SEO and Web Writing
Getting to the top...
Content is arguably the most critical element of good SEO. Heck, most companies require heavy search engine optimization because their content stinks!
Think about what the search engine job is: find the best possible content for a reader’s interests. So, focus on great content and you’ll be ahead of the game.
The difficulty is that there’s more to writing the best SEO and web content than just a lot of words. It requires the right keyword frequency and combinations, plus focused page topics. On top of that, it still can't be boring junk words on a page!
So, to deliver professional SEO content writing, I focus on researching the product, the audience, and then build a topic based breakdown of points.
There's a lot of talk about what makes great web copy, and unfortunately, most readers want pictures, lists and big simple words. That doesn't do much for helping with rankings.
Building great web content is about understanding headlines, call to actions, and where to put your copy so it engages your readers. Working with the existing web designs, I frame keyword rich content that supports the customer's purchase path as well as rankings.
The challenge of any web writer is balancing keyword rich content with an easy to read format. You have to write for the reader first, without forgetting about your second audience, the search engine.
One of the easiest ways to understand the value of your optimization content is to use analytical tools. This can show the most popular online information, where people leave and what kind of elements of your content truly matter.
Cheers to Google for blocking a lot of the keyword data, but we can still get some good snippets from analytical tools. I can help companies interpret their data and make good decisions about their content strategy.
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I’m a nut for cooking shows. I’m not talking about drama-ridden, spoon-throwing reality shows, but the ones with absolute masters of culinary experience. Maybe it’s because I can draw so many parallels between great cooking and great writing.
I recently binged on Chef’s Table on Netflix (highly recommended) and revelled in the story behind each master. As I did, specific things stood out as metaphors for exceptional writing.
“We don’t want to sound like just another boring service provider." A small electrical company told me when discussing their website content. "We want to come across unique and appealing to homeowners, not just more corporate talk.”
My first thought was, ‘Are you just another boring service provider?’ I can understand a desire to stand out, but what would I want from an electrician? I want professionalism, collaboration and the ability to get the job done. If you pass that test, perhaps I’ll call for a quote. What’s really important to me is that what you say in your marketing matches what you deliver.
"It needs to be social at times and viral."
That sentence was one of biggest turning points in my career. Young, doe-eyed entrepreneur and slick marketing dude faced with the same jargon I slung for years. It was a proposal filled with buzzwords. The customer was asking for something they couldn’t define to fill expectations they couldn’t articulate. Nightmare.
I was reading some article on our love for garage sales. The quaint backyards and double bays opened with all the personals a lifetime has gathered, ready for bargains.
What is really appealing to people is that you’re buying more than just second hand treasure (or junk), you’re buying stories. A family cared for this furniture, children grew up and made memories with those toys and these tools lasted a generation and will continue to serve.
The beauty of archetypes is that we all know what they are, even if we can’t consciously place them. Symbols have always been powerful marketing tools because they carry a certain emotional weight, and provide shortcuts to meaning. There’s a symbolic connection with the image of a magician or ruler that transcends borders and cultures, and those are the roots of archetypes.
I go back and forward on the value of personas. Sometimes they are super-critical to your marketing approach, sometimes it becomes a factor of analysis paralysis. Considerable time has been wasted trying to create the perfect persona, so I try to simplify my characters more into habits than details. If you’re doing product development, sure, go nuts with your finer elements, but for marketing, we’re trying to intercept people.
When I used to tell people I did content marketing, nobody really understood what that meant. Even when talking with agencies and successful companies, most people think of content as writing, and people think of marketing as advertising.
“So you must write ads then?”
Content marketing is still so new to people that it shouldn’t surprise me how undefined it is. I’ve seen a few good definitions that relate to story telling and creation, but it you have to break it down into describing each part.
“Tell me how you provide value.”
“I’m not sure. What do you mean by value?”
“Why do you matter to companies? Tell me about one of your customers, and why they work with you.”
Marketing, and in particular content writing, always seems like an unpredictable path. Customer’s change their minds, people go on holidays, unexpected additions creep in; and before you know it you’re a month past due and people are screaming.
It’s not like you’re slacking off, so why are people so upset?
I don’t think it’s a revelation to most people that sponsored content exists. We’ve seen it in media, games and promotions for generations. So what’s different now? Now we’re seeing sponsored content inserting itself into mainstream journalism with any skepticism being met with shrugging shoulders.