With football season now in full swing, everyone is wearing their favorite team jersey, talking up their team’s success, and undoubtedly expecting big wins and accomplishments for their team. What makes this American sport a favorite among many is that there is always something brewing. From drafts and trades, to injuries and outstanding plays and performances, football season certainly doesn’t go unnoticed. Even fantasy football has become an increasingly popular pastime – and football fans are serious about their team picks. So, what do football and SEO have in common?
If you work in SEO, your main goal is to make it to the top. Well, the same can be said about football. But, they have more in common than just winning. It’s also about perfecting a winning strategy.
Have a strategy
To win anything, you need a game plan. Like designing a play in order to score a touchdown, you need to put together a strategy to help your website make its way to the top. Do you have the right set of tactics for your marketing efforts? Are you able to measure, track and adjust your tactics?
Know your competitor
This is one of the most important points in your game plan. Just like knowing the current standing of an opposing football team, where does your competitor stand in the SERPs? What is your ranking in comparison to theirs? If they are higher than you in the Google standings, what actions are you going to take to move above them? How do they promote a similar product or service, and how can you promote yours better?
Work as a team
Just like a coach needs his team to execute a play, you need a team of online marketers to work together to help you reach your goal. From developers to link builders, content writers and social media marketers, it’s important that you are all aware of the strategy for a successful play.
Be willing to improve
No one ever made it anywhere by sticking to the same routine. If a game plan has failed, why continue to run the same plays? The same theory can be applied to SEO campaigns. If you want to make it to the top of the SERPs, you can’t always stick to the same strategy – you need to discover and find new and better ways to get to the top.
Play by the rules
While football players have referees and whistles, marketers have Google algorithms. You have guidelines to play by to ensure that you play fair. It’s crucial that you play by Google’s rules and make it to the top without performing black hat techniques. A skilled and experienced SEO company will go about winning the right way.
In football and SEO, you don’t want to just win, you want to get noticed. Press releases, articles, blogs and social media are all intricate parts of putting your business in the spotlight. When an SEO campaign works properly, you’ll feel the need to celebrate like a receiver who just snagged a touchdown for the victory.
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.
It’s kind of ironic – recently I’ve been reading a lot of different blogs on a lot of different topics to try and freshen up my style and get new ideas. In my Web travels I’ve come across not just one, but a few different blog posts that mock and criticize what has sort of become the characteristic format of a post written by an exhausted blogger. It starts with a cheap – though descriptive – title: “Three Tips for Traveling by Plane This Summer” or “The Benefits of Using All-Natural Sunscreen.” It’s followed by an introductory paragraph that explains how the topic relates to what’s currently happening in the world, and then breaks up into a few paragraphs with headings that delineate each “tip” or “benefit.”
While this format doesn’t necessarily mean that the content isn’t useful, there’s an issue when every post you’re churning out looks exactly the same. It reads more as apathy than authenticity – a symptom of what I like to call Exhausted Blogger Syndrome, which is a cold you don’t want to catch.
If you’re guilty of churning out such a piece in the past, don’t feel bad – we all are. Blogging, like any task, can easily become muscle memory. But today’s SEO environment depends on keeping things fresh and authentic, so when you’re suffering from Exhausted Blogger Syndrome, here are a few commandments to keep in mind.
• Thou shalt not assume the reader has no common sense. If you’re not an expert on the topic and you wrote the blog post without doing very much research, it’s probably boring. Find some statistics that may shock and awe me about the price increase of checked bags – don’t just tell me to pack light!
• Thou shalt not fear the themed post. One of the reasons I keep checking my favorite blogs for updates is because they do a weekly themed post, like Friday’s Outfit of the Day or Monday’s Industry Update. It builds a sense of community within the blog, it sparks discussion, and it gives you the opportunity to link to an old post which sends visitors clicking around the site.
• Thou shalt provoke discussion. It’s not uncommon for me to write a blog post and end it with a question to encourage posters to leave a comment. This is great for SEO and it’s great for building a blog following.
• Thou shalt invite guest bloggers. Whenever I feel like my blog is getting stale, I bring in a guest blogger! The new perspective is refreshing, it attracts readers from their blog, and it helps me gain ideas for a new direction in which to take my blog. And that being said…
• Thou shalt interact with other bloggers. Don’t become content with the process of posting a blog and having it float around in the ominously silent open space of the Web. Find other bloggers who blog on your topic and talk to them! It’s another great way to generate ideas, and they’ll be likely to comment on your discussions as well.
• Thou shalt vary post lengths. Don’t be afraid of a post that seems too short or too long, as long as every word counts. When you start stuffing in content just for the sake of word count or cutting yourself off before you’re done speaking, that’s when things get super dry. Leave the 1-3-1 format to middle schoolers and switch it up!
Press releases can be great tools for promoting your company, but in order to reap their benefits you need to make sure that you’re writing your release the right way. Writing a press release can be tricky because you’re trying to find the right balance between news and advertising. But if you follow these tips you’ll be able to write an engaging release that promotes your company and has news value.
Pick An Interesting Topic
Press releases are designed to get the press excited about something that’s going on with your business, and if you want your release to be noticed by reporters you need to base it on a topic someone would find interesting. This can be difficult for some people because they already see the inherent value about what they’re pitching in their press release. When you pick a topic for your press release, ask yourself these three questions:
- “What is interesting about this topic?”
- “Why would a reporter want to write a story about my topic?”
- “Will anyone outside of my business/company care about this topic?”
If you can confidently answer each of the three questions, you’ve found a good press release topic!
Get to the Point
I did an internship at a newspaper when I first graduated college, and the reporters there would receive dozens of press releases every day. How would the reporters sort through all of the press releases they received you ask? It was simple. They would literally delete any press release that didn’t clearly explain the point of the release in the first few sentences. Reporters are very busy people. If they can’t figure out the topic of a press release in the first five seconds of reading it, they won’t even consider covering it for a news story. The first few sentences of your press release should clearly state every important point you want to make, so save all of your quotes and statistics for the body.
Inform, Don’t Promote
This is the biggest mistake people make when they write a press release. A press release shouldn’t be a sales flyer, it needs to be saying something newsworthy or attention grabbing about your company. In order to better understand this concept, take a look at these two samples:
Release A: Houston Cycling is having a 25% off sale on bike chains for the month of May. Houston Cycling provides their customers with high quality cycling supplies at a low price. They have some of the best cycling supplies in Houston, and their products are guaranteed to last long and keep you satisfied for years.
Release B: Houston Cycling is having a 25% off sale on bike chains for May. Houston Cycling provides the greater Houston region with biking supplies and equipment, and they have a wide variety of bike chains and other professional cycling equipment available.
Release A and release B both mention the merchandise the store sells, but release A sounds more like a sales pitch than a press release. Don’t focus on promoting your business in release, focus on promoting the topic of your release. If you keep that concept in mind writing your release will be much easier.
Ken Wisnefski – the president and founder of WebiMax –was featured in Sunday’s edition of the Courier Post. In the article, our boss spoke of taking lessons from his past to sculpt the ideology of our company. Because of his experience, he was able to chart a path that ensured WebiMax would not only provide a great work atmosphere at the office, but a great return on the marketing investments of our clients.
Of course, the aforementioned article got me thinking about how important the past of content efforts is for businesses. In fact, I thought of three key points that every company should utilize to increase the value of their content marketing initiatives.
1. Learn from your mistakes – Not every piece of content produced by your blog, uploaded to your product page, or distributed as a press release is going to be a home run. It’s how a person reacts to the duds along the way that will help determine success or failure.
Instead of shrugging your shoulders, ask yourself why a piece of content didn’t work. Did your blog answer the questions of your client base? Was your product page visually appealing to your target audience? Did it provide useful and unique text? Did it funnel towards a conversion page? Was your press release truly newsworthy? By answering these questions, you can avoid making the same mistakes twice.
2. Stop Repeating Yourself – There are always ways to be unique. While many blogs and webpages will focus on particular keywords, you would be amazed by how many different angles you can take with just a little bit of creativity.
Even if you had success with a topic in the past, don’t beat it into the ground. For example, instead of a car dealership posting five blogs covering the different questions to ask a used car dealer, they should vary the text with vehicle profiles, safety tips, common repairs that can be done from home, things to listen for on test drives, and more. When you repeat yourself, you bore your audience. Competition is fierce; uniqueness will help you stand out from the pack.
3. Capitalize on Successes – When monitoring spikes in traffic, our experts will often attribute those spikes to fresh content. When your traffic begins to plateau, it’s important to update your text. Freshness is essential in Internet marketing. Keeping your online presence timely and relevant will not only impress your audience, but assure the search engines that your site offers more value to searchers than your competitors.
Whether your content past is a point of pride or the reason you sought out this blog for advice, the information you can obtain by looking back is invaluable. Just as my boss looked back to move this company forward, so should you with your content marketing strategy.
Let me ask you a question: How long would you read this blog post if it was written in one sentence – just a sprawling maze of stream of consciousness, statistics, industry jargon and analysis that led nowhere and had no real clear message or idea of whom the author was writing for? And even worse, there were no pictures!
I’m assuming not very far, so don’t worry, I’m not going to do that to you. However, in relation to that question, I will discuss one of the biggest issues I find when reviewing sites, both professionally and on my free time: disastrous web copy. Web copy can quickly welcome or deter potential customers, so it’s important to take your content seriously and invest your time and money in producing the best content available.
You might already be asking, what does good content even mean? To examine this question, it’s often advantageous to look to the past experts – for the purposes of this blog, I’ll use George Orwell. Although George Orwell never saw a computer or surfed the web, he knew how to effectively convey his message and deliver a good story to the reader. Besides his numerous novels and news features, Orwell’s greatest contribution to writing might be his essay for writers, “Politics and the English Language.”
In this, Orwell offers five rules that can certainly can and should apply to your own web writing. Let’s take a look at the original rules and then modernize them to make them relevant to your business or organization’s content.
- Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print: When Orwell wrote this, he was referring to dead metaphors, metaphors with meanings that differ from original intent. Writing with dead metaphors could confuse the reader who doesn’t have knowledge of the intended meaning of the metaphor. In regard to web copy, make sure to use examples and allusions that are universally known, so the correct message is conveyed to the reader.
- Never use a long word when a short one will do: Knowing seven syllable words is great for the SATs and dinner parties, but it will do you little good in regard to web copy. The general rule of thumb is to write web copy at an eighth grade level. While the actual sophistication of the diction used will depend on the target audience and industry served, you should try and make your copy understandable to the general public.
- If it is possible to cut a word out, cut it out: A long piece of copy can be intimidating to a visitor of your page. Remember your consternation when I posed that question about writing this entire blog post in one sentence? While you do want enough content on the page for search engines to crawl your site, you don’t want to overwhelm the reader with content, so they’re exhausted. Format matters here too. Using shorter sentences, lists instead of paragraphs and playing around with bolding and fonts can make your content more approachable.
- Never use the passive when you can use the active: Passive voice often sounds awkward to the reader. When describing your products, philosophy and anything else related to your business or organization, try to structure it in a way that sounds sensible and correct to the reader. Not sure how to do this yourself? Read it out loud. If you’re reading your own writing or copy that you commissioned from a professional SEO and you’re stumbling a lot or need to backtrack, something is wrong.
- Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent: This fits in line with the second rule. For example, let’s say you have a home improvement e-commerce website. If your copy is inundated with technical terms and construction industry jargon, you might confuse or intimidate some visitors who are unfamiliar with the terms. While not always possible, if you can simplify your web copy, do so to attract a larger audience.
Of course, George Orwell follows this up with a sixth rule that says these rules can be broken to avoid bad writing, but these rules go to show that good writing is good writing at any age. Use Orwell’s rules in your own web copy or hire those who know how to get the correct message and branding you want for your business or organization.