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Putting prices on your website…good or bad?

July 27th, 2012

 After running two web-based businesses for more than six years I’m still wrestling with whether to post my web writing rates online.

It’s a thorny issue that’s kept me awake at night . . . well, not really, but it’s caused me enough consternation that I thought I’d float the idea out there and see what other web pros think. However, before I ask for your input, here’s my take on a few of the pros and cons:

Web Writing Rates

The Pros
1. Filtering out nuisance calls: No more Fivrr.com refugees
2. Pre-qualifying clients: Those looking for quality; not the cheapest supplier
3. Transparency: “This is the price; take it or leave it”
4. Answering the “what does it cost?” question upfront: “Let’s not waste each other’s time”
5. Differentiating yourself from the competition: “I’m not afraid to show my price because I know I’m worth it”

 The Cons

1. Commodification of value added services: One size does not fit all
2. Consumer suspicion: Admit it; you look for prices on other sites and are wary when they’re not there
3. Sticker shock: Totally unrealistic expectations
4. Bounce rate: How many visitors read your price and run?
5. Locking yourself in: Your pricing structure that may not work for every assignment

How I deal with it
I don’t have a dedicated web writing rate sheet on my site. Rather, I address it in the FAQ section as − you guessed it − a question, what is the basis for your web writing rates?  

My answer helps to provide visitors with a realistic price range and puts my service into context. Better, I believe, than a pricelist could. It also allows me to ask and answer other common questions that first-time callers may have: “How long does a project take?” “What’s your process?” “What’s your guarantee?” (I’m still not sure how to answer this one − suggestions are welcome).

It’s a personal choice for me
In my opinion, this is one of those questions that don’t have a clear cut answer. Me? I believe in selling on value. This means first, discovering a prospect’s needs. Second, determining if my service meets those needs and if it does, explaining how. And that often answers another common question: “What’s in it for me?”

Lastly, I quickly find out what (and/or if) they have a budget. While the prospect of dissuading nuisance calls and attracting better clients is appealing, the value I provide cannot be conveyed in a simple number so I continue to leave pricing off my site. But that’s just my 2 cents.

How about you?
How do you deal with this issue? Or is it an issue at all for you? I’d love to hear what you think and I’m sure others would as well.

Written by Ray Litvak
Ray gets his daily fix of Web Content Writing as the owner of Writing Web Words in Toronto, Ontario. He understands the art and science of Writing for the Web and discovers and places the right words in the right places on your website to increase rankings. 

Looking for higher rankings and conversion rates?  Let’s talk.  E-mail me or call (416) 226-8676.  You’ll be glad you did!

How Press Releases Can Keep Your Content Fresh

December 29th, 2011

Search engine giant Google has updated its algorithm and determined that it will reward sites which provide fresh content with higher rankings. What does this mean to you? Sites which provide visitors with timely information are more likely to show up in the first page of search engine rankings.

One way you can keep your content fresh and be ranked higher on Google is by using press releases. Once written, they can be posted on your own website or submitted to distribution services. If you are posting press releases on distribution sites you will want to make sure you have a link back to your own main page to drive traffic to your website.

What kind of content can you put in a press release? You can share anything that your customers or readers will find interesting. If your company has won an award or been recognized in some way, you can include this information in your press release. If your company has conducted a survey or a study, you could release the results in a press release. A change in personnel, a product launch or a special promotion can be covered in this manner as well.

Since the goal of writing a press release is to share something newsworthy, plan to use this strategy regularly. (It is extremely frustrating for visitors to your website to click on the News page and find that the last entry was in 2007.) When done properly, issuing press releases regularly can be an effective way to drive new visitors to your website  as well as increasing the likelihood that you will achieve a higher search engine ranking.

Find out more about how press releases can help your business by calling (416) 226-8676 today.

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!

Add a News Feature to Your Site for Ongoing Fresh Content

December 16th, 2011

One very effective way to keep your content fresh and relevant to your site visitors is to include a news feature and updating it regularly with relevant/industry content. The demand for information is continually growing and people want to be able to access it quickly and easily. Rather than waiting to find out about current events by reading the daily paper or watching the nightly news broadcast on television, today’s consumers are accessing information quickly and conveniently through their desktop computers or from mobile devices.

How can adding news to your web site benefit your business? For one thing, the regular updates give them a reason to bookmark your site and come back to it. Spending time on your site helps the visitor to develop a relationship with your business, and people are more likely to buy a product or service from a company that they know and trust.

Another advantage to adding news to your site is that you now have multiple opportunities to promote your products and services to your site visitors. You will want to make sure you are taking advantage of the boost the news feature will bring to your web site traffic by posting specials or offering discount coupons online.

Offering news and regular updates on your site means that it will be indexed more often by search engines. This strategy can help you improve your ranking and make it much easier for Internet users to find you online. People looking for information online are not likely to go through several pages of results to find what they are looking for. Ideally, you want your page to show up on the first page of results for your keywords, and providing news as part of your site offering can help you achieve this goal.

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!

Serve Up Fresh Content Regularly to Keep Your Website Relevant

December 9th, 2011

If you want to keep your site visitors engaged and get or maintain a high ranking with search engines, you need to keep it stocked with fresh content on a regular basis. One of Google’s latest algorithm changes is focusing on rewarding site owners who make a point of posting relevant and timely items with favorable rankings.

What does Google consider quality fresh content? The search engine giant likes to see news and events posted online. The advantage to you in adding this type of content to your site is that Internet users want to be in the know about what’s going on, and they want to find out in bite-sized pieces of information.

Consider adding a blog, news & events or public relations section to your website and invite your site visitors to subscribe so that they can be notified by e-mail whenever a new story is added. This simple step allows you to implement a three-pronged approach to promoting your business: if properly written and optimized, you get a steady stream of organic Web traffic to your site, improved search engine rankings and a steady stream of visitors that know your business is alive and well. 

How can you use newsworthy stories to help promote your business? You can report on the results of surveys or trends which are relevant to your market (while avoiding mentioning your competition, of course). News can also mean promoting your business by sharing noteworthy events, such as a new product or service launch, an award your company received, being featured or cited in the media, sharing the news of an employee’s promotion and so on.

Adding fresh content to your site on a regular basis will help keep your brand in front of your customers. Newsworthy items will make your site a hit with search engines. It’s a win-win situation.

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 for their key terms 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!

Great Content Takes Time to Create and to Catch On

November 23rd, 2011

Creating great content can be compared to baking your own bread. The process cannot be rushed; if you simply slap together a few ingredients (words) and hope for the best, you won’t get the results you are hoping for.

Choose Your Words Carefully

Crafting great content takes time and some effort to produce. It involves much more than just putting a few words together and publishing them online. There is so much “noise” competing for your audience’s attention that you need to make sure that what you post online stands out.

To continue with the baking metaphor, you will get much better results if you use high quality ingredients. Not only does your content need to be structured carefully, you will also need to make sure that you are choosing language which speaks to, not at, your audience.

Give it Time

Ideally, you want your great content to be something which will create a lot of interest online. This is not a situation where you can expect to get instant gratification; your content will take time to be appreciated by Internet users and come into its own. It will take some time for your content to be indexed by search engines, but you can help the process along by making sure you share it through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking sites.

If you consistently post great content on your website and blog, you will establish your brand as one which your readers can trust and this strategy will ultimately lead to increased readership and revenue. Like your home-baked bread project, it takes time for great content to rise in the rankings and to be appreciated, but the results are well worth it in the end.

Great content speaks to the Internet user and provides value to the reader in some manner. It needs to be prepared by an expert craftsman, and Toronto-based content and website copywriting expert Ray Litvak is well versed in how to make your content great. Contact Ray today at 416-226-8676 for a free, personalized assessment of your content needs and how to distinguish yourself from the competition through great content.

How to Market Your Content Effectively

November 17th, 2011

By now you know that you should be populating your web site with great content. This isn’t enough for marketing purposes, though, and you should consider incorporating these methods into the content strategy for your target market:

Start a Blog

A blog offers you a unique way to communicate with your customers. Written in a more conversational tone than your web copy, your blog helps you to develop a relationship with your readers. The blog is a place where you can post content which comments on newsworthy events your readers will be interested in, discuss a current promotion your business is running or share details about an award your company has received.

Article Distribution Networks

Article marketing is another effective content marketing strategy that is worth considering and is very easy to do. Have a content writer prepare articles on topics which would interest readers. At the bottom of the article, include a boiler plate statement and link to your web site or blog. Since the content on article directory sites is likely to show up at or near the top of Internet search results, you are using good content to drive traffic to your site.

Prepare a Press Release

Has your company done something newsworthy? Share it in cyberspace with a press release and make sure you submit it to press release networks so that it can be indexed by search engines. Your press release may focus on a specific event, but it will be available online forever to continue promoting your business.

Social Media Sites

If you don’t have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, get an account set up now. Your posts and tweets are a way to engage with potential and existing customers in an informal manner. Use these sites to promote and link to your content (web pages, articles, press releases) and share it with a wider audience.

Having great content is only part of the equation if you want to market it effectively. Make sure you have a plan in place to get it in front of readers to help promote your business online.

Great Content Defined

November 7th, 2011

You may have heard the expression, “Content is king,” but how do you know great content when you see it? First of all, it’s not about having a content writer string a bunch of keywords together while making sure that the sentence kinda makes sense. Great content is written for humans as well as search engines, and here are some ways you can tell if what you are looking at is high quality or simply run of the (content) mill fodder.

Great Content is Informative

Great content covers the bases and has its facts straight. If it is referring to another source of information, it does so specifically. There are no third hand, once removed allegations that “someone” has made; great content has been written by someone who has done his or her homework.

Great Content can be Entertaining

Not all great content invites you to pull up a chair and put on your Thinking Cap to get its message across. If your content engages the reader by making him or her laugh (or at least smile), you are well on your way to having that person think highly of your business and what you are trying to promote. Something amusing does tend to stick in the reader’s mind once he or she has clicked away, and you definitely want your content to be noteworthy.

Great Content Provides Solutions

A person looking for information online is searching for a solution to a question or a concern that he or she is facing. Great content provides the information that the Internet user is looking for, in bite-sized servings. Give your site visitors relevant information they can use, and they are more likely to bookmark your site and look to it as the “go to” place for information.

Great content speaks to the Internet user and provides value to the reader in some manner. It needs to be prepared by an expert craftsman, and Toronto-based content and website copywriting expert Ray Litvak is well versed in how to make your content great. Contact Ray today at 416-226-8676 for a free, personalized assessment of your content needs and how to distinguish yourself from the competition through great content.

If search engine marketing doesn’t work, try “remarketing”

October 12th, 2011

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

Have you ever considered applying this principle to search engine marketing? It’s called “remarketing.”

Traditionally, anyone struggling to convert customers using paid search, i.e. Google AdWords ad boxes, will try to rectify the problem by changing ad copy, conducting more keyword research and so on. Doing so is often the right choice but sometimes all you need is a little persistence.

Just as the salesperson who just won’t quit sometimes makes a sale by returning to a target who already said no, the same strategy can make search remarketing effective.

Remarketing is, literally, remarketing your ads specifically toward customers who have already rejected or “bounced” from your site. The process involves attaching special tracking cookies to past visitors, “following” them as they continue to search and remarketing with new ads targeted specifically to them.

The first reaction may be to worry about the ethics of such a strategy. Is it really fair to follow someone after they leave your site? The key is to associate your remarketed web ads only with a select number of similar keywords and websites. That way, though you’re taking another shot at the customers who spurned you, you’re still only reaching out to them when they’re still searching for products and services similar to what you offer. If customer X opts not to buy your power tools and wants to comparison shop instead, it’s not overly invasive to attract their attention with a new power-tool ad while customer X is still searching for power tools.

Remarketing increases your conversions by essentially “unbouncing” your bounce rate. It also raises brand awareness for your business, as it gives customers the sense that your site is popular, authoritative and ubiquitous. It’s the equivalent of a billboard you keep seeing all over town. It gets you thinking about that brand, doesn’t it?

Consider trying some remarketing today. Since the process can be a bit challenging to implement for first-timers, hiring a specialized web content development company to help might be a good idea.

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 Wrong Stuff: The danger of keyword stuffing

October 5th, 2011

I love stuffing. My Thanksgiving turkey will be packed with it this weekend. But keyword stuffing – also known as keyword spamming – makes you a turkey in the eyes of Google and other search engines.

Any overzealous SEO Copywriter or website owner can easily make this mistake. It’s common that we think we’re doing ourselves a huge favor by stuffing our pages with as many keywords as possible. Unfortunately, doing so often hurts more than it helps. Here are three key reasons why keyword stuffing can hurt your bottom line.

1. It kills your readability. Last week, we discussed the “aural test” and how readability is crucial to your site’s success. A page overloaded with keywords has no shot of passing the aural test! Overstuffed copy is nonsensical, overly dense, totally unnatural and extremely unappealing to the eye.

Content overstuffed with keywords turns off readers, confuses them, and sends them running. In theory, the keywords may help you in search engine results and increase your traffic, but that traffic will rarely convert. Too many keywords means lower conversion rates and higher bounce rates. Keyword-saturated content may look overly robotic, less human, and will make it harder for potential customers to trust you. Looking “spammy” kills your readability.

2. Google isn’t stupid. The funny thing about keyword stuffing: in the modern search-engine landscape, it may not even increase your traffic. Search engines like Google care more and more about quality content these days, including relevant, authoritative and engaging content. There’s nothing engaging about nonsensical copy loaded with keywords. Coming across like a robot will hurt you in the rankings, not help you.

3. Time is money – and keyword stuffing takes time. Bloating your site with keywords means spending far more time and capital on SEO. Since the excess keyword research and work won’t even help your site in the long run, committing oodles of time and resources to keyword stuffing may make you lose money.

In a nutshell, don’t sacrifice readability for possible search engine rankings.  That said, being too conservative, as in using too few keywords, does you no favors. So, what’s an SEO to do? A good rule of thumb to follow: try for no more than one keyword phrase for every 100 words of web content.  Use synonyms, singular and plural instances of your keywords. Focus on sounding ‘natural.’  Doing so will keep your keyword total healthy and relevant while also preventing you from alienating your audience.

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!

 

Does your web copy pass the aural test?

September 28th, 2011

Even though web copywriting is about appealing to users’ eyes, the key to success may be your ears.

Putting SEO and keywords aside for a moment, let’s think about what constitutes good web copy. It should be current, original, informative and authoritative.

Take The Aural Test

Unfortunately, ignoring one major area will undermine your copy even if it has all those traits: readability.

One of my biggest pet peeves in web writing is overly technical or even academic language. Writers often get caught in the “good spelling and grammar” trap. While you absolutely want everything spelled and phrased correctly, it doesn’t mean you should follow every rule that you followed when writing a university essay on Paradise Lost.

Overly dry or academic content may be worded perfectly, it may contain brilliant arguments, but it will fail you if it isn’t easily readable for searchers. If it’s too technical, too dense, it could even turn off your readers. They’ll feel alienated by the language and seek a competitor who offers similar products, services or content but speaks to them in a more accessible way. In other words, unreadable content will spike your bounce rate and lower your conversion rate. Not good.

This is where the “aural test” comes in handy. By reading your own content out loud, either to yourself or to a friend, you get a stronger sense of how your content affects your web users. If it sounds robotic and distant, that’s because it is. The best way to attract readers online is to speak in a way that really connects with them. Keep it punchy, conversational and introductory. If your content is interesting and welcoming, you should hear that tone when you try the aural test.

The good part about this suggestion: it doesn’t even mean you have to dumb down your writing. You’ll be making it shorter and choppier but, in many cases, that also involves searching for especially descriptive and relevant words, which are cornerstones of great writing.

Keep it simple and natural and you’ll keep your readers on your site longer. If you don’t trust my word, maybe Albert Einstein’s will do:

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.”

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