Tag Archives: business writing

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

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

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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5 Rules to Improve Your Email Marketing

Tired of sending emails to your subscriber list and getting nothing in return? There are some simple steps you can take to transform your email marketing campaign into a powerful, results-getting arm of your broader content marketing strategy. In this post, we’re going to break it down for you, with some foolproof tips and strategies.

Rule #1: You MUST Write Compelling Subject Lines

You’ve got a short window of time in which to make a strong first impression and to persuade your recipient to actually open and read your email. Your email subject line is where you do that, so it’s got to pop. Put some time into this. Force yourself to keep it to seven words or less. Convey value in your subject line. And make it sound personal, without including a specific recipient name. You’ll also want to keep playing around with new subject lines, A/B testing them and finding what works and what doesn’t work for your audience.

Rule #2: You MUST Segment Your Email List

Your emails need to convey value that is specific to each recipient—and while you can’t afford to write a personal email to everyone on your list, you can at least break down your list into some sub-groupings. Here at Grammar Chic, we have clients who come to us for marketing and clients who come to us for resume services, and it wouldn’t make much sense to send marketing-related emails to resume clients. That’s where segmentation becomes invaluable.

Rule #3: Your Emails MUST Offer Value

What’s in it for me? That’s what your recipients will be asking as they read your email. They need to walk away from it with something of value, whether that means news on an upcoming product, a discount, a promotion, or an actionable tip. Make sure your emails have substance. Make sure they convey value.

Rule #4: Your Email Campaign MUST Have a Clear Goal

To tell whether or not your email marketing is succeeding, you’ll need to define success. Are you looking to get phone calls? Website traffic? Buys for a specific product or service? Your email marketing objective will impact your metrics as well as your actual CTA.

Rule #5: Your Emails MUST Be Brief

Nobody has time to read a 500-word email. Get to the point. Be light and engaging. And be fun to read. Really, those are invaluable traits for any successful marketing email.

Transform Your Email Marketing

These rules will help you turn your email marketing list into a true asset. To really take things to the next level, we’d invite you to consult with our writers and email marketing pros. We can help you craft email messages that get results.

Learn more by reaching out to Grammar Chic, Inc. today, either at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Brand Management, Business Writing, Email Writing

6 User Experience Errors That Will Sink Your Content Marketing

We’re often asked about the best strategies to marry content marketing with effective SEO. The basic premise is really simple: If you want to find favor with search engine algorithms, it’s important to first find favor with human readers. Making your content easy to discover, to read, and to digest—that’s all Google really wants you to do.

An implication of this is that, if you sacrifice the user experience—if you create content that doesn’t provide value to the reader, or that makes that value difficult to excavate—it’s inevitable that you’ll see a drop-off in Google traction.

This introduces a question. Is your content user-friendly? Or, to come at it from a different angle, are you doing anything in your company blog posts and in your Web content that’s compromising the user experience—and, thus, sinking your SEO?

Allow us to point out just a few common user experience errors that can make your content difficult to digest—and thus, less likely to find favor with Google’s algorithms.

Where Content Marketing Goes Wrong

Insufficient Substance/Length

We’ve blogged recently about word count, and about how there’s no simple answer to the question of how long your content should be. With that said, the basic principle to keep in mind is that you need to offer value without fluff—and a blog post that’s just 200 words probably isn’t fully addressing your readers’ questions. Aim for posts that really tackle your topic thoroughly and substantively; skimpy posts do not provide for a satisfying user experience any more than overly long, rambling ones do.

Bland and Boring Layouts

What’s the old saying about pictures and words? Well, we’d say you need both. A boring, black-and-white layout isn’t going to capture the reader’s attention. Make sure you embed pictures, videos, and other rich and colorful content into your blog posts and throughout your website.

Misspellings or Bad Grammar

If your content is laden with typos, it’s not going to come across as trustworthy or authoritative—so you can’t expect to see much in the way of backlinks. Readers won’t put up with poorly proofed content for long.

Unbroken Content

You need content breaks to make your posts easier to maneuver—and to skim. Make sure you break things down with section subheadings, bullet points, lists, etc.

Rambling Paragraphs

Similarly, avoid unbroken streams of text that just run on and on forever. Short paragraphs are key!

No Call to Action

A good blog post or website will direct the reader to what they need to do next; it will crystalize their action steps. That’s what a CTA is all about—so don’t neglect them!

Write Content That Gets Read

Our suggestion for you? Talk with Grammar Chic about improving the user experience in your content. We know how to write content that gets read—and content that gets ranked. Reach out to us at 803-831-7444, or at www.grammarchic.net, to start a conversation.

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