Writing good content

5 tips for writing irresistible opening sentences

Woman typing on laptop

Creating content that goes viral is every writer’s dream. It’s not just the headline of your blog post, article or web page that needs to convey your message and draw readers in. The first sentence will determine whether your readers engage with your content or bounce off.

After your headline, the first hurdle of copywriting is in writing an irresistible opening line. If writing isn’t your thing, get an expert to help you. Otherwise, follow our 5 tried and tested tips to write a tantalising first line your readers will love and share.

Did you know that Artemis has a dedicated in-house content writing team that can help with anything from a blog post to a whole website? If you’d like to find out more, just call us on 01444 645018.

1 – Make your reader your imaginary friend

Before you start writing, picture your ideal reader. What makes them tick? What makes them laugh? What sparks their interest? Imagine the questions your reader is asking (you can answer the questions in your copy). Your reader needs to become your best imaginary friend. Once you understand your potential readers, you are in the right headspace to craft your opening line.

And remember, your readers don’t want fluff. They want to be spellbound, and you want your audience to become addicted. Your opening line should spark curiosity and intrigue. Most of all, you have a short window to connect with your reader, so show that you understand him or her, and that what you have written will provide comfort or assistance. Try using a sentence to conjure up a feeling your reader recognises. Emotion wins followers.

And yes, in case you had pondered the idea, you do need to be a psychologist to understand your audience. Well, not really, but almost.

2 – Keep it short and snappy

What is the aim of your first sentence? It’s simple – to get your reader to read your second sentence. That’s all. The easiest way to do that is with a short, snappy sentence. It can even be a single word. Imagine. That was an example by the way. Or use a question. Do you know how easy it is to write an irresistible opening line?

Long, undulating first sentences are the domain of literary geniuses. Unless you are working on a novel, forget the lengthy prose. At least until you’ve hooked your reader in, then you might just get away with the odd long and beautifully crafted sentence. But, only dabble if you’ve already managed to hook your reader.

3 – Ditch the exclamation mark

Yawn. No more unnecessary exclamation marks PLEASE. Overuse of exclamation marks is a sign of laziness. There are of course appropriate places for exclamation marks. Think of duck! or duck. One of them is a life saving call, the other a cute bird on a pond. So, yes there is a place.

But these days, exclamation marks seem to be used like confetti. Peppered through content, they are used frequently to big up a word, when really all that is needed is a bigger word. Let me explain. Take ‘It’s big!’ ‘It’s enormous’ does the job without the need for an exclamation mark. She’s beautiful! But, she’s breathtakingly beautiful, removes the need for an exclamation mark. Penny dropped?

If that argument doesn’t convince you, Donald Trump is a fan of the exclamation mark. According to the Trump Twitter Archive, from January to October 2017 inclusive, the @realdonaldtrump posted 2,127 tweets. They included 1144 exclamation marks. I rest my case.

4 – KISS: Stick to simple language

Pompous language doesn’t speak well to most audiences, and especially when you are writing for the web. Keep your writing simple. That includes sentence structure and the words you choose. Opt for help, rather than facilitate. Or get, rather than obtain. Don’t flummox your reader with flowery prose in your opening line. It’s unattractive visual noise that’s a real turn-off. If you want your opening gambit to be truly irresistible, you’ll need to pack a punch in as few simple words as possible.

5 – Offer hope

It’s pretty obvious no-one wants to be bored to tears, and unless you’re reporting for a news channel, staying positive is essential. Being playful with your words is one way to make your writing irresistible, but most of all offer hope. Are you about to chuck your stapler at your boss? The question infers you understand what a terrible day your reader is having and suggests you may be about to tell them how to change that. Offer something hopeful, interesting and thought provoking in your first sentence and you’ll clinch the deal.

At Artemis, we’ve been marketing websites and our clients online since 2004. If you need help with effective content writing for your business, website design or search engine optimisation, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Content is King Illustration

Is content really king?

Content is King Illustration

We’ve all heard the phrase “content is king.” But what does it actually mean? Is it just another meaningless digital-age phrase, banded about to impress those who are digitally clueless?

Well ladies and gentleman, it’s probably no surprise to learn that content is still king, and that king has never been more powerful. When it comes to websites, content is, in fact, the king of all kings. And here’s why.

RankBrain

Google’s philosophy is based on great user experience. They want you to find exactly what you are looking for every time you use their search engine.

To achieve this Google are putting artificial intelligence centre stage and it’s this that is cranking up the pressure on content quality for Google rankings. RankBrain is Google’s name for its machine learning artificial intelligence system that is being used to help process search results.

So what exactly does RankBrain mean for content? Google trawls sites to figure out which pages are the best fit for a search. It looks for signals (there are around 200 different major signals, with potentially 10,000 or more sub-signal variations) including title tags, keywords, keyword prominence, grammar and spelling to name but a mere few. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is complex, and it’s why businesses employ experts such as digital marketing companies to improve their website’s ranking.

But it’s not just the SEO tricks that websites need in order to rank highly. Google’s algorithms are increasingly sophisticated tools, and RankBrain, along with the Panda and Penguin algorithms, are dramatically affecting the extent to which content quality impacts search results.

Google are investing heavily in AI to understand the intent of the search engine user and to deliver better results. This means content quality is more crucial than ever before. Quick fixes and tricks when it comes to outwitting the Google algorithms are a thing of the past. And that is why content really is king.

5 top tips to create content fit for a king (and RankBrain)

It’s pretty obvious that good content contributes hugely to any successful website – catchy taglines, and thoughtful, clear, well-laid out content with great calls to action, as well as enticing link bait, all lead to better Google rankings, potential customer conversions and ultimately profit. To give your content the edge, here are 5 things you simply must do.

1 – Get clever with keywords

It used to be easy to affect rankings simply by adding keywords to poorly written text. RankBrain has a more sophisticated approach. Poor content rich with keywords will no longer suffice. Content not only needs to be of great quality, but the combinations of keywords within the content also need to be constructed wisely. Keywords with different combinations of suffixes, prefixes and phrases (known as long tail keywords) are essential to rank. Voice search is also gaining popularity so the combinations of diction are growing. Now content needs to include concepts and combinations of words that include keywords, as opposed to single keywords.

2 – Create original, conversational content

It’s crucial to make your content original. Why should anyone be interested in your content if hundreds of others have said it all before? Content copied from competitors is a big no-no. Focus on user experience, and write content that sounds human. Tell your story, use case studies, and give it a personal touch. Perhaps even add anecdotes from your personal life. If you’re not a writer, get someone else to create your website content for you. Quality is just as important as originality.

3 – Create valuable content that’s easy to find

Give your readers and potential customers value added information such as an FAQ page, guides, a blog, industry news and case studies. Building a relationship with your readers and providing relevant and engaging content is a powerful way to entice links and keep up with RankBrain.

User experience is very important. If the content on your website is poorly laid out or is difficult to find your bounce rate is likely to be higher. Valuable, user-friendly content that is easy to find is essential for your business and for RankBrain.

Research your competitors. Find out what is trending and what your customers want. Find out which competitors are ranking well and why. Videos and visual content are popular. Valuable content offering practical information is the way to go.

4 – Don’t ignore mobile optimisation

If you only do one thing, optimise your website content for mobile users. Ignore this and you’ll be missing out on a huge audience. Make sure your content works on mobile devices, and keep up with changes. You’ll also need to understand what mobile customers want. Your mobile target market will have different needs to conventional computer users. Mobile friendliness is also a strong ranking factor.

5 – Review, refine and improve content (and the layout of your website).

The worst thing you can do is leave your website alone. No matter how good you think your website is, refreshing content is now more vital than ever.

The design and visual impact of a website is also very important. A poorly designed website will likely lead to higher bounce rates and, over time, RankBrain will rank the site lower in the search results because of it.

If website owners want to convert potential customers to sales and keep up with the Google ranking game, they’ll need to invest in improving their sites, including usability and quality of content, in order to engage visitors and get them to take action.

While strategies for SEO must continue to adapt and change accordingly, the spotlight is on content now more than ever before.


Writing good content

Six tips for perfect product copywriting

copywriting

 

Whether you’re creating brand new content for an ecommerce site or just refreshing your product pages, it’s worth spending some time to get the copy right. Too many businesses copy and paste the product description from the supplier’s site or just free write whatever comes to mind when they come to upload to their site.

But a good product description can be the difference between a customer buying with you or continuing their search elsewhere. Here are six great tips for perfecting your product content.

1 – Understand your audience

To write the perfect product copy, you need to know who you are writing for. Ask yourself: who is the product for and who is most likely to buy? It’s unlikely that you would use the same style of writing for aspirational millennials as you would for pensioners. But it’s also worth looking deeper into your buyer. Are they style conscious? Bargain orientated? Highly educated? When you have a real understanding of your audience, you can start to make decisions on style and tone of voice.

2 – Research your product

You also need to really understand your product and where it sits in the marketplace. Don’t think about getting started on the writing until you have conducted thorough research into the advantages of your product compared to the competition.

Talk to whoever you need to – take the time to call or email the manufacturer or supplier to get the most relevant details. This is the stuff that will make your product stand out from the crowd and promote sales.

3 – Write for humans

Of course it’s necessary to be aware of search engines and how to optimise your product content effectively – but don’t fall into the trap of writing for the benefit of Google. Firstly, Google’s algorithm gets smarter every day, and what it really likes to see is good quality content. But also because the true value of product copy is its ability to convert.

Yes, search terms and keywords are important but there really is no good in having people landing on your product page if they never actually, you know, buy the product. Focus on writing the best possible content for human beings to read, that is what will get you the sales.

4 – Don’t get caught up in word counts

There is a lot of talk about ‘thin content’ on the internet. It’s certainly true that pages with too little content can perform poorly in Google search results, and sites should always be aiming to improve their content. But remember too that we are talking about a product page. Ultimately, if they have landed on a product page, they are here to make a buying decision. This means that your content needs to be concise, crisp and lead them towards making the purchase.

No, your content should not be too short, but don’t ramble on making the same point over and over to reach a round 500 word count. Use as many or as few words as you need to sell the product to the audience and leave it at that.

5 – Be original

Filling your product page with cliché sales nonsense will do nothing to promote sales at best, and annoy your potential customers at worst. It’s a much better idea to take your time and create snappy content that someone will actually remember. Make them laugh or present your product in a way they haven’t thought about before. It will make a real difference.

6 – Use emotive language

Too much product content perfectly describes the individual features, but forgets to explain what it actually does for you. Consider the difference between describing an office chair as being ‘ergonomically-designed’ compared to content that explains the chair contains ‘back support to keep you in complete comfort’.

The difference here is the use of emotive language – the kind of language that allows the customer to understand how fantastic it is to own the product.


Blogging tips

Don’t know what to blog about? 5 blogging tips for business owners

content writer tips

 

Believe it or not, a successful blog has the potential to become the most popular section of your website, read regularly by existing and prospective clients and widening your business appeal. In terms of SEO, a blog is the easiest way to add regular fresh content to your site. This, in turn, will improve your Google search rankings, especially if you use relevant keywords in your blog titles and posts, and share your content on social media too.

However, in order to reap the rewards you need to make a regular commitment. An underused blog with the occasional bland update is unlikely to move you closer to your marketing goals. And while many businesses set up their blog with the best of intentions, a large proportion run out of steam after the first few posts. If your company blog has gone a bit stale and you’re looking for ideas on how to bring it back to life, read on.

Blog posts can, and should, take many different forms. Who wants to read posts that follow the same old format every time? In an effort to keep your readers interested in what you have to say, and hopefully coming back for more, don’t be afraid to mix it up. Here are some tips to get you started:

1 – Knowledge sharing

As a business owner and specialist in your chosen field, no doubt you have a lot of expertise that you could share. If you’re a web developer, you could give useful advice on how to recognise and avoid the latest scams. A surveyor could publish a guide to the different property surveys available. A photographer might share tips on how to strike the best selfie pose. You get the idea.

Obviously, you’re not going to give away any company secrets, but sharing some of your expert knowledge with the wider world will help to position yourself as a leading authority in your field, which is exactly the image you want to portray.

For extra engagement, think about putting a ‘how to’ video on YouTube and embed it in your blog post. Not only is video a great way to connect with your audience – remember: a picture is worth a thousand words – it’s also great for SEO.

2 – Problem solving

Relate to your audience by identifying a common concern or problem they may share, then help them solve it. If you’re a professional cupcake maker, why not explain how to make gluten free or vegan alternatives? A gardener might give advice on weed control or how to spot tomato blight. A solicitor could give details of the new probate fees or Inheritance Tax changes.

By helping to solve a problem, you are engaging with your clients in a way that shows you’re approachable: you listen and you care. Make the most of the interactive benefits of a blog by allowing your readers to leave comments or reviews, then reply to them individually for maximum engagement. Blogging in this way can be a powerful tool to help you build trust and public confidence in your brand.

3 – Product promotion

Clearly, the ultimate aim of your website, including the blog, is to increase sales – but be careful. While a blog can be a great online marketing tool, this is not the place for hard selling. In order to promote your products and services, you’ll need to use the ‘softly softly’ approach.

One example is a post about a common problem (see above) into which you gently weave your new product as part of the solution in a ‘by the way’ kind of way. A dentist might promote his latest teeth whitening procedures in this way, or a bathroom designer could extol the virtues of underwater chromotherapy lighting!

Another trick is to write a review about a recent industry event (see below) which your company attended with a product launch or presentation, using a paragraph of the blog post to give details about the new product. It’s good practice to include an internal link to the product page so the reader can click through if he is interested to find out more.

4 – Industry news

Sharing and commenting on relevant industry news is always good value. It shows that you play an active part in the professional community in which you work, with authoritative views on what goes on around you. Whether you’re an accountant commenting on the latest budget, or a health & fitness club evaluating new functional workout regimes, this is a great chance to add your voice to the mix.

Of course, your own company news should form part of the strategy. If you’ve recently moved to swanky new premises, tell your customers about it in a blog post. Shout about any business awards you’ve been nominated for or have received, and keep thanking your team and your customers for their support. By sharing parts of your own story, your company will cease to be perceived as a faceless commercial entity and be seen as a team of caring individuals.

5 – Entertainment

Finally, don’t forget that you can make your blog posts entertaining. This is the place where you can have a bit more fun with your brand and show the human side of your company.

From charity events where you and your staff dress up in superhero costumes, to 10 fun facts about your industry, or examples of inventive uses of your products, there’s no reason why the occasional blog post shouldn’t be light hearted.


Punctuation error

Does punctuation still matter?

Is it cool to leave apostrophes out? Does a missing comma matter? With the rise of social media, emojis and large-scale acceptance of an urban dictionary, it leaves me wondering if the importance of grammar and punctuation has been taken down a peg or two.

But, a missing comma, or an errant apostrophe, not only drives grammar sticklers to despair, it can change the meaning of a sentence completely. In 2003, Lynne Truss’s book on accurate punctuation was lauded by all those with a zero tolerance approach to punctuation cock-ups.

punctuation

Eats, Shoots and Leaves is a celebration of the correct use of colons, apostrophes and semicolons. The title itself is an example of how poor punctuation can dramatically change the meaning of a sentence. Rather than a description of a typical panda’s food intake, an added comma creates a scenario where a panda walks into a café, orders a sandwich, draws a gun and fires two shots into the air.

How does your punctuation stand up? When promoting the book on a TV programme, Truss set fellow guests a punctuation test. Have a go (answer below):

The princess dress isnt looking its best lets phone Harrods and ask for the ladies department

Being one of those punctuation sticklers, I got ten out of ten. It would be wrong to add an emoji here.

I’m not sure what Lynne Truss would make of a new word describing an avid punctuation vigilante doing the rounds in Bristol, but I’m sure she would approve of his actions. The ‘Apostrophiser’ cares so much about grammar, he has been skulking around the streets late at night correcting poor punctuation on shop fronts and signs.

He refers to himself as a grammar vigilante. In an interview with Radio 4 he asked for his identity to be kept secret in case shop owners and business owners in Bristol took offence to his positive graffiti. Why does he do it? Because missing or wrongly placed apostrophes just really annoy him. He started his campaign of correction when he saw a council sign saying “open Monday’s to Friday’s” so he scratched the apostrophes off.

It’s a shame his work doesn’t extend to T-Shirts. Topshop are the latest in a long line of businesses to make a grammatical blunder. We all make typos and grammatical mistakes from time to time, but how on earth did Topshop manage to sell a T-Shirt with a missing apostrophe on it without anyone noticing the mistake throughout the entire manufacturing and marketing process? The T-Shirt exclaims: “its not you its me”.

To add insult to injury, grammar perfectionists are having to endure the evolution of urban slang. One of the latest additions to the urban dictionary, ‘pho queue’ (the queue formed outside of a Vietnamese restaurant in anticipation of its noodle soup) could get you in a whole load of trouble! I’m just saying.

While punctuation anarchists continue to aggravate, some of us still see proper punctuation as the Holy Grail for good writing. Why disgust a proportion of your readers when you don’t need to? Sloppy punctuation in content not only defiles your message, it also says you don’t care.

Your readers may dismiss your work as poor quality if you cannot grasp basic English. Poorly punctuated content will always make you wonder whether the author is poorly educated or just too lazy to write properly. Either way, it doesn’t give the reader confidence in you or your message.

A woman without her man is nothing.

A woman: without her, man is nothing.

“The criminal,” says the judge, “should be hanged.”

The criminal says the judge should be hanged.

I rest my case.

Here’s the punctuation test answer:

The princess’s dress isn’t looking its best; let’s phone Harrods and ask for the ladies’ department.


Content

10 worst website content writing mistakes

The content of your website says a lot about your business. Companies that take the time to get their content right are more likely to make the right impression on their audience, leading to more sales and conversions. But it’s still very common to find websites that are making basic mistakes. Here are ten of the worst website content mistakes and how you can avoid making them.

Content

1 – Using duplicate content

Duplicate content is the most crucial mistake that you can make on your site. Whether you copy and paste text from a competitor or use identical content across several of your pages, it’s probably the ultimate no-no in web content.

Google hates it. And while it’s a myth that your site will be penalised for showing duplicated content, the truth is almost as bad. Google will tend to ignore pages that have exactly the same content that it has seen before, so it simply won’t list that page in its rankings. That means that customers won’t be able to find your pages with duplicated content by searching on Google.

It’s amazing how many sites still fall at the first hurdle when the solution is so simple: ensure that every page on your website has unique and high quality content.

2 – Careless spelling, punctuation and grammar

Spelling and grammar makes a massive difference to your website. Research conducted by Global Lingo revealed that 59% of British people would not use a company that had obvious spelling or grammar errors on their website. If more than half of your potential customer base would be put off using you simply on the basis of careless mistakes, it shows it is really worth putting in the time to eliminate them.

There’s no excuse for poor spelling. Just copy and paste your text into Word or one of the many online spellcheckers and it will do the work for you (although be very careful of accidental misspellings that are still real words, e.g. ‘form’ and ‘from’). Punctuation and grammar can be a little trickier as software doesn’t always pick them up so easily, so ensure you take the time to proofread the text properly.

3 – Too many links

Using too many links in your text is bad for two reasons. Firstly, to Google and other search engines multiple links in a small amount of text looks very spammy and it can lead to your website being penalised. Secondly, to a customer, too many links looks ugly and can put them off reading your site. Ultimately you need to put your audience first and inserting loads of links makes for a poor user experience.

4 – Overlooking CTAs

Each piece of content on your site should serve a purpose – it should either provide information to a user or convince them to use or buy your service or product. So when it has a purpose, its ultimate goal must be to push them towards doing something. That means you need to have a call to action (CTA). Whether you’re as direct as encouraging them to ‘buy now’ or as gentle as suggesting they can ‘learn more’, never underestimate the power of a good CTA.

5 – Elongated sentences

It’s generally accepted that shorter sentences work better on websites. Your copy should be bold and punchy – get to the point as quickly as you can. Too many long and meandering sentences can lead to poor conversion rates and look especially bad on mobile devices with smaller screens. What’s worse is there is no need for them; virtually any long sentence can be easily broken down into something shorter and more readable.

6 – Overloading on keywords

Keywords have long been vital in web content. Your website needs to show search engines what your business does and one of the most important ways to do this is to include important keywords in your on-page copy.

But it’s when keywords become the focus of a page rather than an incidental part of it that you can start to have a problem. Aside from making your site difficult to read for your customers you’ll also be treading on thin ice with Google, which often penalises content when it feels that keyword phrases are being overused.

7 – Writing pages yourself

Many businesses and website owners try to create the content for their own site, but it’s not always a good idea. Writing is not everyone’s forte and that’s OK! If you’re not a natural wordsmith it might make sense to delegate the task of writing to someone else. Rather than spending hours of your time trying to generate content for your site, it can be hugely valuable to hire an SEO agency or a freelance copywriter. You’ll not only save yourself a lot of stress and wasted time but the results will be far better.

8 – Forgetting about the customer

It can be all too common for businesses to forget about their customers when they come to creating their website. Overusing jargon is a major problem. It’s easy to forget that your customers may not have the same in-depth understanding of your product or service as you do. Always create your content in plain English so that a layperson could understand it.

Also make sure that you avoid writing the website for the customer you want rather than the customer you have. There’s nothing wrong with diversifying, but your initial focus should be on the aspects of your business that convert best, rather than those you would like to convert better.

9 – Neglecting your blog

Blogging image

A blog is definitely a good idea for your website. A steady stream of fresh content on your site not only gives users a reason to visit, but it also shows search engines that your business is active. Many businesses start their blog with good intentions and regularly posting for the first month or so. But after a while it can be easy to fall into bad habits and leave the blog neglected. Ultimately it’s better to have no blog at all rather than a blog that was last updated four years ago, so make sure that someone is available to write a new blog at least once a month.

10 – Choosing quantity over quality

Finally, it should be remembered that web content is all about quality rather than quantity. As we have already talked about, shorter sentences are better but it’s also worth noting that this goes for overall page content as well. Don’t fill a page with 4,000 words if you can say it in 400. Anyone can knock out hundreds of words of filler, but you need to focus on getting content that is valuable to both your customers and search engines.


Love Keyboard

Valentine’s Special: 7 writing secrets to help you create seductive content

Love keyboard

Content creation is a bit like wooing a beautiful girl. You’re clear about the end goal, but what’s the best seduction technique to get you there? When it comes to writing compelling web content, you need a similar strategy to attract readers to your page and keep them engaged so they stay there. But how?

It is a well-known fact that your typical online visitor has the attention span of a love struck teenager. And while SEO managers can analyse session durations, dwell times and bounce rates all night long, what it really comes down to is that you only have a few precious seconds to sweep your readers off their feet.

As it’s the month of love, let’s take a look at a few winning ways of spicing up your web content in an effort to seduce your online readers.

1 – Heading for success

Did you know that your choice of title is more important than the actual article? It makes sense when you remind yourself that web visitors skim read for information. If the header doesn’t instantly turn you on, why would you click through to see the rest?

Try to find an interesting or unusual angle to an otherwise unsexy topic. Make it specific, informative, engaging, entertaining, shareable. Rather than ‘Home made romantic sweets’, say ‘5 tempting nibbles for your Valentine’. Be honest, which one would you rather read?

2 – Give it body and soul

Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. In other words, if your article doesn’t deliver what the title so enticingly proposes, it’s no better than click bait. Choose a juicy topic that gives you a platform for;

  • education and information sharing
  • action and empowerment
  • humour and feel good entertainment

Most importantly, write assertively and with authority but without losing the reader’s attention. Use ‘you’ (not ‘I’) to better connect with your audience. Write with a mass audience in mind rather than the select few.

Have you heard of the inverted pyramid method? It’s a way of structuring your article that puts the key information and any conclusions you are drawing at the beginning of the text, not the end.

Content words on iPad

3 – KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid

When you’re writing for the web, keep it short and keep it simple. Complicated vocabulary and technical jargon turns people off quicker than you can pucker up. Short, easy-to-understand paragraphs separated by white space are best. Stick to one thought per paragraph and don’t make it more than a few lines long – five is good, three is better, and single sentences can really stand out.

Employ text formatting and structure to make your webpage, blog post or article easier to navigate. Headers and subheaders are a great idea, and bullet points are a good way to break up solid text. Try using numbered lists instead of paragraphs.

Keep it Simple, Stupid

4 – Are you linking?

Same as in writing for print, it’s good netiquette to reference your sources. Apart from being the right thing to do, it also lends authority to your opinions, assertions and any figures quoted. Add a hyperlink (and do choose the option to open it in another window, so your reader doesn’t bounce away from your site!) when you mention another organisation by name.

Government or other official sources, press articles, professional bodies, charities etc. should all be linked to, though I probably wouldn’t go as far as linking to competitor sites. Doing this can help you get valuable backlinks, and if you’re really lucky you may even get a reciprocal link or quote. Now that would be a result!

5 – Love your language

This one is very simple: if you write professionally, you need to have an expert grasp of the English language. Nothing says amateur more like a page of goofy grammar and toe curling typos – it will have your would-be readers run a mile!

Proofreading is a key ingredient to ensure your copy is nothing short of perfect. Take a break after you’ve finished writing and check it with fresh eyes later-on, or better still get a fellow word lover to do the job for you.

Proofread

6 – Add some magic keywords

Writing keyword-based posts can present a bit of a double-edged temptation. What’s more important: a blog or web page that is keyword-rich and will make your copy more search engine friendly, or one that is inherently engaging and shareable? Achieving both must surely be the Holy Grail of content creation.

While content writing for the web should always be driven by SEO strategy, keyword cramming is never ever the answer. In fact, if you stuff keywords into your copy willy-nilly, you’ll be watching your readability, conversion rate and SERPs rankings plummet faster than you can fall out of love, as your readers bounce off the page and Google penalises your site.

Much better to cleverly insert relevant keywords organically throughout the text, particularly in the first and last paragraphs, and otherwise focus on beautifully crafting your content.

7 – Give them more

All good things come to an end, unless you add a call to action. Where can your reader learn more? Is there an interesting video to watch, a newsletter they can subscribe to or an expert they can contact? Obviously, provide hyperlinks that can be clicked on to fulfil the action.

It’s a great idea to prolong the positive web experience in this way as it plays straight into your hands. Let the content work its magic by encouraging web visitors to share the information gleaned, or by directing them to other areas of your site.


PPC versus SEO

SEO Strategy in an Increasingly PPC Dominated World

The layout of Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages) has changed dramatically over the years. With maps, videos, images, featured snippets, the Knowledge graph, news and various personal suggestions all claiming their place, the first page of Google’s SERPs is now almost unrecognisable.

As marketers, one of the biggest shakeups we’ve seen this year is the increasing real estate given to paid search.

In February of 2016, Google announced (after years of testing) that paid search ads will no longer appear on the right hand side of the SERPs and that for ‘highly commercial’ terms, they’ll show an additional ad at the top, thereby increasing the space given to paid advertising from three places to four.

Four paid search ads and Local within SERPs

 

Paid search ads that didn’t make the top four places were moved to the bottom of the page. This meant that for some ‘highly commercial’ queries, you could see no less than seven paid search ads, which severely limited the number of organic possibilities.

The reasoning behind this shift was fairly sound and understandable. With the explosion of mobile usage and the corresponding local signals, Google wanted to standardise the listings across devices.

For many brick-and-mortar businesses, this meant a renewed interest and push for better local listings. The reward for appearing in the local three-pack was never more attractive. With the local listings appearing just beneath the top paid ads and above the normal organic ones. In essence, jumping into first place for anything organic.

More recently, and somewhat more controversially, Google has started to offer paid listings in the local finder as well, reached after clicking “More places” from a local three-pack in the main Google search results.

This is yet another piece of prime real estate that has been sold to advertisers.

Paid search ads in local listings

What does this mean for organic listings?

Before answering this question, it’s important to understand the reasoning behind these changes.

Search engines and Google, in particular, have become increasingly good at understanding user intent. If I’m searching to buy a laptop and search the exact laptop model with the words ‘buy’ or ‘purchase,’ Google knows and understands this intention, and being a strictly commercial one, they’d most likely present me with a series of paid search ads.

Is this a bad user experience? The answer, in most cases, is no. I’m looking to buy a laptop, I know what kind of laptop I want to buy and at this stage in my decision making process I just want to be presented with options of where to buy it. My intent is purely commercial and transactional. Displaying a series of paid ads is more relevant to me and provides better performance for advertisers. In many ways, a win-win situation.

It’s the informational ‘Micro-moments’ that SEO strategy should be attempting to target. The billions of queries that are not highly commercial and offer some scope for branding and connection.

There are over 3.5 billion searches on Google a day. Over 15% of these search queries have never been seen before.

Google’s engineers now feel confident enough in RankBrain’s ability to sift through these unrecognised queries (sorting them into vectors and assigning a ‘probable’ meaning to them) that they’ve recently announced RankBrain is now used in every search. It has become the third most important ranking signal (after links and content).

As we mentioned in our article about semantic search, we’re moving away from strings to things. Towards meaning and providing true value to the user.

A combined PPC and SEO search strategy

Having a combined SEO and paid search strategy is a good way forward for many companies. Particularly for e-commerce sites.

You’d have a carefully targeted PPC campaign with different landing pages for the commercial ‘I-want-to-buy-now,’ moments and a strong organic presence for people at the informational and research stages. Rather than competing with each other, these different listings would compliment one another, reinforcing your brand and presence at every stage of the decision making process.

The path to purchase is fragmented and non-linear. More so now than ever before.

The consumer journey has been fractured into hundreds of tiny decision-making moments at every stage of the ‘buyer’s funnel’—from inspiration to purchase.

For SEO to succeed, we need to address these ‘Micro-moments.’ We need to answer people’s questions, exceed their expectations and meet them at whatever stage of the decision making process they are currently in.

As a recent study by Google concluded – you need to be there, be useful and be quick. Therein lies the key to success online.


Content Marketing – How to Meet Searchers Expectations

content-marketing-meeting-searchers-expectations-670x340

 

Content is not King. Search engines only care about your content in so far as it answers searchers questions. In the last few years especially, the web has become one huge answering machine. People query search engines and search engines attempt to answer these questions by providing results. Simple. Not really.

As we saw in the introduction to semantic search article – A search engine takes our queries, tries to understand the words, and delivers the same results a human would – the same results a friend would give you. And not just any friend, a close friend. A friend who understands you, who knows your current and previous locations, who knows your tastes and preferences and most importantly, knows your intentions.

These days, your website doesn’t just have to target keywords, you need to meet, match and exceed searcher’s expectations. To achieve this you have to understand your target audience better than ever before.

You need to understand the kinds of questions they have and, most importantly, provide them with enough information that they will not have to pogo-stick back to the search engine results pages (SERPs)

This pogo sticking can have a dramatic effect on rankings.


Pogo sticking, Long and Short Clicks

Pogo sticking - Google's SERPs

A long click is a sign of user satisfaction. It’s a sign of expectations and intentions being met.

Many people mistakenly confuse a ‘long click,’ with low bounce rates. Although the two metrics do have some correlation, they are still very different.

Popular resource pages (think Wikipedia & Stackflow) and blogs often have high bounce rates. People come in, find what they need and leave again. Or in the case of blogs, they read the latest post and leave.

They have no need to carry on searching. And that is the key. Their intentions have been met.

They have no need to ‘pogo-stick’ back to the search results and click on other results.

This pogo-sticking is an easy metric for Google to calculate and keep track of. It also provides a very clear indication of user satisfaction.

When a user is actively choosing another website from the SERPs to get the information they are looking for, this shows Google that your content is not good enough and doesn’t deserve to rank for those queries. It also shows Google which websites should be ranking above yours.

If this becomes a common occurrence on your landing pages, search engines will notice these short clicks and your rankings will decrease. (this natural voting system is far more transparent in PPC and makes up a large part of the Quality Score).

How do you Match and Exceed Searcher’s Expectations?

In our semantically themed world, you have to understand your clients, understand their questions, their queries, you need to know what goes on in their heads. First and foremost, you should put yourself in their shoes.

What questions would they have before taking a decision?

A good exercise is to get a piece of paper and write down the most common questions you hear from your clients. Get everyone involved, ask all the members of your team for their feedback.  

Break these queries down for each one of your products and/or services and then look at your existing content. Are you addressing these questions? Are you addressing them fully? Would users need to go somewhere else to get the information they need? – to one of your competitors.

This ‘completeness’ is so important these days. It’s the difference between a long and short click.

Optimising Existing Content

Cyrus Shepard wrote a brilliant article – one that sums up perfectly what we’ve been doing at Artemis.

When you already have traffic coming to a website and have some information to work with, the place to start is Google’s Search Console.

Search console query data at the URL level

Pick a few underperforming pages. I tend to pick ones that drive some traffic, but could/should drive more, ones that often rank on the second page of SERPs and have low click-through-rates.

Select the individual pages, adjust the timeframe to the maximum 90-day of queries and filter by impressions. These are the queries that are landing on your page and they often give you great insight into people’s intentions.

Sometimes it’s not immediately clear and you need to dig around a bit, but usually, you’ll find a true mine of information.

Does the Content on your Page Satisfy User Intent?

There are various ways to address this. And we’ll be covering them in later articles.

A quick fix is to amend title tags and meta descriptions. By including these big traffic driving queries in your title tag (particularly near the beginning) or within the meta description, you will increase click-through-rates and drive more traffic. At least in the short term.

But remember, this traffic needs to be sustainable and you need to aim for long clicks.

It’s very important that title tags and meta descriptions are not deceptive. They need to fairly reflect what a user is going to find on that page. If they don’t, people will quickly bounce off, ‘pogo-sticking’ back to the search results, causing the whole page to lose rankings.

A far better solution is to provide real value to searchers. By having the best content, by being helpful and answering all their questions clearly and fully.

Content is no longer King. The new King is the long click.


Google's Real-Time Penguin Algorithm – Due for 2015

There could well be an extra gift under our Christmas tree this winter from a certain major search engine, with the next Google Penguin Update likely to arrive within the next two months. The new real-time Penguin algorithm version 4.0 is due for release at the end of this year. We’ve been expecting it and we’re going by news from Gary Illyes, the Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, who said it would be released in 2015.

Penguin

What we are expecting of the next algorithm update is that it will be a real-time version, which means that the algorithm will update continuously in real time. The upcoming release is Penguin 4.0 and we’ve been told about these updates on many occasions in the past but until now we haven’t had a continuous update that won’t include any specific release dates. Instead of this, any detections of spammy links detected will be acted upon by Penguin.

When spammy links are removed once they are detected and the Google indexer is aware of this, the sites will stop being impacted by Penguin. The news on Penguin 4.0 is very brief at this stage but it’s intriguing to discover that it will indeed arrive before the end of 2015. So what is Real-time Penguin all about?

Real-Time Penguin

There’s not much information on the real-time algorithm update just yet but what we do know is that as soon as Google discovers that a link has been removed, the Penguin algorithm will do exactly what it says on the tin – process this in real time. You would therefore be able to recover from any penalty issued by Penguin pretty quickly, although you could also end up with a penalty just as quickly.

Get in Touch

Here at Artemis we stay up-to-date with all the latest happenings at Google to ensure our clients’ websites benefit and traffic continues to increase. Get in touch with us today to find out more.