Take Small Steps Toward Your Calling (Not Big Leaps)

Andrew Raynor

This is the fifth lesson of an eight-week book study I’m hosting live on The Art of Work. Be sure to join the book study so that you don’t miss next week’s lesson, and join the conversation live! Go here to watch the previous four lessons.

Part 1

Part 2

Book study highlights

In this week’s lesson, we talk about:

  • What I learned about pursuing my calling after singing a song for a girl.
  • Why pursuing your dream is more than a mythical moment in time.
  • Not taking giant leaps into the unknown, but building bridges over time.
  • Practical steps you can take towards doing the work you were meant to do.
  • How frequently doing a little work every day is ideal for growing in a skill.
  • Getting started and creating momentum in your life.
  • The importance of community in your success.

Resources

I hope you’ll join me live next week for The Art of Work book study where we will discuss why you’re in the perfect position to grow after you’ve failed, feel stuck, or just want to give up.

Don’t forget to join the conversation that’s happening on Facebook. Go here to get started.

Andrew Raynor

Keyword research: the ultimate guide

Andrew Raynor

 

 

Last update: 30 June, 2016

Before writing content, you’ll have to decide what terms you want to be found for. You’ll have to get inside people’s heads and find out what words they use while searching. Eventually, you can use exactly these terms in your content and make sure you start ranking for them. Keyword research is the first step in SEO copywriting and an essential part of any SEO strategy. In this ultimate guide, I’ll guide you through the many steps in keyword research.

What is keyword research?

Before we start explaining the process of keyword research, we’ll explain the most important concepts of keyword research.

Keyword research can be defined as the activity you undertake in order to come up with an extensive list of keywords you would like to rank for.

Keyword strategy can be defined as all the decisions you make on the basis of that keyword research.

Key phrases are keywords consisting of multiple words. We tend to use the word keyword all the time, but we don’t necessarily mean it’s only one word. ‘WordPress SEO’ is a keyword, as is ‘Google Analytics plugin’. Keywords can contain multiple words! We will refer to these key phrases as keywords throughout this guide.

Long tail keywords are more specific and less common. They focus more on a niche. The longer (and more specific) search terms are, the easier it will be to rank for the term. Keywords that are more specific (and often longer) are usually referred to as long tail keywords.

Focus keyword is the keyword or the key phrase you would like your page to be found for. You insert a focus keyword in the metabox of the Yoast SEO plugin.

Why is keyword research important?

Proper keyword research will make clear what search terms are used by your audience. And this is of great importance. At Yoast, we regularly encounter clients that have a specific set of words they use when referencing their products, while their target group uses a completely different set of words. These clients’ sites aren’t found because of a mismatch in word use.

Optimizing for words that people don’t use doesn’t make any sense. Doing good keyword research makes sure that you use the words your target audience uses and therefore makes the whole effort of optimizing your website worthwhile.

Read more: ‘The basis of keyword research’ »

Executing keyword research

In our view, keyword research has three steps. First, you write down the mission of your business. Next, you make a list of all the keywords you want to be found for. Finally, you create landing pages for all keywords. In this ultimate guide, we will take you through these three steps in much more detail.

We’ll guide you through the entire process of executing keyword research step by step. We’ll give practical tips to easily start your own keyword research.

Step 1: what is your mission?

Before starting anything, you’ll have to think about your mission. You have to think about questions like: who are you? What is your website about? What makes it special? And what promise do you make on your website?

Keep reading: ‘ What is the mission of your website’ »

A lot of people can’t answer these questions effectively at first. You have to figure out what makes you stand out from the rest. So take your time and literally write down your mission on a piece of paper. A computer or an iPad will do as well of course. Once you’re able to answer these questions in detail, you have taken the first and most important step in your keyword strategy.

Step 2: make a list of keywords

The second step of executing your keyword research is creating a list of keywords. With your mission in mind, you should try to get into the heads of your potential buyers. What will these people be looking for? What kind of search terms could they be using while looking for your amazing service or product? Ask yourself these questions and write down as many answers as you possibly can.

If your mission is clear, you will have a rather clear image of your niche and your unique selling points (the things that set your business apart from others). These will be the terms you want to be found for.

Tools you can use

Making a list of possible search terms remains hard. And up until a few years ago, doing your keyword research was much easier. You could simply check Google Analytics to see with which terms people found your website. Unfortunately, that is no longer possible. So you’re pretty much left in the dark about the terms people use in search engines to end up at your website. Luckily, there are still some other tools which make your keyword research a bit easier. Read our post about tools you can use in your keyword research for more tips and tricks. 

Step 3: construct landing pages

The third step towards a long term keyword strategy is to create awesome landing pages for all the keywords you want to be found for. We would advise you to do that in a well structured manner. Start by putting the list of keywords you have made in a table. A table (use for instance Excel or Google Docs /Sheets to set one up) forces you to set up a structure and to make a landing page for all the search terms you came up with. Put the search terms in the first column and add columns in which you put the different levels of your site’s structure.

Construct a landing page for every search term you came up with. You do not have to create all these pages immediately. This could very well be a long term thing. The more specific your search term is, the further down into your site structure this term’s landing page belongs.

Read on: ‘ How to clean up your site structure’ »

After completing your keyword research, you should have a clear overview of the terms people use and the terms you want the pages on your site to be found for. This overview should function as a guidance for writing content on your website.

Long term keyword strategy

No website should rely on one single keyword or one keyphrase for its traffic. You should use your mission as a starting point, take our three steps in doing proper keyword research and work towards a solid base: a keyword strategy. In this section of our ultimate guide, we will explain why it’s important to have a long term keyword strategy.

How many keywords?

It is very hard to give an exact number of keywords you should focus on. And then again, it’s very simple. You just have to have a large number, as large a number that is feasible for you. More than a 1000 keywords is probably more than you can chew off.

Even if you’re a reasonably small business, you’ll probably end up with a couple hundred keywords. But you don’t have to have pages for all of these immediately. The great thing about having a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress is that you can incrementally add content. Think about what keywords you would like to rank for now, and which ones aren’t that important (yet). Make some kind of priority and plan the creation of your content.

Read more: ‘ How to clean up your site structure’ »

Ad hoc keyword research strategies

In an ideal world, you would do your keyword research, make a beautiful table and create landing pages. Your site structure would be flawless and you would blog and write every day making your site rank higher and higher in Google. Unfortunately, we live in the real world.

Of course, your keyword research will not always be as extensive. And some posts or articles aren’t written as part of an awesome strategy, but just because the topic was in the news or you had some inspiration. That’s just how these things work. But that doesn’t have to be a problem.

If you’re writing something that does not fit your strategy (exactly), this doesn’t mean you should not aim at making that content rank. Perhaps you can use it to rank on something which remotely relates to the terms in the list of your keyword strategy. Use tools like Google Trends to choose which keyword you’d like to rank for. At least take some time to think about how to fit your article or blog in your strategy. After all, if you are writing valuable content, you might as well make it rank!

The importance of long tail keyword strategy

Focusing on long tail keywords should be an important part of a long term keyword research strategy. Long tail keywords are keywords or key phrases that are more specific (and usually longer) than more common “head” keywords. Long tail keywords get less search traffic, but will usually have a higher conversion value, as they focus on a more specific product or topic. Read our post about the importance of long tail keywords if you want to know why you should focus on long tail keywords when optimizing your site.

Keep reading: ‘Befriend the long tail’ »

Multiple focus keywords

In Yoast SEO Premium you’re able to focus on multiple keywords. If you use our tool correctly, your text can be optimized for up to five keywords. In our post about multiple focus keywords , we explain to you why it’s important to use the multiple focus keyword functionality while optimizing your text.

Read on: ‘How to choose the perfect focus keyword’ »

Conclusion on keyword research

Doing keyword research should be the start of any sustainable SEO strategy. The result of keyword research will be an extensive list of keywords for which you’d like to be found. The hardest part is yet to begin: the content writing. You should write articles and blogpost on every single keyword you would like to be found for. That’ll be quite a challenge!

Read more: ‘SEO copywriting: the ultimate guide’ »

SEO New Hampshire

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109: Everything Writers Need to Know About Facebook Live

Andrew Raynor

I often hear from writers about the challenge of sharing their message with others, and it’s probably not what you think. Their problem is not sharing their words with the world. All of us have countless ways to promote our work. The challenge they face is deciding which medium to focus upon.

Everything Writers Need to Know about Facebook Live

Facebook is currently the largest social media network in the world, and arguably the most influential. To help people better connect with each other, they’ve recently doubled-down their efforts on Facebook Live.

Facebook Live enables you to broadcast a live video to your friends and followers and interact with them in real time. With the growing popularity of watching videos, Facebook Live boasts a tremendous opportunity to engage your audience and expand your reach. But is it a good medium for writers to use?

This week on The Portfolio Life, Andy Traub and I talk about Facebook Live and whether writers should bother with using it to share their message with others.

Listen in as we talk through using Facebook Live, the best practices we’ve learned so far, and practical steps you can take today to start using the platform.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below. (If you are reading this via email or RSS, please click here.)

Show highlights

In this episode, Andy and I discuss:

  • If Facebook Live is a distraction for writers.
  • How to think about new technology for sharing your message.
  • Developing complementary skills to support your writing career.
  • Overcoming your hesitation to speak live.
  • The best practices we’ve learned from using Facebook Live.
  • Three things to consider before using new technology and mediums to share your work.

Quotes and takeaways

  • There’s more to being a writer than writing. You need to become the master of complementary skills.
  • The challenge for a writer is that you can’t just write; you have to get your work out there.
  • Growth doesn’t happen in your comfort zone.
  • You’re never too old to learn something new if you’re willing to apply yourself and find the right teacher.

Resources

Are you going to try Facebook Live? Have you used it before? If so, did you have a good or bad experience? Share in the comments.

Andrew Raynor

Where do you want me to click?

Andrew Raynor

 

 

It’s a vastly overrated notion that a homepage should include all sections of your website and serve all kind of visitors. It needs one clear call to action. That call to action needs to be the main thing you want your visitor to do on that page, like buy your products or subscribe to your newsletter.

Make sure that a call to action stands out from the rest of your design, by using a contrasting button color, an actionable link or button text and reducing most (if not all) clutter.

Clutter:
To make disorderly or hard to use by filling or covering with objects

The need to put everything on one homepage

Employment websites do it. “Employers subscribe here”, “Companies list here”, “Latest jobs”, “Build your resume”. Real estate agents do it. “Buy these new homes”, “Sell your home with us”, “Latest sales”, “Upcoming events”. That’s really just the tip of the iceberg.

It seems that most homepages are designed with one thing in mind: “How do I make everything on my website accessible from this one single page.” Well, you can’t. Not in a way that your visitor will understand your company, product or really anything at all.

One clear call to action

To guide your visitor into or through your website, you should give him directions. Pretty similar to how a road needs road signs actually. Yes, you can put up multiple signs, but you should make the most important ones the biggest. Make it as big as possible. Make it stand out. Here’s our own product page for the Gold website review:

Gold review product page

It’s pretty clear what we want you to do there, right? Not all websites add calls to action like that, though. Everybody has visited that one great looking website in 50 shades of grey that had an orange RSS button that drew all attention. That’s really bad design in my opinion. Of course, the thing that stands out should just be your call to action: that’s what you want visitors to click on.

A different approach to a call to action

There are many ways to use and implement this call to action. Obviously, one is using the big bold button, preferably in a color that is not used in the design of the website (the orange RSS button mentioned above). You might also use whitespace to emphasize a specific part of the homepage, making it stand out that way.

We recently had a client for a website review who has this (quite common) idea of starting his website with a choice: three options for three variations of a product. Of course, that would imply three calls to action…

No problem, if you combine the two ways mentioned above. So make a block that really stands out (use sufficient whitespace around it) and add three similar calls to action, with (very important) a descriptive title for that block, like “Make your choice”. That way, the entire block becomes your call to action. It’s a bit like we do on our current homepage:

Yoast.com call to action

Now let’s illustrate the simplicity of call to actions by looking at some example websites (none of them are clients):

Jobsite.co.uk

In the first version of this article, one of the examples I used was Jobsite.co.uk. It was terrible, in terms of calls to action.

Jobsite is a leading UK online recruitment site, dedicated to helping you find your next job.”

I actually got lost on the homepage already. Yes, I understand you want me to search for my next job on your page, or do you really want me to register first? One very distracting issue this homepage has, is that the Vision2learn banner has the largest call to action of the page…

jobsite.co.uk screenshot

How things have changed over the last years! The 2016 Jobsite website has a very nice call to action that focuses on just that: finding a job.

Clear call to action on the 2016 Jobsite.co.uk

All things considered, the homepage is very much improved. My next suggestion would be to test the button color (make it stand out more) and the button text (make it more inviting and descriptive, like ‘Find your dream job’).

Scuolaleonardo.com

The second website I mentioned back in 2012 was Scuola Leonardo da Vinci. Since we do website reviews for websites from all over the world, I decided to look up an Italian School in Italy. At first, in the Italian language. After looking at their website, I decided to stick to Google Translate… as I couldn’t find where to apply for a course. As it turned out, the question “Where do you want me to click???” was impossible to answer for this website. The total lack of a call to action, combined with the overall clutter, makes a visitor head back to Google in the blink of an eye.

scuolaleonardo.com screenshot

Just like Jobsite.co.uk, this website has developed over the years, but just not as much. The first view of the 2016 website is this:

Scuola Leonardo's call to action (lack of)

We have the modern large image in the first view, with a nice block of text that could have easily been the call to action. But it isn’t, as the entire image holds no link. A missed opportunity. A bit more down that page, we do find some call to action buttons:

More Scuola Leonardo

Why not start with these? They make perfect top tasks for that website and deserve some more TLC in my book. Change the button color to make them stand out more from the rest of the design altogether.

Walmart.com

After the initial publication of this post, I received quite some comments on my quick review of Walmart’s calls to action. You’d expect that company to monitor and improve their website all the time, right? This is what I wrote in 2012:

“Help me out here, Walmart. Why do you want me to click my empty cart? Don’t get me wrong, for shopping sites, emphasizing the cart is always a good thing. But I think what Walmart wants me to click is something else, like the free shipping offer or perhaps a product I could buy. Now that should be the orange button on that homepage! Also, the banner “Shop Top Brands” is just a list of products and prices. The call to action on that banner should also be clear (“Shop NOW” or something like that).”

It seems we all learned quite a lot about UX and conversion optimization, as the 2016 Wallmart.com website really is improved a lot. In fact, it might be the best improvement of the three examples in this article:

Walmart 2016 screenshot

The header is clickable, the cart has been toned down, the search option is nice and prominent and the banner is for their own products. Is it all good? Well, there is always room for improvement. In an ideal world, there would be an actionable button-like element in that header. Just so we won’t mistake the banner below the header for that.
Furthermore, the lady might be looking at that button, instead of the package. On the other hand, we feel the sheer joy she feels when receiving her Walmart package, right? These really are things a website should test.

Get to work!

A lot of things mentioned in this article go for your homepage and landing pages. For product pages, there are a lot more things to consider. Find these in my article Calling to the next action.

With the issues described above, you can easily check your own homepage. Is there a clear main call to action? Is there too much clutter?Go and make things clear for your visitor. You’ll have a better website after it!

SEO New Hampshire

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WCEU Love & and a discount on all Yoast products!

Andrew Raynor

 

 

WordCamp Europe was so wonderful! Fourteen members of our Yoast team went to Vienna and had a fantastic time. We enjoyed the many inspiring talks, catching up with old friends and meeting so many new people. We want to celebrate WordCamp Europe by offering a great discount on all of our products!

IMG_7166IMG_7176IMG_7165IMG_7164

Brexit….

WordCamps enable us to befriend people from all over the world. Building connections with all kinds of people in order to improve and to build WordPress. Together. While we were strengthening our bonds with many British friends in Vienna, Great-Britain voted to leave the EU. We feel very sad about the Brexit. We love all our British WordPress friends so dearly and saw that they were in shock…

Love conquers all

We want to express our love to all of our WCEU friends by offering a 20% discount on all of our products to everyone. All of our other EU-loving clients can also profit from 20% discount. Use our discount code EULOVEFEST and get a 20% discount on all of our products until the end of June (that’s only a few more days). 

Compliments to the WCEU 2016 organization!

We all enjoyed WordCamp Europe very much. It was amazing. So many people and it still felt like being part of a family. Talks were great, social events superb and the Yoast team had a blast at the WCEUball. We want to compliment and thank the organization of WCEU 2016 for their excellent work! Next year, WordCamp Europe will be in Paris! We hope to see you there!

SEO New Hampshire

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Why Most Aspiring Writers Are Doomed to Fail

Andrew Raynor

Most of the people I know who say they want to be a writer will ultimately fail. Ouch, right?

Why Most Aspiring Writers Are Doomed to Fail

I don’t say this to discourage you. On the contrary, I’m warning you. It’s just the truth. Most writers are doomed to fail. I’ll tell you why in just a minute, but first, let me be clear about what I mean by failure.

True Failure for Writers

Failure has nothing to do with how many books you sell or how much money you make. Like a cheap teddy bear you win at an arcade, those are just reminders of the fun you had playing the game. For writers, failure is never creating anything meaningful, and as a result, never making a difference.

Why is it that so many “writers” can’t seem to finish a book? Why are the books they do finish usually uninspiring and overlooked?

In a word, I think the problem is your foundation. More specifically, a lack of  a foundation.

Writing is hard. A clever sentence, a funny joke? Those are easy enough. But to actually finish a book filled with life changing perspective? Most writers could never do it.

But you’re different. You’ve proven that by reading my blog, signing up for free training, and learning week after week. You’re serious about being a writer, even if you’ve never told another soul.

I respect that, and I want to help. So here’s my advice after authoring four books, getting published, and even hitting a few bestsellers lists.

To reach the finish line, you’ll need two things. Don’t worry, both of them are free.

#1: Connect with your calling.

The first thing you need to do is to connect with your calling. You might think, “Jeff, I know what my calling is. I want to be a writer.”

But writing is not your calling. Sorry, it’s not mine, either. In fact, I don’t think writing is anybody’s calling.

You see, writing is just a means of communication like talking. And no one ever says their calling is talking, no matter how chatty they are. :)

Your calling is about who you’re meant to serve. What you’ll stand against. And more importantly, what you’ll stand for.

Once you understand your calling, your writing will explode with power as you write from a place of purpose. You’ll start to resonate with the people who are waiting right now for what you have to say.

#2: Become a gritty writer.

The second thing you’ll need is grit—perseverance. The good news is, grit comes easily to people who write with conviction.

Writer’s block becomes bearable when you know what needs to be said. Self-doubt weakens because the process isn’t about you anymore, it’s about the people you’re called to serve. And the dozens of excuses that keep you from your desk are revealed for what they are — insignificant — when your reason for writing is clear.

I don’t want to mislead you. Writing will still be hard. But history is brimming with the stories of men and women who accomplished incredible things. Why? Because incredible things are worth accomplishing, even though they’re hard.

The difference between success and failure

Discovering your calling is the foundation to great writing. It’s hard, soul-searching work, which is why most aspiring writers never do it–and never succeed.

You’re welcome to take that free advice and set off in pursuit of your calling. I truly wish you the best.

Or, you can let me guide you through the entire process in my online, video-based course The Art of Work.

In this course, I’ll walk you through a 7-step approach with practical exercises to help you zero in on your unique calling.

I’m running a big sale right now where you can get lifetime access to the entire course for only one payment of $197—a $30 discount.

And remember when I said success for a writer isn’t about money, but rather about serving people with your unique perspective? I really believe that. So in addition to the discount, I’m going to give you 10 free paperback copies of The Art of Work book. I’m hoping you’ll give them to your friends and family so more people can be helped by this message.

If you’re ready to stop spinning your wheels and unlock your power as a writer, enroll in the course.

Whether the course is right for you or not, I encourage you to be diligent in uncovering your calling. This is the difference between success and failure for most aspiring writers.

How can you best connect your writing with your calling? Share in the comments.

Andrew Raynor

Why do Ideas Spread? 5 Factors that Make a Difference

Andrew Raynor

Note: This is a guest post from David Burkus. David is a best-selling author, speaker, award-winning podcaster, and management professor. You can learn more about David at DavidBurkus.com.

As a writer, your creative success depends not only on coming up with great ideas. But also with getting those ideas seen and heard by your target audience.

Why do Ideas Spread? 5 Factors that Make a Difference

We like to think that great ideas are recognized as such from the beginning, but in fact, that is rarely the case. I learned this the hard way when my first ebook crashed and burned so fast that I resorted to giving it away for free.

Research shows we’re not as good as we think at recognizing the value of creative ideas. If you search for a definition of creativity, you will likely find a definition that says creativity incorporates words like “new” and “useful” (or similar synonyms like “original” and “valuable”). For something to be seen as a creative idea, it has to be both new and useful. But, it turns out, we humans are terrible at seeing the useful in the new.

For your work to be seen, it has to depart from the status quo. But that departure makes many people uncomfortable. Despite our oft-stated desire for more creativity, we also hold a stronger desire for certainty and structure. When that certainty is challenged, a bias against creativity develops.

So how can you improve the chances of getting your great idea adopted? Ask Everett Rodgers.

In 1962, Rodgers published Diffusion of Innovation (where he coined the term “early adopter”). This was was the end result of a large-scale research project on why innovations spread. Rogers, then a sociology professor at Ohio State University, collected the results of over 500 studies on why creative ideas are adopted among people and organizations.

He found that five factors greatly enhanced the chance that those judging an idea would adopt and spread it: relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability.

1. Relative Advantage

This is the degree to which an idea or product is perceived as better than the existing standard. Just how much of an improvement is it over the previous generation? The higher the relative advantage, the greater the chance of adoption.

Many of the most renowned works of art are heralded for the way in which they dramatically moved their genre forward. If your nonfiction writing doesn’t bring a significant new knowledge, skill or perspective, or if your fiction writing fails to entertain, then the odds of anyone talking about it are slim.

Relative advantage is what most people think of when they visualize something being “creative.”

2. Compatibility

How easily can I use my past experience to understand how this new product functions or what this new work means? The higher the similarity with existing norms, the better the chances of adoption.

Ideas and people that miss the compatibility factor are often described as too far “ahead of their time.” For example, for all of their ground-breaking special effects, many blockbuster films often borrow plot elements from Joseph Campbell’s monomyth—or the hero’s journey—to make them compatible with the stories we already like, from the original Star Wars to that brand new Star Wars.

3. Complexity (or Simplicity)

How easy is it for people to understand your new idea or product? Is your idea a simple extension of logic? Is it an easy-to-read piece? If the work or product is seen as highly complex or difficult to grasp, people will shy away from engaging with the work or adopting the idea.

Think about how Google rose to the top of the search wars, in part because of their backend algorithm, but also because their home page was uncluttered and easy to grasp. Or how mega-selling writers like Simon Sinek boil their 200+ page book into a simple mantra: leaders eat last.

4. Trialability

How effortless it is for your target audience to interact with your new concepts or experiment with your product? How easily can they try it out? The more potential users or patrons can test the product or view the work, the more likely individuals will adopt it.

In the past decade or so, many recording artists and groups like Jonathan Coulton have taken trialability to new levels. Jonathan gives his music away for free and he adjusted his business model to leverage live concert tickets, giving him the ability to make a full-time living from his music. Listeners try for free and demonstrate their support afterward.

The more they can try it, the less uncertainty there is around committing to it. Writers building their platform through blogging first and writing the book once a tribe has assembled are leveraging the same principle.

5. Observability

Observability is the noticeable result of trying or consuming your idea or product. When new products are highly visible, it drives more people to share it and increases the likelihood of mass adoption.

One of the reasons for Banksy’s success, an English graffiti artist, is the observability of his work. Many artists challenge social conventions in unique, seemingly playful ways, but Banksy’s work is highly public and easily shareable. It isn’t just stuck behind the glass in a single gallery or museum. Likewise, when people see the dramatic change experienced by those who read your work, they practically invite themselves to join.

When Ideas Spread

When all five of these factors are met, ideas and creative works are far more likely to be widely adopted. As such, they make a useful litmus test for judging if an idea is ready to be presented to the world.

Regardless of how much enthusiasm you have for your new idea, you need to take an unbiased assessment of it against these five factors. This will provide you with a good gauge of whether your excitement will translate to success. If most of these factors are lacking, perhaps it’s time to rethink your work or refine your pitch.

Do you have a new idea or product you’re developing? How does it fit the criteria of these five factors? Share in the comments.

Andrew Raynor

Do’s and don’ts in SEO copywriting

Andrew Raynor

 

 

SEO copywriting can be a daunting process. What are the things you most definitely should do in order to write readable and SEO-friendly content? And, what are the things you should definitely avoid? In this article, I’ll present the most important do’s and don’ts in SEO copywriting.

SEO copywriting do’s

Do: Use Yoast SEO content and SEO analysis

We’ve made a tool that’ll make SEO copywriting that much easier. We check both readability as well as the SEO-friendliness of your text in our Yoast SEO plugin. Make sure to use our tool if you want to write great content that ranks.

Do: Use synonyms

Don’t use your focus keyword over and over. Your text will become unreadable and you will be risking a Panda penalty if you are stuffing your text with keywords. Make sure to use synonyms of the keywords and keyphrases you want to be found for!

Do: Adapt to the language of your audience

Make sure your text is adapted to the audience you’re writing for. If you write about LEGO and focus on kids, your text should be easy to read. But, if your audience consists of scientists with a Ph.D., it would be ok if your text is much more difficult. Also, think about your use of words, whether or not you’ll address your audience directly. Adapt the tone of voice of your article in such a way that it fits your audience.

Do: Balance your focus keyword

Balance the use of your keywords throughout your text. You should definitely mention your focus keyword a couple of times (don’t overdo it though). Usually, a keyword density of 1 to 2 % is fine. On top of that, you should make sure your use of keywords are balanced throughout the text. So, don’t put all your keywords in the first paragraph, but mention it a few times throughout the article.

Do: Use internal linking

Make sure to think about linking to similar articles. Maybe you have a cornerstone content article on a similar topic. Link from your new blog post to that cornerstone article. Perhaps your new article is the best one you have written in a long time. In that case, make sure to add some links to this new piece in your previous articles.

Do: Make a clear call to action

Make sure your call to action is clear and that people will be able to click from your article to other places on your website. What do you want people to do after they’ve read your article? Do you want them to buy something? Do you want them to read another article?

Read more: ‘SEO copywriting checklist’ »

SEO copywriting don’ts

Don’t: adapt your topic to a keyword

Of course, your keyword research should be leading in deciding what to write about. However, don’t try to write an article about a certain topic and try to rank for it by optimizing it for a totally different keyword. Topic and keyword should be pretty much the same. It shouldn’t be too hard to optimize for a certain keyword. If you’re feeling awkward about using a keyword too often, perhaps the topic of the post and your focus keyword aren’t aligned.

Don’t: write boring

Make sure you have a writing style that’s appealing to your audience. Don’t start every sentence with the same word. Mix it up a little! Try to vary between long and short sentences and long and short paragraphs. Use synonyms. Adding examples and jokes could also help to write a text that is fun to read.

Don’t: too many characters in one line

You should really limit the length of your text lines. In Readability: the Optimal Line Length, Christian Holt mentions a number of suggested text lines, stating these should be 50 to 65 or 75 characters. That’s about 10 tot 15 words, which from our experience,  is indeed a good read.

Keep reading: ‘The importance of typography’ »

Don’t: do any keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing is a definite don’t. If sentences start to read really awkward because of the use of your focus keyword: stop! You are using it too often. If it doesn’t feel natural to use the word you would like to be found on in a text, then you are over-optimizing. Never do that! Your text should always be nice to read.

Don’t: create duplicate content

Never use the same content on your website twice. That is, not without using a canonical URL. Otherwise, search engines will get confused and will not know which location to show. It could really hurt your rankings. A canonical URL allows you to tell the search engines that certain similar URLs are actually one and the same. If you do it this way, your ranking will not be harmed by duplicate content

Read on: ‘Duplicate content: causes and solutions’ »

SEO New Hampshire

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Practice Doesn’t Always Make Perfect

Andrew Raynor

This is the fourth lesson of an eight-week book study I’m hosting live on The Art of Work. Be sure to join the book study so that you don’t miss next week’s lesson, and join the conversation live! Go here to watch the previous three lessons.

Book study highlights

In this week’s lesson, we talk about:

  • Why finding your calling is essential to doing great and meaningful work.
  • Deciding what passion to pursue when you have more than one.
  • Figuring out the next step you need to take in pursuit of your calling.
  • The biggest myths about knowing and pursuing your calling.
  • How practice will help you figure out what you are meant to do.
  • What will inhibit you from experiencing personal growth.
  • The type of practice it takes to become great at something.

Resources

I hope you’ll join me live next week for The Art of Work book study where we will discuss why finding your calling isn’t about taking a glorious leap, but about building bridges.

Don’t forget to join the conversation that’s happening on Facebook. Go here to get started.

Andrew Raynor

DIY: Duplicate content check

Andrew Raynor

 

 

Duplicate content might confuse Google. If your content is on multiple pages on your or other websites, Google won’t know what to rank first. Prevent duplicate content as much as possible. Perform a duplicate content check every now and then to find copied content.

In the XML sitemap section of our Yoast SEO plugin, we have predefined a snippet to add to your feed entry saying “This article first appeared on yourwebsite.com”. The link in this snippet makes sure that every scraper includes the link to the original article. Of course, this already helps to prevent duplicate content, as Google will find that backlink to your website.

Nevertheless, if you write awesome content, your content will be duplicated. And that copy won’t always include a link to your website. All the more reason to do a duplicate content check on a regular basis. In this article, I will show you quick ways to find duplicate content for your website.

CopyScape duplicate content checker

There are a lot of tools to find duplicate content. One of the best known duplicate content checkers probably is CopyScape.com. This tool works pretty easy: insert a link and CopyScape tells you where the content on the other page is:

CopyScape: duplicate content checker

That’s step one. It will return a number of results (9 in this case), presented like Google’s search result pages. Simply click one for more details.

duplicate content checker - CopyScape

In this case, 2% of the Creativ Form page is copied from our website. CopyScape nicely highlights the text they found to be duplicate. By doing so, this duplicate content checker will give an idea of how severe the copying is. If it’s just 2% of the page like in this case, I wouldn’t worry. If it’s like over 40%, that makes quite a large part of the other page and I would simply email them to change the copied text.

By the way, dear Creativ Form. If you want to copy our content, please tailor it to your website. “In this article” makes absolutely no sense in this case 😛

By the way, we frequently find manufacturer descriptions used in online shops to be duplicate. Usually, these are automatically imported into the shop’s content management system. Usually, not just for your website. Be aware of this. I understand it’s quite the hassle to write unique product descriptions for every product, but at least start with your best-selling products and take it from there. Start now.

Use the CopyScape duplicate content checker to find copied content from your website on other websites. Again, it’s one of many tools but this one’s free and easy to use. If you want to dive a bit deeper into your duplicate content, CopyScape also offers a premium version for more insights at 5c per search.

Siteliner internal duplicate content check

Siteliner is CopyScapes brother that searches for internal duplicate content. This duplicate content checker will find duplicate content on your own site. A very common example of this is when a WordPress blog doesn’t use excerpts but shows the entire blog post on the blog’s homepage. That simply means that the blog post is available on at least two pages: the homepage and the post itself. And probably on the category and tag overview pages next to that. That’s four versions of the same article on your own website already.

The advantage of using excerpts is that the excerpt always has a proper link to the post. This link will tell Google that the original content is not on that blog/category/tag page but in the post itself. I think we recommend the use of excerpts in half of all the WordPress website reviews we do. That also means half of the websites actually has this internal duplicate content issue.

The Siteliner duplicate content check will show you a lot of things, but limited to 250 pages and 30 days. Again, there is a premium version, but the free one will already give you a good idea. Just do a search, find the overview page and please click to details. Don’t get scared by high numbers of internal duplicate content, as this duplicate content check even tells you the excerpts are duplicate content:

SiteLiner: internal duplicate content check

Percentages

Where Google understands what a sidebar is, CopyScape and Siteliner seem to include all text on a page in their percentage calculations. Please keep this in mind when you use on of these duplicate content checker. The actual percentage of the duplicate content, when just looking at the main content of a page, might be higher. Just a head’s up!

Am I worried? No. Simply click one of the links and check if it’s indeed the excerpt (it is). The total of the matched words is 223, but in fact, the ‘duplicate part’ is just 57 words of 1,086 words in total in the main content section of that article. And the excerpt obviously links to the post, so we’re covered.

Manual duplicate content check

CopyScape and Siteliner are nice, easy-to-use duplicate content checkers. However, if you want to see what’s duplicate according to Google, you could also use Google itself.

If you have a certain page that you’d like to check, simply go to that page. Copy a text snippet, preferably from a section that you think might be attractive for others to copy. Insert the exact snippet in Google using double quotation marks like this:

Duplicate content check in Google

“WordPress is one of the best, if not the best content management systems when it comes to SEO. That being said, spending time on your WordPress SEO might seem like a waste”. Limit that phrase to 32 words, as Google will only take the first 32 words into account. This search query returns ‘about 517 results’ according to Google, which is well over the 9 results CopyScape returned.

Check your own duplicate content

Use a duplicate content checker like CopyScape to find what has been copied from your site, and use Google to see where else on the internet this content ended up. These are simple tools that serve a higher goal: to prevent duplicate content. If you want to read more on duplicate content, start with our Duplicate content: causes and solutions article. Or visit our duplicate content tag page.

Read more: ‘rel=canonical: the ultimate guide’ »

SEO New Hampshire

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