Category Archives: Web Content

How to Survive a Google Algorithmic Update

Do you know Fred?

No, we’re not talking about a person. We’re talking about the latest update to Google’s algorithm, which appeared like a thief in the night to steal traffic and website state. Seemingly without warning, completely out of the blue, Fred caused some website to lose a full half of their organic traffic; for a handful of sites, there were drops of more than 90 percent.

But Fred’s not the only such offender. Google rolls out these algorithmic updates every so often; you may have heard of Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Mobilegeddon, or some of the others. Generally, they cause a fair amount of panic in the SEO community, who rightly fear that they could lose their hard-earned Google rankings.

More updates will come. Always. You can count on it. So the question is, is your website prepared for them?

Why Does Google Update its Algorithms?

To understand how you can prepare for algorithmic updates, it’s important to understand why they happen in the first place. Google doesn’t change things just to keep SEO folks on their toes. No, Google changes things to provide a better product to its consumers. That is, Google changes things to provide high-quality content that is relevant to search engine queries.

If you look closely at some of the changes made by these past Google updates, from Fred on back, you’ll notice that they are essentially quality control measures. For example, Mobilegeddon penalized websites that didn’t have mobile-optimized settings—websites that were difficult to read or to navigate on mobile devices. That may sound mean or it may sound harsh, but Google was only trying to ensure that, when a mobile search engine user tries to find information, he or she is able to do so without any problem or hindrance.

Other updates have penalized pages that have bad content, repetitive content, keyword-stuffed content, duplicitous backlinks—basically, lazy SEO tricks that make the actual website content less valuable or less readable.

Protect Against Google Updates

For small business owners who want to avoid their own websites being penalized, then, the solution is actually fairly simple: Focus on providing useful and easy to read content for your readers—plain and simple. Help Google do its job of providing really first-rate and relevant content to search engine users.

Some specific tips:

  • Make sure your page is mobile optimized. Verify it on multiple types of device. If you need help making it mobile-friendly, talk to your website developer.
  • Beef up flimsy content—pages of fewer than 400 words are especially in danger of algorithmic penalties.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing; use key search phrases naturally and organically.
  • Provide easy-to-read and value-adding content with actionable takeaways.
  • Focus on informing the reader—not merely pleasing the search bots.

It all comes down to excellent content—and of course, that’s something we can help you with. Reach out to the content writing team at Grammar Chic for a consultation about your Web writing needs. Reach us at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Content Marketing, Web Content

4 Things to Include in Your Meta Description

Do you know what a meta description is? It may sound like an overly technical term, but really it’s not. Here’s how SEO Moz describes it: “Meta descriptions are HTML attributes that provide concise summaries of webpages. They commonly appear underneath the blue clickable links in a search engine results page (SERP).”

HubSpot, meanwhile, goes into a little more detail: “Meta-descriptions play a big role in search results. In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, a meta description is the snippet of information below the link of a search result. Its purpose is to describe the contents of the page to the searcher. The end goal is to convince and persuade the searcher to click through to your website. Any words that match the search term are bolded in the description.”

Why Meta Descriptions Matter

In a nutshell: When you conduct a Google search, you’re given a list of links that match your search criteria, and under each link is a quick summary of what the page contains. That summary is the meta description. And it’s important that your own Web pages and blog posts have their own meta descriptions so as to take full advantage of this precious online real estate.

The meta description is an invaluable opportunity to capture some keywords and to make a strong first impression on search engine users—persuading them to actually click the link and visit your website. But in order for this to happen, you have to write a good, persuasive piece of copy—all while keeping it to 160 characters or less. (If it is more, Google will likely cut it off mid-sentence.)

4 Elements of a Strong Meta Description

There are four key elements that make any meta description effective:

  1. Your branded keywords. What we mean by this, generally speaking, is your company name. Grammar Chic blog posts always have our company name in the meta description, to start building some Google collateral and to make sure our content is clearly marked as our own.
  2. Additional keywords. One or two focus keywords, designed to attract search engine users, should also be worked into the meta description. For example, in a post that offers content marketing tips, we might include content marketing or content marketing solutions as our focus keywords.
  3. A statement of value. Why should search engine users click through to your content? Your meta description should summarize not only what the content is about, but how someone will benefit from reading it.
  4. A call to action. We’d also recommend a call to action—an insistence that your search engine user click through to read your content.

That may sound like an awful lot to encompass in 160 characters, but it’s more than possible. We’ll show you. Here’s the meta description used for this very blog post:

Writing meta descriptions is key to owning the Google SERP—but how is it done? Get meta description tips from the team at Grammar Chic, Inc.

You’ll see there our company name, a focus keyword (meta description tips), value (learning tips to own your Google SERP), and a call to action (Get…).

That’s just one example—but maybe you’d like to see how meta description writing could work for your content. We’d love to show you. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. to start a conversation. Contact us at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Content Marketing, Web Content

5 Things That Compromise Your Mobile SEO

When someone pulls out their smartphone to search for a local business—whether they’re sitting at home on the couch or walking down the street, plotting the next phase of their errand-running—you want them to find your business. That’s why you have invested in a good mobile website. It’s why you keep up with the rigors of mobile SEO.

But be careful: There are a number of things that can cause those mobile SEO efforts to fall flat. Here are just a few of them—things to be careful of as you try to reach as many mobile consumers as you can.

Where Mobile SEO Goes Wrong

Slow Site Speed

Did you know that a majority of Google search users say they give up on a site if it takes more than three seconds to load? Three seconds! That’s not a lot of time to get your page up and running. Do some tests, on multiple devices, to make sure it loads quickly—and if it doesn’t, talk with your developer about how to speed things up. (Some possible solutions: Remove large images and video files from your home page, or create shorter content for your mobile pages.)

Pop-Up Ads

Not only are pop-ups potentially draining to your site speed, but they can also take up the entirety of a mobile browser screen—and if they are hard to get rid of, users will likely just navigate away. Even if your pop-up has a really killer CTA, you should think seriously about jettisoning it.

Unplayable Content

Does your video/multimedia content play properly on all types of devices? Are you sure? Not only does this content cause slow speeds (again), but it can be really frustrating when it doesn’t work—and it frequently doesn’t.

Generally Bad Mobile Design

Your site should be easy to read and to navigate on all types of mobile device—period. Tiny fonts, cluttered screens, hyperlink text that can’t be read—these are all deal-breakers.

Bland or Mushy Content

Mobile users need you to get right to the point, which means your content should immediately convey value—and come with plenty of strong calls to action. If it doesn’t, you shouldn’t be surprised when the site fails to make much of an impact.

Step Up Your Mobile SEO

There are a number of potential problems that can drag down your mobile SEO efforts—but none of them are problems without solutions.

If your issue is content-related—if you don’t know the best way to make your value proposition punchy, or if you need help crafting the perfect CTA—we’d love to talk with you.

Contact the Grammar Chic content writing team for a consultation today. Reach us at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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

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

5 Ways to Make Your Written Content More SEO-Friendly

Whether you’re writing content for your company website or dashing off the latest company blog post, you want it to be something good—something that offers value to your reader, and reflects well on your brand. At the same time, you want it to be something that’s search engine optimized. After all, great content isn’t very useful if nobody can find it.

This is a little bit of a false dichotomy, perhaps. Generally speaking, writing good, valuable content is the single best way to optimize it, and all the SEO tricks and gimmicks in the world can’t compete with the raw power of quality writing.

With that said, there is certainly a need to ensure that your content is as palatable for search algorithms as it is for human readers, and simply writing a good article is only the first step. As you seek to maximize your content’s SEO potential, here are five simple principles to keep in mind.

Improve Your On-Site SEO

Originality is Imperative

First and foremost, make sure that what you are writing stands on its own. Google doesn’t see any value in duplicate content, and as such it tends to penalize it. Regurgitating the exact same copy for each product page on your website, for instance, or simply copying text from the website to the company blog, will lead to diminished rankings. Take the time to ensure that every piece of content you write is phrased uniquely. Tools like Copyscape can help you ensure that you’re not plagiarizing yourself or others.

Readability Matters, Too

Google’s bots are more likely to favor articles that are readable to wide audiences—and that means using short sentences and paragraphs, limiting your ten-dollar words, and abstaining from the passive voice. Good, concise, punchy content—written in a way that makes it easy to read—will only help you as far as SEO rankings go.

Your Title Should Be Optimized

Writing a catchy headline is key. So is keeping the title to a Google-friendly length of 55-60 characters max. Finally make sure your URL matches the title and contents of the page; a URL that’s just random numbers hampers your SEO efforts.

Be Structured

Your content should have a structure that makes it easy for readers—and search bots—to follow along and get the basic gist of what you’re saying, even just by skimming. The best way to do this is to structure your article with H1, H2, and H3 tags to break up different sections of content. Bullet points and numbered lists can also be helpful, when applicable.

Use Keywords—Judiciously

Though you want to avoid keyword stuffing, and shouldn’t sacrifice quality for keyword count, keywords can certainly be useful in demonstrating what your content is ultimately about. We’ve blogged about the importance of judicious keyword strategy before.

Write Content That Gets Discovered

With the right approach, you can write content that pleases people and search bots alike—no easy feat, but worth it in the long run. Or, you can hire our team to write it for you. Contact Grammar Chic today to ask us about our SEO-friendly content writing services. Reach out at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Business Writing, Web Content, Writing

Choosing Between Long-Form and Short-Form Content

It’s a question that our content writing team receives on a regular basis, from business owners in virtually all industries and verticals: How long should my company’s online content be?

Our answer: Long enough.

What people are really getting at is whether there is some magic number they need to hit in terms of their word count. Technically, 400 words is all you need to write to ensure that your blog post or Web page is indexed by Google.

But if you’re trying to truly optimize your content—not just writing the bare minimum, but writing enough so that you can build trust, inform customers, reap ample SEO benefits, and position your brand for thought leadership—well, you may need to write a little more. Or in some cases, a lot more.

Long-Form vs. Short-Form Content

For the purposes of this post, we’re defining long-form content as blog posts, white papers, and other assets that exceed 2,000 words—give or take. Short-form content is usually closer to 1,000 words, sometimes less. In fact, a good short-form blog post can be as brief as 500 words and still be perfectly effective.

To decide which route is best for your business, you’ve got to think about your marketing objectives, and tailor your content length accordingly. We’ll provide you with some guidelines here.

Long-Form Content Makes the Most Sense When:

  • You have a brand new product or service, without much precedent, and you need longer copy to explain what it is and how it adds value.
  • You are writing about products or services that come with higher price tags, and thus buyers want as much information as possible before making a purchasing decision.
  • You are offering products or services that require more of a commitment on behalf of the buyer.
  • Your product is more technical in nature, and needs all its technical specs discussed in the marketing content.
  • You are in a B2B scenario, one in which the sales cycle tends to be longer or more complicated.

Short-Form Content Makes the Most Sense When:

  • You have a product or service with which most of your readers are already going to be quite familiar.
  • Your product or service is either inexpensive or quite commonplace, and therefore less explanation is needed.
  • You’re writing content that is going specifically to qualified leads.
  • You are writing for a channel that requires fewer words—an email, a Facebook ad, an AdWords ad, etc.

In other words, your content length should be determined by how much your buyers already know, versus how much they need to be educated; by how interested your readers are, or rather, by where they are located in the sales funnel; and by the basic marketing goals for the content.

Being Judicious About Content Length

As you seek to determine the ideal length for your content, it’s best to consult with marketing professionals. Grammar Chic’s experts can not only help you strategize, but we can also handle the content creation for you—no matter how long or how short!

Learn more by contacting us today for a consultation at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Filed under Blog Writing, Business Writing, Web Content

What to Ask Your Web Content Writing Company

The written content you include on your company website is of paramount importance. After all, most new or potential customers will head straight to your website to learn more about what your company does. The content they find there will establish their first impression of your brand. It’s in your best interest to provide content that is well-written, easy to follow, substantive, and informative; ideally, it should instill trust while also encouraging the reader to pick up the phone and call you for more information, or even to buy a product from you straight away.

That’s a tall order, which is why a lot of business owners outsource their Web content writing services to an outside firm—like Grammar Chic. This is the best way to tell the story of your company in a way that is compelling, and persuades the user of the value you can offer.

Evaluating a Web Content Writing Company

As you meet with a Web content writing company for the first time, it is important to establish clear lines of communication; in particular, we recommend asking a few key questions, to ensure that you understand the process and that you are truly comfortable with the company you’re meeting with.

Here are a few of the key questions you should ask:

What’s your experience in Web content writing? Learn more about the track record of the company you’re working with. Inquire about how long they’ve been writing websites, and ask to see examples of their past work.

How will you capture my voice? You may not be the one writing the content, but your voice should still come through. Ask the writer how this will be achieved.

What’s your research process? The content writers will need to gain an understanding of your company and of your industry, through interviews, independent research, or some combination of the two. Make sure you get a good sense of what this process entails.

What do you expect from me? Your Web content writer may need you to furnish some information, and it’s important that you do so as promptly as possible.

What are the SEO considerations being made with this site? Your Web content writing company may not be an SEO firm per se, and that’s fine—but hopefully there will be some attention paid to the best practices for search engine optimization. You might especially ask about keyword inclusion, meta descriptions, and meta tags.

Will there be calls to action on the website? The answer should be yes!

How will the page be formatted? Ask about section subheadings and bulleted lists, and be sure to voice any of your own preferences.

What about revisions/rewriting? Even a great Web content writer may miss a few things on the first pass. This is usually a process, and it’s good to clarify whether revisions and rewriting are included in the company’s services.

Ask Your Questions Today

Get your questions asked and answered by the Web content writing team at Grammar Chic. Contact us today to set up a consultation: 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

 

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