Tag Archives: Content Marketing Tips

3 Ways Google’s SERP Changed Last Year—And What It Means for Your Business

Google is constantly tweaking its search engine algorithms—and often, those changes are plainly evident from the search engine results page (SERP) itself.

Why is the SERP such a work in progress? Simple: Google wants to provide its users with the best product possible—that is, quick, relevant, practical answers to their search queries. And it’s constantly devising new ways to make that product just a little bit more appealing.

The downside for business owners is that there’s a lot of fluctuation to keep up with. The SEO efforts that worked in years past may not work as well today. In fact, 2017 saw a few significant changes to the SERP—and those changes all have some implications for small business marketing efforts.

PPC ads take up more of the SERP than ever before.

There was a time when the SERP was occupied mostly by organic search listings—the kind of listings you could attain through the right mix of content marketing and SEO. But today, paid ads are placed more prominently than ever before. Users have to scroll further down the SERP before they even arrive at organic listings; meanwhile, PPC ads have infiltrated parts of the SERP they never appeared previously, such as the Google Map Pack.

Does this mean SEO and content marketing are dead? Far from it. It just means that a comprehensive approach is needed. If you want to blanket as much of the SERP as possible, you can’t rely solely on organic listings or on paid ads. You really need a strategy that encompasses both, and balances them appropriately.

If you’re not already augmenting your content marketing efforts with PPC, make 2018 the year you really get a handle on ad bidding, targeting, and copywriting.

Featured snippets occupy prime SERP real estate.

Another important change? Google wants to empower users to get the answers they seek from the SERP itself—without actually having to click through to a link. One way this is evident is in the rise of featured snippets.

You’ve probably seen these before, even if you didn’t realize what they were called. Have you ever done a Google search, and had the SERP give you a direct answer, in the form of a little “answer box” appearing just above the organic search listings?

These are featured snippets, and they occupy the “zero position” on the SERP—coveted online real estate. Getting your content to rank in the zero position can be a major boost to your brand visibility.

This is a tough thing to attain, but not impossible. The best bet is to format your content in the form of a bulleted list, a table, or a Q&A—especially when it comes to more fact-based and objective subject matter. Remember, Google wants to provide quick, clear, authoritative answers to its users, and it’s in your best interests to help it do so.

More people are arriving at the SERP through voice search.

We’ve blogged before about voice search, which is quickly becoming the most popular way to search for content on Google. But as more and more search engine users arrive at the SERP via Siri or Alexa, it’s important for your content to accommodate them.

Again, a lot of it comes down to formatting—with bulleted lists and Q&A formats being especially useful. Also remember to write your content in a conversational style that reflects the way real voice searches are done. A traditional Google search might be phrased like this: Jimmy Kimmel age. But with voice search, you’re more likely to ask: How old is Jimmy Kimmel? For content to rank well for these voice-based queries, it’s important to emulate that casual style.

Making Sense of the New SERP

As you seek to get your content ranked on this new and ever-changing SERP, don’t hesitate to seek guidance. Grammar Chic, Inc. has diverse experience in content marketing, and we always have the latest SEO strategies in mind. We’d love to consult with you about your content marketing and Google search needs. Reach out at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

 

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Write YouTube Video Descriptions That Make Your Content Rank

Believe it or not, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world; only Google outshines it. And the user base for YouTube has long surpassed the one billion mark. So if you’re looking for ways to generate visibility for your brand, you could do a lot worse than to embark on a YouTube SEO campaign.

There’s a lot that goes into making your YouTube videos rank. We’re not a video company, so we won’t get into all the nuts and bolts, but we can offer a few comments that fall closer to our wheelhouse: Writing video descriptions that improve your video SEO.

Why are YouTube video descriptions important? Simply put, they tell YouTube what your video is all about. If YouTube doesn’t know how to categorize your video, they’re certainly not going to rank it very high. Knowing how to write robust and effective descriptions is imperative, then. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Write Long Video Descriptions

This is definitely a field of content writing where additional length is helpful. In fact, some YouTube SEO experts say that each video description should really be a “miniature blog post.”

We’re not sure that we’d go quite that far, but we do recommend writing 150-200 words for each post. And make sure it’s good, useful information that helps YouTube categorize your video. That brings us to the next point.

Offer Substance, But Don’t Give Everything Away

If your video description is pure fluff, it’s not going to help you communicate your intentions to YouTube’s algorithms. Yet, if you divulge all the main points of your video, then there may not be any reason for people to actually watch it.

We recommend a middle ground. Provide a basic outline of what your video is about, including its main themes and general points, but withhold the real, value-adding points. Make it clear what people can expect from your video, but don’t take away their incentive to sit back and give it a view.

Use the Right Number of Keywords

Here’s a point that may surprise you. When you use too many keywords in your video description, it can actually be counterproductive. Imagine if you chose 23 keyword tags for a single video. What you’re saying to YouTube is that the video addresses 23 different topics. It’s understandable that YouTube’s algorithms might have a hard time knowing how to categorize that content. Twenty-three topics is an awful lot!

So, for both your tags and the keywords you employ in the video description itself, we recommend sticking to some basics:

  • Always have one focus keyword—the main phrase you’re trying to rank for.
  • Include two or three alternate versions of that keyword; for example, if your main keyword is content writing, alternates might be content writing tips, content writing strategies, etc.
  • Finally, include a couple of broad category keywords to offer context. For this example, your broad keywords might be marketing or

Include a Call to Action

Finally, and as with most any content you write, include a strong call to action. Some users may view your video and want to learn more about your company—so ensure that your video description gives them an easy way to call you and/or access your website. Links to relevant blogs or social media profiles can also be useful.

Write Video Descriptions That Get Results

When it comes to YouTube SEO, success isn’t just about the video itself. Your written description can go a long way—so make sure yours is a solid one. Get help from the Grammar Chic content writing team by calling 803-831-7444, or by visiting our website, www.grammarchic.net.

 

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Content Marketing for Boomers: Tips and Strategies

It seems like there’s a new article written every minute about content marketing to millennials—but what if you’re trying to reach a slightly more mature audience?

A couple of important truths: One, while members of the Boomer generation may not be “digital natives,” that hardly means they don’t use the Web or turn to Google searches to research purchasing decisions. And two, if your company sells products to Boomers, it’s smart to reach out to them through content marketing—yet the methods you use won’t always mirror the ones you’d apply to target millennials and Gen X-ers.

Format Properly

One major factor to consider is formatting. With all due apologies for the generalization, there are many Boomers who might have trouble reading smaller fonts or cluttered layouts. It’s vital to use larger fonts and allow plenty of white space in your content, and to make sure that your articles and blog posts are easy to read across all device types.

Speak Their Language

Language is always relevant to the community of speakers; so, what may be a really well-known slang term or Internet abbreviation among millennials may mean something totally different to Boomers. If you’re writing to an older crowd, make sure your language doesn’t skew teenage. Spend some time listening to your customers to get a sense of how they communicate.

Use the Appropriate Tone

Boomers may not have the same built-in affinity for Internet technology that younger people do, but they’re not dumb, either. You don’t have to be condescending in your content writing, nor pause to explain Web basics that everyone already knows. Be judicious about when you offer explanation, and when you keep things straightforward.

Write Headlines That Convey Value

This is arguably a good tactic for any marketing efforts, but it’s especially true of Boomers: Clickbait methods don’t work nearly as well as you might think they do, so instead of bait-and-switching your readers with a provocative headline, focus on something that offers plain value. Does your article offer tips for preventing frozen pipes? Good titles might be How to Keep Your Pipes from Freezing or even, well, Tips for Preventing Frozen Pipes.

Promote Wisely

Once you create your content, you need to promote it—but which platform should you use for doing so? Research confirms that Facebook’s demographics tend to skew a bit older, while newer channels—such as Snapchat—may not have caught on with more mature adults just yet. Make sure you do your promotion on platforms where you know your audience can be found.

Marketing to the Right Audience

No matter who makes up your target audience, it’s important to tailor your content marketing to meet them where they live. That’s something that requires plenty of data and a proven strategy—something Grammar Chic, Inc. can offer.

Contact us today to set up a content marketing consultation. Reach the Grammar Chic content marketing team at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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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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How to Write Emails That Move the Sales Needle

It’s easy to send an email—and it can cost you basically nothing. Your company can send a limitless number of marketing emails, hoping for the best—but if that’s the approach you take, you’ll find that your emails fall on deaf ears. In fact, you’ll probably find that they never get opened at all.

Just because emails are perceived as cheap and mundane doesn’t mean you should be careless in how you send them. With the right approach, marketing emails can be more than just inbox filler. They can actually move your sales needle and improve your bottom line.

How? By accomplishing a few things:

  1. First, your emails actually have to be opened and read.
  2. Your emails need to go to the right people.
  3. Your emails need to offer something of value.
  4. Finally, your emails need to earn the trust of each recipient.

Maybe that sounds like a tall order, but with the right email marketing strategy, these goals are totally attainable. Here’s how.

Get Your Subject Line Right

Remember, your marketing emails won’t accomplish anything if they don’t get read. And that largely comes down to the subject line. Your subject line sets the tone and establishes the first impression for each email you send—and a good subject line will entice the recipient to explore your message. That’s how you get your emails to be opened and read.

So what does a good subject line look like? For one thing, it’s succinct. According to one study, the best length for an email subject line is four words. Does that mean every email you send needs to have a four-word subject line? No—but you should definitely shoot for brevity.

As for the substance of your subject lines, make sure you avoid clichés. Emoji and overtly salesy language tend not to grab anyone’s attention. Instead, convey the value of your message. What does it say, or what kind of offer does it include? How will the recipient be better off for opening your message?

That’s what you should convey in your subject line—in as brief and punchy a way as you can.

Send Your Emails to the Right People

Another key to getting your emails opened and read is to make sure they go to the right people. Before you hit send, know who you’re sending to.

Accomplish this by keeping a well-curated email list. There are different ways to do this. Maybe you have lists for low-quality and high-quality leads; for returning customers and new leads. At Grammar Chic, Inc., we have distinct aspects of our business—resume writing and content marketing, for example—where the subject matter overlap is pretty minimal. Thus, we maintain separate email lists, only sending resume-related stuff to jobseekers, not to our friends who work in marketing.

Well-curated email lists are key for ensuring that, when someone receives your message, it contains something that speaks to them.

Make Your Emails Valuable

Finally, your emails must earn the trust of each recipient. To put it another way, you need to show that you respect your recipient’s time. Remember that the people who receive your emails probably receive a ton of messages over the course of the day. They have little patience for something that simply hogs space in their inbox. Rather than sending them a bunch of cursory messages day in and day out, send messages judiciously—and make sure each one really counts.

And to make a message count, you need to make sure it offers something of value. Value, of course, can come in many different forms—among them:

  • An offer for a white paper, guide, or other downloadable offer
  • A discount code or coupon
  • A first look at a new product or service, before it’s been unveiled anywhere else
  • Carefully curated, value-adding clips from your company blog

The bottom line? Don’t waste anyone’s time. Give them something that speaks to their needs and shows that you’re looking out for them—not just trying to hock your wares.

Write Emails That Improve Your Bottom Line

Good emails don’t just get read; they convert, in one way or another. As such, they can actually move your sales needle. We’d love to show you more about how that’s done. Reach out to Grammar Chic’s email marketing experts for a consultation. Call us at 803-831-7444, or visit our website at www.grammarchic.net.

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5 Things Your Web Content Should Do in 2018

Astounding though it may be, the time for year-end reflection is here. As we head into 2018, one thing business owners might consider is their website content. Good content is almost like a full-time employee, promoting your brand and explaining your company to online customers 24/7. The question is, is your Web content pulling its weight?

There are five basic jobs your Web content should do—and if it’s falling short, there’s no time like the present to augment, revise, or even write all new content from scratch.

Here, basically, is your Web content’s job description.

Being Found

The bare minimum for any employee? Show up to work each day. Your Web content needs to show up in search engine queries, in particular—which means good localized SEO. In particular, you need written website content with:

  • Judiciously-employed keywords
  • A compelling and keyword-rich meta description
  • A compelling and keyword-rich SEO title
  • Your company’s NAP (name, address, and phone number) info displayed on every page

Offering Value

Your company website shouldn’t actually be about you—at least not entirely. Really, it should be about your customers. What are their pain points? What are the solutions they seek? And how can your company deliver value? Your written website content should address each of these things. Some examples:

  • An About Us page with a clear value proposition
  • Product and service pages that focus on benefits
  • Tutorials or how-tos that demonstrate how your products add value

Building Trust

Another important job for your website content? Earning the trust of your readers—and in particular your potential customers. Remember that your website is the capstone of your online reputation, and it should always make people feel more comfortable doing business with you. Consider including:

  • Thought leadership (such as a blog), proving that you know what you’re talking about
  • Product demos or guides, showing that they work as advertised
  • Testimonials
  • Reviews
  • Any guarantees or warranties you offer

Gathering Information

A good website offers information to its readers, but also harvests information for your business. This is usually done through a form, wherein visitors are asked to provide some basic contact information in exchange for something valuable. Ideas include:

  • Subscription to your email newsletter
  • A white paper or e-book
  • A one-time discount or coupon

Closing Sales

Finally, your website should convert. Ideally, when all these other parts are in place, your website can function as an around-the-clock sales generator, enticing customers to make purchases, set appointments, or reach out to your sales team directly. Some vital aspects of this include:

Is Your Website Doing its Job?

Take a little time over the holidays to give your website a performance review—and if it’s not doing all that it’s supposed to, consider a Web content overhaul. Our team can help, from strategizing through the writing itself. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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Is Style the Missing Ingredient in Your Online Copywriting?

Online content creation is often spoken of in a purely functional capacity: You need to generate some words that will, in turn, give the search engines something to chew on, all while conveying your branding message in a clear and effective way.

But your writing can be technically precise, grammatically correct, and loaded with all the right SEO keywords, and still fail to make much of an impact—especially if it doesn’t start an emotional connection with your audience.

That’s something that happens only when you write with the right style—including all those old writerly concepts like diction, tone, and voice. Style is the oft-neglected aspect of content marketing—a field too often made dry, colorless, and technical—that often spells the difference between failure and success.

Style Defined

Style can be understood in many different ways; a recent Marketing Land article says it’s “a way of communicating,” which sounds right to us. After all, the style of clothing you wear says something about you, your tastes, your personality; and in the same way, your style of writing can convey communicate something even beyond the literal meaning of your words.

Of course, style can’t be relegated to just one aspect of your writing; it encompasses a few different things, among them:

  • Your diction, or the actual vocabulary choices you make.
  • The reading level you write on—simplistic? Elevated? Technical? Layman-friendly?
  • The author’s “voice”—the personality you inject into your writing.
  • The level of formality you employ.
  • The way your text looks on the page—for instance, short vs. long sentences, etc.

Why Style Matters

In the end, though, does style really matter? It does, and for a simple reason: Effective marketing copy must appeal to more than just the rational mind. Emotions are just as impactful to purchasing decisions. (Have you ever made an “impulse buy” that you couldn’t really explain, just because it felt right to do so?)

That’s not to say that writing has to be a direct appeal to emotions; in some contexts, something a little more formal and impersonal might actually be more appropriate. Yet style can have an effect on the subconscious, and make a reader either more or less agreeable to trusting your brand. For example, a style that’s technical and erudite will lead to a deeper innate trust of your highly-technical product, while something warmer and more casual would work better when trying to appeal to the readers of a parenting blog.

For marketers, style can be relied on for three basic purposes:

  • It can help establish and earn trust, as in our example of high-level style for a highly technical product.
  • It can help establish a connection with your reader, really lodging information in the brain.
  • It can have aesthetic appeal unto itself—causing readers to take notice.

Bring Style to Your Marketing

Are you ready to inject some style into your marketing copy—helping it become powerful and resonate? Our writers can help. We’re well-versed in creating marketing copy to fit any asked-for style or voice. Learn more about our style-savvy ghostwriting services by contacting Grammar Chic today—www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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