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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

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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6 Ways You Can Clean Up Your Content Marketing

Is it too late for spring cleaning?

Not where your content marketing is concerned.

In fact, there’s no time like the present to sort through your social media profiles, your website, and your blog, refreshing your content and removing clutter.

The goal? A content marketing enterprise that’s streamlined and effective, providing a more satisfying experience for your audience.

We recommend doing a quick content clean up at least once a year, and in this post, we’ll provide a few steps you can follow to make that clean up effective.

6 Ways to Clean Up Your Content Marketing

  1. Rewrite your social media profiles. When’s the last time your Facebook “About” section was revised or your Twitter bio got an overhaul? Do they still reflect the core value proposition of your business and the kind of language you like to use to describe your products and services? It’s a good habit to review and revise this content annually.
  2. Prune your email list. The goal for any email marketing effort is to have an active and engaged subscriber list. Do you have people who haven’t opened or engaged with your messages in two or three years? If so, you’re probably safe removing them from the database. You might also check for any email addresses that bounce messages back to you; sometimes it’s a simple typo that’s causing your messages to go unread, so verify that you’ve entered the email address correctly.
  3. Audit your links. Nothing frustrates your website users like links that lead to nowhere. It’s worth taking a few minutes to scour your Web content for any links that may be broken, either repairing or removing them as necessary.
  4. Organize your blogging efforts. Has your company blog fallen into an irregular, inconsistent schedule? Develop a new editorial calendar, clarifying when new posts will be written and published. Also note who’s responsible for what—i.e. which team members will do the writing, the image sourcing, the posting, and the social media promotion.
  5. Check your online reputation. Do you have customer reviews you’ve never responded to or online listings that are less than flattering? If you haven’t Googled your company name in a while, do so now, and get a better sense of what’s out there. You might also set up a Google Alert to stay in the know.
  6. Clean up your Google My Business page. Does your GMB account have up-to-date hours and contact information, as well as fresh images? Is it time to rewrite the content to better reflect your current business and SEO objectives? Review your GMB page and make whatever adjustments are necessary.

Content marketing clean up isn’t the flashiest topic, but it can be an important way to keep your efforts aligned with your goals. Reach out to us if you’d like to discuss further ways to enhance your content marketing efforts. Connect with Grammar Chic, Inc. at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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4 Ways the Right Content Can Fuel Business Growth

To achieve consistent growth at your company, everything needs to be firing on all cylinders—your sales team, your marketing department, your business development crew, you name it. Everyone needs to be doing their part, leveraging resources and expertise to move the ball forward.

Content marketing is very much a part of that equation. When wielded strategically, content can actually be fuel for your business growth—helping turn leads into conversions and one-time customers into repeat clients.

A few types of content can be especially helpful in this regard. Here are our recommendations.

4 Types of Content That Can Help Your Business Grow

  1. Product and service descriptions.

Whether you have an e-commerce clothing boutique or an all-purpose plumbing company, it’s important to devote some website real estate to describing what it is you do—and how your customers stand to benefit. Remember, online shoppers can’t pick up, examine, or try on your products and services, so you need Web copy that makes them feel like they have. Be descriptive enough to help customers feel confident that they know what they’re getting into, and focus on the benefit to the end user—what’s in it for them when they buy.

  1. Landing pages.

Imagine this scenario. A potential customer sees a PPC ad for your law firm’s estate planning services. They click it, and it takes them to your firm’s home page—where there’s no explicit mention of estate planning. That may be frustrating, and your lead may decide it’s not worth their trouble to poke around your site to find what they’re looking for. The long and short of it is, it’s valuable to have dedicated landing pages for each service/product you have, ensuring that you can always send leads to somewhere that specifically addresses what they’re looking for.

  1. Emails.

Don’t ignore the power of email marketingstill the most effective way to directly connect with your customers past and present. Whether you put together a monthly newsletter or a weekly e-blast, take the time to think through your content (including subject lines) to make sure you’re offering value. When leveraged correctly, email marketing can build brand awareness and loyalty, and turn some of those one-time customers into follow-up buyers.

  1. Google My Business listing.

Has your company signed up for a free Google My Business listing? It’s worth doing, as it can help you achieve greater visibility among local search engine users. And that positive SEO impact is compounded when you take the time to write compelling, keyword-optimized descriptions of your business. All of this is just to say that GMB is an invaluable but oft-overlooked content deployment opportunity, and it can play a big role in helping you connect with local customers.

Do You Have the Content You Need?

Chances abound for you to use content in a way that leads to business growth—and the Grammar Chic, Inc. team is standing ready to help you make the most of them. Reach out today and let’s talk together about a sound content strategy for your company! Connect with us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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10 Innovative Content Marketing Resolutions for 2019

New year, new opportunities to create content that shines. As we sprint headlong into 2019, consider turning over a new leaf (or 10) with regard to your content marketing efforts. Here are some outside-the-box suggestions to get you started.

1. Stop thinking quantity-first, start thinking quality-first.

We meet a lot of small business owners who get hung up on content volume—and while we definitely think it’s important to be consistent in your content development, we also think that quality matters more than actual quantity.

Did you know that, for many companies, the overwhelming majority of their online engagement comes through just five percent of their content? That’s because that one really high-quality, in-depth blog post you develop is ultimately way more meaningful than 10 micro-blogs you dash off in an afternoon.

Resolve to produce good stuff this year, as opposed to just a lot of okay stuff.

2. Stop guessing and start measuring.

It’s amazing how many businesses invest big bucks in content marketing, but almost nothing into measurement and analytics. Simply put, if you’re going to be investing in any kind of marketing channel, you should have some idea of how well it’s performing for you.

And this doesn’t have to be some big, technical, or expensive undertaking. Google Analytics is free and user-friendly. Social media management platforms such as Hootsuite come with their own built-in reporting features. Start paying real attention to these metrics today.

3. Create a way for your whole team to participate.

A simple strategy: Make a shared Google Document where all the members of your team can log content ideas they come across, or report on questions they are asked by customers—all of which can be invaluable inspiration for your next blog post or e-book.

There’s no reason at all why every person in your company shouldn’t feel empowered to suggest new directions in content.

4. Document everything.

Along the same lines, make this the year you actually keep track of your content marketing efforts—who writes what, how often you publish new content, etc.

Documenting your efforts can be an invaluable way to hold yourself accountable, but also to identify potential areas of improvement. And again, this is an easy thing to do: A Google Doc or a running Excel spreadsheet is really all you need.

5. Be consistent in the story you’re telling.

It’s all too easy to forget that the content you produce is really telling the story of your brand—and it’s important to keep that narrative clear and muddle-free.

Some things to think about: What’s your mission? What’s your value proposition? What problems do you solve, and what customer pain points do you address? And, why would a customer choose you over your competitors?

It’s worth it to not only ponder these questions, but also to document your answers—creating a brand narrative you can refer back to often, making sure all the content you create reinforces that central message.

6. Start thinking of yourself as a publisher.

Some of the most successful companies in the world have begun to think of themselves as publishers—and the result is that they convey thought leadership, command a large social media audience, and maintain total control over their brand narrative.

To make this resolution even more practical, consider some options for publishing branded content beyond your company website. Two places where we’ve found success: LinkedIn Pulse and Medium.

7. Unite SEO and content marketing.

We’ve all read articles about SEO and content marketing, and how they are really two sides of the same coin—but do you actually practice that?

One resolution you might make is to use tools like the Google Keyword Planner to generate some targeted terms for your content—deploying them for SEO effect but also using them as jumping-off points for your content topics. This is a simple yet effective way to make sure your content marketing and SEO efforts are working in cahoots with one another, not at odds.

8. Flip your formula.

How’s this for a creative exercise: If you tend to think of content marketing purely in terms of blog posts, take one of your most popular blogs and use it as the script for a YouTube or Instagram video.

And, if you prefer to use tools like Facebook Live, take one of your most popular broadcasts and use it as the basis for a downloadable PDF.

The point is to think outside your usual format—shake things up, inspire some new ideas, and give your audience something a little bit outside the ordinary.

9. Go live.

The thought of any kind of live streaming might be intimidating for you—and we get it! But remember, a live stream on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. In fact, the virtue of live streaming is that it allows for some candid, off-the-cuff interaction with your audience—perhaps in the form of a quick hello, a product update, or even an audience Q&A.

It’s something that can effectively humanize your brand, and it’s worth trying in the year to come!

10. Work with a content development team.

Finally, if you’ve been seeking a way to make your content production more strategic, more efficient, or more creative, maybe now’s the time to take a leap forward into working with a content writing team. That, of course, is where we come into play.

Whether you’re looking to implement these resolutions or simply want to know what your options are, we’d love to talk with you. Reach out to Grammar Chic today at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net. And oh yeah—Happy New Year!

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