Write how your (web) audience writes

a chart to describe the search engine market

Image via Wikipedia

No, I don’t mean sloppily or with bad grammar. For pity’s sake.

I do mean that you want to infuse your web site with the kind of verbiage your potential customers use when they look for your services. If you think they enter “great motel within walking distance of downtown,” then that’s the copy you need to put on your web page(s). “Near downtown” or “close to the mall” won’t do it if that’s not what your audience is searching for.

This news always seems to come as a surprise to my clients. I tell them, if you want to be found, write how your audience writes.

A couple of months ago one of my clients sent me a heated email. “You don’t write a headline as a sentence!” he snipped. Well, maybe not. But maybe you do if it helps you get customers. And in Google‘s (the 600-pound gorilla) world, writing the sentence “I need help with my taxes” in a headline counts for more than the same exact phrase in body copy.

And, note that this copy is written in the first person. People don’t search for phrases such as “Do you need help with your taxes?” Their searches are about THEM. So if you want to come up high in the search engine results pages (SERPs), pay some attention to THEM and their concerns.

In the copy I’d written for my client, I had said something like:

*****

“I need help with my taxes.” (headline)

Is this something you say every year around April 15?

*****

You get the idea.

But don’t overdo it.

You wouldn’t want to write something like this: “Every year, people say to themselves, “I need help with my taxes.” If I needed help with my taxes, I’d call a professional. Because when I need help with my taxes … (etc.).

Your copy has to sound natural, or you’ll lose your audience.

How do you determine your best search phrases? A good place to start is with your (successful) competition. If you have software that checks on key word placement, use it. The results may surprise you, and in a good way.

Happy keywording!

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Your web site is alive

Your web site is aliveYour web site responds to attention and nurturing just like any living being. The more attention you give it, the better your search engine rankings.

You see, Google (and this is the 400-pound gorilla to pay attention to) figures that the more attention you give your web site, the fresher your information and the more useful your web site will be to people.

So, if you do nothing else to your web site other than spruce it up once a week, you’ll rank higher in search engine results than your (similar) competitor who hasn’t tweaked a page all year.

Here are some easy things you can do to freshen up your existing web site:

  1. Revise wording. Trim wording and make sure the important content is within the first couple of sentences. Use subheads with your keywords. Pick a blog and make sure it’s up to date. Things change, and maybe your understanding of a subject changes. Maybe keyword popularity changes. I have a client who’s a landscaper and hardscaper. There’s always something new we can tweak re: technology or plants. Or something else.
  2. Add SEO-friendly wording. A look at your competitors’ web sites may give you an idea of words and phrases that work. Or go to Google AdWords and run your own test. If you have questions, call me. I can make this process easy for you. 410.404.5559.
  3. Upload pictures. Pictures will also help to keep people on your web site (we also call this “stickiness”).
  4. Include additional downloadable information. Google looks very favorably upon .pdfs, for instance. When it sees you offering .pdfs, Google figures you want to help educate people, and education is tops on Google’s list.
  5. Start a blog. If you have a wordsmith on your staff, this is a no-brainer toward higher search engine results. Just address industry topics in simple, understandable terms. If you don’t have a wordsmith, you can still blog. Quote industry publications (giving credit, of course). Upload photographs of your products. Take questions from your public, and answer them.

There is plenty more that you can do to continually freshen your site. For now, aim to do a little something every week. And watch your stats go up. Oh, you do have a free Google Analytics account, don’t you? And a Google Business page?

Web harvest — some random items

A Picture of a eBook

Ebook

Today’s web harvest: some random items

People wonder what I do at my desk all day, when they see me pop up on Facebook and Twitter.

Research, I tell them.

And today’s harvest has been remarkable:

  • A WordPress widget that can turn your blog into an electronic book. Really. It can’t tell good from bad writing, of course, but it can help you format it professionally and get it ready for sale on Amazon.
  • Anthologize, made by George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media. Bravo.

What have you found on the Internet today?

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