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I don’t cut my own hair, fix my car, or design websites.

Why?  Because it’s not what I’m good at, qualified to do or want to learn. You’re writing copy for your website yourself why, exactly?

This blog post is a bit of a rant and it’s called:

4 Simple Reasons Not to Write Your Own Website Content

As a copywriter in and around the deeply groovy city of Brighton, I do a lot of networking.  In fact, I run networking events (of which more in another post).  The success is in the follow up.  I’m good at following up.  I used to be a Sales Director and getting in front of people is what I used to do – and what I do now.

I look at people’s websites after I meet them.  As you do, and should.

But here’s the thing, and I’m sorry to say this: most of the websites I see have very poor content.  There’s a lot of  we and I, plethora of what we do rather than what we can do for you and there are…hideous spelling mistakes.  Or split infinitives, shock horror.

And yes there is a difference between “their”, “they’re” and “there”.  Mistakes like these give me the rage and yes, I AM judging you for them. But not as much as your audience will, believe me.

Most web content is not in-depth enough, not relevant enough, not persuasive enough and just not very good.  No calls to action.

What else? Oh yes, duplicated content and, in some cases, text that’s been blatantly copied from other sources, even Wikipedia.  People, Google will penalise your site for all of these things.  Here’s my take on why you should ask some word-obsessed website copywriter to create your content for you:

1. You’re too close to your business

I’ll play nice here but I mean it: you are very good at what you do.  You are a whole lot better than you think you are.  You don’t realise just how excellent your skills are.  This, ladies and gentlemen, has been my experience with many of my customers.

You may not know in a true objective sense:

  • how many “strands” of service you offer, ie how much you actually do
  • the true benefits of what your business offers your customers
  • what makes YOU different

Working with a copywriter who a) isn’t you and b) has good commercial experience will enable you to put your best foot forward.

2.Writing may not be your forte

And why should it be? You’re an accountant, or a personal trainer, or you run a security company.  I meet many business owners, who, faced with the task of creating web-friendly, SEO-focussed, persuasive, high quality content – and LOTS of it to engage search engines, simply can’t do it.  Or, do it badly.  (I also struggle with people who think that they’re fantastic writers..and who really, really aren’t.  I’d like to say that you know who you are, but you don’t).

Website visitors have a very short attention span, so compelling content will encourage them to stay on your site, and then  contact you.  Google’s latest Rank Brain algorithm focuses on “dwell time”; the clock is ticking, folks.  Three minutes and 10 seconds is the minimum time you need people to keep reading.

You don’t just pay for the hours a content writer takes to write your copy.  You pay for their expertise, experience and skill.  Copywriters can create crisp, focused website content that speaks to your target market and that gets results.

3. You don’t have the time

Picture the scene.  It’s Friday morning.  You have a choice of two activities:

You could write your blog or start a new branding campaign for a client.  You could create a page of content for your website, or spend a couple of hours greeting and serving customers in your business.   Perhaps you need to write an e-book or white paper, but you also need to be in front of paying clients. Which will immediately make you money?

Writing your own website content, blogs or brochure copy is, my friends, taking you away from what you do best and where your primary focus should be: on business development or service delivery.   Outsource, my friends, and all will be well.

4. You don’t understand Search Engine Optimisation – and you don’t want to.

I’m not surprised.  The behemoth that is Google is an all-consuming beast.   Even webby wordy people have to take the time to research all the latest goings on and it’s time-consuming.

The bad news for many is that the old “black hat” techniques (cheating, in other words) no longer works.  Google rewards sites with lots of rich, relevant and shareable content.  Relevant back links are good, for example, and you need excellent on-page SEO via the Yoast plug-in as a start.  Traffic to your website via social media is a Good Thing, too.  Lots of important stuff that you may not know or have the time to learn.

However…don’t think that search engines are going to notice a small, static website with hardly any content.  Please don’t assume that your target market will find your website if you’ve not created content that:

a) speaks to your target market and

b) is search engine friendly

Search engine friendly content is in-depth, excellent quality, relevant to its subject matter and with a proportion of key words (although the latter are not quite as important as they were, funnily enough).  SEO content is so good that it’s gets shared via social media or other platforms.  It should be informative and helpful.  It also has links to previous content and to external sources, as well as images.  It has H1 and H2 headings.  It has rich anchor text diversity.

Confused?  See what I mean?

Fret ye not.  There are good copywriters out there who can help you.  Know anyone?

Susan Beckingham from Sussex Copywriting Services creates lickety spit content for websites.  Call her on 07816 684 756 to find out more.

 

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Google Has Spoken.

It seems that Google is actually telling us stuff that we need to know.

Yes, they have just ACTUALLY published a rather long and exacting 160 page document on their new quality guidelines. This gets us SEO people all excited. Yes, I know it’s tragic. If you so desire you can read it here

Google never actually tells us how they rank websites. Not really. We just know that if we do certain things within a website (quite a lot of things, actually) the search engine crawlers take notice and start ranking it higher than the crappy websites with no SEO on them – or worse, dodgy SEO.

Having read the document and not actually died, I thought that you may like to read my take on what it’s all about.

Firstly, though, there’s a chap called Brian Dean that I’d like to credit. Although his writing style is a little too in-your-face for my liking, his posts educate, inform and are easy to read. And, they get shared a lot, which is the whole point of it. And I’ve learned a lot from him. Hmmmm…maybe not so bad after all. Anyway, my old mucka Brian is the inspiration for this post, so thank you very much, Mr Dean.

So, what’s all this about?

Google, that MASSIVE search engine that decides where to place your website in the rankings on search engine results pages has for the first time published a list of its Search Quality Rating Guidelines. Why am I pleased? Because, as a copywriter, it’s all about the CONTENT and for YOU this means that good quality content writing is once again at the top of the tree when it comes to website rankings.

Here are the top three points:

1. Highly meets, vs. Fails to Meet.
In a nutshell, and I’m actually quoting Google here, “The guidelines reflect what Google thinks search users want”. So, they like ranking pages that satisfy a search term, in effect a question. If someone was searching for, oooh I don’t know, “Copywriter/Sussex” they’d find me, what I do, how I do it and how I’m different from most copywriters.

Tick. Highly meets (although I do say it myself)

2. Front and Centre
Your content should be the FIRST thing that website visitors see. Any scrolling down the page to find out about your services and Google does the upside down opposite of smiley thing, thus :-(

Is your content at the TOP and in the CENTRE of your page?

3. Expertise – Authoritativeness – Trustworthiness

If you know your stuff, Google likes you. If you make it VERY clear that you really know your stuff, the king or queen of the search engines approves and will rank your website accordingly.

Don’t know your stuff, or you’re not sure? Borrow it, quoting other experts or sources and link back to them.

Reputation is important, too. Awards or recommendations from trusted experts in your field (the topic must be related) is vital. If you’ve won a Best in Show award and you breed dogs, mention it on your website (again, with a link). If you’re part of the Leathersellers Guild and you make handbags – yep, you’ve guessed it. No idea if such a guild exists, I just hope it does.

What else?

Well, they couldn’t really make it any clearer: you need a “comprehensive amount” of main content and the “main content should be the reason that the web page exists”.

Of course, the opposite applies, so if your website is deemed to be of low quality (mainly down to its content), it may well sink like a stone. Bad news. To finish, and yet again, I quote from the Google article: “ We will consider content to be low quality if it is created without adequate time, effort, expertise, or talent/skill.”

So, before I keep repeating the word “content”, I’ll stop. Know any good copywriters? Hmmm?

Susan Beckingham

December 2015

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…

…Christmas!

So how did that happen?  Last week it was the middle of April and yesterday was late October, so now I find myself with literally days to go before Christmas, working to tight deadlines and wondering if I’m going to get everything done.  This year I have been…lax.  I normally do all my Crimbo shopping well in advance but lordy lordy how useless am I this year?  You don’t have to answer that but believe me there is uselessness aplenty this year.

Anyway, another blog not related to content writing at all.  Hurrah I hear you say.  This one’s about Christmas.

My goodness me how I love the festive season.  I guess it goes back to being a child and having parents who loved Christmas, too.  So, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways:

Christmas trees.  Honestly, what’s not to love.  A real tree, with pure white fairy lights which makes the room all lovely and festive. It smells gorgeous and has presents underneath it.  Gives a warm glow, or is that the sherry I only drink once a year?

Sausage rolls.  God, I love these.  Warmed up in the oven, they taste of Christmas.  Similarly, satsumas, brazil nuts in their shells and chocolate coins.

Christmas telly.  BBC, take a bow.  ITV, really don’t bother (well, please bother with Downton Abbey, I love that)

Carols from Kings.  A pure unalloyed joy and it makes me cry – in a good way.

The Christmas Eve Tom and Jerry.  What do you mean you’ve not seen it?  Go and buy it AT ONCE.

Christmas Eve in general.  Somehow it’s a magical sparkly day and needs to involve candles, a glass of wine, a prayer for those we have loved and lost (my Dad) and fish pie for some reason.

Presents.  Of course.  Getting great presents is a joy – I got a television once – but giving them and then seeing the person in question using it and enjoying what you bought them is just great.

Board games.  Our family has a no telly rule on Christmas Day (yes, I know I’m contradicting myself) and we like to play silly games.  I even like Scrabble.

The food.  My sister makes delicious canapes that we eat before our big meal. Yum.  Also, those sausages wrapped in bacon are pretty sensational, aren’t they?

Christmas music.  OK, not if you work in a shop.

I love it when it gets dark early.

I love the routine.

I love it all.

Merry Christmas to one and all.

Susan

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