Tag Archives: SEO

Choosing Between Long-Form and Short-Form Content

It’s a question that our content writing team receives on a regular basis, from business owners in virtually all industries and verticals: How long should my company’s online content be?

Our answer: Long enough.

What people are really getting at is whether there is some magic number they need to hit in terms of their word count. Technically, 400 words is all you need to write to ensure that your blog post or Web page is indexed by Google.

But if you’re trying to truly optimize your content—not just writing the bare minimum, but writing enough so that you can build trust, inform customers, reap ample SEO benefits, and position your brand for thought leadership—well, you may need to write a little more. Or in some cases, a lot more.

Long-Form vs. Short-Form Content

For the purposes of this post, we’re defining long-form content as blog posts, white papers, and other assets that exceed 2,000 words—give or take. Short-form content is usually closer to 1,000 words, sometimes less. In fact, a good short-form blog post can be as brief as 500 words and still be perfectly effective.

To decide which route is best for your business, you’ve got to think about your marketing objectives, and tailor your content length accordingly. We’ll provide you with some guidelines here.

Long-Form Content Makes the Most Sense When:

  • You have a brand new product or service, without much precedent, and you need longer copy to explain what it is and how it adds value.
  • You are writing about products or services that come with higher price tags, and thus buyers want as much information as possible before making a purchasing decision.
  • You are offering products or services that require more of a commitment on behalf of the buyer.
  • Your product is more technical in nature, and needs all its technical specs discussed in the marketing content.
  • You are in a B2B scenario, one in which the sales cycle tends to be longer or more complicated.

Short-Form Content Makes the Most Sense When:

  • You have a product or service with which most of your readers are already going to be quite familiar.
  • Your product or service is either inexpensive or quite commonplace, and therefore less explanation is needed.
  • You’re writing content that is going specifically to qualified leads.
  • You are writing for a channel that requires fewer words—an email, a Facebook ad, an AdWords ad, etc.

In other words, your content length should be determined by how much your buyers already know, versus how much they need to be educated; by how interested your readers are, or rather, by where they are located in the sales funnel; and by the basic marketing goals for the content.

Being Judicious About Content Length

As you seek to determine the ideal length for your content, it’s best to consult with marketing professionals. Grammar Chic’s experts can not only help you strategize, but we can also handle the content creation for you—no matter how long or how short!

Learn more by contacting us today for a consultation at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Filed under Blog Writing, Business Writing, Web Content

Not All Keywords Are Created Equal

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Since the earliest days of search engine optimization, there has always been some disagreement with regard to keywords. To this day, many small business owners, zealous to optimize their company websites as best they can, wonder about the best keywording principles: How many keywords should they use? What should those keywords be? Where should keywords be placed?

A key concept in any SEO endeavor is keyword research. Google AdWords provides a keyword research tool that’s invaluable, even if you’re not necessarily using it for PPC purposes. You can do research using this tool that informs all your on-site keyword efforts—showing you the best, most valuable and competitive words to use in your Web content, on your blog, and so on.

Branded vs. Non-branded Keywords

As you dip into keyword research, it’s important to understand that there are different types of keywords out there. One of the first distinctions you’ll want to make is the one about branded versus non-branded keywords.

Let’s start with branded keywords—the ones that are connected to your specific brand. Some examples of branded keywords include:

  • Your website name;
  • Your company name, if different from your website name;
  • Misspellings of your website name; for example, you have to prepare for the possibility that some people might search for Grammar Chick instead of Grammar Chic; and
  • Branded products—like Big Mac, iPhone, etc.

Often, branded keywords are the ones that prove to be the highest converting. That’s what makes it so important to optimize for these terms; they represent your best chance at turning traffic into paying customers. Additionally, it’s important for brand management. You wouldn’t want your competitor to outrank you for your own company name, would you? And can you imagine what Microsoft would do if they actually ranked better than Apple for the term iPhone? It certainly wouldn’t be good for Apple!

As for non-branded keywords, those are the ones that don’t fit into the categories above. These don’t convert as consistently, but are vital in reflecting the way people really search for information. A lot of people are going to Google for writing company rather than Grammar Chic because they simply don’t know that Grammar Chic exists; optimizing for non-branded keywords is important for reaching those users.

Informational vs. Transactional Keywords

These two broad categories of keywords can be further broken down into additional types—specifically, informational and transactional keywords.

  • Informational keywords are upper funnel keywords that attract users and creates awareness. You optimize these keywords with goal of wanting to increase new users and traffic.
  • Transactional ones, meanwhile, are the lower funnel and money-oriented keywords that are more likely to turn into a transaction of a lead, depending on website’s goal.

These types of keywords function differently, and you may want to emphasize one type over the other simply depending on the type of content you’re writing (that is, where in the sales funnel you’re trying to reach people). As you seek to determine whether a keyword falls under the informational or transactional heading, I recommend asking the following three questions:

  1. Use AdWords to see the kind of traffic and the kind of conversions associated with each keyword. A high-converting keyword is more likely to be transactional; a keyword with lots of traffic but not many conversions is probably informational.
  2. If you are not running AdWords or you don’t have sufficient data, look at Google’s keyword planner and find out the cost per click for each keyword (it’ll be abbreviated CPC) as well as the competition. If the CPC and competition are high, then that is more likely to be a transactional keyword because marketers often don’t spend a ton of money on informational ones.
  3. Finally, you can always just copy and paste each keyword into Google to see what Google returns. For example, if you type in “how to get an oil change,” most of the search results are blogs and articles, which are informational. But if you search for “where to get an oil change” then the results will change and show nearby mechanic shops, Yelp results, etc.—businesses where you’d make a transaction.

Know Your Keywords

No matter what marketing activity you’re engaged in, it’s important to know which keywords you’re dealing with. That all starts with research—and if you need a hand with any of the heavy lifting, don’t hesitate to contact the digital marketing experts at Digital Advertiser.

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Filed under Brand Management, Business Writing, Content Writing, Social Media

4 Keyword Errors That Can Tank Your SEO

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Keywords are critical for successful search engine optimization (SEO), but they can also be stumbling blocks. We’ve all been to websites where the keywords were so dense and so awkward that the text didn’t read naturally, or offer any meaningful insight to the user. By the same token, you’ve probably struggled with blog posts or web pages that simply didn’t generate any SEO traction, likely because of insufficient keywording.

In other words, working with keywords requires some balance. To help you achieve it, we’re going to run down four of the most common keyword mistakes—technical errors that can sink your SEO endeavor. We’ll also provide some hints for avoiding them.

Common Keyword Mistakes—And How to Avoid Them

Only choosing short-term keywords. Before you can implement keywords, you have to select them—and many SEO novices spend too much time and attention on shorter, more general search terms. The problem with choosing a keyword like “plumbing” is that it’s just not how users tend to search for things; at the same time, it happens to be really expensive to rank for, especially with PPC ads. A long-tail keyword—“affordable plumbing in Charlotte, NC,” for example—better reflects user habits, and also provides more room to be competitive.

Keyword stuffing. When people ask us how many keywords they should be using, we generally just recommend that they use the words naturally. Keyword stuffing is when you use so many keywords that any semblance of meaning is lost. For example: “Looking for a good Charlotte, NC plumber? There are many Charlotte, NC plumber companies to choose from. Talk to a Charlotte, NC plumber by dialing into our Charlotte, NC plumber hotline today!” If your text doesn’t read naturally, you’re probably stuffing it with keywords—and that can actually lead to search engine penalties.

Going off-topic. Is your chosen keyword “Charlotte plumbing expert?” And are you using “Charlotte plumbing expert” 10 times within your text? If so, then the content needs to be about Charlotte plumbing experts. If it’s about something totally off-topic, that’ll just infuriate readers—and, again, land you with search engine penalties.

Forgetting title tags and meta descriptions. There are the most crucial areas for including keywords—so if you’re not filling them in strategically, you’re missing prime SEO opportunities!

Get Your Keywords in Order

If you’re struggling to balance content creation with keyword deployment, our Web copywriters would love to lend a hand. Contact Grammar Chic to learn more, either at 803-831-7444 or at www.grammarchic.net.

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5 Ways to Improve Your SEO Copywriting Today

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is a daunting topic: Because it’s ever in flux, you really never reach a point where you know everything there is to know about it—and that can be intimidating. Just when you think you’re a master, you realize how much you still have to discover.

That’s not to say that there are not some tried-and-true principles for you to lean on, though. This is especially true of SEO copywriting. The words you use to develop your Web content are crucial to SEO success—every bit as crucial as, say, page layout and navigation—and there are some reliable methods for making your SEO copy even stronger.

We’ll show you what we mean: Five ways you could improve the SEO value in your written content today.

Write for Actual Readers

This is so basic, but so important—and in many cases, so easily overlooked. You’ve got to break out of the mindset that you are writing for Google robots. You are, to some extent, but what those bots want is for you to develop content that is actionable and interesting to human readers—the people actually searching for information on the Web. That’s the audience to shoot for. As you write, ask yourself how you can answer questions and offer solutions to the people who might be seeking information on the Web.

Quit Keyword Stuffing

How many times should you use a long-tail keyword phrase in each piece of content? Two? Five? Ten? Three percent of the total word density? Frankly, if you’re getting caught up in these questions, it probably means you’re shoehorning words into places they don’t quite belong. Having a keyword or two to guide your content development is helpful, and including a keyword in titles and meta descriptions is always good, but beyond that, the best advice is to just be organic.

Don’t Let Your Words Stand Alone

Sharpen your words and enhance the impact of your copy by sprinkling in some other rich content—embedded videos, GIFs, and above all else some strong imagery. High-quality, relevant images can make the professionalism of your writing stand out all the more.

Spend More Time Writing Headlines

Your headline creates the first impression readers will have of your content, and in many ways the headline is what determines whether your content even gets read at all. It’s arguably the most important component in your online copywriting, then—so don’t rush through it. We’ve offered some specific headline-writing tips before.

Include Meta Descriptions

The meta description—a 150-characters-or-so snippet that’s displayed in Google search queries—is an invaluable piece of online real estate, and a free way to significantly boost your online traction. Make sure to use the full character count to provide a robust summary of your content; try including a keyword and a call to action, if you can.

Of course, you can also shape up your SEO copy by hiring the pros: Contact Grammar Chic at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net to learn more.

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Why Content is Still King—And Always Will Be

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Content is king. That was a popular phrase in the early days of search engine optimization, more popular still once content marketing started to take off. The meaning of that phrase is pretty simple: For whatever other gimmicks, tactic, or strategies you employ, high-quality and compelling content is the single most essential, make-or-break component of your marketing strategy.

It’s a useful phrase for a couple of reasons. One, it provides focus. SEO strategies tend to ebb and flow, as Google’s search algorithms themselves are subject to change—but the importance of content is something you can rely on. So long as you don’t get distracted from that simple premise, you can’t veer too far off course.

In addition, it provides some practical direction for your blog and Web content development. Your starting point is always going to be more or less the same: Devise topics and themes that not only align with your company’s vision, but that also offer practical, actionable value to your targeted readers. That first step sets your entire content development process in motion.

But content is king, as a marketing truism, has long drifted into cliché—and in some ways, fallen out of fashion. It’s enough to raise the question: Is content still paramount to effective online marketing?

Google’s Value Proposition

To answer this question, we need to step back and make a few observations about how search engines work; for the sake of simplicity, we’ll just use Google as shorthand here. What is Google’s ultimate aim with its search engine results page? Like any company, Google is trying to provide its customers with a product that is useful and satisfactory. In this case, the customers are search engine users; the product is the list of search engine results themselves. What Google needs to do to keep its customers happy is simple: Continue to provide useful, to-the-point search results that answer the questions search engine users are asking.

That’s the one constant thread in search engine optimization and content marketing. Algorithms may change and trends come and go, but Google is always going to have an interest in providing a valuable product to its customers—which means that algorithms are always going to be looking for content that gives users what they came for.

Not only does this mean content will always be king, but it suggests some helpful ways of thinking about what good, effective content really is. Consider this checklist of what high quality content should be:

  • Easy to navigate
  • Descriptive and accurate in its headlines and meta descriptions
  • Formatted to ensure easy skimming and reading
  • Engaging and well-written
  • Enriched with graphics, videos, and supplemental links
  • Actionable in its practical takeaways
  • Relevant to the targeted search engine queries

Keep this in mind as you develop content with search engine optimization in mind: You’re ultimately helping provide Google with its product—and so long as you develop something that Google’s customers want, you’re on the right track.

For help with this, don’t hesitate to contact the Grammar Chic writing and marketing team right away. Reach us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Filed under Content Marketing, Content Writing, Web Content

5 Ways to Sync Content Marketing with SEO

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Content marketing and search engine optimization are not mutually exclusive, and in fact the overlap can be significant. Many of our clients hire Grammar Chic to handle content writing, and separate SEO firms to handle the optimization; we work closely with these SEO pros to make sure the content we write is not only high-quality, but also ready for integration into a wider search engine marketing campaign.

Maybe your company has some irons in the fire both with regard to content marketing and SEO—and maybe you’re not sure how to make sure these two disciplines work together in tandem. The good news is that high-quality content tends to be a boon to SEO, and good SEO is usually transparent enough that it doesn’t tarnish the quality of written content.

How to Make Content and SEO Work Together

Still, it’s important to be strategic in how you integrate these two disciplines. Here are some tips to help you:

  1. Start with your goals. We’re always telling our content marketing clients that they need to know their destination before we can provide them with the road map—and that’s equally true of SEO. You need to know what you’re trying to accomplish, and what benchmarks you want to hit—whether it’s increasing traffic, getting links, or improving your online reputation. Set goals and make sure you have the same goals, or at least complimentary ones, for both content and SEO.
  1. Create buyer personas. There’s an old saying in SEO circles, that Google won’t love you until everyone else does. What this means is that the way to search engine success is to develop content that human readers find valuable. So, by developing buyer personas that help you tailor content to consumer preferences, you’re not just ensuring better content. You’re also ensuring more effective SEO.
  1. Do some keyword research. Use Google AdWords’ keyword research tools—or something comparable—to discover some useful search terms that relate to your business. Don’t overstuff your content with keywords, and in fact try to avoid a keyword density of much more than 1 or 2 percent—but do use those keywords to give some structure to your writing.
  1. Marry content writing with link building. Link building is very much an SEO activity, but it can also make your content more effective. Through link building, you may do some guest posting on authoritative industry blogs, which will only amplify your written content and expand your reach—a win-win.
  1. Conduct a content audit of your company website. You want to make sure your website is well-written and user friendly, but you can also look through it to appraise the SEO impact of your titles, headlines, and meta descriptions—all of which can make the site more palpable to search bots and Google algorithms.

And remember: Having high-quality content written is always an SEO boon. To enlist our writing services, we invite you to contact us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444 today.

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How to Write Killer Meta Descriptions

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If your aim is to write engaging content, it’s important to pay attention to every single written component, from the headline down through your call to action. Of course, this also includes the meta description.

The meta description is sometimes an afterthought—in fact, some content writers don’t author one at all, leaving Google to create one automatically. Actually, the meta description is nearly as important as your headline in terms of getting eyeballs onto the page. If you’re not sure what a meta description is, go to Google and conduct a search; it doesn’t matter what you search for. Once the Search Engine Results Page comes up, look at each individual result. You will see a blue link, and underneath it a line or two of descriptive/summarizing text.

That is the meta description—basically, the summary of your content that all search engine users will see. This can obviously play a huge role in convincing people to click the link and read your content—or, you know, convincing them to do the opposite. As such, writing engaging content requires you to write an engaging meta description, and then to add it to your page. (If you are working with a CMS like WordPress, you will see a field for entering a custom meta description; if you have a professional webmaster, you can get the webmaster to do it for you.)

But what do you need to know in order to make a really killer meta description?

Tips for Writing Compelling Meta Descriptions

A few pointers:

Make it brief, but not too brief. Your meta description should be somewhere between 130 and 150 characters. If you go over that limit, you run the risk of Google clipping it, leaving you with an incomplete sentence at the end of your meta description. But if you just use 60 characters or so, you’re not really making full use of this important online real estate. Try to avail yourself of that space by hitting 130 characters or so, then wrapping things up.

Make it active. Don’t use the passive voice, but instead use strong, compelling verbs. You can basically phrase your summary like a call to action, perhaps even leading with a strong invitation to discover, explore, encounter, or something similar.

Make it accurate. Your meta description should actually summarize the content itself; don’t try anything tricky or misleading. Google doles out harsh penalties for this kind of manipulation.

Make it keyword rich. Don’t stuff it with a dozen keywords, and don’t make it sound forced or inorganic, but do include whatever keyword you are focusing on in your content—ideally toward the beginning of your meta description.

Make it unique. Don’t recycle the same old meta description for every blog you post; Google hates redundancy!

Those are the basics. Writing meta descriptions doesn’t have to be complicated: Just summarize the value you’re offering to readers, in as action-oriented a way as you can. For assistance, contact the Grammar Chic team at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Filed under Blog Writing, Content Marketing, Content Writing