Website Copy

Google’s Penguin is Real-Time

Blog, Google, Website Content, Website Copy

Google made the Penguin algorithm part of its core algorithm on September 23, and there’s been a HUGE shift in rankings since then. I’ve even seen my site shoot up to the top of the search engine results pages, or SERPs, on several great keywords.

But what is Penguin, and how will it affect your site?

What is Google’s Penguin?

Penguin is a filter that snags websites that are spamming the search results. Google used to run it periodically, but now it’s part of their core algorithm–the Googlebot finds, detects, and re-ranks sites that trip the filter each time it crawls.

Penguin devalues spam (junk pages that don’t help users), but it does so on a page-by-page basis. If you have only one spammy page on your website, your whole site is less likely to be penalized than it was before Google made Penguin part of their core algorithm.

What Does This Mean for You?

If you have a website, great website copy has never been more important. You need to work with a writer who understands your business and who can write in a way that connects with readers.

(I happen to know the best copywriter in the business.)

Quick, Basic SEO Principles You Need to Know if You’re a Realtor Writing Your Own Content

Blog, Realtors, Website Content, Website Copy

 

If you’re a Realtor(R) and you’re writing your own website copy, here’s what you need to know.

Long(er) Content Helps You Rank

Pages with long content (as long as it’s informative and not “fluff”) typically position better (rank higher) than short content, particularly when you want to rank for a long-tail keyword (such as “homes for sale in Double Oak, TX”). You need enough content for Google’s algorithm, which is called Hummingbird, to come into your page, extract important information, and file it away to index your page in the search engines.

The Information Realtors Need to Help Readers

Include everything readers would want to know if they’re thinking about moving to one of these areas.

  • How do I get there – on which expressway?
  • Where will my kids go to school?
  • Is there anything to do that doesn’t require me to drive to the nearby big city?
  • Are there great restaurants or shops?
  • Is there a local attraction that we’ll enjoy exploring?
  • Is there a dog park I can take my four-legged family members to?
  • Where will I get groceries, light bulbs and home improvement supplies?
  • Is there public transit?
  • Are there private schools?
  • What do the homes look like… are they all historic in the downtown area, but expensive estates on the outskirts of town?
  • Are the people friendly?
  • Where do they all work?
  • Is this a one-horse town?

A Call-to-Action is Extremely Important

You always need a call-to-action that says, “Hey, I gave you all this information, so I really do know everything about the area. Call me at XXX and I’ll make this whole process easier for you!”

My SEO Experiment: Update

Blog, Blogging, Cool Stuff, SEO, Website Copy

Three days ago, on May 2, 2016, I published a page on my site called “What Animal Eats Begonias?” because I wanted to show that ranking for an exact-match, long-tail keyword is super-easy… if you know what you’re doing.SEO experiment - Unique Web Copy

Just three days later (admittedly, I forgot about it until just now or I’d have checked yesterday and the day before), my website is in 6th place in the organic search results for that exact-match term on Google. (Notice that I don’t even bother with Yoast SEO anymore because it has nothing to do with semantic search; I only use it to input my meta descriptions and meta titles.)

SEO experiment Unique Web Copy

If I promote that page by sharing it across social networks, or if I promote this page, that page will climb in the rankings. I made sure to fill it with information that answers the question, which means readers will find it useful, too… and that’ll help it climb in the rankings, as well.

Why did I choose that term?

It gets about 10 searches per month, according to Google, so it’s relatively low-competition. However, what really got me is that people are searching for it and nobody was targeting it.

An SEO experiment by Unique Web Copy - Angie Papple Johnston

That’s one of the things I do for my clients–find keywords that will help them show up in the search engine results pages, or SERPs–and include them in their blog posts. That way, they’re being found. The keyword I chose in this instance will only help me in a roundabout way; it won’t bring me sick animals that have eaten begonias, but it will bring me clients who understand the value of regular blogging services.

(Just FYI, I do monthly blogging packages that start at $99 and include 400 to 500 words of amazingly informative text, custom photo graphics, meta titles and meta descriptions, which are all great for SEO.)

 

VIDEO: How to Do Basic Keyword Research Using Google’s Keyword Planner Tool

Blog, How-To, SEO, Website Copy

How to Do Basic Keyword Research Using Google’s Keyword Planner Tool

This short video walks you through every step of conducting basic keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner tool.

Using Google’s Keyword Planner tool is tremendously helpful when you’re looking for great terms to use to ensure that you’re in the position to come up on Google organic searches.

It isn’t the only tool you should use, but if you’re new to SEO and you’re trying to write your own copy, it’s a great way to get an idea of what you need to write and which terms you need to target.

(If you don’t have the time to do all of this, don’t worry – I can do it for you!)

 

Yoast SEO and Semantic Search with Google

Blog, Blogging, Google, SEO, Website Content, Website Copy

 

When you’re relying solely on one SEO tool, you might get the wrong idea about how “healthy” your pages are when it comes to SEO and Google.

Yoast SEO is a fantastic tool, especially when you need a fast, easy way to add meta descriptions and meta titles.

However, it doesn’t tell you anything valuable when it comes to the SEO on your page – only that you’ve used your target keyword at least once in every important area.

Yoast SEO and Semantic Search with Google

You’ll notice that Yoast SEO and semantic search with Google aren’t necessarily on the same page. Sure, Yoast can tell you that you’ve included your keyword — but you need to know that Google is smart, and so is their semantic search algorithm.

Watch the video. You’ll see that Yoast SEO is limited by exact match keywords. That means if the keyword you input isn’t an exact match to something in each category they look at, they will think that your SEO is not as good as it should be.

Yoast looks at whether your exact-match keyword is in your:

  • Article heading
  • Page title
  • Page URL
  • Content
  • Meta description

Here’s the Yoast evaluation of this post:

Yoast SEO and semantic search with Google - Unique Web Copy

How Hummingbird Changed the Way the Googlebot “Sees” Things

With Hummingbird, Google revamped the way search engines find and index website content. They now look at things in context rather than by counting the number of times you mention your keyword on a page.

So what does that mean to you?

You can use variations of your key terms and Google will still understand what your page is about.

Google isn’t going to have any trouble understanding what this page is about.

In fact, it’ll get ranked and indexed, and you’ll probably be able to find it whether you type an exact match to my “keyword” or not.

Why? Because of their super-smart algorithm that picks up on cues, synonyms and… well, semantics.

Tight Writing: Get Rid of “Flowery” Words

Articles, Blog, Blogging, Editing, How-To, Press Releases, Product Descriptions, Web Writing Mistakes, Website Content, Website Copy

When you’re writing for the web, you have 3 to 5 seconds to grab a reader’s attention.

That’s all you get – the time it takes for a reader to raise his or her coffee cup and take a sip. If you haven’t captured your visitors’ interest in that time, they’ll click the back button to find someone who does.

Even if you get past the 3-to-5-second mark, you still need to keep your readers’ interest.

You do that by keeping things short, pithy and to-the-point.

Get Rid of Flowery Words

One of the best books in the world — The Giver, by Lois Lowry — uses a phrase that’s incredibly important in writing for the web: precision of language. (That’s not an affiliate link, but if you buy The Giver through Amazon at that link, which is something you should definitely do, Amazon donates to the Wounded Warrior Project.)

Back to precision of language.

Check out the difference between these sentences:

  • She sipped the piping hot coffee, her eyes leisurely flicking over the smudged, raindrop-splattered newspaper without being able to discern between the blurred and bleeding letters.
  • She sipped the hot coffee, glancing at the wet newspaper. The letters were blurry.
  • She sipped her coffee and looked at the paper.

The first sentence is great… if you’re reading a romance novel. On the Internet, people don’t have that kind of time.

The second sentence is okay.

The third gets to the point.

It’s called purple prose in the writing world, and it’s the last thing you need when you’re trying to get someone to buy your product or service. You need things in black and white, and that’s it.

Precision of Language

Describe what you need to describe quickly and simply. People are coming to you because you have something they want, so give them the information in accurate, simple terms. Make it easy for them to read, too, by:

  • Breaking things up with subheads
  • Using bullet points or numbered lists where appropriate
  • Cutting out useless words
  • Getting straight to the point
  • Writing paragraphs that have no more than four sentences each

And for the love of Cthulu, don’t introduce what you’re about to write. It’s annoying and treats readers as if you assume they’re stupid. (Nobody is going to buy anything from someone who treats them like they’re stupid.)

Save Yourself the Trouble

Naturally, you could save yourself the trouble of slipping flowery words into your product descriptions, press releases or website copy and hire a professional writer. I know a girl…

Web Writing Mistake #1: The Introduction to What You Say

Blog, How-To, Web Writing Mistakes, Website Content, Website Copy

There’s nothing wrong with writing your own website content because you’re talented or you can’t afford to hire a copywriter. You just have to go about it the right way.

Web Writing Mistake #1: Introducing What You’re ABOUT to Say

Every pixel of space on your website is valuable, so you can’t afford to waste it. You have between 3 and 5 seconds to capture a reader’s interest. Beyond that, he or she is going to stay on your site and explore or click the “Back” button to see what your competitors have to say.

When you waste time stating the obvious, you’re not going to keep your readers’ interest very long. Skip straight to the point by:

  • Avoiding useless segues into bulleted lists
  • Steering clear of phrases such as “Below you will find…” and “Read on for more information”

Look at the difference between the way these two introductions read:

  • Here is a list you will find useful in making the decision to hire a personal injury attorney.

    1. Make sure you ask him how much experience he has.
    2. Have your documents ready in case he wants them.

  • If you’re hiring a personal injury attorney, you’ll need to ask him several questions, including:

    1. How much experience do you have with cases like mine?
    2. What documentation do you need from me to move forward with my case?

Why would you waste valuable space to introduce what you’re about to say? People aren’t stupid, so don’t treat them as if they are. You’re not writing a middle school book report; you’re writing something that needs to capture your audience’s attention and get them to work with you.

Skip the Hassle and Hire a Pro

Naturally, you could forget about all this (and ignore the silly rules of English) and hire someone else to write your copy for you. If that’s not feasible, that’s okay – just write the way you’d talk to a stranger and you should be able to pull it off.

Mobile Search Data and Your Website Copy

Blog, Blogging, How-To, Mobile, Website Content, Website Copy

 

If you’ve been keeping up with trends, you know that mobile is the wave of the future present. Everybody has a mobile phone — and staggering numbers of purchasing decisions are made while people are browsing on smartphones.

But what if your website copy isn’t optimized for mobile devices?

I guess you’re out of luck, then.

How Can Website Copy Be Optimized for Mobile?

It’s common knowledge that Internet readers have super-short attention spans. It’s safe to say that the same is true whether they’re on PCs or mobile devices, so in order to make sure that you’re providing great content that won’t lose readers’ attention, you need to make sure that:

  • Paragraphs are short, readable and easy to understand
  • You use bullet points to summarize information
  • You break up sections with clear, easy to read subheads

7 Mobile Use Statistics for 2015

  1. 87 percent of the world’s population is using mobile phones
  2. Mobile traffic provides about 30 percent of Internet activity
  3. 67 percent of consumers are willing to buy a product or use a service on a mobile-friendly site
  4. 70 percent of mobile searches result in action being taken within one hour (action after a desktop search takes place in about a week)
  5. You have 5 to 7 seconds (or less) to convince a user that he or she is on a page that will answer his or her questions
  6. 32 percent of consumers wish that mobile websites were easier to navigate
  7. 73 percent of mobile searches trigger follow-up actions

It’s incredibly important that you optimize your website copy for mobile use. You could be missing out on a HUGE amount of business by neglecting to pay attention to consumer behaviors and habits.

7 Mobile Stats for 2015

Writing Your Own Content? Have a Friend Look at It.

Blog, Editing, How-To, Website Content, Website Copy

It’s not uncommon for business owners to write their own website content. Of course, I don’t want them to (for obvious reasons) — but sometimes hiring a copywriter just isn’t in the budget.

That’s okay. We all had to start somewhere.

But don’t overlook this one very important piece of advice:

If you are writing your own content, get someone else to look at it before you publish it.

Maybe you wrote “the the” or made a glaring grammatical error. Perhaps you used the wrong your or you’re. Maybe you didn’t make any technical mistakes at all, but the sentences just don’t flow.

If you don’t write website copy for a living, you can’t afford not to have a friend look over what you’ve created. Even professional writers use editors (I do, and she’s amazing) because it never, never hurts to have a fresh pair of eyes scanning your work for problems that everyday readers might have.