who are in research mode, and the video can boost your sales conversion rates. Or if your existing customers can also watch the videos, it can reinforce your expertise and help prevent your customer from going to another supplier. It’s a great value-add to a business relationship.

Bonus benefit of using this kind of video: This kind of video can also help to minimise complaints and refunds if people understand your product or service better. Plus you can also use the videos on your website, blog and newsletter: one video = many opportunities to use it!

Examples of how-to videos: This is the kind of video I’ve been making, and I’ve been using the videos on my blogs as well as on my YouTube channel.

Here’s an example:

4. Increase sales

Type of video: Sales videos, whereby there is a single call-to-action – which is usually to buy a product or service online.

Sales videos can vary enormously in length: some are just a few minutes long; others can be an hour or longer! It depends on your product or service, your offer, your sales technique, and more. You can read some facts about video lengths and drop-off rates here.

In the internet marketing world, video-based sales pages have been outperforming copy-only sales pages for some time now. I tested this myself earlier in 2013, when I launched a new eBook. I ran a split test, whereby 50% of website visitors saw a copy-only sales page, and the other half of website visitors saw the exact same page – but with a video added, right at the top of the page. The copy-only page converted at 6.98% and the sales page with the video converted at 16.67%… so yes, video marketing can and does work.

Note that that was my very first sales video, so it is a bit rough in terms of content, production and editing (I had to get the entire thing finished in a weekend!), but I’m pretty happy with that!

You can see this warts ‘n’ all sales video on the sales page for my Keyword Research eBook. 

Bonus benefit of using this kind of video: If your video can keep viewers engaged for a reasonable length of time, you can go into quite a bit of detail about your product or service and how it works. Provided you don’t overstate or exaggerate the benefits, this could mean low refund rates and minimal complaints.

5. Grow your email list

Type of video: This would generally be a “how to” video, or a quick tip of some kind. In other words, something interesting to entice potential subscribers to sign up for more.

Whatever kind of video you use, you’ll need to add a call-to-action for viewers to subscribe. However, do not rely on YouTube, as YouTube viewers are unlikely to click through to your website. That means using some other kind of video hosting service – usually a paid-for service. I personally use Easy Video Suite, but there are many other options out there, such as Wistia, Vimeo, Viewbix, and more. You’ll need to figure out for yourself which service best suits your needs, your strategies – and your budget.

Bonus benefit of using this kind of video: This kind of video can also help with the “demonstrate expertise” strategy. If you plan you video marketing strategy well, you can use one video to achieve multiple tactics.

6. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): get more organic search engine traffic

Type of video: Theoretically you can use any kind of video here, but a “how to” type video would be ideal.

However, it takes more than just uploading a video to YouTube, and/or embedding it on your website.

You see, Google can’t actually ‘see’ inside videos, so they rely on Meta data (behind-the-scenes data). This should include the keywords you’re targeting, based on keyword research.

This video Meta data is called ‘schema.org markup’ and is supported by Bing and Yahoo, as well as Google. 

Using schema.org to describe your videos will allow Google to index and show your videos in search. The main markups to add are:

  • Title 
  • Description 
  • Thumbnail (i.e. the graphic that represents the video’s content). 

While only a few properties are required, providing additional information helps Google understand your video and enhance its appearance in search results. 

You should also upload a video sitemap, and if there’s an opportunity to add a transcript, make sure it includes keywords.

For more details see: http://schema.org/ and http://schema.org/VideoObject 

Bonus benefit of using this kind of video: This type of video can help you achieve other video marketing strategies too. For example, you could demonstrate your expertise, or encourage conversions. Your call-to-action could be to encourage a purchase, or to grow your email subscriber list.

Pitfall to be aware of: Using YouTube is a double-edged sword for SEO. If you use YouTube, yes, your videos are likely to show up on Google. But it will be YouTube getting the website traffic, NOT your website.

You will need to use an alternative video hosting service if you want to get the traffic to your own site – but you may not get the same amount of search engine exposure as you’d get with using YouTube.

Remember, Google owns YouTube, so Google will do what’s best for their business, which may be incompatible with your own goals. You’ll need to figure out the best solution for your business goals. And now that you’re aware of the different video marketing strategies you can use, you’ll get a clearer picture of the tactics to follow.

2 video marketing strategies you should treat with caution…

Whilst video marketing does have many benefits, there are some, um, “strategies” I’d advise caution against:

“Build awareness”

“Building awareness” is a very vague objective: after all, how would you measure this?

I’d recommend choosing a video marketing strategy that’s a bit more specific and measurable.

This kind of vague strategy might be OK for a large corporation with vast budgets, but it’s a different story for small businesses that need to see a return on their marketing investment.

“Go viral”

“Going viral” is a very high risk goal. After all, everyone wants their offering to “go viral” yet only a tiny percentage of videos do go viral.

Besides, “going viral” doesn’t necessarily equate to earning lots of money. I bet that the owners of most of those funny cats on YouTube aren’t millionaires – or even close.

Instead, I think it’s far better to have a more realistic and measurable target than “going viral”. Just because “going viral” is one of today’s buzzwords, doesn’t mean that you should aspire to do it.

Next steps:

Now that you’re clear on which strategies you’d like to use video marketing for, you’ll need to consider:

  • Scripts: Video scripts need to be written in such a way to achieve the strategy you’ve chosen. The script needs to be well-paced: not to slow and not too fast.
  • Reasonable production values: This means things like the video/picture quality; audio; and lighting. You don’t need a mega budget for this, but it is important to do it properly, if you’re thinking of going down the DIY route rather than engaging professionals.
  • Video editing: Video editing is time-consuming, yet it can make the difference between a so-so video, and an awesome video. Unless you’re prepared to spend some time (and money) on learning how to do this, you might want to consider outsourcing this.
  • Video hosting: You’ll need to find the best way to host your videos. Whilst YouTube is convenient (and free), it does have a number of drawbacks, so it may not be the best solution for your business.

The technical side of video marketing is a whole separate topic. But at least now you’re clear on how video marketing can help you in your business.

Congratulations on considering the strategy first, rather than jumping straight into the technical nitty-gritty side of things. Based on my experience, this will most likely put you a step ahead of your competitors! Most small businesses dive right into the tactical stuff without considering the bigger picture – or rely on a local videographer who may be great at making videos, but not so good at actually delivering results that contribute towards business goals.

So yes, figure out which video marketing strategies align with your overall marketing goals – and then implement video marketing so it delivers tangible results to your business.