Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

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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.

Does Your Site Use Intrusive Interstitials? Better Not!

Why you need to avoid intrusive interstitials

What’s an Interstitial?

An interstitial is an ad that appears in between two pages. Sometimes they can appear before the home page on your site. Often interstitials are pop-up ads, but sometimes they will be helpful, like an offer to chat with a live person. An interstitial ad is a form of interruption marketing used by advertisers who want their ads to be more like broadcast ads.

Many interstitials are just fine. But you want to be  sure your interstitials aren’t intrusive.

Examples of intrusive interstitial's that can generate a Google ranking penalty.

What’s wrong with an intrusive interstitial?

An intrusive interstitial or pop-up ad is one that annoyingly blocks all or most of a page. This is more problematic on mobile sites where there’s much less screen real estate. With less room on the screen it’s very easy for an interstitial to be considered intrusive.

One thing intrusive interstitials do is that they annoy your visitors. That’s a bad thing in and of itself, especially if it’s annoying enough to drive the visitor away. They also slow down the loading of your site because it’s extra material to download into a phone or browser.

Why is it important to avoid them?

It’s been well known for years that Google favors fast sites. If your interstitial is slowing down the display of your pages, that might hurt your ranking. But even beyond that, Google hates them. Google announced about a year and a half ago that at the beginning of 2017 intrusive interstitials would negatively affect your ranking. And here at  Rank Magic we are always concerned about the health of your rankings.

A few exceptions

Google has identified three types of interstitials that “would not be affected by the new signal” if “used responsibly.”

  • Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
  • Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
  • Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app-install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.

Please join the conversation and share your observations in the Comments section below.

If you’re struggling with your online visibility, please call us. Because at Rank Magic, we can fix that!

Is It Time to Abandon Flash?

It's time to abandon flash content on your site.Do you really need to get rid of flash on your site?

[There’s an update below as of May, 2020]

I’ve written about the demise of Flash in this blog as long as 10 years ago. It’s been a slow process, but it looks like it’s finally on its death bed.

The news is not good.

Recent news about the Adobe Flash platform for audio and video web content is not good. Google says it’s working hard to “make sure the web is ready to be Flash-free.” Already by default Flash doesn’t work on mobile or Chrome and having it on your site may be a negative ranking factor as a result.

Flash is undeniably on the way out. Adobe will stop supporting Flash at the end of 2020. According to Mozilla in July,

This morning, Adobe announced its roadmap to stop supporting Flash at the end of 2020. Working with Adobe and other browser vendors, Mozilla has prepared a roadmap for Flash support in Firefox, and guides for site authors to make their final transition away from Flash technology.

Bolstering that, Microsoft wrote an article entitled “The End of an Era – Next Steps for Adobe Flash”, saying

We will phase out Flash from Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer, culminating in the removal of Flash from Windows entirely by the end of 2020.

Does that mean we have until 2020 to remove Flash content?

Ominously, The Verge predicts

Google is making HTML5 the preferred and default way to display website content in a change that’ll take place over the next couple of months. This means that unless a website has an HTML5 content player, video content will not automatically display. All Flash content will be blocked, unless users manually enable it on a site-by-site basis. [Emphasis added]

HTML5 is the new standard for video content on websites.Adobe has reportedly ceased development of Flash for all mobile devices, so industry watchers like LifeWire agree that it’s close to 100% certain that Flash will never be available on the iPhone. If you want your audio, video or animations to work on an iPhone, Flash is out of the question.

The Google Play store isn’t supporting Flash for Android devices. That means that if you install a Flash player from elsewhere for your phone you won’t be able to get any bug fixes or updates .

And as if to put a final nail in the coffin, Forbes has a recent article entitled “The Death Of Adobe Flash Is Long Overdue”.

Where to now?

If you have Flash content on your site, it’s time to ask your webmaster about converting it to HTML5.

[Update: Mozilla plans to drop Flash support in Firefox 84 (December 2020)]

If you’ve made that transition on your own site, please share your experience with us in the comments below.

 

The Value of Online Reviews (Infographic)

9 of 10 people trust online reviews.

Everything you want to know about online reviews — and then some

Online reviews are playing an increasing role in both search engine visibility and in customer buying behavior. We’ve written about this recently in terms of the value of online reviews for small businesses.

Thanks to some research by the folks at WebsiteBuilder.org, the following infographic compiles lots of the latest information about the value of online reviews.

Do you have trouble getting online reviews?

Getting good online reviews isn’t as easy as it sounds. People who are unhappy are super-motivated to leave a nasty review while people who are happy … are just happy. Often they aren’t particularly motivated to give a review.

If your reviews are somewhat anemic, Rank Magic can help!

We welcome your input to the conversation – leave a comment below.

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8 Small Business SEO Essentials You Need to Understand

How You Can Compete With the Big Boys

Learning about SEO is an investment in your business.Large companies and national franchises have an obvious edge in search visibility over your small business.

  • They have thousands of inbound links giving them authority or importance on the web.
  • They have a budget for SEO that probably far exceeds your own.
  • Their websites have more pages and deeper content than you can afford to create.
  • At least some of them are bound to have been around longer than your company has.

But that doesn’t have to stop you.

SEO is no longer just about who’s been on the web longer, who has more pages on their website, or even who has the most links. It’s about which web page has the most relevance to what was searched and who has the best answer for the searcher’s question.

You can do this.

Here are eight things for you to understand and put in place on your site.

1) Focus on Quality Content

If you sell products, you need to go beyond the manufacturer’s stock product description that everyone has on their website. Add valuable information about how to choose the right product or what extra value you offer that makes your company the smart choice to buy from.

If you sell a service, explain your Unique Selling Proposition: what sets you apart from your run-of-the-mill competitor? What questions should a customer ask to tell if the company they’re considering is the best?

Provide extra value to the searcher in your content and you’ll be rewarded with higher rankings.

2) Backlinks are Essential

Link Popularity — the number and quality of other sites that link to yours — is an essential tie-breaker for search rankings. Google doesn’t want to show lousy web sites on the first page, and the more other web sites think you’re good enough to link to, the better search engines assume you must be.

Backlinks are essential to good search rankings.Quality is more important than quantity here; sites with a good authority or importance themselves bequeath more value to you via their links. The more important sites that link to yours, the higher is your Domain Authority or importance on the web.

Relevance is also a factor: a site that’s related to you is a more valuable link than one that’s not. Links from sites in similar businesses or in the same Chamber of Commerce or professional association tend to count more than sites that aren’t.

If two web pages address a given search equally well, the one with a higher level of importance on the web will almost always outrank the other one.

[Update 1/4/2020:] The folks at T-Ranks have published a thorough article on How To Get Backlinks.

3) Don’t Try to Fool Google

So-called Black Hat SEOs have tried for years to fool Google into ranking websites higher than they deserve. And sometimes their tricks work — for a little while. But when Google catches them their clients suffer.

Don’t do it. It’s as simple as that.

4) Take Advantage of the Long Tail

Long tail distributionThe term long tail refers to the ends of a normal distribution bell curve.

The head portion represents the more generic searches people use: shoes, plumber, lawyer, restaurant.

The long tail portion represents more specific searches that aren’t searched nearly as often: women’s Muk Luk boots, plumber in Morristown NJ, criminal defense lawyer in San Diego, Mexican restaurant in Fargo.

Competition is much less for long tail keywords and your chance of ranking well is vastly improved.

5) Leverage Local SEO

If you’re a local business that interacts with your customers on a face-to-face basis, you need to take advantage of Local SEO opportunities. Google recently explained how to improve your rankings for local search. The three main factors for local search rankings are:

Increase your local visibility on Google.

  1. Relevance — how closely your content matches the searcher’s intent
  2. Distance — how local you are to the search being conducted
  3. Prominence — how widely known you are based on SEO rankings and information Google has on you from reviews, links, and listings in local directories, maps and apps.

You handle relevance through your normal SEO process of keyword selection and keyword-focused content. Distance requires that your pages include your address. Prominence is a bit more challenging in that there are dozens of directories and other locally-focused websites you need to be listed on. That brings us to the next item:

6) You Need Widespread and Consistent Citations

Some of the sites in PowerListingsIf you show up in lots of local sites with a consistent NAP (name, address, phone), search engines have a higher degree of trust about who you are and where you’re located. If you don’t show up, there’s less trust and that translates into lower rankings. Also, if you’re listed inconsistently with previous addresses on some sites, variations of your company name,  or bad/old phone numbers there’s less trust as well.

You need to make sure you’re listed correctly on as many of these sites as possible. We have a product called PowerListings that automates that for you and locks in your information. You can learn more about PowerListings here.

7) Achieve Freshness on Your Blog

There are lots of ways a blog helps you rank well in search engines.Having fresh content on your site encourages the search engines to visit more often and helps with your rankings. But beware of people who tell you to change or freshen up the content on your optimized pages. In our experience that’s likely to de-optimize your pages and hurt your rankings.

Instead, host a blog on your site and write informative content for your target market at least monthly, Weekly may be better if you can manage it. That’s all the fresh content you need, and it provides you with an opportunity to share your blog posts on social media and an email newsletter.

8) The Value of Google+ and +1 Signals

Google's G logoYou probably know that you need a Facebook page and perhaps a Twitter account. But lots of small businesses ignore Google+ and that’s a mistake. If you have a strong, active Google+ presence you’re likely to earn +1s. They’re similar to Facebook Likes. The folks at Moz noted that next to your web authority, the number of Google +1s is most highly correlated with great search rankings.

In addition, links back to your web pages from Google+ carry more weight than links from Facebook and Twitter because they’re the only ones that convey actual PageRank value.

Update May 2019: Sad to say, Google+ never lived up to its potential and is being discontinued as of October, 2019.

Rank Magic can help!

We’re the small business SEO experts.

We focus on what I call “small and very small businesses” and we address all eight of these factors and much more for our clients. We recognize that as a small business owner you have your hands full with running your business and have little time to spend paying attention to all of your marketing efforts.

Please give us a call to discuss your website. I’ll be happy to personally look at your site with you and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses so you can determine if we’re a good match for what you need.

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