I’ll admit, I’m getting a little hungry thinking about the impending Thanksgiving holiday, but that’s not the [entire] reason I’m writing this blog post.
Think about this: a turkey takes all day to cook. I mean, you wake up at 8 AM to put that bad boy in the oven, and then you have to torture yourself for hours smelling the unfinished product. When it’s finally done, the last thing you’re about to do is throw away the leftovers. Who wants their hard work to go down the garbage disposal? So, for the next two weeks, it’s gobblers and turkey soup aplenty.
And no one really complains about gobblers or turkey soup because, come on, they’re delicious.
I promise I’m going somewhere with this.
When you write a really good piece of content, it’s kind of like a Thanksgiving turkey. You put a good amount of effort into it, and you’re going to make the most out of it – right? Because if you aren’t, you should. There’s no guarantee that when you write a really well-researched, informative, and/or interesting blog post, you’re going to get as many pageviews as you’d want on it. There’s no reason you should call it a loss, especially if it’s something you think your target audience would want to know.
I was writing a blog post about the essential ways to winterize your home for a client who does HVAC installations and repairs. It’s getting cold out there, and their prospective clients probably want to know how to winterize their homes to save energy and keep the house at a comfortable temperature. If they missed the blog post, they shouldn’t miss out on the info! So, here are a few ways to make leftovers out of perfectly good content (without, of course, plagiarizing yourself).
- Revisit old posts on social media. A few days, weeks, or even months (if it’s still relevant) after you write a good blog post, don’t be afraid to tweet about it again for anyone who might have missed it! A simple tweet or Facebook post reading, “It’s cold today! Don’t forget to check out our blog post on winterizing your home” works perfectly. I’ve seen a lot of companies do this, and I think it’s a great idea.
- Link to old blog posts in new ones. If you mention something in a blog post that’s relevant to something you wrote before, then link to it!
- Make an infographic. Perhaps your followers skimmed over your post because it was too lengthy. Infographics are fairly easy to make (see what I did there?), they’re eye-catching, and they help to organize content in a fashion that’s easy for readers to absorb.
- Make a slideshow. Similar to making an infographic, slideshows are great because they organize the content and make it easy for a reader to find what they’re looking for. Slideshare is a great tool for this because people can search for your slideshow and you can even put tags on it.
- Make a video. I could have easily made that blog post on winterizing your home into an informative video to spread it across more social channels and appeal to an audience who prefers a different type of media.
- Make an e-book, PDF, or whitepaper. Even if your readers don’t want the information now, they can save it to their computers or tablets for reference at a time when it might be more useful.
Do you repurpose your content? What methods do you use?
Recent SEO news has been heavily focused on off-site content, such as the seemingly unending war that’s currently going on between people who think we still need to focus a lot of energy into linkbuilding efforts, their opponents who think it’s time to lay it to rest, and those who are steadfast proponents of the notion that it’s a profoundly mediocre SEO tactic. The recent (but, arguably, pretty mild) Penguin 2.0 update can probably do all the explaining as to why SEO enthusiasts are discussing social media, guest blogging, and, well, everything BUT on-site content in their recent contributions to the community, but we can’t let the importance of having well-optimized on-site content slip through the cracks.
Since Penguin 2.0 did introduce some important changes, that should probably be rule number one: Don’t neglect your on-site content! You should be refreshing this stuff relatively frequently, especially, of course, if any of the information changes. There’s speculation that frequently-updated sites are better kept on Google’s radar, so that never hurts.
More specifically, stay on top of your keyword usage. Something I’ve seen all too often is webmasters who think they need to use their keywords in their exact forms as the anchor text for their links, and this is actually pretty punishable behavior. If your keyword is “lawn care New Jersey,” do yourself a favor and include a few stop-words to make that keyword sound more natural. Doesn’t “lawn care here in New Jersey” just sound easier to fit in a sentence?
In addition to that, make sure you’re varying your anchor text. Don’t target the same exact keywords over and over again on the same page – Google now sees this as spammy. A good way to switch up similar keywords is by branding them (Sprinkler King’s New Jersey lawn care).
During your content refresh, always do some thorough proofreading. You can never have enough proofreading. It might sound like common sense, but in my few years’ experience in SEO writing, I’ve seen a shameful number of pages that have spelling, grammar, and syntax errors…right on the company page. Not only will that make a visitor question your company’s authenticity, it’ll be a red flag to Google, too, since spam content is usually similarly low-quality. This is why the person writing your on-site content should never be just a writer or just an SEO expert – it should be someone who is well-trained in both, or two experts working side-by-side.
A lot of webmasters also have a hard time resisting the urge to ignore their e-commerce pages. It makes little sense – product descriptions are easy to optimize, but if they go neglected, they can easily account for duplicate content. Take advantage of your ability to optimize your e-commerce; it’s like free SEO real-estate on your website!
And, finally, don’t get too link or strong-tag happy. When a site visitor is just trying to get some basic info, it’s distracting when every other word is bolded or linked. Let the keywords come naturally and don’t put a crazy emphasis on them for a better experience.
So, your homework for today is to go home and refresh your content to make it Penguin 2.0-friendly!
On average, 8 out of 10 people will read a first paragraph, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of a blog post. So if you’ve gotten to this point, you are part of the 80% of people who read the headline copy. Now, with the tips below, you can ensure your readers join the 20 percent who enjoy the entire blog post.
Regardless of how good your content is, if the intro doesn’t grab the attention of the reader, it’s no use. You have probably wasted your time writing a complete post that your audience simply won’t finish reading.
While blog posts are ideal for SEO purposes, as well as ways to spread interesting and engaging content, your opening statement should leap off the page and get readers engaged. As the first thing readers see, it should give readers a clear idea of what to expect to read. To ensure your posts are being read, here are a few tips on creating unique and captivating blog posts openings.
Have you ever found yourself completely caught up in an article? What was it that grabbed your attention? See what I just did there? I got you thinking by asking a question.
Questions engage readers immediately as a way to get them thinking while setting the tone of your blog posts as well. By asking a few questions, readers already have their wheels turning and have a good idea of what the blog post may be about.
- State Facts
79% of people scan web content rather than read it word-for-word. By stating a fact such as statistic as an opener, you are showing readers that you’re giving them well-researched and therefore reliable information. You can use facts to give readers a better idea of where the blog post is going.
- Quotable Quotes
“Blogging is good for your career. A well-executed blog sets you apart as an expert in your field.” Capture your readers’ attention with a quote and set forth the overall theme of the post. Whether you quote an opinion or words of wisdom, the quote you choose should set the stage for the rest of your content.
Writing a unique and captivating opening for every blog post is important, but it is only half the battle. Engage your audience by creating user-friendly content including bullet points, lists, subheadings, relevant links, white space, and various forms of media. Blog posts are ideal not only for SEO purposes, but for solidifying your stance as a thought leader in your specific industry. Ensure that your blog reflects this by creating appealin
The door shuts, the drinks are gathered and before the first trash bag hits the can, the hosts of the party are already talking about their guests. “Did you see the shirt Bill was wearing?” “Did you notice how much Jack was talking?” “Don’t you already miss Michelle?”
The world of guest blogging is a lot like the social world we live in today. You may get invited to a party once, but if you leave a bad impression – you probably aren’t going to be welcomed back. So, how do you get your hosts to miss your content? It’s all about minding the P’s and Q’s of guest blogging.
Follow the House Rules – Is there anything worse than a guest who shows up and gets a little too comfortable with the phrase “make yourself at home?” While you certainly don’t want to completely change your writing style to appease the needs of your host, you should view the guidelines or parameters that a hosting site has put forth. Stay on topic, meet their word count and ensure your information is valuable to their audience. Mutual respect is essential to building strong blogging networks. A disregard for the rules is as annoying as a guest commandeering your iPod doc to blast the latest Nickelback hit.
Don’t Bring Unannounced Friends – While follow links may be a great friend in link building circles, they aren’t invited to most guest blogs without bringing something to the table. Much like a party that only invites guests who bring something for everyone to enjoy, most blog hosts won’t allow random links. And, guess what? That’s the way it should be. In the same way you wouldn’t show up to a party with a few unannounced friends, don’t provide a guest blog with some unwanted links. Instead, add links that boost the value of your content.
Confirm the Theme in Advance – Have you ever felt the chill of showing up to a Halloween party in a costume only to find out that it wasn’t a costume party? What? Just me? Anyway, matching the theme of a party is just as important as matching the theme of a guest blog. When your content is submitted for posting, there shouldn’t be any surprises. By confirming the theme of your piece in advance, you won’t metaphorically be left at the doorstep in your Raggedy Andy costume.
Socialize – Throwing on the headsets and playing round after round of Call of Duty is a great way to eliminate any possibility of appearing on future guest lists. Who wants to spend time with an antisocial person? This same concept is perfect for the guest blogging community. Not only should you look to provide engaging content that starts a discussion in the comment section, you should also work to promote your content. While you will certainly enjoy the increased number of eyeballs reading your content, your host will greatly appreciate the increase in quality traffic to their site.
Much like the unwritten rules of social etiquette, the guest blogging experience requires certain courtesies. Be respectful of your host, mindful of your readers, and follow some good old fashioned common sense. Following certain standards will build your reputation within the blogging community. It won’t be long before word spreads that your content is the life of the party.
While common phrases like “Think before you speak” may be embedded in our minds because that’s something our parents told us when we were younger, as we grow older, we tend to finally appreciate how powerful words can be.
Words are like hooks. They have the power to encourage or discourage, lift up or bring down. In the world of SEO, words are especially significant because they give brands a voice.
“How can I make my article stand out?”
“How can I get more readers to my blog?”
“How do I make my website more appealing?”
Those are common questions clients ask, and the answer is the same for each: create content that will not only grab the attention of your readers, but also elicit a response from them. Get your readers excited about the product or service and encourage them to act upon their excitement by buying the product or service. And, believe it or not, you don’t have to use big, fancy words to do this.
Below are five powerful (yet common) words you should use in your content to make it more attention-grabbing and motivate your readers to act:
- You - What better way to personalize the content and make it about your reader than using the word “you”? Not only are you talking to your readers, but remember that people are interested in fulfilling their own wants and needs; give it to them. They’ll love you for it.
- Because – You can write about a product or service all you want, but no one will act unless you tell them the reason why they should. Give your readers a justification to buy your product or service. Explain to them the benefits and personal advantages they can gain from it.
- Now – You don’t want your readers to act later – you want them to act now. Create urgency for your audience to act immediately. This will not only engage them in what you’re writing, but will more likely get them to buy something, since you’re less likely to have to rely on them remembering your services or product.
- Proven – This word is especially powerful when it comes to advertising a new product. Customers are weary of new products, and they want to know what others have said about the product first. By giving assurance that your product is something that has been tested and proven to work, you’re providing them with the peace of mind that it’s worth the investment. Also, keep in mind that in the online world many people test quality. Provide the facts to back up the benefits and advantages and give them the proven data for support.
- Easy – Who wants to do anything the hard way? Explain to them how easy it is to use the product or service. Tell them about how hassle-free it is to either use or have provided for them. People love anything that is simple and fast, whether it’s a do-it-yourself project or they have to rely on a professional for service.
Other useful tips to successfully integrate power words into your content:
-Place a power word in the title or headline
-Use them in the beginning of a sentence
-Don’t overdo it. While you want to encourage them to act, you also don’t want to sound like an advertisement.
During the first class of the first creative writing course I ever took, my teacher posited the question to us of what is the minimum word length a writer could write a story. I remembered that the “Cask of Amontillado” was really short, so I offered a guess of 500 words. Other classmates gave guesses of 300, 450, and 200. One courageous student said 20, but when he was asked to say a story in 20 words or less, he sunk into his seat and offered only a meager excuse of how he didn’t have his coffee yet. Admitting defeat, we deferred back to the teacher who wrote this on the board:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
Although it’s been disputed whether or not Hemingway actually wrote this short story, you have to admit that the single line is rather compelling. Immediately, you ask questions of whether or not there was a baby, if the baby died in childbirth, or if the baby just had too chubby of feet to fit into the shoes. Because of the ambiguity and structure of this sentence, a linguist would have a field day with this story.
For example, in linguistics, syntax usually refers to the order of the words in a sentence and how this affects the meaning. Notice that the writer chose to end with the phrase, never worn. By doing this, it intimates that there is shame on the part of person who says it because there is a slight pause with the comma, indicating hesitation.
Let’s say you wrote the sentence like this instead: Never worn baby shoes for sale! Here, never worn is right in the forefront, suggesting that the writer is proud of the fact that the shoes have never been worn and is using this as a selling point. Although both sentences feature the same six words, there are stark differences between the two. Yet each is a story on its own – just a very different one at that.
I described my first day in Creative Writing 101 not to illustrate why I got a C in the course, but rather to show the wondrous ability writers have to create meaning out of words, even if there are many restrictions put on them.
In SEO, this is no different; in fact, some content writers might argue that SEO puts so many restrictions on them, with character limits, tone and keywords, that it creates a sink or swim situation: Either you can choose to sink amidst the limitations put on you and write the same old story, or you can choose to swim with the current and deliver the best content that you can within those parameters (such as being asked to write a story in six words or less).
If you do choose to swim, here are two things to consider that deal with linguistics:
• Don’t try to write a new story – it’ll never happen. The key in creating good content is saying the same story in a new and interesting way. In SEO, you’re writing content that is geared towards specific keywords and themes, but is there a way to write that content that will spark readers’ interests? Can you play around with word choice to derive more meaning out of those keywords, rather than just writing the same old boring content that will never get picked up by anyone? Given the fact that we use a computer screen to read pages and are, therefore, conditioned to scroll up and down and glance, can you layout and edit down your content in a way that will spark meaning within seconds in order to get the message across? It’s cliché, but how you write the story is what matters.
• Computers don’t exactly understand context. In linguistics, the ability to use context, place, intent and other factors is called pragmatics. Computers can infer meaning through latent semantic indexing, but this is no guarantee. Think of the movie, Terminator 2 when John Connor teaches the Terminator how to speak like a human. The Terminator doesn’t understand slang or sarcasm. However, by becoming more human as he stays with John and Sara, he infers the meaning of what is being said and uses phrases like “Hasta La Vista, Baby” correctly. By understanding the targeted reader of your content, you can use phrases and terms that coincide with their contextual understanding of things to connect with them and create engaging content.
By considering linguistics and rising to the occasion of working within limitations that SEO demands, you can certainly create interesting and shareable content that others will actually find compelling.