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Archive for July, 2011

Spelling is a lossed art

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

The header is for fun but…never have I been more nervous about a post on this blog. It has to be perfect. If I make a single typo, it will undermine everything I’m about to tell you. You’ll laugh me out of the room. You’ll declare me incompetent and an unworthy online copywriter. You’ll even be less likely to enlist my services.

It’s the truth. Spelling is far more important in online copy than many people realize. Some folks may disagree, claiming that worrying about spelling is pretentious and that the actual quality of products and services a business offers is what really matters.

Regardless of whether or not you feel that way, your web visitors don’t. To them, spelling, grammar and punctuation matters. The reason: whether it’s fair or not, errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation connote certain negative characteristics about a company that can seriously damage their reputation and conversion rates, such as:

1. Untrustworthiness. Would you buy a car from a company whose sign was misspelled outside the dealership? Would you click an e-mail rife with bad grammar? Many of us wouldn’t. We see spelling and grammar mistakes as a sign of laziness or worse. Conveying a certain amount of authority and respect toward customers is even more crucial in an online space because you don’t get the opportunity to win them over with a smile or friendly voice.

2. Incompetence. This is the most obvious problem to me. Any enterprise that can’t properly spell the very items and topics in which it’s supposedly an expert will appear like it doesn’t know what it’s talking about. Will you let a dentist put you under and drill holes in your mouth if his or her website advertises high-quality “Route Kanals?” I don’t know about you, but that misspelling would send me running. I’d think, “These guys don’t know what they’re doing! They can’t even spell root canal!”

So how do you avoid making the dreaded spelling mistakes? While no one is perfect, I find these strategies work well for my work as an online copywriter:

1. Use spell check – but not just spell check. There’s nothing wrong with using spell check. It’s great for correcting any words you legitimately don’t know how to spell. However, it’s your funeral if you decide to rely solely on spell check. A computer doesn’t have the semantic understanding to correct improperly used heterographs (i.e. there, their and they’re; you and ewe; bear and bare). Make sure you read your work over once you’ve spell-checked it.

2. Bring fresh eyes to your edits. If a second set of eyes is available to you, have a peer edit your work. It’s sometimes hard to see your own mistakes. If you don’t have the luxury of another editor, walk away for a bit. Eat lunch, go for a walk, get some air, then return to your copy. The break from your screen should help you spot errors you otherwise would’ve missed.

So that’s it, folks. Follow my steps. Here’s hoping I haven’t made a typo. If I have, I deserve any conversions I might lose!

The ranking of your business, service or product in Google’s search results is critical to your success. Toronto-based content and online copywriting expert Ray Litvak understands the art and science of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and using the right words in the right way to increase your rankings. Discover how greater exposure on Google can drive more traffic, increase leads and grow your business. Many of Ray’s clients consistently rank on Google’s first page and have grown their business as a result. You can do it too – and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Call Ray locally at 416-226-8676 for a free assessment of your specific needs today. You’ll be glad you did!

 

The key(s) to success in local SEO

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Something about the summer gets me thinking about the concept of local. Maybe it’s the buying roadside corn or visiting mom-and-pop general stores on the way to the cottage. But this time of year just feels like the right time to talk about local SEO, doesn’t it?

Making your website a force in local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) involves often following different parameters than you do for general  and/or global SEO. Specific details like your physical address are extremely important. You’re not directing customers to a “store locator” or one of 50 locations. You’re telling them exactly where to find you.

Think about the importance of marketing a local business offline. You’d better give the right directions, list the right phone number, and generate positive word of mouth. Principles like those apply to web development for local SEO. Keep those in mind when remembering these general tips to follow:

1. Make sure your actual listing is thorough and accurate. With local listings, you can’t afford to be remotely wrong. Double and triple-check your address, including your postal code, and your phone number.

2. Make your presence felt on local listing sites. That goes beyond appearing in the Yellow Pages. Google Places, for example, is a key site for your local efforts. Not only will more people stumble upon you, the listing itself will also make your site more relevant to local searches according to search-engine algorithims and improve your PageRank.

3. Include relevant keywords and specifics about your product or service in your company name listing whenever possible. You can’t make your listing a million words long but be specific whenever you can. A listing like “MarketFresh health foods and organics” does much more for you than simply “MarketFresh.” If you’re a moving company, include the word “moving” in your company name.  If you’re a Moving Company in North York, it would be ideal to include both your service (moving) and service area (North York).  It’s about being relevant.

4. Reviews matter – and quantity over quality. More important than positive reviews is just reviews, period. Which business listing connotes an authoritative and popular company: one with five glowing reviews or one with 80 reviews, 60 of which are positive and 20 of which are negative? It’s clearly the latter.

5. Embrace the “localness” of your listing. If you truly specialize in Toronto web copwriting, for example, say so in your listing. You’ll appeal more to the actual market you covet. Also, avoid 800 numbers or any other details that come across as cold, corporate, and non-local.

The ranking of your business, service or product in Google’s search results is critical to your success. Toronto-based content and website copywriting expert Ray Litvak understands the art and science of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and using the right words in the right way to increase your rankings. Discover how greater exposure on Google can drive more traffic, increase leads and grow your business. Many of Ray’s clients consistently rank on Google’s first page of results and have grown their business as a result. You can do it too – and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Call Ray locally at 416-226-8676 for a free assessment of your specific needs today. You’ll be glad you did!

 

Why you can’t forget about mobile devices in SEO

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Every time a new wave of technology arrives, certain prehistoric thinkers brush it off at first, assume it will be a fad, choose to ignore it, and wind up behind the competition. Plenty of business owners made that mistake with search engine optimization. Most came around once they realized that a website is just as important as any other outlet that promotes or sells a given product or service.

Is it time to ask the same question about mobile SEO? In truth, mobile SEO doesn’t exist as a pure entity. Companies don’t have separate sites that are only accessible via smartphones and require their own set of search-engine parameters and keywords.

However, we also can’t ignore that mobile devices are outselling traditional computers now. If you think of a website on a phone screen as just another tiny computer and not a separate portal, alarm bells may go off. If there are more tiny computers than big ones out there, and those tiny computers are connected to the same SEO you use on the big computers, you better not ignore the tiny ones, right?

To be more concise, business owners have to optimize their websites not just for desktops and laptops anymore, but also for mobile devices. Last week, I stressed the importance of click-throughs, bounce rates and conversions as sometimes-overlooked components of SEO. To maximize your site’s optimization for mobile phones, consider two of those factors in particular: bounce rate and conversions.

Your keywords and title tags aren’t particularly affected by mobile devices. A Google search on your iPhone is a Google search on your desktop computer. Your PageRank and clickthroughs on a phone should in theory be the same.

But failing to optimize your site for mobile devices can hurt your bounce rate and conversions. If you haven’t customized your windows to make them easy and convenient to navigate on smartphones, potential customers may grow frustrated and leave your site, or “bounce.” For business owners who use their website for actual business transactions, you better make sure your checkout system is also customized and easy to use on a smartphone. Your site must be engaging and usable enough to keep them.

Don’t think of mobile SEO as a separate web development project. It’s an extension of your all-important online SEO efforts!

The ranking of your business, service or product in Google’s search results is critical to your success. Toronto-based content and website copywriting expert Ray Litvak understands the art and science of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and using the right words in the right way to increase your rankings. Discover how greater exposure on Google can drive more traffic, increase leads and grow your business. Many of Ray’s clients consistently rank on Google’s first page of results and have grown their business as a result. You can do it too – and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Call Ray locally at 416-226-8676 for a free assessment of your specific needs today. You’ll be glad you did!

The great PageRank fallacy

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Imagine two bigwig CEOs at a summer barbecue, bragging about their accomplishments.

The first CEO trumpets, “Did you see the Super Bowl ad for my product? It got 100 million viewers. The most watched ad in history.”

“That’s great,” the second CEO says. “Mine only got half that. But how are your sales?”

The first CEO shuffles his feet awkwardly. “Well, our product is defective. And our ad didn’t really tell people much about what it does. So sales aren’t good.”

“Well, fancy that,” smirks the second CEO. “Barely anyone watched my ad but we told people exactly where to get my product and people love what we do, so my sales are through the roof!”

Maybe that analogy is a little elaborate – but it applies to the fallacy of PageRank in web content today. So much of search engine optimization is geared toward trying to rank as high as you can in organic search results. To an extent, the principle makes sense. If you want business, people must be able to find you. Ranking at or near the top of search engine results is important.

But it’s only half the battle – at most. Too many business owners and website copywriters think their work is done when they achieve the lofty No. 1 PageRank slot on Google. But patting yourself on the back at that point means you’ve forgotten the true purpose behind everything. It’s about conversion rate. Three core principles are as important if not more important than PageRank if you want your website to truly be a successful extension of your business:

1. Conversion rate

What is more important than conversion rate, or the percentage of visitors to your site that actually “convert” or consume your product? You can have all the traffic in the world, just as CEO No. 1 had, but it won’t matter if no one buys your product or service.

2. Bounce rate

If your site is unappealing – out of date, difficult to navigate, slow, boring, or so on – it may “bounce” users from your site, or send them away as quickly as they arrived. If you don’t put work into your site to make it relevant, current and interesting, your potential customers will leave before you have a chance to convert them.

3. Clickthrough rate (CTR)

There’s still a crucial step between finding your site atop organic search results and actually visiting it: clicking. People still have to click your link. You thus can’t take title tags, headlines or any attention-grabbing information for granted. If searchers don’t know exactly what you’re offering in a few lines, they may drag their mouse (mice?) below you and click the second option.

I’m not saying PageRank isn’t important. It most certainly is. You can’t worry about the other three items on the list if no one finds your site in the first place. But the point is that people give PageRank too much clout. The truth is that it’s one quarter of four components that are crucial to a website’s success.

The ranking of your business, service or product in Google’s search results is critical to your success. Toronto-based content and website copywriting expert Ray Litvak understands the art and science of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and using the right words in the right way to increase your rankings. Discover how greater exposure on Google can drive more traffic, increase leads and grow your business. Many of Ray’s clients consistently rank on Google’s first page of results and have grown their business as a result. You can do it too – and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Call Ray locally at 416-226-8676 for a free assessment of your specific needs today. You’ll be glad you did!

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