Viewing all posts by Heather Lloyd-Martin.

Happy Thanksgiving!

ThanksgivingHappy Thanksgiving!

I’m grateful for so many things this year. Here is a partial list…

– I love what I do and I have fun doing it.

– I have fantastic friends who love me, despite my eccentricities. :)

– I have an incredible husband.

– And I’m grateful for you!  Thank you for reading my blog, writing your comments and sharing my posts with your friends and colleagues. I appreciate it more than you know.

May you enjoy a wonderful day filled with fun, family, friends and lots of yummy food!

Have a wonderful holiday!  “Talk” to you next week.

Gobble, gobble –

– Heather

Yes, failure is an option!

Yes! It's OK to fail!When’s the last time you’ve blown it big time?

Maybe you passed up a great job opportunity.

Or you screwed up with a client and they fired you.

Or you started a new business that lost more money than it made.

Or you divorced who you thought was your soul mate.

People tend to believe there’s something shameful in “failing.” They don’t talk about their screw-ups. They don’t think about them. Instead, the failure weighs them down like a huge boulder. Every time they go to do something different – get in a new relationship, start a new business or land another client – the failure boulder crushes their spirit.

“Are you crazy,” it says. “You remember what happened before. Why are you even THINKING about this?”

So, you contract. You pass on opportunities. Life gets smaller and more scary.

My response to that: Screw failure!

Here’s a secret: You know that person you admire? The person who has the “perfect life” with the “perfect income?”

They’ve messed up time and time again. They’ve just learned to deal with it.

I was brought up in a “failure is not an option” household. If I got solid “A’s” on my report card, my father wanted to know why I didn’t get A+’s. If I was #2, there was a huge discussion about why I wasn’t #1.

Maybe you got the same message.

I learned – gradually – to fail. Sometimes, I didn’t land the client I wanted. Sometimes, my relationships didn’t work out. Sometimes, my business took turns I didn’t want it to take.

Oddly enough, there was always an upside to failure. My next relationship was always better. I eventually landed a cool new client. And the weird business twists and turns always worked out.

Slowly, I realized that failure was an option.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t had the crap kicked out of me. I’ve gone through extreme business and personal failures that knocked me on my butt. I was depressed, scared and I isolated myself. For months.

Yet, now I can look back and say, “Thank goodness for that situation.” Because the failure taught me things. I learned I was strong. I was resilient. And I always land on my feet … even though it seems like it’s a long, long way down before I land.

If not for my various failures …

– I wouldn’t have met my wonderful husband

– I wouldn’t be in the best shape of my life (and even studying to be a personal trainer!)

– I wouldn’t have the compassion I have for people going through various health and financial difficulties.

– I wouldn’t have created the exact kind of business that fits my personality and work habits.

– I would be facing various health problems as a result of my lifestyle.

Derek Cromwell had a great line in the LinkedIn SEO Copywriting group (and his note is the inspiration for this blog post.) He said:

I’ve grown to the point where when I see that fall coming I put my arms in the air and scream “weeeeeeeeeee!” on the way down.

I love this! What a visual!

So go ahead. Make mistakes. Screw up. Embrace your failures and learn from them. Put yourself out there. Live your dream. If you mess up – so what. We ALL mess up.

Just scream “weeeeeee!” on the way down. :) Just like Buddy the Corgi on the twisty slide:

Life is much sweeter when you take a few risks along the way. Why not go for it?

Do you want to launch an SEO copywriting business in 2014, but you don’t know how to begin? Contact me today! I can help!

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

PuzzleYes, you can source low-cost, quality content by leveraging your internal resources (I talked about this last week.)

If you follow some basic guidelines.

The key to a strong internal team is putting the right puzzle pieces together the right way. I’ve helped a number of companies tap into their teams and uncover some fantastic “diamond-in-the-rough” SEO writers.

For some companies, the process has gone smoothly. Others faced a rough road, full of missed deadlines, resentful employees and a failed content effort.

Here’s what separates the smart companies from the rest:

Yes! Do this!

- Hire an editor. The editor can be an employee or a vendor who double-checks the content. This role is extremely important, so choose wisely. You need someone who can develop and assign topic ideas, has worked with writers before and knows how to provide smart feedback. Plus, your editor needs to be super-knowledgeable about SEO. He’ll often be researching the keyphrases and optimizing the content – so he needs to know what he’s doing.

- Tell your team why their contribution is important and give them frequent kudos. If you say, “You need to start writing blog posts,” you will face resentment. Instead, share why you’re turning to them for blogging help, watch their progress and reward their successes (such as a top Google ranking or lots of social shares.) The more invested your writer is in the process, the better content she’ll create.

- Train your writers. This is important even if an editor is inserting keyphrases and writing the title and meta description. More knowledge means your writer can create a better work product – one that your editor won’t have to red-line, rewrite and tear her hair out over. Your subject matter experts don’t need to be SEO whiz kids. But they should know the SEO content basics.

- Create an SEO content style guide (or hire a firm to create this for you.) Outline the general blog post format, the reading audience, how headlines and subheads are used and how many words you expect per post. If you have a list of things that can’t be mentioned (for instance, if you’re in a highly regulated industry,) outline these expectations and make them clear. A style guide gets everyone on the same page and helps standardize the content’s look and feel.

Need more direction? Here’s a great post by Ian Lurie that discusses how to create a style guide.

Want to virtually guarantee failure?  Don’t even think about doing this!

- Send your team to an SEO conference with the task of “learn how to do SEO copywriting and come back and teach the rest of us.” Most conferences don’t delve deeply enough into SEO content writing fundamentals to really provide any actionable knowledge (especially for newbies.) After all, what can your team realistically learn in a one-hour session?

- Assign blog posts without providing a deadline. Your team members are already busy with 1,000 things on their plate. If you don’t tell them when something is due, it’s going to get pushed to the back burner.

- Bring someone on who isn’t a good writer and/or hates writing.  Just because you’re an enthusiastic blogger doesn’t mean everyone else is too. Some people would rather hear fingernails on a chalkboard than write a blog post. Do not have these people write your web copy. It will not go well.

- Assign unrealistic deadlines. If you tell someone their newly-assigned blog post is “due tomorrow,” her head will probably explode.  Sure, you may only need 400 words. But know that it can take a lot of time to write 400 words – especially for non-writers. Give them time and space. The end product will be much better (and the writer will feel better about it, too.)

- Take the post without editing it first. Yes, you need to focus on making sure the right keyphrases are in the right spots. But you’ll also need someone to check grammar, spelling and general flow. If the post quality is low, don’t post it – even if you are on deadline. The only thing worse than no blog posts is a bunch of crappy ones.

- Let other priorities get in the way. Many companies outsource their content because they know it will actually get done. Internal teams may shift the content priority from, “This is highly important,” to “Well, we have a trade show next week. Let’s skip all blogging until we’re back.” Keep calm and keep blogging on – no matter what’s swirling around you. The momentum alone will help support your success.

Does your team need writing examples, SEO copywriting training and some hands-on help? I can customize a solution that transforms writers from “meh” into “marvelous.” Contact me with your requirements.

How to source low-cost, quality SEO content

SaveAre you wondering how your company can actually afford quality SEO content?

You’re not alone.

Companies are drowning in content needs. The existing marketing department (assuming there is one) may be too swamped to consistently write articles and blog posts.

Finding outsourced vendors can be equally frustrating. Companies are often looking for Cadillac-level SEO content when they have Yugo-level budgets.

The results are rarely positive. Especially with how Google has tightened down on content (see Eric Enge’s article for more information.)

I’ve chatted with many frustrated marketing managers who are faced with this dilemma. They don’t have the budget for a top-notch outsourced vendor. Yet they are looking for a certain quality of writer – one who understands their industry, understands their customers and can speak their language.

The answer?

Look internally for your SEO content producers. And by “internally,” I mean your sales people, project managers, engineers and other people with product, service and customer knowledge. These people are already passionate about your product/service, your customers and your company mission. Why not let that passion shine through?

I’m aware of the myriad of objections. For instance:

– Not everyone is a good writer

– Non-writers have no business writing sales pages.

– People won’t do it. They say they will – but they’ll flake out.

– They don’t know how.

Let’s break down those objections.

Not everyone is a good SEO writer

True. However, I bet you have people on your team who are good writers. Or they are OK writers with a lot of potential. The goal isn’t to push someone into writing who hates it. It’s to help someone grow who wants to learn how to do it better.

Non-writers have no business writing sales pages.

I totally agree. It takes a skilled copywriter to write a high-converting sales page. However, you don’t need someone with 10 years of copywriting experience to write a blog post. You can train internal staff to do that.

People won’t do it. They say they will – but they’ll flake out.

People will do it if they have a sense of ownership, understand the process and there are realistic expectations. If you tell someone to “Write a blog post on anything and have it by tomorrow,” you probably won’t see very good results. If you take the time to work with them, assign topics and provide feedback, magical things can happen.

They don’t know how.

You can teach your team how to write SEO content (or bring in someone who can teach them.) Plus, you can hire an outsourced SEO editor who can assign topics, set reasonable deadlines and optimize the content.

Existing team members can be transformed into fantastic article and blog writers. Yes, it takes some negotiation. No, it won’t happen overnight. But the final results can be incredible, with team members happily producing content every month.

And that allows you to focus your SEO content budget on other important things – like fixing those stale sales pages that haven’t been updated in years.

Next week, I’ll discuss how to set up a happy, healthy internal content team. In the meantime, what are your biggest obstacles around sourcing content from existing team members? Please leave your comments below, or you can respond on Google+. Thanks!

Training your internal team in SEO content development doesn’t have to be painful. Or scary. Or frustrating. Let me help you find the best option for your company. Review my training options and contact me today.





What Lou Reed can teach you about SEO writing

I was blown away the first time I heard, “Walk On The Wild Side.”

Were the lyrics a little controversial? Sure. To my 12-year-old brain, hearing songs about hookers and junkies was a big deal.

But it wasn’t the supposed scandalous content.

It was the storytelling.

“Walk On The Wild Side” is visual. It’s gripping. It’s powerful. When I heard the opening lyrics about how “Holly came from Miami F. L. A.,” I could picture her transformation. I could see the gritty bars, plucked eyebrows and strange back-room antics.

The music transported me. I wasn’t listening to the lyrics. I was involved in the story. 

As SEO writers, we can learn a lot from Lou Reed. When we’re cranking out content, it’s easy to ignore the story and focus on the facts. We work in the right benefit statement at the right time. We write lists in bullet-point fashion because we know it’s better for readability. We put the perfect keyphrases in the perfect places.

But do we write with passion? With purpose? Do we really tell a visual story – or do we skim the surface and hope the reader will fill in the blanks?

My challenge to you – for just one day, throw out everything you know about copywriting. Tell the story instead. Don’t focus on the mechanics. Focus on how the widget has transformed a business. How a service helped save a life. Think visual rather than factual (for more information on writing more visually, check out this great post by Roger Dooley.)

(And if you’re a B2B company, don’t tell me that storytelling doesn’t work. It does.)

Got the story down? Good. Now, go back and seed it with “proper” form, keyphrases and paragraph structure.

My guess? Your writing will be more powerful. More visceral. And convert better, too.

R.I.P, Lou Reed. You may be gone, but your songs live on.

And your writing lessons do, too.

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How to make more money as a freelance copywriter: 20 tips

Yes, you can make more money as a freelance copywriter. Really!

Yes, you can make more money as a freelance copywriter. Really!

Do you feel like your freelance writing income is stuck in low gear – and you’re looking to rev up your profits?

Making more money can be easier than you think. Here are ways to make it happen:

1.  Raise your rates. If you haven’t increased your freelance copywriting rates lately, now may be the time. Here’s how to do it without alienating your current customers.

2. Check in with your current clients. You’ve already built a relationship with these people – why not leverage it? A quick “how can I help you?” email may help you gain new work.

3. Ask your current clients for referrals. If your clients already love you, why wouldn’t they recommend you to their colleagues? Even just one referral could net some great new business.

4. Create package deals. If you’re a blogger or a freelance copywriter, you could bundle your services so people buy them in bulk (say, 10 blog posts every month.) Some clients prefer to purchase content this way, so it could drive more money your way.

5. Set up ongoing contracts. If clients are consistently purchasing 10 blog posts every month, why not put them on an ongoing retainer (you could even give them a small discount.) You know you have ongoing freelance income every month, and the client gets a good deal. Win/win!

6. Educate yourself. When’s the last time you got trained in an advanced subject (like SEO copywriting … hint, hint). The more you know, the more you can charge – and the better caliber client you can attract.

7. Change up your target market. Are you stuck charging lower freelance fees because your target audience can’t pay for more? Don’t get mad. Pivot your business. It may be time to find clients with more money to spend.

8. Boost your confidence. Do you feel weird answering the question, “How much do you charge?” It’s time to get over it. Here’s how.

9. Fire energy-sapping clients. This is never easy to do, but it’s often necessary. The good news is, you’ll have room for new (higher paying) clients when you can prune the bad ones. Here are some things to think about.

10. Don’t give your current clients a reason to fire you. Have you been a little … flaky? A fast way to lose money is if your clients start slowly fading away. Here’s how to prevent the dreaded, “We can’t use you anymore” email.

11. Join Google+ and get set up with authorship. Yes, I know this is a pain (especially if your market isn’t on Google+ … yet.) But the rewards are well worth it. Here’s what Eric Enge has to say about it.

12. Do outstanding work that gets results. Clients want to work with proven SEO copywriters – and testimonials, case studies and before-and-after screen shots can help seal the deal.  Here are some tips about how to make your testimonials more powerful.

13. Find a niche you love and specialize. Both Bob Bly and Pam Foster discuss this technique in the Copywriting Business Bootcamp training.

14. Get out of the house and network. I’m guilty of hiding behind my computer most of the time. However, I know that actually seeing people in public (gasp) can help drive business my way. Try to get out at least once a month. More if you can.

15. Don’t forget to network with other writers, too. You may see them as “competition,” but they can also be trusted colleagues. Other writers may refer a gig to you that doesn’t fit their existing client/work base. Just don’t forget to return the favor.

Other feedback from the SEO Copywriting Facebook group and Google+ …

Improve your skills and offer new services – like press releases or content audits as an easy add-on to your existing services. – Courtney Ramirez

Don’t be scared of putting your prices up, even with customers you have had for years. Times change and so must prices. – Craig Wright (@straygoat).

It’s not about marketing, as much as it is about building the right relationships. – Tania Dakka (@TaniaDakka).

Get amazing results. – Daniel Iversen

Don’t be afraid to charge professional prices. – Steve Maurer (+Steve Maurer).

Save almost $50! Learn the secrets behind the why some freelance copywriters rake in the bucks. And yes, you can do it, too! Check out the Copywriting Business Bootcamp and use coupon code SECRETS. Sale expires 11/13/13

Feeling stuck? Read this.

The Edmonds, WA waterfront. One of my favorite "thinking places."

The Edmonds, WA waterfront. One of my favorite “thinking places.”

Is your gut  filled with sharp stress knots? Do you feel so stuck that you feel there’s no way out?

I feel your pain. I’ve been there. And it’s not fun.

There are times in your professional (and personal) life when things seem completely hopeless.

– You hate your job, yet you can’t see a way out. You need the security.

– The phone isn’t ringing and you’re seeing your bank account dwindle to almost nothing.

– You’re facing a midlife crisis with your business and the things that used to be fun aren’t fun anymore.

– Life isn’t quite clicking for you and you don’t know why.

Things don’t start out feeling stuck. At first, it’s almost a fun challenge. You may say, “Hey, I have to figure out new ways to generate income. How bad can that be?” Or “I’m sure I can launch my own business. I just need to make it happen.”

Days drag into weeks (and sometimes, into months.) That sharp stress ball in your gut gets bigger. That stuck feeling gets larger. You dig your heels in, work longer hours and do what you can to fix your situation.

(And deep down, you find yourself obsessing over your “problem” and wondering what’s wrong with you.)

There is nothing wrong with you. Really. This is all part of the process.

I’m a “dig in” kind of person. Being the control freak I am, I like to think that I can change a situation through working harder. Sometimes, it works. When it comes to longer-term “life issue” stuff – it backfires. I get more stressed, more tired and feel even more stuck.

Maybe you’ve felt the same way.

Recently, I was going through my own stuck situation. In retrospect, it doesn’t seem like a big deal now – more like a mini midlife crisis. Maybe it was because it was near a big birthday. Or maybe because other background things were going on. I may not have talked about it much, but it was there … just beneath the surface.

So I’d obsess. And work. And obsess some more. Not fun.

In a moment of clarity (thank you, floatation tanks,) I had a vision. I thought of my favorite place – the ocean – and how I like watching the tide gliding in and out.

(For more information about the benefits of “floating,” check out this interview I did with The Nation.)

I realized that life was just like that. Sometimes, the tide is in and everything is clicking. Things are easy and effortless.

But then the tide goes out again. Just because the water is “gone,” doesn’t mean it’s not coming back. It’s just taking a pause and gathering energy. That energy and force rushes in again. It always does. I just have to be patient.

Did my breakthrough change my situation? No. But it did change my perception of the situation. I felt lighter and in more control. I was able to focus on other things outside of my current stress. I stopped working so hard and worked smarter instead. I focused more on gratitude and abundance rather than fear and lack.

And you know what? I can feel the tide slowly gathering force and coming in again. I can’t quite tell what the final result looks like yet, other than it feels good and happy.

Happy is good. What’s more, I feel centered enough to notice the switch and be grateful for it.

So, if you’re feeling stuck, know that your situation can change. It may not change today or on your preferred timeline. Your tide may still be out.

But it will come back, stronger than ever. And you’ll be stronger than ever. Trust me.

Want to get your copywriting career off the ground, but you need a little push? Do you have an existing copywriting business but things just aren’t clicking? Let me help! Check out my Copywriting Business Bootcamp training – now with monthly calls!


FUD, Hummingbird and the future of SEO copywriting

HummingbirdSo, Google’s Hummingbird algorithm has officially taken flight.

And it’s amazing how many people have their collective panties in a knot because of it.

If you’re not familiar with Google’s latest algorithm, here’s what Danny Sullivan reported:

“Google said that Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.”

I’ve been asked a number of times, “Well, what does this mean to SEO copywriting? Is it officially dead? Do I need to do things differently?”

Here’s my take…

Feel the FUD and write on

Any Google tweak causes a certain amount of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt.) Granted, this is a major overhaul – so the anxiety levels are heightened. But for those of us who have always created quality, customer-centered content … it’s business as usual. Danny reports:

“In fact, Google’s saying there’s nothing new or different SEOs or publishers need to worry about. Guidance remains the same, it says: have original, high-quality content. Signals that have been important in the past remain important; Hummingbird just allows Google to process them in new and hopefully better ways.”

Cool, right?

But notice the words, “original, high-quality content.” They’re important.

Sadly, many people have looked for SEO copywriting shortcuts. And for a long time, those shortcuts worked. Stuff the content full of keyphrases? Sure. Write stupid copy that doesn’t even make sense? Awesome. Create a press release with five gazillion spammy links and syndicate it all over the place? Why not?

Now some companies are scrambling. Their quick-fix content bandaids haven’t worked since the Panda update. With this latest announcement, they don’t know what to do, where to place their keyphrases – heck, even if they should bother researching keyphrases. Hummingbird has officially freaked them out.

But really, it’s so simple. It’s always been about developing commanding SEO content, “clicking” with your reader and writing content that’s so damn good, people can’t help but like it.

So, to me, Hummingbird is, to quote the Talking Heads, “same as it ever was.” In fact, I believe it offers us a tremendous amount of freedom. We can release the stranglehold keyphrases had on our content and focus on writing spectacular stuff.

Yes, we still want to include keyphrases (users look for them too – not just Google.) Yes, we still want to write clickable Titles and descriptions. But instead of writing content “that Google likes,” we should focus on our reader.

You know, like it’s always been (but people never believed it was true.)

The new SEO content paradigm

Many of Google’s algorithmic tweaks (beginning with the Panda update) sparked a major paradigm shift for some companies. The day of SEO content being a commodity is officially over – at least it is if you’re smart. In the past, clients have been able to push rates down because Google has rewarded poor content.

That’s not going to fly anymore.

Instead of asking, “How can we source this content for the least possible cost,” the new question is, “Who is the best writer who can connect with our audience? Who can help strategize our site content, write great copy and help us build better online relationships?”

The conversation is slowly changing. And that’s pretty exciting.

This also ties into Google Authorship. Niche writers with a major Google presence are going to command more money because they deserve it. They know their writing can increase conversions, increase rankings, receive more social shares – and will stand the test of Google time.

That’s pretty exciting, too.

Baby, don’t fear the Hummingbird

If you find yourself FUDing all over the place, relax. Hummingbird has been live for around a month, so if you’re not seeing major positioning burps – you’re probably fine.

But let’s go back to that reality check.

Remember the key is writing excellent content that connects with your readers. Content that answers their questions, makes them smile and establishes you as a trusted resource. This is more than “writing content for Google” and producing the bare minimum. It takes work.

There’s no shortcut. You won’t be able to trick Google into thinking your content is relevant. You can’t put content on the back burner.

But if you focus on building relationships through your writing, what you will have is a top-positioned site. And one that makes you more money than ever before.

Isn’t it time to spread your content wings and fly?

Is your site content what Google really wants to see? Are you sure? Don’t stay confused – get educated instead. I can customize an SEO content strategy and training for your team. Find out how!

Are you sabotaging yourself?

This is right after I crossed the finish line. I'm soggy, but happy.

This is right after I crossed the finish line. I’m soggy, but happy.

Last Sunday I ran my first 10K.

Running has always been a bit…challenging…for me. Sure, I learned to embrace it and run the occasional 5K. But a 10K seemed impossible. That’s 6.2 miles. Of running. Wow.

In a fit of stubbornness, I signed up for my first 10K a few months ago. Had I ever run 6.2 miles? Nope. But I thought, “Hey, I can do this. I can build up my mileage. Six miles is nothing!”

Then things started to change.

From super-motivated to “meh.”

Sure, I jumped into training with both feet (ha!). But soon, I could feel myself losing momentum. Running didn’t feel good. I went from training three or four times a week to running once – maybe. I started making excuses why this particular 10K was a bad idea. “It’s three days after my move.  I have to travel three days after that. I really need sleep more than anything else.”

I came this close to quitting. Many times.

The day of the race, I was sick. Not just a little sick. Really sick. Another perfect excuse to quit.

But I didn’t.

Thanks to the encouragement of my wonderful husband, I got up at 5:30 on a blustery Sunday morning and we made the 45-minute drive to the race site. I may not have run a 10K before, but I successfully made it through the race. I even had a decent average mile pace – which is pretty impressive considering much of the run was uphill or on a muddy and slick trail.

When the reality of “I finished and I didn’t die” kicked in, I was pumped! I successfully broke through what I thought was my upper limit.

(And I didn’t feel sick anymore. Go figure!).

What’s the lesson here?

After the run, I started thinking about this situation in terms of personal development. How many times do we set a goal and sabotage ourselves? For instance:

– I want to make more money this year, but I keep taking low-paying gigs because I’m afraid I won’t see another lead for a long time.

– I finally landed a great client, but I blew the deadline and lost the gig.

– I would love that job, but I forgot to apply on time. Besides, I wasn’t really ready for it. Maybe next time.

– I planned a great vacation, but then I got sick. So much for my vacation.

Sound familiar?

The reality is, these are limits we put on ourselves. They are not real. We build these walls in our minds and refuse to tear them down. We make excuses, self-sabatoge (like I did by not training,) and tell ourselves why we can’t have something.

And that’s just stupid.

If someone else said, “I don’t think you’re worth more than $100 a page,” we’d probably say something like, “Oh yeah? Watch THIS.” And then prove them wrong. But it’s funny how we don’t do that when it’s a limitation we put on ourself.

It’s breakthrough time!

This is what’s called an “upper limit” problem. Marie Forleo defines it as this:

Each of has an internal thermometer for how much success, wealth, happiness, love, and intimacy we’ll let ourselves experience.  That’s our upper limit setting.  Kind of like our success comfort zone.

When we exceed our internal thermostat setting and life gets super duper OMG good (we have an influx of money, get healthy and thin, find a great relationship) – we unconsciously do things to sabotage ourselves, so we can drop back to the old, familiar place where we feel in control.

(For more information about this, check out the book The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. It’s a good one!)

Yes, this is a part of the process (and achieving greatness.) But you have to hang with it.

Consider where you may be self-sabatoging your success. You may have to get quiet – really quiet – to hear those voices inside your head saying you aren’t quite good enough. When you can hear them, tell them to take a hike. You’ve come this far, dammit – and you’ve got a long way to go, baby.

You can break through. Trust me.

And damn, it feels so good when you do!

Hurry! Just five days left to save 25% on the SEO Copywriting Certification training  – use coupon code SEPTEMBER. Offer good through September 30th, 2013.


Does your SEO copy leverage the rule of three?

I originally wrote this post in 2009. Since it’s such a timely topic (I’ll be talking about advanced writing tips during SMX East 2013,) I wanted to dust off the post, revise it and make it just like new. If you’re in NYC October 2nd, I’ll be talking about what writers can learn from neuromarketing, consumer psychology and direct response copywriting. I hope to see you there!

Is three really the magic number?

I’ve gone on stage for over 15 years talking about how people retain things when they read or hear them in “threes.”  Think of the “Conjunction Junction” song from Schoolhouse Rock “Thinking about words and phrases and clauses.”  Or the special summons in the movie “Beetlejuice” (Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!.)  Or how many informercials repeat the same benefits at the beginning of a segment, in the middle, and at the end.

When I was attending college, my professor told me how to write a scientific journal article: Tell them what you’re going to discuss, discuss it, and summarize the discussion. I’ve obviously never forgotten the advice.

The rule of three is one of those things that are so ingrained in how we, as individuals, think that we don’t even notice the repetition. But it does help drive important information deep inside our brains. According to Sean D’Souza’s post “Harness the Psychological Power of “3” to Improve Communication:”

“The brain finds it relatively easy to grasp threes — elements, colours and fonts. Push that marginally up to four and the brain gets confused about where to look and what to do, and sends the eye scampering like a frisky puppy on a sunny day.

So why does this happen? For that we might have to go back a little to diaper country. As a child, everything you did and learned seemed to be centered around three — A,B,C; 1,2,3; Three blind mice, Three musketeers, Trinity, Three Stooges and Huey, Louie and Dewey. (Quack! Quack! Quack!)”

Another study from the University of Minnesota found that “decision making is simplified when a consumer considers a third, less attractive option” (they call it decoy marketing.)

Plus, this video has examples of “rule of three” taglines (threes seem to be everywhere!)

So yes. Three does seem like a magic number.

Your challenge: Blend the rule of three with your SEO copywriting

Consider this in terms of your SEO copywriting and online content creation.  How can you use the rule of three to your advantage?

  • Create a catchy three-part tagline (“Free shipping. Awesome service. Just for you.”)
  • Separate your copy into three paragraphs
  • Provide three product or service choices (think of the decoy method.)
  • Use “threes” within your copy ” to show action and excitement (“ready, steady, GO!”)
  • Limit your bullet points to just three (oops…but I think you get the idea!)

Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below. It’s an easy tip to implement. It’s fun. And it will change how you write SEO copy.

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