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Creating More Reader-Friendly Content For Your Website

Remember back in high school when your English teacher taught you how to write a successful paper. You were told that the first paragraph should contain your thesis statement. The paper should consist of five paragraphs, each beginning with a topic sentence and containing evidence for whatever position you were taking. Evidence was to be followed by exposition. In the final paragraph, you were to reconfirm your argument in a “see what I just did” kind of way. The rules were very rigid, but if you followed them closely, you got an A.

When it comes to getting an A in writing for the Internet—that is, having people actually read what you write in your blog—there are four simple words you need to know: Goodbye to all that.

People looking at content on the Internet aren’t reading it the way your high school English teacher reads your carefully crafted compositions. Rather, they scan pages looking for things that stand out. Here are a few tips that will keep attract readers and keep them coming back for more.

Don’t Bury The Lede
A “lede” in journalistic jargon is the first sentence of the story and gives the reader the most important information. It’s the hook that gets them wanting to read more. In your high school English paper, your main point was somewhere toward the end of a long paragraph. But if you wait that long in your blog post, your readers may get bored and click on to something else.

Don’t Be Long-Winded
If you’ve got a complicated subject that will take a lot of unpacking to fully illustrate, think about breaking it up into its component parts and posting it as a series of blog entries. In this way, you’ll be able to hold your readers’ attention and you’ll also give them a reason to keep coming back for more.

Keep Paragraphs Short
If you look at sites like the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, you’ll notice that most of their paragraphs consist of no more than a few sentences, many of them only one sentence. This gives the reader a break between ideas and makes it easier to keep one’s place.

Highlight Important Information
If a sentence or idea is particularly important, use a bold font to draw attention to it.

Organize with Subheads
Subheadings will help you organize your ideas (like when you had to write those outlines in high school English) and will enable your readers to home in on relevant and important information.

Make Your Points With Lists
Using bullet points and numbered lists are effective ways of breaking down important, easy-to-read information.

Use Image Captions to Provide Information
Readers’ eyes are naturally drawn to images. Use the captions to provide important information about your topic and to get visitors engaged enough to want to read the whole post.

Proofread. Then Proofread Again.
The quickest way to lose a reader is through misspelled words and bad grammar. Always check your work before you hit publish. Then check it again.

The Value Of Blogs

Blogging has been a great outlet for those that wish to lament their activities and observations to the world at large. While many believed that blogging only had a purpose for personal reasons, a change of events did occur. People want and love information. They also want this information at an extremely quick pace. They do not want to wait to have their questions answered. People also don’t wish to wait very long to find someone to fix their problem. Therefore it is extremely important, as a business, to have a blog. Where does the process of building a great blog for your business begin?

Blogs provide many different functions. They allow your customers to have an “inside” view to you personally and to your business. People do business with those that they know, like and trust. Blogging provides all of these elements. When you are taking that first step to start your business blog, take 30 minutes to write out a plan. Your blog plan should include:

Purpose: What do you want your blog to do? Keep your customers interested and provide valuable and useful content to your audience should be your main goals. You do not want to use your blog for a hard sales pitch. Blogs fall into the realm of a soft sales pitch. This takes more time to see ROI, but you will end up with a solid and loyal customer base.

Editorial Calendar: Take a few minutes to determine what you want to write about. Think about all of the common questions you get asked regarding your business. This is the perfect starting point for finding subjects to write about.

Frequency: How often do you wish to post a blog entry? How much time do you realistically have to write a blog post? These are two very important questions. Even if you think that posting five times a week is a great idea, if it takes you away from other aspects of your business you are wasting your time. You need to use your time effectively. The important key is that you blog on a consistent basis and stick to a schedule. The details of the schedule are entirely up to you.

Begin With SEO: It is much easier to start your blog using proper SEO strategies as opposed to trying to fix it after the fact. Build a list of solid keywords and key phrases. Make use of the SEO features your blog platform has in place. By properly tagging, use of category and Meta descriptions you will increase your rank. Use SEO properly prior to launching your blog. Otherwise, you will have great content but no one will be able to find it on their search engines.

Blogging is a great way to deliver fresh content on a regular basis. This is one of the main things that search engines look for. Blogs also allow you to engage and interact with customers and potential customers. As people begin to see that you are an authority in your field, they will trust you enough to reach out and purchase your services. Blogging doesn’t need to be time consuming, simply determine what you want to write about and start writing. Be sure to use proper SEO strategy before you post your blog entries. You will then enjoy the benefits of increased page ranking.

Top 3 Ways To Build Links Like An Expert

Link building is a term that is used frequently in regards to effective SEO. What does link building mean? How does one create links properly to ensure high website rankings? Links are used by Google to determine if your site has authority. Google’s algorithm ranks each page based on a set of criteria. If your website has a good set of secure links to it, there is a higher chance that Google will consider your site an authority. Simply put, you want other pages to link to your page. Unfortunately, credible link building can be complicated. Some site owners will do anything to get as many links as possible, and this is not the way you want to utilize link building. Not all links carry the same weight or value. Here are three ways to build links the correct way.

Credible Content
Content is one of the most valuable aspects of your website. The days of producing any type of content, simply to have words on your site, are long gone. If you do not produce and consistently update your content, Google will not see your site as an authority and your rankings will drop. The key is to write content that is useful, interesting and most importantly relevant. Relevant content is always up to date and will be of use to your readers. Credible content is what other sites will want to link to, thus creating strong link building alliances. This will build the ranking of your site because Google will recognize that your site is an authority.

Find Your Niche
In order to build your reputation as an authority, you must have an understanding of your optimal audience. To say that everyone is your audience is too broad a reach. Every business, every website has a niche audience. Who are the people who will faithfully go to your site to find information? Who uses your product or services on a regular basis? Who can recommend your services to others? These three questions will provide you with an overview of whom your audience encompasses. Once you are aware of your niche market, you can create information that is custom for them. You can captivate and maintain the interest of those that will be your customer base and recommend your services to others. Word of mouth is still one of the best forms of advertising. People will always do business with those they like and trust. Tailoring your content to your niche audience will elevate your status as an authority. This system will also tell your niche audience that you truly care about their wants, needs and interests.

Linkable Content
Making your content linkable is of the utmost importance. Make it easy for the visitors of your site to share your content. Is the “share” button clearly marked? Can your visitors easily share to social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter? Keep your posts and your content simple and give the readers a reason to share.

The concept of link building can seem complicated and complex, but the fundamentals are easy to put in place. Creating great content, making sure that Google sees your site as an authority and making it easy for your content to be shared are three key ways to begin.

YouTube Marketing Made Simple

The content on your website is a great place to find ideas for a business’s first videos. What services does the business offer? Tell the business story on camera and you will capture potential clients’ attention. Top of the line equipment isn’t always necessary to produce these videos. You can very easily make compelling videos without investing considerable marketing dollars into your first YouTube foray. Start off with an introductory video, explaining who you are and what you provide. Explain to potential clients to what your business can do for them and offer gratitude to the customers who currently use your services. Once you have recorded your 3-5 minute video, it is time to upload it to your YouTube channel.

Give Customers A Reason To Watch
What is the purpose of your video? Are you making a video and setting up a YouTube channel without a plan? The consumer market spends more time watching videos about subjects as opposed to reading about them. Your site may have a lot of great information that conveys your amazing company, but if your target demographic prefers to watch videos, spending the time creating written content could be used to produce videos that give your customers the information they want.

Driving Customers To YouTube
Once the video is made and uploaded, how does a business successfully use the video to increase their bottom line? Before you start posting your video to Facebook, announcing it on Twitter or promoting it on your blog or website, make sure your video is ready to go viral. This process begins with proper tagging.

One of the most common errors that businesses make with their YouTube videos is neglecting to tag their video properly along with not choosing the right title. Optimizing your video title is key. While it may be fun to use a quirky phrase, if you don’t have keywords in your title no one will be able to find it. For example, you own a catering business and you just uploaded a video on how to make the perfect chocolate chip cookies. The title of the video is “Yum, these are great”. While this title reflects what the viewer will think after they make the cookies, the title fails to drive the viewer to the video. Naming the video “The World’s Greatest Chocolate Chip Cookies” will enable the viewer to find your video if they are conducting a general search for “chocolate chip cookies”. The other important factors are your video tags.

Tagging your video with optimized keywords, in this case cookies, recipes, chocolate chip, will also make your video easier to find when people are searching in a general way on YouTube. Combining an optimized title with keywords will result in more video views, more shares and more customers calling your catering company.
YouTube is a great way to increase the visibility of any business. If one follows the simple rules of keeping the video short, having interesting content and using optimized titles and tags, your video will generate a following. This effective way of marketing saves time, can be inexpensive and will draw new customers to your business.

Keyword Optimization – What you Need to Know

Keywords form the basics of any internet search. A user visits a search engine, types in a few keywords relating to whatever information they want to know, and the search engine returns results in the order that it deems most appropriate.

Now, the question is, how do you make it so that when a (potential) customer is looking for information about your product, they find your site among the top returns on the site.

The answer lies in keyword optimization.

Keyword Selection
Keyword optimization begins by selecting the keywords you want to optimize your size for. Keyword selection is an incredibly detailed process, and books could be (and have been) written on it. We’ll take a very brief look at it here.
Begin your selection process by looking at your site, and thinking of a few good descriptive words and phrases for each page. These should describe the contents of the page, and should be phrases that you would type into a search engine hoping to get to the information on your site.

Once you’ve selected these, you a keyword selection tool like Overture or WordTracker to give you more ideas about how often your terms are searched for. If you have some really common words on your list, you’ll probably want to drop them for less popular words. Pages outside of the top 10 rankings don’t really get looked at.
Thus it’s much better to be top-ranked for an uncommon keyword than bottom-ranked for a very common keyword.

Optimization for Search Engines
Once you’ve selected your keywords, you need to know where to place them on your site for optimal response. The Title, Heading 1, and Heading 2 sections of the page carry the most weight as far as search engines are concerned. So make sure to put your target keywords in those slots.

However, make sure that you’re writing for your users as well as the search engine crawlers. One of the most difficult parts of SEO is making titles that both incorporate keywords, and make sense to readers.

Content Generation
The third step toward the keyword optimization of your site is keyword-based content generation. This is where the waters get a little bit murkier, as search engines do not reveal their specific crawler algorithms. There are a number of things we do know though.

First, you should be using the relevant keywords at least a few times. However, this is a fine line to walk. In the past, there was a lot of talk about keyword density. It’s more generally accepted now that if you write a 500-word article, you should be able to drop in the target keyword 3 or 4 times. What’s more important though, is the quality of the information.
Search engines are getting more sophisticated, and they’re getting better at determining if content is well written. Moreover, they’re getting extremely apt at indirectly reading whether an article is well-written. Search engines understand that if an article is well-written, it will be linked to and shared via social media. Thus links and sharing are weighted quite highly.

On the other hand, if the search engine determines that your content is poorly written, the number of times that it incorporates your target keywords will not matter, as your rankings will be negatively affected.

Twitter and Tweeting: What to Say and How to Say It

Social media exploded onto the market in the last decade. It has completely revolutionized marketing and selling online. In some ways, it has even replaced search engines. After all, any well established business will have a Facebook page, displaying their product offerings and with a convenient link back to their main business site. Facebook may be the largest social media site, but it is not always the best for building customer relationships. Twitter is a phenomenal site for engaging potential customers in conversation and staying current with industry trends.

The super fast nature of Twitter is what makes it so valuable. The short posting length and easy network building offered by the site make it a way to quickly establish your business. You will need to post several times each day, but the short format makes it easy to do. While forums like Facebook require you to plan out an entire post and offer pictures, video and links to compete, Twitter posts are much more basic in nature. There are a few do’s and don’ts about what to post, but as long as you use the following tips, you will see increasing success with Twitter marketing.

1. Be Informative – Sending out fifty Tweets per day detailing your activities is not effective. People want valuable and helpful content that is industry specific. Even in a few sentences, you can inform people about a variety of topics. Use Twitter to post links to larger format pieces to gain additional traffic. For example, if there has been a new change in your industry, post the bare facts and include a link to the full article. That is value to social media users. Those who are interested can click the link, and those who are uninterested are not pressured to read about things they are not interested in.
2. Be Available – Twitter is all about direct communications with potential customers. Make sure that you routinely answer questions and offer information. The more direct interaction you engage in, the more people will come to you for information and the more your following will grow. At some point, you will not be able to interact personally with each commenter, but you will still be able to respond generally, letting them know that their comments are being read.
3. Be Interesting – When you only post re-tweets, you are simply posting the same information again and again. Those that are interested in your industry will probably have seen it before. A re-tweet or two is fine, provided you also post original content. Twitter is an ideal place to announce upcoming sales, new product lines or service changes. The ability to link to your main site allows you to only post teasers, which then results in many hits for your site.
With Twitter, more than any other social media site, it is important to keep things simple and concise. Twitter is not the place for fluff. Only post information that is current and interesting to keep your audience engaged.

Google Algorithm Changes and How Your Strategy Should Adjust

The end of the year is fast approaching and with it new Google definitions of what makes a good search result. Beating the Google Algorithm is the purpose of search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. The Google Algorithm is the method that the search engine uses to sort and rank search results. The placement on a search engine results page (SERP) determines the amount of exposure a business will get. If your website does not appear on the first page or results, it will not get much traffic. Niche marketing is the focus for online sales, since there is much less competition for niche rankings. However, Google constantly struggles to bump down listings that are not comprised of quality content. There are many things that are considered to determine your final rankings, and many strategies you can pursue to improve those rankings.

The first step in any SEO plan must be the design of your website. Meta tags and titles are very important, as they allow the search engine to index your site. Also, back linking is a good solid way to improve position on SERPs. If your site is linked to be other trusted sites, it looks more trustworthy to Google. Article posting can improve your score some what, providing the content is new and fresh. Google responds very poorly to duplicate content and your site could take a nose dive in the rankings if you do not provide fresh news. Buying domain names that exactly match your keyword phrase has been helpful in the past, but is no longer a good strategy. All of these tactics are well known, and many companies already exploit them.

A new thing to consider is the importance of usage data. Every time an Internet user clicks on your link from a SERP, certain information is tracked and stored. Bounce rate, click-through-rate, time on site and more are tracked by analytics programs. Google then correlates that information and uses the results when making determinations about page ranking. If Google is watching your usage data then so should you. When your bounce rates are high, it negatively affects your ranking, so focus on strategies to minimize your bounce rate. For those unfamiliar with the term bounce rate, an example would be a person clicks on your link and then immediately hits the back button and continues browsing search results. To Google, this reaction says that your site is not a good match for that keyword. Since their goal is to provide quality search results that meet the needs of Internet browsers, they will demote you based on browser response.

The only way to avoid having negative results from usage data is to provide quality web content. If your website is a product sales website make that clear on your search result. This will reduce the number of bounces. Ensure that your home page is engaging and informative. The longer people stay on your page the better it will look to Google. Place enticing links on the first page. The more people that click through, the better your eventual results.

Bring the Focus from You to Them With Online Marketing

Online marketing is filled with content all about businesses and what they can provide. Most content is filled with “we”, “us”, and “our”, which are not words that explain to the customer how products help them. Marketing is often written using a formula, and while it is important to include what works, all marketing materials need to be individual.

When you read marketing materials they tend to all sound the same. Even websites tend to look alike, since many companies use template designs. The use of templates can allow small businesses to put together professional looking sites at a moments notice, but they do look like templates. Without customization websites tend to look the same. The fear of making a mistake often keeps many businesses trapped in a cycle of boring marketing campaigns. A risk may be a waste of thousands of dollars, but it can also really pay off. Unique advertising is much more likely to generate customer responses versus canned advertising that people have seen before.

Marketing dollars need to be spent carefully in order to generate sales rather than just generate expenses. You should also be able to track how effective a marketing campaign is, so that you know what efforts should be repeated or expanded upon and which shouldn’t.

The first thing any business looking to update their marketing strategy to put the focus back on their customer should do is revamp your website. Take a look at the content and start removing references to the company. Get rid of words like we, us, and our and instead include words like you and your. Instead of focusing on what makes your company special, focus on what a customer needs and wants. This doesn’t mean that you should change the information provided on the site, only the perspective from which it is presented. When you tell a customer all of the ways your product solves their problem, rather than all the innovative solutions you provide, it causes customers to perceive your company as caring. When customers perceive a company as putting their needs first they are more likely to choose them as a provider.

Marketing is all about perception and product. Creating the perception that you company is an industry leader, but not providing the service a customer expects from that level of provider, won’t win long term clients. Focus on providing excellent service, so that when your new, customer centric, marketing campaign brings in new clients you are able to meet their expectations.

Customers aren’t interested in what your company does, only on what it can do for them, to fix their problems. Give them the information they need to make a purchasing decision, based solely around their requirements. Let the customer drive the sales pitch. Give them the opportunity to explore what you provide based on their needs, and they will find the solution that fits and make a purchase. Keep all marketing targeted to give purchasers the information they need to find the products they want.

Optimizing a Web Page without Resorting to Black Hat Methods

SEO (search engine optimization) can be difficult to manage. There are so many parts and pieces that intertwine to create a solid SEO business practice that doesn’t violate search engine policies, it can be difficult to keep track. This is especially true with search engines such as Google continuously changing the algorithms that they use to detect duplicate content or other items that that they do not consider worthwhile. SEO is important to businesses since it determines the page rank of websites. A properly optimized site is ranked and indexed by major search engines such as Yahoo, Google or Bing and will begin showing in search results. The trick is to get the optimized website to show on the first page without spending thousands of dollars.

The first tip for getting a website to jump to the first page of search results is to choose niche keywords. Highly focused keywords have less competition, so creating a site that will show up first for those keywords is fairly easy. Once you have chosen your niche keywords, there are some things you should remember about content. First, keyword density should never be greater than 4% in your content. That means that the key word should not be used more than four times for every hundred words. If the keyword is a long-tail, consider keeping it down to 2%. If a keyword exceeds that percentage it is considered keyword stuffing and many search engines will automatically reject sites suspected of using black hat SEO practices.

The second important thing to include is keywords in Meta tags. Always fill out the Meta tags and descriptions so that Search Engines can find and index your website. Meta tags should always include some basic information about the company and the meta keyword written in grammatically correct English. Always include the keyword in the title of the page. This will help it to be searched easily. Including the H1, H2, and H3 tags on your page will help to increase your ranking.

The third tip is all about content. Quality content is the key to not only driving traffic to your website, but also closing sales. Optimizing your site to the point where the only real information on it is all about keywords doesn’t create revenue. Ultimately, SEO is solely used to drive traffic to your website. From that point the content on the site must speak to customers and convince them to finalize a sale. Content should inform, instruct or amuse customers and engage them as much as possible. Incorporating expert articles on your website can be a great way to provide content to potential customers that will simultaneously build trust. When potential customers can see first hand that your company is an expert in its field they are more confident in doing business with you. The trick is to provide a wealth of information in such a way that it doesn’t overwhelm.

If you chose the right keywords and incorporate them at a rate of 2-4%, provide well written Meta tags and descriptions using your keyword, and have fabulous content, your website will become a success. Other methods of online marketing may drive traffic more quickly to your site, so also consider adding a social media piece to any marketing plan.

Facebook Free Traffic Tips: Do’s and Dont’s

In recent years, Facebook has emerged as one of the most visited sites in the world, amounting to hundreds of millions of visits per day. It would therefore be unwise for any serious marketer nowadays to ignore the wide reach and branding opportunities presented by this social networking site. However, although many online marketers are aware that Facebook has huge traffic potential for their individual businesses, very few networkers know precisely how to use this social network to their advantage.

First, you must know what methods do NOT work on Facebook. If you learn to identify and avoid these marketing mistakes, you will be one step closer to your goal of driving traffic from the world’s currently largest social network.

The ultimate traffic method that you should avoid is spamming. Adding random user profiles is a huge no-no on Facebook, and can actually result in your account getting banned. Another thing you should avoid is constantly sending “sales” messages to your friend list, hoping they will click on your link. These two things are what desperate marketers do, so don’t do them. Instead, you should employ a Facebook traffic building strategy that is ethical, effective, has the ability to build relationships, and most important of all, SEO friendly.

Your quest for Facebook traffic starts when you build your “fan page”, or quite simply, your Facebook page. Your Facebook page allows you to brand yourself, connect with people who like you and your offer, and also to follow up with masses of people at the click of a mouse. It would take an entire book, course, or manual to know everything there is to know about building facebook fan pages. However, when you create your fan page, you should put these three questions on your mind:

1. Does my Facebook page accurately represent who I am and what I do? If your page doesn’t give an accurate representation of who you are as a marketer and what precisely you can offer to the web visitor, then it is very easy for viewers to leave and check out something else.

2. Does my page effectively link to my site and is target rich? This is important because fan pages on this social network appear in search results. Therefore you must strategically optimize your fan page for keywords you want to rank for.

3. Does my page capture the interest of my target audience quickly? People tend to browse fan pages very quickly, as there are hundreds of others competing for their attention. Therefore, the look, feel, design and content of your fan page should be interesting enough to keep your visitors reading. Furthermore, the status updates you post must be interesting enough so that people will want to come back and check on the stuff that you post.

If you keep these three things in mind when you create and develop your Facebook fan page, you will be well on your way to attracting more viewers and get more free traffic to your site.

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