Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How to Streamline Your Marketing Content Review Process

A thing worth doing is worth doing right -- but if you keep re-doing that thing just to get it to a certain level, then maybe the way you're doing it is wrong. Of course, high-quality marketing content is worth its weight in gold for any business trying to improve its impact on prospective customers and its reputation with the major search engines. But if you could get that content from rough first draft to gleaming final product in less time, and spend less money in the process, wouldn't you leap at the chance?

Well, the good news is that you can indeed make your content creation and revision system more efficient -- by tweaking your review process. Here are some tips:

Decide on a point person. If you have more than one person "in charge" of commissioning, evaluating and approving content, then you really have no one running the show at all. The confusion is compounded if you're trying to communicate your wishes to the writer through a third party such as a marketing agency. Pick one person to issue any and all requests for changes to the writer. If you're communicating with a marketing agency, make you're talking to the one person in that agency assigned to your account -- and make sure that person then sends the instructions to the one person who's supposed to relay them to the writer. 

Remove the extra cooks from the kitchen. Designating a chief decision maker won't solve your content review woes if that decision maker is listening to conflicting opinions from too many people in your company. This not only causes a massive slowdown as dozens of responses trickle in, but it can also turn the draft into an unholy mess of redundant or conflicting requests. Instead of automatically distributing the draft to everybody you can think of, give your email list some judicious pruning first. Who really needs to read and comment on this, and who doesn't? You'd be amazed at how much faster and smoother the review process becomes when you dispose of the "review by committee" approach.

Choose a decision maker who won't waffle. I had one client who'd rave over the wonderfulness of the press releases I was sending him, only to contact me a few days later asking for changes. I could tell from the attached email trains that he'd sent the draft out to various third parties (colleagues, friends, casual acquaintances) and gotten some suggestions back, most of which were horrifically off the mark. I was able to talk him out of these "improvements" fairly easily -- but that achievement just confirmed the underlying problem, which was that he allowed himself to be swayed with every breeze. Do not assign someone with this trait as your reviewer in chief! Give the job to someone with a firm, unwavering grasp of your marketing plan, or outsource it to a marketing firm staffed with such individuals. 

Streamlining your review process can be a big step forward in optimizing your marketing content machine. Hiring a copywriter with the skills and understanding to provide you with cleaner, stronger drafts in the first place is a pretty great idea too. After all, the easiest revision is the one you don't have to make!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Copywriting for SEO: Dos and Don'ts

I often hear clients say things like, "We need this marketing content for SEO purposes." But that's never completely the case. Search engine optimization can do great things for your online marketing efforts, but only if the content you use makes its own impression. Let's look at a few SEO copywriting dos and don'ts.

Do write content that naturally features your keywords. Keywords are pure representations of what matters to your audience. If you're writing a piece that directly addresses the concepts they're scouring the Web for, you can hardly help but use the words and phrases they're using in their searches. I mean, I couldn't write an article about copywriting for SEO without actually using that phrase. (I guess I could, but it would require a conscious evasive effort on my part.) This is the best kind of SEO copywriting -- the kind that laces keywords elegantly into the text to provide genuinely helpful information for those who actively seek it.

Don't indulge in keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing used to be all the rage back when the cyber-landscape resembled the Old West and you could get away with all kinds of black-hat SEO tricks. Some entities would create entire websites merely for the purpose of slapping as many high-ranking keywords into them as possible, whether they really had any relevance to the subject matter or not. Of course this caused a big spike in the offenders' search rankings, until Google finally cracked down on the practice by emphasizing relevance as the new gold standard for SEO success. But even without this new requirement, keyword stuffing would still bring you nothing but frustrated visitors in the long run. Even if your keyword is relevant, using it a hundred times per page isn't going to do wonders for the effectiveness of your writing.

Do create fresh content on a regular basis. The major search engines require proof from time to time that you're still a mover and a shaker. Google and others reward businesses whose content reaches and maintains a certain critical mass indicating that the businesses are working to provide helpful, engaging content for their clientele. The more content you upload, the larger a shadow you cast over the Internet, and this will boost your search rankings (or at least keep them from dropping in relation to your more diligent competitors). 

Don't post just for the sake of posting. Okay, so you need to update your online content periodically. That's doesn't mean, however, that anything you post will do your business good. True, sometimes the right keywords will draw traffic no matter what else you include. But if you post thin, irrelevant text, you'd better hope nobody actually notices it. No business ever profited from an enormous quantity of lousy marketing. Your content needs to deliver a meaningful experience instead of just serving as "clickbait."

Do optimize your titles. This post is entitled "Copywriting for SEO: Dos and Don'ts." Why did I choose that title? Well, that's what the article is about -- but it's also optimized for my prospective client base. Maybe you arrived at this article because you wanted learn more about copywriting for SEO, so you entered the keyword phrase "Copywriting for SEO." Or maybe you were concerned about what to do or not do when pursuing your own SEO strategies, so you searched for "SEO Dos and Don'ts." Either way, you're here reading this now, aren't you? Make sure your own web page/article titles pack the right keyword punch to draw the audience most likely to need your products or services -- don't just call it any old thing.

Don't write to a specific word count. Ask a marketing expert how many words a typical web page or blog article should be, and you'll get as many different answers as there are people to ask. In the area of blog article writing, for instance, I've heard everything from 200 words to 1,000 words suggested as the "best" length for a given piece. This is another situation where everyone is trying to guess at Google's magical word-count algorithm, as if there were such a thing. But the simple truth is that Google isn't concerned with word counts -- only with the relevance and authority of your verbiage and links. 

Does word count matter at all, then? Absolutely. Too little verbiage may skate over your subject instead of fully addressing, to the point that readers wonder why they bothered to click on you at all. Too much creates a wall of text that nobody has time to deal with. Remember, search engine optimization can bring more traffic to your site, but it can't make them want to experience it.

Think about these SEO copywriting dos and don'ts as you flesh out your marketing battle plan. If you've figured out your SEO strategy but not your copywriting solution, contact me and I'll help you put those pieces together!