Viewing all posts by Heather Lloyd-Martin.

What’s the ‘best’ word count for Google?

Dog with questionOnce upon a time, SEO consultants recommended that every page have at least 250 words of content (although that was always a rule of thumb.)

Today, it’s an entirely different story. Today, 250 words is almost considered thin content. Plus, there doesn’t seem to be a hard-and-fast answer to the “how many words is right for Google” question.

For instance:

One recent case study reports that longer blog posts (over 1,500 words) position better in Google.

Another article discusses that we’re in the “age of skimming” and people won’t read a longer article. Anything too long will get stuck in the tl;dr trap (too long; didn’t read.)

What’s an SEO writer to do?

Your answer: Quit wondering “what Google wants” and focus on your reader.

That means:

- Throw your assumptions out the window. Many writers think long-form sales copy doesn’t work in today’s overstimulated world. Yet, some studies show the opposite. Neil Patel found that long-form copy positioned better, plus provided a higher conversion rate and better-quality leads.

It’s easy to say “people don’t read online.” But perhaps it’s more accurate to say, “people won’t read content that doesn’t meet their needs.” As Seth Godin says, “Please, give me something long (but make it worth my time.)”

- Poll your readers. A simple way to learn what your readers want to read is to ask them (amazing, I know!) You may find that many of their suggested topics would make great in-depth-article fodder or quickie “tips” posts. Free software like Survey Monkey makes running reader surveys a snap.

- Learn from analytics and testing. What posts do people love? What posts fall flat? Are longer posts getting shared more than shorter ones? What are your post bounce rates? Carefully review your analytics, test your content and see what’s clicking with your readers.

- Tighten up your writing.  Godin may write a 150-word post one day and a 1,500 word post the next. And that’s OK. Either way, his word count represents how long it takes to get his point across – and no more. Don’t “fluff up” a page just to meet a certain word-count requirement. 

Finally, think about this when you’re writing the copy: Have I said everything I could? Have I overcome all objections? Have I showcased the product or service? Is the keyphrase usage seamless? Does the copy encourage the next conversion step? Have I connected with my reader?

If your answer is “yes,” you’ve done your job.

It’s really as simple as that.

(Note: This post originally ran in 2008, and I completely updated it for today’s brave new Google world. I hope you enjoyed it!)

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If you’re so smart, why do you feel so insecure?

Soul tattoo“There’s no way I can take this job. I don’t know enough.”

“I can’t pitch a big brand. All those people are smarter than I am.”

“Yeah, I know they’re making tons of money. But that’s not me. I’m not at their level.”

To this, I say poppycock (and how many times do you get to say “poppycock” in today’s world?).

You are good enough, smart enough – and dammit, people like you! Plus, you know you can do the work and do it well.

The only person holding you back is you.

Many freelance writers have a huge insecurity complex. Instead of thinking, “Yeah, I can do that,” they tell themselves why they can’t. They pass on jobs because they’re “not ready.”

They roll themselves up into a teeny-tiny insecure ball and only take gigs that are the “C-word” (comfortable.)

But here’s a secret…

Every high-powered speaker, consultant, business owner and CEO has lightening-bolt blasts of insecurity. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

– They worry that they’re going to blow it on stage (and sometimes, they do – but life does go on.)

– They worry that they made the wrong business call and it will cost people their jobs.

– They worry about the numbers and how this quarter’s revenue will shake out.

– They worry … just like you.

The difference? People who have risen up the ranks have learned to feel the fear and go for it anyway. They don’t let their insecurities get in the way of their life. Instead, they see fear as a helpful (but somewhat annoying) friend who offers unsolicited advice.

Instead of buying into what your internal voices are saying, consider trying something different. Listen to the voices and respond, “Sure, I may fail. Sure, this could be the wrong call. But I’m doing the best job I can with the information I have.”

And then go for it.

If this post resonates with you, it’s time to expand your horizons.

– Stop sabotaging yourself (I’ll talk about this in a future blog post.)

– Say “yes” even if your stomach tightens up in knots and you’re scared to death.

– Be at peace with “failure” – because screwing up is sometimes how we learn our best lessons.

– And give yourself permission to be more than you are now. That may mean landing a better writing job. Or going after bigger clients. Or charging more.

Your insecurity is normal. Now it’s time to get over it.

As my friend’s tattoo in the picture says, “Your soul is rooting for you.”

Isn’t it time to listen?

Are you feeling like you “can’t” do something? Did something wonderful happen because you overcame your fear? Let me know in the comments below!

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It’s not a mindless waste! Writing lessons from TV

Television doesn’t have to be a time-waster.

It’s amazing how much we can learn about copywriting from our favorite TV shows. These 7 posts demonstrate that TV doesn’t have to be mindless entertainment. It can help us write better SEO content, too. Enjoy!

Mr.SpockMr. Spock’s guide to out-of-this-world SEO copywriting

Heather unleashes her inner Trekkie to relate Spock’s wisdom to your SEO copywriting needs.

What does “What you want is irrelevant, what you have chosen is at hand,” have to do with SEO copywriting?

Beam into this post to find out!

 

 

What you can learn from informercialsSo how well does your copywriting convert?

In this video post, Heather shows how infomercials create copy that sells.

For one, the scripts are carefully written and designed to build excitement and convert.

But wait, there’s more! (In the post)

 

 

Mad Men guide to online writingWhat Mad Men can teach you about online writing

We can learn a lot from the TV show Mad Men.

“Advertising is based on one thing: Happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is okay. You are okay.”-Don Draper

Just think about it. Deeply. Then read this post.

 

rp_Stuck-220x180.jpgWhat Girls can teach you about your soul-crushing corporate job

Are you starting to feel like Hannah from the TV show Girls in your own corporate gig?

You’re not alone – and there’s something you can do about it!

Heather offers a plan of escape in this post.

 

A solid content strategy will organize & track content

Content Criminal Minds: Why your content needs a BAU

This is the first in a three-part series by SEO Copywriting guest author Angie Nikoleychuk on how Criminal Minds can improve your content.

In this post, Angie shows you how to set up a Behavioral Analysis Unit for your content based on her behavior-breakdown of the characters.

Investigate this post for more.

 

 

 

Live long and prosper, my friends!

What other tips have you gleaned from your favorite TV shows?

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What Girls can teach you about your soul-crushing corporate job

Does your in-house job leave you feeling a little...stuck?

Does your in-house job leave you feeling a little … stuck?

Do you feel stuck in your corporate job?

Yes, you’re happy to even have a job. Your paycheck arrives like clockwork. You have benefits. Heck, you may even have a creative job like marketing communications, design or SEO writing.

Yet, you feel like your corporate job is sucking away at your soul.

You dream of casting off the chains, hanging out your freelance writing shingle and being your own boss. Picking your own clients. Writing about what you feel passionate about – not creating spec sheets for industrial machinery (or whatever your current job has you doing.)

In a recent episode of Girls, Hannah’s new job is writing advertorials for GQ magazine. She starts out feeling excited – she’s got some great ideas, she makes a new friend and she discovers the joy of free snacks.

Then, reality kicks in. Hannah realizes her coworkers are published writers – yet, they haven’t pursued their writing for a long time. They let their dreams die while enjoying the benefits a corporate job brings.  After an initial freak-out, Hannah vows that will never happen to her.

If you’ve been feeling stuck, consider this Girls episode your wake-up call.

You can have it all – a full-time gig and a creative business. You just have to want it bad enough. Maybe you only have an hour a day to work on your side gig. Maybe you spend your lunch hours working on creative projects. But you can do it.

Here’s how to make it happen:

- Assess your landscape. What do you need to help your dream take shape? $10K in the bank? Pay off your debts? Refine your copywriting skills? Make a list of what you’ll need to make it happen. Don’t censor yourself or think, “There is no way in hell I can do this.” Quiet that voice. You CAN do it.

- Set SMART goals. This isn’t a sprint. It’s a baby-step process. Figure out your top three goals and break down the individual tasks. It may take you months to accomplish one goal. That’s OK.

- Stay disciplined. Set aside time to work your butt off. If you’re too tired after work, get up an hour early and work on your dreams before work. Find chunks of time during your day. A little bit of progress is better than none at all. Do NOT let “I don’t have time” creep into your vocabulary.

- Allow yourself some slack-off time. You can’t work like a fiend 24/7. Take at least one day off a week and do something fun. Burnout and overwhelm will slow you down.

- Create a cheering section. There will be days you’ll think you’ll never escape from your real job. Life will test you and cause you to question your goals and progress. Your cheering section will remind you how far you’ve come and keep your eye on the prize

- Finally, celebrate your successes. Did you launch your new website? Publish an article? Land a new client? Take time out to celebrate. It may take you a couple years to pull away from your “real job,” but you have a plan. You’ve made progress.  And that’s a huge success.

What about you? Did you escape from your corporate job? Are you planning to? Share your story in the comments below.

Want to hang out your freelance shingle and make more money, faster? The Copywriting Business Bootcamp is just $180 when you purchase it at the same time as the SEO Copywriting Certification training. Get started today!

Photo credit:   | Dreamstime.com

Freelance writers: How to tame the client from hell

Is this your freelance writing client?

Is this your freelance writing client?

Your client schedules meetings one hour before the start time.

When you tell her a job takes two weeks, she’s demanding her deliverable two days after you start.

Your client doesn’t show up for meetings (even if she scheduled them.) Sometimes she has a (poor) excuse as to why she didn’t show up. Other times, she completely blows you off without any explanation.

It’s easy to call this person the “client from hell.” She has unrealistic expectations, doesn’t respect your time and expects your best work for free. At the end of the workday, you’re cranky and filled with complaints. “I’m a professional. Why does she keep doing this to me?”

Here is your reality check. Your “client from hell” isn’t causing your unhappiness. You are – by letting it happen.

It’s tempting to put up with the behavior because, hey, it’s a client – and who wants to lose money? The issue is: setting boundaries with clients is extremely important. If you haven’t been 100% crystal clear with a client, it’s time to put your big girl (or boy) pants on and deal with the situation head-on.

Here’s how to change the situation:

- Know it’s OK to say “no”

Just because a client wants to meet right now doesn’t mean you have to accommodate them. It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “I’m afraid that I have other obligations at that time. I do have availability tomorrow at X or Y time.” If they want a deliverable earlier than promised, simply reiterate your expected delivery date. Being friendly yet firm can go a long way.

- Yes, you can charge for meeting time

This will change your life. Clients will respect your time much more if they know they’re paying for it. Just make sure that this is in your contract (and yes, you really do need a contract.)

- It’s OK to charge for missed meeting times

I’ll stay on the line for 15 minutes. If the client doesn’t show, I’ll bill them for the time. (I’ll waive the fee if there was an emergency and that’s why the client couldn’t make it.)

- Rush jobs = more money

Many freelance writers charge a 20-50% premium when the client needs a fast turnaround. That way, your time is covered (especially since you’ll have to move your schedule around to accommodate your client,) and your client gets what she needs.

- Out of scope = additional charges

It’s great when a client wants more work. It’s not so great when they don’t expect to pay for it. If the client requests something out of the original project scope, send them an email asking them to authorize the additional charge. Wait until you receive their approval before you start.

Will your client from hell kick back? Maybe. But if they do – and your client is truly driving you nuts – it’s OK to let them go. You’ll find another client to replace them soon.

Here’s what typically happens instead: Meetings are more streamlined. Rush jobs may still happen, but the client is prepared to pay for them. Your “client from hell” transforms into one of your favorite clients.

That’s a wonderful win/win for both parties.

What else would you suggest? How have you handled your own clients from hell (we’ve all had at least one …)

(Special thank you to the LinkedIn SEO Copywriting group for the post inspiration!).

Are you looking for ways to make more money as a freelance writer without working so darn hard? Check out the Copywriting Business Bootcamp. 12 experts share how you can increase your income and live a better life.

 

 

Freelance writers: Here’s your secret to landing great clients

Why not stand out from the  rest of the freelance writing crowd?

Why not stand out from the rest of the freelance writing crowd?

Want to know the secret to closing more deals and landing more clients?

It’s all in your pitch.

What do you say when you talk to prospects (or chat with them on the phone?)

Do you say something like, “I’m a freelance writer with over four years experience. I write B2B copy and I specialize in web pages and blog posts.”?

Or do you say, “I transform existing B2B content into top-positioned and high-converting copy. My clients typically see a 25-60% increase in leads after my rewrites. I can work with your team as an outsourced partner or develop the content strategy for you.”

See the difference? One version pops with beefy benefit statements while the other version just … fizzles.

Many freelance writers are experts at creating USPs (unique selling propositions) for their clients. They can easily pinpoint exactly what makes their clients cool and what sets them apart.

However, these same super-smart writers get stuck when it comes to their own USPs. This is a huge disconnect. After all, there are thousands of other writers out there. You want to focus on what makes you unique. What you bring to the table. What makes you so good.

What makes you the writing expert that the client should hire? Right now.

The secret to wowing prospects and converting them into clients is to have a refined, sharp and snappy USP.  You’ve created them for your clients. Now it’s time to create one for yourself. A really good one.

Want to stand out? Here are some things to think about:

1. What past successes have you had? How have you increased your past clients’ conversion rates?

2. What specialized training do you have? Can you offer a service (such as copy testing) that other writers don’t offer?

3. Who is your target customer? What are their pain points and how can you help them go away?

4. What makes you different than all the other writers out there. Hint: It’s not “excellent customer service” or “attention to details.” All writers can and will say that. Think outside the box.

5.  Do you have a deep expertise in a certain subject matter? This is a big deal, especially in regulated industries.

6.  Do you package your services in a way that would be beneficial to your customers?

Feeling stuck? Ask another writer to help. Chances are she/he can pick your brain and develop a brilliant USP statement for you.

(And yes, you still need a USP, even if you’re brand new to the business. You may not be able to break out the beefy benefits yet, but you can certainly come up with something.)

Try tweaking your USP and see how it resonates with your prospects. Chances are, you’ll soon be closing more deals and making more money.

It’s all in the pitch. :)

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Spammy guest blogging is dead? Well duh.

spam car fliers are like spammy blog postsI’m amazed at how many people have their knickers in a knot after Matt Cutts’ latest announcement. In case you missed it, Matt’s latest post contained this interesting quote:

In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy.

In a word: duh.

I know, I know. People loved the magical link juice guest posting provided. That’s why blog owners receive emails saying, “I’ll write for you in exchange for a backlink.” It was never about connecting with their audience. It was all about getting the link.

Sadly, many site owners turned a blind eye and said, “OK.” They put an unknown writer – a writer they had no prior relationship with – in front of their readers. Why? To fill editorial holes. Because it was “free” content. Because they didn’t know any better.

(Note: I’m not talking about the site owners who researched their writers, carefully reviewed their submissions and insisted on quality writing. And neither is Matt – he makes that very clear in his post. There are a lot of great editors/sites out there that accept quality posts from smart writers. And there are a lot of excellent guest bloggers. They are doing it right. I’m talking about those other folks.) :)

This type of spammy guest blogging reminds me of the “article submissions and spinning” tactics from back in the day. Instead of focusing on quality writing (and quality submissions) people spread their articles around like a virulent word virus. And yeah. We all know how that turned out.

Spammy guest blogging is not marketing. It’s a stupid and short-sighted tactic like putting flyers on every car in a parking lot.  After all, when you use the “spray and pray” marketing method, you’re not really targeting your audience, are you?

Is it any wonder that Matt said, “Ultimately, this is why we can’t have nice things in the SEO space: a trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behavior remains.”

So here are some things to think about:

If you publish a blog, you are a PUBLISHER. And that means you have a responsibility to give your readers the best possible content. If you are accepting blog posts from anyone without doing some due diligence,  you are putting your reputation (and now your rankings) at risk. It is far better to run fewer posts than it is to run a bunch of crappy ones. Econsultancy has a great post on how they are looking at this from the publishers’ perspective.

If you are a (quality) guest poster, think “does my audience read this publication” rather than “ooh, this would be another tasty link back to my site.” Write a post that’s laser-focused on that publication, the audience and their needs. Think of guest posting as a marketing play – not an SEO/link building play. After all, isn’t reaching a new audience better than just a link? As Ann Smarty said, “Do marketing AS IF Google didn’t exist.”

And if you’re a (spammy) guest poster, please give up now. Publishers are now on notice that your content will do nothing but get them in trouble. Save yourself (and everyone else) some time and quit sending your, “I will write an original and quality 500-word post in exchange for your back link” emails. Thank you.

Will my blog still accept guest posts? Sure. At the same time, Tracy, my editor, handpicks many of our guest posters. We don’t accept unsolicited posts.

Will I continue to guest blog? Yes. If it makes sense.

Is guest blogging dead? Not necessarily. But doing it just for the SEO play is dead.

Finally.

I’m so glad.

Photo thanks to Quinn Dombrowski (fliers on cars, taken too far)

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The SEO content writers’ manifesto

SEO Writers' ManifestoI am more than “just a writer.”

I am a profit driver. A matchmaker. A storyteller.

A content marketing dream-fulfiller.

My SEO writing helps companies reach more people, do more good and make more money.

It doesn’t matter if I’m writing about industrial machinery, hotels or software.

Or if I’m blogging, tweeting or writing sales pages.

I entice my readers. I entertain them. And I empower them to make a buying decision.

I know that I have a responsibility to learn more, write more, research more.

The more I learn, the more my writing can touch one more person. Drive one more sale. Do more good.

Sitting on my laurels and refusing to expand my knowledge goes against everything I am.

I take classes. I read books. I study and network with other writers.

Sometimes, I’m even a copywriting rebel – because “following the rules” may not make sense 100% of the time.

I’m not afraid of Google.

I embrace new social networks, new algorithmic updates and new online opportunities.

Because I know I can master anything new that’s thrown my way.

And I know good writing never goes out of style.

I know my writing ability is a gift and I treat it like the precious thing it is.

I charge accordingly for my time, set good boundaries and work when I’m fresh.

When I feel burned out or blasé, I know taking a break will restore my focus and heighten my abilities.

This helps me write commanding SEO content that stands out, gets shared and boosts conversion rates.

I take care of myself physically and mentally.

And my writing inspires people to take action, calms peoples’ fears and gives them hope.

That’s pretty powerful.

Over the years, I will drive thousands (maybe millions) in profit for my clients.

I will change lives.

I will provide hope.

I will succeed.

I am an SEO content writer.

And I love what I do.

UPDATE: My designer, Erin Kistner, transformed this post into a beautiful graphic. Please feel free to share it. :) I’ll also have a downloadable PDF soon!

SEO Writers' Manifesto

Want a PDF of the SEO Writers’ Manifesto? Just sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send you the manifesto as a thank you! It’s perfect for those days when you need a little inspiration. Sign up now!

 

Freelance writers: Are you making this costly mistake?

Wow. This freelance writer is really frustrated. Been there. Done that.

You answer emails within five minutes of them hitting your inbox.

You race to pick up the phone by the third ring, no matter what you’re doing (or writing.)

A client emails you Saturday night at 10:45 and you immediately return their note. Even if that means taking time away from your family.

And you’re always exhausted and wondering how you can work an 11-hour day with nothing to show for it.

Sound familiar? If so, quit it! You’re hurting your productivity by being so available (and hurting your business, too.)

Here’s why:

If you don’t value your time, why should your client?

Have you ever experienced the Friday “drop and go?” This is when a client emails you late on a Friday and writes, “I’m heading out for the weekend, but I need this first thing on Monday.

Ouch.  Suddenly, you realize that your weekend plans are now on hold until you can get the client stuff squared away.

No fun.

I’ve gone through this before. I actually had a prospect demand a proposal on Christmas Eve (really!). Did I do it? Yes. And the client didn’t look at the proposal until mid-January. Yeah. I learned my lesson.

The truth is, we train our clients how to treat us. If we’re always available and accommodating, it’s not the client’s fault for thinking we could handle a weekend project. Or a rush job. Or we’d drop everything so we could complete “just this one thing.”

That’s why setting client boundaries is so important. Yes, be available within reason. And yes, there may be those times when you do work a weekend to take care of a good client. But it shouldn’t be an expectation.

Being overly available kills your productivity

“I can’t get everything done” is a common freelance writer frustration. If this is a frustration of yours, here’s a reality check:

If you’re bouncing from email to client project to phone calls, you’ll never have enough time. It will take you ten times longer to finish a fast project. You’re doing it to yourself – even if it feels like it’s being done to you. You’re multitasking yourself into an unproductive frenzy. 

So here’s what to do about it:

1. Train yourself to NOT respond every time you hear the phone ring or your email ding. Turn off the ringer. Mute the notifications. Close the door. Do everything you can to give yourself some uninterrupted work time. It’s OK. People will leave a message. You can call/email them back.

2. Tell your clients when you are available.  Most clients don’t require (or expect) an instant response. They just want to know that you’ll get back to them within a reasonable amount of time. It’s even OK to write, “I received this and I’ll look into it later today,” so they know you’re on it.

3. Practice saying, “I’m happy to do this. There will be a rush fee of X.” It’s amazing how clients will suddenly value your time much more when they know there’s an extra cost involved. :) Plus, if you do work a rush job, you know you’ll be well compensated for your time.

Try implementing these strategies. I guarantee you’ll feel more centered, energetic and focused during the day. Plus, you’ll probably see a nice productivity spike – which could mean more money in your pocket. Bonus!

What do you do to keep yourself on track? Please leave a comment with your favorite boundary-setting strategies!

Special sale – save 20% on the SEO Copywriting Certification training with coupon code HAPPY 2014. Get started today!

2013’s 11 hottest SEO copywriting posts

Spinal TapAnd, like that, 2013 is almost over.

Wow.

Last year, I recapped 10 of the most popular posts 0f 2013. Many of those posts were of the “back-to-basics” variety – people were (finally) beginning to wake up to the concept of “quality content” and needed some trusted pointers.

This year, I decided to turn it up to a Spinal Tap eleven.

What did I learn from this year’s favorites? Folks are a little more content-savvy. The most popular posts included higher-level, actionable tips (this definitely surprised me – especially after last year’s favorites!)

As always, the motivational posts did well. Many writers lead fairly isolated lives and are hiding behind their laptop. A little motivation can go a long way. It’s good to know you’re not alone.

This is our last post of 2013. We’ll spend the rest of the year preparing for 2014 and enjoying time with family and friends. And maybe … just maybe … spending some quality “away from the computer” time, too. :)

Thank you so much for reading my blog, sharing posts with your colleagues and writing your comments. There are quite a few SEO/writing blogs out there, and I’m honored that you choose to spend your valuable time reading mine. I appreciate it!

Here’s to a fantastic 2014! Just let me know how I can help.

Happy New Year!

-Heather

(P.S. – If you’ve been thinking about taking the Certification training, watch your inbox on New Years’ Eve ::hint, hint:: Deciding to be a better writer is one of the best gifts you can give yourself in the new year!)

#11: Quit getting paid peanuts. 10 tips for freelance writers

One of the most comment complaints I hear is, “My clients are cheap. They don’t pay me enough money to do this.” Here’s a reality check: It’s not them, it’s you. In this post, I give freelance writers a firm (but gentle) reality slap. You can control your income, but that means learning to value your worth. This is a smart read for new and established freelance copywriters.

#10: Wooing the Googlebot: 5 tips to an irresistible XML site map

How do I love thee, Googlebot? Let me count the ways. If the thought of “XML site maps” causes you to get a brain cramp, pour yourself a strong cup of coffee and read this post. Guest poster Chris Simmance does a great job breaking down why site maps are important, plus he provides some easy-to-follow best-practice formatting tips.

#9: Why you can’t fly solo as a freelance copywriter

Sure, you may feel like Superman (or Superwoman.) You may believe you don’t need any help. But know this: the most successful freelance copywriters understand the value of professional help. The next time you find yourself thinking, “I’ll try to tweak this contract myself. How bad can it be, right?” step AWAY from the email and read this post instead. You’ll be thanking Amy Teeple, the writer, for her sage advice. Trust me.

#8: How to build an internal content team: Do this, not that

Want to build an awesome content team by leveraging your existing resources? Yes, you can make this happen – if you follow some very important rules. If “how do I create a strong writing team?” is keeping you up at night, this blog post will help put your mind at ease. You’ll learn what steps to take (yes, do this!) and what will virtually guarantee failure.

#7: Yes, failure is an option!

Are you feeling bad because you “failed?” You may have lost a client, a job – maybe even a relationship. Don’t dwell in your failure. Learn from it! This post was inspired by a fantastic LinkedIn discussion – and hopefully, it will inspire you, too. Don’t forget to watch the cute corgi video at the end!

#6: 5 Easy-to-give SEO gifts that will make you a better writer in 2014

Question: What is an SEO copywriter without a web presence? Answer: Hard to find. Ready to up your game in 2014? Richard Hostler from Brookstone shares how you can improve your writing skills and rock the new year. Make sure you check out the comments. The questions (and answers) are excellent!

#5: How to thrive post-Hummingbird. A guide for SEO content creators

Is SEO writing dead? Heck no. But Google’s Hummingbird algorithm did change the game. This great roundup post by Tracy Mallette shares some great advice from industry experts.

#4: 2013 recap for SEO copywriters. What’s cool, what sucked

2013 was certainly an … interesting … year. There were lots of great changes – and some change we could have lived without. My recap explains 2013’s big changes and how SEO copywriters can thrive in today’s post-Hummingbird world. My big piece of advice to SEO writers: Get educated or get out.

#3: SEO copywriting advice from search guru Barry Schwartz

The big takeaway: “Become the expert.” I’ve known Barry for years and he is one super-smart guy (and nice, too!) This interview with Barry discusses how to handle [not provided] keyword data, how copywriters can prepare for the future of search and his incredible time management skills. This is a great article for in-house and freelance writers.

#2: 7 Call-to-action techniques and examples that work

Yes, including a call-to-action in your sales content is crucial. But how do you do it the right way – the way that gains maximum conversion rates? This great post by Shanna Mallon explains how to use trusted techniques like social proof, overcoming objections and  “sweetening the deal” to boost conversions.

#1: How Google attempts to understand what a page or query is about based upon word relationships

“The future of rankings of search results may rely upon Google building a concept-based knowledge base that understands the relationship between words, as well as probabilities that a certain relationship was intended when words are used on a page.” Wow! Powerful stuff – and so different than Google’s “shove the keyphrases into the content” days. This guest post by Bill Slawski is a must-read for anyone writing online content.