Tag Archives: Writing Tips

How to Write High-Quality Blog Posts to Woo Google and Real, Live People

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This is part two of a two-part series. In part one, we covered the pre-writing process you can use to set up your blog post or content piece for success online.

In this article, I’ll show you how to take all that information and turn it into a compelling, high-quality article that people want to read and share, which will also help it rank better in organic search.

If you’ve done the planning process for a blog post and are feeling a bit overwhelmed, maybe wondering what to do with all that information now that you have it, no worries – I’ll walk you through what to do next.

This Is a Guide, Not a Formula

First, let’s talk about an important mindset to have as you go through this process.

Even though I’m sharing my secret writing recipe with you in these two articles, it’s important to not think of this as a formula, but rather as a guide. Even if you’re writing for business purposes, writing is still a creative endeavor. This process helps you balance the practical and artistic aspects of writing blog articles.

Use the Outline to Structure, Not Stifle

Your Target Between What You Say What They Want Learn - Eminent SEOThere’s really no one-size-fits-all formula you should follow when it comes to writing. It’s OK if your writing is loose and free when you start, because you’ll go through and revise it to give it structure.

The key is to allow the structure of your article to be determined by the flow of ideas. This way, it has structure and readers feel like they are being led through a logical progression, all without stifling your creativity or turning out cookie-cutter content.

For instance, you can begin writing the article in a narrative, story-like format to engage the reader, and then build to the main message and the supporting details.

Or, for more informational articles, you may use a structure more like you learned in school – where you start with the main message in the opening, list the supporting ideas, and then close by reinforcing the main message in the conclusion.

So take a deep breath and relax as you move forward with writing and refining your blog article.

Headline Hacks for Beginners

You may write the headline first and use that to help you decide what to include in the article, but it’s also fine to write what you want to say first and then come up with the headline that best encapsulates what the article covers.

If you already have a great headline that you wrote during the planning process, great. If not, make sure you spend some quality time working on the headline.

The headline serves two main purposes:

  1. It entices the reader to click on the article and read it (so it should be enticing!).
  2. It promises the reader what he or she will get from reading the article.

It’s important when you’re writing a compelling headline to make sure that you can deliver on what the title promises. It’s also a good idea to verify that your finished draft will fulfill your audience’s expectations, based on the headline.

When brainstorming headline ideas, try this process:

  1. Write several headlines meant to be enticing to people.
  2. Write several headlines that have the keywords people will search for when looking for information on this topic.
  3. Review both lists of headline ideas and look for ways to slip keywords into your favorite people-friendly headline.
  4. Copy and paste your headline into an internet search and see what kinds of articles it will be up against. Is it the right topic, and is your article better than the ones that are already ranking?

If you’re new to writing headlines, Jon Morrow’s Headline Hacks is a good place to start. It lists the types of headlines that have been most successful over decades of use (they’re timeless) and how to use them, with examples.

You can download it for free on his website if you’re willing to submit your email address. You can unsubscribe from his list anytime, but if you’re serious about improving your writing skills, you won’t want to; he has great resources on writing for online audiences.

Begin with the Reader in Mind

I always recommend that you open your article by connecting emotionally with your audience and stating the problem or situation from their point of view. This communicates that you are going to talk about something relevant to them, and that you understand their feelings and the situation they’re in.

This can happen in the first sentence, or a few sentences in, depending on what makes sense. You’ll notice that in this article, I start of very practically by stating that this article is part of a series, but I still end the opening section by acknowledging that the reader may be feeling overwhelmed about what to do next, and providing reassurance that I’m going to make things easier for them.

Know Where You’re Headed

Think of writing as connecting the dots. You’re going to start with the audience’s problem/experience/feelings and then lead them through what you want to communicate to them, and finally to your call to action at the end.

When you sit down to write, review the information in your planning doc, and get a sense in your mind of how you want this article to unfold. Imagine yourself in the audience’s mindset and the journey of enlightenment you want to take them on.

For a refresher on the pre-writing steps I outlined in my previous post, here’s the 10-point checklist:

Pre-Writing Checklist For Writing Viral Blog Post - Eminent SEO

Get On Your Soapbox and Be Vulnerable

You may find it useful to write your article in chunks, and then piece them together in the revision stage.

For example, after you write a section connecting with the audience and what they need to get out of this, you can write a section that gets out what you need to say.

These days, people want more than information. They want expert opinions about the information as well. Unlike news stories that strive for objectivity, you can be as opinionated and emotional in a blog article as you want.

The key is to give compelling advice while also being authentic and personal. When done well, this leads people to trust you and like you, and want to hear more from you. The tone is totally up to you. It can be aggressive or compassionate, optimistic or cautionary, highly emotional or highly rational – as long as it reflects your genuine feelings on the topic.

Here’s an list of what to address when you write out the Writer’s Stance paragraphs:

  • Your stance on the topic and why you feel strongly about it.
  • Why you disagree with other approaches.
  • A passionate plea not to make the kinds of mistakes you see people make in this area.
  • An admission of mistakes you’ve made or misunderstandings you’ve had about this topic.
  • What people absolutely must know to avoid the same mistakes.
  • Compelling reasons why people should listen to you and follow your lead.

You can then either include these points all in one section, or spread them throughout your article. For example, if you’re writing a 10-point how-to article, for each step you might explain how to do the step and then why you believe it must be done that way.

Close Like a Pro

When you’ve made all of your important points, wrap it up with a closing paragraph or section that:

  • Summarizes your main message and perhaps a key supporting point or two
  • Has a call to action

If you began your story as a narrative, it is probably more appropriate to bring the story full circle and provide a satisfying conclusion to the tale. Articles that are more informational will summarize the main idea, yet still sprinkle in a compelling emotional component.

Post-Writing Checklist

Once you’ve written your draft and revised it to tighten up the structure, run through this checklist to make sure you covered all the key elements that will help it be successful:

  1. Did you start out by empathizing with the audience’s current situation?
  2. Did you say what you needed to say and take a stance, hopefully one that sets you apart?
  3. Did you make sure your main message is clearly stated, preferably more than once?
  4. Did you answer the questions the audience will have, especially if they are new to your topic?
  5. Did you explain things in layman’s terms, or at least define any industry jargon you used?
  6. Did you close with a clear CTA that flows naturally from the topic, fits with the buyer stage, and aligns with your goals?
  7. Did you do a search to make sure your keywords are included in the headlines and body copy?
  8. Does your article fulfill the promise your headline makes to the reader?
  9. Did you proofread for spelling, grammar and capitalization?

Tip: Have a coworker do the proofreading if it’s not your strong suit.

In fact, I highly recommend that you have someone else read your article before you publish it. A fresh pair of eyes will catch errors that you miss because you’ve been looking at it so much. And a fresh perspective may bring questions that you hadn’t thought to include, but should have.

It’s Your Turn!

Writing a blog article that gets read and shared online isn’t an easy task, but it’s worth the effort if you’ve got something of value to share.

Keep in mind that for an article to get traction online, it needs to:

  • Resonate emotionally with your audience
  • Provide excellent content (be helpful!)
  • Use keywords selectively

Now that I’ve shared my process for creating compelling online content, I’d love to hear from you…

What is your biggest frustration when it comes to writing online content?
What comes easily to you, and where do you get hung up?

Share in the comments!

Sara Korn

Finding creative ways to give both readers and clients what they want is why I love being a writer! As a Content Strategist at Eminent SEO, I listen to clients and put myself in the shoes of their customers to create compelling marketing messages that drive engagement.

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Web Copy Is Like ‘Show and Tell’ for Your Readers

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Web Copy Show And Tell For Readers - Eminent SEO

Content needs to shift almost as fast as lightning, almost. But lightning never strikes in the same place twice.

Web content does, daily. At least that’s what every business owner hopes – to have multiple hits on their web presence from the same user. Content trends indicate that the possibility is more than likely.

The Content Marketing Institute-Marketing Profs study in 2016 showed that most North American business-to-business marketers planned to increase their content generation. How they will develop content strategies going forward will be representative of a difference in today’s web copy mindset. It’s all about the storytelling – and then some.

Web Copy Plays Show and Tell with Your Business and Its Customers

Whereas content was once looked upon as food for thought to fill a blank web screen, content is now deemed more serious than ever. The disdain for “fake news” and Snopes-worthy stories (that are rumors at best) has borne a new kind of web consumer: the truth seeker.

The demand for solid, substantive web content is not only echoed from businesses and consumers alike, but from Google analytics as well. Why?

Effective and Efficient – Either It is or It Isn’t

Google has reset the way it values content. Content optimization is still important, but the quality of content versus quantity of SEO indicators has been brought back into balance.

Consumers aren’t just hungry for great content: They want to be able to bite their teeth into it, leaving them chomping at the bit for more. It’s a business’s dream come true.

Today’s content needs aren’t just about having accessibility to all things information. It’s about time: the value of our time – and not having it wasted.

We want the right information on the first click or swipe. Content needs to possess effectiveness and efficiency. No bait-and-switch copy. No guts-without-the-glory gab. It should be “just the facts, ma’am” with a little entertainment on the side.

Scroll, Stop and Share

According to an article last year in Adweek, more than 82 percent of video views come from mobile devices. More than 65 percent of consumers make purchases online through mobile as well.

When creating web content, most digital marketers struggle to have their desktop content translate well to mobile devices. It’s not an easy task.

Content strategists mull over this dilemma, looking to find alignment between effective messaging and efficient delivery. It’s now all about the scroll, how to get the user to stop and share your story. Results matter. Don’t they?

Content Breeds Opportunity

Web copy, on a company site, can effectively do two things: establish a brand presence and execute sales enablement. Sure, there are other sub-categories within each, but brand presence and sales enablement are the large-scale objectives.

Your web copy strategy should also involve:

  • Prospecting
  • Lead generation
  • Customer retention
  • Nurturing relationships (with customers and affiliate partners)

But before you can go there…

…Your web copy has to start here:

The Audience Says, ‘Are You Talking to Me?’

Ayn Rand Contradiction Quote - Eminent SEOWhether your online audience is a specific niche or broad-based, your web copy must speak their language – literally and figuratively. The story told should be compelling, yes, but it should be laden with texture and color.

With words? Absolutely. Here’s how.

Great copy should:

  • Create a picture
  • Create an experience
  • Evoke viewer emotion
  • Elicit viewer response

In sales, there’s an adage, “You don’t get if you don’t ask.” Use that analogy for web copy. If you don’t ask for a response, you most likely won’t get one.

Use actionable words that entice the user and drive engagement. Where warranted, use the talents of industry experts to help create pertinent content to generate authenticity, which speaks volumes to your business community.

Southern-Fried Chicken Ain’t for Yanks

In marketing and in life, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Once you’ve got a good grasp on who the audience is, remember it with every breath of copy exhaled. It is the crux of web success.

This was evident in an online creative campaign I once worked on for an assisted-living company located in the Southeast. They wanted to appeal to three audiences: those who need in-home care, loved ones of those needing care, and potential health care partners.

In an effort to position this company as an industry resource with empathy for its audience, we created a vlog and blog strategy based on a character named Grace who spoke eloquently with a Southern drawl, of course. Going on about “fixin’ to eat bean pie” may not appeal to a viewer in New York or Arizona, but it didn’t have to. We were targeting the South.

Expectations Are Like Opinions, Everyone Has Them

Now that the importance of audience identification and language, tone and manner has been established, let’s delve into the realm of expectations.

Web copy directly and indirectly sets up the following expectations about your business:

  • Culture
  • Brand
  • Experience
  • Products or services
  • End result

Take a web walk through your site to ensure that the above-listed expectations mirror what your content speaks.

Words Can Over-Promise and Under-Deliver

Copy can be overzealous in approach, dialect and rhythm. But at the end of the consumer web experience, did the copy tell a good story for story’s sake, or did it pitch the truth?

Put a filter on self-serving creativity. It might get you an entry into The Webby Awards, but that doesn’t mean you’ve attracted your viewers, much less represented your product or service honestly.

The No. 1 Question in Web Copywriting

With every piece of content you put out there to support your business, ask yourself (from the reader’s perspective), “Do I care?” The answer should be an unequivocal, “Yes!”

The Best Web Copy Show and Tell Safeguard

To stay a head above your competitors’ web positioning, think hats. Your brand positioning is one hat, and your audience is another hat. With the right web copy, you can show and tell your company’s story in a manner that resonates with your audience and reflects your brand.

And then your two hats effectively become one. Isn’t that the point of your website?

Let Us Create a Better Brand Experience for You

Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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Writer By Day, Writer By Night: 6 Tips for Balancing Digital Marketing and Creative Writing

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Tips For Balancing Digital Marketing And Creative Writing - Eminent SEO

During my undergraduate years at the University of Arizona, my writing professors constantly warned me and my classmates about the risk of writing as a day job.

They cautioned us against living a double life as a writer. They told us to stay wary of burnout and losing our way as artists, suggesting that this was a very real possibility if we planned to make our living on SEO and marketing content.

I was an insufferable suck-up in class, so I nodded vigorously in response to these ominous predictions. Internally, however, my gut response to these warnings was akin to the infamous shrug emoji.

I was even less interested in hearing this advice during graduate school, when I was living the double life in full swing. It was hard to nod as vigorously as I did during my undergraduate days: I was already balancing a full-time job producing marketing content during the day with attending class and drafting my memoir thesis in the evening.

Today, as a full-time marketing copywriter and content strategist, I am still tasked with finding the right balance between my life as a marketing content professional and my goals as a creative academic. Is it easy? Certainly not! Is it impossible? My answer is an equally vigorous: No way!

That being said, I can now see that the bleak scenarios described by my writing professors actually helped to shape the very strategies I now use to stay sane and productive. The following tips and strategies are meant to help those content writers who struggle to balance their daily copywriting duties with their passion projects.

1. Use Your Downtime

A common mistake that writers make when balancing a double life is trying to separate creative and content writing into separate mental silos. Anyone who attempts these mental gymnastics for long will find that the effort is worthy of Sisyphus.

That’s because we as writers only have so much control over the creative process. Ideas will come and go with no regard for your convenience. As a result, it’s important to make use of downtime at the office effectively when your creative brain flips on and starts generating good ideas.

Consider keeping a notebook handy during your work day. If you have an idea, jot it down quickly before it leaves your mind and then get back to work. Likewise, make use of your breaks and lunch time to review your notebook of drafts, edit a paragraph or simply brainstorm about your next creative project.

Every bit of creative writing you can sneak into your day goes a long way toward your achieving your goals, whether they revolve around publishing or expanding your audience as a blogger. You might even enjoy your work hours a bit more when you allow your creative brain to churn out creative thoughts throughout the day.

2. Flex Your Skills

As a writer, it’s very easy to see the SEO- and link-focused nature of website marketing content as a restraint on your creative process. I felt this way for years. By the time I was in graduate school, however, my horizons had expanded and I’d come to appreciate the idea of creative restraints.

Consider forms in poetry. The Elizabethan sonnet, with its strict rules concerning meter and rhyme, is a great example. Forms do constrain the writer’s choices but also encourages them to think outside of their own tried and true artistic strategies.

What if you thought about SEO keyword and header requirements the same way you might think about a writing prompt or a formal assignment? Imposing limitations on the creative process not only produces results in your own writing, but can also help encourage you to exceed expectations at the office by producing some truly sublime marketing content.

You also present yourself as a prime candidate for promotion. Take it from my experience: A little boost to your paycheck will go a long way toward making you feel more comfortable about your double life as a writer.

3. Leverage Your Research

The longer you’ve been a writer, the more likely you are to take your inspiration from unlikely sources. Openness to the unexpected muse is a critical skill for those balancing a content marketing job with craft development in their free time.

In order to generate a steady stream of high-level marketing content for the web, one must become a very effective researcher. Most writers have experience doing research from their academic days, but deadlines and large workloads force content producers to become even more efficient at scouring the web for information.

If you find yourself short on ideas when you sit down to write at home, try expanding your research process at the office. As you scan the web for data and sources, make sure to scan your results for interesting, newsworthy or inspiring stories. Bookmark these links, then browse them in greater detail after your work day has ended. Fitting in a bit of creative research into your daily workflow will also take pressure off of yourself to put in that time when you get home.

4. Find Your Fortress

Batman has his Bat Cave. Superman has his Fortress of Solitude. Just as a superhero needs a secluded headquarters to retreat to, a writer needs a place to think, reflect and appreciate the quiet.

Considering how much time you’ll spend writing for work, it’s more important than ever to stay productive during your free time. Otherwise, you risk falling into the uninspired rut my writing professors warned about. With this in mind, find a place where you can disconnect from the world, including the work assignments waiting on your desk for the next morning.

After moving back home to Phoenix, Arizona, I selected my old local library as my personal bastion of productivity. Free access to high-speed WiFi, limited noise pollution and a very low chance of bumping into anybody I knew from high school made my local branch an ideal spot to spend a few hours each day reading and writing.

5. Obey Your Schedule

Another piece of advice I heard constantly from my writing professors, especially at the graduate level, was the importance of having a schedule as a writer. No pithy rejoinders here. They were absolutely correct.

This maxim goes double for writers that balance a double life. The importance of meeting deadlines at work is a given for most, but few commit the same focus to the writing they do for themselves. Unfortunately, those who fail to work on their craft consistently are at the greatest risk for letting their work writing consume their lives.

I’m sorry to say that there aren’t any easy strategies for becoming a disciplined writer. It’s something we all have to work on every day. Thankfully, applying some of the other strategies I mentioned above can make this challenge a bit less daunting.

Start by assigning yourself some deadlines. Identify a few hours each day that can be dedicated to writing, whether they be early in the morning or after you get home from work. Do everything in your power to obey your schedule.

You probably won’t get it right all at once, but that’s OK. Just setting a schedule and paying closer attention to how you choose to spend your time (when you should be writing) are major steps in the right direction.

6. Honor Your Process

It’s easy to get discouraged as a writer. After all, we can be pretty sensitive. That’s why it’s important for you to make a habit of carrying your projects to completion. Denying yourself the internal encouragement that comes with finishing a poem or prose piece just makes it harder to stay motivated as a creative writer.

On the other hand, beating yourself up over how long it’s taken to finish a novel in your spare time is not an effective strategy. Your creative process is unpredictable, and it’s not typical for your free time and your feelings of inspiration to line up consistently. This is especially true when you are tasked with a full workload of blog posts, newsletters, email campaigns and content pages during the day.

Just as the style and voice of your work are unique, so too are the strategies you’ll employ to balance a double life as a marketing content professional and a creative writer. As long as you are able to secure a quiet place to work, set a reasonable schedule and stay disciplined, the specifics are up to you.

In short, the double life is one worth living. Just figure out what works for you, stick to it and keep your pen on the pad.

Remy Albillar

As a content writer at Eminent SEO, I specialize in producing high-quality copy for a long list of digital mediums, including websites, emails, blogs and social media. I got my career started right out of college producing SEO-driven content for a marketing agency based in Tucson, AZ. I’ve since worked as a copywriter within numerous industries. I’ve written the first half of a personal memoir and earned my master’s in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston, MA.

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What You Need To Do About Google Authorship Right Now

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Have you seen those little pictures of people’s faces just to the left of the search results?  You know, like the one you see below:

That nifty little photo there looks cool when you go through the search engine results, but it does much more than that.

In one case, for example, Copyblogger noted some studies where clicks on results with photos increased by as much as 150%.  In fact, the better the headshot, the more clicks some users saw.

And you also see in that photo where it says, “by Danny Sullivan – in 1,769,122 Google+ circles?”  That’s also a huge credibility booster. You know it’s not just some average Joe writing on a topic for the first time. Instead, it’s someone highly respected, so search users are even more likely to click on that search result.

But There Are Some Questions About Authorship’s Long Term Usefulness…

AJ Kohn notes that the Authorship Project at Google was led by Othar Hansson… who now works on the Android search team. Additionally, Sagar Kamdar was the product manager for Authorship, and he now works on Google’s Project Loon.

And the truth is, even though many important authors already use Google Authorship, there are many who do not.

So, how can Google make Authorship an important factor in its search rankings if many major thought leaders don’t use it?

Even Though Not Everyone Uses It, You Should Use Authorship

There are simply too many benefits to ignore using Google Authorship. Even though it’s not used by everyone, it is used by many reputable people across the web. And, Google’s looking for a way to establish unique identities on the internet in order to help searchers find credible, relevant results.

Besides increasing click-throughs and building your credibility, it also:

  • Makes you easier to spot in the search results (numerous eye tracking studies, including this one from Moz, have shown people look at these images first before headlines)
  • Allows you to claim ownership of your content (that puts a damper on plagiarism)
  • Builds your reputation and authority as a digital writer
  • Distinguishes you from other people on the web who may share your name

There is a Catch…Isn’t There Always?

One catch about authorship is that it’s kind of quirky at times. It’s a comparatively simple thing to do, but it may (or may not) throw some curveballs in your direction. If you think it’s a good idea, read this post to learn how to get it set up (whether you write content on your own site or another).

The Nutshell…

Although there is still debate over the long term value of Google Authorship it is still very much alive and the data speaks for itself. If you want to increase the popularity of your site, the authority of your brand and the number of clicks to your blog, then Google Authorship is a great opportunity.

Happy Writing!

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing work in 2005. I’m a {very} busy mom of 4 and I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I’m heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I love coffee, wine, food and other people who enjoy the adventure of seeking out the best places to eat and drink. In my free time (what’s that?) you’ll most likely find me studying philosophy and spirituality, cooking for my family or relaxing with a nice glass of wine, a funny movie and the people I love.

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