Focus Your Copy to Your Audience
Copywriting for web and blog content doesn’t mean writing for Google. You must write to customers searching for your products and services.
“What about Google?” you ask. It is likely that your customers are searching on Google. But this never meant to “write for Google.”
Google’s job is to help people who are using it to search find what they really want. It constantly updates its algorithm to understand this and identify content that meets the need for each search. It looks at the user’s past searches, location, and other information it gleans over time.
This can sound a little creepy. Google even searches your Gmail account for clues! But all these steps, including Google updates to tools it uses to protect and improve searches (they have cute names like Panda and Penguin), help it better understand what content out there will answer each question it gets from each search.
Google isn’t settling for any content, either: it wants well-written, authoritative, quality content.
Happily, this frees writers from forcing a certain amount of keyword mentions into otherwise good content. Of course, your customers use keywords to search, so you should insert them or similar words into your headlines, subheads, and your lead paragraph.
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Write With Clarity in a Clean, Easy-to-Read Format
Be nice to your readers. True, most of them are skimming what you wrote, but make it easy for them to pick up on your main idea.
- Make sure your content is original. Write your own words. Take the time to express to customers how your business is different from the competition.
- Don’t obsess about keywords. Google emphasizes relevancy over keywords. You can still use them, but keep in mind that Google looks for similar words and phrases, too. If you use WordPress, the Yoast plugin provides checks that help optimize your content. It does emphasize keywords, which is helpful if you use Adwords.
- Put information into easy-to-read “chunks.” Too many web pages are just crammed with content that sends visitors back to the search engine. Keep in mind that most people now search through their smartphones, whose smaller screens are less forgiving of long sentences and paragraphs. In fact, Google has an entirely separate algorithm for searches entered on mobile devices.
- Clearly define unfamiliar terms. Jargon is a real turn-off for readers. Your purpose is to inform, so be thorough.
- Don’t be afraid of white space. Break up content as much as possible into paragraphs and bullet points. Visitors can skim these more easily and decide if they want to dig in to read more. You can also insert hyperlinks on your page to minimize the need to scroll around.
- Update often, including adding new photos and videos. While it isn’t entirely clear that Google always ranks the newest content out there higher than the standard stuff from respected experts, fresh material is more likely to be shared on social media. That will help give your work a bump in search results.
No time to write?
Give Every Page Unique and Relevant Content
Content has to be unique and refreshed every once in a while. Visit your site as if you were a guest, with a critical eye for outdated content that needs refreshing. Here are a few other suggestions:
- Make sure you aren’t duplicating content. Search engines check for duplication and if they find it, this can affect whether you show up in searches. Google does not, however, penalize for using the same images on different pages of your website.
- Never, ever, plagiarize. Give credit where it’s due. Be nice and link to your sources. And remember, images are copyrighted unless it’s stated that they are free and open.
- Share your resources and references by creating links directly to them. Let your visitors see the articles you reference.
- Be sure your links are set to open a new tab. Don’t let a link take visitors off your site!
- Check your links periodically to make sure they are active.
A Nameless Graphic is a Lonely One
Every page should include a graphic. Most businesses prefer photography, but fine art also works.
Optimize your graphics just as you do for your content. Give all photos unique, descriptive names, which will show up when they are moused over. Include captions, preferably with keywords. Describe the graphic in alt tags, which read them aloud for sight-impaired persons.
People like to see faces, too; don’t shy away from showing your face on your website. It is, after all, an extension of your business. If you have customer-facing employees, include them (with their permission) on the About Us page, perhaps with a short bio. Customers really love this.
Share Your Content on Social Media
Link your content to social media sites where people can find you. At a minimum, get a LinkedIn page and set up a Twitter account. Add buttons to your site that will let others share your content, too.
If you sell directly to consumers, get a Facebook business page. It may end up acting like an extension of your website.
Be sure to check your social media every day, multiple times if possible, to answer questions or comments left by visitors. Recent studies indicate customers will use social media for customer service even if you don’t present it as such. Some expect a reply within a few hours or sooner.
Do You Have Time for All This Writing? If You Don’t, Hire a Writer!
Now that you know you need good content, do you have time to write? Or maybe writing doesn’t come easily to you. Many people find it’s a challenge to write about themselves or even their businesses.
That’s where professional copywriting comes in. Don’t struggle with writer’s block or a reluctance to “brag.” Just like you hired a website developer, you can hire a writer to get the content on your site. Be prepared to provide information, whether it’s in a few phone calls or “data dumps” in emails. It will be worth the effort and cost. A professional writer like myself thrives on this kind of stuff!
You can find writers on LinkedIn, a free social media tool for businesses and professionals. It’s free to join, and you can hold off on preparing your profile while you search for a writer to tell the world about you and your business.