Feeding the Engines - Writing Copy

Nov 14, 2006 - 6:26 pm 2 by
Filed Under PubCon 2006

Heather Lloyd-Martin, Jennifer Slegg, Ted Ulle, Byron White

Ted Ulle gives overview. Working with a team, problems with teams, and why workflow is a critical factor. How to avoid a Franken-site. Work flow must support your priorities. Final result must be simple and seamless. Getting to simplicity for end user is a challenge, but it will work well to keeping both people and spiders happy. Start with Clarity from the start. Business purpose is #1. Start with that web strategy before anything else. Add pile of content - rough drafts. Then make back end decisions and how are we going to measure things decisions. All this has to happen before you ever build a web page. Build an information architecture for your site. Very critical. Menu labels are important. Now its time to flesh out all the content. The graphic designer is now part of the process. Then its the final web edit in html. But the guiding light is always the business purpose. Every decision you make should be documented, so you will remember later why you made that decision.

Now he looks at each of these in detail:

Mine your market's language. Look at forums, email, keyword neighborhoods (LSI). Research the Market's Concerns

Build a Process - not a product

Server Decisions - don't be naive. IT departments and isps dont care about search engines - you must care. There are choices for the backend. Dont just use the default when making backend and metrics decisions Accurate HTTP headers and mime types must be set properly on the server. One unique spiderable URL for each page (avoid duplicate content) Custom 404 must return a 404 header! (not a 302 or 200, etc) 301/302 /framing/meta refresh/javascript - be careful to use the correct one

Build in the metrics Already know the business goals define the key metrics - too many blurs the picture Logs - server logs are almost never enough Build in what you need now

Menus and navigation Menus are content. Getting menu list to be intelligable, gives users a sense of knowing that they are confident it is what they need.

Tell a story with your menu items with either Single Words or Longer phrases Too many choices is no choice at all

Graphic Design Now - only now - not before, can designer get to work Graphics must NOT drive the process Designer must respect the medium - he must at least know html

Final Web Edit tweak calls to action No time to be timid Content interacts with layout CSS - use it properly

you can kill good content with bad layout or boost weak content with good layout study print typography to learn how to put together a good web page

Where do "Seams" come from (if you've built this to be simple and seamless)?

Look out for someone showing off! Someone is showing off rather than thinking of business priorities. Who are the typical culprits? Look out for these things that take away from the simple and seamless and focus on something else.

Graphic designers, server side spaghetti, fancy features, IT folks writing copy Keep your Balance - technology and aesthetics must both be in place for marketing results. Accidents will happen. Full steam ahead and you drive off the road. Things that can go wrong - data queries are slow, copy breaks the template, seo mangles the message, cms mangles everything - things will go wrong! When things go wrong, don't kludge! Better late than lousy. Do it right. Expect to make trade offs and keep priorities straight. You documented all those priorities in the first step, so refer back to that, and you won't end up with a franken-site.


Jennifer Slegg (jensense) is up next on: Unique Content is a Budget Site's Best Friend

How to be a one or two person show rather than having a whole team.

Is unique content just a buzz phrase? Never underestimate the value of unique content. Duplicate content can be filtered out of the se's, causing you to lose referrals and visitors.

Why is it important? Organic and free search traffic If it's unique, people will come back to your site Unique content is cost effective

Sources of unique content? Do it yourself. This is the least expensive option for webmasters. Need to have writing and editing skills, must either know or research the subject. But if you write it, you know it is unique.

Hiring Writers There are huge differences in pay scales for quality article writing Must check that the content you purchase is unique Make sure the articles' facts are correct

Don't forget to check uniqueness after a couple of months. Some writers will republish content you hired them to write, despite a contract you may have had with them.

Avoid these sources:

Free article sites - most of these will end up on spam sites, and you won't have unique content. Also most of these will be promoting something else.

Unknown submissions - research and check before publishing (these are people who submit content to your site - check them out)

Getting your content indexed well Use descriptive and unique titles that clearly describes what the article about When you add new articles to your site, feature them on your home page first to hasten the indexing process add new articles on a regular basis

Considerations for product pages when companies supply you with product feeds, don't use their descriptions and specs as these are not unique. rewriting those pages is crucial, and don't just do a find and replace on product name - it all needs to be rewritten

Checking if content is unique Take a unique phrase from the second half of the article and check in Google for that phrase. Copyscape.com is a good tool also.

Forums as Original Content Forums provide lots of original contnt quickly, and are great for generating new ideas for articles, and are great for long tail keyword referrals.

Blogs as Original Content Comments do the same thing as forums for content, including new ideas for blog posts.

Last thoughts - good unique content is a cost effective method of buildingand promoting your site. Be original and not a copycat!


Byron White, founder of lifetips.com, is up next. They provide clients with content and link popularity.

Focused on great content for last 7 years with lifetips.com. They do this with freelance writers. With what they've learned, they have 30 Tips for Web Writing.

Tips for web writers; understand the new age expansion of choice discover the rules for decision making develop decision making map and process create new methodology for bying decisions forge simplicity into the art of content creation get in tune with the vision get under the skin of the target audience inhabit the lives of the target audience touch the heart of the audience set the right course add new meaning and distinction create new confidence with your readers create new energy for your sales team create something that matters learn to tell stories great stories introduce great characters great stories are contagious great stories teach us to be smart great stories surprise and delight (tells a story of how he lost a testicle to cancer and created a golf event called Lost Ball Golf - something like that...) Understand Web Readers readers want to be able to find specific things readers are in a hurry readers love personilazation - it's all about "me" readers want advice readers want up to date, relevant, straightforward content Map Out Your Readers Needs readers want credibility, belief and logic readers want exposure to new worlds readers want to laugh and cry readers want intimacy, mystery and bravery readers want surprise and delight Develop a Content Haiku (3 line poem, 17 syllables) create several different content Haiku split test the conversions of each style select the winners and apply rules Keywords Without Compromise harvest the rich search keywords callenge is to pepper keywords without compromising the story reader must come first

Find the positive story Instead of saying We are not.....Cross out the negatives and build a story around the positives Keep It Simple Understand the Power of Links link strategy is about validating content - the surrounding text is important - link internally as well.

Recognize the talent of good writers. Gives resources for freelance writers, such as craigslist, etc. Define the priority for the writer. be open to risks - make people talk, make them laugh, create buzz. Demand new data mining such as internal search boxes, and customer service centers to get new copy ideas. Develop a flawless process. Brainstorm, research, clarify call to action, manage the feedback. Agree on a sales funnel - writers can learn from the salespeople and the sales funnel.

He now just skims over a bunch of slides as he tries to give more time to the next presenter. Final - Hire the Pros.


Heather Lloyd-Martin

Introduced as the pioneer woman of SEO copywriting.

Fun and profit with SEO copywriting best practices

going to give a very short presentation because running out of time...just the meat...

SEO copywriting is the same as conventional copywriting - copy is so convincing that the customer can't help but buy the product being offered. But SEO copywriting is keeping the search engines in mind as well. It is Not just throwing in some keywords into a 250 word text block.

Need to have a keyphrase focus (2 - 3 per page) first thing to do is make sure your kwd phrase is on the page

Length of copy - you can control this - short stubby copy is not great for ranking. Need about 250 words per page (which is not set in stone). Some can get away with less, some need several pages of text. Splitting this into several pages can focus on several long-tail phrases.

Too many links on a page won't help you convert. Too many links confuses the user.

Titles are highly important. These are your first opportunity for conversion at the search engine results page. They are headlines that need to be tantalizing. Must be unique for each page and should be as compelling as possible for 50-75 characters. But writing good titles is very important.

If you dont have complete control over the content, do as much as you can. Know what to do when. Tweak the title and editing some pages that are NOT critical for conversions. This can be a quick and dirty way of dealing with not having complete control. Tip; try adding headlines and subheadlines and hyperlinks to text.

IT sometimes is the one that handles titles because it's considered code. Don't let that happen. Marketing should work it out with IT to let them include keyphrases in titles.

She repeats that you should rewrite any product descriptions that came from the manufacturerer. Create FAQ and tips pages for the product to add original content. Press releases, newsletters, etc. can work well too. Can help you find new ranking opportunities.

If a competitor is slamming you online, seo copywriting can help you overcome these reputation problems.

summary: smart seo copywriting closes the loop between the engines and your offer, so the right approach is crucial.


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