WHY BAD WRITING CAN KILL YOUR BRAND
Don’t write good? Get help!
It doesn’t matter whether it’s on your website (page or blog post) or social media. 1. Bad copy destroys trust.2. Bad copy doesn’t make people take action.3. Bad copy doesn’t communicate your story4. Bad copy doesn’t keep them reading5. Bad copy doesn’t focus on the reader~ Neil Patel Think you know the proper use of who, that and which?
And the use of think, but, almost, always, just, literally….. ouch!Bad content kills brands. If you're not a great writer, hire a professional.Click To Tweet
When you do: Decide if you need a copywriter or content editor:
- An ‘About Me’ page, your story or a bio – Perfect for a skilled copywriter.
(I highly recommend my friend Debra Jason)
- Blog articles – You’re the subject matter expert. You write it. Hire an editor to polish it.
Decide who to hire:
- Ask to see samples of their work and read it!
- Find out how long they have been writing (experience counts).
- Don’t be cheap…..
It’s your brand image, reputation, and profits on the line.
No, I’m not looking to get married. I’m trying to make a simple point.
Do you want your blog articles to show in a Google search?
(I know. Stupid question.)
Like you asking for marriage, getting ranked in Google means you’re going to need that engagement.
Great, onsite optimized, well written, authoritative content is the cornerstone of SEO. You must be credible, you must provide value. You must provide answers people are seeking.
It’s a must if you want to rank in searches. And it’s not always enough.
'You must compel visitors to not only read your content but to also engage with it.' Click To Tweet~ Neil Patel
Like driving ‘reach’ on Facebook…. Google MUST see your content as something others want to consume.
It requires interaction.
It requires sharing…. especially social sharing.
Google receives signals. They know if and how content is consumed. They know if people are moving through your site or if they are bouncing instantly. Google wants to provide good content people want to read. Engagement in the form of comments (and moreseo interaction) is the best signal you can provide Google.
The first step to engagement?
Working on the idea your content is something your audience has an interest in actually reading….. HOW you present the content matters. No one wants to listen to a drawn out speech delivered in a monotone voice.
Who wants to read dull, dry and boring content, even if what you have to say will change the world? No one!
And you simply cannot get engagement if no one reads your article.
Make it readable. Make it stand out. Make your audience want to consume it.
Then you focus on driving the engagement.
Is your content truly engaging?
how you post and share content matters
If you listen to me long enough and you’ll know I am more focused on social networking and being engaged than creating content. I’ll keep saying it too….
Your content is designed to play a supporting role.
People do business with people. They build relationships. They act on those relationships. When they choose to act is when your content matters. It is at that point they will read (or read again). It is at that point they will decide if, aside from having that relationship with you, they trust you are the right person or business to hire.
Content isn’t the most important thing…. what you post and more importantly, HOW you write, post or share content IS critical.
Your content MUST have a purposeYour content MUST serve a purpose. It must help build relationships, must be authoritative and/or must drive action.Click To Tweet
Not every post needs to do all of it, and the best content will hit multiple points. If your content doesn’t hit on at least one of those points, you’re wasting your time posting it. PERIOD.
I adore Rhonda over at Fat Dog Creatives. She’s a fantastic graphic designer and her process is incredible. She’s also a big proponent of me (yes, I have an ego).
She shared one of my Facebook posts about the value of engagement to her business page. I immediately thanked her (as Tactical Social Media, though I could have as myself.) and as quickly as I did, I scolded her. Love that she shared it, hate that while it was good for me, it did nothing for her!
She already decided to share my content. She gave me something, so why not leverage it to truly nurture the relationship, to establish her own authority, drive some action and share a little bit of herself? She should use it further help herself.
Blindly posting or sharing content provides little value to YOU. Make what you post count for you AND your audience.Click To Tweet
How you create your post matters
How the share first appeared…..
Here’s the edited version…..
She leveraged my content to help build her authority. She continues to nurture our relationship (more than simply sharing my content, she acknowledges she is learning from me – that ego thing again) and she is making it personal and herself more relatable to her clients.
The bonus… Rhonda will get some HUGE additional visibility:
* She tagged me (with permission – do not ever tag a person in a business post without permission. It is rude and a relationship killer) placing her post on my timeline. Her brand was promoted to my personal network.And since I was tagged personally, I responded personally. That adds further reach.
* She has real content that could be found later when someone uses Facebook’s search function (and trust me, they do!).
While I will continue to preach that content is less important than social engagement, there is no doubt content is vital. It’s not about how much content you post, how often or when.
It is about WHAT you post and HOW you post and share content that matters.
A simpler approach to SEO
I loathe how SEO is made out to be a complicated, non-understandable concept. The way I see it, through its highly complicated algorithm, Google actually tries to recommend sources the same way you or I would.
Google’s goal, like yours or mine when we’re asked for a referral or recommendation, is to provide the best results based on what it is asked.
I looked at how I chose to refer others and started applying the same thought process to how I approach SEO.
If you ask me to refer, a web developer, I’ll give you a few names. Who I recommend and the order I recommend you contact them (ranking) is based ultimately on only 3 factors:
- Who can provide what you need (search query)
- How credible they are (authority),
- Where you or they are located (location).
While I do look at other considerations when making referrals – things like personality conflicts – those are reserved for help refining the ‘search results’, not for actually determining who to ‘return’.
Applying this Concept to Google
What if I narrowed down the 200 factors Google actually uses and only concern myself with three of them – the three, as it turns out, are pretty simple?
If you want me to consider recommending or referring you, at the minimum, I need to know what you can provide in the way of products and services, show me you are credible and where you work. Much of what I, or you, will learn about someone is through networking groups and events. When first meeting, credibility is hard to gauge and it is near impossible to learn everything you provide. Heck, there are people I have known for years and I am finding out some of the things they do! Over time, and with continued interaction, I learn more. I meet others and hear testimonials. I get a good sense of the work you provide and your reputation. The more we network, the more I learn and more comfortable I am with recommending you.
As I see it, Google does this using your content as opposed to conversation. You write, Google learns. The more you write, the more Google knows. As you write more, the content, whether web pages or blog posts, builds a knowledge base. Authority comes from your content (based on sitewide keyword density showing Google you are the subject matter authority) and backlinks (for all practical purposes, testimonials).
Understanding search query
In a real broad stroke, while people still search for keywords, the move is clearly toward looking for answers. Searches are more natural now. Rather than searching for “social media for SEO’, people are more likely to search for ‘How does social media effect SEO’ or ‘How do I use social media to improve my SEO’. It’s how I search.
And if I had no idea what question to ask? I will start with a broad keyword. Interestingly, the keyword itself rarely provides a link I’ll click. What it does is help me refine what I need to enter in the search box.
Knowing this, I pay little attention to keywords. I’m concerned with knowing what my audience wants or needs to know. I’ll let others worry about keywords that help narrow the search in my favor.
How to improve
Tailor how and what you write with this in mind. Strive to write quality content which provides the answers your audience needs is asking, on the topics where you have expertise. Your goal is to do it and in a way which is easy to read and understandable. [perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#123517″ class=”” size=””]How often do you search in Google then use what is provided to perform a more targeted search?[/perfectpullquote]
Focus on the narrower search – specific content for specific searches. It means less focus on keywords which you would not likely rank for given the size and authority of your site.
Write for your audience. Write to provide answers or make others think. Do not write for SEO.
Bonus: If you continue to write for your audience on subjects where you have expertise, over time industry keywords will appear naturally. More so, rather than specific articles ranking for a word or phrase, your site will rank for them. This sitewide keyword density goes a much longer way to building site authority.
When you look to hire anyone, you want the expert. While I do not know exactly what Google uses to determine authority, I have some ideas based on what I have learned over the years and a little common sense applied from the factors above I use personally.
For SEO, a good measure of expertise is a site’s Domain Authority. Moz looks at a variety of factors from a site’s link profile to trust scores to calculate, based on Google’s algorithm, how likely a site will be to rank in searches. In general, the higher a website’s domain authority (trust, expertise) the more likely site content will rank (or ranking higher) for a given search query than a similar site.
Domain authority, like Google’s algorithm, is based on a variety of factors and not easy to influence. So rather than try, I have found it best to work on two specific aspects:
- Reducing the appearance of spam – things like too many outbound links relative to the size of your website, paid ads, etc.
- Increasing the number of quality backlinks from other authoritative (and preferably more authoritative than your own) sites.
How external linking, or linking out, affects SERPs has been the subject of numerous articles. From a common sense position, it has no direct effect. The value comes indirectly from increasing credibility by citing sources. Credible articles are more likely linked to (backlinks) and shared (increased visibility leading to greater potential for backlinks).
Too many external links, however, has the exact opposite effect. How credible or authoritative can it be if all you do is link to other sources? Highly authoritative articles cite references to back up their ideas, not rely on them to make their case. (And traditionally too many external links likely meant the point of the article wasn’t to inform. It was to drive traffic to other sites – most of which were spam.)
How to improve:
Reducing spam does, to a degree, require time. My spam score as measured by Moz was at 3 until recently (it’s now 1). Newer websites generally contain less content making the number of outbound links relative to your amount of content higher. When you write articles, do not ‘overdo it’ when it comes to external linking. It is the best means of limiting how much effect spam scoring has on your rankings (aside from posting paid ads which should never be done).
This is the single best way, in my opinion, to improve your authority. More quality links from reputable websites tell Google your site is credible. The higher the Domain Authority of the referring site, the more ‘link juice’ you receive. Your goal is to create a link building strategy aimed at receiving quality, natural (no link swaps or paid links) backlinks from the most authoritative sites possible.
How to improve:
Start with writing those quality, easy to read and understand articles on subjects in your field of expertise.
Get those articles visible! Getting your article seen by the right person is the foundation for pure, organic backlinks.
The latter is the biggest hurdle, especially for a new brand or website with little to no initial authority (the old Catch-22). So how do you do it? This is one of the biggest values of social media. Social sharing of blog content is the single best way to create visibility. If you have built the right relationships, share your content and drive traffic through social networking, it will be seen.
While Domain Authority plays a significant role, credibility is everything. Aside from it, there are numerous other critical factors tied to site architecture (design and coding). The one other thing that will, however, have a significant impact for local SEO – your reviews. Check out this case study done by Pam Ann Marketing.
How to improve
The two best steps you can take:
1) Make sure all of your address listings across the web are correct and most importantly are on your website – including in the coding.
My bottom line
There are far more moving parts to SEO than what I have listed above. I do not want you to think this is all you need to know. However, I have been able to significantly improve my SEO and SERPs (being in the top 10 results on multiple search engines for multiple keywords and phrases) and build the domain authority of this site in a very short time strictly by doing what I have written above:
- Writing for my audience, not SEO (in fact, I never did ANY keyword research for this site).
- Building my Domain Authority using a link building strategy driven by the relationships built through social networking.
I do adhere to some basic SEO principles by checking what I write and optimizing it with Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin, though, in the end….
SEO for me comes down to writing good content which answers the questions your potential customers are asking in a straightforward, readable and authoritative manner.
Do these consistently over time and, for the most part (assuming your site was properly developed), SEO will take care of itself.
A final note
I focus as much on SEO as I do social media for a simple reason – the big picture. One goal of your social media marketing strategy should be focused on driving website traffic. Your website is your best source for lead generation and most likely sales point.
Social media has an incredible ability to drive traffic directly through content and indirectly, by way of improved SEO and search rankings, through social networking. Developing an overall blueprint to accomplish your goals requires both be tightly integrated. Social media and SEO go hand in hand.
No Engagement On Your Posts? Who Cares!
One of the challenges for small brands on social media is simply getting engagement. We stress over writing and posting good content our readers want at the perfect time only to find it doesn’t get seen or worse – it does – and still there is no engagement! Rather than tell you why and how to get that engagement (I’ll save that for a later post), I’m going to throw this out there and tell you to:
Stop worrying about how many likes, comments, and shares you’re getting. You do NOT need engagement on your social media posts for your efforts to be successful.
For the record, your efforts should be focused on creating engagement but not seeing good levels of does not mean your efforts were worthless and social media as a failure as a result. I stress this point because it is possible, no matter what efforts you undertake, you may never actually get good levels of engagement.
Maybe it’s your product or service?
If you’re a fertility doctor, a divorce attorney or therapist, there’s a good chance not only won’t someone want to like or comment on your posts, they may not even want to like your page. The same may be true for lawyers, financial planners, and doctors. On the off-chance, someone they know will see that activity is enough of a reason to not engage.
Some just prefer to lurk.
Some people don’t like to comment. They may like the page and lurk on purpose. They want the information, not the conversation. They’re learning, researching and making a determination of what they need or want and if they’ll buy from you. Unless they have a specific question, you won’t likely hear from them until they’re ready to buy. Even then, contact is likely to be them emailing, calling or stopping by, not social engagement.
Stop stressing over post-level engagement
It isn’t necessary to drive sales
A very compelling CTA in radio spot or print ad may get your customer’s attention and trigger that ‘buy response’ but by the time they get home or take few minutes to think about it, they can find all kinds of reasons not to buy. The moment passes and it’s forgotten.
The big value for smaller brands using social media is the direct connection and interaction it enables. You can talk to your customer, ask questions and work to move them to action in real-time on a piece of content. This direct, immediate communication makes it much easier to work through customer objections.
But what if you don’t get the engagement? Those compelling CTAs in a radio or print ad still work. Not every customer will have or create obstacles. The same holds true for CTAs in social content. Even though social media’s value is predominantly its inbound capability, it still can be successful as an outbound tool. A post with a great CTA doesn’t need engagement to convert.
A word of advice here. Leveraging social media in this way over the long-term is not a good practice. What you may gain with this approach will be far less than otherwise possible using social media as a relationship tool. I am merely pointing out it’s possible for social media to generate revenue as an outbound tool when the inbound aspect isn’t working.
It isn’t necessary to drive website traffic
This is another area where engagement simply isn’t needed to convert. A great intro which makes the reader want to click through and an optimized link (think visually appealing featured image a great meta description and title) is enough.
In fact, a post which doesn’t see a like or comment but drives traffic may result in even better engagement later. Once on your site, there is an opportunity to capture email or other lead generation information allowing you to provide more tailored content and to engage with a prospective client when you want, rather than waiting for them to take action.
Focusing on writing content which drives web traffic is a great tactic for those whose businesses, like those mentioned above, tend not to get post-level engagement.
It isn’t necessary to build relationships
How do you build relationships and connect with your audience if you’re getting limited or no engagement?
Limited: With the exception of Facebook (it’s not as easy but still possible – why you need to leverage your personal profile for business) you can see who liked or +1’d your content and privately or publicly thank them, even ask them a question to drive further interaction They still may not reply with more than a like, but they are aware you noticed them and took the time to acknowledge them. That is a simple gesture which goes a long way.
None: Even with lurkers on your profiles, you can still create relationships.
If you cannot build relationships through conversation, build it through your content.
Original Content. I urge my clients to be more personal on their business profiles. Bring some of yourself into your brand. If you’re a small business owner or solopreneur, it’s already there. You just need to showcase it and put it out in the open. Bonds form over commonalities and shared interests. They form when there are natural connections.
This is one of the primary reasons knowing your audience is so important. Knowing their likes, wants, desires and interests, their buyer persona, allows you to create content which speaks to them. Posting stories which appeal to your audience on a personal level as part of your content mix is a simple way of connecting without the actual conversation.
Shared Content. Sharing content is a terrific way to reduce your time commitment while still showing authority but it is also one of the best ways to create relationships through content. Consider HOW you post the content you are sharing.
You do not need to engage with your audience to form a connection or bond if you’re creating content which resonates with them.
The Bottom Line
Without question, you want the engagement. You want likes, comments, and shares. You want to write content to drive them, but knowing you may never get that engagement, make sure your content needs to ‘speak’ directly to your audience, to make them connect with you and your brand.
The Value Behind Content Curation
Content is king. Whether for a blog post or social media channel, and regardless of the SEO effect, without regularly updated quality content, you’re providing no value. Potential customers have no reason to return to your site. No reason to return means not building a following and little chance of turning your visitors into prospects and leads. The issue for many is creating a content strategy that delivers the quality material their audience wants without overwhelming themselves.
We recently met with a client struggling with this exact problem. He was continually trying to create original content for Facebook and his blog. The time involved was removing him from other areas that needed his attention. We was frustrated and, quite understandably, burnt out.
We laid out a plan that would reduce the demand for original content, allow him to shift his focus while still retaining a consistent posting schedule. We created a schedule for posting involving a mix of original material, curated content and leveraged content. In addition to reduced stress levels, this strategy provides several tactical advantages.
5 Reasons You Need A Content Curation Strategy
The ‘Go To’ Resource
People spend a great deal of time online looking for information. Over time they gravitate towards sites that provide them the most useful information possible on the topics they’re researching. It’s smart. Less time finding sources means more time getting answers. How many sites have you bookmarked for reference because they had plenty of content you needed? We’ll bet you’re not even aware how much of the information on those sites was original versus curated.
People search to find solutions. When they have a problem, who provides the answer is more important than whose answer it is.
Why not make your blog, Facebook or Google+ page that site? Why not provide the best content someone would need to make a buying decision regarding your industry, your product or your service? Your page becomes the trusted source. YOUR page becomes the ‘go to’ resource. Over time this will increase your fan base, reach and ultimately your revenue.
The ‘Expanded Reach’ Factor
Content curation requires acknowledging the source. Whether it’s a backlink in a blog post, a website link or tagging in a social media post you’re alerting the author.
If you tag us in a post, we’ll make it a point to thank you. That interaction is an excellent means of increasing exposure and reach. If the content shared was from an influential source, it can also put you on their radar.
The ‘Credibility’ Factor
Being the expert in your industry doesn’t mean you know everything or you’re the only expert. It also doesn’t mean you have all of the answers. Sharing curated content acknowledges that fact. You become more credible by sharing the work of others (especially that of a competitor).
The ‘Expert’ Factor
This tactical use of content curation, the “leveraged content” we mentioned in our strategy. Sharing the work of others makes you a great resource, it provides you content when there isn’t time to create your own and it increases your visibility but it’s WHAT you do with that content can and will define you as the expert. Don’t simply share what you’ve curated. Add value to it!
Look at the content from another angle. Build on the work already done. Add additional points, especially if the content is a list. Maybe your experience can fill in gaps. Even the experts see content differently. We are always learning ourselves.
We built upon her original list, adding value to the reader. The approach allowed us to create ‘original’ content without starting from scratch, provided (targeted) reach and overall exposure. It added credibility by validating someone we recognize as a true social media expert and provided the opportunity for collaboration on a future article on the topic (see the comments).
The Customer Service Via Social Media Necessity is a good example of how to leverage content for a blog post.
The ‘Collaboration’ Factor
Sharing content from more influential sources (and even competitors) provides a great opportunity for collaboration (especially if you follow the advice in The ‘Expert’ Factor above on how to tactically use Content curation). When you share another business’s or individual’s content, they will (or should) know. While they may not actually engage on that particular piece of content, you may just grab their attention.
The primary role for your content is prospecting tool. It’s designed to find potential clients / customers (the upper level of the marketing funnel). At the same time, that content serves the role of prospecting for collaboration and partnerships (as it did in our post – see the comment string). If you can grab the attention of a leading industry expert and if your content resonates with them, you’ve created the prospect for a working relationship. Those relationships, especially if with another industry influencers, are priceless in terms of exposure, credibility and learning. The right project could catapult you or your brand to the next level.
One added benefit our client received – the reduced time creating daily content not only meant time to focus on other pressing matters, but allowed him to create more in-depth articles. His content mix now includes short, original content, shared quality content, value added leveraged content and in-depth articles providing more detailed solutions.
While this customer needed a means of reducing reliance on original content, tactical use of curated and leverage content is a recommended strategy for any business.
Value Add Versus Aggregation
The Museum Correlation
While many feel content curation has little value without your own voice (good article by The Social Masters), it’s not our stance. Without question content curation should focus on adding value, there is a place (and value) for simply creating a collection of quality content as part of your mix.
Consider any of the Natural History Museums. They curate pieces from hundreds of sources. This pieces may be displayed as individual specimens or as a collection of like items such as “Sue” (‘…the largest, best-preserved, and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever found.’)…
…or be arranged to create a ‘scene’ providing a more detailed look into the past. In some cases these scenes may involve the combining of pieces from multiple sources.
The latter is the valued added exhibit. The former simply a re-posting if you will. The value in a curated display with no value added in the form of Sue being placed on display? It’s a ‘high draw’ item. It’s the content that will bring in visitors who will then likely check out the rest of the exhibits.
Simply curating high quality, timely content on your blog or social sites has the same potential effect. The key is to not abuse it.
Our advice: #BeTactical. Make sure your content curation strategy is balanced.
Is curated content missing from your strategy? If it’s included, are you simply sharing or do you add value?
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If you don’t have a content marketing strategy in place, if you have no idea how to find content or if you have a plan but could use some help to #BeTactical in leveraging it, we need to talk.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation. If you’re in the Greater Seattle or South Sound Areas, we’d love to buy you a good cup of coffee.