Category Archives: Business 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

Before You Hire an Editor, Ask These Questions

Not all editors are created equal—and if you want to find the person who best fits your style, your disposition, and the parameters of your project, it’s important to do some due diligence.

This is true whether you’re hiring an editor for your company emails, your business brochure, or the novel you’ve been cranking out: You should vet potential editors before hiring them. You can start by interviewing a potential editor and asking these key questions.

The Right Questions for Your Potential Editor

What kind of experience do you have? You probably want someone who’s done professional editing work before, and on projects like your own. If you’re looking for someone to edit a business document, you may not want an editor who only works in fiction.

What kind of training do you have? Anyone can call themselves an editor—but you have every right to seek someone who has actual, formal training in this role.

What is your editorial style? What sort of notations can you expect to see? Will the editing be conceptual, developmental, or purely proofreading? How will your editor convey suggested edits to you? Will the editor offer an overall summary of your work?

What sort of consultation do you offer? You want to find an editor who will not only annotate your work, but also spend some time with you talking through the suggested revisions.

What is your goal as an editor? You want to find an editor whose mission is to make both the writer and the writing shine.

What is your turnaround? Get an idea of how long the editing process will take.

What are the deliverables? Will you receive a marked-up document? A document with “track changes” on? A more formal editorial letter?

What’s the fee? Naturally, you’ll want to ask about pricing on the front end of your arrangement.

Get an Editor Who Will Make Your Writing Shine

The bottom line: There are a lot of good editors out there, and it’s worth taking the time to locate the person whose style best fits your needs. These questions will point you in the right direction.

Grammar Chic’s editors are always happy to answer these questions and any other you might have. To ask us about the editing process, contact Grammar Chic, Inc. today. Reach us at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Filed under Business Writing, Editing

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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Filed under Blog Writing, Business Writing, Web Content

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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Filed under Blog Writing, Brand Management, Business Writing, Content Marketing, Web Content

6 Extensions to Broaden Your AdWords Reach

More and more, marketers are blurring the division between paid and organic reach—often marrying content marketing with PPC in order to claim larger sections of online real estate. For instance, a focus on content marketing can lead to more organic search listings, while an AdWords campaign will land you further visibility at the top and along the margins of the SERP. It’s only through using both strategies in tandem that you can truly dominate the search listings.

Something else to consider: Some AdWords ads take up more of that online real estate than others. By making an ad bigger, you can actually increase your visible dominance of the SERP—and also increase the odds of people clicking the ad. The way to make your ads bigger is to take advantage of AdWords extensions.

These extensions come in different types, but they all do basically the same thing—they make your ads bigger. So which ones should you be using in your AdWords campaign? Allow us to highlight six of the most essential and versatile AdWords extensions.

AdWords Extensions You Should Be Using

Sitelink Extensions

Rather than just including one link within your ad, this extension will allow you to showcase up to five—your regular link, then four extras. You can pick a unique description for each link, too, and the cumulative effect is a single AdWords listing that looks like five separate ads! There’s really no better way to expand the reach of your paid Google ads.

Location Extensions

This option will automatically display your physical address to customers who happen to be nearby—so, it’s a really good option for brick and mortar businesses looking to increase their foot traffic.

Call Extensions

Display your phone number in your ads—allowing search engine users to give you a call without even needing to click on the ad.

Callout Extensions

If you’re running an ad for a particular product, this extension will allow you to highlight some of its key features; you’ll need to practice brevity, but the extension will let you pick out a few key words or phrases to include in the ad, forming a list of benefits for your reader to consider.

Price Extensions

Include the prices of your services and products within the ad itself—a great option for companies whose affordability is a key selling point.

Review Extensions

If you’ve received rave reviews from reputable blogs or magazines, you can showcase that feedback with a review extension—a powerful way to build credibility and trust.

Get the Big Picture

AdWords extensions can be valuable—but only when you implement them within the broader context of an integrated marketing strategy, with compelling content at its core. What does that mean for your company? We’d love to talk with you about it. Reach out to the Grammar Chic team to find out more, at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Brand Management, Business Writing, Content Marketing, Web Content

Why Should You Improve Your Meta Descriptions? Because Google Says So.

Here’s a lesson from SEO 101: When Google makes announcements or recommendations, it’s always best to listen. Believe it or not, Google tries to help Web developers, marketers, and small business owners thrive in their SEO efforts, and that includes all aspects, ranging from site layout to meta descriptions.

Meta descriptions just happen to be the subject of the latest Google proclamation. In a recent announcement, Google indicated some changes to how they generate meta data—and also offers some advice for writing meta descriptions that get results.

What is a Meta Description?

Before we get into that, here’s a quick reminder: The meta description is the text you see accompanying each listing on the Google search engine results page (SERP). When you conduct a search, Google will provide you with a list of links, and under each link you’ll see some brief text that explains what the site is about. That’s Google’s way of helping users determine which of those links are most relevant to their interests.

Having a good meta description is important—but you don’t have to take our word for it. Here’s what Google says in its latest announcement: “Good meta descriptions are short blurbs that describe accurately the content of the page. They are like a pitch that convince the user that the page is exactly what they’re looking for.”

Short version: You want Google to display a really compelling meta description for your site—one that will convince people to click the link and read your content.

How Google Determines the Meta Description

So how does Google generate meta descriptions? According to the new announcement, Google’s algorithms will first scan the site itself and try to extract content that fits the search query—in other words, seeking something relevant to whatever search terms the user entered.

If Google’s bots cannot find a good passage to extract, though, they will display the meta description you wrote yourself. Of course, it’s vital to make sure that you’ve got some good, engaging text for Google to use. Google has helpfully shared some pointers on how to make your meta descriptions compelling.

What Not to Do with Your Meta Descriptions

Specifically, Google notes that meta descriptions fail for a few different reasons. One reason is that there simply isn’t one; when you forget to manually write a meta description, you’re sacrificing a key SEO opportunity.

Other common errors include using the same meta description for every page of your site; writing meta descriptions that are off-topic; or making meta descriptions that are spammy rather than informative.

One more thing: Word count. Technically, there’s no limit on your meta description, as Google will display as many characters as will fit on the device in question. Our rule of thumb is 150 characters or so, which will generally prevent your meta description from being cut off due to screen limitations.

Need Help with Your Meta Descriptions?

There is both art and science to writing good meta descriptions, and Grammar Chic, Inc. can help you strike the right balance—all while complying with Google’s directives. Let’s talk about meta descriptions, and any other content writing needs you may have. Connect with us at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Filed under Business Writing, Content Marketing, Content Writing

Give Google Exactly What it Wants

Here at Grammar Chic, our pet nickname for Google is the Content Monster. You see, the world’s most powerful search engine is like a beast that’s constantly hungry; if you want to stay in its good graces—that is, maintain online visibility and SEO prominence—you’ve got to throw it some chow on a pretty consistent basis.

And it helps to know exactly what kinds of grub this Content Monster likes to devour.

Regular content publication is certainly crucial, but it’s especially beneficial to post content that fits within the Content Monster’s regular diet; in other words, you don’t want to feed it just anything. There is such a thing as bad content—stuff Google just spits back out. No, you want to make sure the Content Monster is enjoying all of its favorite delicacies.

So what does that mean, exactly?

Allow us to show you, with a quick rundown of Google’s favorite kinds of content.

This is the Content That Google Loves

Long Form Articles

We’ve blogged before about word count, and noted that in some cases, a shorter article just makes more sense. With that said, Google is in the business of providing substantive answers and thorough solutions to its users—so if you’re able to put together a really rigorous and in-depth article that spans 1,500-2,000 words, that’s certainly something the Content Monster will eat up.

Evergreen Posts

If you’re writing about a topic that will be old-hat or out-of-date by tomorrow morning, you can’t really expect to score long-time search engine prominence. While flashy, hot topic posts have their place, those timeless topics are the ones that will more likely win you the Content Monster’s favor.

Lists and Galleries

The human brain seeks organization, and tends to like information that’s laid out in a clear, easy-to-follow format—like a top 10 list. Google knows this, and lends priority to articles that are structured in this way.

Resource Banks

What we mean by resource bank is, any article that will lead search engine users to still more good content. For example, a used car dealership could post its list of the top 10 best family cars, and under each entry on the list it could have a link to a separate, in-depth review of the vehicle. Google likes its users to be able to keep clicking, keep searching, and keep discovering more—so use that to your advantage with inter-connected posts.

Videos

You don’t want to post a video without some kind of caption or written synopsis, but you can make video a focal point of your content marketing campaign. The Content Monster isn’t going to object.

A final note: What Google ultimately wants is anything that provides good, relevant, and actionable information to users—period. Make that your guiding concern in content creation.

Feed the Content Monster

Keeping up with the constant demands of the Content Monster is tough—but we can help. Let’s talk about Grammar Chic’s content marketing services and how they can benefit your business. Reach out to us at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Brand Management, Business Writing, Content Marketing, Content Writing, Social Media, Web Content