Tag Archive: content writing

  1. The Key: How Keyword Research Can Get Your Content Read

    keyword research

    It’s not sexy. That’s the first thing I need to get out of the way before I tell you more about keyword research. Smart use of keywords, however, is a highly effective way to help readers find your content. Before I jump into some simple strategies for choosing the right keywords, let’s back up and define exactly what they are and how they function.

     

    What is a Keyword?

    First off, you may be surprised to find that when most experts say “keyword” they often actually mean “keyword phrase.” Keywords (or keyword phrases, when discussing multiple words) help search engines figure out what your content is about and whether it’s the right content to share given a certain search. For instance, say I’m looking for a plumber to fix my sink. Being an Orlando resident, I might pop into Google with a search query like “best Orlando plumber.” 

    Turning the tables on this example, if I’m Johnny the Plumber and serve the Orlando area, I’d be wise to craft content that includes the keyword phrase “best Orlando plumber.” This will increase the chances that I’m found when Orlandoans search for plumbing services.

     

    How Does it Work? 

    Google and other search engines are notoriously tight-lipped as to exactly how their algorithms work. However, we do have some idea about how keywords help your content. Google does something rather remarkable: It takes all content published to the internet and has bots review and test its relevancy and reputability. These bots can often sniff out copy/pasted content, spam and other less valuable resources, throwing them to the bottom of search results. 

    It’s in Google’s (and any other search engines’) best interest to deliver only the most relevant, most helpful results to any search query. Keywords come into play because these bots are also looking for recurring phrases that users often search for in part or even verbatim. If a Google bot notices your content mentioning the user’s search terms (keywords), it may deliver your content above others.

     

    What’s the Catch?

    So, what’s keeping content creators from stuffing their content with keywords? In the early days of search engines, nothing. But Google has pulled the curtain back on their algorithm enough to tell us that simply stuffing content with keywords isn’t going to get you far – in fact, doing so will be counted against you. If a keyword is obviously thrown into your blog or webcopy in an attempt to game the system, Google will spot it and flag it as less-than-quality content. 

     

    Picking the Right Keywords

    Keyword research is invaluable to finding the right phrases for your content. You may think that you need expensive apps and years of training to conduct such research but I promise it’s not as intimidating or complex as it sounds – at least when it comes to understanding the fundamentals. 

    At its core, keyword research is driven simply by understanding who your audience is, what they want and how they will ask for your product or service. By putting yourself in your audience’s shoes, you can more accurately assume what they’re searching for and, thus, what keyword phrase to use in your content. After all, it’s not you, as CEO or brand manager, who will be searching for your product or service – it’s your audience.

    Still not confident in your keyword research skills? As a common blind spot for many marketing and brand managers’ content strategies, there are plenty of keyword research tools available, some including free versions or free trials. Though helpful, it’s important to think of these tools as supplementary as opposed to a singular solution. The most powerful keyword research tool at your disposal is your deep understanding of your audience.

     

    Boiling it Down

    Though all of this information is good to know, you may be asking yourself what takeaways you can bring to your company’s content strategy. Here are some key questions you need to ask when trying to choose the right keywords.

    • What is my content about? Remember, the main job of search engines is to connect people with the content they’re looking for. If your keywords don’t match your content, the search engine gives you a big thumbs down and throws your content lower on the results list. Ensure the keyword is indicative of the content itself, and not just a poor attempt at gaming the system.
    • Who is my audience? As stated earlier in this post, knowing who is asking the question will help you better guess how they’re going to ask it. If you know how your audience will search for your services, you can choose a more effective keyword.
    • How vague or specific is my keyword? Something else to consider is the vagueness or specificity of your keyword. Though you may assume selecting a keyword like “plumber” would net you into more searches, it might be too vague to make an impact. Why? Well, the person searching for “plumber” could be looking for anything from a stock photo of a plumber to the definition of plumber. Something more specific, like “best Orlando plumbers,” would be more effective.

    At the end of the day, SEO and keyword research are far from exact sciences and, no, they’re not the sexiest of content marketing topics. However, producing original content that includes well-strategized keywords is, and will remain, a vital best practice. As long as search engines prioritize quality content that best serves users’ queries, keywords are a component of content strategy you can’t afford to ignore. 

  2. The Power of Positivity: How Positive Framing Can Improve Your Copywriting

    positive framing

     

    In life and marketing, the delivery is just as important as the message. Whether you realize it or not, you probably frame your messaging every day. Though some may interpret that thought as permission to tell half-truths, that’s expressly not the point. Instead, it is meant to teach a valuable copywriting lesson – the way you say something matters.

    There are two main strategies when framing your message: positive or negative. If I’m a plumber, I might frame a new ad for pipe replacement as:

     

    Negative: Your pipes may be ready to burst.

    -or-

    Positive: Strengthen your pipes for years to come.

     

    As you can see, the negative take may seem direr, but it’s also a downer that could turn consumers off from your services. That’s not to say that going negative is always the wrong choice. Anti-smoking campaigns, for instance, often focus on the negative effects of tobacco to emotionally resonate with their audiences. At its worst, this “loss framing,” as it’s called, can come off as unnecessarily alarmist.  

    The power of positive framing is perfectly illustrated in the famous framing experiment conducted by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman in 1981. The experiment presented a hypothetical question about a risky treatment for 600 people afflicted with a deadly disease. Participants were presented with one version of the following treatment. 

     

    Negative:  The treatment has a 33% chance of saving all 600 people and a 66% possibility of saving no one.

    -or-

    Positive: The treatment has a 33% chance that no people will die and a 66% probability that all 600 will die.

     

    The result? 72% of participants presented with the positive framing said the procedure was worth the risk. Only 22% presented with the negative framing followed suit. Similar results came from other negatively and positively positioned scenarios. 

    There are plenty of ways to choose positivity over negativity in your copywriting, and doing so can attract new clients and keep the ones you already have. For example:

     

    Negative: You could be overspending

    Positive: You could save money


    Negative: Don’t use unsafe equipment

    Positive: Use safer equipment


    Negative: Stop being unhealthy

    Positive: Be healthier


    Negative: Stop being a bad writer

    Positive: Improve your writing

     

    When promoting your business, you should understand that your clients have a problem that your product or service can solve. Instead of focusing on the problem, focus on your product or service as the solution. That not only makes your content less of a downer but also inspires your audience to see your company in a positive light.

  3. Audience Above All: A Can’t-Miss Tip for Blogging and Content Writing

    It’s a muggy Friday night. Looking for a laugh, you shuffle into a packed comedy club as the lights dim and a silhouetted figure takes the stage. A spotlight suddenly floods the stage, revealing…wait…is that? Yes, that’s Dr. Phil, here to discuss the dangers of repressed anger in long-term relationships.

    -record scratch-

    This is not what you signed up for. How do you feel? Probably a mix of shock and anger (the non-repressed kind) at not getting what you wanted or came for. Understandable, right? Yet many people still risk this reaction by not understanding their audience.

    This is especially true in the case of content writing. So, before you ever put pen to pad or fingers to keyboard, do your research and know your audience.

    Why?

    Simply stated, if you’re not writing to a specific audience, you are writing something made for no one. Your content may connect with someone but not as deeply as it could if you had written to a specific audience. That allows your content to be more concise and, ultimately, more helpful and valuable. Blog posts, web copy, social media posts and any other content you produce can all be improved by knowing who it’s for before deciding how you will write it.

    Your audience informs you of everything from your tone (casual or professional) to your vocabulary (verbose or simple). Though you certainly have creative license to craft your messaging, it is wise to know who wants to read your work, as well as their preferences, expectations, wants and needs.

    How?

    Break down your audience into personas. For example, a dog walker may have target audiences that include 1) people who already use other dog walking services, 2) those who walk their own dogs regularly and 3) those who want a dog but don’t think they can adopt one without a dog walking service. Would you write tips for dog owners for someone who doesn’t own a dog yet? I’d think not. Would you write about the big benefits that come with using a service like yours to someone who already uses a dog walker? That may be overkill, so probably nothey already know how dog walkers are helpful.

    Categorize these audiences into buckets that specify who they are, what they care about and what their pain points are. Then, you can accurately tell if your story is one they need and want to hear, told how they want to hear it.

    In Practice: The Bagel Shop Scenario

    Using the above information, let’s map an example based on a personal joy of mine: bagels.

    You own a hip bagel shop, The Bagel Bae, in a high-foot-traffic, metropolitan area known for its high-end shopping and dining. Your bagels may be a bit pricier than others, but they’re also made by hand every morning with only the freshest, locally sourced and organic ingredients. It’s time to, at long last, begin your bagel blog.

    Where do you start?

    Choose your target audience: Being in a relatively high-end part of town and offering quality, organic ingredients over affordability, you can safely presume your audience is:

    • Middle-to-upper class
    • Urban/suburban
    • Conscious of food sourcing
    • Interested in breakfast/lunch

    Much more can be sussed out based on a deep dive of who you’re serving, your local demographics and overall marketing planall of which should also be considered. These details about your audience should be well-realized at the inception of your brand (or re-brand), so your responsibility will primarily be in deciding which of these pre-identified audiences you want to target.

    Question your content: You have a vision for a blog post, which is great, but that idea needs to pass the usefulness test. Let’s say you choose the target audience of “Young Professionals.” This demo is 25-35 years old, may live in the city or commute from nearby suburbs and is extremely busy, trying to make a mark in their new careers. They may be health conscious, so your proposed blog post on “The 5 Ways Bagels Make for a Surprisingly Healthy Breakfast” should be spot-on.

    Write with intent: Knowing that your topic is suitably useful and interesting to your target audience, you can move on to writing. As you write, be sure to do so while keeping your audience in mind. Perhaps within this blog post you can mention the benefits an early carbohydrate load in your day can give you energy in the workplace.

    Always remember: Your brand has its own unique persona and voice, but it should be malleable enough to speak directly to each subsect of your audience base. By choosing a target audience, ensuring your topics and content are valuable to that audience and writing with clear intent, your content can be dramatically improved. In other words, with some focused and strategic thinking, you can make sure your content doesn’t end up a Dr. Phil at a comedy club.

  4. The Big Picture: Are Your Uploaded Images Affecting Your User Experience?

    User Experience

    I admittedly fall for the mantra of “bigger is better” more often than I’d like to admit. Burgers? Stack em high! TVs? Take up my entire living room wall, please. But when it comes to finding imagery for blogs, I know better than to upload the highest quality file I can find. But wait…don’t our dear readers deserve the biggest and best?

    Well, yes–yes they do. But ginormous (scientific term) images come at a price and provide little benefit past a certain point.

    How Oversized Images Can Ruin User Experience

    Though larger images are of higher quality, that quality can be wasted on your website. Why? Oftentimes, the naked eye can’t tell the difference between an oversized image and one that’s been appropriately resized; however, you’ll be able to feel it. Oversized images take longer for users to load, and if your blog post has multiple massive files, your site can slow to a crawl. Knowing the average modern attention span is next to nil, this can be bad news for your content and website.

    According to a handy article from OM4:

    • Images should be about 80Kb-100Kb or 20Kb-30Kb if the image isn’t the full width of the page
    • 2Mb-3Mb images can be resized to 80Kb-120Kb without too noticeable a dip in quality in most situations
    • Image quality can often be dropped by 30-50% without much consequence to the naked eye
    • When in doubt, after lowering the size of your image, test it side-by-side with the original to ensure your resized image isn’t becoming too pixelated

    It’s great to understand that images can be lowered in quality for the web without much consequence to the naked eye, but how, exactly, can you accomplish that?

    As a Mac-based agency, it’s extremely simple for us and the rest of the Apple fanboys/girls (cult). Simply open your image in Preview, select Tools, Adjust Size and export/save as needed. PC (and Mac users, if so desired) can use third-party image editing tools or Photoshop if available.

    If your website is on the popular WordPress platform, resizing your images is just as simple. Once you upload an image to your desired page, it is automatically loaded with options for Full Size, Medium or Thumbnails–essentially, large, medium and small. This makes choosing a smaller version of your selected image as easy as selecting Medium and moving on. Again, just ensure that your medium-sized image isn’t suffering from blurriness before hitting publish.

    Uploading images to your blog post (and site in general) is all about balance. Finding the perfect size that looks good and “feels” good by avoiding massive photo files that slow down your site is paramount to user experience. So, if you want people to read your content, make sure supporting imagery isn’t making your site a slog.