Viewing all posts by Heather Lloyd-Martin.

Your home page isn’t the (only) problem

Pig

Nope. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

My father was fond of saying, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

The meaning? You can only work with what you’ve got. If you’ve got nothing, dressing it up and make it look pretty won’t help.

I’m reminded of this every time a prospect asks if I’ll just rewrite their home page – and not touch the rest of their site copy.

Sometimes, the prospect is convinced that a few home page keyphrase tweaks will help their entire site’s SEO. Or, they know their home page is dull and ineffective – and they hope that adding some “conversion punch” will drive more leads (or make more sales.)

Sadly, this is rarely – if ever – the case.

It’s true that your home page is an important page. It’s like your virtual storefront, showing your prospects who you are, what you do and how you can help.

But the goal of your home page isn’t to immediately make a sale. It’s to guide people your product or service pages.

And that’s where the real conversion (and positioning) magic lives.

There are three major holes in the “rewriting our home page is the magic bullet” theory:

- It’s often more important to focus on your “money pages.” What product or service pages generate the most income?  Rewrite those first. When I set an SEO content strategy, I outline the top pages that will help “move the needle” the fastest. That way, you’re seeing immediate improvement in the areas that make you the most money.

(Note that I said “money pageS.” Rewriting a subcategory page by itself probably won’t work. Rewriting an entire section can definitely help.)

- In a perfect world, prospects land on your inner pages – not your home page. If people are searching for a certain product or service, you want them to find the landing page specific to their query. Not your home page (where they would have to search again for what they want.)

- Rewriting the home page – without touching any of the inner pages – typically doesn’t work. Have you ever seen a poorly-done house addition? The new addition tends to stand out like a sore thumb and doesn’t flow with the rest of the design. Web copy is the same way. One really good page won’t make the rest of your site read better by default. This kind of user experience can be jarring and actually decrease conversion rates.

Does this mean that you have to rewrite every page at once? No. The first step would be setting a strategy, determining the pages that need “fixing” and setting up a sustainable rewrite plan. If that means you rewrite a few pages a month – fine.  At least there’s an ongoing progress.

Will it take work? Sure. Is it worth it? Yes. If you’re on the fence, I challenge you to set up your own SEO content rewrite strategy (or hire someone who can help.)

You’ll be amazed at the difference. Really.

Did you hear the news? The 25% off sale for the SEO Copywriting Certification training runs through September 30th. Get trained, have fun and write better web copy. Learn more!

 

 

Yes, you do need an SEO copywriting strategy. Here’s why

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-selective-focus-map-chicago-image7356870Imagine this:

You suddenly decide to move to Chicago. Instead of lining up a job and doing your due diligence, you immediately jump in the car and start driving. You don’t take anything with you. Nor do you check Google Maps and figure out your route. You just point the car and go.

Would you make it to Chicago? Eventually. Would you make a lot of wrong turns (and probably cost yourself a bunch of money along the way?) Most likely. And you still wouldn’t have the results you wanted (a great paying job.)

This analogy reminds me of clients who don’t have an SEO copywriting strategy. They may know what they want (higher rankings and better conversions.) But they don’t have a plan to make it happen. They don’t revise their keyphrase research, check their customer persona and ask questions. Instead, they rewrite a bunch of pages hoping that something will do the trick.

When the results aren’t what they want, they blame the writer. Or they blame Google. Or their competition. But they very rarely point the finger at themselves and admit, “Yeah, we didn’t really know what we were doing.”

If this sounds familiar, it’s time to take a step back. When you’re moving to a new city, “taking a step back” means planning your driving route and making some initial employer contacts. When it’s around your website, it means asking questions and doing research.

Here are some SEO copywriting questions to ask:

- Are the current pages converting? If not, why do you think that is?

- What is the per-page keyphrase research strategy? When’s the last time you researched your keyphrases?

- What are the overarching company benefits? What about the specific product/service benefits?

- Who is coming to this page? Is it an admin assistant who is gathering information for his supervisor? A time-challenged COO? What do they need to see to feel comfortable with the content?

- What phase of the buy cycle is your prospect in when they reach a certain landing page?

- What do you want people to do when they reach your landing page? Is there a secondary goal (like subscribing to your newsletter?).

- What are the upsell opportunities?

- What products/services make your company the most money?

Getting good answers to these questions takes time – it’s not something you can accomplish in a couple hours. Having said that, if you’re planning to outsource, it’s a great way of separating the so-so copywriters from the smart ones. Good copywriters won’t start writing without an SEO copywriting strategy in place – they know the results won’t be what you want.

(As a side note, master SEO copywriters can often handle this phase for you. It can be useful to have someone outside your company create your campaign.)

Your SEO copywriting campaign is important. Take the time, develop an air-tight strategy and do it right.

You’ll be glad you did.

Save 25% on the SEO Copywriting Certification training through September 30th, 2013 – just use coupon code SEPTEMBER. Or, if your team is overwhelmed, my writers can help create top-converting content. Contact me for details.

Overcoming the overwhelm monster

Overwhelm monsterThis is an “oldie-but-a-goodie” post that I published about three years ago.

Here’s why I’m sharing it with you again…

Right now, I find myself launching a new site, moving my home and office, working on two separate client trainings and developing a presentation for SMX East. I have about three weeks to finish it all.

I found myself getting cranky, stressed out and tired. Then I realized – duh – I should take my own advice and re-read this post.

It helped me. And I hope it helps you too.

Enjoy!

Yesterday, I realized that I had way too much Web writing stuff to do.

OK, granted. This is not an abnormal occurrence. Anyone who knows me knows that I tend to have multiple irons in the fire. I like to be busy.

But yesterday, was different. I had a bunch of Web writing projects – new home page copy for my site and new email autoresponders. I also had a client project and a conference PowerPoint to complete (SES Chicago is right around the corner.)

I was busy (Sound familiar? I bet you have your own super-busy story to share.)

Unlike most days when I buckle down and just do it, yesterday was different. My inner Heather-child was having a temper tantrum. It was too much stuff. I didn’t have time to finish it. I messed up and packed in too many deliverables in one day.

(OK, that last one may be true…)

If you could look inside my brain, you’d see me kicking and screaming and saying, “Nooooo!”

Why? Because I let the overwhelm monster get the best of me.

The reality is, I’ve worked this pace before. I actually thrive on it. However, I made a few crucial errors that pulled me out of the flow and allowed time for the overwhelm monster to sneak in and grab me. Here’s what happened – and here’s what you can do.

  • I was forcing myself to work when I wasn’t “on.” I can write a kick-butt sales page in 60 minutes. Or, it will take me six hours if I’m not in the flow. One of the hardest things to do (but oh, so important) is to pull away from the computer when the writing isn’t flowing. If you’re sitting slack-jawed in front of your laptop, you’re not working. You’re wasting time. Stop it.
  • I was working without any downtime. When I’m in a creative flow, nothing can stop me. I can wake up at 6 a.m. and work until 8 p.m. and not even notice that it’s dark outside. That pace works for so long, but it’s not sustainable. Unfortunately, I felt like I had to “make up for lost time” and push that creative flow a little harder. That was dumb.
  • I wasn’t making lists. Lists are a SEO copywriter’s best friend. You can get stuff out of your head, track your progress and have that sublime feeling of satisfaction when you cross things off. If I keep everything in my head rather than committing it to paper, it makes it hard to “turn off.” I keep thinking, “Don’t forget to…” and “I need to remember this tomorrow.” What’s worse, I was thinking about stuff like that at 3 a.m. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think anyone has “happy thoughts” at 3 a.m.

Fortunately, I wasn’t a complete dunce. I did keep up on a few things – and I think having some self-care foundation helped me slay the overwhelm monster faster. Those were:

  • I exercise. A lot. It helps me sleep, it keeps me fit – and most importantly, it burns off my stress. I may not like running three miles. But I do like the runner’s high that comes after it. When you have your nose thisclose to a monitor all day, you gotta do something to move.
  • I eat well.  I learned my lesson the hard way around this one. I used to drink about 6-8 shots of espresso a day. Plus use yummy treats like donuts to spike my blood sugar and force a writing focus. Not anymore. After my doctor had a little talk with me (the word “hospital” was used,) I realized that I was revving my engines way too much. Now, I eat a lot of protein. I monitor my carb intake. I avoid sugar – mostly. And I feel way, way better.
  • I’m learning how to balance work and play. Some folks would work all the time if they could. I am one of them. However, my work is fresher and I’m feeling happier when I pull myself away from the keyboard and do something fun. Maybe that’s a walk. Maybe it’s a movie. Maybe it’s lunch with a friend. I used to feel guilty about “taking time away from work.” Now I know – activities like that enhance our work. Not detract from it.

The good news is, I got all my work done. The overwhelm monster almost got me this time. It was close. Fortunately, I was able to pull away from the computer, cook a good meal and take a little downtime. By the time I got back, the writing just flowed…and the overwhelm monster was nowhere to be found.

What about you? What techniques do you use when you feel the overwhelm monster creeping up on you?

Taking my own advice…

Give yourself a writing break now and then!…and taking a break from writing.

This past week has given me a much-needed hiatus, allowing me to replenish the creative reservoir.

If you feel like you’ve been running on creative fumes, consider giving yourself a break. It doesn’t have to be a matter of weeks – and often that isn’t an option. But even giving yourself a few days away from the keyboard will allow room for new ideas, fresh perspectives, and unexpected sources of inspiration.

Try it! You’ll be glad you did.

Will be returning to my own keyboard next week – until then, take care and have a fantastic weekend!

 

Does your company blend in? Or stand out?

Stand outYour company is amazing. You have a great story to tell – and unique benefits to highlight.

So, why doesn’t your SEO content showcase your awesomeness?

Maybe it’s because you’re actually writing afraid instead of owning your power.

Why blend into the masses and do what your competitors are doing? Instead, shout about your unique qualities! For instance:

Maybe your company has blenders so powerful, they can chew through iPads. Maybe your experience has helped other struggling business owners.

That “stuff” is important – to your customers, to your team, and to your prospects. And it helps you make sales.

Your SEO content challenge this week:  Pinpoint one thing that makes your company awesome. Then write about it.

That means finding your voice and showcasing what makes you different. After all…

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” – Dr. Seuss

(And yes, Dr. Seuss can teach you about copywriting. Here are some additional tidbits.)

Are you “too close” to your web content and you can’t see your company’s awesome opportunities? Let me help. Contact me today – I can help you showcase your expertise and drive more sales!

 

Write sexy SEO content (for any industry!)

Are you faced with writing content for a “boring” industry?

You don’t need to replicate your competitor’s campaigns. Nor do you have to write page after dull page (resisting the urge to poke your eyes out with every word.)

You just have to think of an unique angle to “sexify” your content!

When I say “sexy,” I don’t mean pictures of well endowed women wearing low-cut shirts and push up bras. You may get some temporary play with that technique, but it will also turn off a certain segment of your audience.

What I mean by sexy is something that grabs your readers’ attention and doesn’t let go. Something that’s unique, viral – and miles away from what your competitors are doing.

Here’s an example:

Blend your way into your users’ hearts

Do a search for “blenders,” and you’ll find all sorts of resources. Buying guides, spec sheets, recipes – everything that you would expect. If you’re a hard-core juicer and foodie like me, you realize early on that conventional blenders won’t cut it anymore. You need a beast of a machine to grind nuts and smooth out the most kale-stuffed smoothie.

Vitamix is a premium brand well-known for their powerful blenders. Their home page is pretty standard:

Vitamix

Is Vitamix’s approach “wrong” or “bad” – no. But is the content inspiring? Meh. It’s cool, but not so cool that you want to run out and see one in action right now.

In short, it doesn’t inspire you to change.

Compare this to Blendtec’s “will it blend” campaign:

Will It Blend

 

Got an iPad? You can blend it. Got superglue? You can blend it. It kind of makes you want to grab a new Blendtec blender and start grinding things up, doesn’t it?

Now that’s sexy.

Look at your man…now back to me

Another example is the fantastic Old Spice ads. Aftershave commercials are typically pretty formulaic – man uses aftershave, hot women flock. And of course, these ads were typically targeted to men.

Old Spice did things dramatically differently. Yes, it’s a product for men – but certainly, the ad campaign was made for a woman (but done in a way that even men can appreciate it!).

Old Spice

(I still laugh every time I hear, “I’m on a horse.” The ad campaign may be an oldie, but it’s a goodie.)

Did this campaign work? Heck, yeah. Sales increased over 107 percent from June to July, 2010. Obviously, people changed their behavior and started buying Old Spice – even if a lot of men previously thought that Old Spice was what “their dad used to wear.”

Could you use a shirtless male model to sell pipe fitters? Probably not. But what the Old Spice and Blendtec example shows us is – you can do things differently. You can shake it up. And yes, your target audience will reward you for it.

It just takes a little out-of-the-box thinking.

What about you? What are your favorite “sexy” sites for boring industries?

Do you want inspiring content for your site? Yes! My team can write pages for you – or I can  personally train your team. Contact me for details.

Stop chasing shiny things and write great content instead!

Shiny dollarIs your company trying to implement the latest marketing “it” thing…

…yet you hate your site content, it’s not positioning and you haven’t blogged in months?

You need to stop chasing the latest shiny marketing platform and go back to basics. Right now.

I know this is hard to do. Especially when you read blog posts saying, “It’s time to jump on the bandwagon…before your competitors do!”

Uh oh.

Lusting after the latest marketing platform isn’t bad. But you have to shore up the basics first.

- Do your product and services pages read the way you want?

- Does your content’s tone and feel resonate with your readers?

- Do you need to edit your content?

- Are you helping your readers make a change, or are you writing for Google?

Get your site in order first – and then go wild. You’ll be amazed at the difference (and the increased conversions, too!).

Have you been meaning to rewrite your content pages – but your team is already busy, stressed and frazzled? Let me help! Learn about my SEO copywriting services today.

 

What Seth Godin can teach you about SEO content

Heart puzzleTell me if this sounds familiar.

The marketing and SEO teams brainstorm the keyphrases, do the research and determine the keywords that represent strong content opportunities. Then, the writing team takes over and writes 500-word articles on “How to find the right cataraft for your trip,” or “Why Pilates reformer classes help people with back injuries.”

This process is technically accurate. But it doesn’t capture the essence of creating commanding SEO content. It’s a piece of the puzzle – but it’s not the whole puzzle.

What you really want to ask is: How can your content help people to change?

This difference struck me as I was reading a comment by Matthew Newman on this blog post. He quoted Seth Godin as saying:

“The only reason to build a website is to change someone. If you can’t tell me the change and you can’t tell me the someone, then you’re wasting your time.”

Certainly, the “someone” would be your target reader (if you don’t have a customer persona document, you need to implement this step before writing another word.)

But let’s talk about change.  Here’s the reality:

The content you create – whether you are a B2B or B2C – can help your readers make changes they want to make. In fact, the more your content prompts that change, the more successful your site will be.

Deep, yes. But think about it…

Buying behavior is driven by emotion, pure and simple. The unspoken question during every buying decision is how can this product or service help the purchaser:

  • Make more money
  • Feel superior
  • Feel sexier
  • Relieve themselves of guilt
  • Calm fears
  • (And a host of other emotions)

Sure, we say that our buy process is rational and logical. But that’s just what we tell ourselves. We don’t cancel our cable because of FOMO (fear of missing out.) We buy the anti-aging cream because we want to feel young and sexy. We invest in the get-rich-quick scheme because – well – the possibility of having unlimited funds feels powerful.

We buy solutions (not things and not services) that lead us closer to how we want to feel. We want more happiness, less fear and a whole lot of peace of mind.

Commanding SEO content taps into these fears, hopes and desires. Because that’s where the “change agent” lives. It’s not in the readers’ rational brains. It’s deep, deep down.

Rather than writing another dull buying guide, think about your reader. Really think about what turns her on, what makes her happy and what inspires her. That changes the focus from “write another guide” to “help someone make a change.”

The key to this is telling stories – stories you know will resonate with your reader.

If you’re writing about Pilates reformer classes for back injuries, you could share how people are finally living pain free – without drugs – for the first time in years. All they did is take a couple classes a week for three months. Interviews, video and before and after shots can help prompt that change (getting people to sign up for their first class.)

If you’re writing about catarafts, help the person feel the strength and security of the raft as it careens through Class IV Grand Canyon rapids. Pictures, stories and highly descriptive text can make your case (and help someone feel like they can make it through the Canyon successfully.)

It’s all about how you frame your writing.

Isn’t it fun helping people make a change?

Is it time for a change? Learn how my SEO copywriting services and my customized training solutions can help your company.

 

 

Are you overtraining your writing brain?

Overtrained copywriting brain

It’s OK to give your writing brain a break

Have you been furiously writing – and finding that the words just aren’t coming?

If the writing muse has been with you, it’s frustrating to feel writer’s block attack your brain. You read what you’ve written and know you could do it 100 times better (and faster.) You just don’t know how.

That’s when the paranoid thoughts start slipping in. “I’m on deadline. I don’t have time for this. How do I tell my boss/client that this is the best I can do?”

Writing is a lot like exercise. It take a long time to gain mastery. And, like exercise,  you can overdo it – basically, you overtrain your writing brain and need a break.

If this sounds like you, take a chill pill. Acknowledge the overwhelm monster. Ask yourself if you’re holding yourself back. Give yourself permission to take a break.

You’ll be back to creating spectacular content in no time. Trust me.

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Is your corporate ego messing up your SEO content?

Woman writing for ego

Is your SEO content all about you?

A common SEO content marketing mantra is “Write for your reader.”

The challenge is, many companies have no idea what the heck that means. All they know is that they “should write lots of content.” Because “writing content helps get better Google rankings.”

Sure, the ranking benefits of SEO writing are important. I can’t deny that. But let’s pull SEO off the table for a second and ask the question…

Who are you writing for? Your ego? Or the people who can actually pay you money?

Long before Google, experienced copywriters would dive deep – very deep – into the readers’ psyche. We’d figure out what made them tick, what kept them up at night and how we can help solve their problems.

(If you’ve ever watched Don Draper’s client pitches on Mad Men, that’s exactly what he does. He’s a master at knowing what buttons to push.)

But then, SEO copywriting came to town. And companies started believing that the old writing rules no longer applied. It wasn’t about the customer anymore. It was about the Big G.

If you want to create commanding SEO content (and I know you do,) you need to break free of ego-based writing.

Here’s how to tell the difference between the two mindsets.

If you’re writing SEO content for your ego…

- Your top concern is getting Google rankings. Always.
- You don’t poll your readers and ask what they want to know more about.
- You don’t tap into common questions customer service responds to every day and use those topics as blog post ideas.
- Your sales copy is full of “me me me” statements. There’s not a lot of focus on benefits.
- You aren’t reviewing what your competitors are doing and learning from them (gasp – learning from a competitor? How COULD you?) :)
- You don’t care if people engage with your writing. High bounce rates are just fine.
- You write the way you want to write, dammit! You’ve never tried altering your site’s “voice” because that’s not the way you do things.

If you’re writing for your readers…

- You look at your bounce rates and see how you can make the pages even better.
- You can easily talk about your reader profile (or profiles) and the content they like to read.
- You’ve actually asked your readers what they want to read about. And you give them what they want.
- If the site’s “voice” wasn’t working, you’d rewrite the content – even if that meant hiring an outside source and spending money to make it happen.
- Your sales copy is reader-focused, with a very helpful, benefit-oriented slant.
- Although you write with SEO content best practices in mind, your first priority is making your reader smile – not a #1 Google ranking.

It’s time for your company to check your corporate ego at the door. That means going back to the basics and doing what  works – know your readers and give them what they want to read – the way they want to read it.

Next week, I’ll be sharing a little bit more about how to make that happen. Stay tuned!

What are your biggest challenges around in-house content writing? I’d love to read your comments!

Does your company want to create great content – but you aren’t sure how? I can show you how easy it is – really! Learn more about my customized SEO copywriting training.