The Death of Keywords in 2017

The Death of Keywords in 2017

I need to ask you an important question here- and be honest.  How much do you really focus on keywords these days?

Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret, and you have to promise not to tell anyone about this.  Not even those self-proclaimed SEO gurus that fill our LinkedIn feeds with daily content…especially not them.  Because I’m about to ruin the scam of the century for an entire industry that’s filled with snake-oil salesmen, con artists and self-promoting idiots.

Are you ready for it?  Keywords are officially dead in 2017.

And just so we’re clear here, I’m not saying that there’s no such thing as keywords anymore.  Keywords are just some words placed together with other words…so obviously they still exist.  But they’re just not important.

Take this website, for example…and this very blog.  We all know that to properly optimize a page under SEO standards, we have to get the keyword in the title, in the very first sentence and again in the first subtitle.  Yet I haven’t used any of my site’s primary keywords.  And look down the page- there are no subtitles either.

But guess what?  You’re still reading this…and visitor engagement has surpassed silly things like meta-descriptions and keywords a long time ago.  Google has said so like a billion times.

Heck, “engagement” is probably Matt Cutt’s middle name by now…and he doesn’t even work for the search engine giant anymore.

Now, you may be pondering, “But what does it all mean?  How can the Earth survive without things like keyword density and anchor text?”  Before we get to that, I think it’s important for all of us to remain calm.  Go pop a Valium if necessary, because this feeling of utter hopelessness will pass by the end of this article.  I promise.

And just ask my kids- I may exaggerate all the time, but I never lie.  A promise is something worth keeping.

The truth is that keywords have actually been dead for quite some time now and in most cases, they’re completely unnecessary.    After all, the search engines have a very clear picture of what your website is actually about and one more blog post won’t tip the scales in your favor.

Now, you may come from the school of thought where you’d say something like, “Well, keywords definitely aren’t hurting my website, so why should I stop focusing on them?”

That’s a great question.

But unfortunately, you’ve been so obsessed with keyword stuffing for so darn long that you’ve completely forgotten what a keyword or a key-phrase is in the first place.  It’s just a series of words people- every single word on this page is a keyword.

Well, okay…maybe not all the “the, and, our, but, it” and words like that…but the rest are certainly keywords.  And if they are located next to other words on the page, then you have a bunch of key-phrases forming as well.

Before I make this too confusing, maybe I better give a practical example.  I’ll use my website once again.

For those of you that follow me, you know that I’m a copywriter that knows a thing or two about online marketing and search optimization.  And I live in Spartanburg, South Carolina, so naturally by most important key-phrase would be something like, “Spartanburg Copywriter” or “Copy writer in Spartanburg,” right?

Wrong.  Those are horrible keywords.  And I can prove it.

When I tell people around town what I do for a living, about 1/3rd of them assume a “copywriter” is a person who issues patents.  Or someone who creates laws.  They have absolutely no idea what I do for a living unless they actually have ties to the marketing field.  And that means when they look for someone like me, they almost never type those phrases, even though Google AdWords says that they’re my best bet.

So let me ask you a question- what would my main keyword be then if it’s not “copywriter”?

Well, it could be anything that people type into the search engines these days to find someone like me…and that’s a pretty darn long list.  I see everything from content creator to digital analyst to brand manager on job boards, while your average Joe searches for a blog writer or social media professional.  Some even use “wordsmith”, even though that’s technically not a word.

Do you see the problem here?  I can’t just pluck a few nifty keywords out of thin air and properly reach all of my potential clients.  In fact, I probably couldn’t reach all of them with a thousand targeted key phrases.

That’s why keywords are officially dead in 2017… they died long before you ever took your first lesson in SEO.

Besides, what good does it really do anyway to target the same keywords over and over again?  Google is dead-set on normalizing the search results so you can’t appear in multiple spots for the same phrase.  Either your website doesn’t have quality content and it will never rank for your terms, or it is already ranking well and you’re being repetitive anyway.

Either way, it’s wasted money if you follow conventional SEO logic.

Again, that brings us right back to finding a true definition of a keyword.  But the dictionary won’t help, because the only opinions that truly matter here are your actual customers.  After all, they control everything when it comes to the success of your brand.

Are you with me so far on this?  I promise- a big revelation is just seconds away.

If your main goal is to connect with more customers (and let’s face it; that’s the only reason you do any of this crap), then your main focus is not going to be on a single key-phrase.  Or even your top fifty.  Instead, you’re going to throw the SEO book straight out the window and casually use every possible combination of industry-related jargon you can think of.

And that, my friends, means that there are no such things as keywords anymore.  It’s almost like the Matrix- everything is a keyword, and you don’t even have to take the blue pill.

The morale to this lesson here is to completely forget about keywords except when it comes to your back-end meta stuff, because that’s the only place where it still slightly matters.  But to connect to actual people and to convince them to trust your brand, you’d better be talking in their language…and normal humans don’t say the same phrase six times in a two minute period.

That’s just weird.

So your content marketing goal in 2017 is to simply focus on what matters to your potential customers and to deliver your messaging in plain-Jane English that they can relate with…and then do the exact opposite of keyword targeting.  Instead, try to use every possible variation of what your customers might type across your next 10-20 blog posts.

Guess what?  There’s a term for that as well- it’s called great writing.  And that’s been the #1 ranking factor of the search engines since the early 1990’s.  The best overall content always wins.

So moving forward, forget about those silly keywords and just focus on putting a smile on a potential customer’s face.  As long as you’re doing that, Google will see your value.  That’s all that really matters anyway.

Creating a Powerful Content Marketing Plan in 2017

Creating a Powerful Content Marketing Plan in 2017

One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to search optimization is that it takes mass amounts of content in order for a website to rank favorably.  To this very day, I still see businesses taking the quantity over quality approach…even though they’re getting poor results and very little customer engagement.  So maybe your content marketing plan for 2017 should be a little bit different.

As I’ve said at least a hundred times a month to my clients, “Content is King.”  It always was and it always will be…it is the #1 ranking factor on any website for a reason.  Because when people perform a Google search, they’re looking for very specific answers; either your content answers their questions or it doesn’t.

And when your content fails, then the user is off to find a different website that can help them.  You’d better believe that the search engines notice as well, and that’s why customer engagement is the #2 ranking factor.  Google ultimately doesn’t decide which website’s content is the best- you and I do through our actions when searching.

Why Does Quality Content Always Win?

Perfect ApplesLet’s say you go to a farmer’s market and one particular stand is selling apples for three dollars each.  These aren’t just any apples, mind you; they are beautiful, flawless pieces of fruit that are fit to be served at a royal engagement.  Their sweet nectar and crispness are like nothing you’ve ever tasted before, and they’re easily the best apples you’ve ever eaten in your life.

Naturally, there are dozens of people crowded around that vendor’s fruit stand because he has the best fruit at the whole market.

As you approach to make your purchase though, you notice a young boy standing in an alleyway with a huge basket.  He’s holding a sign that says, “Special! 25 Apples for a Dollar!” and you have to admit, they look pretty darn tasty from afar.  But once you approach the boy, you see that many of the apples are rotten and darkened with age, plus there are several worms and other insects crawling through the mass of apples.

Focusing on Content that Really Matters

what really mattersSo as a website owner, would you rather have one piece of golden fruit that everyone seems to want?  Or do you want a large variety of unappealing fruits that can be found almost anywhere?

Well, let me let you in on a little secret…Google wants those perfect apples.

Each time you post new content to your website, the search engines study it for hundreds of specific metrics.  Everything from word complexity to formatting to customer engagement is studied under a microscope to find the perfect blend, and there is absolutely no way to “cheat the process” in 2017.  Either your blog posts are interesting to people or they’re not…there’s really not a middle ground.

The Basis of a Winning Content Marketing Plan

writing a content planSo when we start to create a content plan for your website in 2017, the LAST THING that I want you to focus on is the number of articles you’re going to post.  Instead, you need to focus your energy on finding out what your website’s visitors really want to learn about when they search for a brand like you.  Those are the things you should be writing about…both in your blogs and on your core website pages…because that’s what will ultimately turn visitors into customers.

Take this website for example- look at the main navigation up top.  If you click on any of my main links, I give you a quick snapshot of the services I offer and how they can help you.  But you’ll also notice that every single page has a link to “learn more” or “find additional information”, because I never want someone to not be able to find a specific answer.

Most of my blog posts are further extensions of the services that I offer to my clients, but I’m not posting this to try to sell you anything.  Instead, I’m showing you that I really do know what I’m talking about and that I don’t mind helping you out some, for free.  And in a nutshell, that’s how you build trust on the internet.  You show that you’re an expert and a helpful person, and then your phone starts ringing from new clients.

Cleaning Up Core Content

cleaning up contentWhat does that mean for your website?

For starters, your homepage needs to touch on every product/service your company offers…or at least mention the broad category.  Because if folks can’t figure out whether or not you’re qualified to handle something for them within their first few seconds of visiting, then it’s already game over.  So nail down that homepage with great quality content…even if it’s just a few sentences per section.

Next, I want you to have your webmaster take a look at your website and see where the vast majority of your visitors leave.  Try to identify the worst performing 5-10 pages in Google Analytics, and make these a top priority for revamping in 2017.  But before you can do that, you need to figure out what was wrong with those pages to begin with…why did the customers leave?

Here are a few things to look at-

  • No direct answers to the customer’s most common questions
  • Vague product and/or service descriptions
  • Poor formatting on the page…it’s all one big mess
  • Too much content…it just seems to go on forever
  • Too many ads on the page (huge turnoff)
  • Far too many hyperlinks and other distractions
  • A lack of relevant photographs and video

If you can’t identify the problems of your worst pages by using the list above, then here’s a very easy test to figure out the issue.  You know that jerk friend that you hang out with sometimes that you don’t really like but associate with anyway?  Call up him/her and ask them why people don’t like that page.  They’ll be happy to tell you all the problems they see.

Or you can call me, I’ll be happy to tell you as well.  In fact, that may be easier and a lot less embarrassing.

Anyway, you want to proceed through your entire website and beef up the content where you’re currently doing poorly…that’s priority #1.  Don’t even think about a paid ad campaign or more blogs until your core site is set up to convert.

When to Start Blogging

blog writingBlogs are a great tool because they allow you to rank for your site’s relevant keywords, plus they allow readers to see a little more about what your company stands for.  So when you make a content plan for blog posts, you want the focus to be solely on your customers…what will they actually want to read?

And before we go any further, let me give you some ideas-

  • How-to tips, guides, and walkthroughs
  • RELEVANT company news and events
  • A deeper analysis of what you do for clients
  • Case studies showing your successes
  • Local charities, community events, etc.
  • OCCASIONAL information on sales and promotions

Notice that I went all caps with two words there- relevant and occasional.  It’s nice to post a blog about winning an award, opening a new store or doing something nice for the community, but people will be quick to stop listening if all you do is brag about yourself.  The same goes for sales promotions- they only belong on your blog when it’s truly newsworthy.

After all, if you’re spamming some type of sale every single day…then there’s no reason to pay attention.  That means everything always on sale and the urgency to buy is 100% gone.

Learn to Write Authority Articles

writing authority articlesAs I’m typing this sentence, I’m quickly approaching the 1,300 word mark.  And so far, everything here has been actionable information that applies directly to your website, which is exactly how a great blog is supposed to be written.  It’s what you’d call an authority article, and it will likely rank on the first page of search for various terms.

Why?

If you perform a Google search for “creating a content plan”, most of the examples out there are things like, “Five Tips for Creating a Great Content Plan” or “Write Better Content in 2017.”  But the problem is, they all give the exact same generic advice-

  • Deliver great content
  • Post consistently
  • Use images and video
  • Share on social media
  • Create email alerts

And once you get into the “meat” of the content on those sites, there’s really nothing of value that the bullet points didn’t summarize.  That’s a common article that anyone could write whether they have knowledge on the subject or not…and stuff like that rarely ranks well for long.  Because as soon as someone posts an updated version and gets a few hundred page views, their article becomes more popular than yours and Google promotes it.

So if you’re going to talk about something on your blog, then you need to go all-in and give your readers in-depth advice that applies directly to their specific situation.  A good example would be a blog I posted in November about online marketing for restaurants.  It’s about 1,000 words total and it’s the only time I ever mention the word “restaurant” on my entire site, yet it ranks #1 for every variation of the key-phrase “Restaurant Marketing Spartanburg.”

So just off an hour of writing, I gained awesome visibility for a complete industry within my market…and I’ve done the same thing for dentists, car dealers and many other segments.  There’s no reason why you can’t do the exact same thing with the right strategy.

Drafting your Actual Content Marketing Plan for 2017

content marketing checklistLet’s recap real fast.

Your first goal in 2017 is to update all of your website’s main content on any pages that aren’t converting well.  Your new layout will give brief answers on the main pages and in-depth analysis on each sub-page.

Next, you’re going to start writing blogs that address specific things that your ideal customers are wondering about.  These posts should be industry specific whenever possible and laser-focused on who you’re trying to target.  And figuring out the number of articles you need for each topic is easy- you keep writing super-high quality content until you take the #1 slot for your area.

Also, your most important key-phrases should have much longer articles that go really in-depth about the subject matter.  Just Google these phrases before starting to see what’s already ranking well on Google- your article has to be better than those already out there.  If you’re not willing to put in that level of effort, then don’t write it in the first place…focus on something else that’s easier to rank for instead.

Finally, you are going to mix in a few blog articles that show your company culture.  For example, I occasionally write about NFL football, family vacations and/or community events, because these are the things that matter to me.  And by opening up and showing who I am as a professional, my clients get a much better sense of who I am as a person.

Parting Words of Wisdom

One Perfect AppleThe only other piece of advice I can give at this point is exactly what I started with- always focus on superior quality writing that actually helps your customers.  You’d be far better off writing one awesome blog post per week over writing 10 so-so pieces, so try to remember the analogy I gave about the apple vendor.  You only want to serve content that’s fit for a king, yet written well enough for the masses to easily digest.

If you need any additional help drafting a content plan for 2017 or you need the services of a nifty creative writer, please do not hesitate to reach out to me through the contact form or by giving me a call.  I’m always happy to give free consultations and help you find the best path forward BEFORE you’re actually on my client list.

 

 

Learn to Write Amazing SEO Content

Learn to Write Amazing SEO Content

When it comes to writing SEO content for the search engines, Google and the other search providers have spoken loud and clear on the subject for over a decade now.  Forget about the keywords.  Stop aiming for certain word counts.  Just deliver high-quality content and you will be rewarded with better rankings.

So that brings us to the big question- what is high quality content in the eyes of the search engines?

Learn to Quickly Grab People’s Attention

If you follow by blog regularly, then you know that I was on vacation in Panama City Beach last week.  On our last night there, I was sitting on a beach chair just a few feet from the Gulf of Mexico, watching the tide roll in and thinking how much the eight hour drive home was going to stink the following morning.  But then out of nowhere, I hear this blood-curdling scream coming from the upper floors of the resort, and I think I was on my feet and sprinting across the deep sand before my mind even processed what was happening.

Did that grab your attention and make you want to know what happened?

Of course it did; that’s what great content does for our readers.  Blogging and SEO content are not about the words on the page at all or the lesson you’re trying to teach; it’s about giving your readers something to cling onto and enjoy.  That’s why I start almost every single one of my blog posts with a personal story- that lets you get to know me a little bit and understand how I see the world around me.

So I suppose you want to know what happened at the beach the other night- don’t worry, I wasn’t going to leave you hanging.  A guy jumped off of the top floor of the resort I was staying at and literally nose-dived straight towards the beach beneath him.  And all I can think of is that he’s definitely dead (or about to be), but maybe I can run fast enough to catch him if I ran harder than I ever had before in my entire life.

But then the craziest thing happened.  A small hang gliding parachute opened up and this lunatic glided down to the sand and landed about 30 yards away.  It turned out that he was a base jumper and did stuff like that almost every night the winds were minimal, and a group of us stood around him like we were talking to Steven Tyler or Dwayne Johnson.  I must have told the guy a half-dozen times that he was certifiably crazy, and he just smiled as he packed up his chute and asked all of us to watch out for security guards.

Make your Web Content Authoritative

In case you haven’t heard yet, Google launched another core algorithm update on June 17th that appears to highly favor news sites that frequently post fresh content on trending topics.  And since a lot of my readers tend to come here to learn about the latest happenings with the search engines, I didn’t write an entire blog post about it because I couldn’t say anything that is not already posted on other websites.

Why does that matter?

Think about it for a moment.  Let’s say you do a search for “How to Base Jump from the Top of a Hotel?”  You’ll see a few awesome videos there and then several news reports that discuss people cheating death, but there’s nothing anywhere to be found about how these world-class thrill junkies actually prepare for base jumping or manage to walk away unscathed.  And the reason why is simple- it’s against the law, so the people doing this on a regular basis are not about to talk about it online.

Here’s one of a group base-jumping off the Freedom Tower in New York City-

So as we work our way through the search results, every article is exactly the same-

  • It opens with the core facts/details
  • It shows a few photos or video
  • It mentions that these people are insane
  • It says that this is a highly illegal activity

What you don’t see, however, is an answer to our questions- how do these guys do it?  How often do they jump?  What goes into the planning for such an incredible act?  And to be a true authority, these types of questions have to be answered for your readers.  If you’re only willing to give enough time to deliver what everybody else out there is writing though, then you get a search result like the one above- lots of content but nothing that really stands out to the search engines.

That means the site with the #1 ranking today for that search could be at #37 tomorrow, while someone unranked could jump to #3.  It’s a pure guessing game when there’s no authoritive content to seize the top spot.  So when you write for your audience, always make sure that you’re giving them more than the average blogger out there.  That’s what makes you stand out.

Forget About Keywords and SEO

You’ve probably heard me say fairly often that I am the top SEO expert in the Carolinas, yet I tell each of my clients that 80-90% of all modern SEO comes from delivering great content.  That may sound a little confusing at first, but it means that things like keywords, meta descriptions and backlinks are nowhere near as important as they were in the past.

Instead, Google is going to look at your content and search for the “people factors”, which are things like how many visitors you have each day, how many pages they visit, which links they click on and how long your visitors manage to stick around.  So as long as you get your keyword in the title and once or twice within the blog itself, then you are literally a SEO rock star in 2015 if the content is getting attention from people.

And since your job is to impress people, your blogs should also be packed with people-friendly things like bullet points, topic-related photos, video elements and other things to make your content just a little bit more interesting.

The reason why is that most of your visitors are looking for something very specific in their searches, and they’re only going to dedicate an average of 3-5 seconds per website to determine if they’ve found some good info or not.  So when they see that a page is nicely formatted with lots of visual elements, they are much more likely to keep reading.  That’s all you really need to know about modern SEO.

Focus on Relationships, Not Sales

One final point on writing great SEO content is to keep the focus away from sales the vast majority of the time.  That’s because when the search engines see a bunch of internal links that point to pages with very little content (like your contact us or sales pages), it gives the search provider an additional measurement on the quality of your content.  After all, if you insert the same link on every single blog post yet very few people seem to click it, then it’s telling Google that you’re not linking to important pages.

So only try to sell in your blogs when there is a clear reason for the consumer to buy…or at least take a closer look.

The same can be said about affiliate ads, but for a completely different reason.  Nothing frustrates your readers more than seeing a page packed with ads, and many people will hit that backspace button almost instantly since they associate lots of ads with bad content.  That means even if your writing is superb, you can still end up with fairly high bounce rates.

With that said, you will notice that I have one AdSense banner just below the categories to the right of this page.  It is likely showing you a re-targeting ad from another site that you’ve visited recently, and Google pays me just over two dollars per click to have it there.  Since this site receives between 5,000 and 10,000 visitors per month, it may seem smart to have it everywhere on my site…but that’s simply bad business no matter how you look at it.

Why?

Even if I had an awesome month and cleared $500 from that single ad, that pales in comparison to what I could gain with one big corporate client reaching out to me.  So I’m not going to risk offending anyone by trying to over-monetize a very minor part of my income, and I could probably do a lot better with a lead capture or a giveaway in place of where that ad sits now.  So be sure to make your content about building actual relationships and let your products sell themselves by the increased visibility.

How Do I Write Better Page Copy for My Website?

How Do I Write Better Page Copy for My Website?

Writing Better CopyWhen you write out text and descriptions on your website, are you sure that what you’re typing is the message that you want to deliver to customers?

For example, my wife is a beautiful Southern gal who speaks like she was raised in the country…mainly because she was in fact raised in the country.  Whenever we are getting ready to go somewhere together, she will glance at me and say, “I’m in the car.”

But I’ll just stare at her and reply, “No dear, you’re in my office.  The car is outside in the driveway.”

Every time, without fail, she will give me this “deer in the headlights” type of stare like I’m the craziest person on Earth.  Because to her, the message was perfectly clear- she was going out to the car to wait for me.  But that’s nowhere close to what she said.

Believe it or not, people tend to do these sorts of things all the time when writing copy for their websites.  They say one thing and the public thinks that it means something entirely different.

Learn to Speak Directly to Your Readers

Writing for your Audience

 

 

 

 

So if you really want to learn how to write sizzling page copy that makes your readers jump out of their seats and race into your store, it is essential for you to talk to them in a way that is easily understandable.

For example, how often do you make purchases from a website where the copywriting is so overly technical; you have no idea what it even means?  Probably almost never.  But authorities like the Harvard Business Review find that thousands of businesses write product descriptions that way anyway, simply because they do not know any better.  That’s why it is so important for you to know your ideal customers though; it is impossible to communicate with them if you don’t know who they are in the first place.

Here’s a neat little trick you can use the next time you go to publish new content on the web.  Head over to Readability Score.com and paste your document in the provided text box.  Then look at the grade levels on the right side of the screen- your goal is to come out somewhere in the 8th to 12th grade levels.  Anything over a 15 is probably too overly technical, while grades below a 7 mean that it is fairly simplistic.

So far, this blog ranks out at an 8.4, which usually means smooth, comfortable reading for everyone.

Less is Often More in Writing

Less is More in WritingOne of my biggest personal struggles in writing is that I tend to get long-winded in a hurry and my articles often top out at 1,500 words or better.  When you’re writing page copy though, short and concise is almost always the way to go.  The reason is that USA Today found that 40-60% of your websites visitors are on a smartphone and they simply will not bother dealing with huge chunks of text.

So here is what I personally do.  Whenever I write something for a client, I will get a rough outline of the main speaking points and then type everything I want to say in one sitting.  Then, I’ll get up and grab a glass of water or walk around outside for a few minutes, just to let that text I had just written sort of drift out of my mind.

Once I’m re-focused, I’ll sit back down and edit the document line by line, and I will read each sentence as slowly as possible to see how it sounds in my head.  In most cases, I will end up re-writing about 25% of what I typed the first time, just to make it more concise and easier for my readers to understand.

And as a professional writer, let me just say I realize that this is probably the very last thing you want to do.  Heck, I don’t want to do it either.  But when it comes to getting a clear message across to potential customers, it is definitely worth the extra few minutes you’ll spend on a quick edit.

Read and Write Every Chance You Get

Read and Write Every DayNow, you may have glanced at that last sub-heading and thought to yourself, “That’s a pretty crummy tip- Keith is telling me to read and write?”

Yes I am.  Because you would be amazed how much quicker the right words will come to you if you’re taking the time to write something every single day.  And honestly, it doesn’t matter what that something is- it can be an email to a friend, dirty jokes on a napkin or even a full-blown movie script.  The magic comes from the actual repetition itself.

On the flip side of that advice, you absolutely must spend more time reading quality material.  Grab John Grisham’s latest novel, start reading the newspaper again or read almost anything that you enjoy that’s written by professionals.  And whenever you come across a sentence or a paragraph that really makes you smile, then be sure to force yourself to stop and see why it worked so well.  This is how almost 30% of the world’s non-English speakers learn our language…they start with sub-titles on television and progress from there.

I’ll leave you with this parting thought- writing is a skill that is definitely worth investing in, and it will open more doorways for you than any other single skill on the planet.  So practice your writing and give your customers better page copy whenever you can…and it will definitely pay dividends over time.

That’s all for now- I’m in the car.

What Type of Web Content Drives in New Customers?

What Type of Web Content Drives in New Customers?

great web contentIf I had to pick one question that business owners ask me about the most, it would easily be, “What kind of content should I have on my website to get more visitors?”  And I will quickly tell them that they’re asking the wrong question- because traffic is only half the formula of a successful website.  The real goal is to convince those visitors to become real-life customers that support your brand.

Now, there’s one great thing about having lots of relevant content on your website; it attracts people and the search engine spiders exactly the same way.  So the more you share with the world about your business, the faster your website will rank naturally.  That means an increase in traffic AND since you have lots of great content, those potential customers are more likely to reach out to you as well.  So it’s really a two for one benefit.

Excellent Core Content

web content spartanburgTo gain new visitors more frequently, strengthening the core content of your website is absolutely vital.  Because think about it; you have no idea why someone happens to visit your website.  Most companies offer dozens of products and services, so the inbound traffic could have an interest in any of them…but only if you provide solid initial answers to their questions first.

If you fail to do that, however, then the consumer is going to be off to the next business in the search results without thinking twice about you.  That’s why you need to have AT LEAST-

  • One core web page for each of your main categories
  • One core sub-page for each of your products/services
  • One page answering the most common questions within your industry
  • An About Us page that tells the company’s history
  • A contact us page with all your location information
  • A testimonial page to show what happy customers have to say
  • A “specials” page with your current discounts and specials
  • A warranty page if that’s applicable to your business

Once you start doing the math, that’s easily 30-60 core pages that your website absolutely has to have in order to capture attention.  And each of these pages needs visual elements (photos, charts, infographics, etc.) and solid formatting (sub-headings, bullet points, backlinks, etc.) as well.  Your main pages should also offer video tutorials to assist your customers if you really want to make them pop.

An Informative Blog

Likewise, bloggingWriting a blog is an awesome way to keep your visitors engaged, educate them about your industry and talk about things that are happening around town.  There’s an equally important reason to have a daily-weekly blog as well though; the search engines absolutely love to see new content getting indexed.  In fact, the more new information you post, the closer the search engines keep an eye on you…which helps you gain additional visibility at a lightning-fast pace.

In fact, if you do a quick search for a list of the current Fortune 500 companies and then start checking their sites for blogs, you may be surprised to find out that every single one of them use blogging to engage their customers on a daily basis.  Some of them even have 3-5 blogs for different client-types, plus their marketing team writes for online publications like Forbes and the Wall Street Journal for even more exposure.

So even though you probably don’t want to bother with blogging, know that it’s the fastest way to put your brand on the www map.  Not even paid advertising can consistently deliver the results that simple tips and other types of articles can provide.

Smart Social Optimization

writing for social mediaSince almost every single one of your customers now carries a smartphone in their pockets, optimizing your local presence is no longer optional.  Because here’s what happens-

A consumer does a Google search for “patio furniture” and they start browsing through the local search results to compare features and prices.  That brings them to your Google+ or Bing Local page where they’ll see your logo and contact information, the link to your website, customer reviews and any blog posts that you’ve shared through that channel.  This is assuming, of course, that you spent the same amount of time optimizing your social pages as you did your website.  Most businesses don’t.

The sweet thing about sites like Google+ is that you can optimize them with photos and videos of your products, and then embed links straight to your website.  So it definitely pays to spend an extra few hours per month keeping your profiles in tip-top shape, and this needs to happen on EVERY social channel that your business is registered on.

Great Video Tutorials

writing video scriptsOne final type of web content to consider is producing short video segments to give consumers a completely different type of visual experience on your website.  You can add videos to all of your main category pages to give a quick overview of your products and services, plus create a video testimonial series with locals who really appreciate your business.  And since people can’t help but click on video links when they see them, this will quickly become one of the most popular features on your website.

Additionally, smart videos can also be shared on your social media pages for even greater exposure, plus they get indexed by the search engines within their own category as well.  So if someone searches for “How to file for bankruptcy” in the video search results and your local law firm has a short video on it, Google is going to prioritize your video above the national brands.  Since this also boosts your website’s results and your local search presence, it’s a win/win/win strategy for almost any type of business.

What Does the Latest Google Panda Update Mean for Writers?

What Does the Latest Google Panda Update Mean for Writers?

google panda updateThe Internet has literally been ablaze lately with domain owners in a sheer panic over the announcement that Google Panda will be rolling out with a new update in the days to come.  Some of the changes mentioned in the blogosphere are updates to how backlinks are counted (and rated), the deletion of all duplicate content web-wide, and a number of other rumors about how the search engine giant will dish out punishments aimed at black hat SEO techniques.  While the exact patch details won’t be available until after the launch, this is going to be a brutal upgrade for hundreds of thousands of websites.

Then again, does it really matter if Google raises the bar on what constitutes as a quality website?  Here’s what these changes will mean to writers-

Quality Definitely Trumps Quantity

web content spartanburgThe largest impact that a lot of writers will feel from the latest Google Panda update is a changing trend from quantity to quality.  Instead of domain owners focusing on posting hundreds (or thousands) of smaller, generic articles, Google is trying to force websites to deliver higher quality information that is actually useful to consumers.  For url’s that have always focused on superior content, absolutely nothing will change after the upcoming patch.

For the rest of cyberspace, however, a lot of changes will have to be made to avoid some fairly harsh penalties in the search engines.  Not only will poor content no longer rank under the latest Panda update, but it will actually invoke a penalty until those pages are upgraded or deleted.  In other words, it will be harder than ever to obtain artificial rankings off keyword-stuffed pages, generic backlinks, and other questionable tactics.

Multimedia More Important than Ever

InfographicWhile only a few of the “SEO experts” have talked about multimedia and Google Panda, it only makes sense that if spam content and boring pages will be penalized, then well written, consumer-engaging pages are the way of the future.  That means all of those alt-tag on photos, embedded videos, games, infographs, and more will all be big boosts for web pages and companies will be forced to deliver a higher standard than ever before.

As writers this section may not seem to apply to us, but it really does in numerous ways.  In previous articles, I’ve said time and time again to tie these aspects into your article submissions in the first place.  If you’ve adopted that policy and given 110% to employers, then your job security just got a whole lot sweeter.  Either way though; it won’t be long before this is a standard practice on all websites so it’s time to adopt finding multimedia to accompany your articles now.

Content Will Always Be King

content writing spartanburgOne thing I find particularly amusing is how so many authoritive sites are dreading this update, because if they are delivering great quality then they have absolutely nothing to worry about.  Search engines have been abused for far too long by questionable SEO tactics so if anything, Google is doing both you and I a massive favor.  The website with the best content or most information should rank first every time; that’s how it was designed in the 1980’s and that’s how it should be today.

Even though a lot will change after the Google Panda update rolls out later this week, very little of that will affect writers who focus on bringing relevant, engaging content to their audiences.  If anything, it will place us in higher demand because every update eliminates a few more loopholes in the system.