Tag Archives: Blog writing advice

How to Brainstorm Content Ideas for Your Small Business

Often, the most challenging part of content marketing is simply coming up with good ideas. Perhaps you’ve had this experience: You set aside an hour of your day to write a post for your small business blog, then stare at your computer for a good 45 minutes trying to think of a topic. By that point, of course, you hardly have enough time left to write a solid introduction, much less a full post.

Something we recommend is keeping a list of topics ready to go—so that when you have those moments of scheduled content creation, you don’t have to waste time fumbling for inspiration. Still, the question remains: How do you come up with good ideas to populate your list?

Start with Content Categories

A good place to begin the brainstorming process is not with specific topics, but simply with categories.

Think about your areas of expertise—the services your company provides, the niche it serves. Try to think of five to seven big “buckets” into which content can be placed. For example, say you own a plumbing company. Your buckets might be Commercial Plumbing, Plumbing Repair, Drain Cleaning, Bathroom Remodeling, Household Plumbing Tips and Tricks, and HVAC.

Now, for each of these content buckets, try to come up with some subcategories—further ways to classify content. For each bucket, aim for a good five subcategories. For example, under Plumbing Repair, your sub-categories might include:

  • Fixing leaks
  • Water heater maintenance
  • Removing clogs
  • Preventative maintenance
  • When to call a plumber

Once you’ve written down those big buckets and their related sub-categories, you’ve got a pretty good blueprint to work from.

Brainstorming Content Ideas

Now we come to the part of the process where you actually jot down some content ideas.

Start with any of those subcategories you wrote down, and approach it from a couple of different angles:

  • First, there is the expertise angle—wherein you’re simply trying to impart some knowledge to your customers, sharing your expertise on the topic in question. What are some things you’d like your customers to know, as relates to this topic? What are some of the most common questions you get?
  • Second, there is the offering What are you trying to sell, as relates to this topic? Generating posts with an offering angle might mean listing the perks, benefits, or pros/cons of a specific service—for example, under the Preventative Maintenance category, your topic might be The Benefits of Preventative Plumbing Maintenance, underlining the value of homeowners having routine inspections from a certified plumber.

Even if you only come up with a couple of topics for each of your subcategories—an expertise angle and an offering angle—you’ll still have a fairly large list of topics at your ready.

And there are ways to take those topics and spin them into additional ideas. For example, if you land on the perfect angle for a blog post, type your working title into the Google search bar and just see what comes up. You may find that competitors or industry experts have written related or thematically-adjacent posts that can inspire your own work.

Outsource Your Content Creation

Having a list of pre-determined topics—and periodically spending some time expanding and revising it—can make content creation much more fluid, and much less frustrating.

And if you’re serious about generating quality content, you can take the next step—outsourcing your content creation to the writers at Grammar Chic, Inc. We can provide a full spectrum of services, from topic generation to writing, proofing, editing, and formatting. To talk content strategy, reach out to our writers at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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

5 Content Errors That Cause Your Search Rankings to Slip

Search engine rankings don’t happen by accident; everything you do, marketing-wise, either helps or hurts your search engine presence. This includes the content you write for your website. Great content can appeal to Google’s search bots and cause your rankings to climb, while poor content can have the opposite effect—either making your rankings collapse, or worse, actively incurring a Google penalty.

In other words, content errors can be truly costly from an SEO point of view. Here are five of the main ones you want to avoid.

Content That’s Poorly Optimized

There are a couple of different traps you can fall into here: Either failing to optimize at all, or being overly aggressive about it. As is so often the case, the middle ground is best.

  • Each page of Web content gives you some invaluable opportunities for keyword optimization—including in the meta description, the SEO title, in headings and subheadings, and even in the body content. Don’t squander these opportunities! Use keywords judiciously and strategically.
  • At the same time, don’t come on too strong. Remember that your content always needs to read smoothly and organically. Don’t try to shoehorn too many keywords into your content, to the point that it’s clunky or cumbersome to read.

Content That’s Poorly Organized

Remember that a lot of your readers—especially those who are reading on a mobile device, which should be more than half of your total audience—will effectively be skimming. The last thing they want is a huge, unbroken wall of text. Not only does this make your content off-putting to human readers, but it also impedes your ability to rank well within voice search queries.

Some content organization tips:

  • Write short paragraphs and short sentence whenever possible.
  • Use subheadings to break your content into digestible segments.
  • Employ bullet points and numbered lists whenever you can.
  • Use images to make your content easier on the eyes.

Content That’s Too Thin

Users go to Google for answers—and Google rewards content that provides those answers. As such, your #1 content goal should always be to offer something of substantive value to the reader.

  • Think in terms of user intent; why would someone be seeking out your content? What questions should you be answering?
  • Consider using a Q&A format to emphasize the value in your content; note that this is another good voice search strategy.
  • Don’t worry about word count so much as providing full, complete information for your readers. Make each piece of Web content a treasure trove, rich in value-adding information.
  • Include links to relevant resources. Both internal and external links are valuable.

Content That’s Not Localized

If your company has a local, brick-and-mortar presence, you’ll want to ensure that your website content is appropriately localized. Some tips:

  • Include geographically-specific keywords, as naturally as possible.
  • Include your NAP (name, address, and phone number) information on every page. Make sure it’s a phone number with local area code.
  • Augment your content marketing efforts by seeking Google and Facebook reviews from your local customers—a great way to bolster your online visibility.

Content That’s Not Made to Convert

While good content is always written to offer value, first and foremost, it should also help you move the sales needle—however subtly. Some suggestions:

  • When appropriate, include a lead-capturing form at the bottom of your content.
  • Always place a call to action at the end of your content; this is a good place to include that NAP information.
  • Look for opportunities to position your product or service as the answer to your readers’ problems; express your unique value proposition, focusing on the benefits you offer to consumers.

Write Content That Ranks AND Converts

Good content needs to accomplish much—ranking, informing, conveying authority, converting—without falling into any of these traps. We can help you develop content that does all of this and more. Call Grammar Chic’s team to schedule a consultation today. Find us at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Do These Four Things to Land More Eyeballs on Your Content

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it, did it really happen? And if your brand produces the world’s greatest content but nobody reads it, will it make any impact?

We can tell you with certainty that the answer to this last question is no. Content creation is innately limited by content promotion; if you can’t get eyeballs on your blog posts and other written content, you’re not going to reap any of the benefits of improved brand recognition, consumer trust, etc.

Yet getting people to read your content is one of the true challenges of content marketing. It’s something small businesses especially struggle with. Sure, it’s easy for Fortune 500 companies to generate interest in what they do—but what can the little guy do to build buzz?

Actually, there are four practical steps you can take today to boost your content’s reach and its readership. These aren’t flashy or gimmicky strategies, but they do really work, and Grammar Chic uses each of them on our own content.

Here are those four recommendations.

Tag Industry Influencers

First and foremost, you should always be sharing your content on Twitter—but don’t stop there. Start a conversation around it. Bring in the movers and shakers within your field, inviting them to be part of the dialogue.

There are different ways to do this. If you can, cite their work in your own content—then tag them on Twitter, giving them due credit and encouraging them to share the content. Or, you could simply ping their Twitter handles and ask them to weigh in with their feedback. Whatever attention you can bring to your content is good, especially when it’s attention from industry stalwarts.

Use Facebook Ads

There’s a time and a place for Promoted Posts, but what’s even more effective is going into Ads Manager, where you can actually target the people you want to reach with your content—by demographics, by relationship to your brand, etc.

Yes, this will involve some financial investment on your part—but did you know that solid content is one of the keys to ad success? If you have a good content offer, paired with some ad dollars, that can really make waves.

Include Content in Your Newsletter

A periodic email, including links and summaries of your best content, is a great way to win a few clicks from people who might not otherwise be following along with your blog. Plus, it allows you to repurpose your content; not only does it show up on your blog, but it’s fodder for your email list, too—killing two birds with one stone.

Publish to Medium or LinkedIn Pulse

Finally, remember that you can publish on many different channels—and we’ve had great success sharing some of our best posts on Medium and Pulse. Both publishing platforms have good, built-in SEO traction that makes it so much easier for your content to be discovered, even by people who aren’t otherwise familiar with your brand.

The bottom line? There are small steps you can take to make sure your content isn’t invisible. To learn more about bringing in traffic, reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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The Time to Start Your Holiday Marketing Campaign is Now

You may be the sort of person who grimaces at the sight of early-display Christmas candy and other holiday goods, so often pushed onto store shelves before Halloween even arrives. For consumers, it can certainly be annoying how much earlier the holidays tend to arrive. For marketers, though, these are giant opportunities to snatch—but to do so, you’ve got to act quickly.

The Data on Holiday Marketing Prep

How quickly? Quicker than ever. According to a new report published in Marketing Land, 37.5 percent of businesses say they’re going to be launching their holiday season marketing preparations earlier than they did last year.

And that’s not all. “Overall, online retailers are feeling good about their preparations, with 88 percent expecting an increase in holiday revenue,” the article states. “Forty percent of the survey respondents are forecasting a more than 25 percent increase in holiday sales over last year’s earnings.”

Finally, the Marketing Land report finds that 64 percent of businesses expect the majority of their holiday sales to come through their company website. Brick and mortar stores come in second, trailed by Amazon and Facebook sales.

Is Your Holiday Marketing Ready to Roll Out?

The implications of this data are twofold. One, the holiday season can potentially be a very big deal for online sales. Two, it’s only going to happen if you prepare—and the sooner you do so, the better.

So the question is, what can your company start doing to prepare its holiday marketing efforts right now?

Here are some of our tips:

  • Start planning holiday sales, including Black Friday or Cyber Monday promos. Know what discounts you’ll be offering, but also how you’ll market them. Start preparing some sales copy, ad text, etc.
  • Set up landing pages for any holiday-specific products, discounts, or deals you want to offer. Have them ready to launch a bit later in the year.
  • Start segmenting your email list into different groups or demographics, and write compelling emails you can send out later in the year.
  • Start bidding on Facebook or AdWords ads to build brand recognition and lead consumers down the sales funnel.
  • Create content—blogs, white papers, etc.—that you can use to boost your authority and educate your holiday shoppers.

It’s not too early to start thinking about holiday marketing. There’s much at stake, so do it right. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. for help. Contact us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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6 Reasons Why Guest Blogging Still Matters

SEO and content marketing are in a constant state of flux—and some of the strategies that worked well three years ago (or even three months ago) are of dubious impact today.

Yet there are some strategies that are tried and true, and remain very much recommended. One of the best is guest blogging. Simply put, submitting authoritative posts to relevant blogs—other than your own—is one of the smartest ways you can build your online brand.

Allow us to explain why. Here are just a few of the top benefits you can expect from guest blogging.

What Do You Get Out of Guest Blogging?

Targeted Traffic

First and foremost, there’s traffic. Even if you don’t get a backlink, you will almost certainly arouse the audiences’ interest—and that can lead to curious readers flocking to your website. Not only do you get traffic, but—assuming the blog you write for is relevant to your own industry—that traffic will probably be well-matched to your own customer demographics.

Relationships

Something else that guest blogging provides you? Connections. Developing some common bonds with other bloggers and contributors can open the door to more possibilities down the road—more guest blogging opportunities, more social media shares, more collaborations.

Social Media Shares

Speaking of social media, when you write a blog for another publication, you can bet that the owners of that publication will promote it—meaning you can expect social shares and re-tweets from a lot of folks who aren’t otherwise aware of your brand or your content.

Authority

When a respected publication agrees to host your guest blog, it’s a vote of confidence—a vouch for your authority. This can increase your visibility and prestige within your industry, and also lead to more social media followers—people who determine that your brand must be legitimate, since your guest blog was accepted by their favorite publication.

Links

We’re burying this one deep down in our list because most everybody knows that this is a benefit of guest blogging, and if anything it’s overemphasized. Still, the point must be made: Guest blogging is the best way to build up your backlink profile, which is an SEO essential.

Brand Awareness

Finally, guest blogging simply gets your name and your writing out there in front of people who probably wouldn’t see it otherwise—and if even one of those people becomes a paying customer, the guest blog has served an important purpose.

Start Guest Blogging Today

The benefits to guest blogging are many—but how do you get started? We’d love to chat with you about mapping out a guest blog initiative for your brand. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. to begin that dialogue: www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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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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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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