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Archive for the ‘Web Content Development’ Category

Putting prices on your website…good or bad?

Friday, 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!

Add a News Feature to Your Site for Ongoing Fresh Content

Friday, 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!

How to Market Your Content Effectively

Thursday, 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

Monday, 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”

Wednesday, 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

Wednesday, 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?

Wednesday, 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.”

Why the “contact us” page is crucial for conversions

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Why the “contact us” page is crucial for conversions

My favorite web development tips are often those that help you solve problems right under your nose. They’re the easiest things to fix yet they can significantly impact your website’s performances. One such example: the “contact us” page.

Imagine bragging to your friends about that great girl or guy you met the other day. You hit it off, had a wonderful conversation, and you knew right away that you were destined to be together. You were looking your best, you were at your most charming, and you couldn’t have made a better impression.

“That’s great! So, did you give him/her your number?”

“Oops…”

Failing to bridge that crucial gap from customer to business owner online with a contact us button is just as bad as forgetting to give your love interest your phone number. Unless you operate a fully automated retail website with a full online purchasing and checkout system, you won’t convert customers if they don’t find you.

It’s amazing how often businesses make this mistake. They spend a huge number of resources on beautifully designed websites, artfully crafted content and well thought out web marketing initiatives, but often give little thought to contact information. Either it’s non-existent, barely visible, buried in a mystery section (i.e. in an About Us page instead of a separate Contact Us page) or included in too few places.

True story: a client I encountered was pulling out all the stops, dropping $2,500 a month on Google AdWords, but the business’ conversion rate remained horrible. The simple, fixable reason: the home page had NO contact information! Even if people were impressed with the company’s services, they had no idea how to receive those services as they didn’t know whom or where to contact.

Assuming you want customers to contact you via information found on your website, consider these simple tips:

1. Put a “contact us” button on your home page, above the fold. Let users know exactly where on your site they can find your phone number and/or e-mail address. Make it possible with a single click.

2. Include your phone number on your home page, above the fold. If you can get away with it, it’s even more effective to prominently feature your key contact info on your home page, not in lieu of a contact page, but in addition to it. If you have a bricks and mortar location, include your physical address.

3. Sprinkle contact listings or buttons at the bottom of pages, too. If you have a page discussing a specific service, it never hurts to remind readers at the end about how they can learn more. “To learn more about [our services], contact us at…” It works! To learn more about this idea, contact me at 416-226-8676! Ask for Ray.

The contact us principle stems from the call-to-action principle. If you want people’s business, tell them exactly how and where they can purchase whatever product or service you have to offer.

Learn more about contact us page best practices.

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 online. 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!

If you can publish it on the web, you can optimize it

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Arguably, most people with a decent understanding of search engine optimization associate the process primarily with “typical” web content. To improve your PageRank, you embed relevant keywords in your web copy, you work on your title tags, you engage in link building campaigns, and so on.

But, sometimes, we forget that anything publishable online can be optimized. Because these types of files – like PDFs – are more difficult to manipulate than others, we often overlook them when it comes to SEO. Don’t! Using PDFs as an example, let’s explore how and why you can make any publishable web file work for you in the search results.

As Google explains, though it encounters non-HTML files like PDFS (or spreadsheets), it still incorporates them into its algorithms. The modern incarnation of Google is more about finding relevant, engaging content than anything else. Even if it takes more effort, Google will seek out any quality content – even from alternative sources like PDFs.

So how do those robots do it? As Google explains, “The general rule of thumb is that if you can copy and paste the text from a PDF document into a standard text document, we should be able to index that text.” Any PDF without password protection or encrypted copy can be indexed.

Though images in PDF files aren’t indexed, links are. The algorithms treat links in PDF just like HTML links and factor them into PageRank.

To maximize your PDFs’ effectiveness in optimizing your site, I recommend that you:

1. Avoid duplicate content between PDF and HTML. Google much prefers a single copy of a given piece of content. Naturally, some sites or businesses need two copies to cater to different types of readers. If so, it’s a good idea to at least include a preferred URL in your Sitemap.

2. Work to influence the title shown for your document. Make sure the metadata pertaining to the PDF and any anchor text pointing to it are up to date and reflecting the title you want shown with your PDF in search results.

Make non-HTML files like PDFs and PowerPoint part of your web content strategy! Understand that they can be your friend, not your enemy, and they can help your SEO just as much as any content.

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

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!

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