Browsing articles tagged with " Copywriting"

SUBREDDITS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING AND SEO

Aug 10, 2012   //   by Abel   //   internet marketing, link building, SEO, SEO Blog, Social Media  //  16 Comments

Reddit has been continually rising in popularity since first emerging on the scene back in 2006. Today, it is one of the most popular social news sites of its kind, proving to be a great alternative for those who have grown tired of competitors such as Digg and StumbleUpon. Reddit often calls itself the front page of the internet to play on its growing reputation as a digital newspaper of sorts. And just like newspapers have categories and sections, this site has something similar known as subreddits, a feature that can come in handy for the savvy social marketer.

Screenshot from reddit.com

A subreddit is essentially a category or subcategory that has a community of reddit users built around a specific topic or area of interest. These categories are finely targeted and can be set to either public or private by the creator. Examples of popular subreddits, as chosen by the user community include:

- Askreddit

- Gaming

- Pics

- World News

- WTF

These examples represent broad general interests, of course, but the subcategories on reddit go much much deeper. For instance, you can find subreddits on specific topics such as World of Warcraft, Indie Gaming, and even presidential hopeful Ron Paul. While each area of interest has its own moderator, community members are able to contribute by submitting and rating content from around the web that is related to the topic at hand. For everyday users, subreddits provide an easy way to quickly access the content that matters most. For marketers, they provide a way to generate visibility and meet business objectives.

Benefitting From Your Own subreddits

Perhaps the best thing to like about subreddits is the fact that anyone can create them. There are numerous benefits to setting up your own, starting with the community aspect. If fellow redditors share your interest, it could easily lead to a situation where users are commenting, sharing, and engaging in other ways that keep the community alive with activity. The site has millions of active users, all interested in something. What this means is that unless your area is built around an obscure topic like “overhanded Bolivian bowling techniques”, there is a great chance that you will be able to attract others who share your passion.

subreddit for seo anchor text
Anchor text is “Lil Wayne quits music” under “Music” subreddit

The big payoff to having your own subreddits is increased traffic. All that activity combined with solid content means it is highly likely that people will want to pay a visit and learn more about what you have to offer. Make sure your newly created subcategory is listed on the subreddits page, pass the word along to your connections on the site, and the possibilities are endless.

Summary

Some observers have gone as far to say that subreddits are what have enabled reddit to surpass Digg in the social bookmarking arena. This is not as farfetched as it may sound considering it is one of the platform’s most important features. Whether it is streamlining content discovery or building a community around your own, social marketers can make great strides by putting this essential element to use.

Abel

Abel is a writer, online marketing expert, and advocate for email marketing software company, Benchmark Email.

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Who Will Do a Better Job of Capturing the Right Tone and Feel of Your Blog Business?

May 15, 2012   //   by Bill   //   blogging, Copywriting, link building, SEO, SEO Blog, Social Media  //  21 Comments

While press release writing is specialized work, there are many cases of businesses wanting to write their own press releases instead of outsourcing the work.

It might be that you are a new startup with a limited marketing budget (and thus want to avoid the costs), or maybe you feel that yourself or an in-house employee will do a better job of capturing the right tone and feel of your company.

Whatever the motivation, there are pros and cons to both approaches. This content will discuss the advantages of both options, and then (hopefully) help you make the right decision for your company.

Writing Press Releases Yourself

After reading through this blog post, you should have a clear idea of what is required to write a press release. In short, you need:

  • A good story.
  • Good writing skills (specific to press releases).

There are distinct advantages of writing your own press releases, and I would fully encourage you to do so if you can consistently write well (or have an employee to write for you). If you are unwilling to invest in an employee, or unsure of how eschewing a professional PR service can help you, read through the following reasons:

Cost

A professionally written press release can cost you anywhere from $200 to $500. Considering that this is just a 1-page document, which will eventually contain information that you will provide, this seems an exorbitant price.

Personalized

While press release writing services make every effort to personalize every press release, there is a distinct style for each writer and for each company as well. Personalized ‘style’ of press or media releases. A powerful example of this is Google – check Google Press for a sample of effective personalized press releases can be.

Be warned though. This is not something easy to accomplish. As press releases are terse, 1-page news items with a very big emphasis on content, it is difficult to establish a style.

Practice will help you improve, and if you feel that the identity and image of your company will be better served by writing the press release yourself rather than outsourcing it, then make sure you read many different press releases from other companies to get a feel of how to build your unique style.

Other Benefits

Being directly involved with your industry, you are in the best position to highlight the advantages of your ‘news’ to your potential consumers and competitors.

You will be able to provide relevant, current information and your insight into your industry will also help you to pinpoint which news hook will be most successful.

Verdict

Matching the expertise of a professional press release writer is a difficult task. On the other hand, in-house press release writing, especially if done by an employee, can be ‘good enough’ if due attention is paid to getting the details right.

Professional Press Release Writing

Despite the obvious advantages of writing your own press release, a professional press release service gives you specific, money-valuable benefits:

Experience

Professional press release services have the advantage of having working in this field for a lot longer than you – they have written (hopefully) dozens of press releases, and know the industry inside out.

As such, they are well placed to avoid mistakes that beginning press release writers might make and are likely to produce good, reliable press releases.

Of course, there is also a chance that the press release might not be what you are looking for – maybe the writer gets the tone wrong, or underplays certain features that you wanted to give prominence to.

The added experience will also ensure that the writer will be able to judge better whether the information you’ve given him is enough, not enough or too much. In addition, there is the value of having an ‘outside’ perspective. Outsourcing your press release to an independent PR service will:

  • Allow them to present the news in a more realistic light.
  • Discourage you from making a press release without having effective content.

Be careful about putting too much faith in the press release service to tell you what is right or wrong, however. The responsibility of ensuring that there is enough ‘newsworthy’ information in your press release is yours, not of the service.

Time

A press release can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a day to write, revise and get just right. If you are part of a fast-paced company where you measure your time in hundreds of dollars, then spending that much time on a press release might seem expensive especially since you can get better results by outsourcing the press release.

Do not underestimate the time required to write a press release – for your news to be a full-blown success, every little detail has to be just right.

Verdict

It’s just a 1-page document. Why does it cost so much?

I’m faced with that question every day. Considering that you will still have to provide a lot of the information to the press release service, it seems ridiculous to pay over $200 (and up to $500) for a press release. But in the end, it’s the results that justify the costs.

A professionally written press release will always have a better chance of being accepted for distribution, and the experience of a professional PR service will serve you will in making your press release successful.

Another factor working in the favor of professional press release services is their ‘package deals’ – a promise to distribute your press release at a discounted rate if you have your press release written by them.

Costs vs. Expertise

I’ve been saying this throughout the content, and I say it again:

Your press release is (almost) worthless without newsworthy information. Keep this point in your mind as you make the choice between writing the press release yourself (using the advice in thisblog post) and outsourcing it to a professional press release service. Where will that newsworthy information come from? From you.

In fact, even if you outsource the press release, the bulk of the information put in the press release will come from you, either as part of the original specifications presented, or from the questions that the writer will ask you to help him write the press release.

So what are you really paying them for?

Their experience – press release writers have considerable, battle-field knowledge of writing press releases – the kind that only comes through time. You are also paying for their language and marketing skills, as writing a press release requires a specific writing style that does not fit into traditional sales copy.

Don’t hire a sales letter writer to write your press release until you are sure they have experience in writing successful press releases.

However, if you are willing to learn and apply the knowledge from this content (or have an employee as a suitable candidate), in-house press releases can be just as successful as those from a PR service. The key is to do two things repeatedly:

  • Ensure that you are fully prepared.
  • Differentiate between traditional sales copy and press release writing and make the effort to write ‘in a reporting, unbiased style’.

Choosing the Right Service

While this content goes a long way towards helping you write your own press releases, the primary aim is to guide you into preparing the best press release for your company, each and every time.

And sometimes, a company does not have the time, or the technical skills, to dedicate resources towards in-house press release writing.

In such cases, outsourcing your press release requirements becomes necessary. This section, although concise, will help you in picking the right service for your company.

Hiring a PR service

If you are looking to hire a professional press release service, make sure that you complete the following checklist.

  • Does the service have a portfolio or a client’s list? Make sure that you can see visible results, and don’t be afraid to ask for proof.
  • Compare costs and services between different PR companies to make sure you get the best deal.
  • Understand the fine print. Some PR firms may not allow for more than 1 revision, and some also don’t allow for free consultations – which essentially means that if the PR firm decides that your ‘story’ is not newsworthy, you would have ended up paying for nothing.
  • Don’t automatically jump for combined packages (press release writing and distribution). Make sure the investment is worth it, and that you see a list of the media contacts (at least their names, if not their contact information) that your press release will be distributed to.
  • Themed distributions are very different in impact to generic distributions, so don’t fall into the trap of paying less and actually getting something that is worth nothing to your company.
  • If you like the company’s portfolio, try to negotiate a discounted package in return for bringing all your press release business to them. PR firms would normally not refuse long-term business relationships, and the promise of continued business can possibly lower your long-term costs as well.

Hiring a freelance writer

Of course, if the cost is a really serious issue, and you cannot have the press release written in-house (for various reasons) then you may be better served by outsourcing to a freelance writer.

There are several online freelance websites from where you can hire good writers – Elance and RentACoder are the most popular, and most effective.

With freelance writers, there is the advantage of saving on money – a good press release can be written for $100 or less. On the other hand, there is a risk of not getting what you really want.

I’ll not go into the details of how to ensure that you don’t get your money’s worth as there are many ”freelance hiring”guides on the Internet (some good, some bad, and some bad copies of good guides).

Just make sure that you follow the same pattern as you would when hiring a PR service – check their portfolio, and do your best to provide them with complete information.

RentACoder has many safeguards that prevent buyers (like you) from projects that go bad, so trust the system and follow their advice.

However, one bad apple does not make everyone else incompetent. Freelance websites are full of hard-working individuals wanting to earn good money – make sure that you find someone who is capable of doing the job, and then enjoy the benefits of a well-written press release for a fraction of the price.

What is your opinion on DIY vs Professional writers?

Bill

Bill Achola is on a mission to help small business people get traffic they deserve. If you’re one of them, check out his Affordable SEO Service for Small Business that will drive targeted traffic to your website. Be sure to follow him on Twitter

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Using JavaScript to Hide Content: Advanced White Hat SEO?

Oct 18, 2011   //   by Darren Slatten   //   Contests, Copywriting, Google, SEO  //  28 Comments

If you provide some kind of SEO-related services, there will come a time when your client or boss looks you in the eye and says something like this:

“Yeah, so about those page edits you recommended…

We’re actually quite happy with the current design of our landing page, and our tests have shown that adding text to the page actually decreases conversions. So…um…is there any way you could optimize this page…like…without adding all those words to it?”

To most SEO’s, the idea of achieving top rankings in a competitive niche–without putting keyword-rich content on the page–is unrealistic if not downright ridiculous. But from a design perspective, we also have to acknowledge that text and keywords are not always what’s best for Users. Sometimes, the best User experience comes from a simple, minimalistic interface with no distractions.

The Google home page itself is a perfect example. Arguably one of the most valued resources on the Web, and certainly one of the most visited, google.com currently displays a total of 25 words.

+You Web Images Videos Maps News Gmail More Sign in Google Search I'm Feeling Lucky Privacy Change background image About Google Advertising Programs Business Solutions

But what if Google was your client, and they wanted you to optimize their home page to rank for keyword phrases related to search engine

Would you recommend something like this instead?

Google home page with Wikipedia-style text

Hmm…no, that’s not going to work. So it’s kind of a Catch-22, isn’t it? On the one hand, you’re trying to satisfy your client and their Users by providing a slick, clutter-free interface…and on the other hand, you’re trying to be mindful of Google’s relentless addiction to plain text content. So what do you do?

Well, if you don’t know how to code basic JavaScript (or you’ve seen how bad Google sucks at reading JavaScript and thus avoid it entirely), then you probably pick content over User interface, pollute the page with stacks of keyword-dense garbage, and hope that the potential increase in search traffic eventually makes up for the immediate loss of conversions.

But what if you didn’t have to choose? What if you could fill your landing pages with SEO-friendly content…without it getting in the way of your Users?

Luckily, there’s a solution. It’s called hidden content.

* GASP! *

That’s right, folks…if you’re trying to improve your website’s User experience without hurting your search engine rankings, then you need to start hiding some content–ASAP. But you can’t just hide it anywhere–you need to hide it somewhere where search engines will see it for sure…but Users won’t.

Wait... isn't that SPAM?

That depends on a number of variables, but the short answer is:

No, it’s not spam. It’s not even gray hat SEO. Hiding content is perfectly acceptable, as long as you do it right.

Which brings us to the million-dollar question…

What is the right way to hide content?

Unfortunately, Google isn’t likely to provide a useful answer anytime soon. So you know what? I’m going to take a crack at it. Seriously. I’m going to make a genuine effort to lay down some technical guidelines for all the aspiring content-hiders out there, and I’m going to do so without pretending like “your intent” has anything to do with it.

So here we go. First I’m going to suggest the guidelines; then I’m going to provide a working example that incorporates all of these best practices.

Basic Implementation Techniques for Content Hiding

  • User Friendly – Hidden content implementations should improve the User experience and must not impair the User experience.
  • Dynamic – Hidden content elements must have a visible state–a set of conditions under which the hidden content is visible and readable by Users. The visible state must be capable of being activated by a browser event. The event should be automatic (e.g., document.onload) or it should be triggered by Users’ actions (e.g., element.onclick). In the case of Users’ actions, the trigger element should be conspicuous and intuitive.
  • Accessibility – Hidden content should not be implemented in such a way that it causes the content to be inaccessible to Users with disabilities or Users who rely on screen readers or similar devices.
  • Progressive Enhancement – Hidden content must default to a visible state when rendered in a browser that either doesn’t support JavaScript or doesn’t have JavaScript enabled. A document in which all hidden content elements are in the default visible state should provide a User interface that is functional, cohesive, and reasonably intuitive.

A Perfect Example of Hidden Content

If you don’t really understand the BITCH, don’t worry–I have an example for you. And this isn’t just any ol’ example; this is my attempt at creating a perfect example.

Let’s say you have a news blog with the 10 most recent stories showing on the home page. For whatever reason, you decide that the home page should include the full text of each post. The problem is…your Users are overwhelmed by all that text, and all they really want is an easy way to scan the latest headlines before they choose a story to read. The solution…hide some content!

This example has two versions: the original plain text version and the modified “hidden content” version. As you can see, the User experience is much better in the modified version, simply because it’s easier to navigate (especially on a mobile device that requires swipe scrolling). But the real magic is in the code, so take a few minutes to view the HTML and JavaScript source. Before you go check it out, I’ll leave you with some questions/concepts to think about:

  • Compare the HTML source between the two versions. What differences do you see?
  • What happens to the Hidden Content version when JavaScript is disabled?
  • What is the likelihood of Google flagging the Hidden Content page as suspicious or deceptive?

Plain Text Content

Plain text content example

Hidden Content

Hidden content example

 

Download the Hidden Content Example

The live examples linked to above are hosted on GitHub. This means you can easily download the source code files for your own personal or commercial use (files are released under a non-restrictive free software license). And for the truly advanced SEO’s out there: you can even fork it or suggest improvements via pull requests.

Download the Hidden Content example source code files!

Darren Slatten

Darren Slatten is one smart mofo. Some say he's the World's Greatest SEO. When Darren isn't studying SEO or web programming, he's usually busy developing online marketing strategies and web hosting solutions for local small businesses. Darren also likes to use keyword-rich anchor text in his guest blog bio links, but only when it makes local SEO for small business sense to do so.

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Panda, Panda, Panda

Oct 11, 2011   //   by Amanda King   //   Contests, SEO Blog  //  23 Comments

Or Why Panda is the Marsha of the SEO World

google panda logo mashup

from seo-hacker.com

Everyone talks about it. Constantly. “Oh, my rankings dropped because of Google Panda,” or like just recently, the SEO world is all a-twitter over the new algorithm roll-out of Panda. It’s perpetually on people’s minds and has their tongues wagging. And I want to shut them all up.

Honestly, I don’t see why everyone is so surprised. Technology is constantly evolving – just turn out your pockets and see what gadgets fall out – so why shouldn’t search engines and the internet evolve with them? Even the internet is evolving – and social media – the red-headed stepchild of SEM is going through pubescence at an alarming rate. Everything is growing up around (and because of) search engines – so growth in the capabilities of search engines is inevitable.

If it wasn’t already obvious, I’m a writer. So the main thrust of Google Panda – to weed out s$^* content in whatever form – doesn’t phase me. I’ve always been an advocate of having unique, informative and relevant content on your website. Sitting down for a few hours a day for a few weeks to write unique descriptions (even just one or two lines per product) makes a huge difference. And I’m not the only one saying so, so don’t take it from me.

But it seems like what is straightforward to me is not so straightforward to everyone else. Let me vent my frustrations about customers who don’t understand the value of content and educate you at the same time! Two (angry) birds, one stone. (Gee, look. I made a funny…)

Angry birds

from rovio.com

Your Homepage is Not an Infographic

Yes, you heard me right. Your homepage is not the place to use just images. An image may be worth 1,000 words, but only if you can see it. While it may be pretty to have big, high quality images that dominate the above-the-fold of your website, frankly, it’s stupid. Especially if your developer doesn’t know CSS3 and the @font-face rule – any non-web-ready font that you use (unless you buy the license, and who does that…) will be cut and pasted into your site as images.

Thus, your website would look like basically a blank slate to search engines. Plus, the higher the quality, the bigger the file, the longer the load time. Not good.

And for customers, let alone search engines – having a massive block of images does not immediately inform them what your site is all about. You want to make sure you do that, too, or your bounce rate will go sky-high.

My rule of thumb is to have at least 150 words of text on your homepage – basically, a short paragraph. And to make sure any text is actually TEXT and not image blocks.

Screenshot of Picture People's homepage

Picture People starts off well, but then they fail, because their very clean, modern-retro slider is all image. Fail.

Loosecubes homepage screenshot

And I would like to kiss the feet of whomever dev’d Loosecubes. Basically all of the textual elements that I ran across on the homepage were actually translated into text, and those that weren’t probably couldn’t be anyway. Follow their example (though unfortunately they don’t have my rule of thumb one paragraph of text – but rules are meant to be broken, right?).

Become A Resource

Have an e-commerce site selling yoga mats? Don’t just have unique product descriptions – but become a yoga resource for your clients. Have a page talking about different yoga styles. Have a page talking about the health benefits of yoga. Keep a blog and update it frequently with new and cutting-edge information on the industry (whether or not yoga can be “cutting edge” is another question…bad example choice?). And if you don’t want to write it – head over to MyBlogGuest and browse the topics there.

This should intrinsically make your website sticky – though keep your content length reasonable and break it up, of course. People are going to stay and read if you put the information out there, and engage with the community.

And a by-product of that stickiness is that you will be kept top-of-mind for clients – more and more research is showing now that not only is it long-tail keywords that make your conversion, but return visitors rather than initial visits. People shop around these days – a byproduct of the economy tanking.

Seriously, how do people not understand this?

Optimize Your Media…

Or goodness, have media! Make sure that your images aren’t too big and properly alt-tagged, offer product reviews, connect all your social profiles – badges and the whole shebang – for chrissakes, have a YouTube channel and make a few videos (and embed them on your site)…a big part of the content revolution in search engines is the push to really include not only social media metrics but also social media involvement. Just do it.

And Now I’m Running on Steam…

So that is the end of my rant. Do you see now why this all seems so straightforward to me? You want visitors to convert into customers, and the most obvious way – to me – to do that is to have the most interesting stuff to say.

Amanda King

Amanda King is a writer and search engine marketing specialist at Mountain Media in Saratoga Springs, NY. She has wanderlust like whoa - she wants to go to Romania next. You can find her and more of her writing on Google+.

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The Seven Secret Steps to Irresistible Blog Posts

Oct 5, 2011   //   by Andrew   //   blogging, Contests, Copywriting, SEO Blog  //  19 Comments
La Defense, Paris

Go on. Follow these irresistible steps to success...

It’s easy to get hung up on the words you write. As a top blogger, you’d be foolish to not at least consider them. After all, words, sentences and paragraphs are your bread and butter.

But once you’ve worked out what to say and the tone in which to say it, do you take the time to consider the format?

Because if the layout of your copy isn’t readable, nobody’s going to stick around to see what you’ve written. And that renders all your well-chosen words redundant.

So read on and learn the secrets that are going to ensure your target audience is going to read all the way to the end.

The Seven Secret Steps to Irresistible Blog Posts

Master the Art of the Paragraph

We all remember when we’re obliged to start a new paragraph. When you change topic, change time or change place. That’s what your teacher told you at school, so you just keep ploughing on with the same rambling paragraph until you’ve exhausted the topic, run out of time, or moved to sunny Tijuana.

You credulous buffoon. Why on earth did you think your teacher was right?

Here’s the one time you need to change paragraph. Doesn’t matter if time, topic and place are still the same, there’s one point when you need to hit that return key.

When dramatic effect demands it.

A quick, single sentence paragraph is visual shorthand for “this bit is important”. So make use of them when you’re sharing something groundbreaking. And watch as your reader starts to scroll down looking for the next one.

Or for something just as arresting…

Hit ‘em With a Hail of Bullet (Points)

What have great bloggers and successful gangsters got in common? Other than a penchant for whisky cocktails and jaunty hats?

That’s right – they both know how to fire bullet points with deadly accuracy.

Why are bullet points so effective?

  • Visually arresting – a bullet point hits you like, well, a bullet between the eyes. You can’t ignore it. You stop and read.
  • Clear and concise – it’s impossible to ramble on a bullet point. You’re throwing out pure, distilled information
  • Breaks up blocks – people won’t read a wall of text. Liberally scatter your bullets, and your layout remains fresh and interesting.

Stop Skimmers by Sprinkling in Subheadings

Skim readers love subheadings. It’s pretty much all they’ll stop for.

And you want a skim reader to stop, because if they don’t, they’re scrolling all the way to the bottom, off the page and out of your life.

So unleash a few content speedbumps to slow them down. Enticing and enlightening subheadings help your readers to find the content they find most useful or interesting – so they’ll make a bee-line straight for it.

And then they’ll read it.

And if they’ve slowed down long enough to read a whole subsection, they’ve slowed down long enough to write a comment, hammer out a tweet, or buy your eBook.

Not bad for a bit of bolded text.

The Internet Can’t Say No to a Funny Picture

He might be able to write Shakespeare, but he can't format it

By now, the reader’s concentration is beginning to flag. All the typographical tricks are keeping them on the page, but you need to cut them some slack.

So throw in an illustration or two.

Preferably one that backs up your points – and don’t forget to add an amusing caption, just to re-enforce your message. Because long after they’ve forgotten the exact wording of your advice, they’ll remember that the funny monkey told them just how to keep people reading.

Beef Up Arguments With Block Quotes

By now, you’re coming around to my way of thinking. You’re plotting sublime subheaders, and coming up with cunning captions.

But something’s nagging at the back of your mind. Wouldn’t this post be truly, completely irresistible if you could just see a second opinion?

Block quotes are a great way of providing a second opinion. As they’re generally from another authority on your subject of choice, they carry weight.

And because they’re visually interesting, they fulfill the same role as bullets points and subheaders – they force the reader to slow down and pay attention!

Mr603 – Outspoken Member of the Twitterati

Yeah. That’ll just about cover it.

Think About Your Font

What font is your blog written in?

I can say with some certainty that you’re probably not going to have a clue. Which is frankly ridiculous if you want to create a truly irresistible post.

The art of font creation is a huge subject that I don’t have space to get into here. But prove the power of the font to yourself. Copy this post into a word processor.

Now set the font to Comic Sans or Vivaldi.

I think that proves my point. Don’t you?

 Avoiding Irritations

Follow the six secret steps, and you’ll have framed your content in an absolutely irresistible way. But don’t rest on your laurels yet, dear blogger.

Because you’ve still got a final chance to throw it all away. By irritating your readers and driving them from your site, never to return.

Irritating blog quirks could fill a whole post to themselves, but there are two content killers that you’ll need to avoid at all costs:

  1. Pop Ups: I know you want your reader to sign up to your mailing list. But please don’t hurl a pop-up at them after they’ve just started to read. It’ll break their concentration and raise their hackles. Just don’t take the risk.
  2. Pagination: We’ve all got mouse wheels. So don’t split your post into seven chapters across seven pages. Because a blog reader will scroll for miles and miles to read your content. Just don’t expect them to click.

So there you have it. The seven secret steps to making your blog’s content truly irresistible. You don’t need to use all seven techniques in everything you post, but keep all of these techniques in your locker, and you’ll find your audience to be far more responsive.

And who can blame them? You’re totally irresistible.

Andrew

Andrew Nattan is the wholly modest genius behind the Unmemorable Title copywriting blog. If you really loved this post, you should probably follow him on Twitter and subscribe to his RSS feed. And if you didn’t, you can always email him threatening messages.

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3 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Call to Action

Sep 19, 2011   //   by Chris Help   //   Copywriting, SEO Blog  //  4 Comments

Whether you need to create landing pages for various products you’re selling or you’re providing copy for your home page on your business site, your call to action is one of the most crucial pieces of the puzzle. Nevertheless, tons of people get it wrong. In fact, many business websites fail to have any call to action whatsoever. I’ve even had clients ask me to take the call to action out of the copy I’ve done for them. It never ceases to amaze me.

But assuming you’re open to the idea of a call to action, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of yours.

1.       Avoid the generic—Yes, “Contact us now!” is nice and urgent sounding, but urgency isn’t the only thing your call to action needs. You need to avoid the generic line and add some specifics. Otherwise, you run the risk of sounding like one of those late night infomercials. How do you circumvent the generic? Make sure you explain what’s in it for the customer.

2.       Don’t forget the “how”—Research is conclusive: customers need to be told what to do. Like sheep, they need to be led directly to the proverbial slaughter. But guess what? They won’t get there unless you tell them how. You can tell a sheep to go lay down all day, but until you guide him there, nothing’s going to happen. In the same way, make sure your call to action tells the customer the exact step you want them to take.

3.       Make it visible—Yes, good copy usually ends with a strong call to action. But is it possible it can get lost there? Maybe. Assuming your copy is good enough to lead the reader all the way to the end, you still need to do something to make the call to action stand out. Italics or boldings are good for that.

But what happens if your potential customer never scrolls to the bottom of the page? For this reader, you need to make sure you have a call to action that shows up before they ever have to scroll down. Maybe at the end of the first paragraph, maybe on a button at the top of the page…

It may seem silly, but a simple sentence or two can truly make the difference between an interested party and a paying customer. What else do you do to better your calls to action?

Chris Help

Chris HELP started his own copywriting agency, HELP! Copy and Design, a few years back as a sort of side project to showcase his passions. But what ended up happening is it snowballed into full-fledged thriving business. So whether you need press releases, SEO articles, or good old fashioned high-conversion copy--he's ready, willing, and more than able.

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Surviving the Blogging Hangover

Aug 18, 2011   //   by Chris Help   //   blogging, SEO Blog  //  12 Comments

So we talked about BWI (for those just no joining us, that’s “blogging while intoxicated”)—but what about what follows? You know, the blogging hangover.

Everyone’s experienced it. You wake up early in the morning and force yourself out of bed. You wince as you plop down in front of your computer and turn on the screen. Forced to shield your eyes from the piercing light, you groan as you face the reality—what the hell are you going to write about this morning? And furthermore, how the hell are you going to get rid of this pounding headache?

Yep, you have it. After a night of overindulging in BWI bliss and having the best post of your life, you’re facing the blogging hangover. Now what?

Blogging Hangover Cures

  • Rehydrate—Anyone who has ever drank too much knows that the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is get a big glass of water (or as I like to do, stick my head under the faucet). Well, similarly, when you’re dealing with that blogging hangover, you need to rehydrate. In this case, that means you need to pull up your favorite blogs and pour through them. The more you refill yourself with good content, the more likely you are to suddenly have a great idea for your next post.
  • Eat something greasy—The only good thing about a hangover is it gives you a great excuse to eat something terrible for you. What’s better than that giant, greasy burger to calm your twisted, churning stomach? So what does this mean for blogging hangover cures? Same thing. Take a break and go get something to eat! Give your mind a minute to clear and give your brain some fuel. It’s much harder to think of a topic for your next post if your stomach is growling. Your brain just can’t focus.
  • Pour yourself another—As a last resort, or just for the true alcoholic, if all else fails you can always hit the bottle again. Another drink the day after will quench that hangover in no time. Of course it will also lead to BWI again. But hey, if the BWI leads to another hilarious, engaging post…does it really matter?
  • Go back to bed—If all else fails, give up and go back to bed. Look, sometimes your hangover just isn’t going away until you sleep all the way through it. And sometimes, no matter what you do and how hard you stare at your screen, you just aren’t going to come up with anything good. If you continue to sit there, the only thing that will come of it is a really crappy post. Do yourself a favor and go sleep it off. Try again tomorrow. 

I’m writing this at 5 AM. So glad I’m not dealing with a blogging hangover today. But then again, I wasn’t engaging in BWI last night. I try to keep that to the weekend as much as possible so I can get up early and get to work.

What about you guys? Anyone suffering from a blogging hangover? How do you guys handle it?

Chris Help

Chris HELP started his own copywriting agency, HELP! Copy and Design, a few years back as a sort of side project to showcase his passions. But what ended up happening is it snowballed into full-fledged thriving business. So whether you need press releases, SEO articles, or good old fashioned high-conversion copy--he's ready, willing, and more than able.

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Buzzed Blogging is Drunk Blogging (How to Write a Blog Post That People Will Remember)

Aug 12, 2011   //   by Chris Help   //   blogging, Contests, SEO Blog  //  23 Comments

Sheena MelwaniI have a confession to make. I have an ice cold Shiner Bohemian Black Lager sitting next to me as I type this. Sure it’s no Shiner Bock, which happens to be my favorite beer in the world, but it’s a pretty solid beer—Shiner’s #2 selling beer, to be exact. But anyway, I’m drinking this beer as I blog in remembrance of a post I read a year ago, “Why You Should Blog Drunk.” It was part of The “Bad Ass” SEO Guest Blogging Contest. In fact, it was posted on this very blog.

If you go back and read the post, it wasn’t actually advocating drunken blogging. Instead, it was a metaphor for how the no B.S. in-your-face-who-cares-what-you-think attitude you get after two too many drinks would serve you well as you blog.

But what can I say? I tend to take things quite literally. Excuse me a minute while I go grab another beer.

An Idea That Sticks with You

However, the fact that I’m actually drinking as I blog about a post based on drinking and blogging isn’t really the main theme here (albeit it is certainly an interesting little side thread).
What I’d really like to focus on here is why I still remember that post a year later. And I bet I’m not the only one that remembers it.

Now I haven’t actually spoken to Gerald about how much traffic that post got, but it did get well over 100 tweets. So I’m going to guess it was pretty successful. The question is—why? What did Jennifer Van Iderstyne, the author of the post, do to make it so memorable?

To be honest with you, I haven’t really thought it out yet. But as soon as I get another beer I’m going to dive into it and figure it all out. Excuse me for a second.

Why “Why You Should Blog Drunk” Was Such an Awesome Post

Okay, where was I? Oh yes, what was so good about that post… okay let’s start from the beginning:

  • The Title Caught My Attention There are lots of good titles out there. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the catchier the title, the more people will want to read it. But in this case, the title isn’t just catchy. It’s different. And not only is it different, but the whole “Why You SHOULD Blog Drunk Thing” made me think Wow, how in the world are they going to argue in favor of this?! See, if the title had been “Why You Should NOT Blog Drunk,” then I wouldn’t have been as intrigued. Of course you shouldn’t blog drunk. Any rational human being would agree. Instead, she took the opposite of the obvious answer and made it work. That’s skillzzz.
  • The Metaphor Wasn’t Forced or Trite Metaphors are hit or miss. And when it comes to blogging, a field that is flooded with a few really good writers, a lot of decent or average writers, and a BLEEP LOAD of really terrible writers…well let’s just say you get a lot of crappy metaphors. And these crappy metaphors can be broken into two categories. Either they are really forced and try to compare two things that are absolutely not related (I’m trying to write a post comparing the Houston Texans to copywriting on my personal blog but haven’t figured out how to avoid this pitfall yet). Or the metaphor will be so overused that I want to kill myself halfway through the post. Example? Eh, don’t want to call anyone out. You know what I mean.  But this post… comparing blogging to drinking. Wow. And not just the act of drinking, but the mindsets you run through as you progress through a drunken night. I’m serious—it’s genius.
  • It gave me something I could use that I hadn’t already read or thought about How often do you feel like you’re reading the same old crap over and over and over. Seriously, go to one of those sites like SERPd.com and come back and try and tell me that half the stuff isn’t just the same BLEEP, different BLEEPhole. Hey, even I myself am guilty of this. You are too. After all, it’s difficult to come up with completely original themes every time you blog.

But those posts we all do from time to time that don’t really offer anything new—they don’t resonate with people. They don’t stick with you. They’re just filler to meet a quota. You know, getting that link you want so bad.

Don’t shout me down because I’m telling the truth.

How Would You Grade This Post?

Okay, I’d say that about covers it. Now let’s take what I’ve determined makes a sticky post and apply it to what I just wrote. Did I succeed in creating a memorable post? Or did I feed you the same ol’ BLEEP?

Comment and let me know while I go grab another Shiner.

Chris Help

Chris HELP started his own copywriting agency, HELP! Copy and Design, a few years back as a sort of side project to showcase his passions. But what ended up happening is it snowballed into full-fledged thriving business. So whether you need press releases, SEO articles, or good old fashioned high-conversion copy--he's ready, willing, and more than able.

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To Outsource or Not to Outsource? That Is the Content Question (Among Others)

Jul 29, 2011   //   by Chris Help   //   blogging, SEO Blog  //  10 Comments

So I subscribe to lots of email lists. And I mean lots. Do I ever buy anything from them? Nope. So why do I do it? To get ideas. All sorts of them. Marketing ideas, ideas on what NOT to do, product offering ideas, even article and blog ideas. In fact, I got the idea for this post from another I just read.

Now before we go any further, understand this: I don’t mean to say you should rip off someone else’s content by any means. Instead, you should look for something that strikes a chord with you and use that as a spring board for your post. And that’s exactly what’s happening here.

Last night I was going through email and clicked a link that took me to a post entitled Google Thinks Article Marketing SUCKS. Since one of the key pieces of my business is writing articles for article syndicators, the author had my full attention.

Of course, the topic is nothing new. SEO guys have been arguing back and forth about the value of article syndication for quite some time. But since the whole PANDA deal (debacle?), the debate seems to have heated up a few degrees. Read more >>

Chris Help

Chris HELP started his own copywriting agency, HELP! Copy and Design, a few years back as a sort of side project to showcase his passions. But what ended up happening is it snowballed into full-fledged thriving business. So whether you need press releases, SEO articles, or good old fashioned high-conversion copy--he's ready, willing, and more than able.

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Do You Know These 5 Brutal Facts About Building A Successful Website?

Feb 14, 2011   //   by Scott Bradley   //   link bait, SEO Blog, Social Media  //  18 Comments

How many website owners have said this to you?

“I don’t get it! I am writing killer content on my blog, but don’t understand why my site is not building traffic or authority within my niche! I am at a loss about what to do, can you help me?”

As a reader of this blog, I am sure you come across many individuals like this.

The Truth Will Set You Free

Here are the brutal facts that you must know, if you want to solve this problem for yourself and for others that you work with.

Brutal Fact #1: Creating high-value content for your website is only one integral part to creating a successful internet marketing and website traffic driving strategy.

If you believe that only writing content on your blog will effectively bring traffic and links, you are sadly mistaken.

Here is some advice…

Stop listening to those individuals spreading the adage “If you build it they will come” because it isn’t doing you any favors. Planning out your content, and hitting the publish button is only half the battle. (The other half is generating traffic and links.)

While there may be the one in a billion exceptions every now and then where published content magically becomes viral, the chances that this will happen to you are very unlikely.

Brutal Fact #2: You must know how to leverage the traffic that will be driven into your site or else driving traffic to your blog will be a waste of time.

Here’s the truth…

You can take the time to create an awesome blog post and drive a ton of traffic through it, but if the content within your site doesn’t generate leads, or close sales, you are wasting your time exerting the effort to create the content and drive traffic to it in the first place.

Understanding how you will fully leverage the content on your site, and how it will fit into the entire website strategy to reach your goals is important. If you don’t have a pre-defined path taking your visitor from your content to a sale or other call to action…stop everything you are doing right now and take the time to figure it out.

Think about the exact step-by-step process you want your visitor to take after reading your blog post.

Do you want them to sign up for an e-mail list, send them to the products page, watch a video, or have people re-share the post? Make sure you have this figured out before you start publishing and driving traffic! I see too many entrepreneurs screw this up and waste time!

Brutal Fact #3: For your site to start generating a substantial amount of traffic and backlinks quickly, you will have to create and leverage your trusted Internet and in-person relationships.

Why do you think individuals who help websites drive a massive amount of visitors through them are massively connected? Do you think that is by accident?

It obviously is no surprise to those who know this secret! Here is the thing…

Taking time amid your busy schedule to grow current relationships and create new ones with individuals in your niche, is one of the unspoken secrets of successful bloggers and website owners.

Here is a tip: Make sure that when reaching out to new contacts, your intention is to create a win/win situation between the both of you. Always focus on what you can do to help the other person out first, and then more often than not, they will want to help you as well.

Brutal Fact #4: Having an understanding of your market, and knowing how to effectively create content for that market is an essential skill.

 

(This also includes having the copywriting skills to format content effectively that will capture and hold a visitors attention and lead them to a precise call to action.)

If you don’t know how to write killer posts for your site that will resonate with your market, you will definitely experience challenges.

Even though you think you may be creating high quality content, step back for a minute and ask yourself, “Is this piece of content something my market wants, and is it formatted in a way that will hold their attention from beginning to end?”

If you can’t say yes to this question quickly, go back to the drawing board and find a way to fix it.

Brutal Fact #5: Understanding how SEO and social media work together is a must when it comes to building backlinks and driving massive amounts of traffic through content on your site.

When you understand the impact how social media affects SEO, you really have the keys to the kingdom.

Knowing how to leverage your current relationships to drive the traffic into your site and create the backlinks to content with the appropriate anchor text, results in ranking high in google. The high rankings cause more continual traffic that is generated into your site long term from the search engines for key search terms.

Mastering these two moving parts takes skill, but they wouldn’t be possible if you didn’t focus on always continually building win/win relationships with individuals in your niche.

Summary

You can’t just write great content or create a website and expect the mere act of creating content to get you what you want, without the knowledge of how social media works, and the necessary skill of building and growing relationships with individuals who will help you as you help them.

Make sure that you take the time to learn the necessary skills, and connect with those individuals who can help you. Continue to do this as you focus on creating the best content possible for your site. If you need help in this area, go to people who are doing it themselves and ask for their help, or buy their products that teach you how to do it.

Scott Bradley

Scott Bradley is an entrepreneur and marketer who works with other entrepreneurs helping them to increase sales without increasing their marketing budget.

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