Category Archives: Blog Writing

5 Ways You’re Botching Your Blog’s SEO

Blogging is one of the things we’re most proficient in here at Grammar Chic, Inc., and it’s a true honor to have so many small and medium-sized businesses entrust us with their blogging needs.

When new companies come to us wanting help on the blog front, they tend to have a couple of different emphases. First, they want something that will be compelling to their customers—compelling enough to elicit social media shares and perhaps even light up their phone lines. Second, they want something that will rank well on Google. After all, what’s the point of a business blog if no one can see it?

And here’s the tricky thing about blogging: It can be an absolutely critical tool for improving search engine visibility, but only if careful attention is paid to a few technical dimensions of the blog itself. Far too often, we see business blogs that have been written well, but not necessarily optimized well. Simply put, there are some key blunders that make otherwise-good blog posts less than SEO-friendly.

Naturally, you’ll want to avoid these blunders. Allow us to point out some of the most common ones.

Forgetting Keywords

There’s been a curious shift in the way people perceive keywords; where they used to be overemphasized, now they’re all too often overlooked. So let us clear this up: You definitely don’t want to force a bunch of ill-fitting keywords into your content, but you do want to have a couple of target keywords to guide your content creation. Use them as organically as you can, and try to smoothly work them into the following places:

  • Your title
  • Your meta description
  • Section sub-headings
  • Body content—not excessively, but wherever they naturally fit

Not Creating a Meta Description

Speaking of the meta description, each individual blog post should have one—roughly 150 characters to summarize your content, lay out your value proposition to readers, work in a keyword or two, and end with a call to action.

Not Formatting for Readability

Keep in mind just how many of your blogs will be read by people on their mobile devices, waiting in doctor’s officers, stuck in traffic, or taking a quick break from work. Making for fast, easy readability is key. Think:

  • Bullet points
  • Lists
  • Section sub-headings
  • Short paragraphs
  • Images and/or embedded video

Not Including a Call to Action

Every blog should have a strong call to action, inviting the reader to take the next step. Include your company contact information here for best results, especially in terms of local search.

Not Offering Value

A good blog post should be substantive and value-adding—which means providing take-away points for your readers; enough length to do your topic justice; and some external and/or internal links to related resources. Remember that by writing for the end user, you’re ultimately making your blog more appealing to Google.

Blog Better. Avoid SEO Blunders.

These are all potentially serious errors, yet they can also be very easily avoided. One way to steer clear of them: Trust your blogging to the pros. Learn more by contacting Grammar Chic, Inc. at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Blog Writing, Business Writing, Content Marketing, Content Writing

The Right Way to Use SEO Keywords in Your Company Blog

One way to add SEO value to your written content is to include keywords. This is one of the oldest practices in all of digital marketing, yet also one of the least understood.

There have been a lot of pendulum shifts in the way marketers understand keywords; for a time, keywords were gleefully stuffed into every piece of content, and then there was a season when many wondered if keywords were on their way out.

The truth is that keywords still matter a great deal, and inserting them properly can add tremendous SEO value to your writing—yet judicious and strategic keyword use is something that requires some forethought and some discipline.

In this post, we’ll offer some basic practices for ensuring that, when you add keywords to your content, you do so effectively.

Keywords Drive Content—Not the Other Way Around

First, it’s really ideal if you use keywords as your starting point. Come up with your targeted keywords before you do any writing, and allow them to guide your approach—your topic selection, your structure, etc. This way, the keywords are worked into your content more organically.

The alternative is to write a piece of content and then add keywords after the fact. This isn’t optimal because it means the keywords will likely stick out like sore thumbs, or disrupt the flow of the writing. The goal should always be for your keyword use to be natural and seamless.

Keywords Reveal Something About Your Readers

Another important concept is keyword intent. If someone is searching for a particular keyword, it’s because he or she is seeking a certain kind of information. Think about why your buyers would be searching for a particular set of keywords, and what it says about their pain points and their ideal solutions.

This allows you to craft content where your keywords are not only present, but used in such a way to address the reader’s questions and provide a real sense of value. In other words, your keywords are in the content as answers, not just as SEO add-ons.

The Best Places to Include Keywords

Getting caught up in how many keywords is usually a dead end, but we do recommend trying to include keywords in a few strategic locations. Here are the places where keywords offer the most SEO value.

Headline

Include a keyword within the first 65 characters of your headline, if at all possible.

Body Text

The body of your blog post should have keywords used naturally throughout. Remember to never force them or stuff them; just use them where they fit naturally, ensuring that the content still reads well.

URL

A vanity URL slug, with your keyword included, is a great SEO feature.

Meta Description

Another great, often-overlooked place to add keywords is in your blog’s meta description.

Write Blogs with SEO Value

Keywords aren’t everything, but they can make your content more discoverable among search engine users. The Grammar Chic, Inc. team offers unsurpassed expertise in writing blog content with SEO value in mind. To talk to one of our ghost bloggers today, contact us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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5 Ways to Become a Lean, Mean, Blogging Machine

Many business owners recoil at the notion of regular blogging—and their concern is a perfectly fair one: They simply feel as though they can’t afford the time investment required for consistent, high-quality blogging.

To be sure, maintaining a robust business blog is going to require some man hours. With that said, there are ways to make your blogging endeavors more efficient—requiring less time, but still getting good results.

Indeed, with the right tweaks to your blogging strategy, you can become a lean, mean, content-creating machine—and we can show you how!

Become Ruthlessly Efficient in Your Blogging

Here are our five tips:

  1. Always start with an outline. One of the most time-consuming parts of blogging is going back through a post to review, to add or subtract points, and to bring shape and focus to your argument. One way you can cut back on revisions is to have a clear blueprint of all your primary points before you start writing. A simple outline will take a couple of minutes to put together, but it could save you a lot of time on the back end.
  2. Know your call to action in advance. A lot of time can be spent trying to land the plane—figuring out how you want your blog post to end and what results you hope to achieve. Those are things you should know before you start writing. Have a goal in mind—a specific call to action—and allow that to guide your writing. Again, this is a small investment of time on the front end that can make your process more efficient overall.
  3. Keep buyer personas handy. You should always know who you are writing for. Once more, this is imperative for keeping your writing focused and on-point. Start each blog post with a clear sense of who’s in your audience, and which problems or pain points you need to address on their behalf.
  4. Block off time for content marketing. Schedule an hour each week (or more) for content marketing activities, and treat it just like an appointment with a client—that is to say, don’t blow it off! Use this time to write a blog post, but also to put together the accompanying social media posts you’ll use to share that blog. Get all of these like tasks done at the same time.
  5. Keep a running list of blog ideas. Always be ready to write down a topic for some future post—meaning that, when you sit down to write, you shouldn’t feel stuck or have to spend too much of your time brainstorming.

Another Way to Save Time on Blogging

Of course, another way to minimize your blogging time—and still get great results—is to outsource the entire endeavor to the ghost bloggers at Grammar Chic, Inc. We’d love to talk to you about that. Reach out to our team today at either 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

 

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Content Marketers Don’t Have the Luxury of Writer’s Block

When you spend your time creating fresh content, all day every day, it’s natural to run out of juice from time to time. Even the most professional content creators can get stuck sometimes. In short, they feel as though they have writer’s block—yet the content demand never stops, never relents. Blogs still need updating, social feeds still need posts, and the Google algorithms need to be fed fresh content.

To be totally blunt, content marketers don’t really have the luxury of writer’s block. There’s just too much to write, too much content to create! The question is, how can you minimize the risk of writer’s block—and when it does happen, how can you get yourself unstuck quickly?

How Content Creators Cope with Writer’s Block

  • One suggestion we’d offer is to always keep a running list of ideas. Apps like Evernote make it easy for you to have that running list handy at all times, and to be able to quickly jot down a fresh inspiration whenever it strikes. When you have a day where you just feel stuck, you’ll always have that list to consult.
  • Also have several blogs bookmarked to consult whenever you need a new direction. You may feel out of ideas, but other bloggers in your niche or market are still cranking stuff out! Turn to them for some ideas.
  • Sometimes, writers get half of an idea, but aren’t sure how to complete it. That’s where outlining can come in handy. Rather than writing half a blog post then getting stuck, just try outlining your main argument—your central ideas.
  • Sometimes, stepping away and turning your mind to other things works wonders. Go for a walk, clear your head, get blood pumping, and allow your mind to sort things out in the background.
  • Another tactic is to flex your writing muscles in different ways. Can’t come up with a good company blog post? Try your hand at writing something else for an hour or so—a short story or a poem, maybe. Just write something you like, and see how it inspires you.
  • Finally, remember that there are pros out there whose full-time job is to assist in content creation. The Grammar Chic team can help you develop your ideas, from inception to publication, and we’re always around when you feel stuck.

To start a conversation with us about our content marketing expertise, reach out to us now. You can get a hold of Grammar Chic at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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5 Ways to Turn Website Visitors into Subscribers

Getting 150,000 hits on your website is pretty good, right? Well, yeah, maybe—unless all 150,000 of your visitors leave the site without taking action. Then, it might turn out, all you’ve got is sound and fury—a lot of buzz, but nothing that directly improves your bottom line.

Traffic alone isn’t the most meaningful metric. What matters are conversions. Ideally, you want all your website visitors to buy a product from your business, though of course this is a lofty goal. A more reasonable one is to convert as many visitors as possible into subscribers; this, in turn, can help build brand loyalty and awareness, and ultimately lead these visitors down the sales funnel.

Okay—but then, how do you turn your website into a subscription hub? How do you coax as many visitors as possible into joining your inner circle? Here are five methods we’ve found to be highly effective.

How to Convert Website Visitors into Subscribers

Provide valuable content that matches user intent. What are search engine users really looking for—and how can your website provide them with relevant solutions? Those are the questions you have to ask as you develop your website content. If you’re a plumber, you can assume that search engine users are probably looking for authoritative answers to all their plumbing needs. If you’re an attorney, your users may want to know when, where, and why to engage your services. Your content should always convey valuable solutions, and provide the information search engine users are after.

Create fresh content regularly. If your website blog hasn’t been updated in a year, and if the top entry in your Company News section dates to 2011, then it may be hard for your visitors to imagine why they’d want to subscribe. You’ve got to show them that by taking the time to subscribe, they will receive meaningful updates on a regular basis.

Fill your website with diverse content. The goal here is to write content that appeals to as many different people as possible—that is, blog readers, video watchers, e-book downloaders, and so on. Be robust and varied in creating value-adding, solutions-focused content.

Include strong calls to action. If you want people to subscribe to your list, you’ve got to ask them to, and provide them with an easy lead-capturing form. Do so on every page of your website, if subscriptions are your goal.

Analyze your results. In marketing, analytics are everything. Make sure you track the results of your content, and pay attention to what works and doesn’t work in terms of subscriptions.

Does Your Website Convert?

The bottom line: Your website shouldn’t just be an online placeholder. It should be a conversion machine—and in many cases, that means a subscription generator. If you’re not seeing those results, reach out to our team for a consultation. Contact Grammar Chic at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Content Marketing with RankBrain in Mind

How does Google determine which content ranks where on the search engine results page (SERP)? That question is at the heart of SEO, and it’s also important to content marketing. Answering it is, truthfully, close to impossible; Google’s algorithms are complicated, and ever-changing. There are a lot of factors in play, and the way Google balances and prioritizes them is somewhat veiled.

With that said, Google has been clear about one thing: RankBrain is one of the most important of all ranking factors. In fact, Google has stated that it’s in the top three. So, if you want to write content that ranks well, you have to know what RankBrain is—and how to appease it.

What is Google RankBrain?

RankBrain represents the artificial intelligence and machine learning aspect of Google’s algorithms. RankBrain works to understand user queries and content topics, and to match the right content with the search request— evaluating all the content out there and formulating the best possible results for the search engine user.

In other words, RankBrain is a machine that’s actually capable of learning about content and user search queries, and of judging which content provides the most relevant and actionable results for a search engine query. That’s really pretty cool, especially when you consider that these editorial decisions are made strictly by AI; there is no human assistance required for RankBrain to do its thing.

Again, RankBrain is not the only factor in determining search engine rankings—but it’s a major one. This brings us to our ultimate question: How can you design content that appeals to RankBrain? How can you get your website or blog ranked well by this AI system?

3 Tips for Mastering RankBrain

There are three tips we can offer here.

  1. Write content that is focused. RankBrain evaluates content to determine—basically—what it’s about, and whether it answers the user’s question. If your content is all over the place, jumping from topic to topic and presenting a hodgepodge of information, it’s unlikely that the algorithms will be able to reach clear conclusions. Content like this almost never ranks well. Make sure each blog post and each website has a strong, singular topic—and that everything within the content points back to that topic.
  2. Structure content in a logical way. Along the same lines, your content should be structured in a way that leads the reader (or the RankBrain algorithms) through a logical argument. Present your main topic or point in the first paragraph, then use section sub-headings to advance the content, one step at a time, until you reach a clear conclusion or CTA.
  3. Test everything. You won’t be able to guess your way to ranking success. Instead, you’ve got to constantly consult your data and analytics—seeing which content works and which doesn’t, learning from your SEO successes and failures alike.

Step Up Your Content Game

Effective content has to appeal to human readers and to Google’s machine learning system—and that’s a tall order. We can help. Get some seasoned, SEO-minded content writing professionals on your team. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. to learn more: 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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6 Non-Technical Ways to Boost Your SEO

Search engine optimization isn’t rocket science—although, to be fair, it can sure seem that way at times. You can get pretty deep into the technical dimensions of SEO, which for small business owners who lack a tech background can be daunting. But here’s the good news: There are some completely non-technical, novice-friendly SEO strategies that can actually have a big impact on your site’s visibility and rankings. In this post, we’ll share just six things you can do to make Google love your site more—no advanced technical training required.

Simple Ways to Ramp Up Your SEO

Make a User-Friendly URL

Sometimes, URLs will default to random strings of letters and numbers—but that’s obviously not very helpful to users (or search bots) trying to determine what the page is about. Make sure each page of your site (and each blog post) has a short and descriptive title—for example, the page where you can learn more about the Grammar Chic content marketing services is www.grammarchic.net/content-marketing-services. Right to the point! Content management systems like WordPress usually make it quite easy to change your URL to whatever you want it to be.

Structure Your Site for Readability

You can enhance user experience (UX) and SEO by designing a website that guides the reader from top to bottom—that is, from headline to call to action. Make sure the headline itself is compelling, and that you break up the content with descriptive section sub-headings. Use bulleted lists when you can.

Place Keywords in Strategic Places

You don’t have to do a lot of complicated math to figure out the desired keyword density for a Web page. Instead, just naturally and judiciously insert keywords in titles, section headings, and meta descriptions, then perhaps once or twice in the content itself. Always make sure they feel natural, not cumbersome to read.

Enrich Your Content

Make sure each page has an image, video, GIF, infographic, or something else to provide added interest. You shouldn’t have just isolated blocks of black-and-white text.

Link to Relevant Resources

Internal linking is key to SEO success. If there are other pages of your site—or blog posts, for that matter—that augment the page in question, include strategic links to them. There’s really no right or wrong number of internal links. We’d just caution you to make sure the links you include really are relevant and helpful.

Encourage Social Sharing

When a piece of online content is shared on social media, that signals to the search algorithms that it’s useful—that is deserves a prominent ranking. Share your own content on social media, but also make sure you enable the social sharing buttons that let others quickly and conveniently share your content. Again, WordPress and other content management systems make this pretty easy.

Going Further with Your SEO

As you can see, there are plenty of small steps you can take to seriously improve your SEO effectivity. To go even further—to get content that’s written to rank and to convert—we encourage you to call the Grammar Chic, Inc. team today. Reach out to us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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How Your Blog Can Sell Without Selling

Content marketing is sometimes described as the art of selling without selling. That is, content marketing is meant to facilitate conversions in a way that is decidedly non-salesy; the focus is always supposed to be on providing real value (not hard sales pitches) to the consumer, but doing so in a way that ultimately helps your bottom line.

This is not an easy balance to strike. Take your company blog, for instance. You can probably understand why it’s not a good idea to make each post a straightforward advertisement for one of your products or services: Simply put, it wouldn’t be very engaging, and not many people would read it. On the flipside, if you write blog posts without ever even mentioning your products and services, you may fear that the blog won’t have any practical effect on your sales.

So how can you write company blog posts that sell without coming across as too confrontational, too over-the-top, or too aggressive? We have some tips for you.

Write Blogs That Sell (Without Being Salesy)

Always focus on your audience. The guiding question of each post should be, “What’s in it for my audience?” Write to provide value not just to your brand but to your readers. Make sure your topics and your takeaway points are relevant to the people you’re targeting with your blog.

Give away valuable information. In keeping with the point above, make your blog a place where you give away expertise that your customers can use. Don’t hesitate to give away your “secret weapons” and your tried-and-true practices. This is how you build trust in your own expertise—by being confident enough to give it away.

Don’t write about yourself. Your posts don’t actually need to be about your brand. In fact, to keep them relevant to your readers, it’s probably smarter to write about your industry more broadly, or about the way your trade/profession brings value to consumers.

Don’t mention your brand in every sentence. Your blog can absolutely mention your company name—in fact, we recommend it—but a couple of mentions is probably fine, perhaps in the call to action at the article’s end. Too many mentions of your brand will definitely cause the post to read as “salesy.”

Maintain a conversational tone. Read your blog post out loud, and simply ask yourself: Does it sound like something you’d say in real life? If not, you may want to modify it a bit so that it’s less formal.

Include a CTA. By writing blog posts that earn credibility through giving away free and valuable information, you create the opportunity to end your post with a strong sales pitch—just a sentence or two inviting your reader to contact you for further value.

We Can Help

Writing blogs that are credible, value-adding, and effective is a big part of what we do here at Grammar Chic, Inc. We’d love to handle blogging for your brand. Reach out to us today to learn more: www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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3 Reasons Your Email Marketing Doesn’t Work

Email is an incredible and still-undervalued marketing tool—one that allows you to reach out to both past and potential clients directly with a personalized message and a tailored value proposition. It’s something we use for our own marketing here at Grammar Chic, Inc., and it’s something we recommend for our clients.

Sometimes, though, the best intentions for an email marketing campaign fall short, and emails are sent out without any kind of response coming back. Sometimes, email marketing just plain doesn’t work—and when that happens, it’s important to ask yourself why.

There are a number of possible reasons, but really three main ones—and today we want to look closer at each of them.

You Haven’t Segmented Your List

Email is best used in a highly targeted way, with messages being tailored to segments of your subscription list. For example, here at Grammar Chic, we have some clients for our resume writing division and other clients within our marketing wing. If we’re sending out a promotion for content marketing services, it doesn’t make as much sense to send it to the resume crew. Instead, we’d tailor it to the part of our email list that comes to us for marketing expertise.

Make sure you work with your email list to divide it and segment it into different audiences—and that your message always mirrors the people you’re sending it to.

Your Headline Doesn’t Grab Attention

This is always the struggle with email marketing: How do you grab attention and make your email stand out within busy inboxes? The headline is everything—your best and only chance at a strong first impression.

Some basic tips for writing good email headlines:

  • Keep it brief—seven words or less!
  • Avoid words that will run you afoul of spam filters—Sale, Free, 50% Off, etc.
  • Be clear about your value proposition; how will the reader benefit from reading your email?

You’re Not Clear in Your Value Proposition

And that brings us to the final point: Some emails don’t work because they just don’t have much to say. Everything from your headline to your body text to your call to action should spell out the value you’re offering to readers—the “what’s in it for me” of reading your message and responding to your CTA at the bottom. If your value offer is unclear, readers just won’t know what to do with your message.

These are all potentially fatal blows to your email marketing campaign, but the good news is that all of them can be corrected. The first step is to meet with the email marketing strategists at Grammar Chic, Inc. Contact us about a consultation today, either at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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How to Write Great Content for Short Attention Spans

There is always more and more online content vying for readers’ attention—yet it seems like the average online attention span is getting shorter all the time.

This is something that any content marketer has to take into consideration. You need your content to be read and interacted with, yet your audience may have very little patience to sit through anything that isn’t totally optimized to keep them engaged.

So how do you optimize your written content? Here are a few tips to consider.

Start with Buyer Personas

People are going to be a lot more willing to read your content if it feels like it was written directly for them. That’s why you need to start with your audience, and ideally with a well-composed buyer persona. What are the pain points you need to address? What are the values? What kind of language should you be using—highly technical or extremely casual? And what do your readers ultimately want to gain from your content? To answer these questions, you have to have a pretty good sense of who you’re writing to.

Structure it Well

It’s also important to make sure you organize your content in a way that makes it easier to read—and, for that matter, to skim. Some ways to do so include:

  • Write in short paragraphs
  • Avoid long sentences
  • Use subject headings to break up the content
  • Use bulleted lists whenever you can
  • Make sure you end with a good summary of your main takeaways/action steps

Don’t Let Your Words Stand Alone

A plain black-and-white page of text is inevitably going to be a little boring, and strain the average reader’s attention span. Images, infographics, and embedded videos can spice things up significantly, while also helping to break up the content and make it more digestible.

Be Clear in Your Value Proposition

Put yourself in the shoes of your reader, and ask: What’s in it for me? The reader should be able to walk away from your content with some value, some specific benefit. You need to emphasize that value up front, both in your headline and in your introduction, ideally in the first paragraph. Let readers know that they will see a benefit from reading your content.

Don’t Be Afraid to Go Long

A final note: Short attention spans do not necessarily call for short content. There is still plenty of room for articles that go in-depth and provide more specific value. In fact, a reader with a short attention span may prefer these articles; a flimsy blog post may seem like a waste of time, while something more substantive may seem like it’s a lot more worthwhile.

You can create content that engages even the ficklest reader—but if you need an extra hand in enhancing your content, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Grammar Chic can help you write content that gets read and engaged with. Learn more at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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