Thursday, 31 March 2011

Great online copywriting rules

By Liz Stokes

The key to great copywriting is simple; knowing your audience. Whilst penning a piece of copy it’s easy to forget is that, more often than not, the end user is a person like any other. Likewise, when writing copy for online the author needs to bear in mind how the public utilise the internet.

1. Thinking about how you personally use the internet.
Great online copywriting
The web is a vast source of information and most is far too much to digest. Aside from the majority of the public not having the leisure time available to spend in front of a computer screen, reading online can be a strain on your eyes. The light, angle and glare all put a strain on your retinas, this is why very few people publish or read books online. The key to great online copywriting taps into this, as well as the golden rule of marketing; make it snappy!
Audiences don’t have the time and don’t want to read reams and reams of copy, end users just want to know the interesting points and how to get to them.

2. Further to the above point, the reader will want knowledge. 
Including interesting facts and statistics leaves the reader feeling more knowledgeable and with a greater understanding. The solution is to condense what you are trying to convey into an easy, engaging piece of work that people will both want to read and find easy to read.

3. You need the reader to believe what you are saying. 
Lying to the audience may seem like an obvious faux par but embellishing is equally as foolish. Linking content online is great for SEO purposes but in the context of copywriting linking your claim to a trusted source that backs up that point is priceless.

4. Don’t preach. 
Copywriting is, 90% of the time, simply a more engaging way to sell. However, up-selling too hard can be as detrimental as not selling at all. If the audience feel as though they are being pressured to buy they will be instantly turned off.

5. Be warm and personable.
As we stated before, the end user of your copy is a person just like you, speak their language, you don’t need to be clever or overly funny (especially if it doesn’t come naturally to you). Most people just want to be spoken to honestly and openly. This doesn’t mean you need to highlight what you can’t or don’t do, it just mean don’t mention it!

6. Asking questions is a must.
What’s the point in asking questions? The reason is actually scientific fact. Scientists have claimed that the brain is ‘hard-wired’ to find answers, when we are posed with a question it opens a ‘loop’ in our brain and it will do anything to close the loop. Humans are inquisitive by nature, we need answers and we will do anything to find them. This is a great tool for copywriting as it tricks the brain into needing to read the rest of the article, almost forcing the audience to read on.

7. Attract the right audience with your title
Surfing the internet is like being drown in a library, there is so much out there knowing where to start or what will interest you feels like an impossible task. Keep titles short and to the point in order to attract the right audience. Try to make them engaging with a question that is exactly to the point of your article. When optimised correctly it’s perfectly likely that many, many people may see your site, but unless it’s your target audience it’s worthless. Ensure your headline is worthy, engaging and to the point so that you attract the people that it is relevant to. 

Have we missed anything? Feel free to add to our list with your thoughts.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Googles "Farmer" Update Targets Content Farms

by Kathryn Richards


What is the Google "Panda", or "Farmer" update?
Google algorithm changes
At the end of February, Google announced an update to its algorithm (complex formula to generate search results). This update, called the “Panda Update” internally at Google, was created to ensure that the results aren’t dominated by low-quality content farms.
Google has recently faced increased criticism over the quality of its SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) – and this update is a clear step in combatting this.

Why?
Google wants to improve the quality of its search results – to give you better and more relevant results.
“Content Farms” are considered the main target of this update. These are sites full of low quality content – but are often successful in search results because they are optimised for specific keywords. What makes it worse, is that the more people who click through to the sites from Search Engine Results, the more traffic they get – even though their content is often not of a minimum standard.
Other sites may produce little original content – maybe from fully authorised RSS feeds – but often with articles that have simply been copied from elsewhere.

What was the overall effect?
Firstly, it’s important to remember – Panda currently only effects US results. However, it is likely to be rolled-out in the UK soon.
So far, Panda has had a significant effect – some sites have seen their traffic drop by over 40% overnight – and, according to Googles official statistics, the update has had an impact on up to 12% of search queries.
A range of sources (including German SEO solutions provider SISTRIX) are reporting that the sites the most negatively impacted by Google’s update are so far: wisegeek.com, ezinearticles.com, suite101.com, hubpages.com, buzzle.com…. All recognizable names in the SEO world – including article submission sites used to boost back-links to sites.
Right now, it’s still early days- but given how hard some of the most well-known content farms have been hit, any further impact seems likely to be in the same direction.

Could this have an impact on my website?
There is no guarantee your rankings won’t be affected – especially when this update is rolled-out in the UK.
However, if your small business website has quality, original content, without excessive advertising, you should not be adversely affected. Primarily, it is content farms (with high quantities of very low quality content) that have plummeted in the results by this update.

General Good Practices for Websites
To ensure your site isn't targeted, follow this simple advice for your content creation:
Ensure your metadata is appropriate – and not stuffed with keywords
Get backlinks as naturally as you can by creating great quality content (other people will be wanting to link to you!)
Consider Page Ranks when exchanging links with other websites
Ensure your content is first optimised for humans, and then Search Engines!
Create unique content – that can’t be found elsewhere

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Find Answers Quicker! Google Search Tips

Here are a few hints and tips to speed up your Google searches.

How to search on Google
With Google Instant already spitting out results pretty fast (now faster than the speed of type!), chances are you’ll just use these for fun, to try them out..they can also help by narrowing down your search more quickly, rather than scrolling through page after page of results.
Whilst Googles' mission may be to "make organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful", a little bit of extra help can't hurt!

Basic Searches
[online marketing] A completely regular Google search for a keyphrase - in this case, online marketing.. Searches for pages with the words online and/or marketing on them, in the title, or used in the anchor text to link the page.
["online marketing"] Searches for pages with the words online and marketing on them - either in the title or used in the anchor text to link the page. The words must be next to each other and in the exact same order (known as an exact phrase match).
[online or marketing] Finds pages with the words online or marketing on them, in the title, or used in the anchor text to link the page.
[define: online marketing] This will give you definitions for the phrase [online marketing] and links to pages with definitions.

Restrictive Searches
This allows you to limit the scope of the sites/ information you’re searching for.
[web development:artdivision.co.uk] Searches on the site “artdivision.co.uk” for pages containing the phrase “web development”.
[intitle:web development site:artdivision.co.uk] Searches on the site “artdivision.co.uk” for pages with the phrase “web development” in the title.
Looking for a specific file? Use [marketing filetype:pdf intitle:social media 2005..2010] It will search for PDF files with the word “marketing” on the document/ in the title/ in the anchor text to the document. The title will include the phrase social media and the document will include numbers from 2005 to 2010.
[link:artdivision.co.uk] Searches for all the websites that link to artdivision.co.uk.

Fact searches
Did you know, Google can answer your specific questions! It’s not always 100% correct, but almost…Here are a few examples.
[population Portugal] the population of Portugal
[capital Indonesia] the capital of Indonesia
[currency Russia] the currency of Russia
[language Morocco] the language in Morocco

Maths Searches
[300+600-(8*9)] Google also works as a calculator!
[how many pounds in a kilo?] … and can calculate any measurement conversion…
[convert Canadian dollars to pounds] or currency…

Do you know any other cool Google search tips? Share them with us in the comments !

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