5 Reasons Your Business Needs a Blog

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As a small business owner, you’ve undoubtedly got a lot on your plate. What’s more, you understand the importance of protecting your time: Everything you do during the course of your day needs to add value to your company, and anything that doesn’t fit that criteria is ultimately wasted effort. It’s for this reason that some business owners excuse themselves from blogging, assuming it to be something that’s ornamental at best, pointless at worst.

Actually, though, you might be surprised by how much utility can be gained from a well-maintained business blog. Plus, you don’t even have to handle the blogging yourself: There’s always the option of outsourcing it to ghostbloggers, like the pros at Grammar Chic.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s consider just some of the ways in which a blog can benefit your business—some of the ways in which it is most definitely not a waste of your time. Here are five of them.

Blogging Turns Your Website into an Invaluable Resource

Ultimately, you want your website to be a hub of information—a place where customers can have their questions answered, their pain points addressed, and their problems solved. You want to position yourself as an authority, and your products and services as remedies for what’s ailing them. A blog can help with this. Your company blog posts can authoritatively address common questions, provide product how-tos, list the benefits of your services, or explain how your industry works in a way that will resonate with consumers. The upshot? Consumers who are better informed, more trusting, and more likely to feel confident moving forward with a purchase.

Blogging Helps You Improve Your Website’s Google Ranking

We like to tell our clients that Google is a monster that constantly needs to be fed. That is to say, Google’s search engine algorithms are always prowling for fresh content, and the websites that rank the best are the ones that are updated regularly with fresh, value-adding content. A business blog is the single best way to regularly add content to your site, and thus can help you rank better and improve your visibility among search engine users.

Your Blog Can Be Repurposed for LinkedIn Pulse, Too

LinkedIn’s publishing platform, called Pulse, has quickly become one of the truly invaluable tools for establishing thought leadership. We use Pulse on behalf of our own company as well as many of our clients, and we’ve found it to be a significant source of website traffic, online shares, and more. What’s more, it can help you build credibility among your peers and name recognition within your industry. Best of all, you can use your regular company blog posts as LinkedIn Pulse fodder—another reason why blogging can be beneficial.

Blog Posts Make Great Email Marketing Content

Email marketing is still one of the most powerful and direct ways of reaching out to clients, but the challenge many business owners face is knowing what to say in their emails. Effective email marketing provides the reader with something of real value, and sending a link to a particularly substantive blog post is a great way to provide your email subscribers with something that’s free as well as useful—which is in turn great for improving your customer loyalty and engagement.

You Can Share Blogs on Social Media, Too

Finally, note that a good social media account includes both curated and original content; finding content from other sources is easy enough, but what will you do for original social media posts? The obvious answer is to share your blog posts, a smart way to keep your Facebook and Twitter followers in the loop.

A blog really can add value to your company—and if you want that value without having it eat into your daily schedule too much, contact Grammar Chic. Our ghostbloggers can help! Reach us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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7 Content Marketing Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make in 2017

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Many of us are still in the leaf-turning phase of the new year, eager to identify and implement key areas for personal and professional change. Perhaps some of your own resolutions include improvements to your company’s content marketing endeavors. And if not—well, maybe they should.

There is never a bad time to revise your content marketing mechanisms—to be more strategic about consumer outreach, relationship-building, and thought leadership. Getting more serious about content marketing can yield many benefits, and the good news is, making constructive content marketing resolutions doesn’t have to be anything too nebulous or complex: It can be as simple as learning from yesterday’s mistakes.

With that in mind, we’ve got some suggestions for you: Some content marketing mistakes we’ve seen before, and ones we encourage you to learn from as you move forward toward bigger and better content endeavors.

Mistake #1: Blogging Inconsistently

Anyone can resolve to start a blog. Even writing that first post can seem pretty easy. Maintaining robust and regular blog content, though, is another matter altogether—yet it requires consistency for you to keep your audience engaged, increase our search engine exposure, and develop your brand’s authority.

Mistake #2: Making Grade-School Grammar Mistakes

Be honest: Have you ever posted a company blog that interchanges your with you’re, or that mixes up their and there? These aren’t just little errors. They make your business look shoddy and unprofessional. Make sure you have a skilled editor proof your content before it’s posted.

Mistake #3: Overlooking SEO Opportunities

You don’t have to be a technical whiz to fill in the meta description for your company blog post (WordPress and other content management systems will offer you a place to do this), or to include a few judicious keywords in your posts and your titles. Don’t forfeit these opportunities to tell the search engine what your content is all about.

Mistake #4: Missing Email Marketing Opportunities

Remember that when you post a really good entry to your blog, it’s something you ought to be promoting everywhere—and that includes in emails. Your email marketing list is a great place to turn when you want to get attention for a new piece of content. Spread the word, and make sure you’re conveying real value to your readers.

Mistake #5: Misusing Social Media

Your Facebook and Twitter accounts aren’t just for promoting your latest products or sales, though that’s certainly a good use for them. You should also be using them to spread meaningful, value-adding content, though—not just your company blog posts, but curated content from other industry resources, too.

Mistake #6: Poorly Formatting Your Content

Are your company blog posts difficult to read—or difficult to skim? Sub-headings, lists, and bullet points can really make life easier for your readers. If nothing else, shorter paragraphs are generally recommended.

Mistake #7: Not Offering Value Through Your Content

It ultimately comes down to what you’re writing about: You should be developing content that truly makes life better for your readers, answering their questions and posing actionable solutions to their problems. Otherwise, why would they bother?

Content development happens to be our strong suit—so if you’re looking for a hand in making big content improvements in 2017, give Grammar Chic a call at 803-831-7444, or visit us at www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Brand Management, Content Marketing, Content Writing, Email Writing, Social Media

5 Bad Job Search Habits That You Need to Break

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Nail biting. Interrupting people when they speak. Eating junk food. All of us develop a few bad habits over the course of our lifetime, and if we’re really alert, we’ll take note of them and work to break them. The same holds true in the job search. Jobseekers can’t help but pick up a few less-than-helpful practices, but success depends on breaking those habits and replacing them with healthier ones.

So what are your bad job search habits? Maybe you’re already aware of them. If not, allow us to list five of the most common examples. If you recognize any of these habits in yourself, it goes without saying that you should try to turn over a new leaf!

Bad habit: Being vague about what you want.

Say you’re at a party or a networking event, and you mention that you’re looking for work. “Oh, what kind of a job are you interested in?” someone might say. Don’t respond with something generic: “Well, I dunno, maybe something in marketing… or something where I can write… really anything that’s creative…” Nobody wants to hire someone so wishy-washy. It’s better to have a specific job search objective, and to be ready to voice it—like a well-honed elevator pitch.

Bad habit: Applying for every job you see.

Some jobseekers take sort of a scattershot approach to their job search, throwing out five or 10 applications every day to any and every open position they see. It’s almost impossible to truly follow up with such an all-over-the-place search, though, and being focused on applying for only jobs that truly fit your skillset and career objective makes more sense.

Bad habit: Using the same resume for every job.

This goes back to what we said about being generic. Each job opening calls for its own, precisely honed resume—one that highlights how you’re a good fit for that specific role. Having a few versions of your resume that you can choose from is invaluable.

Bad habit: Trying to be too creative with your resume.

Some jobseekers are constantly looking for new fonts, formats, or colors that can set their resume apart—but in the process, they are undermining their own professionalism. The best way to stand out is with a resume that’s organized smoothly and highlights achievements and core competencies clearly.

Bad habit: Not following up.

Applying for a job is one thing, but following up on an application is where the magic usually happens. If you’re not in the habit of routine follow up, it’s time to get there!

Another habit we recommend? Periodic resume tune-ups from the Grammar Chic team. You can start the process by giving us a call at 803-831-7444, or by visiting www.grammarchic.net.

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10 Questions for Your Web Developer

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Your company’s website is sort of like its virtual storefront—so when your website gets a facelift, it can almost feel like you’re moving into new digs, or at the very least getting a major renovation. That’s something you obviously want to approach strategically, and doing so means communicating your vision to the designer, while also making sure you have the right expectations about the finished product.

If you don’t have much experience talking to Web designers, you may be unsure of what to ask. Allow us to recommend a few basic, important questions to get you started.

What Should You Ask Your Web Designer?

  1. What’s my role in the process? Your designer will need to solicit your opinion or obtain information from you at various points, and if there is any delay in your response, it could stall the whole project. Make sure you have a good sense of what’s expected of you.
  2. What are the most common hold-ups in the process? Along the same lines, you might ask your designer where projects usually stall, and how you can avoid that happening.
  3. What resources can I provide up front? Most designers will be happy to receive marketing materials, brochures, links to old websites, etc. to get some sense of your style and your branding choices.
  4. What’s the process for adding new content to the site? What do you do when you have another part of the page that you need to add, and how much will it cost you?
  5. Will the site be hard-coded? What you’re asking here, basically, is whether the site will be done in old-school HTML format. Be warned: If the answer is yes, you will have to depend on the designer to make site updates for you!
  6. How can I update the site? Make sure the designer shows you around the CMS dashboard, allowing you to easily make small tweaks or additions to the site as needed.
  7. Will the website be responsive? A responsive website is vital for mobile friendliness. Make sure you confirm this with your designer.
  8. What are all of the costs associated with this site? You’ll want to know up-front the costs associated with the domain, hosting, etc., all of which may be in addition to the fee charged by the designer.
  9. How will we discuss revisions? You may have some tweaks you want to make to the designer’s initial mock-up, so clarify how that will go down—how you’ll communicate, how promptly you can expect those changes to be implemented, etc.
  10. What are the content needs? Your designer will probably need you to provide written content for each page—but how much? And are there any SEO requirements for your content to meet?

Have Your Content Handled by the Pros

Speaking of content creation, that happens to be our forte—and we would love to help you develop the written collateral for your new site. Ask us about our process today. Contact Grammar Chic at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Why the Holiday Season is a Great Time for Job Searching

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There are countless excuses you can make for suspending your job search through the month of December: You need a break. You want to enjoy the holidays. Nobody’s really hiring anyway. Most companies are worried about end-of-the-year financials and holiday parties. You can start your job search again in mid-January, once things are back to normal.

We’re here to tell you that, in spite of all the excuses, the holiday season is actually a great time to look for work. If you’re already searching, keep doing it—full speed ahead. And if you’ve been thinking about launching a new job search, there really is no time like the present.

Reasons to Job Search During the Holidays

Why do we think the holiday season is so ideal for job searching? Here’s our argument:

Your competitors are taking time off for the holidays. You might assume that hiring managers receive many fewer resumes and cover letters during the holiday season—and you’re not wrong. That’s all the more reason for you to step up and seize this opportunity to shine in a less-crowded field of applicants.

You’ll have a lot of opportunities to network over the holidays. Parties, open houses, charity events… this is a season that brings with it plenty of chances to meet and mingle, which can really be an asset to jobseekers.

You have a great excuse to reconnect with old contacts. The holidays give you a perfect reason to send quick emails or LinkedIn messages to former colleagues and classmates, and to let them know you’re thinking about them and wish them a happy holiday season. Of course, you can also let them know you’re in the market for work.

You may actually have an easier time reaching hiring managers. It’s not unusual for administrative assistants and mid-level managers to take holiday time, so if you call a potential employer, there’s a decent shot of you connecting more easily to the ultimate decider. This gives you a unique opportunity to form a connection!

You can position yourself for January turnover. The beginning of the year can bring a lot of departures—so even if you’re not hired before Christmas, you can at least have your name in the ring for a shot in January.

You can prove yourself to be serious. Job seeking over the holiday season is, as we’ve already established, a pretty bold move—and it’ll show hiring managers that you’re really committed.

Make Your Move

There’s no time like now to put your best foot forward—and one way to do so is to spruce up your resume. We’d love to give you the holiday-season resume overhaul you need. Contact our team at Grammar Chic to make it happen: 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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4 Keyword Errors That Can Tank Your SEO

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Keywords are critical for successful search engine optimization (SEO), but they can also be stumbling blocks. We’ve all been to websites where the keywords were so dense and so awkward that the text didn’t read naturally, or offer any meaningful insight to the user. By the same token, you’ve probably struggled with blog posts or web pages that simply didn’t generate any SEO traction, likely because of insufficient keywording.

In other words, working with keywords requires some balance. To help you achieve it, we’re going to run down four of the most common keyword mistakes—technical errors that can sink your SEO endeavor. We’ll also provide some hints for avoiding them.

Common Keyword Mistakes—And How to Avoid Them

Only choosing short-term keywords. Before you can implement keywords, you have to select them—and many SEO novices spend too much time and attention on shorter, more general search terms. The problem with choosing a keyword like “plumbing” is that it’s just not how users tend to search for things; at the same time, it happens to be really expensive to rank for, especially with PPC ads. A long-tail keyword—“affordable plumbing in Charlotte, NC,” for example—better reflects user habits, and also provides more room to be competitive.

Keyword stuffing. When people ask us how many keywords they should be using, we generally just recommend that they use the words naturally. Keyword stuffing is when you use so many keywords that any semblance of meaning is lost. For example: “Looking for a good Charlotte, NC plumber? There are many Charlotte, NC plumber companies to choose from. Talk to a Charlotte, NC plumber by dialing into our Charlotte, NC plumber hotline today!” If your text doesn’t read naturally, you’re probably stuffing it with keywords—and that can actually lead to search engine penalties.

Going off-topic. Is your chosen keyword “Charlotte plumbing expert?” And are you using “Charlotte plumbing expert” 10 times within your text? If so, then the content needs to be about Charlotte plumbing experts. If it’s about something totally off-topic, that’ll just infuriate readers—and, again, land you with search engine penalties.

Forgetting title tags and meta descriptions. There are the most crucial areas for including keywords—so if you’re not filling them in strategically, you’re missing prime SEO opportunities!

Get Your Keywords in Order

If you’re struggling to balance content creation with keyword deployment, our Web copywriters would love to lend a hand. Contact Grammar Chic to learn more, either at 803-831-7444 or at www.grammarchic.net.

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6 Factors That Help Your Website Rank Well

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Clients are always asking us: How can we get our website to rank as #1 in the Google search results?

And the answer is… it’s complicated. Google’s search algorithms are notoriously complicated, and they can change at any moment, which is why you won’t find reputable SEO companies that promise you a particular ranking. It’s just too complex an endeavor to make such an iron-clad guarantee.

What we can tell you with certainty is that there are numerous ranking factors that contribute to your site’s Google visibility. The specific recipe is something of a secret, but Google has made public many of the most significant ranking factors. Ensuring that you have each of these ranking factors in place can help you position your site for maximum SEO success.

A quick note: There are both positive ranking factors (which make your site increase in the rankings) and negative ones (which can cause your site to incur search engine penalties). For today, we’re only going to list some of the positive ones.

Remember: These are all elements that are confirmed by Google to be crucial for SEO—so make sure you have them in place!

6 Factors to Improve Your Google Rankings

No. 1. Keywords in your title and heading tags. While we encourage our clients to use keywords naturally, rather than cramming them into their content inorganically, a couple of places you always want to include a keyword or two are in the title tag and the heading tag. The former is the title you see at the top of your search browser while you are on the page; the latter is the H1 tag, the heading you place at the top of your Web page. Both are key areas for SEO enrichment, so make sure you max them out with strong keywords.

No. 2. Content substance. While there is no magic word count for Google, studies confirm that in-depth content, which fully addresses user needs and questions, is going to rank better than content that is short and skimpy. Make sure you take the time to really develop content that offers actionable value! (Of course, this is something the writers at Grammar Chic can help you with.)

No 3. A keyword in your URL. The URL slug you use for each page of content provides another way to enrich your content with keywords. Make sure you are strategic in naming your URLs!

No. 4. Fast loading speed. Nobody wants to sit and wait for your page to load, at least no more than two or three seconds. Having a page that loads quickly—not just on desktops, but on mobile devices, is critical for pleasing users and, therefore, pleasing Google. Experiment with your site on multiple devices, and if you find that it takes more than three seconds to load, you may want to pare it down and make it load faster.

No. 5. Website security. This is especially important for ecommerce sites. Having an https:// site is a trust signal, showing your users that the site has been built to protect their information; according to Google, that’s a potentially meaningful way to improve SEO, as well as user experience.

No. 6. Internal linking. A final way to boost your online authority is to ensure that each page of content has relevant links to other meaningful, related content—resources on other websites, but also resources found elsewhere on your own site.

Clearly, there are many components of strong SEO. To get started writing rankings-friendly content, contact Grammar Chic today. Reach out to us at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Blog Writing, Content Marketing, Content Writing, Social Media, Web Content