Content Creation and General Copywriting

Join Alicia as she chats with us about content creation and general copywriting!

Content Creation and General Copywriting

Words can be magical. When creatively combined, words can have a profound impact on our lives and our decisions. That’s what makes content marketing campaigns such a critical component to your SEO plan.

In this video series we’re going to be taking a brief look at content marketing campaigns and how they work, and how to create copy that converts.

I’m Alicia Lawrence and I’m a content marketing consultant here at WebFX. If you haven’t already, watch the first two videos in this series on SEO Basics and Keyword Research to set a foundation for what we discuss today.

Google has already come out and told us the top two factors that determine how well your content ranks organically, its content, and inbound links.

So content marketing really pulls those two together to create the perfect storm to help you rank organically, and help get that traffic to eventually convert.

The way I like to look at content marketing is a web. So you have your main keyword here, where you can decide, this is what we’re going to focus our web. It could be around a service, such as if you’re a gardening client, it might be about common tomato plant problems. It might not even have your specific product or service suggested in that keyword. We’re really just looking for issues that people communicate.

Often times, when people are looking for a specific piece of content, they might not specifically say, “tomato plant fungicide.” But they might say “I have brown spots on my tomato leaves.” So when you focus your content, make sure you’re looking at the issue and not necessarily the product.

You have sales pages already to help address specific product needs. Your content marketing on your blog especially, should be focused around your consumer’s problem, and the issue that they might be facing.

So when you have your keyword, you want to build it out into a web, so the more pages you have, the more traffic you can actually capture in that web. So besides tomato plant problems, you might have another article about how to start your tomato plants, or maybe have an article about other fungicides or diseases that are common to plants in general.

All of these can loop and funnel into the sales page for say, a garden fungicide. So each of these topics though they might seem unrelated to your specific product, really it’s just a bridge to your product. So whenever you’re putting together your content marketing campaign, and you’re thinking about what keywords would be the best to target, make sure you always have that bridge that connects it to the product eventually.

Now we don’t want to be really pushy in our content marketing because we want to build that trust with the customer. We don’t want them to think that were just generating this content, just to get you to buy. You really want to put off a humanistic feel.

I mean a website, is, in essence is your front desk receptionist. You want them to smile and be helpful, and not just try to push products on you.

So when you’re trying to put together this map, there’s a few critical components. Besides connecting them all to the sales page and connecting them to each other to create a great internal linking, which really helps boost your SEO, you also want to have these links coming in, those outbound links from third party sites.

For example, I might write for a gardening site, and talk about plant diseases and link to one of my plant diseases posts. This helps signify to Google, almost like a testimony of “hey, this site knows what they’re talking about that’s why we’re linking to them.” And it really helps boost overall, your presence in Googles search results page.

So linking to each page or having several links that deal within the topic that we’re discussing, or that group of topics helps establish that web.

And you want to do this and build it out for every area of your site. Remember, the bigger the web, the more traffic you’re going to be able to capture.

Now I know you’ve learned a little bit about keywords. When we create a content marketing campaign, we’ve already established all of our sales pages, so we’re strictly focusing on those long-tail keywords. You might see some of them in SEM Rush, or maybe look it at them in Google Ads Planner, Keyword Planner, you might find that a lot of them have smaller traffic because they’re more detailed keywords. Usually, they tend to have more words, because they tend to be questions a lot of the time, but what you also want to look at besides the volume there, is how many keywords kind of revolve around that concept?

Google has transitioned their algorithm to focus more on semantic keywords. So more of the concept or a theme that the keywords represent. So when we do keyword research, it’s not so that we can take that specific keyword and stuff it into the copy. Obviously we’ll naturally sew it into the copy without making it seem forced, but we’re really looking for just the flow and the concept and the theme to say, “What kind of questions are people asking?” and then address that problem.

Because if we’re going to address that problem, inevitably, we’re going to hit these keywords. Especially when you create longer copy. One of our most popular services is long-form copy. That’s copy that is over 2100 words per page, usually it can even go up to 5,600 words. Google loves this long copy because it shows that when you write that much word count about a topic, you obviously know what you’re talking about.

And it also allows you to address all of the different variations that people must have about that topic. So for “tomato plant problems,” we might find that there is so many different ways people ask about it.

“There’s brown spots on my leaves,” “Why are my leaves turning white,” “Why are my leaves crumpling at the end?”

We want to address all of these problems in one long form. Or maybe if one topic is specific enough, we can address it all no its own and connect that web together to really strengthen the whole “common tomato plant problems,” and that’s going to be our main long tail keyword, which has a ton of traffic that comes in.

So when we’re looking at these, I like to look at the pockets of how many keywords or variations of that keyword Google technically has listed. Of course they might not list everything, but a lot of the times, we don’t ask the same questions the same way. We have our own variations of how we’re going to word something.

So really, I’m looking for those pockets of 40-50 keywords that revolve around “common tomato plant problems,” or different scenarios that we want to touch on.

So when we start to put together our plan of what this web is going to look like, we really want to make sure that we have a good, cohesive idea of everything we want to create within a quarter maybe a half year, even a year down the road what all content we’re going to create.

So we’re going to put it all together in an editorial calendar, which if you don’t have a template yet for an editorial calendar, you can download one that we offer here for free to you guys from WebFX, and then in there, you can customize that template to fit your needs.

I usually like to add a few columns for content scoring. And that’s what we’re going to cover next is content scoring.

So once I know what the type of topics I want to cover regarding the specific product, I break it out by product, making sure I have content that kind of touches all of the different products and all of the different basic needs that I see coming in.

Of course, as you continue to create content, you get a lot more specific, as well as if you already have a ton of content on your site. The first thing you want to do is take an analysis of your existing content and do a little spring cleaning.

You want to see if you have enough content on those pages, word count, to help them rank. So you can look at the landscape there in Google and see “hmm, I’m actually ranking number 5 for this keyword, but if I add a little more word count to this page, maybe optimize it with some schema, maybe add some multimedia like a video or a micrographic, and maybe point a few more inbound links, or outbound links, to that page, I might be able to get it to number one in the SERPs, in the search engine results pages.”

And that difference just going up to the first or second spot on Google search engine results pages can have such an amazing amount of traffic difference between the rest of the listings.

So definitely approach those pieces first before you start building out any new content on your site.

A great tool to use to find those low-hanging fruit is Webmaster Tools. You can go in there and see right away how many impressions you’re getting, what’s the click-through-rate, what pages are currently ranking for those types of queries. So go in there now, look at it, and see where you might be able to hit some of those low-hanging fruits and boost up those pages.

A little bit later, I’ll be talking about what type of elements to actually add to a page to help it rank and also to help readers actually become customers.

Also on your editorial calendar, when you score your content, a lot of people like to do this differently, I add a few things. One I add what the traffic volume is going to be monthly. Usually you can grab this from either SEM Rush or the Google Keyword Planner.

Another thing I like to put in is the competition. Sometimes I just like to see what others are ranking for in terms of Google Ads. So yes, that’s not organic, that’s paid, even though we’re trying to reach these organically in the search results pages, but they usually have some type of connection on how difficult it will be to actually rank for those terms when seeing it from the Google Ads perspective.

The other reason why I like to do that is when I’m reporting, I like to see the ROI value of actually getting these keywords, getting our content to rank organically, versus what they would end up paying if we just did paid search for these terms.

And of course one of the last things that I like to look at as well is the landscape in Google. So if you look at the query in Google and see where exactly other pieces of content are ranking or where your existing page ranks if this is just adding copy to existing pages.

You might find that the first two spaces or listings, are multimedia like video. Maybe you find that Google pulls out a chart into their rich snippets area where they have the answer boxes. So maybe you want to make sure that when you’re addressing this question, this long tail keyword, that you answer it right away and really cohesively so that maybe you can bump them out of that answer box, and you get that answer box. Which is a really easy way to make sure that you get a lot of traffic in those search results even if you don’t rank number one organically.

You also want to click on them, see how long their word count is, what some alt tags are, even look at the comments. I found that those posts with a lot of comments at the end tend to also count that as word count, and they’ll actually rank higher in the search results because of them.

You can also do a detailed analysis to see how many keywords they’ve put in there, how much they talk about that subject. If it’s within a broader guide, you also want to look at the links coming in, and we use the MOZ bar to kind of see how many inbound links that page is getting. And that’s a good indicator to you how much work this is going to take to rank.

So once you put together your editorial calendar and you have your content score, you can line up to see which type of content pieces are going to be worth it. I also like to build out that bridge to the call-to-action to make sure that whoever is going to help me create this content, because usually it’s a big team of us, we’re all on the same page of what the end goal is and what value this content should drive. Both to the customer and to the client.

I also like to put in there any promotion ideas that I have. For example, if we’re writing a topic that might benefit from an influencer or a blogger giving us a quote (of course we don’t want to get an influencer that might conflict with our client), we don’t want to reach out to any competitors to get their quotes at all.

Usually these influencers are in side niches, so for example, if you’re the garden fungicide company, we might do a post about the best roses to plant, and stress the importance of getting disease-free roses, or what to do if you want a rose that tends to get a certain fungicide, and obviously link to our product then.

But this makes a great opportunity for us to go out and get maybe American Rose Society’s president and be able to quote her favorite rose in the piece. We could even ask her for an image and we were able to get our content that way. This piece did extremely well both in traffic and in conversions, and not to mention, we got a ton of backlinks from this because we made this strategy where after we got some very influential rosarians to give us their favorite roses and add it to this content.

We then reached out to hundreds of American Rose Society chapters and societies that have websites and said “hey, we just got this quote form the president of the American Rose Society, we thought your readers would be interesting, would you mind sending it out in your newsletter, linking it to your resource pages,” and a lot of them did, so this is a very beneficial strategy to make sure that when you’re creating the content, you think of that promotion ahead of time and how you can make those content and links grow organically together.

Also on your editorial calendar, yes there’s going to be a lot of columns on your excel doc for your editorial calendar, but it’s all worth it to have it planned ahead of time. But one thing I like to put on is, if you have a really specific header or topic, how you want to word it. That way, while you’re doing the keyword research, be sure you tie that keyword into the headline itself, while still making it worth peeking peoples’ interest to click through.

But you always want to make sure that when you’re creating those headlines that they clearly communicate what the reader is going to find when they click through this copy.

When you create the editorial calendar, I like to list out about 5 keyword phrases to include with my main keyword that probably is going to be added to my header, to just remind me or the writer what exactly those keywords are going to be helping dictate what this article is going to be about.

And then of course, as you’re going through your topics, you can designate what type of content is going to be created in. If you have the capability, you can create video, which really helps with on-page engagement, or you can also do micrographics, which is just a smaller form of infographics, you can do online guides, which makes a beautiful example of that web that we were talking about earlier – filling out the different pages around a niche topic and then funneling them all through a conversion path – and you can gate that content too, which can be very beneficial to help create a drip campaign.

All these little factors really tie in and you really should try to make sure you put as much detail as possible in that editorial calendar. And yes, it’s going to take a lot of time up front, but in the end, it’s so worth it because you’ll have this beautiful, cohesive strategy and content marketing campaign that is just going to produce wonderful results for your clients or for your company.

Now we’re going to move into the content and copywriting creating aspect of your content marketing campaign. There are a lot of little things that we’re going to mention here. There are so many different factors that play a role in creating awesome content, and I’m not going to be able to touch on all of them, but I’m going to try to touch on the ones that I find most critical when you’re creating your copywriting.

First off, copy helps establish you, or your company, your brand, with leadership, with thought leadership in the industry and online, and helps build loyalty with those customers. So when you write this cop, it’s going to be different than your average copy that you might write in a brochure, or just like from a journalism point of view.

You want it to be personable, you want it to be humanistic. If that means one-word sentences, then use one-word sentences. If that means cussing – yes I know brands that cuss and they pull it off beautifully – obviously if that’s not what your customers are going to be into then don’t do it. You definitely want to make sure that whatever persona your company takes on, that it’s going to really build that relationship with the reader.

It should almost feel like when you’re reading that copy that we’re talking one-on-one. Because really, that’s what it is. When someone’s reading a computer screen, it’s not like you have a grand audience behind you. It’s just one-on-one conversation.

So when you develop that copy, keep that in mind in writing this, that you’re really just having a conversation with the reader and trying to sincerely help them.

So besides the humanistic tone that we’re going to approach overall with writing, there’s a few technical aspects I want to cover. Mostly, when copy is being written for the web, we like to use shorter paragraphs. People like to scan a lot so that’s why you’ll see what we call H2s or subheads, that also are used in Google’s algorithm factor to kind of pinpoint what you’re discussing as well.

So if you can very naturally include your keywords in those H2s, or in speckled throughout your copy, definitely don’t push it, but definitely include those in there if you can.

Especially because of a lot of these keyword aren’t going to be the question itself, I tend to start my copy with a question.

Not necessarily to get the reader to answer, but almost just to establish that emotional connection that we make. With the reader like “hey, I know what you’re going through, I know this is tough, but guess what, we have the answer, and we’re going to explain why that answer works, and we’re going to help you get a solution to this issue, to this problem.”

So right away with that question, you can add that in there, and like I mentioned earlier, especially with Google’s answer box, we want to make sure we answer that question soon after we actually state it in the intro.

So if you’re going to ask the question, “Are you sick and tired of your tomato plants dying before you can actually get any fruit?” It might be because you don’t know what kind of diseases your tomato plant is actually getting and therefore, you don’t know how to put it away.

Well we’re going to explain what the tomato plant disease looks like, we’re going to explain how to treat it, naturally, we’re going to explain how to prevent it next time so you don’t have to deal with this again, and obviously, the way that we prevent it and the way that we help treat it is with our organic fungicide.

Obviously we’re going to put that call to action very carefully, very soft in the copy so it doesn’t seem like we’re pushing it just because we want them to buy it. We want them to see it as a genuine solution to their problems.

So a lot of this copy when we split it out, we might have a bullet what to look for, and then just a small snapshot. We might have a bullet underneath how to prevent it, and then a quick paragraph about that. And throughout all of this remember that you want to inner link to other helpful content on your site, and you want to make sure also that with these short paragraphs, that you’re really guiding the reader and the flow is still super consistent throughout and that the ideas are still grouped together as to where they should be in the content.

Besides the H2s, there are a few other technical elements as well that you want to make sure you optimize. The first one is the alt tag. That is the text behind an image that Google sees, because google can’t really see an image. But they use the alt tag mostly to help find what that image really deals with. So sometimes I like to try to combine that alt image with some of the keywords and what the image actually shows.

So for example, if I’m showing a wilted tomato plant, I might put “tomato plant with white specks on it, how to fix this common tomato plant problem.” Common tomato plant problems was my keyword, but I also have that version of the keyword that “white specks on tomato plants” which explains what’s in the image, but also, someone might type that into Google because they don’t know what to call it. So doing that type of alt tag can be very valuable to helping your content rank well and for terms that you might not even know your customers are typing into Google.

Besides that alt tags, you also want to make sure you have a meta description that’s optimized. I usually like to phrase it as “If you’re looking to learn about common tomato plant problems,” or trying to add in that keyword very naturally into the text. If you can’t add it in with the exact keywords, really don’t worry about it. Google is more facing on the theme of the keywords so just make sure you have synonyms in there that really explain what exactly this content is going to cover.

As you’re developing your content it’s not just going to be word count and images. Like I mentioned earlier, videos are great for on page, we can also do maybe a longer micrographic or infographic, which would be great for promotion to encourage other people to include that infographic on their site, and of course link back to yours. You can also do Pinterest images and optimizing the copy for social which can be very valuable depending on your industry.

So definitely address how you create your content and the multimedia that you include in your content to what your reader actually uses.

Are you guys exhausted yet? I know there is a lot to do about content marketing and copywriting, but if you guys have any questions or would like our expertise in creating content and creating that really cohesive strategy and driving results, let our strategists know, you can give us a call today. You can also sign up for more marketing tips through our email subscriber base.

And then of course make sure you make it for our next webinar series where we’re going to be talking about off-page SEO. When we talked about our web, we said that content and links played a major role in helping content rank organically, well off-page SEO has to do with link building. So make sure you don’t miss that one.

And thanks for watching!