Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Archive for the copywriting Category

Your Website Needs Calls to Action!

This Buy Now button is a clear call to action.

Not having calls to action (CTAs) is one of the ten most common SEO mistakes small business owners make.

What’s a Call to Action?

An Add To Cart call to action buton is essential on any product or service "Buy" pageA CTA is a direction that asks or tells your reader to do something. It’s an image or line of text that prompts your reader to take an action, like download, buy, learn, request, sign up, subscribe, join, phone, ask, get help …

Why are CTAs important?

If you want people to comment on your blog posts, you nered to encourage that with a callo to action button like this one.

Do you want more orders? More inquiries from potential customers? How about more readers for your blog? More social shares? None of that is likely to happen without good calls to action.

If you’ve ever ordered a fast food burger, you were almost certainly asked “Do you want fries with that?” That’s a call to action, and it sells a lot more fries than if they don’t ask.

This call to action button for downloading something is more effective with nearby text extolling the valkue of the download.

It’s a very important part of getting your website visitors to convert into customers, and it’s often overlooked in writing website content. A call to action can determine whether or not a visitor on your website does what you want them to.

Small Business Trends claims that 70% of small business websites lack a call to action.

And customers actually expect them. When they get to a breaking point in a page or reach the bottom, they often look for direction to help them move on to the next step – whatever that is.

How to create and use Calls to Action

There are a few guidelines for effective use of CTAs. Here are what I consider to be the most important of them.

  • Almost all of your marketing content needs calls to action:
    • brochures
    • emails
    • blog posts
    • web pages
    • coupons
    • print ads
  • Get more subscribers with a CTA like this.Make them brief. Occasionally for SEO purposes, a call to action may be longer for the sake of including keywords, but in general they tend to work better if they’re brief.
  • Make them clear – ambiguous CTAs don’t work.
  • Demonstrate a benefit. Give your readers a reason to take the action you want them to take.
  • It never hurts to emphasize that something is FREE!
  • Use strong action verbs:
    • Download
    • Buy
    • Sign up
    • Subscribe
    • Join
    • Get Started
    • Call Now
    • Ask Us
    • Get Help
  • Wherever possible, avoid weak directions like “click here” or “learn more”.
  • Make your CTA as specific as possible:
    • Download my E- book
    • Call to talk with us
    • Sign up for our email newsletter
    • Ask us a question
  • Make your call to action stand out visually on the page.
  • The best locations are at the end of a blog post or web page, in between separate topics on a page, in a side panel, or in a pop-up or slide-in.

Some in-depth reading

The Daily Egg has a nice article on examples that work.

Neil Patel suggests avoiding CTAs like Sign up — Buy now — Learn more. He offers some detailed advice on how to write calls to action that are more likely to convert visitors to customers.

And here are a few CTA’s of our own:

We welcome your opinion. Join the conversation in the Comments below!

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Need more traffic so more customers can see and respond to your Calls to Action? Rank Magic can help! Ask me how.

The Top 7 SEO Things Small Businesses Screw Up

SEO mistakes are easy to make.SEO Mistakes Are Easy

Owners of small (and very small) businesses are usually highly skilled in what they do. But they often have insufficient experience with SEO. Despite our company name, there’s no “magic” in SEO, but it’s not intrinsically obvious either. I hope it’s helpful for you to know these pitfalls.

The Top 7 Things Small Business Owners Screw Up

1) Not starting SEO soon enough

Start your SEO as soon as possible.It’s very common for small business owners to recognize very early on that a website is indispensable to their business. They will often spend a great deal of time and effort in creating a website that is robust, full-featured, attractive, and even sexy. Often it will include a blog with months or years of laboriously crafted information.

But without SEO, all of that information may be inaccessible to potential customers. It’s like a Billboard in the Woods. Want to find out if your site is a Billboard in the Woods? Conduct a simple test.

Once you realize that your beautiful website can’t be found, SEO becomes a priority. And at that point, it may require you to make major changes in your website design, structure, and content. The sooner you start your SEO, the less work you’ll have to re-do on your site.

2) Writing for Google

Google's G logoYour audience is people: current and future customers or clients. But out of zeal to achieve high visibility in Google, many small business owners focus on Google instead of on their customers.

That can result in practices that violate Google’s standards, like creating doorway pages. It’s always a bad idea to try to fool Google into ranking you higher than you deserve. But even without that, thinking too much about Google and too little about your customers often results in content that goes overboard in terms of keyword inclusion.

Keyword stuffing makes a web page read awkwardly and creates a poor user experience which may well drive people away. A few years ago in Google’s Penguin algorithm update, they specifically focused on penalizing keyword stuffing.

3) Not understanding the customer

As business owners, we’re always focusing on what we do and the advantages or features of our products and services. It’s natural to write about that on our websites.

But that misses the point.

Don't put your customer tyo sleep by emphasizing features instead iof benefits.Customers don’t care what the features are; they care about what it will do for them. To get customer to buy from you or patronize your services, you need to explain what’s in it for them. What benefits you offer, not what features you have built into your products or services.

It’s also important to write with a customer focus in mind. If your web pages talk all about what “I” or “we” can do, it misses the marketing message. Your web content needs to talk about whatever desire, pain point, or purpose the customer has in conducting the search that brought him or her to your website. Good marketing copy is YOU-focused, not ME-focused.

4) Choosing unachievable keywords

Some keywords are dominated by big, national companies.It’s natural to want to focus your SEO on search phrases that people search for a great deal. Optimizing for a phrase that people search for hundreds of thousands of times a month instead of phrases that people search for 20 or 30 times a month. The problem with that is that such keyword phrases are usually way too competitive for a small business to compete with.

On the bell curve, keyword phrases that fall in the middle of the curve get the most searches, but are also the most competitive. Long tail keyword phrases — those out near the edges of the curve — can be finely tuned to focus on your unique selling proposition and good rankings are much more achievable for them.

Don’t optimized for car repair. Optimize instead for brake repair. And transmission repair. And each of your auto services. Even better might be to optimize for brake repair in [your town or county].

Don’t optimize for New Jersey lawyer. Optimized instead for New Jersey workers compensation lawyer. Or New Jersey child support lawyer. Or NJ real estate attorney.

5) Not writing enough

Copywriting for marketing and SEO is a valuable skill.Too often small business owners want to keep their pages short and “punchy”. You may recognize that people don’t have the patience to read a great deal of content. The Internet expression TL:DR has become popular lately. It means “Too Long: Didn’t Read”.

The mistake here is that people don’t read a web page the way they read a novel. They scan or skim, looking for subheadings to find the morsels that they are particularly interested in. If your copy is constructed well with frequent subheadings, it won’t be intimidating to the visitor on your site. And they can find what they need to know easily.

Beyond that, though, if you’re optimizing a page for two or three different but related keyword phrases, you need at least 300 words of copy to help Google understand what the page is all about. To include those keywords  on the page enough with fewer than about 300 words inevitably requires you to do keyword stuffing.

6) Having a single Services page

List of ServicesThis is a critical error I see a lot. In order to present the website from growing too large, a business will include a  page titled Services. On that page they may have a bulleted list of all the different things that they do, possibly with a sentence or two of description about each of them.

If a page is about everything you do, it can’t possibly be “all about” any one thing that you do. Let’s say your car repair shop does transmission repairs. If that is only one item out of a bullet list of a dozen or two services you offer,  Google is never going to want to show that page to somebody who’s looking for a transmission repair shop.

If, however, each item listed on your Services page links to another page that is truly all about that specific service, those are the pages that Google will like.

7) Forgetting about the code

Craft your meta description carefully.This is understandable. As a small business owner, you probably know little about HTML code — the computer code that tells a browser or phone how to display your page — and care about it even less. But there are certain things in the HTML code which the visitor to your site never sees but have a critical role in your SEO.

The page title tag is the most powerful place to have keyword phrases appear. That’s in the code; it’s not the main headline on your page.

The description meta tag often appears as a snippet in the search engine results even though it doesn’t appear on your visible web page. That can play significant role in whether someone clicks on your listing in Google or one of the listings below you.

There are a lot of coding techniques that can help your SEO. You ignore them at your peril.

8) Failing to monitor results

Google rankings can suffer unexpectedly.Your search rankings are going to bounce around a bit, and that’s inevitable. But if you’re not paying attention to them, and your rankings begin to slide, you may not notice it in your revenue numbers until much later. You should always monitor your rankings, your web authority, your competitive position, your social media presence, and your citations across the web. It’s also important to run periodic site crawls to reveal whether Google or other search engines are running into difficulty understanding what’s on your website.

Sometimes changes in Google’s ranking algorithms can begin to hurt you even though everything you have done up to that point is effective. For example:

  • Having a mobile-friendly website that’s easy to use on a phone was unimportant just a few years ago. Today it’s critical, and is a ranking factor at Google.
  • We didn’t used to pay too much attention to how quickly a web page loads in a browser, but now slow pages can hurt your rankings.
  • A few years ago, secure websites with URLs starting with HTTPS only applied to websites that collected personal information like credit cards and email addresses. No longer. Secure websites now enjoy a boost in rankings compared to those that are not secure.

As a small business owner, you can’t be expected to stay on top of every change in how Google ranks websites, but if you monitor your results you’ll know when something is going wrong. Only then can you take steps to fix it.

Rank Magic can help!

That’s rather a lot of stuff to be aware of and to deal with. And as a small business owner we know you have your hands full just running your business. That’s where Rank Magic can help.

If you’d like us to explore your website over the phone with you and highlight any problem areas you may not be aware of,  just give us a call. The call is free, but the advice can be priceless.

We welcome your opinion. Join the conversation in the Comments below!

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10 SEO Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Small business SEO isn’t obvious

SEO is not magic. We explain 10 common small business SEO mistakes.I often explain that despite the “Magic” in our company name, SEO isn’t magic, and there really should be no secrets about how it works. Nevertheless, it does require a little shift in how you think about your website to understand what works and why. Small business SEO mistakes can be pretty easily avoided if you know what they are.

Startups and small business owners, especially those with cash flow concerns, often try to do things for themselves. We found that there are some common SEO mistakes that small businesses make which are easily avoidable. Here’s a list of the top ten things small business owners often mess up when trying to do SEO. (Needless to say, if you want or need professional help in optimizing your site without making these errors, Rank Magic is here to help.)

Much of what follows comes with a tip of the hat to the folks at Search Engine Watch; if you’d like to read a bit more about this from their perspective, here’s their article on the subject.

Ten SEO mistakes that small businesses make

Neither are some of these ten common mistakes

1) Waiting too long

Small business owners often spend months or years designing their websites and creating content. Without an SEO strategy in place from the beginning, they often find their efforts to be sub- optimal. When they come late to the SEO process, very often much of what they have worked on so diligently on the website needs to be redone in accordance with SEO best practices. The best time to start SEO is when you start designing (or redesigning) your website. This may be the single most common small business SEO mistake.

2) Avoiding low-competition keywords

It’s easy to think that you should focus on the keyword phrases everyone is searching for all the time. It feels like a waste of time to optimize for niche keyword phrases that receive fewer searches. But for a new business or a new website, the reverse is actually true. It takes months and years to develop the online authority to rank highly for those keyword phrases – you may be trying to compete with Amazon or Wayfair or Costco for those super-high volume keyword phrases. They’re the most competitive.

Optimizing for appropriate low competition keyword phrases is easier and much more likely to result in success over the shorter term.

For local businesses, niche keyword phrases might include a county, town, or neighborhood. Think electrician on the upper East Side or Indian restaurant in Morristown. Those kinds of keyword phrases narrow your competition dramatically and make it much easier to achieve first page rankings. At Rank Magic, we do extensive keyword research and analysis for our clients.

3) Optimizing for Google instead of the customer

Design for humans, not Google.Just about anything you do on a website specifically for Google, is likely to fail to address the needs of your customers. As Google has improved over the years, it’s gotten very smart about identifying websites that are helpful to users as opposed to being focused just on Google. It’s important to bear in mind that the user experience on a website is a ranking factor at Google.

4) Ignoring or avoiding long-tail keywords

Long-tail keyword phrasesLong tail keywords are easier to rank for. are more precisely focused on your products or services than more general terms. A new plumbing company may optimize for the keyword plumbing.  But most people searching for that phrase are looking for general information about plumbing — or perhaps jobs in the plumbing industry — rather than looking to hire a local plumber. The keyword plumbing services receives fewer searches per month but is much more closely focused on the needs of the plumber’s customers. An even longer-term phrase for one of this company’s services might be sump pump repair or sump pump leak. Our new plumbing company is likely to have much better success with these long-tail phrases.

5) Ignoring the code

I see this often, especially with new businesses that have tried to create their own website using one of those do-it-yourself sites like GoDaddy or Yahoo Site Builder. The code that runs the website is not visible on the page and is easy to ignore. But that code includes lots of information critical to search rankings and to conversions once you do show up in a search. Things like

Meta tags are in the HTML code that runs your site and they tell search engines about your page.

  • The page title, which shows up as the headline of your listing in Google,
  • The meta-description tag, which often shows up as part of your listing in Google,
  • Page and image file names,
  • Image alternate text,
  • URL structure and more.

These items all relate to the underlying code of your web pages which either A) help Google understand what the page is about and the value it offers or B) contribute to the likelihood of someone clicking on your listing when it shows up in Google.

6) Keyword stuffing

The now-ancient practice of keyword stuffing involves using a keyword phrase over-abundantly on the page in the hopes that it will convince Google the page is really, really, really about that phrase.

It doesn’t work. And it makes the user experience on the page really crappy, driving people away instead of converting them to paying customers. This is a small business SEO mistake that was usually made many years ago and has just never been fixed. If it applies to you, it’s time to fix it.

7) Forgetting internal links

Once you have people on your site, you want them to stay long enough and learn enough about you so they want to do business with you. Internal links – links among the various pages on your site foster those more extensive visits on your site.

8) Not measuring results

This chart of search traffic is an example of result tracking.You need to know if your efforts are working or not. If they’re not helping, you know you need to change things. How are your search rankings doing over time? How much traffic are you getting from search? Is it improving? You need to know this. Rank Magic provides extensive reporting to our clients on the essential things they need to know but if you’re not a client of ours you should take steps to track results yourself.

9) Focusing on features instead of benefits

You’re enmeshed in your business and are proud of the features of your products or services. Small businesses often get bogged down in the details of those features and go on at length about them.

Guess what? No one cares.

Your customer cares about benefits, not features. They want to know how you can address their concern or relieve their problem. They won’t search for a high tech toilet float valve — they want you to stop their leaky toilet.

This is one of those SEO mistakes that small businesses make that requires you to change your perspective about what to tell people about your business.

Learn more about customer-focus in this blog post.

10) Forgetting about calls to action

Order a hamburger at any fast food restaurant and I’ll bet the person taking your order asks “You want fries with that?” They sell a lot more fries because they ask. That’s known as a call to action.

This Buy Now button is a clear call to action.We all think our website copy is going to make us irresistible and will make users reach out to us without us having to ask. We’re delusional about that.

What do you want your website users to do? Buy something? Call for an appointment? Subscribe to your newsletter? Ask them.

To finish up this post, here are a few examples of calls to action:

If your small business is not ranking well and bringing in customers — Rank Magic can fix that!

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We welcome your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Why hire a professional copywriter? One word: Conversions

Not sure of the value of a professional copywriter?

Copywriters create cintent your customers will love.Everybody thinks they can write, and to a degree they have a point. Anyone can write. Most people can add, too, and know how to use scissors. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re equipped to prepare their own tax return or cut their own hair.

As veteran copywriters, we’ve seen firsthand how poorly constructed writing can derail your communications and position your brand in a less than stellar light. Imagine an ad for an Ivy League college began with the headline, “You Can Never Have To Much Knowledge.” Readers would view the typo as a reflection of the school and the quality of the education they might receive. This is the type of mistake spell check doesn’t catch.

But effective copywriting is about much more than mechanics. Most businesses don’t know when it’s better to use short, snappy sentences versus long-form copy. Or how to incorporate keywords into a blog post to boost the chances it will rank in organic search. Or why headlines are more effective when you use sentence case rather than initial caps (another strike against our fictional Ivy League example).

Good news — an experienced copywriter knows all that and more, including how to boost conversion rates with targeted, high-value content. So, in the age of “content is king,” why should you hire one rather than do-it-yourself?

SEO rankings are heavily related to the quality of your content.Copywriters are a quick study.

A professional copywriter knows the ins and outs of writing for various industries and is skilled at quickly getting up to speed on a new subject. Regardless of the topic, we also know the right questions to ask to uncover valuable market differentiators and showcase your product or service in the best possible light.

We’re objective and persuasive.

Business owners are often so immersed in their product/service/industry, they find it hard to step back and be objective. As a result, you might not be doing your business any justice when it comes to writing content that generates leads and sales. It’s the copywriter’s job to get inside the head of your ideal customer, understand what motivates them to buy, and turn your product features into irresistible benefits.

Copywriters can help you make the most of your content budget.

Why hire a professional copywriter? Conversions!

Today’s copywriters don’t just write; we strategize ways to give you the most return for your content marketing investment. For example, you’d like to develop an e-book and a landing page to capture leads. But you may not think to craft each section of the e-book so it can also serve as a stand-alone blog post. Or turn a hefty research report into a series of quick-read infographics that appeal to more visual learners.

We understand the sales process.

Your content marketing should be leading prospects down the sales funnel — bringing them step-by-step closer to a purchase. By digging into how your buyers buy, we can produce content that answers questions and addresses concerns at the right time in the sales cycle. The result? Higher conversion rates.

Writers understand the power of language and storytelling.

Professional copywriting increases both readership and conversions.Do you know the words or phrases that can maximize response? Or that a single user story can be exponentially more memorable than a laundry list of features? From anecdotes and word play to sentence structure and even punctuation, clever content strategies are second nature to experienced copywriters — and we can implement these tricks of the trade to engage your customers and build your brand.

We leave the grammar mistakes to the amateurs.

Whether it’s a typo, a mixed metaphor or random capitalization, even the most minor mistake can ruin your credibility. Most copywriters are also skilled proofreaders, so your marketing content is as flawless as it is persuasive.

There’s no doubt that creating and distributing consistent, high-value content is a significant commitment. But the value is clear — research from Aberdeen shows that those who become authorities based on content receive nearly 8X more site traffic than those who don’t.

The right copy partnership is a collaboration, helping you cost-effectively leverage your professional expertise without wasting countless hours crafting subject lines, calculating keyword density or writing compelling tweets. For us, it’s all in a day’s work — and lets you focus on what you do best.

About our guest blogger

Professional copywriter Lisa FahouryLisa Fahoury is Chief Creative Officer of Fahoury Ink, a New Jersey based content marketing agency that provides B2B and B2C content strategy and development services to mid-market companies. The former creative services manager for the New York Daily News, Fahoury is also an in-demand speaker and corporate trainer on content marketing. When she’s not creating content, she spends her down time  plotting to win the Pillsbury Bake-Off and convincing her husband that three cats really did seem like a good idea at the time.

Nailing Your Online Presence

 

Nailing Your Online Presence

Live presentation with breakout sessions
to answer your questions.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Nailing Your Online Presence presenters: Bill Treloar of Rank Magic, Patti Singer of Follow Me Social Media Consulting, Sue Toth of Editing & More by Sue, and Valerie Paik of TAG Online.

Website, Facebook, Content, Twitter, SEO – it’s just so much to master! If you’re having trouble making sense of your online presence, we can help.

The presentation will start with a panel discussion moderated by Walt Blau of Generic Brand Human/Ashland Studios, followed by small breakout sessions where each expert will spend time at each table answering specific questions. Come prepared with your questions about starting and maintaining a website, writing content that gets noticed, using SEO to land your company at the top of online searches, and gaining your prospects’ attention on social media.

Date:
Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Time:
8-10 am

Where:
Ashland Studios
343 New Road, Suite 3
Parsippany, NJ 07054

Fee:
$25 per person

RSVP:
Online at http://conta.cc/2bCq1p0
Pre-registration is required

For more info, please contact Bill Treloar at Rank Magic.

If you think friends or colleagues will be interested in this event, please share it with any of the buttons on the left. And if you think it warrants a Facebook Like or a Google +1, you’ll find buttons for those at the top.