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Monthly Archives: June 2012

There’s a Party on Our Business Blog. Are YOU Going?

Is the party for we or you?

This is a guest post by Sara Lancaster. Below her post, you’ll find her bio and link for a free downloadable version of her latest book: 103 Ways to Create Sharp Blog Content.

A friend used to say to me, “Everyone is going to the party. Will we see you there?”

For some reason that “we” statement positively irked me. I felt left out of some kind of club. The same thing happens when I land on a business’ blog that uses the word “we” too often. I don’t want to be the last one to know about the party.

The Other Golden Rule in Business Blogging

Golden Rule #1: Treat other bloggers as you want to be treated.

Golden Rule #2: Use the word “you” more than the word “we.”

To grab the attention and keep the attention of readers (and potential customers) talk directly to them in the first person. That means you have to minimize references to your company name and the words “we” and “me.” Talk more about the readers’ problems, the solutions to those problems, and be specific as to why the reader should even care.

Maybe you’ve heard people say, “talk about the benefits, not the features.” That’s exactly what I’m talking about here, but in blogging there’s a twist. Instead of selling a product or service, you are selling an idea.

Some We-We Is Unavoidable

At some point, you’re going to have to talk about yourself. The reason? A little transparency goes a long way on a business blog.

You and the other people behind your company help to make up your brand, and your brand is what sets you apart. Your readers are more likely to comment and return if they feel connected to you personally.

Everybody wants to be invited to the party. Create a fun atmosphere on your blog and make sure everyone can join in. Frequent use of the word YOU is the first step.

sara_lancaster_coloradoSara Lancaster is the website content writer behind No. 2 Pen, a Denver web-marketing agency. She recently published 103 Ways to Create Sharp Blog Content, which is a free download available on No2Pen.com.

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Blogging, Guest post

 

Neiman Marcus, Walmart or an empty warehouse: What Your Web Content Says About You

True confessions. I’m not a big shopper. But if I were, where would I rather shop?

I can tell you, it wouldn’t be Walmart.

In fact, I haven’t been to a Walmart for over two years. Why? It’s garish. It’s huge. It’s exhausting. The products are cheaply made. Even if they are of quality, I’m pretty sure they’re not quality because they sit on the same shelf as the cheap stuff. And, they’ve dumbed down the clerks to the point where they know how to consult their handheld inventory checkers but can’t tell you anything about their products.

Does your website look like Walmart?

If cheap, smorgasbord-type business is your game, then cool. Your’e where you need to be.

For the rest of you, a little review may be in order.

Is your website garishly presented? Bright colors? Lots of colors? Boxes all over? Scrunched copy? These are all signs that you’ve got a Walmart website. It’s there. You’ve got content. But are you attracting the client you want?

Empty building

Meaningful content should fill your website shelves.

Does your website resemble an empty warehouse?

Maybe you paid a pricey sum to get a super cool web framework. It’s got sliders and fading testimonies and a few really compelling photos. But does it say anything? Or does it just look great?

Is there a call to action? Are you offering a viewer anything of value? What’s hanging on your racks?

Wouldn’t you rather be Neiman Marcus?

Neiman Marcus has it all together. The look. The products. The experience.

That’s what your website needs, too. It should be a place where your prospects can 1) find what they need, 2) get help if they need it, and 3) feel proud they got it there.

A great looking website is lovely, but if it doesn’t do the work, it doesn’t do any good.

Great content is great, but if it is presented poorly, it’ll never be read.

You need balance. Well-designed website + great content + search engine optmization = a useful tool.

Don’t pay for a website it you can’t get all three.

It just so happens that Bizziwriter can hook you up. Call us or contact us (see the nifty tab to the right) and we’ll show you how to go from BigBox to first-class.

 

 

 

 
 

10 Can’t Miss Blog Topics

Blogging.

Evil lemon

Blogging shouldn’t remind you of evil lemons!

For many business owners, blogging is the new necessary evil. We’ve heard it’s a good idea. We know we should. But we don’t wanna.

We don’t want to write and worse, we don’t know what to write.

Trying to think of something new and interesting or witty and relevant every week, in the midst of operating a business, is daunting.

That’s where a content calendar comes in handy.

A content calendar is your plan. It’s where you’ll list blog topic ideas or, at the very least, blog topic themes. It can be detailed or simple, depending on how much time you devote to brainstorming. For some, knowing exactly what blog topics are coming helps. For others, kinda having an idea is enough to whet the keyboard.

I like to use WordPress’s Calendar plug-in to plot upcoming blog posts. It’s a visual tool and I can see a month at a time so I know what’s coming. Linear thinkers may prefer a simple list app like Wunderlist organized by theme and topics.

Now that you’re armed with the idea of a content calendar, what on earth will you plot there? Here are 10 ideas to get your blog content calendar started:

  1. Industry news. Set Google alerts for industry key words. Respond to breaking news but don’t just report the news. Offer your thoughts on the news or explain how it might change your industry.
  2. Pop culture. Can you identify your product, service or personality with a movie, television or cartoon character? Write about how you make that connection. It’ll infuse a little personality into the blog.
  3. Books. Have you read any business building or interesting industry books? Which would you recommend and why?
  4. How to’s. What do you find yourself explaining over and over and over again? Write a simple 5-step how-to blog entry. Make your how-to’s an every Wednesday affair.
  5. Respond to other blogs. You probably have a list of blogs you follow. Choose an interesting or controversial topic (if they topic gets lots of comments, that’s a clue it is a moving topic) and blog your thoughts on it.
  6. Guest blogs. Invite an industry expert to blog on your blog. Give them some idea about what you would like them to address. (Be sure to give them a bio and a link!)
  7. Your story. Why are you in business? This could come across as indulgent but, done well, can point to the passion behind your brand. What drove you to do what you do? What gives you the most satisfaction? Who inspired you? What was your journey into the industry?
  8. Product feature. Blogs are meant to be interesting and useful but, in the end, we’re using them as tools to drive business. It’s okay to sell–just be sparing about it. After all, you are offering something your prospects need, right? Feature a product or service every fourth or fifth entry. The blog gives you the opportunity to be less brochure-like and bring out benefits that didn’t fit in your sales literature. And don’t forget a call to action.
  9. Case studies. Without divulging proprietary information, tell a story of how your company responded to a need. What pains did you solve? How did the client look or feel before coming to you? What was your process in solving their problem? What do they look like today?
  10. Testimonials. Perhaps the strongest words come from your happy customers. Toot your horn every so often and let them tell your story. They’ll say it differently but will add a relational piece to your prospects.

If you blog once each week, you’ve got ten weeks worth of topics. If you blog twice a week–five weeks. What I know from experience is that as you start to think about your blog and plot themes and topics, you’ll begin to recognize a great blog idea when you hear it. When you think to yourself, “Gee that would make a great blog topic,” you’ll know you’ve entered Blog Land. Welcome!

What would you add to this list? (There are no wrong answers!)

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2012 in Blogging

 

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SEO vs. Content Strategy: Strange Bedfellows or What?

SEO vs. Content Strategy: Strange Bedfellows or What?

My SEO partner and I have these funny conversations.

SEO Man: You’ve got a catchy title there but where are your key words?

Me: Well… I care more about the content than the keywords.

SEO Man: But you won’t get found.

Me: But it doesn’t matter if I don’t provide interesting, relevant and high quality writing. 

Content strategy vs. SEOIs content marketing and SEO mutually exclusive or can the two find common ground? Let’s unpack the argument.

SEO’s function

SEO, or search engine optimization, thrives on pleasing autobot algorithms that drive search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. Everyone knows that no one looks past the first page of search results so getting placement in the top 10 is, and should be, a high priority. It’s akin to the days-of-old Yellow Page listing. If your business wasn’t listed, you were anonymous–and anonymous is bad in terms of commerce and profit.

SEO specialists urge content creation around keywords and keyword phrases. Their approach is to choose a medium to high traffic search term and build content around them.

Content marketing’s strategy

Content managers approach content as art. Words, flow, tone and branding language make for engaging and relevant copy–sometimes witty, hopefully informative and useful. Content marketing managers would rather play with cadence and pulse than boring key phrases that threaten our artfully arranged words.

We understand our titles need to catch attention, that we have just seconds to engage readers and move them through a seamless bucket brigade that ends with a clear call to action.

Which strategy wins?

Both and neither.

Just as a quarterback cannot claim the glory of the game without the grit of linemen forcing plays and opening clear paths of play, neither can a content marketing manager hope to achieve web content strategy goals without the heavy lifting of a good SEO evaluation.

By the same token, SEO managers can kill great copywriting if they ignore the art content managers bring.

Bizziwriter now offers both

I’m excited to note that my SEO partner and I have avoided fisticuffs and found our way to a mutually beneficial partnership that, ultimately, benefits our client base.

We both recognize the need for high quality SEO reviews as well as killer copywriting. Neither of us are complete without the other.

That said, I’d like to introduce Matt Morgan, CEO at Optimize Worldwide. His SEO and web design company will extend the benefits I offer my clients while my marketing, copywriting and business communication skills will add value to his. It’s a win-win, in my opinion.

Matt’s skill at the confusing backend SEO strategy and his knowledge in how to “make it so” are impressive. And he has endless patience for those of us, like me, who know only enough to be dangerous. He lives in meta-tag world.

I dream in words. He dreams in code. It’s a perfect pairing.

How will this work?

Both Bizziwriter and Optimize Worldwide will continue to operate as unique entities. But when I hand off a client’s copy for web publication, its work is only half done. It needs to find the goal–its audience. I will suggest Matt’s services and feel good about extending tools to move my copywriting down the field. Optimize Worldwide offers a variety of SEO packages, from basic SEO practices review and evaluation to ongoing, monthly SEO management.

And vice versa. I’ll offer his clients an artful portrayal of brand. I’ll tell their story while working key phrases and keywords into the copy where they fit.

Stay tuned for Matt’s SEO dedicated page on Bizziwriter’s website and look for more compelling posts that will increase our understanding of magical SEO powers.

For more information about SEO or copywriting today, please click on the Contact button to your right or sign up for our newsletter at the top right of this page.

What do you think?

Is SEO more important than content marketing? Is copywriting content more vital than SEO? Weigh in on the comments below.

 

 
 

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