Monday Must-Reads: Christmas Edition

By: iCopywriter Blogger Alex Dalenberg

Happy holidays from iCopywriter this glorious Christmas Eve – which, as it happens, falls on a Monday this year, so you know what that means …

That’s right, a special Christmas Edition of Monday Must-Reads. It looks like you’ve all been very good copywriters and SEO managers this year, because your humble blogger Santa Alex has some very special links for you.

To get you in the spirit, here are some good holiday reads.

1. The Los Angeles Times reports on efforts by scientists to build a better Christmas tree. As in, one that won’t shed needles on your floor. Because nothing says Christmas like mutant trees.

2. The Washington Post wants to help you pick a last-minute holiday gift.

3. And ABC News has Christmas Eve store hours. 

4. Newser wants you to know that your holiday tree has 25,000 bugs. Yuck.

5. The Queen of England filmed her annual holiday message in 3D.

6. From The Patriot-News in central Pennsylvania, a brief history of your favorite Christmas songs.

7. And, for old times’ sake, one of the first viral reads in American media history. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. It’s still a fine piece of writing. Read it with your kids.

Merry Christmas!

Monday Must-Reads…

By: iCopywriter Blogger Alex Dalenberg

OK, it might not be as invigorating as a strong cup of coffee, but why not start your week with a potent brew of SEO and copywriting knowledge? If you’re interested in staying found on the Web – and what business isn’t? – then you know at some level you’ve got to keep up with this stuff.

Luckily, we’re huge geeks here at the iCopyInsider, so we’ve done the hard part for you. Welcome to our new feature: Monday Must Reads. Every Monday, we’ll bring you some of the best articles from around the Web related to SEO, SEO copywriting and pretty much anything else we think you might useful or interesting.

 

Here are five reads that we think are worth your time this week. Enjoy!

1. Is a picture worth a 1,000 clicks? How to boost SEO with infographics via Practical eCommerce.

2. VentureBeat asks an important question: Are you getting a good deal on SEO?

3. We wrote about the growing importance of Google+ last week, but here it is again. AdWeek talks about how Google+ is following Facebook’s trajectory.

4. Here’s a new tool recommended by PCWorld that you can use to see if your Twitter followers are actual humans.

5. And finally, here is a good read in The Guardian about the dying art of creative copywriting.

 

 

Big News- Google’s Author Rank is on its Way

By iCopy blogger Alex Dalenberg

So … this is happening:Google authorship.

If you haven’t yet heard the rumblings coming out of SEO world, heads up. If you create, post or access content on the Web, Google’s new author-ranking scheme is going to affect you, one way or another.

Here’s the gist of it. Google has been quietly rolling out its new author rank program – which has more or less been in the works for years. The idea is that content creators are now able to link the stories and posts they create to their Google Plus identity.

This is a big deal because the conventional wisdom says that someday soon, authorship is going to play a major part in Google’s page rankings.

You can find a few good primers at Forbes as well as the SEOmoz blog, but the main takeaway here is that it isn’t just going to matter how well a page or domain performs; it’s going to matter who writes it, as well.

The idea is that more reputable authors – judged by things like social sharing in the form of likes and plus ones, comments, links and more – produce better, more reputable content. Therefore, it’s reasonable to expect that Google is going to give posts by those authors much more weight in search listing results.

This isn’t out of the blue. As the Web becomes more social-oriented, so should the way we search – at least in theory. But for now, here is the least you need to know, as far as we see it here at iCopywriter.

1. Your Google Plus account matters now.

Love it or hate it, Google is pushing hard to make its own social network much more relevant. And, as far as it can affect search rankings, they have a lot of leverage here. If you’ve been neglecting your profile, it’s time to get it up to date and start posting your content.

And, if you post your own content, it’s time to make sure that Google can find you. They have a comprehensive set of instructions here.

2. The rules are still the same. Quality content will win.

The fundamentals of this game are unchanged. Quality authors will provide quality, relevant content. However, more than ever, it’s time to think about how to create content that readers are likely to share and discuss. In my mind, this means useful content.

3. Do you know who is writing your stuff?

You will need to soon. With Google Authorship, the focus is shifting to individuals and personalities. For those who are willing to embrace the different voices that make up their company, rewards await.

iCopywriter is keeping up with the news and happenings of Author Rank (and all-things-SEO). Don’t you want us on your team?

Photo credit: followtheseinstructions

 

SEO Guru Blog – Part II: SEO-Cubed: Three Suggestions from Three Search Engine Gurus

Last week at iCopyInsider we featured the first part of an interview we did with some of the fantastic project managers we work with.

We grilled them about all-things-copywriting and SEO to get their take on how businesses should approach the sometimes-daunting task of staying found on the Internet. They dropped a lot of knowledge, far more than we could fit into one post; so today we bring you the second installment.

To refresh, here is your expert panel of SEO gurus:

Fumi Matsubara, Director of Account Services at Geary LSF Group

http://LSFinteractive.com

http://Gearyi.com

http://GearyLSF.com

Miguel Salcido, CEO of Organic Media Group

http://organicseoconsultant.com/

http://organicmediagroup.org/

Jenna Allison, Account Services Manager at Geary LSF Group

http://LSFinteractive.com

http://Gearyi.com

http://GearyLSF.com

And here is each of our guru’s answers to the following question:

“What are the top three suggestions you can give clients who want to improve their ranking?

Fumi Matsubara

1. Develop strong, sound site architecture. Improve title tags that are not just keyword rich, but also with call to action to help with your click through rate.

2. Make sure your website is mobile compatible. This way you can broaden customer base and provide a quality user experience.

3. Invest time and resources in a good content marketing strategy.

Miguel Salcido

1. Be dedicated. Put aside enough budget for at least 6 to 12 months and let it ride. Basically, you need commit to SEO and see it through without getting antsy.

2. Create great content and continuously create new content. The more content that you have, the more traffic. It’s pretty simple.

3. Promote your content. Your content is the gift that keeps on giving. You should be proud to promote it.

Jenna Allison

1. Make it easy for Google to read and understand your site. Make sure that any content on your site pages is organic and natural, and update any title/meta tag descriptions for those pages.

2. Don’t over optimize. Several years ago, it was common practice to “stuff” keywords into your content. This is no good now. The way you should look at doing any content on your pages or for link building is to create conversational content. Don’t write something that wouldn’t make sense if you were having a conversation with somebody in front of you. Google is smart enough to understand what you are doing if you use too many keywords in one space.

3. Think quality over quantity when it comes to link building. This is one of the keys to creating authority for your site as well as boosting search rankings. Make sure that you aren’t overdoing it though. A few years ago it was OK to syndicate content over thousands of different blog farms. Now, Google is actually devaluing and penalizing those sites because it isn’t natural. You want to create content with links that are going to be beneficial to the reader/user: this is Google’s main objective when it feeds you a search results page.

Check out iCopywriter for YOUR online content needs

 

 

FreakyFriday: Weird of the Day – Black Friday Gets Freaky

By: iCopywriter blogger Alex Dalenberg

Is there a freakier Friday than Black Friday? This blogger is tucking into the leftover sweet potatoes and apple pie and skipping out on the Super Bowl of shopping. So far, it’s looking more and more like I made a good decision.

ABC News has a good rundown of the chaos thus far. Some of the lowlights:

  • 71-year-old man arrested in a Walmart parking lot in Covington, Wash., for vehicular assault. He ran over two people with his SUV.
  • In San Antonio, a shopper pulled a gun on a man who cut in line outside a Sears.
  • Five men assaulted and robbed a 14-year-old boy outside of a Bed Bath and Beyond early this morning in Baltimore.
  • And, in Massachusetts, a man scored a big-screen TV, but left his two-year-old son at a Kmart.

Also, the Los Angeles Times reports that there was a small earthquake in New Jersey, but thankfully no injuries.

Of course, the funny part is that Black Friday may not even offer best deals of the year outside of a few limited doorbusters that the big-box stores use as loss leaders. Fox Business reports that, at least in 2011, Black Friday was actually one of the worst days of the year for a snagging good deal. And Decide.com, a Seattle-based price tracking website that also attempts to predict whether an item will go up or down in price, says that the best deals of the holiday season are actually yet to come.

As consumers are armed with more and more information, it’s worth asking how long traditions like Black Friday can hold up. Sure, there’s a certain sport to Black Friday that has its own unique appeal, but for today I’m perfectly content typing away here at home over some cold turkey.

But as an alternative, I’d like to suggest events like Small Business Saturday as well as other local shopping events being promoted by smaller retailers and businesses. It’s a good way to keep a few dollars in the community and find some great new stores outside the usual mega-retailers.

And, of course, a belated Happy Thanksgiving from the team here at iCopywriter. Whether you’re a Black Friday warrior or spent the day sleeping in, have a happy and safe holiday season!

Did you hit the stores today? We’d love to hear from you…

Photo Credit: Robert Banh

FreakyFriday: Weird of the Day – The Twinkies are All Right

By: iCopy Blogger Alex Dalenberg

With snack-making giant Hostess Brands announcing that it intends to close shop after some 80 years, the social Web is mourning the death of the iconic Twinkie.

Both Hostess and Twinkies are trending today on Twitter. To paraphrase the classic film Ghostbusters – and the greatest Twinkie-related line in film history – let’s say your average Twinkie represents the normal amount of social media activity related to cream-filled sponge cakes.

Well, according to this morning’s sample, it would now be a Twinkie 35 feet long weighing approximately 600 pounds.

As Winston would say, that’s a big Twinkie.

But don’t weep for your snack food yet. According to USA Today, it’s very likely that another company could pick up the brand, which still has plenty of name recognition, given today’s social media spike.

Have you checked out iCopywriter lately?

Photo Credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Freaky Friday: Weird of the Day – #drunknatesilver Ruins Freaky Friday, Debunks its Freakiness

By: Alex Dalenberg, iCopywriter Blogger

“Statistically speaking, Friday isn’t freakier than any other day of the week.”

OK, New York Times über stats geek Nate Silver didn’t actually say that, but we imagine that he might, especially after putting back a few. Welcome to our favorite Election Week meme, #drunknatesilver. Twitter is having statistically unprecedented amounts of fun (unprecedented except to Nate Silver) imagining the math man carousing about the town to celebrate his dead-on prediction in the presidential election.

This isn’t that surprising. Silver was more or less dead on predicting the 2008 presidential election, missing just one state. And while some see Silver as a wizard, he uses a fairly straightforward forecasting model that averages the results of numerous polls and gives more weight to the ones with a better track record of picking the eventual winner. The idea is that, this way, outliers have less of an effect on the prediction.

A few of the best #drunknatesilver tweets.

@davelevitan: Drunk Nate Silver stumbles through traffic on the Jersey Turnpike, screaming out what time each driver will get home. #DrunkNateSilver

@kelkulus: Drunk Nate Silver stumbles through the streets, shouting obscenities at the future ex-wives that he has yet to meet. #DrunkNateSilver

@copyblogger: Drunk Nate Silver says “Call me maybe? I’ll know it’s you because your number is …” #drunknatesilver

All kidding aside, Nate Silver is a model of viral success for every blogger seeking to create compelling, vital content. He started as a relatively humble contributor at liberal political blog Daily Kos http://www.dailykos.com, but because his work focused less on the ideology and more on the numbers, he found a much wider readership.

Silver turned his musings and number-crunching into the smash-hit website FiveThirtyEight.com which was subsequently picked up by The New York Times. According to the executive editor, it’s now one of their biggest traffic generators.

His new book, “The Signal and the Noise: Why so many predictions fail, but some don’t” is also worth a read. Not just for political junkies, but any business decision maker who wants to better understand how to sort good information from the bad.

As we see it, here are three lessons to takeaway from sober Nate Silver.

1) Use content to address an unmet need.

Silver saw that most political coverage struggled to rise above the day-to-day minutiae, spin and partisan emotion dominating the news cycle. Silver found a way to let the data speak for itself. Readers looking for a better way to make sense of the political climate flocked to his approach. What need does your content fill?

2) Don’t just aggregate, interpret.

Polling is a mainstay of modern politics, but Silver isn’t a pollster. He’s an aggregator but, more important, an interpreter. The numbers aren’t his, but he explains them. Don’t just retweet and repost. Give readers context.

3) Make your content indispensable. 

Easier said than done, but there’s a reason the bleary-eyed hordes of political junkies keep Silver’s website bookmarked: his take on the polls are can’t-miss content. These days, if Silver isn’t part of your repertoire, love him or hate him, you just don’t follow politics. If only all of us could say that about our industry blogs.

#drunknatesilver says be like him and you’ll have at least a 72.3337492 chance of content success.

Have you checked out iCopywriter lately?

Photo Credit: joewcampbell

Black Hat Vs. White Hat

Guest Post by: Long-time iCopywriter Blogger, Jessica Towne

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), can be a powerful tool when it comes to getting attention on the web. This is because Google, Yahoo and other search tools use your keywords to determine where in the list of search results your particular site will land.

Using the right keywords for your site is the most imperative when it comes to online business marketing. This is because the more relevant phrases you plug in, the better the chance that search engines, and thus, consumers will find you.

Knowing which magic words to use – and how often, in combination with rich, pertinent content – is the key to creating effective copy. This is a balance I’m always striving to achieve for iCopywriter clients.

Understanding “Black Hat” and “White Hat” SEO practices is also helpful. If you’ve never heard of these terms, here’s a little primer to get you in the know.

Black Hat SEO

  • Black Hat SEO is basically trying to fool search engines into ranking your site high on results page by using practices that searching sites frown upon.
  • Typically this involves irrelevant content that doesn’t really help information seekers. It can be found in the form of one or two keywords being used excessively, or posting lots of links meant to redirect users.
  • It can also take the form of repetitive tags, or “hidden” text (characters the same color as the background, which make them fade from view).

Why should you care? It’s possible to be banned from certain search bars as a result of using Black Hat practices.

White Hat SEO

  • White Hat tactics direct attention to your site in an ethical, organic way. They involve taking the time to research and write content applicable to one theme and using related keywords to naturally direct readers/consumers to that content.
  • You can use synonyms to make multiple tags, headlines and titles that are associated with your topic, and include links to other useful information on the same idea.
  • This is an ongoing process, because it involves coming up with fresh news/stories all the time and properly using HTML code to link all of your work together.

Why should you care? With practice, time and a willingness to learn, White Hat SEO tactics can really work. Keeping this information in the back of your mind when you set out to create a winning webpage is key to making something that search engines – and customers – will trust and flock to.

For more information, check out this helpful (and user-friendly) site:

http://www.webhostingtalk.com/wiki/White_hat,_black_hat,_and_gray_hat_SEO

Have you checked out iCopywriter lately?

Photo Credit: V&A Steamworks

SEO 101 – The Beginner’s Guide to Ranking High in Search Engine Results

Did you know that market studies have shown that over 90% of transactions begin with a search? Even more surprising is that of those searchers, the same market studies showed that 75% of users rarely go past the first page of results.

We’re sure you know the importance of being listed in the top 10 results, but with constant search engine updates, such as the recent Penguin update, it is not uncommon to feel lost in the world of search engine optimization.

For many small businesses, there is a mindset of build it and they will come when it comes to an online presence. But with millions of websites on the internet, search engines can rarely find websites that operate in this way. Instead, it takes time and effort to prove to search engines that your content, product or service is what your customer, the searcher, is looking for.

Here are a few tips to help you understand what your website needs to help get optimized for search engine results.

  1. Understand your keywordsKeywords are the text that prospective customers type into the search box to try to find you. Search engines can find these keywords in the copy on your website – this is the main way that they determine if your site is relevant for the person making the request. Some small businesses try to simply stuff their pages with keywords. Why is this bad? The advanced algorithms search engines use will quickly deem your site as “spammy.” Keyword use must be natural appropriate. Unsure of what your keywords should be? Google has a tool to help here.
  2. Keep your site updatedGoogle also wants to see if your site is current. This requires constant updates, such as through regular blog posts and web page content revisions. According to a marketing Sherpa study, companies with blogs received 2000% more traffic, which resulted in 40% more revenue. High quality content drives people to your website and stirs the interest in your company to make them ultimately think of you when they are ready to purchase. Using content from professional copywriting firms can ease the burden on you to craft quality content, and can help you ensure that what you are putting out online will not hurt your search results.
  3. Build backlinksNot only do you have to worry about the content on your own page, but to show search engines that your page has something of value, other pages must link to it as well. This is best done by writing guest blog posts on other websites and linking the keywords you found in step one, back to your website and content. Sound simple, right? But getting guest posts accepted by the right sites can be tricky. Reputable SEO firms can help you here. Building backlinks through guest posting and other content marketing strategies should be a regular part of your SEO regime, as the more current your backlinks, the better your SEO will be.

Search engines have a job to do: delivering the most current and valuable websites to their searchers is their priority. To do this, they use complicated algorithms that are constantly changing. To stay ahead with your SEO efforts, put your content marketing strategy to work for you by keeping your page regularly updated with valuable information for your readers and by building backlinks on other sites.

Have you checked out iCopywriter lately?

Photo credit: SEOPlanter

Boost Your Bing SEO with These Simple Tips

By: iCopywriter Blogger, Kimberly Crossland

It is clear that Google is the clear focus for many businesses when it comes to SEO strategy. After all, they currently hold nearly 65% of the market. But for many companies, the value of Bing is understated. According to Experian, Bing currently holds 28% of the search engine market. This is up 5% in only the past four weeks alone making it a legitimate game player when it comes to the SEO field.

How can your business get on board with this up-and-comer and stay ahead of the curve? Here are a few tips for Bing SEO.

  • Include your keywords in your title tag – This should not be too difficult because many businesses already do this for their Google SEO. However, Bing puts far more weight on the importance of this in their algorithm than Google, so focusing on it for every page, article and blog post can potentially boost your rankings quickly.
  • Don’t discount flash so quickly – There is a lot of buzz in the industry surrounding Flash websites vs. HTML5 and the importance of switching your website over from Flash just to make up for Google’s seemingly dislike for this technology. But Bing is more Flash friendly and having your site with Flash may actually help your rankings on this search engine.
  • Link love – For both Google and Bing, inbound and outbound links alike are important. Continue to work toward obtaining these valuable links through guest blog posts, articles and more and you will boost your Bing rankings, as well as your Google rankings for an all-around positive SEO strategy.

We think Bing is a search engine to watch. By focusing on their SEO strategies, which do differ slightly from that of Google, you will have a leg up on the competition and ultimately earn more results from the web as a whole in the long run.

Have you checked out iCopywriter lately?

Photo Credit: Michperu