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 →

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

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.

What is the purpose of a website?

The purpose of a website is to (1) Attract traffic, and (2) to Convert readers into prospects. Here's how to get optimum performance from your website.

The purpose of a website is to (1) Attract traffic, and (2) to Convert readers into prospects. Here’s how to get optimum performance from your website.

A website is a vital business tool: it’s as essential for a business as having a phone number, or email address, or business card. But what is the purpose of a website, exactly? 

How can a website help a business?

In my view, the purpose of a website is 2-fold:

Firstly, the website should attract traffic (i.e. visitors).

Secondly, the website should convert as many of those visitors as possible into a prospects who contact you in some way.

Let’s take a look at these two purposes in more detail…

Purpose of a website #1: Attracting traffic

There’s no point having a website if no one can find it or no one knows about it.

Your website needs to get visits from as many relevant prospects as possible.

There are a number of different ways in which you can get traffic to your website. Each of these tactics is approached in a different way, and has benefits and drawbacks:

  • Free search engine traffic: Attracting search traffic rarely happens by itself: you need to take proactive steps to make your website attractive for search engines (and for human readers). This is called search engine optimisation (SEO). It takes a bit of work to set it up, but if it’s done well it can potentially generate traffic to your website for years and years to come. For most businesses, the return on investment is very good.
  • Paid search engine traffic (e.g. Google AdWords): This can be effective, but you only get the traffic if you keep paying for it. This can work out to be expensive after a number of months, unless your business has a very high average dollar sale and high profit margin.
  • Online display ads and banners: with “pay per click” or “pay per view” advertising, you only get the traffic if you pay for it. This too can be very expensive – especially for businesses with modest average dollar sales and profit margins.
  • Links from other websites: This is a good strategy to pursue, but in practice many businesses find it hard to get meaningful links. It is important that the links come from high quality websites: if they come from poor quality, spammy websites your website’s online reputation could suffer as a consequence. So think quality rather than quantity.
  • Links from directories: The success varies, as any directory these days is secondary to Google. Think carefully about paying for listings: crunch the numbers upfront; and monitor the results.
  • Links from social media: You have to be committed to social media for this marketing channel to work. That involves having a clear social media strategy and making the updates consistently. Social media might be free to use, but it takes a good amount of skill and commitment to get it to work or to get any traction. Social media sites to consider include Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and Pinterest. There are many others, too, but those are the main ones. Use the ones that your customers use: e.g. there’s no point tweeting like crazy, if your target market isn’t on Twitter!
  • Include your website address on your business cards and other printed stationery: Yes, you need to do this, but your reach will be limited, so don’t rely on this alone.
  • Include your website address on any sign writing, e.g. premises, vehicles, etc.: This can be very effective, but again, your reach is limited.

Tip: Before you commit to spending money on any website traffic attraction strategies, carry out a break even analysis to see if what you’re considering is likely to be pay dividends – or be an expensive waste of money. It’s far better to discover that upfront before you spend a cent!

I’ve seen businesses work wonders with some of these attraction methods. Some businesses do really well with Google AdWords. One person I know gets a substantial amount of his business from LinkedIn. A small business with multiple vehicles on the road gets crazy good results from their vehicle sign writing.

But there’s one website attraction technique that works consistently well for most business types. And that is, search engine traffic – which usually comes from Google, seeing as they have 89.69% global market share (as at September 2013).

Source: gs.statcounter.com

How do you get more Google traffic?

When it comes to websites, traffic is a good thing!

When it comes to websites, traffic is a good thing!

Getting traffic from Google comes down to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). There are different SEO techniques; I’d argue that the most effective technique I’ve seen is to write website content that targets the keywords users put into Google when conducting their searches. This is known as “SEO website copywriting” – in other words, writing content that uses keywords.

I earn my bread and butter from writing SEO website copy for my clients. Here are some of the results I’ve achieved for my clients:

  • A client with a multi-million dollar business is getting 42% of his business from his website. (He measures this data carefully, so that’s an exact number.)
  • A one-man band in a service industry reckons he gets 95% of his work from his website.
  • Another customer is steadily getting $50k worth of business from her website year after year… she may have spent say $5,000 dollars on the website and content, so that’s a 900% Return on Investment! And the website keeps delivering more customers year after year!

So if you’re wondering why your website isn’t attracting more traffic, maybe it’s because your website hasn’t been set up with this in mind. (This is very common: many website developers aren’t aware of SEO techniques.)

I’d suggest you look into this to find out if optimising your website content for search engines would bring you more traffic.

Remember, if this is done well, the search engines are likely to keep delivering traffic for you, year after year. So if you want to turn your website into a cash machine (or at least a prospect generation machine), then check out SEO website copywriting.

Aren’t you biased because you do SEO website copywriting for a living?

Yes, I write SEO website content for a living… but the reason I started specialising in that area is because of the staggering results it achieves.

I firmly believe that small business owners need marketing techniques that are sustainable over a period of time, and will generate returns for them. I haven’t come across any website attraction techniques that deliver such good returns in the long term as SEO website copywriting.

Of course, results vary: some industries are more competitive than others. Or if you’re in a fledgling or niche industry, the search volumes may not be that high.

But with the bullet point list above, of the different ways to get website traffic, you can start evaluating different tactics to see what might work for you.

Attracting website traffic is the first purpose of a website – now let’s look at the second:

Purpose of a website #2: Converting readers into prospects

The second purpose of a website is to convert readers into prospects. What this means exactly will depend on your business model.

Conversion could mean any combination of the following:

  • Getting people to call you, email you, or fill in a contact form.
  • Getting people to download your Free Report or white paper.
  • Obtaining email subscribers.
  • Making an online purchase.

These are the best kinds of conversion goals, because they are measurable.

However, getting those conversions is no mean feat, as it generally means getting complete strangers to trust your business right away.

Your website need to build trust quickly

You have something like 5 to 9 seconds to grab readers’ attention, and compel them to read on.

A big part of the reader’s decision making is based on trust, so your site has to instil trust and confidence with complete strangers – and very quickly.

Here are some resources to help you:

http://wordsbycornelia.com/marketing-resources/increasing-website-conversions-101/

You’ll find comprehensive resources via that link.

But if you just want some quick tips, then check out my quick, 10-step guide to building trust online.

http://wordsbycornelia.com/your-quick-10-step-guide-to-building-trust-online/

Have a clear and obvious call-to-action

One important thing to mention about converting readers into prospects is having clear and obvious calls-to-action. In other words, what is the next step a prospect should take to buy from you? This may be obvious to you, as the business owner, but on many websites this is very unclear and ambiguous.

  • Should people phone you? Or email you?
  • Is there a consultation? If so, is it free or paid for?
  • Do you provide written quotes or estimates? Are they free or not?
  • Do you have a shop, showroom or office? Can people just pop in, or do they need to make an appointment? What are the opening hours?

Your call-to-action should be clear and obvious on every page of the website. And if your buying process is more complex (e.g. architects, builders, business consultants, etc.) then include a page called ‘The Process’ or ‘How it Works’ or something like that. Once people know the steps involved in the buying process, they can start to picture themselves going on that journey. Conversely, if people have no idea what’s involved, they are far less likely to contact you to take the next step. It’s up to you to explain your process clearly and concisely – and encourage prospects to take the next step.

Hint: If you’re thinking of re-writing your website’s content to attract more traffic, also look at the content in terms of conversion. Are there things you could do to the content that’ll help transform more readers into prospects?

After all, if you’re going to re-work the website content, it’s a good idea to make sure that it’s converting well as well as attracting traffic. This way you can kill two birds with one stone.

Summary: Why a website is much like a car…

Like a car, a website needs fuel and maintenance for optimum performance.

Like a car, a website needs fuel and maintenance for optimum performance.

If you’d like an easy analogy to describe the purpose of a website, a website is a bit like a car.

You buy a website development like you buy a car: that part of the investment is like the technological nuts and bolts.

But to get your car anywhere, it needs fuel. And that’s where the content comes in: words, pictures, videos… and for a website to really travel the distance, it’s a good idea to keep topping it up with fuel (content).

A car also needs regular servicing to keep it running smoothly. If you don’t do that, the car might break down. Similarly, a website needs tweaking and reviewing regularly, too. The most successful websites are continually tweaked and revised, and the results tested and measured – just like a racecar is continually fine-tuned for optimum performance.

I’m known for telling my customers that “a website is never finished” – this is much like car maintenance and re-fuelling being an on-going task. It is definitely a worthwhile task: there are few marketing channels as effective as websites.

Where the analogy ends is traffic: in a car, we don’t like traffic – but for our website we want lots of it! 😉

So go on, fuel up your website and get your business moving in a whole new direction, and with more momentum. Vrooooom!


Next step: Products to help you with your website

Looking for ideas on how to rev up your website?

The Website Owner's Manual is written in plain English to help small business owners get better results online.

The Website Owner’s Manual is written in plain English to help small business owners get better results online.

If you know you need to rev up your website, but you’re not sure where to begin, the Website Owner’s Manual will help you.

The Website Owner’s Manual:

  • Explains SEO (search engine optimisation) basics.
  • Lists 14 essential elements to help with trust building and conversion tactics.
  • Gives you ideas for extra content you could add to your site… stuff that your prospects (and the search engines) will love!

The Website Owner’s Manual costs less than a tank of gas for your car, and it’s written in plain English for normal, non-technical people.

CORLUE---eBook-Call-to-Action-Button

Do you want to do your own SEO work?

Keyword Research: Discover my SEO website copywriting secrets.

Keyword Research: Discover my SEO website copywriting secrets.

Want more search engine traffic? And want to do your own SEO (search engine optimisation) work? The Keyword Research training goes through my whole SEO website copywriting process:

  • Brainstorming keyword ideas.
  • How to use the free Google Keyword Planner to get data on keyword search volumes.
  • How to format the data so it’s easy to work with.
  • How to create a keyword strategy for your website.
  • How to use keyword strategy and optimise the page content.

This is the exact same process that I use for my SEO website copywriting clients – and it gets phenomenal results!

Training-Call-to-Action-Button

 

How to get more Google love with photo keywords

Unlock the secret to using photo keywords for SEO...

Unlock the secret to using photo keywords for SEO…

Let’s be honest… when you’re adding content to your website, adding photos can seem like a big, time-consuming pain-in-the-butt job.

Chances are that adding a photograph to your new web page is the very last thing on your To Do list, and once you’ve done that, you can put your feet up for the day and do something fun. Like go out to dinner, or take the dog for a walk, or enjoy a nice relaxing glass of wine. Or crack open a nice, cold beer while you fire up the barbecue.

In short: adding photos to your website is something you probably want to get over with as quickly as possible… Am I right?

Whoa, slow right down!

Good photos not only make your website look more appealing, but if you use them in the right way they can also help improve your search engine rankings.

Many website owners I’ve spoken with over the years aren’t even aware that (a) Photo SEO (search engine optimisation) exists, and (b) that it can make a difference to your site’s rankings… but it can! 

Photo SEO: How to keyword photos

Here’s how to keyword photos. There are a number of different aspects to photo SEO:

1. Image file size

First things first… and that is, you need to make sure that the photograph’s file size is appropriate.

By ‘appropriate’ I mean that the photo should be large enough (in pixels) to display OK… you don’t too use too small a file, or it will look pixelated and grainy, which looks very unprofessional.

However, you need to make sure that the file size (in KB) is reasonable. Slow loading photos (and slow loading web pages) cause users to abandon your website, and that can actually decrease your website’s search engine rankings.

The goal is for your website to load fast ‘n’ snappy, with sharp looking pictures.

(Note: Re-sizing photos and the software to use is covered in my eBook ‘How to Choose and Use Eye-Catching Photographs for your Marketing‘.)

Bonus Tip: Whilst you’re using the image editing software, if the photo you’re using is your own (i.e. an image that you have taken yourself, or created yourself), then you might want to include your copyright information on it. I do this on the cartoons I draw and use on my websites, for example.

2. Photo file name

While you’re using your image editing software to re-size the photos, take this opportunity to re-name the image file.

Why re-name the image file?

So that you’re using your focus keyword in the photo file name, of course!

Example: If an image comes off your digital camera as ‘DSC1234.jpg’ that’s not going to tell Google very much about what’s in the photograph.

Instead, say your focus keyword for a web page is ‘plumber Auckland’, then use that for your photo keyword too. Re-name the image as ‘plumber-auckland.jpg’.

Why use hyphens to punctuate the keyword?

Punctuating a keyword with hyphens is a technique I learned at Search Engine Bootcamp a number of years ago: it’s been considered best practice for a while. I’ve been implementing this ever since, and the (many) photos I’ve keyworded in this way get really good visibility on Google. Punctuating with hyphens works!

If for some reason you’re using a website infrastructure that doesn’t allow hyphens (for example, it may use the underscore instead), don’t worry. It’s just a small thing, and I don’t think this one small thing in isolation will matter if the rest of your web page is optimised well with keywords.

What about using uppercase and lowercase letters?

Google isn’t case sensitive – i.e. if you do a search in ALL CAPS or all lowercase (or something in between), you’ll get exactly the same results.

So consequently it doesn’t matter if you use UPPERCASE, lower case, Sentence case or Title Case for your photo keywords.

3. Photo captions

I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about using photo captions…

For one thing, photo captions are twice as likely to get read as the body copy. So if you’re not using photo captions, you’re missing out on getting your message across.

What’s more, photo captions give you another opportunity for photo SEO. So be sure to include your photo keywords in the caption that you write.

Hint: If you’re struggling with writing photo captions, here are some articles to help you:

Be sure to write your photo captions so that they’re meaningful and interesting to human readers, first and foremost. Using photo keywords is just the icing on the cake!

4. ALT attribute

Think that your work with photo keywords is done? Think again… there’s still the ALT attribute! And this is something that many people miss out when keywording photos and images…

What’s the ALT attribute?

The ALT attribute (also known as the ALT tag) was developed so that blind and visually impaired people can interact with graphic elements on a web page. Visually impaired people use a screen reader that reads out the content of a web page. And when a screen reader comes to an image, it reads out the ALT attribute. So a well-written ALT tag lets blind people know what’s in an image, even if they can’t see it.

Google accesses the ALT attribute too, so if you use your photo keywords in the ALT tag, you’re not just letting visually impaired people know what’s in the image, you’re also letting Google know. So I’d suggest taking some time and care in writing a meaningful ALT attribute – whilst using your photo keywords, of course!

Using your photo keywords in the ALT attribute is an important part of photo SEO, but be sure to write ALT copy that makes sense to human readers, first and foremost.

You need to use photo SEO in combination with other SEO techniques

Don’t keyword your photos in isolation and expect a huge surge in your Google rankings or visitor numbers: you need to keyword the rest of your web page as well.

It’s the cumulative effect of all of these SEO techniques that will give you the best results.

Using photo keywords for photo SEO is a step that many website owners skip, so if you do this (as well as other SEO techniques), there’s the opportunity to make some gains on your competitors.

Summary

  • Make sure image sizes are optimised for quick downloading – but without noticeably degrading the image quality.
  • Use your photo keywords in the image file names. Punctuate the file names with hyphens.
  • Write a meaningful photo caption that also includes your photo keyword.
  • Write an ALT tag that’s both meaningful and keyworded.
  • Photo SEO won’t boost your website rankings in isolation, you need to use other SEO techniques as well.

 


Discover my keyword research secrets...

Discover my keyword research secrets…

PS. Are you wondering where you get the photo keywords from?

You get your photo keywords from doing keyword research.

In my book ‘Keyword Research‘ I go through the keyword research process I use in detail. (My bread-and-butter is writing search engine optimised website copy, so keyword research is something I do nearly every week!)

In fact, this book contains the keyword research secrets I use for my customers’ SEO website copywriting projects – it’s all there!

See details of the Keyword Research eBook →

How to copy and paste using keyboard shortcuts – for Mac and PC

Website and copywriting tasks are much quicker if you know how to copy and paste using keyboard shortcuts.

Website and copywriting tasks are much quicker if you know how to copy and paste using keyboard shortcuts.

You can save yourself a huge amount of time if you know how to copy and paste using keyboard shortcuts.

In this blog post you will find step-by-step instructions, as well as a video to show you how to copy and paste using keyboard shortcuts.

Common things you might want to copy and paste include:

  • Sending a website address (URL) in an email, or putting it in a document.
  • Someone’s contact details, such as their website address or phone number, from their email signature.
  • Information from an old document (e.g. a proposal, letter, or fact sheet) into a new document.
  • Keywords you’ve brainstormed into a keyword research tool.

… There are limitless ways in which copying and pasting is useful!

And if you know how to do it quickly and efficiently, it can save you a lot of time.

Note: Giving instructions on how to copy and paste using keyboard shortcuts might seem quite basic to some readers here… If that’s the case, give yourself a pat on the back from being so smart. I know for a fact that there are a lot of people out there who don’t know how to copy and paste at all – let alone with keyboard shortcuts!

We all have to begin somewhere, and this video and article will make it nice and easy for you to learn…

Why use keyboard shortcuts to copy and paste?

You don’t have to use the keyboard shortcuts to copy and paste… you can use your mouse and go to Edit > Copy and then Edit > Paste. But this method is very time-consuming. If you do a lot of copying and pasting in your day (like I do), then using the keyboard is far more efficient, and it will save you time for more important things.

You’ll still need your mouse to highlight the text and position the cursor, but by using keyboard commands for copying and pasting (instead of navigating to the Edit menu), it’ll be quicker for you.

First things first: how to select the text you want to copy

You use your mouse to control the cursor on screen to select the text you want to copy. There are a number of different ways to select the text:

  • Click the left mouse button and drag the mouse to select the text you want to copy.
  • To select a whole word, double-click on it with the left mouse button.
  • If you want to select a whole paragraph or website address (URL), triple-click on it with the left mouse button.

You can tell which text you have selected, as it will be higlighted, as per this example:

highlighted-text

How to copy and paste using keyboard shortcuts: on a PC

To copy and paste using the keyboard on a PC you need to locate the following 3 keys on the keyboard:

  • Control (often labelled as ‘Ctrl’)
  • The letter ‘C’ 
  • The letter ‘V’

Keyboard-PC-circled-500

Step-by-step instructions for PC:

  1. Select the text you want to copy (as per the instructions above).
  2. Press down the ‘Control’ and letter ‘C’ buttons together at the same time: this is the ‘Copy’ command, which puts the data on your computer’s clipboard.
  3. Then navigate to where you want to paste the information: place your cursor with the mouse.
  4. Press down the ‘Control’ and letter ‘V’ buttons together at the same time. This is the ‘Paste’ command, and the text you selected should now be inserted. 

How to copy and paste using keyboard shortcuts: on a Mac

To copy and paste using the keyboard on a Mac you need to locate the following 3 keys on the keyboard:

  • Command key (the one with the squirly pattern on it)
  • The letter ‘C’
  • The letter ‘V’

Keyboard-Mac-circled-500

Step-by-step instructions for Mac:

  1. Select the text you want to copy (as per the instructions above).
  2. Press down the ‘Command’ button and letter ‘C’ buttons together at the same time: this is the ‘Copy’ command, which puts the data on your computer’s clipboard.
  3. Then navigate to where you want to paste the information: place your cursor with the mouse.
  4. Press the ‘Command’ button and letter ‘V’ buttons together at the same time. This is the ‘Paste’ command, and the text you selected should now be inserted.

Video tutorial on how to copy and paste using keyboard shortcuts:

 

Voila! It’s that easy!

There are many more keyboard shortcuts, and many are universal between apps.

But copying and pasting is the one keyboard shortcut I use the most – and it’s likely to be the shortcut you’ll use the most too.

 

How long should a sales page be?

“How long should a sales page be?” … That’s a very good question!

My answer: long enough to give your prospects all the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision.

Here's what you need to include on your sales page to make it a winner.

Here’s what you need to include on your sales page to make it a winner.

But that’s such a vague answer…

Well, yes and no.

It might seem vague to you, but I’m about to share with you what should go on your sales page, so here’s a bit of a checklist for you…

What should be included on a sales page?

If you’re wondering what to include on a sales page, you need to put yourself into your prospects’ shoes and consider their needs and concerns.

So you’d start off with:

1. An attention-grabbing headline: this must address the prospects’ primary problem or concern

If you’re not sure what the primary problem is that your prospects face, you need to ask them. Or your sales message risks falling flat.

Once you’ve got a really good headline:

2. Demonstrate that you understand your prospects’ primary problem

Show a bit of empathy… and dig a little bit deeper into the pain. The prospect then realises that you ‘get’ them… and that you may just have the answer they’re looking for.

3. Present your solution

This is where you talk about the features and benefits of your product or service.

4. Testimonials

Yes, testimonials really work. (Though there are interviewing techniques that will help you get a good, believable testimonial that’s more credible than the average sickly-sweet testimonial.) Photographs of the testimonial people add extra credibility to your message.

It’s a good idea to sprinkle a number of testimonials throughout the sales page. Testimonials should be carefully selected to cover key objections your prospects may have.

5. Bullet points

Cover every single benefit of your product or service with bullet points.

Yes, really – people can buy your product or service based on one single, tiny, feature.

What’s more, by listing all the benefits it shows that your product or service has depth. Readers will begin to imagine themselves benefitting from what’s there – and they can do that because your message is so specific.

Here’s an example to show why detailed bullet points work best:

This example is from my own sales page, for my eBook the ‘Website Owner’s Manual‘.

Imagine that you’re a small business owner, and you’ve got a website that isn’t converting.

Which of the following is more enticing sales copy:

(a) Tips on how to get your website converting better;

or:

(b)

bullet-point-benefits

… There’s a good chance that one of these specific bullet points will hit a nerve, and compel a prospect to buy.

A vague bullet point won’t do that.

What’s more, notice how I’ve added page numbers next to each bullet point. This does a number of things:

  • It creates the “I want that factor”. If you’re struggling with one of those topics, having the solution waved in front of you creates desire.
  • It creates credibility. My promises aren’t vauge; they’re real.
  • Once a customer has bought from you, they can access the information really quickly if they need to.

So yeah, detailed bullet points are your friend. 🙂

6. Screenshots and graphics

Adding graphics and screenshots of what’s inside your product is a good idea. (Not just the packaging shots, but nitty-gritty detail shots.)

Not only do graphics perk up your sales page (to balance out all the words), but it’s another way of boosting credibility, too.

7. Risk reversal and the buying process

It’s a good idea to outline what happens next in the buying process, so that the customer doesn’t hit any potholes they’re not expecting. (If they know what’s likely to happen during the checkout process, they’re less likely to abandon it.)

A guarantee of some sort is really powerful here too. If you’re an internet marketer, a money-back guarantee is the norm.

If you’re in the professional services industry, that may not be such a relevant guarantee, so you’ll need to come up with another risk reversal mechanism. This could be a Promise, or a Pledge, for example.

8. Bonuses

If you’re offering bonuses, explain why they’re fabulous and such must-have items!

9. Product offer

Yep, this is where you name your price.

You may want to remind readers of your Guarantee (or other risk-reversal mechanism) at this point.

10. Customer service information

Technology isn’t perfect, so someone’s bound to encounter problems buying online. So be sure to include key contact details (which is great for trust-building, and therefore conversions, too).

11. Personal sign-off

Add your signature and profile photograph at the end of the sales page… this personal touch provides credibility and helps with conversions.

(No-one likes buying from ‘anonymous’ websites… it’s like the business owner has something to hide, and will raise a red flag to many of your prospects.)

12. “PS” message

Repeat your main message as a “PS” at the bottom. It’s surprising how many people will skim-read (or scroll through) the bulk of the sales copy, but will read the PS. So make it good – and make it stand out.

Can any other copywriters verify this approach to long sales copy?

Yes… and I’ll refer to two copywriters and internet marketers whose work I respect.

First of all, Sean D’Souza at Psychotactics.com has tested long versus short sales copy over many years. He’s discovered that long sales copy (when it’s well written and constructed) can increase sales – and result in fewer refund requests.

I really respect Sean’s work, as he walks the walk when it comes to marketing. He is very open about what’s been successful for him. (And if you haven’t read his book The Brain Audit, you should, it provides a good insight into why customers buy – and why they don’t. Plus you’ll see his own sales page when you click on the link.)

What’s more, Sean’s copywriting approach his classy. Personally I’m not big on sales pages that use lots of highlighter pens and pop-ups and look like get-rich-quick schemes… ugh! So I’m happy learning from Sean’s approach (I’ve taken a number of his courses) because (a) his techniques work, and (b) it’s a classy, high-quality approach.

Secondly, copywriter Bob Bly is an interesting character to watch. He reportedly makes a massive income from selling eBooks online (as well as from his freelance copywriting), so he’s got some interesting techniques to observe. All of his sales pages are long… the structure may be a little bit different to what I’ve outlined above, but most of the elements are covered. Here’s a example of a Bob Bly sales page, for his product on Building A Large and Profitable Email List.

You’ll notice that Bob Bly has “Order Now” buttons scattered throughout the page, whereas Sean D’Souza has the “Buy Now” buttons at the very end… this is because Sean wants you to read his sales copy right to the very end. (Fewer refunds that way!)

In short: successful internet marketers and copywriters whom I respect use long sales pages, so that’s the approach I’d recommend.

But I hate long sales copy…

If you hate long sales copy, you need to remember that the sales page isn’t for you – it’s for your prospects.

Besides, doesn’t the idea of more sales and fewer refunds appeal to you? C’mon!

But I really REALLY hate long sales pages…

OK, if you really REALLY hate long sales pages there is one more approach. But I’m writing about it with a Disclaimer, because I haven’t tested for myself how successful this approach is or not.

Here’s what you do:

1. Create a really enticing (short) sales page

This includes two links: a Buy Now link, and a link to More Information.

This makes the page appealing to both Decisive Dan and Tentatitve Tom readers.

2. The More Information page gives all the product details

… So essentially, you still have to write long sales copy… it’s just that not everyone is forced to read it.

Here are the problems I foresee with this approach:

  • (a) You have two website pages to maintain instead of one.
  • (b) You have an additional metric to measure, i.e. how many people are clicking through to the second page.
  • (c) You’ll most likely have more refund requests, because some people haven’t bothered to find out what they’re buying.

It’s your choice, but I think it may just be easier to have one long page…! 😉

Summary

  • How long should a sales page be? Long enough to give your prospects the information they need to make an informed decision.
  • A good sales page should include the following:
    • 1. An attention-grabbing headline: this must address the prospects’ primary problem or concern
    • 2. Demonstrate that you understand your prospects’ primary problem
    • 3. Present your solution
    • 4. Testimonials
    • 5. Bullet points
    • 6. Screenshots and graphic
    • 7. Risk reversal and the buying process
    • 8. Bonuses
    • 9. Product offer
    • 10. Customer service information
    • 11. Personal sign-off
    • 12. “PS” message
  • Successful internet marketers and copywriters whom I respect use long sales pages because these pages increase sales and decrease refund requests.

 

Why I love the Yoast SEO plugin for SEO website copywriting

If you have a WordPress website, the Yoast SEO plugin can help boost your Google rankings. Here's how to use it...

If you have a WordPress website, the Yoast SEO plugin can help boost your Google rankings. Here’s how to use it…

One of the benefits of WordPress websites is that you can add so much functionality, by using plugins.

A WordPress plugin that’s on my “must have” list is the Yoast SEO plugin. (This article relates to version 1.4.x of the plugin.)

Now, I know that the Yoast SEO plugin does a heap of cool stuff, and the features I use are just the beginning. So there’s a lot more to it than this article covers. What I’m going to be talking about is specific to SEO website copywriting.

How to use the Yoast SEO plugin to help you with your SEO website copywriting

Using the Yoast SEO plugin for SEO website copywriting has two main stages:

  1. Inputting the focus keyword and meta data
  2. Analysing the content and making tweaks.

Let’s look at each of these in turn…

1. Input the focus keyword and meta data

First of all, you need a focus keyword (derived from your keyword research and keyword strategy). You need just one focus keyword for each web page or post.

As an example, let’s use screenshots from this actual blog post, where I’ve chosen “Yoast SEO plugin” as my focus keyword… That makes sense, yes? Seeing as this is an article primarily about the Yoast SEO plugin. (Oh, look at me dropping the keyword in yet again!)

(Note: “Yoast SEO plugin review” would probably be an even better keyword, but it’s kinda hard to write that naturally in the copy. The golden rule of website copywriting – even SEO website copywriting – is to write for human readers first of all. If something sounds stilted and awkward, don’t write it that way.)

You input your focus keyword in the “General” tab of the plugin window… which is on the same page of your WordPress admin as the page or post you’re writing, so all you need to do is scroll down.

The orange “1”, below, indicates where you put your focus keyword (and it even comes up with some suggestions… though personally I always ignore these!):

yoast-seo-plugin-1

As you can see, the plugin automatically generates a Meta Title and Meta Description (see the orange “2”), but you should re-write these… you can do oh so much better!

(a) The Meta Title (called the “SEO Title” in Yoast)

The Meta Title will show up in the search engine results, so you need to make this an enticing headline that grabs readers’ attention.

AND it needs to include your focus keyword… and you get extra Brownie Points if it’s at the very beginning.

AND you should stay within the 70 character word limit. (Something that’s a little too short is better than it being too long.)

AND every page on your website needs a unique Meta Title, or Google will penalise your site’s rankings.

You can see the Meta Title I’ve written for this article in the image below, next to the orange “3”:

yoast-seo-plugin-2

(b) The Meta Description

The Meta Description may show up in the search results… or else Google may just use a random bit of text from your web page. Assume that it will show up.

Also, apparently according to Google, it doesn’t matter if you use your focus keyword in the Meta Description or not… but let’s face it, it’s not going to hurt. So I’d always suggest using it (as does the Yoast SEO plugin).

So here you can write a short (156 character max.) blurb. Make it a bit of a teaser; make it enticing so that people want to click through.

Do make the description accurate and relevant to your web page, too. And every page on your website needs a unique Meta Description.

You can see the Meta Description I’ve written for this article in the image above, next to the orange “4”.

Stick to the character count!

What’s super handy about this plugin is that a character count is included… there’s nothing worse than having your copy cut short in the Google search results. (That looks very unprofessional.)

And the character count saves you so much time, rather than using the word count in Word, and copying and pasting and all those shenanigans.

2. Analyse the content and make tweaks

OK, now that you’ve loaded your content and entered the focus keyword, Meta Title and Meta Description you can see how your content stacks up.

As soon as you hit “Save Draft” you’ll see some information come up in the “General” tab of the Yoast SEO plugin (highlighted in yellow, below):

yoast-seo-plugin-6

… But it can do much, much more than that.

Click on the “Page Analysis” tab and you’ll see something like this:

yoast-seo-plugin-3

As you can see, it uses a traffic light system to show you what you’ve done well (indicated by a green circle); important things that need attention (indicated by a red circle); and not-so-important things to consider (indicated by an orange circle).

And if you look at the “Publish” pane, it gives an overall “traffic light” for the page:

yoast-seo-plugin-4

… as you can see, I get a nice, big fat green light for this page. Woohoo!

Important: A green light isn’t a guarantee of success, it’s simply an indicator that you’ve done your job well. After all, the actual Google rankings have so many other variables, like degree of competition for your chosen keywords; your site’s overall Page Rank; number of quality inbound links to your site; etc. etc. But by getting a green light, you’re well on your way.

I’d also suggest that you set up your All Posts and All Pages admin areas to resemble this:

yoast-seo-plugin-5

That way, you can see at a glance the traffic light ranking for each page; the focus keyword; and the Meta Data. Then you can quickly see which pages you’ve optimised well, and which pages need attention.

Do all pages and posts need a green light?

In my view, you shouldn’t worry about getting the green light for all your pages and posts… It just isn’t possible all the time.

Using the focus keyword should read naturally, and if you can’t possibly use the keyword naturally, then leave it be.

At the end of the day it is always better to write quality content for human readers than ticking all the SEO boxes.

What if you’re already using an SEO plugin, such as All In One SEO Pack?

At the time of writing this article (July 2013), the All In One SEO Pack plugin doesn’t come close to the Yoast SEO plugin.

One client paid his web developer to migrate the data from the All In One SEO Pack to the Yoast SEO plugin. Then I carried out an Analysis of all the web pages and blog posts, and made some small tweaks here and there to get that “green light” on as many pages as possible.

This resulted in increased website visibility for the client, and just a year after launching his brand new website (on a new URL), he is ranking naturally on Page 1 of Google for all of his chosen keywords. The Yoast SEO plugin definitely helped with that.

Other cool stuff that the Yoast SEO plugin can help you with

There’s a bunch of other stuff that the Yoast SEO plugin can do for your WordPress site, such as XML sitemaps, and a whole lot more… things that are far too technical for me, and that I get my web designer to look after. You’ll need to read the Yoast website to check out the rest of the features. 🙂

PS. A thank you…

A big thank you to my awesome web designer, Trisha Cupra at Blue Owl Web Design Makeovers for telling me about this plugin in the first place. This lady is the WordPress Queen, she seriously knows her stuff when it comes to effective websites.

 

How to write a Contact Us page (that actually makes it enticing for prospects to contact you!)

It's vital that your website's Contact Us page makes it easy and enticing for prospects to contact you.

It’s vital that your website’s Contact Us page makes it easy and enticing for prospects to contact you.

What action would you like your readers to take when they look at your website?

Do you want prospects to contact you? Perhaps to make an appointment, or to request a quote?

Some kind of “Contact Us” message is the main call-to-action on most brochure-style websites. So hopefully you’ve got calls-to-action sprinkled throughout your site. (And ideally in a way that’ll appeal to both Decisive Dan and also Tentative Tom readers.)

But what happens when people visit your Contact Us page?

Is your Contact Us page carefully crafted to sound friendly and inviting?

Or is it a page that you quickly threw together to get it off your To Do list as fast as possible? (After all, how hard can it be to write a good Contact Us page?!)

It’s kind of ironic that the most important page on a website is usually written without much thought…

It doesn’t make sense when you stop to think about it, does it? If “Contact Us” is the primary call-to-action on your website, then you need to put a bit of effort in when you write a Contact Us page.

Here’s a checklist of things you should include when you write a Contact Us page:

1. Friendly introductory blurb

Don’t just go straight to the nitty-gritty contact details, as that can come across as being rather abrupt.

Instead, add a sentence or two right at the beginning of your Contact Us page that makes your company sound friendly and approachable.

2. Email address

Even if your website has an enquiry form, you should always always include an email address as well. Read my article to find out why you should include an email address.

3. Contact form

You should be aware that lots of people (a) hate filling out forms, and (b) have filled out forms, only to never hear from the company they’ve contacted. So treat contact forms with caution.

To make contact forms more user friendly:

  • ALWAYS specify how quickly you’ll respond to enquiries. Will it be within 24 hours? Or 1 to 2 business days? Tell the reader! Also tell them what to do if they don’t hear back within that time frame.This is really important. Contact Forms aren’t perfect. By adding this blurb, the keenest prospects will get back in touch with you. (This happened to me just last week!)
  • NEVER use CAPTCHA – you know, those awful codes you have to input to prove that you’re not a robot or a spammer. Most of them are totally illegible and incredibly frustrating. Read my rant about CAPTCHA – which includes a far better (and totally unobtrusive, human-friendly) solution.

4. Physical and postal addresses

Putting an address on your website is vital for building trust, as it shows that you are a real, actual business.

Now, here in New Zealand things are a bit quirky in that many businesses get their mail delivered to a PO (Post Office) Box rather than to their physical address. That’s the norm here. I have no idea why.

But having  PO Box address is good for work-at-home businesses, like myself. A friend of mine, who also works from home, initially put her physical address on her website and business card, and then had an unexpected visit from a client – whilst she was in her pyjamas! Oops! In this scenario, by using a PO Box address you can still build trust, but without having to worry about strangers seeing your PJs.

Extra tips for businesses whose premises are visited by clients…

If clients routinely visit your business, there are some extra things you should do:

  • Opening hours: You would be amazed at the number of physical retailers that don’t put their opening hours on their website. Craziness!
  • By appointment only: Don’t have set opening hours? Then tell readers that they are welcome to visit, but must make an appointment first. That way they know where they stand, and what to do.
  • Car parking information: Visiting a business can be stressful for people, especially if they’re not familiar with the area. It can also be incredibly frustrating to get somewhere and find out that there’s no parking available, or that they need change for the parking meter.
    • Visitor Parking: make it clear if you have Visitor Parking, and what the procedure is for parking there (for example, does the space need to be pre-booked?).
    • Other parking: If you don’t provide parking, tell readers where they can park, and if they need to pay for the parking, tell them what the payment methods are (e.g. cash, credit card, TXT-a-park, etc.). This is hugely valuable for people like me who never carry cash!
    • Time limits: Also, if there’s a time limit on the parking (e.g. 30 minutes, an hour, two hours), let people know. You’d be making a very big negative deposit into your customers’ emotional bank balances if they were to get a parking ticket, clamp or towed as a result of visiting your business!
  • Photograph of your building’s exterior: Makes it easy for prospects to find your business.
  • Map: Ditto! My preferred tool is Google Maps… not only is it free, but their maps are also interactive and let users get directions… very handy!
  • Directions: If your premises are difficult to find, include written directions as well.
  • Public transport links: If your customers take public transport to travel to you, include this information. E.g.: bus route(s), location of nearest bus stop or train station, etc.

5. Phone numbers

Yes, list all of your relevant phone numbers:

  • Land line
  • Cell phone
  • Fax
  • Skype username.

If there’s a specific number you’d prefer people to call you on (e.g. your cell phone, if you’re always out and about), then:

(a)  Put your preferred phone number at the top of the list.

(b)  Make your preferred phone number bold and stand out.

(c)  Make it clear that that’s your preferred number, e.g. by saying “this is the best number to call us on” next to it.

Also, if you prefer being contacted by phone than email, then put your phone number(s) nearer the top of the web page, and the email details below it.

(And likewise, if you prefer email contact, put your email address near the top of the page, and the phone numbers further down the page.)

6. Links to social media profiles

The Contact Us page is a good place to include links to your social media profiles:

  • Facebook Page
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube Channel
  • Pinterest
  • Anything else that you use!

Tip: set up these links to your social media profiles so that they open in a new web browser window (the HTML code for this is: target=_blank). This means that visitors won’t be taken away from your company website.

You could include your Facebook Feed or Twitter stream here, but that’s not essential.

7. Photographs of key contact people

Remember, the goal of the Contact Us page is to encourage prospects to contact you. And making your company look friendly and approachable will really help with that.

So be sure to include some staff photos on your Contact Us page. Photos help with trust building – and also help with building rapport.

If you have a Receptionist or Customer Services team, or other people who field most of the calls and enquiries, use their photos. A good caption to go with this kind of photo is:

“Mary Smith, our Receptionist, is the friendly voice you’ll first speak to when you call us.”

(The caption explains who the person is; and what their role is in the business.)

Or if you’re a one-person business, use your own photo and write a suitable caption.

8. Signature

Finally, end the page with your signature, name and credentials.

This helps with building trust – you can read all about using signatures for trust building here.

9. PS message with a final call-to-action

Is there a really important message you’d like to remind people of before they leave your site? Then include it in a “PS” message at the end.

PS messages do get read, and if people have scrolled to the bottom of your Contact Us page (and haven’t made contact), then point them towards some other useful content on your website. The person reading this message is likely to be a “Tentative Tom“, so your job is to give them all the information they need to spur them into contacting you.

Here are examples of the final call-to-action you could include in your PS message:

  • Testimonials page: Want to see what our customers are saying about us? Find out here
  • Newsletter sign-up: Get all the latest tips for free! 
  • Free quote: Contact us today for your free quote: call
  • Resources: Get the inside tips…

Pick just one message in your PS… if there’s more than one option, the reader will probably feel overwhelmed!

Summary

  • “Contact us” is the main call-to-action on many small business websites, yet many businesses throw these pages together quickly without much thought.
  • A good contact us page helps with conversions – and also helps to build rapport with your prospects.
  • Include the following when you write a Contact Us page for your website:
    1. Friendly introductory blurb
    2. Email address
    3. Contact form
    4. Physical and postal addresses
    5. Phone numbers
    6. Links to social media profiles
    7. Photographs of key contact people
    8. Signature
    9. PS message with a final call-to-action
  • If you have business premises that you want your customers and prospects to visit, also include:
    • Opening hours – or by appointment only
    • Car parking information: visitor parking, other parking, and any time limits
    • Photograph of your building’s exterior
    • Map
    • Directions
    • Public transport links

 

 

A rant about CAPTCHA (and a possible better solution)

I'll never understand why some companies make it so hard to do business with them.

I’ll never understand why some companies make it so hard to do business with them.

How do you feel about “CAPTCHA” forms?

You know, those awful, illegible “words” that you have to type in on some websites (usually on enquiry forms).

About CAPTCHA…

CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”… or in other words, it’s a test to check that it’s a human filling in the website form, not an automated spam robot.

Guilty till proven innocent

To me, it seems totally rude to ask your website visitors to waste their time trying to interpret these frustrating eye-tests.

I mean seriously, what next? Do prospects also have to jump through hoops of fire to contact you?!

An example of a terrible CAPTCHA…

Here’s an example I had to contend with recently:

CAPTCHA

 

Nope, I have no idea what it says. They’re not even real words, for goodness sake!

This was from a website that I had to use to fulfil a job for a copywriting client.

Every time I hit ‘refresh’ the CAPTCHA had the same level of gobbledygook as this. And there was no audio version for people with hearing problems… it’s rude, rude, rude!

Are you really that worried about spam?

If you have a half decent email system, most spam will get filtered out automatically. I use Gmail (via Google Apps) as my email provider, and I’m really happy with the spam filtering. 

The supplier I used previously wasn’t so good, but personally I’d rather delete a few spam emails than make it so ridiculously hard for people to contact me.

There’s a better way: the spam honeypot

Disclaimer: I’m not a website programmer; I’m just repeating information my awesome web designer has shared with me.

Instead of the “guilty till proven innocent” approach of CAPTCHA, there’s another method called the “spam honeypot” that seeks to trip up robots (not humans). Hurrah!

The way it works is that a hidden text field is added to Contact forms. This field is invisible to human users, but the spam bots aren’t aware of this, so they will insert something into that form. The system then knows that this was a spammer, and you’ll never even see the spam.

Cool, huh?

It is effective (and something that’s used on this website).

So please, instead of using annoying, frustrating and rude CAPTCHA forms… ask your web developer to use nice and unobtrusive spam honeypots instead! 

 

Major Google algorithm update in May 2013

Have you noticed a change to your website’s Google rankings (and traffic) recently?

If you've noticed a change to your website rankings and visitor numbers in recent weeks, it could be due to a major update in Google's ranking algorithm.

If you’ve noticed a change to your website rankings and visitor numbers in recent weeks, it could be due to a major update in Google’s ranking algorithm.

If you’ve noticed a change in recent weeks, that could well be due to a major update in Google’s ranking algorithm.

The aim of the update on 22 May 2013 is to penalise low quality, spammy websites… and in turn, reward websites that are rich in unique, high quality content. This goes to show that investing in unique, high quality website content is the best SEO strategy!

(I’ve looked at the website statistics for some of my clients, and for the sites I’ve looked at there’s been a noticeable increase in visitor numbers since 22 May.) 🙂

More info about the Google update…

Matt Cutts is Head of the Webspam Team on Google, so he’s responsible for a lot of Google’s algorithm changes. He’s written a blog post about the changes (nicknamed ‘Penguin 2.0’) here, and it includes a link to a video with more information the update. It’s also interesting that Google now lets users report spam websites.

So how do you get unique, high quality website content?

There are a number of ways in which you can add useful content to your website. (And remember, the best content will be helpful to your human readers too.)

  • Resources: Add a resources section with hints and tips for your customers.
  • FAQs: You could have FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) page(s) addressing the questions your customers and prospects ask you most often.
  • Blog: If you can commit to adding regular content, a blog (or news section) is the way to go. Do make sure you update it regularly though – an out-of-date blog is not a good look! And make sure that your blog is part of your existing website, rather than a stand-alone site. If your website is built using WordPress, that’s easy to do… otherwise, you may need to ask your website developer to set it up for you.

Like the idea of adding content – but don’t enjoy writing?

If you struggle with writing but would like more high quality content on your website, I can help you with your website copywriting.

 

How to build trust online with your profile photograph

The purpose of profile photographs in business is to look friendly and approachable.Do you find that an out-of-the-blue interaction with a nice, friendly, cheery person can make you feel all smiley and glowy inside?

That’s how I used to feel whenever I parked in my favourite multi-storey car park in Auckland CBD.

For inside this grey, gloomy building was a cosy pocket of warmth – known as the payment booth. An elderly (and generously proportioned) Pacific Islander lady with white hair and a jolly disposition resided in this booth. It seemed that no matter which hour, or which day, I visited the car park, she was always there. And always knitting. And always ready with a big smile.

In fact, I always used to look forward to paying for my car parking fee, knowing that the jolly Islander lady would be there! A sincere smile and chat with her made my day.

One day it all changed…

One time I arrived at the car park to discover that the barrier arms at the entry at gone. And Pay and Display ticket machines had been installed. And – horrors! – the payment booth was covered in metal shutters. Ugh!

For me, the whole vibe of the car park changed instantly. Instead of feeling safe, protected and looked after, it now feels cold, impersonal, and almost creepy.

It’s the personal touch that makes a difference

It’s the personal touch that can transform a routine transaction into something more pleasurable. Maybe even a relationship of sorts.

After all, that’s why people like to do business with other people

We all know this, but in this world of computers and websites and email, many business relationships veer more towards the impersonal rather than personal, warm and friendly. Yet friendly faces make us relax, smile and feel good about ourselves!

Wouldn’t you like a bit more warmth and friendliness in your working day?

Here’s an easy way to make business communication more personal…

It’s easy… you use a portrait photo of yourself in your marketing communications!

But I don’t look attractive enough to use a photo…

This is something I hear quite often from business owners. They think that they’re not attractive enough to use their photograph.

But here’s the thing: no-one expects you to look like a supermodel. (Heck, it would be a scary, intimidating world if everyone did look like Heidi Klum!)

Rather, it’s about you looking friendly, and approachable – and like you. That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less. Truly.

But I’m not very confident about how I look…

You and me both!

So before I had my profile photos taken, I spent some time with my beautician and hairdresser in order to look the best I could. And the photographer I engaged was excellent: she specialised in portrait photos (she’d even won some awards) and I really liked the shots in her portfolio.

How you pose in a portrait photo is important too, because the body language is so important. Here are my tips on how to pose for portrait photographs.

In short: with a bit of preparation, you’ll end up with shots that you will be happy and comfortable using.

You’ve got the photographs – now what do you do?

The photographs are no good sitting on a CD or on the hard drive of your computer, oh no! You need to use them!

Me personally, because I felt very uncomfortable about putting my photograph everywhere, I did it in stages.

Step 1: Put your portrait photograph on your website

Putting your portrait photograph on your website immediately adds warmth and credibility – and builds trust. Visitors like knowing that there’s a real person behind the business: dealing with a faceless persona just feels weird.

The key pages to add your photograph to are:

  • Home page
  • About page
  • Contact page
  • Sales pages.

There were unexpected benefits of using my photograph on my website…

I must admit that I didn’t really think about how putting my photograph on my website would benefit or affect me. In fact, I wasn’t really sure what to expect – I didn’t think it would make a difference to me, only to my website readers. Wrong!

After I started using my photo on my website, I’d notice that when I met prospects and new clients for the first time, they were noticeably friendlier to me! Not that people are normally unfriendly, but because these people had seen my photograph (and read about me), they felt like they already knew me a little. It’s a huge ice-breaker and rapport building tool!

I’m shy by nature, so it makes a big difference to me when the person I’m meeting for the first time not only recognises me, but also approaches me with a big smile. It’s wonderful!

Step 2: Use your photograph in your email signature

I can’t remember who suggested this to me, but I was very uncomfortable about using my photo in my email signature. It’s not something that’s normally done in New Zealand, and it just felt a bit cheesy and attention seeking.

But whoever told me to do it must have been very persuasive, because I did finally do it. And the results were very unexpected!

I instantly received an email from an A-Grade client saying how much she enjoyed seeing my photo in my email. She said that it made her feel like she was communicating with a real person, and that it took the impersonal nature out of emails.

Example: Here’s my current email signature. I change and update the design quite often, but the photograph is the one constant:

Here's an example of using a profile photograph in an email signature.

Here’s an example of using a profile photograph in an email signature.

The wonderful feedback from my A-Grade client gave me the confidence to keep using my photograph in my email signature.

I’ve noticed that using my profile photo in this way is great for building rapport with new clients – just like it does on the website. That was one result I semi-expected, but I was in for another surprise.

The surprising thing I’ve noticed since using my photo in my email signature is that the replies I receive are somehow… nicer.

It’s not that I’d usually receive lots of nasty emails from people, no. But because people see my face when they’re writing a message to me, somehow their tone changes, just a little bit.

Seeing my photograph makes people aware that they’re communicating with a real, live human.

And this slight difference in tone makes a huge difference to my day. We all like to be addressed in a friendly, courteous manner, so this directly impacts my happiness at work.

One thing’s for sure: I’m no longer scared or hesitant about using my photo!

Step 3: Other places where you can use your profile photograph

There are other places where you can use your profile photograph too:

  • Other website pages: e.g. newsletter sign-up pages, download pages, etc.
  • Email newsletters: This adds a personal touch to your mass communications.
  • Business cards: This helps people to remember you long after the initial meeting.
  • Proposal documents: Put a friendly, personal touch to quotes and estimates. Think about it from the reader’s point of view, who may find the document a bit scary and intimidating – especially if it’s a high-value purchase. Wouldn’t a friendly smile on the cover page warm you up to reading it?
  • Sales letters: I’ll often include my photograph in sales letters to clients, as it adds that friendly, personal touch.

In short: you can use your profile photograph in the same places where you use your digitised signature.

Are there any places where you shouldn’t use your profile photograph?

I do think that it’s possible to take the profile photograph thing too far.

For example, a few years ago I received a fridge magnet for a mortgage broker with his photograph on. Do I want to look at his photograph every day when I’m making breakfast? Um, that would be a no!

We also received a Shopping List pad from a husband-and-wife real estate team (people we have no relationship or connection with). That went straight into the recycling pile.

While it’s good to use your profile photograph to build a relationship, there is such a thing as being too “in your face”, so some common sense is advised!

Remember, the aim is to add a friendly, personal touch… not to freak people out!

I wish that the multi-storey car park owners in Auckland CBD realised that their facilities now freak me out, and I park elsewhere that feels friendlier. 😉

Summary: benefits of using your profile photograph in your marketing

Benefits to your prospects and customers:

  • They trust your company/brand more quickly.
  • It helps to put them at ease and makes them feel more comfortable… dealing with people whose names and faces you know is nicer than dealing with an anonymous entity (or a machine!).

Benefits to you:

  • It can help to boost your sales conversion rates, or speed up the decision-making process, because your prospects trust you more (and do so more quickly).
  • It’s a wonderful ice-breaker and rapport builder for meetings: people will feel like they already ‘know’ you, which puts both of you at ease.
  • People may communicate with you in a more courteous manner. It is easy to be rude or vent to an anonymous entity than a person whose name and face you know!
  • It differentiates your business and your brand against your competitors. There is no competition to be you!