Category: SEO

Words you use on your website are important

Words you use on your website are important

Don’t overlook the words in your digital overhaul.

A website migration or refresh is a great opportunity to practise some digital feng shui – to rethink your goals, refocus your user journeys, archive all the content you don’t need any more, and ensure your content is aligned with your up-to-date proposition.

But done well, a migration is an opportunity to refresh and review not just the structure and design and look-and-feel of your digital presence – but the words too. What’s the point of spending all that time and effort and resource on a shiny new UX, a super-smart, contemporary new look and a cutting-edge CMS, only to pour back in all the tired words from your old site? And yet this happens, of course, and depressingly often.

So to make sure your website refresh is also a copy refresh, here are three key questions to have front of mind as you craft new content for your shiny new site:

1: Do I know what I’m doing?

Sounds flippant, but it’s really not. A good piece of web content packs a very clear sense of purpose and focus from the word go.

So for any piece of content you’re thinking of writing, you need to be able to answer those basic existential questions: Who is this content for? What do they need from this page? What do we want them to think or do after reading this page? How does this page support our business goals? And how will we know if this page is a success?

Poor planning usually begets confusing copy. If you’re struggling to come up with crisp, clear answers to any of these questions, maybe a rethink is in order before you begin.

2: Am I making life as easy as possible for my users?

Your customers are your business. Digitally speaking, your users are why you exist. And when it comes to copy, effortlessness is the cornerstone of a positive user experience.

With web content, the perception of ease is a powerful nudge to engagement and conversion. When a user looks at a new page, they carry out a very, very quick mental calculation: Is the probable effort being asked of me as a reader here likely to be worth the rewards of consuming this content, in terms of information or entertainment?

So ask yourself: Have I structured the content so that users get an instant sense of what it’s about? Are messages layered in order of user priority? Is the signposting intuitive?? Are there multiple entry points? Does the copy pass the reader’s ‘So what?’ test? Does it focus on benefits, not features? Are the words and syntax used simple to process?

3: Is the language fresh?

So the page is well-planned. You know who it’s for and what it’s about. It’s scannable and intuitive to look at, and the language is plain. So why is it still such a dull read?

Perhaps because the copy falls back on clichés and legacy language, the sort of words and phrases marketing writers often turn to because they feel safe and familiar. You know: ‘tailored to your specific requirements’, ‘today’s fast-moving world’, ‘we’ve got Christmas all wrapped up’, ‘something for everyone’, ‘solutions provider’, ‘state-of- the-art’, and all the rest.

The problem here is that the reader is so used to seeing such phrases that they cease to have any impact or even meaning.

So ask yourself: Am I showing rather than telling? Am I talking about what we do in fresh, interesting and specific ways? Am I thinking hard about why anyone will care about these words? Am I writing stuff that is interchangeable with what you could find on loads of other sites in our space? Have I injected any tone or personality?

4 Ways Small Businesses Can Master Marketing

4 Ways Small Businesses Can Master Marketing

One of the first hurdles a small business owner faces is getting the word out about her new business. Or, if the business is established, growing the business and attracting new customers. At the heart of driving sales is marketing. For business owners without marketing experience, this can seem overwhelming. The good news is there is a lot a small business owner can do to market a business easily and efficiently.

1. Define your unique value proposition (UVP).

The first step in marketing a business effectively is understanding your capabilities and the white space your business is filling in your industry.

Inevitably, you will face competition, so take the time to outline what sets you apart from your competitors. Become as informed as possible on your industry. Sign up for industry newsletters; read relevant trade publications; and consider participating in industry events. This will allow you to identify trends, and stay up-to-date with important news. It will also help you identify your competitors. Take a close look at what they are doing and how they present themselves to potential customers.

Then determine who your target customers are and what they want. This is important – one of the biggest small business marketing pitfalls is to assume you know your customer without doing research.

Clearly identify the service you are providing and the problem you are solving for your target customers. This will help you define your UVP – the unique benefit you are providing for your customers.

You’re not trying to sell to everyone, which is a good thing. Your goal is to clearly define who you are targeting, why they want your product and how best to reach them. Once you know that, your job is to consistently execute your marketing plan.

2. Maximize your online presence.

Armed with a clear understanding of your business and its industry, it’s time to market it to potential customers.

While there are many marketing channels to consider, typically the most efficient and cost-effective are online.

Take time to audit your online presence. An easy place to start is your website. Make sure the website design is consistent with your brand and that the site is easy for customers to navigate, and find the information they’re looking for.

If it’s appropriate for your business, make it easy for customers to sign up for a mailing list. This will enable you to build a database of customers, who give you permission to reach out to them regularly with product updates, interesting news or coupons.

In addition to listing your products or services, consider adding a blog to your website to provide tips and product or service updates to customers.

Beyond your own website, be sure to build your presence on and spend time managing review sites, like Yelp and Angie’s List. These help validate your business and can boost sales. You can even share good customer reviews on your website.

Whether you’re communicating via your website, a blog, an email, a third party review site or social media, be sure to keep a consistent voice. Every customer touchpoint is an opportunity to build your brand.

3. Start a conversation.

Social media channels are a low-cost way to get the word out about your business and build relationships with your target audience.

Choose a channel, which your customers are already on. Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn serve very different purposes, so be smart in your choices, and think about the kind of content you like to post. Using platforms specific to your business makes it easy for customers to find and interact with your business online.

When it comes to posting on social media, consistency is key.

Create a schedule to ensure you are posting regularly so your audience knows to expect content. For example, plan for three posts a week, which you can draft in advance.

In order to keep content dynamic, take a three-prong approach:

  1. Talk about yourself and your business,
  2. Talk about your customers,
  3. And talk about your industry.

Share updates about what’s happening at your business, such as a new shipment you’ve received or a peek behind the scenes. Be sure to thank your customers, and engage them through questions.

Finally, share interesting news articles, and invite your social media followers to share their thoughts. In all social media posts, make sure you’re authentic and realistic so your audience can connect with you.

4. Consider paid content.

The paid aspects of social media can also be a great way to boost your business’ profile, and get in front of new customers.

For instance, you can target the exact type of customer you are looking to attract with advertising through Facebook and LinkedIn campaigns, based on the information individuals have shared on their profiles.

If you have the ability to incorporate this tailored approach into your budget and cash flow, it is an option worth exploring to supplement your free social media efforts. Sometimes a small campaign can make a big difference.

Regardless of size, every business owner can use the tools available to market their business successfully. Small business owners can be their own CMO, even without a marketing background, by developing a keen awareness of their industry landscape, building out their social media presence and developing their brand identity.


How to measure brand awareness on Social Media

How to measure brand awareness on Social Media

World population: 7.5 billion


Number of people using social media platforms: 2.5 billion (expected figures for 2017 from Statista)

With one-third of the world’s population using social media platforms and consumers religiously following their favourite brands on social media (see the chart below), it is no surprise that companies are also logged in to social media. Recent research suggests 91% of retail brands use two or more social media channels (Yesmail). And this is true for brands across industries.

Source: GlobalWebIndex

However, using social media platforms brings about familiar questions for companies – How do you measure performance? Are my social media pages good enough? – Companies can answer these by comparing their social media performance against their competitors based on key areas such as effort, audience and channels.

While it may be easy for companies to compare their channel presence against competitors, they should understand that popularity, and thus returns from channels, can be very volatile. Therefore, it is imperative that companies ensure they are keeping up to date with the latest trends in social media.

How can you realise their social media potential

Consider each social media page(s) and platform, identify key measurement metrics and then juxtapose them with the same metrics from your competitors. Firstly, compare the performance on one platform, but then also at an overall level. Give each brand a score for each of the below performance indicators. At the end, the scores are combined to generate a final score for each brand’s social media performance.

  • Channel strategy: presence

Channel strategy does not mean, the more the merrier, rather, it is all about finding the right fit. It is very important that each social media profile aligns with the business’s goals and objectives. While Facebook drives more referrals to external content, Twitter users engage 24% longer with long-form content and 14% longer with short-form content. (Pew)

  • Pro-activeness: effort

This is where we quantify and analyse their content strategy. This includes the frequency of posts, time taken to reply, content types and variation, campaigns, sweepstakes, page features etc. 72% of people who complain to a brand via Twitter expect a response within an hour (Lithium). The study also revealed that when brands provide customers with timely response, 34% are likely to buy more from that company and 38% are more receptive to their advertisement. Below is an example of what this analysis could look like.

  • Page performance: awareness 

Awareness can be measured by looking at the overall impression, total reach generated by each platform and follower growth. Again each platform is given a score like below.

  • Audience engagement

Total user engagement in each platform can also be measured by analysing likes, comments, shares etc at post level.

  • Earned media mentions

It is also possible to measure how much a company gets featured in users social media content (those conversations that are happening above and beyond a company’s owned social properties). You can measure what share of the conversation they have and what sentiment customers have towards their brand. 96% of the people that discuss brands online do not follow those brands’ owned profiles. (Brandwatch)

  • Customer loyalty: brand affinity

What is the level of affinity towards the brand showcased by users? Further users intention to purchase or recommend is also measured.


Conducting a social media performance audit & analysis helps marketers evaluate their company’s social media presence, and also helps them identify what content development and design work is required. The results can also help them create a prioritised action plan, develop a marketing strategy and understand what their competitors are doing.


How to write good words for SEO

How to write good words for SEO

Good Words for SEO

Why should you know how to write good words for Search Engine Optimisation? (SEO) Content is still king when it comes to search engine rankings. If you have the right kind of information you will appear higher in the search rankings. Content is one of the many elements of good search engine rankings. When you are building a website you need to consider the content you are going to have to attract the search engines and new customers.

Search the keywords the page is targeting

Start by searching the keywords you want to be known for. If you do a search on Google using your keywords and have a look at the results, this will give you an idea of what the search engines think is important. Have a look at the results at the bottom of the page to see what other search terms are being used that use your keywords.

List the information people want to find

Think about the kind of information people are looking for and where they are in their search journey. Are people researching the topic, looking to compare or looking for a specific product or service? What information can you provide them that will help them in their search? What information do others provide and what is missing, that could make your content even more appealing?

List what people want to achieve

What do people want to achieve by doing their search? What can you provide them that will make that easier or will help them solve their problem? How do others present that information and can you make it easier or better for searchers?

Create a visual layout for good UX

So now that your content has got them to your website, you now need to keep them there. If the searcher quickly clicks that back button, search engines measure this as low engagement. Often searchers are looking for the keywords, headings or even pictures that relate to their search. If they do not see it or are not happy that this is the kind of website they were searching for, they are gone. Too many back button clicks and your search engine ranking goes down. Create a user experience (UX) that will keep them there. Think about your layout before you begin.


You have now completed your research and know what you want to write about. WRITE. Write naturally without trying to use the words that came out of your research or even forcing the topics into your text. Seach engines and searchers like content that has a natural flow about it.

Add keywords and topics into the page

Time to review what you have written and add in the keywords and topics that came from your research.

Add content and or ideas that will make people want to share

If the content is king then links are the queen. You really want other people to share your content because the more links back to your website the higher your ranking in the search engine results. Have a look at what you have written and what content you could add to make it go viral. Shocking, emotional, factual, graphical…. Share your content, by sending it to those who could use it on their website, like industry sites and publications. Publish your post on blog sites that have sections related to your topic. Find those who have written about your topic in the past as they may be interested in your new insights.

Writing good content for SEO


How to get ranking with SEO

How to get ranking with SEO


Having your website rank in the search engines is a goal for many owners of websites, particularly with the promise of more sales and higher user engagement. This makes the effort to be on the first page of the search rankings a goal worth investigating.

It may not be as hard as you think. If you are interested in ranking for searches for your products, services or industry have a look at who is ranking.

Have a look at:

  • Their meta description to see what issues they are solving for customers.
  • Their website to see what content they are delivering
  • The questions they are answering
  • The additional useful information they are providing
  • Site structure
  • Overall user experience.

If they are able to get the users to stay on their site, search engines assume that the user has found what they want, so their rankings can increase as a result.

Maybe their site got lots of attention due to some content that went viral, a news article, an advert or a post. This may have increased their overall site ranking. Do a search of their domain name and scroll down the search engine results ignoring the normal contact us, about us. If there is a result from their site for a particular post, product, service, landing page that is featuring highly in the results have a look at the page and the content. Do a search for the company name and see what other websites mention them or link to them.

If you feel that your website is as good or better then it may be time to engage with an SEO company and get them to have a look at the elements on our list below. If you think that your website and content need some work use the results from your searches to give you ideas as this is what the search engines believe people are looking for.

What do you need to rank in search engines:

  • Can then search engine read your page, content, images, text, videos and embedded content
  • Does your page answer the questions people are searching for and have the words they use
  • Search Google – what words and content is presented, what was and was not answered
  • Does your page solve the customers need, so they stay on your page
  • Will they pick you if they see your title, URL, meta description or snippet
  • Does your content use primary and secondary keywords
  • Do you use schema and rich snippets if they are available
  • What is your page speed, user experience and security
  • What is on your page that will make people want to share it


Ranking with SEO

Are you using key words effectively

Are you using key words effectively

Keywords are the words that you want to be known for when customers do a search on the internet. This is a significant part of Search Engine Optimisation.

It is important to do your keyword research before you start generating web pages and posts, or you may end up being known for the wrong things. What do customers type into the search engines when they are looking for products and services like yours.  Just remember that it may be different to the language that you use.

Used effectively search engines will see that your web pages and posts have these words. Search engines have smart algorithms so don’t go crazy and use the same word too much as the search engine may consider this to be word stuffing and penalise your site. What are the associated words or synonyms?

Once you have these words sorted you can the start using them effectively. So that the search engines understand what your page is about use the keywords once in the title, in the meta description, in the first paragraph, in subtitles and several times in the content.

Key Words

An advertising campaign created from your analytics

An advertising campaign created from your analytics

An advertising campaign created from your analytics

A traditional approach to creating an advertising campaign is to develop a message that you think will attract customers and try it out. If you have several ideas, you may test these in an A/B advertising campaign to understand which message gains you more customer interactions. Over time and with much trial an error you will develop adverts that work well for your business.

In this blog, an alternative approach is investigated using some existing customer data, that maybe you didn’t even know you had. If you have google analytics connected to your website you can use the data from there to help determine the messages that resonate well with your customers. These messages can be used to create advertising and landing pages that work.

This may give you an insight that you never had about your customers and that A/B testing may not reveal.

If you are just starting and do not have this kind of data, have a look at backlink reports for your competitors websites that give the page authority (PA) score. Using the same approach analyse the high scoring pages for messages and images you could try in your next campaign.

Web performance checklist for developers.

Web performance checklist for developers.

Speed up your website.

If you are a programmer, here is a web performance checklist that can help you squeeze additional microsecond performance from your website. With page loading speeds now part of the criteria for good rankings on search engines it is becoming more important to have good coding practices that improve website loading times.

This checklist will give you a lot of ideas for optimising your website code. As pointed out in this article if you have this goal as one of your project objectives from the start, it is much easier to achieve good performance. If you are looking to achieve speed after you have developed the website, it can be difficult to gain those microseconds that make a lot of difference to your customers.

Planning website content: 5 must-read articles

Planning website content: 5 must-read articles

Without proper planning, content can derail website projects. Missed deadlines, poor quality content, spiralling budgets, plummeting team morale and projects left in limbo are just some of the symptoms of failing to planning content production up-front.

To help keep your website projects on track, we’ve gathered some of our must-read articles on the topic of planning website content. From calculating the cost of content production, the right questions to ask, and how to run an effective discovery phase, the 5 articles we selected offer oodles of practical advice to help you and your teams plan for content and launch your website projects on schedule.

Calculating the production of high quality content

What effort, time and cost do you need to get content done? This article will help you calculate the resource needed, particularly the number of writers required, to help you budget and plan for content production.

Read: Calculating the production of high quality content

How to run a website discovery session

A well planned discovery phase can make or break a website project. This crucial meeting between the project team and client is the time to answer questions that will arm you with the knowledge to deliver a bespoke website, with content and design that will deliver measurable results. In this article we uncover who needs to be involved, how long the session should be, how to manage expectations and even include an agenda to get you started.

Read: How to run a website discovery session

13 content questions to kick off your website redesign project

Asking the right questions about content at the start of the project is imperative to getting content onto the project agenda, and keeping it there. Our article lists some content-focused questions you should be asking, including do you know how much content you have on your existing site, does someone have overall responsibility for content quality during the project to beyond launch, and 11 other must-ask questions.

Read: 13 content questions to kick off your website redesign project

The A to B to content: Planning website content

The more thorough and dedicated your content planning, the more engaging and fruitful your content will be. Fact. In this article we cover audience research, site maps, content mapping and scheduling content and join them together for the ultimate content plan.

Read: The A to B to content: Planning website content

Planning contextual content for users

Your content needs to serve a purpose. It has to meet a business goal and/or a user need and be provided at the time that they need it. Context is key to making sure your content is relevant and useful. This article will ensure you’re planning content with context firmly in mind.

Read: Planning contextual content for users

Source: Robert Mills

7 Simple High-ROI SEO Tactics for 2017

7 Simple High-ROI SEO Tactics for 2017

SEO is changing so often that it can be hard to decide what you should be focusing on. So let’s go over 9 simple SEO tactics for 2017 that will skyrocket your web traffic.

1) Cross-Link to Your Own Pages

If you go to QuickSprout, or NeilPatel, you’ll notice that Neil links to other blog posts in the sidebar.

QuickSprout Guides

If you link to your most popular pages using keywords that you want to get ranked for, like “online marketing” or “digital marketing,” you start climbing the rankings. It sometimes takes six months to a year, but you rank really well.

On Google, Neil ranks number one and two (Quick Sprout and Neil Patel) for “online marketing.” Just think about how competitive that keyword is. And you know how many links he has been manually building to those guides? Zero. All he’s doing is making sure that he links to those pages on every single one of his blog posts.

2) Featured Snippets

You’ll notice that when you Google something now, there’s a box that pops up with a quick answer. This is called a featured snippet, and it shows up now before the first search result. We’re still not entirely sure how to rank into the featured snippet, but a lot of research has gone into this.

Google featured snippet

Moz did a really good post on this called Ranking #0. Basically, you want to make sure you’re using your H1 header tags properly, followed by a short snippet that describes what you’re writing about. For example, let’s say your H1 header title is What is Digital Marketing? Right after, you should explain what digital marketing is in a snippet.

If you do that, Google (which is getting a lot better at machine learning) will detect that your page has a great definition for this common keyword question phrase, and will start linking to you in the featured snippet for that keyword phrase.

Moz tested this with one of their own pages on domain authority. They were #1 in SERPs, but another agency took the #0 featured snippet spot from them. So Moz rewrote their H1 header and snippet for that page, and suddenly they were ranking for the snippet, too. They took away that spot from their competitor agency.

If you already have the #1 spot, ranking for the featured snippet may not seem like a big deal, but the data shows otherwise:

Ranking #0 in the SERPs can increase your click-through rates anywhere from 33-100%.CLICK TO TWEET

3) Optimize Title Tags

Let’s hypothetically say that you have the number one spot, and you worked hard for it by creating excellent content. Now let’s say a competitor creates a new page and starts ranking at #2, but their content isn’t as good. If everyone starts skipping the #1 result (your page) and they start clicking on the #2 result, what does this tell Google?

If you find this happening to you, then you need to optimize your title tags. Everyone looks at title tags, but most of the time they’re only thinking about keywords. Sure, you should research your keywords, but if your title tag isn’t appealing and people don’t want to click on it, you aren’t going to rank well.

But if you’re getting more clicks than everyone else around you in rankings, Google will keep moving you up—until someone else outperforms you with their click-through rate because they have a better title tag.

How do you make your title tag really appealing? By thinking like a human. Ask yourself, “What would someone want to read and click on?” For example, when I search the keyword “SEO,” one of the most popular sites that comes up is Search Engine Land.

It’s not because they have the most links, it’s because their title tag is so simple: “What Is SEO?” It gets more clicks than something like “The Beginner’s Guide to SEO” or “The Advanced Guide to SEO” or “SEO Made Simple.” People love Googling for “what is…” and that works especially well with complex terms. So a beautiful title tag that entices clicks can skyrocket your rankings.

4) Page Scrape

Another excellent SEO tactic you can use, that kind of piggybacks on click-through rates, is second order page scraping. Go into Google Search Console and look for the keywords you’re ranking for. Let’s say you’re ranking on page two of SERPs, for example, and you’re on the cusp of getting to page one. You’re aiming for that top 5 ranking so you can have a higher click-through rate and drive more traffic.

In order to do that, go to Google Search Console and make a spreadsheet with rankings where you’re ranked in positions #10-20. With that, you have that list and you can start using Neil’s tactics for building links and cross linking. And as I’ve said before, you should always work on improving your titles. Write better meta descriptions, too. See if you can drive click-through rates higher as well.

One of my friends who’s been working with enterprise SEO says that Google likes to audition you. The idea is that, if you’re getting higher click-through rates while you’re going through the “audition,” you’re going to be able to get onto page one. I can’t say conclusively that I have a lot of data around it, but I’ve tested it myself and I think it is worth testing.

5) Write Epic Content (2,000+ Words)

If you check out the Single Grain blog, you’ll notice that I have a lot of blog posts that are very long—2,000 words or more, even 4,000-6,000 words long. Why? Because the more keywords you have on a page, the more long-tail terms you’ll rank for. You don’t need to shove in keywords or rank for anything specific—this is just a common sense equation:

More words in your blog post = more things Google can end up ranking you for.CLICK TO TWEET

SerpIQ did a study on this showing that webpages that rank in the top 10 results have at least 2,000 words. So if you can write detailed, lengthier content, you’re much more likely to get more search traffic. You don’t want to just shove in words purely for fluff so you can meet the minimum two thousand word count, though—you want to take the time to write really good, thorough content that gives people value.

6) Transcribe Videos

If you’re producing more and more videos, make sure you’re transcribing them. Rev is pretty cheap and very reliable; it’s just $1 per minute. Why do you want to transcribe your videos? Because search engines can’t crawl videos yet—but they can crawl text. Transcribing your videos will go a long way towards helping you rank higher.

Transcribe your videos

It should also be pointed out that transcribing these videos helps boost SEO, but turning them into edited blog posts is even better. Perhaps it goes without saying, but Google will crawl and rank a properly formatted, readable blog post that you’re promoting on social more than just a video with an unedited transcript.

7) Optimize Images

And finally, another tactic that I love leveraging is optimizing images. Google can’t crawl videos, but it can crawl images to an extent. Remember—Google has a tab just for images. If you’re in the consumer-based, B2C world, using alt tags or long description tags and actually naming your image files (not image01.jpg) will greatly increase the chance that your images show up higher in results.

Google’s even integrating images within text-based search these days. So, if you can optimize your image file names and use proper alt tags plus proper keywords for the page on your website where the image appears, you’ll start ranking really well, and you’ll be getting tons and tons of visitors.

Naming is not the only way to optimize images.

The reality is, file size matters more than you think. Files consume lot of space in your web directory.

The file size correlates to a bunch of factors. The first being the file format or extension. The most common image file extensions are JPEG, PNG, BMP, and TIFF and the list goes on. These file formats vary either by picture quality or size. Higher resolution means larger files. Lower resolution means smaller files. If you decide to trade image quality for file size, you might be losing to other sites because their site loads faster with smaller size images.

Let’s talk a bit about the tools that will help you optimize images without compromising quality. is one tool that’ll help you achieve image optimization. Remember your ultimate goal here is to load your site faster.

By this, you can hit two birds with one stone. Your user is happy, and Google is happy. So they’ll rank you higher. Yes, one of 200 matrices of Google is the longer it takes your site to load, the lower your ranking.

Using this, you can hit two birds with one stone. Your user is happy and Google is happy to rank you higher.

8) Performance Test

Now that you have taken all measures to optimize your images, you still need to test your website for other anomalies.

Testing isn’t just loading the website on your work/home laptop from hi-speed internet. Not all users have access to hi-speed internet with iPhone 7 plus or a Surface Pro.

As a matter of fact, the latest statistics show that 60% of search comes from mobile devices. So your user may be viewing the website from a cheap android phone connected to 3G/2G network.

Google calculates your site speed based on load time of all users put together. Remember… it’s all about delivering exceptional user experience. And that’s what Google ranks you on. Work with your developers on testing your website exhaustively on multiple desktop, mobile, tablets. Automated load testing is the key to achieve this. It’s easier if you have developer who has experience with automated tools like Browserstack or Selenium.


Browserstack is an automated testing company. They provide a pretty easy and free tool called Screenshots that allows you to test a URL in more than 1000 browsers (old and new versions together) including Safari, Chrome, IE, Edge, Firefox and more.

Here is a quick test in 3 browsers on three different operative systems:

Note: Free plan is limited to 100 screenshots.

Don’t sweat if you don’t know which browser versions, operating systems, or devices to test. Next, I have two more web development tools that tell you the good and bad aspects of the websites.

Don’t be intimidated by the term ‘web development’. All you have to do is enter a url to run a test against a website. Let me show you a sample of the results from Yslow and PageSpeed Insights:


From the screenshot above, you’ll find the general metrics that YSlow grades you on. When it comes to fixing all the lower graded metrics, this tool gives an easy to understand solution without any technical jargon that a non-technical person should be able to fix.

PageSpeed Insights:

This tool was developed by Google that gives you a score based on performance on mobile and desktop devices.

Enter the URL and click “Analyze”:

Here is a screenshot of mobile and desktop results:

The list under ‘Possible Optimizations’ is you should be concerned about. Each item is followed by a ‘Show how to fix’ link, which is pretty convenient.

It should be pretty obvious that YSlow looks more user friendly for a non-technical person. Their grading system makes it easy to interpret the results than PageSpeed. PageSpeed gives two separate scores for mobile and desktop devices.

The links to how to fix all the bad stuff are very helpful to raise the score of your website.

9) Think Mobile First

As mentioned earlier, this is the age of mobile first.

60% of the search is performed from a mobile device. You want to cater to this user group. Mobile first doesn’t mean you need a native mobile app. You can design a single website to target both mobile and desktop users simultaneously. Such a website design is called Responsive design.

Responsive design isn’t as taxing as it sounds. All you need is to select the right mobile template and the right framework. If you have a very old website which doesn’t conform to the principles of responsive design, you’ll be better off building a website from scratch than redoing the whole website.

You can find tons of responsive design templates here.

You may not realize this but millennials, being mostly mobile users, are gradually drifting to voice search from text search.

Voice search is more conversational, you need content that answers all what, why, when and where questions.  This can be done by adding FAQs page to your site or writing posts that answer these questions.

Another way to achieve the same, is with longer tail keywords. Answer these questions specifically and use respective keywords that aim to answer a user’s specific question.

Source: Single Grain

Social media strategies to find more customers

Social media strategies to find more customers

Social media strategies to find more customers

Does the idea of “social selling” make you break into a cold sweat? Or, do you simply avoid it?

Many sellers are nervous about using social media tools to fill their pipelines. They worry about being inappropriate or that the tools are too “fluffy” and won’t get them to a deal quickly enough.

And they’re not wrong! If you use social media tools badly, the results are terrible! But, that’s true about any sales method, right?

The fact is, small and medium-size businesses that beef up their sales strategies with social tools are far more likely to hit their numbers. So, it may be time to learn a little more.

In a recent Microsoft Office Small Business Academy webcast, three business experts shared social selling strategies you can start using today to beef up your sales pipeline. (Click here to watch the replay.)

Below are three points that jumped out at me.

Microsoft-SMB experts.jpg

1. Be consistent and curious 

Even 15 minutes a day improves your ability to connect with your ideal customers. The key is consistency. Make a checklist of what you’ll do each day on your favorite social platform. Don’t just wander into the site; go with a clear idea of what you’re looking for, do your work, then get out.

A simple way to start? Use the tools for research.

I often go to LinkedIn to learn more about my top prospects. How do they define their job responsibilities? What’s important to them? Where did they work previously? Do we have any mutual connections or interests? What groups do they belong to? What are they reading?

It’s like being invited to my prospect’s office where I can see the certificates on the wall and leaf through the magazines on their desk. I look for insights that help me connect in new ways.

2. Beat the big companies to the punch

If you’re with a smaller company, social media tools allow you to be agile. Many giant companies have strict guidelines about using social media sites, some even block employees from accessing them.

Use the tools to start conversations about mutual interests or to explore new concepts in your industry. Soon, you will be catching the eye of your ideal new customers while the big guys are still trying to get their message approved by three teams of lawyers!

3. Watch for trigger events

It doesn’t take long to start finding triggers that your ideal customers are ready to buy. Perhaps you’ll see that someone has switched jobs. Whenever there’s a new decision maker at the helm, the grip of the status quo is automatically loosened and change is likely. It may be a great time to approach them with a new idea.

Maybe your ideal prospect belongs to a group where they are asking questions or even complaining about something you know how to fix! The tools allow you to “read their mind” and get their attention. My son is a master of this. He belongs to a very targeted group of pilots. Whenever questions are raised about insurance, he offers valuable advice, but never a pitch. Invariably, other group members will jump in and say, “If you need insurance, Ryan is the best.”

Social selling is a long game.

It is all about building rapport, trust, and connecting in meaningful ways. Used well these tools help you get noticed by your prospects, find the right people to sell to, detect triggers that your customer is ready to buy, and even build trusting relationships that bring you new streams of revenue.

Source: Jill Konrath

How to write good content that people will read.

How to write good content that people will read.

Writing good content for your website and Blog has a lot to do with understanding your customer or audience.

If you have ever been through a good strategic planning or sales excellence exercise you will have looked at your value proposition, which should give you what you need to make it easy to write an article that relates well to your customers.

As you will see in this article the first step is to state your value proposition, followed by the feature then the benefits.

If you were looking at your value proposition in a business planning or sales excellence exercise you may have also looked at your channels to market, types of customer relationships and customer segmentation. Your value proposition message may change based on these additional elements. For example, the customer segmentation may have different age groups as segments and as a result, you will have a differrent language of value propositions.

It’s not necessarily about writing well.

It’s about writing persuasively.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a world-class wordsmith or a literary genius.

If you can’t effectively move readers through the proper sequence of steps and ultimately convince them to buy, your conversions are going to suffer.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the world’s greatest writer.

You probably won’t see me publishing a novel anytime soon.

But I’d like to think I’m good at copywriting, which, in its simplest form, is “the act of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing.”

In this post, I’d like to provide you with a straightforward formula you can use to become a highly persuasive copywriter with the end goal of maximizing conversions.

I’ll explain both the basic structure and the specific techniques you need to use to become more persuasive.

Start with a killer value proposition

Research from Nielsen Norman Group found that you have a very small amount of time to grab a visitor’s attention before they leave your page.

In fact, you usually have a max of 20 seconds.

Your first order of business is to make it abundantly clear what your value proposition is.

Now, there are several ways to go about this, but I believe in keeping things simple.

Getting too complex tends to dilute the message and confuse prospects.

What I’ve found to be most effective is keeping my value proposition short, sweet, and clear.

Like this:

I think the Moz homepage does a really good job at this as well:

Don’t make them guess what you’re offering.

Let them know in a split second what you are offering with your crystal clear value proposition.

To accomplish this, try to condense the essence of your product down to just a few words.

Swiftly move to the benefits

“What’s in it for me?”

That’s what most visitors are thinking after hearing your value proposition.

But here’s the thing.

Most people have a tendency to emphasize features over benefits.

But it should be the other way around.

Just look at this Venn diagram from ABC Copywriting:

Notice that benefits are valued over features.

Of course, you need to explain how your product works. But you can elaborate on that later.

What you want to do first is explain how the product fulfills a need or desire.

In other words, explain how your customers’ lives will be better after they buy your product.

Here’s a great example from Moz:

See how prospects instantly understand the benefits of using Moz?

It will save them time and make things more efficient.

They also don’t have to worry about deciphering complex data because Moz takes care of this for them.

When it comes to describing benefits, there are three main types to cover:

  • Tangible
  • Intangible
  • Commercial

This illustration from ABC Copywriting explains these various types of benefits in more detail.

As they point out, “Benefits need not be unique, but they must be compelling.”

Keep this in mind when deciding on an angle.

I personally find that it’s best to highlight the benefits before getting down to the nuts and bolts of the features.

That way prospects should be more receptive and willing to wade through the details.

But if you go the other way around and cover the features before the benefits, you’re probably going to lose a sizable portion of your leads.

Just sayin’.

Now explain the features

“What’s in the box?”

That’s what Brad Pitt’s character David Mills wanted to know in the closing scene of the movie Seven.

While the contents of the box were quite grisly (his wife’s severed head), this question demonstrates the importance of promptly telling your leads what they’ll get by making a purchase.

In other words, let them know what’s in the box.

They already know what you’re offering and what the benefits are.

Now it’s time to succinctly break down the features of your product.

Again, I feel like Moz pulls this off flawlessly, so I’ll use this as an example:

I prefer breaking features down into bullet points or concise little sections like Moz does.

“Digestibility” is huge, and you want to present your product’s features in an easy-to-absorb, intuitive way.

You also want to touch on specifics to distinguish your product from competitors and to add a sense of value.

by NEIL PATEL on MAY 31, 2017

How to create loyal customers with good content. 

8 characteristics of content that develop trust

Effective marketing strategies can be delivered in many ways, but they have certain aims in common, such as increasing website traffic. Still, the difference between getting visitors to your site and building a loyal following is huge. In order to grow your audience and nurture long-lasting relationships, you need more than a constant flow of enticed prospects. You need a brand that people trust.How do you build trust? A 2012 study called “The Trust Factor” has some interesting answers to offer. According to participants, a trustworthy brand is the one that uses its content to deliver accurate, helpful and relevant information without trying to shamelessly self-promote and sell.Here’s are 8 characteristics of content that develop trust.

1. Content that develops trust: is written for enthusiasts by enthusiasts

Perhaps you’re a seasoned content writer, but think of yourself as a niche blogger instead of an expert. Even though a slight change of attitude can make you influential, creating with passion rather than pomposity has its own benefits too.

People consume content in different ways and for many reasons – while some read to pass time, others do it to find a solution to a problem. Then again, there are those who devour their daily portions in the hope of getting inspired.

These are the enthusiasts who want nothing but an opportunity to learn more and get excited. In simpler terms, they need content that’s been written by like-minded people that are just as fervent about the subject at hand as they are. Though welcome, expertise is not of crucial importance here.

A 2010 study found that the most-emailed New York Times articles were the ones that tugged at the reader’s heart strings and inspired positive feelings. Being written for enthusiasts by enthusiasts, they compelled readers to spread the message further and stand behind it.

This tactic can nurture brand ambassadors. This type of content is great for generating social proof and building trust in the most organic way possible.

2. Content that develops trust: shows a deep level of understanding and experience

Solution-seekers are a different audience. While researching their problem, they pay close attention to what they read and trust nothing but content written with experience and expertise.

Expert content has to be insightful and useful. It requires a deep understanding of the topic and provides resolutions written by authorities in the industry. Such high-quality content comes from both first-hand experience and comprehensive research, thereby enveloping a wide range of proven suggestions, tips and solutions that readers can trust and apply.

To develop trust, your words should exude enthusiasm and expertise at the same time. It may seem hard to reconcile these discursive differences, but consider this: when written in simple, conversational language, expert content can be both informational and exciting.

3. Content that develops trust: provides plenty of quality references to back up its main point

While link building has an irreplaceable spot in content marketing, the potential of source linking is mostly unleveraged. Data-driven content can establish you as an expert, but these articles need to be backed up by the data’s original context.

The line between creation and curation is a thin one. If crossed, it can diminish the credibility of your entire brand, but if maintained with source links and quality references, it actually builds it.

4. Content that develops trust: avoids marketing clichés and offers a dose of honesty

In the digital publishing age, there are plenty of content creators to compete with. If you don’t have anything original to show, you won’t be able to stand out from the crowd. But, if you develop a whole marketing strategy around transparency, the competitive edge is yours.

Take an example from Everlane. This online clothing and accessories retailer built its story around its tagline – Radical Transparency. By offering complete disclosure of sourcing (manufacturing process, factories and, most importantly, labour), their approach attracts socially conscious fans. With transparency about pricing (manufacturing costs for each product together with the company’s profit), however, Everlane proves that its objective is not to take advantage of its customers, thus instantly earning their trust.

5. Content that develops trust: is straightforward, succinct and to-the-point

Everlane’s take on transparency is brilliant, but you don’t have to build your entire philosophy around it. Honesty is an effective way of attracting customers. Even if you don’t make it your Unique Selling Point (USP), staying honest with your followers will stand you in good stead.

It comes down to professionalism and respectability. Both are established through content that says what it means and means what it says. However complex your topic is, avoid vague language; be succinct and stay to-the-point.

6. Content that develops trust: doesn’t insult the reader’s intelligence

Quality suffers from quantity, and that’s content marketing’s biggest trap. Those who fall into it are mostly overwhelmed by the workflow, which is something we can all relate to.

If content is your brand’s main building block, then “don’t insult the reader’s intelligence” is your number one rule. Your audience expects quality, it rarely forgives inconsistency and it’s up to you to respect that. Whatever it is you’re writing about, it needs to be highly relevant.

7. Content that develops trust: is consistent and uses a unique recognisable style

Finding your own, unique voice is one of the biggest aspects of building a brand. Your message can exude luxury or promise adventure – regardless of what kind of experience you choose to provide, it still needs to be recognisable and consistent.

These requirements are the two sides of the coin: the one that attracts and the one that converts. More importantly, they both speak on behalf of your prowess, creativity and dedication. Content that’s easily recognisable is the one that’s original and inventive, while consistency showcases your passion and professionalism.

8. Content that develops trust: is relatable and uses a more personal tone

The last characteristic of content that develops trust serves as a comedy relief for both you and your readers. It’s what allows you to break the character as an expert and reveal yourself as a human. This “relatability” strategy is often used in social media campaigns, but can be effective in content marketing too.

While trying to write about complicated things in plain words and short sentences, if the topic allows, a bit of humour can make your content interesting and help readers relate. Humour triggers emotions and reminds your audience that their content provider is a person, just like them.

The same goes for first-person writing and using a direct tone. It’s much easier to trust advice when somebody gives it from personal experience, isn’t it? Whenever you can, back up your points with your own real-life examples. Address your audience as if you were talking to them face-to-face, and they’ll find you friendly and affable. Brands are built to appeal to real people, so don’t try to stand higher than them.

The importance of brand trust can’t be overstressed. If you choose to build it with content, than make sure it conveys your passion and expertise in an honest, succinct, unique and relatable way.


4 Major SEO Shifts You Need To Know About

4 Major SEO Shifts You Need To Know About

Websites and SEO go hand in hand.

You will rarely find a successful website that doesn’t rely on search engine traffic. Which is why it is important that you are aware of the ever evolving Google Search algorithms and accommodate those changes in your SEO strategy.So it is pretty clear that you can’t setup SOE once and forget about it, with algorithms changing. I am sure you haven’t been living under a rock all these years and do know some of the basics of SEO like using the right keywords, creating in-depth content, and getting backlinks from high authority blogs.It is the more recent SEO developments that many aren’t aware of (they are slightly technical as well, but don’t worry I’m here to simplify this for you. Below are 4 relatively recent developments in the SEO world that you need to incorporate in your strategy.

1. Google’s Mobile-First Index Means You Can No Longer Ignore Mobile Users

You already know that Google takes mobile users very seriously. Google’s Mobilegeddon update in 2015, which made mobile friendliness a core part of the search engine’s ranking algorithm, sent shockwaves through the SEO world.

And while it did not immediately cause the drastic changes everyone was fearing, it was a clear sign that Google was going mobile pretty soon. According to Duda, responsive and mobile friendly websites saw an immediate 11% traffic uplift as a result of Mobilegeddon.

Source: Impact of Mobilegeddon

Last November, however, something huge happened, very quietly. For the first time ever in the history of the internet, the number of online users from mobile devices (51.3%) exceeded desktop and laptop users (48.7%).

The gap is pretty narrow right now, but it is only going to grow from here, and so is Google’s focus on mobile users.

Google announced its mobile-first index towards the end of 2016. This essentially means that Google will now primarily look at websites from a mobile user’s point of view. Unresponsive blogs and websites will be demoted in search results.

In short, mobile friendliness is not just an option anymore, it is a necessity, and you should be prepared for it.

Here are a couple ways to do it.

  • Adaptive Over Responsive Design

Responsive websites adjust dimensions according to the visitor’s device, while the content remains the same. If your blog is using responsive design, you are in Google’s good books as far as mobile friendliness is concerned.

However, since responsive design serves the same content to both mobile and desktop users, you won’t be able to customize your content according to specific devices. For example, you might want to show a certain opt-in box or a header image on your blog to your desktop users only.

This is where adaptive design comes in. Adaptive websites not only adjust design dimensions but also serve different versions of your content based on the visitor’s device.

WooCommerce, one of the leading eCommerce platforms, uses adaptive design in most of its new store themes and is a good example of a leading company using this design variation the right way.

Using adaptive design helps you provide a more personalized user experience which leads to higher user engagement and lower bounce rates, all leading to a more stable SEO profile.

  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a recent initiative by Google similar to Facebook’s Instant Articles. It is about creating pages, stripped off additional graphics and plugins, that load instantly. AMP enabled websites and blogs get preference in mobile search results and are clearly marked with the AMP tag.

The jury is still out on the SEO pros and cons of using AMP, but it is certainly the path Google wants webmasters to follow.

2. Having a Secure HTTPs Site is No Longer Just an Option

How would you feel if Google attached a “not secure” label with your sites URL? Something like this…

Not pretty, I know. Unfortunately, this is already happening to all non-HTTPS websites and blogs. As of January 2017, any page on your website that is non-HTTPS and has a password form or credit card field will be labeled as “Not secure” in the address bar by Google Chrome.

And this is just the first step. Here is what Google’s official blog says about their future plans:

“In following releases, we will continue to extend HTTP warnings, for example, by labeling HTTP pages as “not secure” in Incognito mode, where users may have higher expectations of privacy. Eventually, we plan to label all HTTP pages as non-secure, and change the HTTP security indicator to the red triangle that we use for broken HTTPS.”

In simple words, if you want to avoid potential future penalties and demotions in search results, install an SSL Certificate and move your site from HTTP to HTTPs.

3. Keyword Research Has Evolved Thanks to Google’s RankBrain

Over the years, Google has become much smarter at understanding the searcher’s intent. It can no longer be fooled by stuffing a piece of content with a particular keyword. In fact, thanks to the advanced Google algorithms, you might even rank for keywords that you have not used in your content at all.

The reason for this change is Google’s AI based ranking algorithm RankBrain which ranks content based on the searcher’s intent. In the post RankBrain world, keyword research is about finding and using a closely related group of keywords in your content, instead of using just one target keyword.

In Google’s language it’s called Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI keywords. When a piece of content has LSI keywords in addition to the main target keyword, its gives Google a better understanding of the overall context.

For example, the following can be LSI keywords for an article about basketball:

⦁Michael Jordan
⦁NBA finals
⦁Basketball drills
⦁How to improve your basketball shot

The easiest way to find LSI keywords is by looking at the related searches for any search term at the bottom of the search page. For example, here are the related searches for the term “freelance blogging”

The evolution of keyword research is great news for quality conscious websites. It means you no longer need to compromise on the quality of your content and stuff keywords to get higher search rankings.

You can focus on creating your best content and use natural variations of your target keyword wherever you see fit.

4. An Engaged Email List Can Boost Your Sites Search Ranking

If you have a list of engaged and loyal email subscribers, you can continue driving free traffic to your site even if a search engine(s) completely wipes you off the face of the internet. The dramatic analogy aside, email marketing needs to be a key component of your site’s content promotion strategy.

According to GetResponse there are 3x more email users than Facebook and Twitter combined, and nearly 90 billion emails sent every day.

Source: Email Marketing Stats

Tapping into this massive user base and getting them on your list will not only help you beef up your subscriber base but also impact your site’s search ranking. Not sure how? Let me explain.

One of Google’s core objectives is to provide the most valuable and relevant search results to its users. Content engagement, time on site, and social signals are 3 important factors Google uses to determine the relevancy and the quality of a search result.

If readers spend more time on a particular page and share it frequently on social networks, Google considers it as a strong quality signal. Your email list can have an impact on each one of these factors. An email subscriber who has willingly joined your list and eagerly waits for your emails is much more likely to spend more time reading your blog content and share it on social media.

It is, therefore, no surprise that some of the top sites on the web spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on email marketing to engage and grow their subscriber base.

Wrapping Up

You need to have a basic understanding of SEO and how it impacts your sites’ audience. Thankfully, SEO is becoming more and more quality oriented. If you’re genuinely helping readers with your content and provide a seamless user experience to your site visitors, you don’t need to use dubious grey-hat or black-hat techniques to rank higher in search results.

How seriously do you take SEO? Do you think these tips will help you reach a wider audience?
I’d love to hear your comments.