Tag Archives: Content Writing Advice

5 Types of Content That Can Wreck Your Rankings

By now it’s hardly controversial, nor even surprising, to note the close ties between content marketing and SEO. As we noted in one recent blog, Google has come right out and said that the best way to achieve impressive SERP rankings is to provide the end user with valuable, relevant content.

But if the right content can make your SEO, it can also break it… and there are a few types of content that are especially toxic to your ranking efforts.

Here are just a few examples of content you’ll want to avoid.

5 Types of Content That Can Ruin Your SEO

  1. Content that’s unoriginal. This is largely a problem with ecommerce stores, or with websites that have a lot of individual product pages. It’s tempting to employ standard, boilerplate copy on each product page, rather than writing new product descriptions from scratch… except, Google really doesn’t like that. The more duplicate content you produce, the more it dilutes your SEO efforts. Work with a professional content writing team to come up with sharp, wholly original text for each of your products and services.
  2. Thin content. There’s no magic word count for achieving Google success, and sometimes it’s wise to opt for short and sweet. Remember, though, that the end goal should always be to say something valuable and substantive… and for most topics, 50 words probably isn’t going to cut it. If your content is short, rote, and lacking in real substance, Google may not give it much credit.
  3. Content that misleads. This goes back to our recent post on relevance, where we warned that the bait-and-switch technique never works. Simply put, your content needs to make good on the promises of its title. If your post is titled 5 Ways to Save Money on Your Next Used Car, that’s exactly what it should offer the reader.
  4. Fluff. You probably know what we mean by this. We said before that you didn’t want thin content, but if you’re just repeating the same thing over and over again because you think your blog needs to have 700 words in it, well, that hardly offers value to the reader, and it hardly aligns with Google’s algorithmic interests.
  5. Content that’s hard to read. Finally, remember a little thing called user experience, or UX. Your content needs to be valuable, but also easy to digest, and that means using section subheadings, lists, bullet points, and small paragraphs. Leave plenty of white space and make it easy on the eye.

Content That Does the Job

You need content that works on every level… appealing to readers and also winning over the algorithms. And we can help you develop it. Talk with a professional content writer today. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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Here’s How to Write Content That Ranks Well

The Google Search algorithms are notoriously complex. There are dozens upon dozens of factors that Google considers when assessing a site’s ranking; those factors are weighted differently, and the exact algorithmic make-up changes on a regular basis.

Thankfully, Google has made it surprisingly simple for content writers to do their job and to create content that achieves search engine visibility. Google’s own search engineers have conceded that, for all the algorithmic complexity and churn, there’s essentially one huge factor that overshadows all the rest. Content writers who can capitalize on that one huge factor are positioned well for SEO success.

So what’s the secret?

In a word, relevance.

That’s not just a buzzword. It’s something that the Google algorithms actually measure and quantify. And according to Google’s internal experts, it’s the one thing that content writers should focus on as they pursue SEO-effective copy.

What is Relevance?

But how can Google possibly categorize something that sounds so nebulous?

The definition of relevance isn’t as fuzzy as you might think. Essentially, it boils down to user-centered content that serves a purpose.

That is to say, is the content useful?

Does it provide helpful, clarifying, and/or actionable insight to the user?

And is it related to the intentions of the search user? Does it meaningfully address their search query?

If you can honestly say yes to all of these questions, then there’s a good chance your content is indeed relevant in the eyes of Google.

Simple Steps for Writing Relevant Content

If you’re still uncertain about the relevance of your content, you’re in luck: Google’s Webmaster Guidelines actually offer some best practices for content writers. We’re going to summarize and paraphrase them here, because not only do they represent a good recipe for relevant content, but they also reflect good online content writing principles more generally.

Google’s advice is as follows:

  1. Write content primarily for the search engine users, not for the algorithms. If you’re thinking about how to appease the search bots, you’re going about it all wrong. Instead, step back and ask yourself how you can connect with the end user, answer their questions, and fortify them with good information. Using buyer personas may be valuable here.
  2. Don’t be deceptive. If your headline promises 5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Credit Score, the article should provide five simple steps for readers to improve their credit scores… plain and simple. Bait-and-switch routines will kill your relevance ratings.
  3. Avoid anything that’s designed to trick the search engines. Before attempting some sort of SEO gimmick, ask yourself: Would I do this if Google didn’t exist? If your answer is no, then it’s probably not worth doing.
  4. Consider the things that make your business or your website unique. What are some of the unique benefits and value points that you can offer? Make sure your content captures those things.

The bottom line: Relevance is the most important characteristic of digital copy, and it’s not as nebulous or as unattainable as you might think.

We can help you write content that’s truly relevant to your audience. Are you ready to talk? Reach out to the Grammar Chic, Inc. team today. Connect with us at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

 

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Has AI Made Content Writers Obsolete?

Do you remember the old joke about monkeys? How if you put enough of them in front of typewriters and allowed them to bang away, one of them might eventually bash out the Great American Novel?

Well, we’re currently seeing a similar premise play out in real time. It’s not with chimps, but with robots. AI is rapidly overtaking the content marketing industry, helping to automate some of those simple, repetitive functions that take so much time. The idea is that, when AI is able to handle things like scheduling and reporting, it frees marketers to focus more of their efforts on real, creative work.

But what happens when the robots take over the creative work, as well?

Maybe it sounds farfetched to think that AI could actually produce written content… but the truth is, it’s happening already. There are programs out there that can automatically generate simple, factual stories (think stock reports or sports updates) with little or no input from human writers.

Great news for anyone who needs basic Web copy quickly, and without a lot of hassle. Bad news for, well, writers, the latest professionals to see their livelihoods encroached on by faceless tech.

What AI Can’t Do

Actually, though, the situation is not that dire. While AI can and should be used in certain content marketing functions, it will never be able to put writers out of work.

Why? Because AI is great for many things: Learning, mastering basic patterns, even mimicking human speech. Indeed, it’s no great surprise that simple reporting can now be automated; for AI to take sports scores and plug them into a formula doesn’t require much in the way of out-of-the-box thinking.

And that’s the one thing AI doesn’t possess: The ability to engage in lateral thinking or creative brainstorming. Robotic “writers” may be able to mimic some narrative archetypes, but they can’t build worlds or capture emotion like a human writer can.

To put it one way, AI can absolutely report the basic stats of a soccer game… but it could never invent Quidditch, or develop the story beats for a Rocky movie.

The functionality of AI rests on what’s repeatable… on tasks that can be boiled down to a formula or algorithm. But there’s no algorithm for human creativity; no way you can automate out-of-the-box thinking, storytelling, human interest, or reader engagement.

And what that means is that, while AI can be a helpful tool for generating boilerplate copy, it can’t produce the kind of original, emotionally-charged, and value-adding content that’s required for effective content marketing.

Still a Role for Writers

Writers can rest easy. And companies that have invested in automated programs to assist with their content marketing can pat themselves on the back: They’ve taken meaningful steps toward streamlining their processes and maximizing efficiency.

But they still need human beings who are skilled in using words to facilitate connection. That’s where we come in. To speak with a Grammar Chic writer about any of the things your AI can’t do, reach out today: 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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

3 Things Lil Nas X Can Teach Us About Content Marketing

What do Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Post Malone, Ed Sheeran, and Justin Bieber all have in common?

Over the last several weeks, all of them have been blocked from the #1 spot on the Billboard Top 100, their ascendency stopped by a little song called “Old Town Road.”

Whether you herald it as the cutting edge of rap/country hybridization or you hear it as a musical meme gone horribly wrong, there’s no question that it’s the most talked-about, most argued-about, and most historically significant song of the year.

You probably know the backstory: A rapper named Lil Nas X assembled the song from trap beats and country instrumentation, initially uploading it to YouTube where it became a viral sensation. It rose to the top of the country charts; country radio disavowed it, essentially saying it wasn’t “authentic” enough. The incident sparked an online debate about the fluid nature of genre and country music’s vexing history of racism, among other things.

Also, somewhere along the way, Billy Ray Cyrus got involved.

Of course, the song eventually made it back to the charts, and stands as one of the defining pop culture moments of the year. And, it got us thinking about the nature of content marketing—

something Lil Nas X obviously has a pretty good handle on.

Viral Still Matters

One takeaway: Creating something that connects with people, even on a small scale, still matters… and those little connections can quickly build into huge movements.

Nobody had ever heard of Lil Nas X before “Old Town Road,” and he released the song without much in the way of industry support. It was just a goof that he uploaded to the Web—but people liked it. The song is strange, funky, extremely catchy, and a joy to listen to. It caught on. It went viral, even without much in the way of supportive infrastructure. And in much the same way, a really well-honed piece of content, with the right audience and the right moment, can catch serious fire… with or without the help of big publishers or influencers.

Categories are Innately Limiting

Even if you don’t care much for the song, you have to admit that it’s spawned some compelling meta-narratives and critical conversations… including dialogue about what it actually is. Country? Trap? A novelty? A new frontier?

Maybe that’s a big part of why it’s connected with people: It exists outside of our pre-set boxes and categories. Similarly, there’s room for content marketing that doesn’t fit in with expectation.

You don’t have to blog about the same topics as everyone else in your industry. You don’t have to create Instagram videos that follow a formula. You can allow your own personality to sparkle and shine through, and trust that your unclassifiable authenticity will resonate.

When in Doubt, Remix

We made a joke about Billy Ray Cyrus, but in all seriousness: His remix of “Old Town Road” is an important part of why the song has stayed in the public consciousness for so long.

Remixing your content marketing can have a similar impact; if you have a blog that’s performed well, why not break it down into some tweets? Reshape it into a press release? Or if nothing else, use it as a jumping off point for some ancillary blog posts?

Recognize when you have a good thing… and look for ways to spin it in a fresh direction.

These are just a few of the takeaways we’ve gathered from “Old Town Road” and Lil Nas X… and if you want to know how these lessons can impact your content marketing efforts, we invite you to reach out.

Let’s chat: Contact Grammar Chic, Inc. at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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How to Make Your Boring Industry Really Interesting

At Grammar Chic, Inc., we truly believe that content marketing can deliver meaningful results for any company, in any industry.

But some may have to work a little bit harder for it than others.

Simply put, some industries more naturally lend themselves to fresh, exciting, compelling content. But what happens if you sell annuities?  What happens if you prepare tax returns? What happens if you’re an estate planning lawyer? We’re not saying these things are unimportant! We’re just saying they may not seem as flashy or as exciting to the average reader.

It may cause you to wonder what can be done to turn your “boring” line of work into really rich, persuasive content—content that people will actually want to read.

Here’s our advice.

Always Be Helpful

A good rule of thumb: If your content is helpful, someone out there’s going to find it interesting.

Take our example of an estate planning attorney. You may write a blog post about how to draft a will; when a living trust is necessary; or how to choose guardians for your children.

Those topics may not jump off the page, and sure, some may say they’re unglamorous. But people want to know those things. They need to know those things. And if you can provide that information in a clear and actionable way, there will be readers who find great value in it—

period.

Maybe the best advice here is to change your way of thinking: If you can’t make your content exciting, just make sure that it helps someone.

Write Without Jargon

One thing that can stand between you and an engaged readership is reliance on industry jargon.

We see this a lot when working with insurance companies, who trot out a bunch of words and phrases that may be foreign to the layperson. Of course, that’s the quickest way to get eyes to glaze over!

Don’t think (or write) in terms of industry buzzwords. Instead, come at it from the customer’s point of view. What are their pain points? What answers do they seek? And how can your company benefit from them? Focus on those things, with as much clarity as you can.

Inject Some Personality

Your business may be boring—or at least, that may be how people perceive it.

But you’re not boring!

Feel free to inject some personality, even humor, into your content. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to make your content come alive.

This might mean throwing in some personal anecdotes, some gentle self-deprecation, or even some specific examples from past clients (ensuring you keep things anonymous, of course).

Another strategy is to draw connections to shows, movies, or other pop culture reference points that might mean something to you. Remember our posts invoking Mad Men and The Walking Dead?

Get Help from the Pros

It’s frustrating to feel like your industry is just a dead space for compelling content—but we honestly believe that any field can be made enticing, or at the very least valuable, to the reader.

We’d love to show you how. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. to schedule a content consultation today. You can reach us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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How to Prepare for Your Content Call

Nobody knows your business better than you do—but that doesn’t mean you should be the person to write all your company blogs, press releases, and social media posts.

Actually, your intimate knowledge of the business can be as much a liability as a boon. Simply put, you may be too close to it to be able to sort through what’s really important, and what’s discursive.

A professional content writer, meanwhile, can provide a helpful level of remove—helping you see the business from an outsider’s point of view and more precisely hone your marketing message.

Of course, there’s still a lot riding on your ability to explain what your business does, who your business serves, and what makes your business unique. Here at Grammar Chic, Inc., our content writers will want to jump on the phone with you for a content call, where we get to hear your story, in your words, allowing us to capture your voice.

Getting Ready for Your Content Call

As you prepare to speak with a Grammar Chic writer, here are a few questions you can start to ponder.

  1. Who are your clients? To write effective content, step one is knowing the audience. We’ll want to know who your clients are, basically. Do you serve just women? Mostly seniors? Professionals within a certain field? How would you describe your typical client?
  2. What’s your reach? Where are you located—and from how far away do your customers come? Help your content writer get a sense of your geographic spread.
  3. What’s your elevator pitch? What makes your business unique? Why would a customer pick you over the competition? How would you articulate your value proposition if you only had 30 seconds to do it?
  4. What’s in it for the end user? To come at it differently, what are the benefits customers and clients can anticipate? What pain points do you address? How are people better off having worked with your business?
  5. Who’s your competition? Can you point your writer to a few competitors, just to get a sense of how similar companies present themselves?
  6. What are your keywords? If you had to summarize your products or services in just a few quick SEO keywords, what would some of those keywords be?
  7. Do you have any existing content? Do you have some company blog posts already published? What about some social media posts? Do you like the current content on your website, or does it need some work?
  8. What are your goals? What are you hoping to achieve through content writing? How will you define success?

Getting ready for a content call may feel a little daunting: What should you say? Where do you begin? However, if you can take some time to answer these questions, you’ll really be prepared for a constructive meeting, and a terrific launch to your content writing partnership!

We’d love to set up a call with you today to discuss your content writing needs. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. at 803-831-7444 or via www.grammarchic.net.

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What is Episodic Content Marketing?

You’re probably familiar with the old show business adage: Leave the audience wanting more.

That simple piece of advice has recently become popular in content marketing circles, as well. One of this year’s big trends is episodic content marketing, which is all about providing your audience with just enough value to be satisfied, but also to make them want to come back for seconds.

At its most basic, episodic content marketing is simply about taking a big piece of content and doling it out as individual installments. For instance, maybe instead of writing a 10-point, 3,000-word blog, you create a series of ten 300-word blogs—each one devoted to a single point, all of them adding up into a more comprehensive argument or narrative.

The Benefits of Episodic Content Marketing

As you can tell, this isn’t a complete retooling of the content ecosystem so much as a simple paradigm shift: Maybe instead of long and meaty content, it’s more logical to have bite-sized morsels. And there are some clear benefits. For example:

  • Episodic content marketing gives your audience a reason to come back for more, just like when a TV show (or an Avengers movie!) ends on a big cliffhanger.
  • It also provides an incentive for people to subscribe to your email list or to follow you on social media—after all, they don’t want to miss the next episode!
  • Finally, episodic content allows you to develop a grand narrative or arc, which can lend to your brand’s thought leadership and authority.

What Does Episodic Content Marketing Require?

Another upshot of episodic content marketing is that, if you already have a strong content development structure in place, it’s a pretty easy shift into the episodic realm. Some guidelines to consider:

  • Make sure you have a good sense of the big picture. A 10-part blog series needs a unifying theme or idea, and that’s something you have to figure out in advance.
  • It’s also important that each piece of content creates anticipation for the next. At the end of a blog post, tease the upcoming topic. Again, this requires advance planning.
  • Encourage interaction when you can. Share each episode on social media and in your company emails and ask for feedback. Pose some specific questions to get people to engage with you.

If you’ve been in a content rut and are looking for a way to reinvigorate audience interest, this is an approach that could pay off. And we’d love to help however we can! Connect with Grammar Chic, Inc. to discuss content strategy or creation. You can find us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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