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Dissecting the Anatomy of Quizzes as Content

Dissecting the Anatomy of Quizzes as Content

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post written by JP Misenas. JP is the Content Marketing Director and Audio/Visual Technician/Engineer at Interact.

Nowadays, Dissecting the Anatomy of Quizzes as Contentpeople have begun using quizzes as a form of content to enhance their brand’s strategy. The goal of content is to attract readers, but good content makes all the difference in the world when it comes to the volume of traffic it can attract.

You might be surprised to find out that quizzes aren’t just great for engaging audiences and boosting social traffic. In marketing, they’re also capable of driving revenue (depending on what your brand is marketing) and generating leads. But you might already know that.

Regardless, we’re here to help you create your own quiz.

At Interact, we’ve helped over 10,000 brands create over 25,000 quizzes, so it’s safe to say that we know a thing or two about creating them; however, there’s more to it than that. As a writer myself, I know that the success of a piece of content depends heavily on its quality.

Today, we’ll take a look at how to create your own quiz and, specifically, how to draft copy that’s engaging, clear, and highly shareable. We’ll dissect the entire creation process from the inside out so that you can create phenomenal content in the form of a quiz. So, what are we waiting for?

Coming Up with an Exciting Title that Attracts

There’s more to a title than most would think. The title of your quiz can say a great deal about its contents and about your brand. The title conveys what is to come, and when it comes to sharing your quiz later on, it’s the very first thing everyone will see.

If you want people to crowd around your quiz, you will want to come up with a title that not only attracts but also engages. What do we mean by that? We’re looking for a title that screams “Hey, this is something you’ll like. Take a look!”

Here are some templates that you can work with when coming up with a title for your quiz:

  • The “Challenge” Template – Did you know a question changes drastically when you add the word “actually” to it? For instance, take a look at the difference between “How Much Do You Know about Disney/Pixar Movies?” to “How Much Do You Actually Know about Disney/Pixar Movies?” It’s amazing how one word can transform a simple question into a challenge. Use this title template to see if your audience is up to the task. It’s got the perfect grab, and it generates a lot of buzz.
  • The “Which One Are You?” Template – You’ll probably come across this title often. These quizzes simply ask questions like “Which General Mills Cereal Are You?” They’re simple, fun, and straight to the point. Consider using this title to entice audiences into figuring out which one of something that they are. Take advantage of the fact that these are frequently shared on social media networks.
  • The “Which One Are You?” Template (Celebrity Remix) – Yep, you heard it. You can put a spin on a title template just by making it revolve around celebrities. Just like its predecessor, it prompts readers to find out who they are most like. The results are fun, and people tend to retake this quiz just to get a different outcome. Consider using this template for the same reason as the “Which One Are You?” template.

Which Fair Food is Made For You?

Picking the Right Type of Quiz for You

Once you’ve settled on a title that you think works best for you, it’s time to figure out what kind of quiz you want to create. “What?” you might ask. “There’s more than one kind?” You bet! There are two types of quizzes, so choose the one that you feel would be a perfect fit for your target audience:

  • The Personality Quiz – This type of quiz aims to compliment its taker, and the “self-serving bias” is what makes it so effective. It categorizes people into personalities based on their answers.
  • The Knowledge Test – This type of quiz challenges how much someone knows about a given subject and delivers results based on accuracy. It’s used as a method to gauge the knowledge of an audience and lets them know how well they did.

Who's Your Country Singer Soul Mate?

Creating the Perfect Questions for Engagement

Not many people know this, but the questions in a quiz are where you can establish a direct, one-on-one connection with your audience. This kind of engagement is amazing and is easily overlooked. In order for you to make the most out of the opportunity, here are some ways to craft the perfect quiz questions:

  • Inject Your Personality – Infusing who you are into your questions can go a long way with your audience. Approach them as if you were talking to them in person. This sets a more relaxed tone and allows your audience to get comfortable with you.
  • Make Use of Images – Creating a quiz isn’t just about asking questions; it’s about providing an experience that your audience will enjoy and remember. Including images makes your quiz much more engaging and can instantly transform it into a trivia game. The quiz is already fun, but there’s definitely no harm in making it even more fun.
  • Keep Things Simple – It’s a good idea to aim to include six to ten questions in your quiz. Keeping things short and simple will allow your audience to spend no more than two or three minutes on your quiz, which is just the right amount of time for most people.

Quiz Answer Example

Drafting an Effective Lead Capture

At the end of the day, most of us are focused on creating content that delivers results. If lead generation is your thing, gating your quiz with a lead capture form is the perfect way to obtain your audience’s contact information in exchange for their quiz results. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when optimizing the opt-in rate:

  • Be Honest about Your Marketing – Most lead captures will include a privacy policy. This is just to let your audience know what you’ll be doing with their information. Others include the option of skipping the lead capture form altogether.
  • Consider the Use of Incentives – There’s nothing wrong with offering a little value to your audience. If you want to increase the chances of your audience giving you their contact information, offer things like a free ebook, a personalized email with some advice, or maybe even an entry into a free giveaway. Be creative.
  • Don’t Ask for Too Much – Only ask for information that you’ll actually use. For instance, what’s the point in asking for a phone number if you’ll never call it?

Lead Capture Example

Delivering Highly Shareable Results

To complete your quiz, come up with results worth sharing. The kind of results you deliver to your audience is crucial to how viral your quiz will become. If you want people to share their results from your quiz, make sure you follow these tips:

  • Evoke Positive Emotions – You want your results to make people feel good. Positive emotions promote sharing, and vice versa, and no one ever posts results if these results suggest something unpleasant or unattractive. Be encouraging, but make sure that you also speak the truth.
  • Use Images Worth Sharing – In most cases, when people share results, an image appears when the post goes up. Be sure to use images that attract people’s attention so that they’ll be curious about your quiz and take it.
  • Include a Call-to-Action – It doesn’t hurt to include a link to your brand website, or maybe your products/services, in your results. Some marketers have even included links to relevant articles or landing pages, depending on the kind of quiz and the results given.

Quiz Result Example

Let’s Review What We’ve Learned

Today, we saw that there’s much more to a quiz than just coming up with a title, filling it up with questions, and generating results. Title creation requires a good amount of thought to ensure that it’s strong enough to captivate audiences, and the choice of the quiz type plays an important role, as well.

How you structure the questions in a quiz will also determine how engaging it is, and there are several ways to improve the opt-in rate if you’re in it for lead generation. Finally, creating results that get shared across the Internet will be the deciding factor in how popular your quiz becomes.

When creating your own quiz, put everything you’ve learned today into practice. Taking the time to flesh it out will be what turns boring content into great content. Aim to create something entertaining every time, and it will be worth implementing in your strategy.

Author JP Misenas

JP Misenas is the Content Marketing Director & Audio/Visual Technician/Engineer of Interact, a place for creating entertaining and engaging quizzes that generate email leads. He writes about innovative ways to connect with customers and to build professional, long-lasting relationships with them. Connect with him on Twitter @jollibeats or @tryinteract.

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Taking the First Page on Google with SEO Content Writing

Taking the First Page of Google

Taking the First Page of GoogleThere’s nothing worse than spending hours on content writing for your business’s website, only to then lose that content in the abyss that is the Internet. One of the most important parts of creating quality content is taking steps to ensure you have an audience to read it. Writing with SEO principles in mind can help you make sure that your articles aren’t lost in the sea of competing content.

Learn the SEO basics

Before you began marketing your business, you may never have heard about search engine optimization (SEO). That’s okay—most people haven’t. If you haven’t been trained in the basics of SEO, you may not know the best way to catch a search engine’s attention. What you need to do is educate yourself. Learn how to optimize your content so you get the highest number of hits per article possible. There’s lots of SEO information available online, and there are seminars you can attend and courses you can take to improve your SEO knowledge. Knowledge of the SEO basics will allow you to seamlessly incorporate keywords and phrases into your articles to help search engines find your content and your business.

Understand your market

Your SEO strategy will only be effective if you have a good understanding of the market you’re trying to attract. Because you’ll be working to attract your audience on a daily basis, you need to know as much about that audience as you can. Using consumer comment tools is a good way to learn about your readers. Take the feedback you receive from your audience, and use the best of it to ensure that you’re adapting your articles to the people reading them. Keeping your articles in tune with the needs and wants of your readers will help you attract and retain an even larger readership than you may have otherwise.

Focus on quality

Whether you outsource your editing needs or assign them to in-house workers, you should have editors checking your articles, blog posts, and other content for any potential errors. Your editing process should involve multiple sets of eyes looking at your content before you publish it. Quality always trumps quantity, especially when it comes to SEO content writing.

Image source: FirmBee/Pixabay.com

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Why Keyword Research Isn’t as Hard as You Think

Why Keyword Research Isn't as Hard as You ThinkResearch: You dreaded it in high school, you learned to loathe it during college or university, and you swore an oath to avoid it as much as possible after graduation. Now you’ve started your own business, and you’re working on optimizing your website for search engines. You can’t help but notice that the word “research” keeps creeping up everywhere. It’s not just any research—it’s keyword research, and you have no idea how to do it. You don’t want to know how to do it. You swore off formal research long ago, and you’re determined to stick to your convictions.

Well, my stubborn friend, it’s time to start breaking some oaths, because keyword research is an inevitable necessity of search engine optimization (SEO). Here is a simple guide to teach you how to do keyword research. I promise to make it seem as little like research as possible, though I do have to point out that your reading this article is actually research. (Sorry to burst your “keeping-my-oath-no-matter-what” bubble.)

Step 1: Use Common Sense

You’ve used a search engine before, right? Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last two decades (in which case I applaud your business aspirations), there’s no way you aren’t extremely familiar with search engines like Google. Because you already have lots of experience as a searcher, the initial stage of keyword research is easy. All you have to do is think about what you would search for if you were looking for content like the content you’re trying to optimize. So, first you need to pick the page(s) you’re optimizing.

Let’s start with an obvious one—your home page. If your company sells energy-efficient lightbulbs, your home page is basically going to say, “We sell this specific type of lightbulb because it’s better than other lightbulbs.” So, what would a searcher type in if they were looking for a company like yours that they didn’t yet know existed? Make a list of possible search terms. For example:

Keyword List Examples

You can also conduct keyword research before you write a blog post. Think broadly about the topic you’re hoping to write about. Again, make a list of possible words and phrases people could type to get them to a blog post about that topic. If you complete your keyword research before writing something, you can integrate those keywords more organically into your prose, which will help you avoid keyword stuffing (which is including keywords too frequently, making your writing sound awkward and unnatural).

Step 2: Start Your Research

Now that you have a general list of keywords to investigate further, you’re going to need to use a keyword tool. The most common tool for keyword research is the Google AdWords Keyword Planner. Plug the list of potential keywords and phrases you came up with in the first step into the Keyword Planner.

The first thing you need to look at is the average monthly search volume for each keyword or phrase you’ve searched. Discard low-volume keywords. You might also need to get rid of keywords with extremely high search volumes, especially if these words are not directly related to your page. For example, the keyword “lightbulb” will have a much higher search volume than “energy efficient lightbulbs,” but the latter will be more likely to attract the right kind of visitors to your site: visitors who are more likely to convert to leads and then to customers. Finally, check the level of competition for each search term; the higher the competition level, the less likely you are to rank high for that keyword.

Keyword Planner Example

Step 3: Check Out Your Competition

Okay, so you’ve narrowed your first list down according to search volume. You should have a considerably shorter list to work with now. The next step is to see what your competition is up to. This part is simple. Just search for each potential keyword and see what results you get. If the results page is dominated by major brands or giant companies, don’t use that keyword. You’re not going to beat gigantic brands for the top spot, and if your site never makes it into at least the top 10 of the search page results, no one is going to click on you. You’ll have better results if you use a less popular keyword but make it into the top results for that keyword.

The other thing you need to do in this stage is to ensure that your keyword or phrase means what you think it means. If your search term tends to get results about something completely unrelated to what your company is selling, you need a new keyword.

If you complete the third step and find none of your original keyword ideas work, never fear! Go back to the second step, and look at the keywords suggested by Keyword Planner. Then proceed to the third step again.

Step 4: The Final Step

Congratulations! You’ve learned how to do keyword research. The next step is integrating those keywords into your copy for maximum SEO benefits. Check out this article to learn where you can place those well-researched keywords you’ve decided to use.

Image source: felixioncool/Pixabay.com

 

Inklyo's free ebook, 17 SEO Myths You Should Stop Believing.

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The 12 Biggest Website Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

The 12 Biggest Website Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

The 12 Biggest Website Mistakes You Can Easily AvoidWebsites. These days, it seems like almost every business has one. From your favorite local sushi place to your tried-and-true bookstore, every business, big or small, can be found online. Businesses today need to have an online presence if they want to reach potential buyers. This presence includes having a variety of social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram—whatever will help leverage their website and reach the most people.

Your company’s website is its virtual storefront, and it often gives potential buyers their first impression of what your company has to offer. Websites aren’t just nice to have—they’re an integral part of your inbound marketing strategy and will help you turn visitors into customers. With a great website, you’ll be able to attract, educate, and convince visitors to buy your products or services.

So, you have a website and people know you exist—great. But simply having a website won’t cut it. You need to stand out, be easily accessible, and know how to optimize your pages. Your website is the key to your inbound marketing strategy, so you need to know what to do—and what not to do—to avoid making website mistakes that will cost you time, energy, and, ultimately, business. You get out what you put in, so to help you put the most in, this article will outline the 12 biggest website mistakes and how you can avoid making them. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to make mistakes; but if you do your research and follow these tips, you’ll be getting to the top of search engine rankings in no time.

So, what are the 12 biggest website mistakes?

Website Mistake #1: Not optimizing your website pages for searching.

Optimization is the act, process, or methodology of making something as perfect or functional as possible. In terms of the “inbound world,” website optimization mainly refers to SEO. What is SEO? It’s the process of making your website as functional as possible to get the most traffic on search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Just as described above, when your website is optimized, you’ll show up higher in search results, which will make people more likely to click on your website link. When optimizing your website, you’ll have to focus on using the right keywords, gaining quality inbound links, and employing other SEO tactics to get the top spot.

Website Mistake #2: Not optimizing your title tag and meta tags.

To truly optimize your website in terms of SEO, your title tag and meta tags must also be optimized. The title tag is an HTML element of a webpage that describes the content of the page. It’s one of the primary elements that search engine crawlers look at when evaluating that page’s relevance to a particular search term and when indexing pages. A meta tag is a line of code contained in the background of a webpage. Search engines look at meta tags to learn what a page is about. Both title tags and meta tags should contain keywords that will help increase your page ranking in search results.

Website Mistake #3: Not having any quality inbound links.

Website mistake #3: Not having any quality inbound links.According to HubSpot, an authority on inbound marketing and sales, “An inbound link is a link coming from another site to your own website. ‘Inbound’ is generally used by the person receiving the link.” Inbound links are necessary for search engine optimization (SEO) and referral traffic. The more inbound links you have, the higher your website will rank in search engine result pages. Think about it. When you search for something on Google, are you more likely to click the links at the top of the first page or the links on, say, page 5 or 15? I’m guessing it’s the links on the first page. This is why it’s so important to have quality inbound links; they will help get you the top spot in search results, making people much more likely to click on your page.

Website Mistake #4: Not having a professional, trustworthy design.

Now you have a website and traffic—yay! Your next order of business is to make sure these visitors stay long enough to consider buying your products or services. This means having a modern, professional, trustworthy website. As we mentioned earlier, your website gives potential buyers the first impression of your business, so it’s important to make it look good and reflect the quality of whatever you’re offering. Your website must look nice and be easy to navigate, so it’s important to be consistent with colors, images, layout, and navigation messaging. You want your website to have a certain flow to it, and going from one page to another or searching for things on your website should be seamless.

Website Mistake #5: Being more flashy than helpful.

On the same note as having a professional, trustworthy website with consistent design elements, you should also avoid being too flashy and over-the-top. The key is to strike a balance between form and function. While your website must look appealing and professional while being user friendly, it’s important not to make the mistake of going overboard with colors, images, fonts, and graphics. You don’t want to overwhelm your customers and scare them away; you want to invite them to explore (and stay on) your website. To avoid making this website mistake, focus on content first (that is, being helpful) and design second. While a pretty website might attract potential buyers, they won’t stay if there’s nothing of substance for them to take away.

Website Mistake #6: Not having a blog.

A blog is a great way to communicate with potential buyers and those browsing your website. Your blog should reflect the real, personable side of your business, and it should offer original, value-added content that can’t be found anywhere else. A blog is an additional way for you to complement your website and connect with your target audience. Having a blog allows you to:

  • create fresh content (and more pages of content), which is great for SEO;
  • become established as an industry authority and thought leader;
  • drive more traffic and leads back to your website;
  • converse and engage with your audience and customers; and
  • receive valuable inbound links.

The takeaway? Blog often (and not always about yourself), be transparent, and offer value-added content with each post. Be interesting, and show the real side of your business.

Website Mistake #7: Not answering the big questions: who, what, and why (and where, if needed).

You have a website to help answer your potential customers’ questions: who, what, and why (and where, if needed). You can’t just stick information on your pages with the hope that your message will make itself clear. You need to know your target audience and write for them. Furthermore, you need to know what you can help them with and why they need your products or services. They’ve come to your page for a reason, and your job is to offer a solution to whatever problem they’re having. But you can’t just answer one of these questions; you need to answer them all, and these answers need to work together to focus your potential buyers upon what you have to offer. Otherwise, potential buyers will leave your page once they realize they can’t find exactly what they’re looking for.

Website Mistake #8: Only selling instead of selling and educating.

Ah, here’s a big one. Today’s buyers want to be educated, not sold to. They don’t want products or services shoved in their faces. They want to know about what you’re selling and why your product or service is best suited to fill their needs. When they’re considering your product, they’re thinking, “What’s in it for me?” To tell them, you need to offer more than just product content on your website. While product content must be product-specific, you should also offer educational (and valuable) forms of content such as ebooks, videos, infographics, and other types of content that will nurture prospects through your marketing and sales funnel until they are ready to buy. These days, it’s about more than just a sales pitch; it’s about offering unique and valuable information as well.

Website Mistake #9: Using jargon and corporate gobbledygook.

You’ve heard the phrases: “think outside the box,” “ducks in a row,” “core competency,” “window of opportunity” . . . the list goes on. Gobbledygook is eye roll-inducing jargon language—terms and phrases—that has been overused and abused, thus rendering it meaningless. You know how annoying such terms and phrases are, so avoid using them on your website.

Website Mistake #10: Only using one form of content.

Only have a website with one type of content? Yikes! That’s simply not enough to reach your target audience and expand beyond them. Since you’re probably an avid consumer of various forms of media yourself, you know how interesting and engaging it can make content. You should be using multiple forms of content, including videos, images, and podcasts. Your goal is to reach a wide audience, and the best way to do so is to appeal to an array of different people. This means you need to include various forms of media on your website since simple webpages don’t appeal to everyone.

Website mistake #10: Only using one form of content.

Website Mistake #11: Making your website and its content static instead of dynamic.

Static websites are boring; they’re just not relevant to today’s Internet culture. They represent the bare minimum of what a website should be. They’re very basic and plain, maybe with a few Flash graphics and a campaign—not much to get excited about. On top of that, their content isn’t shareable, so it doesn’t go very far. These days, websites should integrate search, social media, content, and blogging. They should be multifaceted and create a positive and interactive user experience. The user should be able to do more, not less, than they were expecting to on your website. And since users want to be educated, you need to add variety and interest to the information you present to them. Traffic from blogs, social media, and organic and paid search results end up being converted into leads or sales on your main website, which is why having a dynamic website is so crucial.

Website Mistake #12: Being clever instead of clear.

When being dynamic, it’s important to ensure that you’re getting your point across clearly and not focusing simply on being clever. While being clever can help attract potential customers to your page, it won’t keep them there. They need clear information that will, again, help solve their problem and tell them why your product or service is the best for them. Being clear also helps you appear more trustworthy and professional, which will only improve your image in the minds of potential customers. While you can be both clever and clear, first and foremost, make sure your content is flawless, specific, and transparent—then add a touch of wittiness.

Image sources: Daria Nepriakhina/Stocksnap.io, Sylwia Bartyzel/Stocksnap.io, ADE2013/Shutterstock.com

Inklyo's free ebook, 25 Website Essentials For Boosting Traffic, Leads, And Sales.

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Uniting Search Engine Optimization with Useful Content

Uniting Search Engine Optimization with Useful Content

Uniting Search Engine Optimization with Useful ContentYou know you’ve got a great product, but how do you let the rest of the world know that too?

You build a website, of course, to explain why your product is so great. You do your research to find the best ways to sell goods and services on the Internet.

But all you find is a lot of contradictory information about online marketing. Half the web seems to say you need to apply all the tricks of search engine optimization, while the other half says you should focus on content to get your product noticed.

Search engines will certainly be a major source of traffic to your site, which makes it easy to see why search engine optimization is important. But, while employing the whole range of search engine optimization techniques might bring you visitors, all those potential customers will soon leave if all they find are pages stuffed with irrelevant keywords.

So, if search engine optimization and providing useful content both have their advantages, where should you concentrate your efforts?

The benefits of search engine optimization

Search engine robots crawl over your webpages gathering information about your site.

You can use many search engine optimization methods to direct these bots to the keywords and phrases on your pages and make the search engines aware of your content.

The search engines log this information, and when someone searches for keywords that occur often in your text, they will be directed to your site.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot to apply search engine optimization to your website, and it can work for you 24 hours a day.

The benefits of useful content

One of the great advantages of having a website in the first place is that people can find all the information about your product or service at any time. You don’t have to pay sales staff to cold call or set up a consumer service department to answer customer queries.

Your website, therefore, has to contain the right information. Your pages have to answer most, if not all, of the questions a customer might ask. If your customers cannot find the details they’re looking for, they will quickly go elsewhere. They will click on the second link the search engine provided, and then the third, and so on, till they find what they’re looking for. All that effort put into search engine optimization to make sure you appeared at the top of the search results will be wasted.

In other words, your content has to be useful to your customers, and it has to be relevant.

You don’t need to choose

The obvious answer is to apply search engine optimization techniques to a website full of useful content.

But that would appear to be easier said than done.

Many companies offer either search engine optimization or webpage content. Very few offer both.

The key to providing content that will serve your customers and search engine robots is simply to practice. Work on trying to naturally introduce relevant keywords into the right places in the text to give your customers the information they’re looking for.

Uniting useful content with proper search engine optimization can help you get to the top of the search results and keep your customers on the page when they arrive.

Image source: iqoncept/BigStockPhoto.com

25 Website Essentials For Boosting Traffic, Leads, And Sales

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What is Search Engine Optimization?

What is Search Engine Optimization

What is Search Engine OptimizationIf you’re new to doing business online, you’re probably asking yourself, “What is search engine optimization? Is it something I need for my website?”

The answer to the second question is an indisputable yes. Whether you write a blog celebrating the daily adventures of your Persian cat or you’re the webmaster for a multinational corporation, you want people to visit your website. The more visitors you get, the more success you’ll have with your website. But, with over 1.5 billion sites on the web, how will anyone find yours?

Search engines, such as Google Search, Bing, and Yahoo!, will almost certainly be a major source of traffic to your site. Since very few people click past the first page of search results, you need to make sure your site gets listed on the first page of results, as close to the top as possible. This is where search engine optimization can help. Now, let’s get back to the first question.

What is search engine optimization?

The answer to that first question takes a little more explanation. Let’s start by looking at how search engines work.

Search engines use a complex series of algorithms. They crawl through the web gathering information about the content of websites. When they find a page where certain words or phrases—keywords—are repeated often in the text, the search engines get an idea of what that site is about.

For example, if the search engine encounters the phrase “what is search engine optimization” several times in a single article, it can conclude that the page is about search engine optimization. The search engine stores that information, and the next time someone types the search term “what is search engine optimization,” the search engine will include that article in the results.

But if thousands, even millions, of web pages cover the same topic, how can you make sure your page is one of the first results the search engine shows?

How can you use search engine optimization?

Keywords are extremely important for search engine optimization. The more a keyword appears on the page, the easier it is for a search engine to categorize that page.

But be careful!

It can be tempting to write for the search engines and forget that your intended audience is human. People will be put off when they read a page where a keyword is constantly repeated and that appears in odd places within a sentence.

Even worse is when you try to trick the search engine by including a popular keyword that is not relevant to your content. Visitors will quickly see that your website doesn’t actually contain the information they’re looking for and will quickly leave, unlikely to ever return.

It’s always useful to do some research to find out what search terms people usually type when searching for your kind of content. Choose appropriate keywords that are relevant to your website, and include them often but naturally within your text. Overdoing it will get your site penalized for “keyword stuffing.”

Search engines also categorize the content depending on where the keywords appear in the text. Include the keywords in the page title and in subheadings to help the search engine recognize that these words are important to the content. It also helps if the keywords appear often at the beginning of the text.

Freshness and dwell time

Another aspect of search engine optimization is how often you add new content to your website. Search engines assume that sites that are updated frequently are more likely to have relevant and useful information. So it is important to keep your site “fresh” by adding new material regularly. You can do this by having a blog or articles section on your site.

The content must be useful however, and one of the ways search engines measure this is by the average “dwell time” of users on your website. If a web surfer comes to your site and finds poorly written material or nothing of use, he/she will likely exit the site quickly. If, on the other hand, they see compelling material, and stick around for a while to read it, you’ve clearly provided something of value. How do search engines measure this? By calculating how long it takes users to come back from your site to the search engine results page for the same term.

Other factors

There are many other factors involved in search engine optimization, of course; SEO experts have estimated that there are anywhere from 80-200 critical factors. No one knows for sure, because search engines don’t want to reveal the secret sauce to their indexing process. But there is one special factor to rule them all, and it’s one that search engine representatives have stressed over and over again: provide value and quality on your website. Then again, that should come as no surprise, because customers want that from your products and services too.

Image source: TijanaM/Shutterstock.com

17 SEO Myths You Should Stop Believing

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Press Releases: The Astonishingly Easy Way to Boost Your Business

Press Releases - The Astonishingly Easy Way to Boost Your Business

Press releases are dead, right?Press Releases - The Astonishingly Easy Way to Boost Your Business

Yes . . . and no.

If you’re a solopreneur or even a small-to-medium sized business, writing a press release is not an effective way to get the attention of major media outlets. There are just too many press releases and not enough journalists, so only the very important releases from really big companies ever get read.

Press release writing can sometimes be effective for communicating with your local, small market media outlets, especially if your release has a local news angle. But there’s an even better way to use press releases, and that’s to talk directly to your potential customers… online.

How can a press release help you talk to your customers?

Let us count the ways:

1. A history of widely-distributed press releases provides something for your customers to find

Let’s face it, you’re going to get “Googled” by your prospects. It’s natural for them to want to know more about you before doing business with you. So why not give them something to find?

Older press releases will demonstrate that your company has been around for a while, and reassure the customer that you’re not a fly-by-night outfit. And being written up on other websites, even when the customer can plainly see that it’s a press release, does still lend you a (tiny) bit of credibility.

2. It helps you to craft your image

Before you go firing off several press releases about how you updated your website from version 2.01 to version 2.02, have a good think about how this kind of thing will look to customers right now and many years into the future.

A press release is an opportunity to tell your story, or at least help frame how customers perceive you. A series of meaningless updates will be seen as just that. But stories that announce things like how you donated to a particular cause, or how you received an award for excellence in the service you provide will help you build your brand over time.

Pro tip: never, ever, ever fake this kind of thing, and never do something for the potential PR value you can get out of it.

3. It keeps your website fresh

One of the many factors search engines use in determining where to position your site in search engine results is how “fresh” or how frequently updated it is. By regularly updating the News section of your site (and you do have one of those, don’t you?) with a version of your releases, you’ll improve your search engine rank. This is critical if you want your customers to find you and your products or services.

4. The web works in mysterious ways

There is a crazy amount of value in just putting something “out there” and seeing what happens. For example, a story about how you and your staff adopted a highway might be seen by someone who works for the local roads department, who has a brother who needs exactly what you sell. And this could happen when you first put out the release, or, because it’s the Internet and things like this stay available almost permanently, a year later.

Press release . . . like a boss

Press release writing isn’t something everyone is familiar with, since it is a specialized skillset that isn’t taught universally in school. You can outsource it to professional writers if you don’t want to deal with it yourself. If you want to try your hand at press release writing until then, however, read on for a few tips to guide you along.

Spend time on the headline

Titles and headlines are what bring your reader in, and it’s no different for press release writing. For that reason, these need to be crafted to quickly grab your reader’s attention. Short, snappy headlines are best. Make sure it’s to the point and accurate, too. As soon as your audience sees the headline, they should know what the press release will be about.

On that note, if you do email it to various news sources, make sure the subject line of the email is as snappy and informative as your headline. This could be the most difficult part of press release writing, so don’t let it fall by the wayside.

Keep your reader engaged

In the same way that your reader doesn’t want to be bogged down by lengthy headlines, they don’t want to hunt through paragraphs to get to the point. In the digital age, when information is transmitted and internalized in a split second, you want to make sure your reader has the basic, important information in the first paragraph. Most of the time, readers will only skim the rest of the article, so you don’t want to let them skim over the good stuff. The first couple of sentences should contain the things you most want your audience to know.

Press release writing should be concise

Lose the flowery language! Keep it concise and grounded in facts. Don’t worry about getting creative with your writing because that isn’t the point. A press release conveys information, numbers, and evidence to support your assertions, and that’s all you need.

And since you’re avoiding the fluff, your press release should be one page. Two pages is the absolute longest a press release should ever be. The shorter, the better.

Don’t forget contact and relevant information

You’re sending out a press release to grab attention, so you need to include some contact information. There isn’t much use to a press release if the reader has no idea how to contact you once you’ve piqued their interest. The email, telephone number, and the name of the person who is the main contact for press release queries should be included.

Don’t forget to include the website for your company. This saves the journalist the hassle of searching Google when researching your company. This will immediately improve your connection with them, which is a positive consequence for the future. It shows that you’ve been thoughtful and comprehensive in your press release writing, and the journalist will appreciate that.

Don’t forget the little details

Good press release writing is in the details. This includes both content and style. Double check that your press release doesn’t have any grammatical mistakes. It’s also a good idea to have an outsider or a professional look over the press release before sending it out. This looks more professional.

Finally, a very important detail that is easy to forget is the human aspect. If you can, incorporate a quote from a customer or employee. This provides a bit of personality without subtracting from the concise, fact-based quality of your press release writing.

Image source: iQoncept/Shutterstock.com

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Why Does Your Business Need a Newsletter Service?

Inklyo.com explains why email newsletters are still an essential part of web marketing for your business, and why you need a newsletter service.

Inklyo.com explains why email newsletters are still an essential part of web marketing for your business, and why you need a newsletter service.With the emergence of Web 2.0 and social media websites, it might seem like email is a thing of the past. Why bother putting so much effort into a newsletter that will barely be read by the public? What does your business have to gain?

Actually, there is quite a bit to gain from creating a weekly email newsletter (e-newsletter), even though email can seem like a prehistoric technology.

1. People still check their email

Although many young people use social media for their news, correspondence, and other networking activities, email still remains at the center of them all. Each one of these social media websites is connected to an email account that their users need to check regularly for business or work-related purposes, confirmation emails, and various other reasons. Many people still use email on a regular basis, so it’s important to make sure that your business is catering to that demographic.

2. It builds a relationship

Email is a great way to directly address your customers and build personal relationships with them. In an email, you can write directly to you customers and speak to them on a personal level so that they feel connected to your business.

3. It reminds customers that you’re still around

Sending a weekly update to your customers reminds them that your business is still operating and that there have been changes to your website. This sparks interest that may not have been there before. It also encourages the customer to check your website for the updates you referred to in your e-newsletter.

4. It automatically adds SEO content to your website

Even though the email newsletters you create will be delivered to your customers, a copy of each newsletter will be on your website. This adds content to your website, which is then used to increase your SEO. By adding more keywords to your website, you can increase your chances of appearing in keyword searches on major search engines.

5. It makes a big impact for a small cost

Unlike paper newsletters that need to be written, edited, printed, and delivered, e-newsletters do not require the latter two steps. Email cuts the cost of printing and delivery by electronically sending out your information through a mass medium. In addition, the delivery method is instantaneous, which means that all the necessary information can be sent out in a matter of seconds.

6. It links directly to your website

Hypertext linking to your website gives your business the opportunity to lead customers directly to it. Unlike paper flyers that require visiting your store in person, linking makes it easy for them to access your business instantly. Giving them the ability to access your website this easily encourages customers to visit the exact web pages you referred to in your e-newsletter.

7. Advertises to interested customers

By having a subscription list of potential customers, you are advertising your product or service to those who are already interested in engaging with your business. Prospective customers will agree to receive emails, and engaging with this audience will be more likely to yield results rather than only advertising to a general audience.

Although email might seem like a thing of the past, e-newsletters can still help your business thrive on the web.

Image source: Ivelin Radkov/BigStockPhoto.com

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How to Increase Organic Traffic: 6 Handy Blogging Tips

How to Increase Organic Traffic - 6 Handy Blogging TipsNowadays, companies, brands, and even individuals are expected to have an optimized Internet presence. Whether a business creates a blog as part of a marketing initiative or an individual uses blogging to promote a personal brand, having a blog that draws organic traffic has become an important aspect of creating a successful online presence.

Though it can be tempting to pay for ad space, organic traffic is more important. Organic traffic consists of individuals searching specifically for you or your niche service or product, which means these are the individuals who are most likely to convert into customers or clients. Besides basic SEO practices, such as including proper keywords in your content and metadata, we offer several additional blogging tips here that can help you make the most of organic searches.

Know your niche, and find content opportunities.

In the fast-paced, instant-gratification world of the Internet, one of the biggest mistakes a blogger can make is trying to be all things to all readers. Instead of focusing your content on trends to gain more readers, figure out what is most important to you, and write about that.

Maybe you’re the new owner of a new dog grooming company, a marketer at a large corporation, an experienced writer, or a stay-at-home mom with a passion for DIY projects. Through the Internet, you can reach huge audiences hungry for good content about any one of these topics. Become an expert in your niche, and provide quality content that appeals to your specific readership.

Once you have determined your niche, research others who provide the same type of content. What posts are most popular? This is your passion; think about what information you would search for, and come up with a list of topics to write about. From there, see what content gaps exist in your niche, and then fill them with the best possible content.

For example, the owner of that small dog grooming business might find 2,341,748 articles describing the best shampoos for dogs but little information on the best options for dogs that have been sprayed by a skunk. A detailed article reviewing the most common shampoos in this category might draw more readers and rank higher for this more specific search topic than yet another generalized top 10 list.

Determine who the influencers are within your niche, and then network and promote your content.

Make a list of the top influential bloggers in your niche by finding the blogs with the highest readerships. Tools such as Buzzstream can help you determine who these influencers are, depending on specific keyword searches, and provide contact information for them. What kind of content are they creating? Take the great content you have created already and ask one of these top bloggers to provide a point of view.

You can also think on a bigger scale and create a post that includes advice from several influencers. Once your post goes live, make sure you contact these bloggers to let them know and share it on their social media accounts, which can be a great way to increase your own readership. The goal here is to get a link back from one or more of these influencers, who likely have high Google authority rankings in your niche. When one of these sites links back to yours, it will increase your search ranking and organic traffic.

Take advantage of content distribution and social networks to reach a wider audience.

Sharing content over social media networks is the first step in content distribution. Sharing strategically and often gives you the advantage of putting your content in front of the right audience, which will transfer into link clicking and organic traffic. The key is, once again, to know your audience and at what times they are most likely to see your post. Utilize account management applications to schedule content and share that content multiple times over different networks to gain the most exposure. Social referrals are an important factor in subsequent organic traffic.

Understand the importance of different types of link building.

BacklinkingBroken link building: Broken link building can be time-consuming when you don’t use tools. This method of link building involves finding broken links on other sites that are relevant to your content or have high authority value and then asking the site administrator to switch out the broken link for yours. Consistently following through with this practice can help you gain organic traffic by building site authority and search rankings.

Implied links: Implied linking is a new process Google has implemented that takes into account brand mentions without a direct link. This means search rankings benefit from your brand or website name being mentioned on other websites without them actually having to link back to you. The more you are mentioned, the higher your search ranking (and organic traffic) will be, because Google realizes your content has authority within your niche. To benefit from this type of link building, it is important to grow your reputation and network and to market your brand to get others to mention your name.

Backlinking using images: Consider all the photo- and image-sharing social networks available. Some high-authority content sharing sites are also relevant to growing your number of backlinks by sharing quality images. This type of link building works well for designers, photographers, or other image-heavy sites that can share their images on stock image directories, Flickr, or design directories with a link back to the original content. The more backlinks a website has, the higher it will rank in a search, resulting in more organic traffic.

Focus on long-tail key phrases rather than generalized keywords to tap into your niche audience.

Instead of focusing on general keywords that return millions of search results, consider your niche audience and what they are searching for specifically in relation to your content, product, or service. If you were to search for a local dog groomer, you probably wouldn’t simply search for “dog groomer” but rather “dog groomers in Chatham–Kent” or “the best dog groomer in Chatham–Kent” to make sure you received the most relevant results. This is how most users search for information, making long-tail key phrases more rewarding for niche content, which ranks higher when fewer, more specific search results are returned.

Google also looks at whether content is able to answer a long-tail keyword phrase in the form of a question and ranks quality how-to content higher in such search queries. Keep in mind what exactly your audience may be searching for, and include these key phrases in your content to increase your organic traffic.

Use schema markup in your SEO practices to boost organic traffic.

Schema markup is a more advanced SEO option that helps search engines return more information from your site in search results. The difference between schema markup and basic SEO is that schema tells the search engine what different aspects of your content mean by going beyond indexing for keywords. Schema explains that, for example, one keyword is the author of the content, another keyword is the product or service a business offers, and a third keyword tells the search engine what type of content is being displayed. Websites that incorporate schema markup into SEO rank higher in search engine results, because the search engine actually understands these relevant results. For more information, visit Schema.org or the Google Structured Data Markup Helper.

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