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Archive for August, 2011

Five ways to become a more efficient web writer

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

If you’ve been around writers or business owners involved in search engine optimization and/or web development, you’ve probably heard by now that “content is king.” It’s a phrase so common that it feels like cliché now but it’s consistently used because it’s so true.

User engagement is everything these days. To impress search engines like Google and to keep users on your site, your content needs to be both fresh and relevant. In other words, you have to write often and you have to write well. The thought of accomplishing both scares some people, so I’d like to share a few tips on how to write efficiently and effectively (in random order).

1. Do your homework.

High-quality content is very much about coming across to readers as an authority on a given subject. If you already know a lot about your business or website’s subject matter, you’re ahead of the game. If not, do your homework. Read books, articles and forums. It will slow down your writing process at first but it will greatly benefit you in the long run.

Not only will your online copywriting be more authoritative and appealing to your audience, becoming more knowledgeable about a subject makes it far easier to write about it. If you’re an expert on something, you tend to have a million things to say about it!

2. Make your computer’s operating system work for you.

An overlooked way to increase your efficiency is to properly utilize your computer’s operating system. If you’re referring to other source material while you write, for example, it’s difficult to constantly click back and forth between windows.

New computer operating systems, whether you’re using a Mac or Windows 7, are designed to turn your computer into a real work station. They let you work in multiple windows side-by-side, giving you easy access to whatever research materials you need as you write. If you master your computer’s OS, you’ll be surprised at how much time you’ll save.

3. Good outlines help articles and blogs write themselves.

The actual writing of a blog post or article often isn’t the hard part. The key is formulating your argument and making sure your thoughts are organized. Once you build an outline, the rest of the work should flow easily.

4. Motivate yourself with a reward system.

If you have a case of the Mondays, feel restless or just don’t want to work, consider rewarding yourself for hitting critical junctures. For example, “If I get to 300 words, I get to take a coffee break.” Rewarding yourself can be a nice motivator.

5. Write often.

Practice makes perfect. The more you write, the easier it will become for you, the faster you will do it and the fewer mistakes you will make.

6. Don’t edit while you write.

I’ve debated this strategy with my copywriting peers for years. But, to me, the key is to do the heavy lifting first and the tinkering second. Get the bulk of your thoughts down as quickly as you can. Then, you can review and make necessary changes.

I’ve seen people try the reverse strategy, thinking that editing along the way saves time, and the results can be infuriating. If you keep second-guessing every sentence you type, you may never finish your work, as you’ll never be satisfied!

The ranking of your business, service or product in Google’s search results is critical to your success. Toronto-based content and expert  web writer 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!

How to make keywords with negative meanings work for you, not against you

Friday, August 26th, 2011

A lot of what we discuss on this online copywriting blog falls under “SEO 101.” I offer many tips for new business owners designing their websites or details about SEO Copywriting that are simple but easily overlooked.

For a change today, let’s talk about a more intermediate or even advanced SEO tactic. How do you make keywords work for you, not against you, when the words you need to target often have negative connotations?

I recently stumbled upon the teachings of SEO Copy expert, Karon Thackston, who used the word “cheap” as a great example of the dilemma.

For instance, you want your users to understand that your product or service is cheap, as in affordable.  At the same time, how do you use the word in your web copy without making yourself sound “cheap”? So the first instinct is to avoid the word altogether and use more respected terms like “affordable” or “inexpensive” as your primary keywords. But the problem doesn’t end there. Ironically, even though users may not want a company that sells itself as “cheap,” they’re more likely to use the word “cheap” than “affordable” when keying in search terms.

The solution is to turn the negative term on itself, thus reversing its meaning. Instead of selling your barbecue as cheap, sell it as “Affordable without being cheap.” You keep the keyword without associating your business with its meaning.

A second example of negative keywords hamstringing web copy is legality issues. The dilemma particularly applies to medical products. For example, it’s illegal to claim that a product is a “cure,” or “remedy.” Unfortunately, someone with a nasty cough will commonly search “cough remedy.”

Again, the way to beat the problem is to reverse the meaning. Instead of claiming that your product is a cure, claim that the competition’s isn’t. “Tired of that cure for the common cold not working for you? Try our product.” You don’t lose the important keyword but you don’t break the law, either.

Just as it helps our kids to eat their vegetables, a little reverse psychology can go a long way toward conquering those tricky, and less than flattering keywords.

The ranking of your business, service or product in Google’s search results is critical to your online 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 in return. 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!

Don’t blog for the sake of blogging

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

If you’re a regular reader of the Writing Web Words blog, you may have noticed that there was no new post last week. It wasn’t a coincidence. For whatever reason, I didn’t have a particularly important point to make, so I held off rather than just blog about nothing.

 Ironically, doing so called to mind a point worth writing about this week: having a point.

Are you still following me? While it’s important to keep your site relevant  with up-to-date and relevant content, which could include blogs, you have to be careful not to simply blog for the sake of blogging. If you don’t have an organized message or point to share, you may actually decrease your site’s user engagement and risk turning readers off.

So how do you ensure you’re giving your readers a quality message, not just quantity?

1. Use the inverted pyramid structure. Make sure you at least hint at the main point of your blog post in the first two paragraphs or blog summary. As you probably know, most journalists adhere to this standard (except when writing in-depth features that tell chronological stories). Bloggers should hold themselves to the same standard. Assume your users don’t have a ton of time and want to get the gist of your post quickly.

2. Have a clear – and new – message. Don’t repeat yourself. Make sure your blog post adds value to your site and its visitors by providing some new and relevant information.

3. Make sure your site addresses your target audience. Sticking with the word “relevant,” it’s not enough just to have an important message. It must be a message that matters to your target audience. I have plenty to say about the Toronto Maple Leafs but that doesn’t mean I should write about it on this blog, which focuses on web content development and online copywriting. It’s the service we offer, so we best be blogging about topics that fall under that umbrella!

4. Don’t forget about the call to action. Technically, you’re not making a sales pitch in your blog post but, if you have a message to give, you clearly want your readers to do something with it. Sending them off to go forth and prosper is a great way to end a post. In fact, I’ll do it now:

The next time you blog – take a good, hard, look at this list. It’s a major step toward ensuring that your target audience consumes quality content and it further establishes you as an authority in your given business sector.

Need an online copywriter?
Toronto-based web 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!

Promote your endorsements

Monday, August 1st, 2011

If you want people to know how wonderful you are, let other people brag about you.  And you can do that easily through sites like Yelp! and Google Places.

Just ask
If you’ve done great work that your client appreciates, all you have to do is ask and, typically, they’ll be happy to write a glowing review of your performance and post it on whatever review site you request.  Then all you have to do is provide instructions on how to navigate through the review site to get the endorsement published.

Think about it
Those reviews are like gold. Think about it. What’s more powerful: you extolling your virtues at a networking meeting or a valid third-party endorsement posted where potentially thousands of people can see it? The answer’s obvious, isn’t it?

Not just numbers
But it’s not just the number of people who read it that counts; it’s the power of third-party endorsement. People will trust the people who’ve actually used the product or service far more than they’ll trust the people who are selling it. And the more people you have endorsing you on Yelp!, Google Places and other review sites, the more your listing will stand out from others.

No time for modesty
Yet we usually let satisfied – even thrilled – customers slip away without asking them to share what they know about us online. And that’s a shame.  Because this is not a time for false modesty that will cost you in the long run.

Ask for the endorsement
Maybe I shouldn’t mention this, because it never happens, but I was fortunate recently to receive an endorsement from a client of mine – Public Speaking Coach and Trainer, Thomas Moss – in the form of an entire blog post that I didn’t ask for and wasn’t expecting. You can check it out here. But remember, that very rarely happens  If you’re in business, you know you have to ask for the sale. Well, you have to ask for the endorsement or online review too.

Promote your reviews
And when your customers say “Yes”, and they usually will, yell it out from the rooftops, take out a full page ad in your local paper or, better still – and infinitely less expensive – make it a part of  your online copy and marketing efforts by creating a ‘Testimonials’ section on your website. Mention and provide a link to the review on Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Remember, happy customers are almost always glad to provide glowing testimonials.  In most cases, it’s simply a matter of asking.

Just do it!
One last point: I know some people won’t ask for reviews because they’re afraid the client might say something negative. That very rarely happens, particularly if you request reviews from satisfied customers. And if for some strange reason it does happen, the impact will be minimized if it’s surrounded by glowing words of praise from other satisfied customers.

Need an online copywriter?
Toronto-based web 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!

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