Why put a lot of time and effort into writing content unless it’s going to rank well on Google?
Most business owners and professional marketers think the biggest challenge in digital marketing is developing posts that generate high engagement rates. Why? Your copy needs to hold a certain level of quality to really capture the attention of your readers and drive them to take action.
Writing effective content with informative copy, infographics, and images is very difficult – but we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll pull back the kimono to give you our top secrets to boost your digital copy. Use these secret tactics, and you’ll set your pages up to climb Google search rankings and get your users to interact and engage with your company.
Here’s our list of “top secret” tactics for digital content:
Make headlines and sub-headings interesting
Almost everyone reads a headline in an article, so make it count! Make them important to the reader. Make them enticing. Make them want to read more about the topic the headline is describing. All that effort you’ve put into compiling a great piece is useless if your readers don’t even make it to the first subheading before losing interest in you.
What makes a subheading stand out? The promise of useful, meaningful information is the best way to think about it. Taking the time to craft headings that are actually useful and important to the reader can make all the difference in the world. This is also an opportunity to mix in your website’s keywords. This will help your page rankings and establish your website as an authority. It’s also important to remember that quality over quantity is where it’s at. Google wants to display the highest quality links to its readers searches.
Leverage long-tail keywords
Long tail keywords are more effective over time because they are more conversational, easier to rank, and make your business stand out from the crowd as authentic. And with the rise of voice search (over 50% of all mobile searches are now done via voice), it’s becoming even more important to rank with keywords that are conversational in nature.
Let’s say you’re a plastic surgeon. Short key words like “plastic surgery chicago” or “tummy tuck new york” are highly competitive. Unless you’ve been ranking for those keywords for the last decade, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to topple the well-established competition.
But with long-tail keywords, you can focus on all of your niche customers and their specific needs with a focused phrase. For instance, rather than focusing on people looking for plastic surgery services, focus on ONE of your procedures:
- “how much does tummy tuck surgery cost in Chicago?”
- “the best breast augmentation surgeons in Manhattan”
AND there is far less competition for long tail keywords. Are prospects just typing in “plastic surgeons chicago”? No, they are searching for something specific – pricing, type of service, office hours, reputation, etc. Think of how your customers would try to find you using Google. Are they using voice search? You know your customers better than anyone and should be able to back into some great long-tail keywords that are going to be less competitive. Therefore, you’ll be able to dominate the ranking for those long-tail keywords.
Use tools like Keyword Planner to see if these long-tail phrases are actually receiving any level of traffic. If users are turning up on your pages already looking for the exact goods or services you offer, your chances of converting them just went through the roof!
User experience is everything
Authority, authenticity and credibility are also important factors in ranking high on Google. Why is that? Think about Google’s model. They want their users to find the information they are searching for quickly, but also want to provide the highest quality links. The more users that trust your site, the more Google will see your site as an authority.
Another thing Google likes to see is engagement with your audience. Are they leaving the site immediately? Are they clicking through the main pages and leaving? Or are they reading your blog content? Are they clicking on links to and from your social pages? Are they commenting? Are they filling out forms? The more time a reader spends on your site, the better ranking you’ll get because Google sees that users find your website informative and engaging. To sum it up, user experience is key.
So how do you do it? You need to be adding phrases and sentences frequently throughout your content that keep people reading. These phrases need to be enticing and leading by promising your visitors upcoming snippets of information they can’t ignore. These kinds of phrases include:
- Hint: it’s not what you think
- Here’s a secret
- But what’s really happening
- The best part is
These phrases keep offering the reader more if they keep going. Fill your content with these phrases and you’ll see your bounce rate drop dramatically.
Create a sense of urgency
If the purpose of your copy is to get users to convert, which in most cases it is, then you’re going to need to create a sense of urgency. If you’re not writing content that creates a sense of urgency or a need to take action, you’re failing. Basically, your readers will get bored and move on to someone else. It’s a difficult balance: create compelling content, that sticks out, and keeps them interested.
Creating a time limit will enhance your ability to get their attention and create a sense of urgency. Great examples include:
- Just one day remains
- Limited spots are filling up
- We have only 2 spots remaining
Other phrases that may work relate to our need to join groups or be a part of something that everyone wants, but cannot have immediately:
- Sign up for our wait list
- Coming soon
Calls-to-action can simplify the decision tree for readers. It also lets them know that you are available to them immediately. But you have to give them something of value to get them to do what you want.
Let’s use our plastic surgeon as an example again. She wants to collect mobile numbers and email addresses to build a marketing list. On her website, she can create a call to action button that will collect the phone and email information she wants in exchange for a free e-book on “What Age Is Best For Each Skin Care Procedure”. Not only is this useful information for her readers, she’s also established herself as an authority and she’s actively promoting ALL of her services. Here’s a great example of how you can collect prospect data in exchange for something of value:
WARNING: don’t stuff your calls-to-action everywhere! If you overdo it, people will get turned off and navigate to another website. Ever go to a website and the same pop-up window pops-up on every webpage? Do you immediately leave the site? Of course! Your bounce rates will skyrocket if you aren’t selective about where and when you present your calls-to-action.
Style is actually important
While the quality of your writing is important, you need to remember that not many people read the entire copy. But a more casual, conversational style, mixed with questions and calls-to-action can make a big difference. Here are two examples. One is boring and not very relatable. The other relates to the customer and says “I know what you need and how to provide it”:
- Our competitors: “We provide digital marketing services for businesses who want ROI.”
- Target Market SEO: “Our digital marketing services focus on getting you more website traffic and qualified leads.”
Why is writing style so important?
You’re not writing a dissertation, so if your copy isn’t a grammatical masterpiece, that’s okay. Want to end a sentence with a preposition? Do it if you to! Want to write a fragmented sentence? Do it! In the digital age, with texting, people are accustomed to more conversational writing.
So what are the elements of style? First, you need to think about your audience. How will they respond to the tone? Can I use slang or colloquialisms? It’s a balance between authenticity, credibility and keeping them interested. The best way to create a style that works for you is to listen to yourself and your colleagues as they converse with your clients, strategic partners and prospects. And the better you know your clients, the more you are keyed into their wants and needs. This will drive your writing style.
When choosing the style for your brand or campaign, it’s important to think about how these elements piece together to create something that perfectly matches your message and your intended audience.
Develop the proper atmosphere
You’re always trying to create an atmosphere with your writing. Is it compelling someone to buy something? Is it creating content that is informative and valuable? Are you trying to lead them to more interesting content or trying to get them to bite on a call to action? Once again, you need to understand the reader’s needs and wants. That will dictate the proper direction and make your content more emotionally impactful.
When implementing your marketing style, it’s important to remember that humans are always evolving and the language they use evolves with this. Creating a genuine and authentic connection with your audience by relating to them should always be at the forefront of any message you put out – your readers will spot inauthenticity a mile away and it’s the quickest way to lose their trust.
If you can create a writing style that matches your brand and customer’s viewpoint, you will be able to build trust with your target audience. It’s vital that you convey to your audience that you relate to them and that you respect their opinions and views. The right style traverses the barriers of marketing and blurs the bridge between writer and reader – one of the key attributes of successful content marketing. But there’s more to effective style than just communication – great content also adds an artistic flair to the world as well.
Just as a beautiful piece of art helps us take notice and adds something special to the blandness of everyday life, brilliant content does the same thing. As marketers, our goal should always be to add value to people’s lives but also to add creativity and inspiration as well. Style is at the intersection of these two goals, bringing function and purpose together with originality and innovation.
How to develop your unique writing style
Style is all about your audience. Ever read the content of a landing page and think “just what is it that they do?”. Using technical terms that relate to your products or services is important for credibility but using them too much can deter readers.
The simplest solution is this: focus on your ideal customer. Why are they reading this page, blog or ad? Why did they click to get to this content? What are their problems, wants and needs? If you focus on your ideal customer and make it about them, then your style will reveal itself.
Again, it’s all about creating authenticity, readability and authority. People want to get information as quickly as possible with quality results. They don’t want to sift through endless paragraphs of text. Gone are the days of university-level essays. We’re in the digital age – get me to specific, quality content as quickly as possible. I’ll skim it to see if it passes the sniff test. If it does, I’ll likely read more of the content, comment on it, forward it, etc.
Let’s do an exercise: Assume you’ve developed content that is impactful, interesting and important to your audience. Now assume the reader is going to skim your material. Are they going to get the gist of your material if they skim over it? Are they going to do deeper dives when a headline or infographic presents itself? Developing content isn’t just about the content itself anymore. It’s about creating a user experience that is efficient, informative, and engaging.
Write bullet points that get to the point
Bullet points can make all the difference in the world. In email marketing, bullet points are actually a no-no. But in blogs, ads, and web page copy, they can be a very effective means to grab a reader’s attention and get them to do a deeper dive into your content. Bullet points are also a great way to break up dense content OR for inspiring your readers to take action. Here are some pro tips on how to incorporate bullet points into your content:
- Keep it brief
- Start with a verb
- Drive consistency
- Use bullets in the right place at the right time
- Know your audience (I know we keep saying it, but it’s really important)
- Talk about benefits first
Keep It Brief
We want so badly for readers to get every bit of information about our products and services, our company, our customers, etc. You have to remember that readers are generally reading content for one purpose – and that purpose is very specific. So the faster they can find the information they are looking for, the better.
Think of how you sell your product or service in person or on the phone. Do you blather on constantly about your entire portfolio of offerings, company history and customers? You better not! You listen to their needs and wants and relate your sales pitch to those needs and wants. Your content should flow similarly. But since you aren’t interacting with the reader and have no way of knowing what their specific needs are, you have to present the information so they can find their specific interest ASAP. So the architecture of your content is important.
Start with a verb
Active verbs catch the eye, they create a sense of urgency and are a call-to-action.
Start each bullet point with a verb to reveal what’s really integral to your message.
Think about the following examples:
- “We can drive traffic to websites to create more opportunities and a marketing ROI for your company”
- “Drive traffic to your website and get more leads”
The latter is more concise and to the point, it’s an action-oriented phrase and it’s about the customer and their ultimate success, not you.
Again, most readers don’t read all of the copy in content. They are drawn to headlines, images, call-outs and bullet points. The more consistent you are with your bullet points, the more your readers will be able to decipher how and where they can get to the information they are looking for. Again, if someone is scanning your content, will they find what they need quickly? Will they be able to determine where they want to do a deeper dive?
Use bullets in the right place at the right time
One of the main benefits of bullet points is that they break up long stretches of content and provide a change of pace for the reader. But, that’s only the case if you use them in the right places and don’t overdo it. Using them too often can start to make your copy look like a shopping list rather than an engaging piece of content.
Try to use bulleted lists in moderation and ensure that when you’re using them, you’re including only the important information that you want to highlight.
Know your audience
We get it. You’re sick of hearing this. But it’s absolutely true. The better you know your audience, the better your bullets will be. When you’re thinking about the most crucial information that you need to include in your bullet lists to help it stand out, think about the information that your reader would want to know first and foremost. Is it stats? Is it a task list? What is useful to the reader? That’s the question you’re answering.
Talk about the benefits first
Again, this comes down to really knowing your audience. Why are they reading this content? It’s always about the benefits – to them, their company, family, etc.
Solely listing a bundle of features might inform your reader, but it’s not going to make it clear to them why they need or would benefit from your services or products. In content creation, it’s the benefits that are most likely to convert a reader into a buyer. So this is what you want to focus on when you’re writing bullet points. Help the reader visualize how their life would be improved by whatever it is you’re selling.
Avoid writing duplicate content
Google and other search engines have been cracking down on duplicate content for the past few years. It first started with “keyword stuffing”. This is when a website uses the exact same keywords over and over again on a web page or in an article in an attempt to get higher rankings on searches.
Now Google is beginning to look at your website’s content and determine how original EVERY page and paragraph actually is. So why is original content so important to Google? Remember how we discussed authenticity, credibility and quality in the beginning of this article? That’s what Google’s business plan is – giving users fast, quality and credible search results.
Your digital content should be viewed as a living entity. You need to continually update your content, re-post it and re-engage your audience. That’s real value to your audience.
What is duplicate content?
Large blocks of identical content, or substantial paragraphs of copy that are considerably similar to others, are considered to be duplicate content. Duplicate content can lower your site’s search engine rankings, reducing the traffic to your site.
So what types of content does Google consider to NOT be duplicate content? Printer-only versions of a web page, press releases or products that are links via multiple URLs are considered safe.
Methods of identifying duplicate content
So how can I determine if I have duplicate content on my website? Here are a few online tools that can help you identify duplicate issues on your website:
Siteliner is a free service that lets you explore your website, revealing key issues that affect your site’s quality and search engine rankings. Siteliner systematically checks your site for internal duplicate content, highlighting it on each page, intelligently excluding common content such as menus and navigation. If you want to check for repeated content within your own site, Siteliner is a great option. It will analyze your site for duplicated pages or copy and identify which areas of the text have been reproduced.
Unlike Siteliner, CopyScape focuses its search for duplicate content outside of your website. Did someone copy one of your blogs and pass it off as their own? Is someone plagiarizing your work? CopyScape will scan the Internet for copies of your website content and will list websites when they’re found.
You can also manually search for your content the old-fashioned way – using Google search. Simply paste small groups of sentences, up to 32 words, and then enter it into Google search. If similar results are displayed, you may have an issue. But remember, many industries use the same technical jargon and many times it’s a coincidence – not plagiarism.
In conclusion, content marketing is most effective when you create a great user experience. This comes down to really knowing your audience and why they want to engage with your content. Try and look at it from their point of view and you are more likely to create something authentic and engaging!