Tag Archives: content marketing

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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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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How Voice Search Changes Content Marketing

The way people search for information is changing—and it’s changing fast. You may be used to actually typing out your search queries, but more and more users now favor voice search—a trend that has much to do with the advent of mobile services, plus voice assistants like Siri and Alexa. Just how big of a deal is voice search? According to many industry predictions, more than half of all search queries will be voice-based by 2020.

Of course, this changes the way we think about content marketing. You can’t just write for those who do text-based search. You also have to write content that can be easily discovered and digested by those who are searching with their voice—and having the results read back to them.

But how can content marketers adapt?

How Does Voice Search Change Your Content Strategy?

There are three big ways in which voice search changes content strategy.

  1. Think in terms of questions and answers. When you’re typing out a search query, you generally try to make it as brief as possible; something like best coffee maker or best plumber near me typically suffices. When you’re using voice search, though, you’re more likely to ask an actual question: What’s a good, affordable coffee maker? Who is the best local plumber? As a content marketer, it’s important to incorporate this question and answer format; use titles and H1, H2, and H3 tags to ask questions, then provide immediate answers within the following paragraph. This makes it clear to the Google algorithms which questions you’re addressing, in a way that voice search users will find straightforward and helpful.
  2. Consider long-tail keywords. Again, voice search users are more likely to elaborate their queries; best local plumber may become something like what’s the best local plumber who does drain cleaning or what’s a local plumber with good reviews, or who is the most affordable plumber in the area? This gives you an opportunity to implement longer, more specific keyword phrases that better match the conversational style of voice search users—and in doing so, you can get more specific with your own value proposition.
  3. Incorporate your location. A majority of voice search queries are location-based—which makes sense, given the big overlap between voice search and mobile search. To ensure your content is visible to the relevant audience, it’s important to incorporate as much local data as you can—including localized keywords, user reviews and testimonials, and your company contact information.

Where Can You Get Help with Voice Search?

To get help acclimating your content strategy to the brave new world of voice search, reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. Our content marketing strategists would love to consult with you. Find us at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Can Outsourced Content Writing Maintain a High Level of Quality?

Whether because they lack the time, the ability, or some combination of the two, more and more businesses are outsourcing their content writing; when it comes time for a new company blog post or press release, they farm it out to an agency or a freelancer, where the work is done relatively hassle-free.

This method obviously has its advantages, but there can also be compromises—especially when it comes to quality.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can get high-quality work through outsourced content writing, but to do so, you’ve got to hire the right people—and manage the process wisely.

Why Content Quality Matters

First, a quick word about quality. It can be tempting to approve of any half-decent writing that’s sent your way, but business owners can and should be pickier about what they accept. There are a couple of reasons for this, and the first is branding. The writing on your website or blog reflects your brand, and as such you want it to be authoritative, clean, and helpful; you want to provide value to your customers, without errors or typos. Sloppy writing makes you look like a sloppy company.

In addition, you need quality because Google demands it—and if you want your blog or website to rank well within Google searches, keeping the algorithms happy is a necessity. Google wants its search engine users to have relevant answers to all their quandaries, so to ensure high visibility, you have to be helpful and solutions-oriented.

Hiring Quality Writers

That’s a high threshold for your writer to meet—so how can you ensure that they rise to the challenge?

  • First, make sure you hire the right people. A writing company, as opposed to an individual freelancer, can offer a real business track record, including reviews and testimonials. Always ask for work samples, too. Of course, checking out the company’s own blog helps you see what they are capable of.
  • Always make sure you’re getting your writing done by native American English speakers.
  • Do your part to provide clear directions. Be ready to offer topics, a sense of your voice/desired tone, and any SEO keywords you’d like the writers to employ.
  • Also be prepared to educate the writer about who your audience is, and what you wish to accomplish with your writing. Clear goals are vitally important.
  • Provide constructive feedback whenever you can, which will help your writers better understand your voice.
  • Finally, make sure you know quality work when you see it. This goes beyond just checking for typos and grammatical errors. Also make sure the writing that’s submitted to you is tailored to your audience and advances the goals or agenda you’ve set forward.

At the end of the day, good writing is something you can offer to customers and potential customers—and optimally, it will offer both value and professionalism. Or, to put it more succinctly, it will offer quality­—and yes: That is something you can get through outsourcing, so long as you approach the process shrewdly.

To learn more, reach out to the writers at Grammar Chic, Inc. Be sure to ask us about our own standards of quality. Contact 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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5 Ways to Develop Content with Long-Term Value

Online content is ephemeral by its very nature—and not just Snapchat stories! Whether you’re talking about blog posts, press releases, or tweets, so much of the content that companies develop has a remarkably short shelf life.

This is just the nature of the beast, but it can be discouraging. For companies that invest a lot of time and money into their website content, for instance, knowing that the lifespan of said content is brief can make the whole process seem frivolous.

There are ways you can inject more life and longevity into your website content, though, and ensure that it provides you with SEO and branding clout long after that first week, that first month, or that first year. Here are five tips from the Grammar Chic team.

Focus on Evergreen Content

A blog post detailing your brand new product has an inherently short-lived relevance, because of course that product won’t be brand new forever! Such content is necessary, but you should counterbalance it with evergreen content—Web pages written on timeless topics with enduring relevance. Something like an FAQ page or a how-to guide can provide you with a content angle that will still be fresh and relevant in a few years’ time. One recommendation: Schedule time once a year or so to review this content and make any tweaks or additions that are needed.

Optimize Your Content

Your content will offer you more bang over a longer span of time if it continues to get discovered by search engine users. Be sure that you optimize content for long-tail keyword phrases, and that you pay attention to critical on-page elements such as the title tag and meta description. Investing in some SEO basics is a great way to future-proof your content.

Link to Your Content

Internal linking is a great way to keep your content alive; even a blog post or a Web page you wrote three years ago may prove a relevant appendix to a more current page. Linking to it, when appropriate, can send readers to different parts of your site, including older content that might otherwise be neglected. Of course, it also increases the SEO value of those older pages.

Repurpose Older Content

Even if you feel like a particular page or an older blog post is losing its SEO value, or simply not generating much traffic, the concepts on that page can still be worthwhile. That’s when you take that content and repackage it as a brand new page, as an email newsletter, or as a series of social media posts.

Refresh Your Content Regularly

One more thing: Your website shouldn’t remain static for years at a time. Grammar Chic’s team recommends routine content refreshes; whether a full re-write or a subtler re-shaping, content updates can keep your entire site feeling fresh and new. Work this into your annual marketing rhythm. And for help polishing your content to perfection, reach out to our team at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Match Your Content to Your Sales Funnel

We’d all like to believe that the consumer journey is simple and straightforward—that a buyer sees your product advertised somewhere, visits your website, and places and order, all within a span of mere minutes.

Maybe it happens like that sometimes—but usually, the buyer’s journey is quite a bit more complicated. Maybe the consumer makes a general inquiry on Google, and happens to see one of your products in an AdWords placement. He digs around for more information, reading your company blog or checking out some tweets. He forgets about your company, but a week later sees a retargeted ad on Facebook. Weeks or even months after that initial discovery, the consumer finally places an order.

The point is, there are many steps and stages to the buying process—and that’s something that has a direct impact on content marketing.

Simply put, you can’t assume that everyone who encounters your content is going to be at the same point in their journey. Some might be discovering your brand for the very first time; what they need is some general information. Others may be very familiar with your brand, and on the brink of making a purchase decision. What these consumers need is something that will persuade them to make that conversion.

In creating content, it’s important to think in terms of that consumer journey—and to develop content to fit each stage along the way.

Top of the Funnel Content

For starters, you need some content to greet those consumers who are just discovering your brand—the people who aren’t ready to commit to a particular product, but may find your company through a broad, generalized search. Here the goal is to educate them about who you are and what you do, developing brand visibility. Some content types you might consider here include:

  • Blog posts
  • Web content
  • Press releases
  • Explainer videos
  • Infographics

Middle of the Funnel Content

At the same time, it’s important to develop content for people who know your brand and are trying to do their due diligence, figuring out why they should trust your company over the competition. Some recommended content types here include:

  • Newsletters
  • White papers
  • Product demos
  • Reviews
  • Retargeting

Bottom of the Funnel Content

Finally, it’s vital to have content designed to inform the consumer at that moment of decision—to lead to a conversion. Here, establishing trust and speaking directly to value are both key. Recommended content types include:

  • Webinars
  • Reviews
  • Testimonials
  • Direct, personal sales presentations
  • Offers and discounts

Content for the Whole Journey

The bottom line: Content marketing should be mapped out and in sync with the buyer’s journey, which means different pieces of content may serve different functions. Do you have content for each stage of the buying process? If not, get help in strategic, results-oriented content development. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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