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copywriting

3 Quick and Easy Meta Description Tricks to Boost Search Engine Traffic

By | copywriting, web development | No Comments

If you’re using search engines to drive traffic to your company’s website, then you probably already know how important search engine optimization (SEO) is to your online growth.

While SEO strategy tends to focus on increasing your presence in the search engines, optimizing your website for high search engine click-through-rates (CTR) is equally important. In the following paragraphs, you’ll learn how to do exactly that.

Enhancing Your Search Results

Google and other search engines give you a number of ways to customize your company’s listings in search results. However, for now we’ll be focusing on the two most impactful elements, which will be outlined below:

  • Page Title – Your page title is your “SEO headline” and can be found in the <title> tag of each page’s code, between the <head> tags. Currently, Google will display approximately 65 characters.
  • Meta Description – Your meta description controls the excerpt that follows your SEO headline, and should contain no more than 136-156 characters. Your meta description can be customized by editing or adding the following code between the <head> tags of a page: <meta name=”description” content=”Your Excerpt Here”/>

Most content management systems make editing these easy, without having to mess around with code.

meta-desc

An example of the page title and meta description as it would appear in Google Search results.

You only have 65 character of flexibility with your page title, and it should contain your target keywords, which further limits your options. Your meta description, however, affords you plenty of opportunity to strike a balance between SEO-friendly and human-friendly.

By human-friendly, I mean your meta description should catch the attention of searchers, draw them in, and convey the value that awaits them on the other side of their click. Keep in mind that these should be used in conjunction with proper on-site SEO, not as a replacement.

Increase Your Search Engine Traffic with These 3 Tips

Draw attention to your listing using keywords

When someone searches for a keyword or phrase, that keyword or phrase gets highlighted in the results.

Use this to your advantage while crafting your meta descriptions, to draw attention to your listing, and easily convey that your page has what they’re looking for. But make sure you don’t overdo it.

You can see this in action by looking at my search for “SEO Beaver” in the screenshot above.

Offer value

Googlers and other search engine users are looking for solutions, so your meta description should reflect that you actually have what they’re looking for.

Sweeten the deal by making them a specific offer, even if it’s just a free estimate or white paper.

Include a call-to-action

Similarly, inviting searchers to visit your website, may result in them actually doing it. Sometimes the addition of a simple “Click here to…” can have a profound effect on your search engine CTR.

Better yet, include the number to your sales department, and invite customers to contact you, without even having to visit your website.

I recently released a checklist that helps you create a strong call-to-action, much of which can be applied to SEO and meta descriptions.

Apply these three tips when updating your meta descriptions, or have us do it for you, and watch your CTR and traffic grow.

At SEO Beaver, we excel at building upon your expertise, using sophisticated tools and analytics to drive your business to the next level. For a free online consultation, contact SEO Beaver today.

The Idiot’s Guide to Writing Sales Copy That Will Get You Noticed – and Help You Sell, Sell, Sell

By | conversion optimization, copywriting, Sales and Marketing | No Comments

If you’re a salesperson with killer instincts, you know that your mantra is “close, close, close.” The trick is knowing how to chart a course from the second you have a prospect in your crosshairs. Here’s a style guide to take you through writing copy that will build trust, quell customer objections, and gather clients around your digital campfire.

Know Your Ideal Client

You may not have the in-house resources to do thorough research into who exactly your clients and ideal prospects are. But never fear—algorithmic data sets are here! Quantcast is a helpful service that offers demographic information about customers when you type in the name of a company, product, or service. Such online tools can help you find out all kinds of data about your customers, which may quickly become the starting point for your marketing efforts.

It’s Not About Me, It’s About You

We all want to be the centre of attention. If you write about the reader, you’ll capture their interest. Phrases like “How often do you find yourself…” can get your audience nodding in agreement, which is a great way to build relationships. Build sympathy by offering praise, such as, “You work hard and play hard, everyday. You are so ready for the next level.” Once you’ve got their attention, train your lens directly on them by showing them you understand where they are coming from as a customer or client. Now you can get on with exalting just how your product is going to meet their needs. It helps to actually picture a person—what they drive, where they live, what keeps them up at night. Picturing your ideal customer will help you write with them in mind.

Start with a list of problems or challenges that your ideal client needs to solve. Then, make a list of your products’ attributes that are going to meet those challenges head-on. Sounds dry, doesn’t it? Let’s think of it in different terms: everyone wants to be understood. You can learn about what bothers customers by searching online discussion forums on topics, companies, and products. For instance, Quora allows you to enter your product or field into a search field, and will return you results that highlight different conversations around issues your customers are concerned about. Knowing the objections of your potential customers, and hitting those nerves directly, helps show that you already know what is bothering them, and are offering a way forward.

A Pyramid of Attention

Think of a piece of sales copy as an hourglass, with the sand perpetually running out. This is the attention of your reader, seeping out letter by precious letter. Your headline is there as bait for them to chomp, but from then on, you need to fight against losing their interest. Search engines operate in a similar way—if you haven’t made your point in the first couple of sentences, you’ve squandered the moment. You want to open with a value proposition that contains your target phrase. Rephrase the questions your readers have come to you with, and then offer assurances that they will find answers with you.

Trust Us: We’re Human, Not Robots

Many readers are jaded from a lifetime of being advertised to. Most people can sense a formula in ad copy the same way they can predict the ending of a lousy TV show. Your customers don’t trust you—at least, leads that have yet to buy from you don’t. Doing something unexpected, witty, or personal can take readers by surprise and move them from their skepticism (oh, yawn, another pitch) to suspended disbelief. That momentary openness and curiosity is golden. It can be achieved by throwing in some quirky details. Use story to make statistics sing. Insert yourself into the copy when it works; if you are an app developer working in partnership with your wife, speak from “I” and “we” to build rapport and trust.

Your style is another hook that can keep readers engaged. Brevity is the soul of wit. Keep your sentences short, sharp, and snappy. Avoid using the passive voice; use “investors have been flocking to the table,” instead of the lukewarm, passive version, “the attention of investors has been attracted.” Don’t hedge—if you have a claim to make, come out trumpeting. Be bold but calm, clever but sincere, confident yet kind read the full info here.

Writing copy that turns heads is a delicate game. Wrapped up in those simple-sounding sentences are complex concepts, carefully researched keywords and phrases optimized for search engines, all executed with a conjuror’s flair. Knowing who your customers are and what they care about is key to letting them know just how right for them your product is. The trick, from then on, is to speak their language and sustain their interest.

At SEO Beaver, we excel at building upon your expertise, using sophisticated tools and analytics to drive your business to the next level. For a free online consultation, contact SEO Beaver today.

Lead Capture Cartoon

Lead Generation 101: How to Properly Use Forms to Get Prospect Data for Follow-Up

By | conversion optimization, copywriting, Inbound Marketing, internet marketing, landing page conversion optimization checklist, Landing Pages | No Comments

Too many online marketers assume that their dynamic content will keep users engaged enough that they’ll make the move to contact, comment, or buy. But it’s up to you, dear seller, to initiate contact for lead generation. Using forms with sensitivity to user needs and objections will land you rich prospect data. Here’s how you can properly use forms to get prospect data for follow-up.

Whatever Doesn’t Work: Get It Right Before You Launch

First and foremost, your form has to function on every platform, every time. It also has to be secure, and your customers need to be aware of how secure it is. A security seal from a reputable company like McAfee or Verisign helps build user confidence, as does the application of Captcha codes. You can use Autocomplete to speed user progress, but beware of auto-suggest on mobile devices, as an intelligent device can quickly become quite the opposite when it offers auto-correct on email addresses.

Don’t Make Them Go Hunting

Your lead form has to be prominent. Hiding it in the margins of the page will result in frustration for both users and sellers. Visibly display the form once a user has spent a set amount of time on the site, as a popup, or have forms appear at the end of articles inviting users who “want more content like this” to subscribe. Basing visibility on users’ behavior works: be conspicuous, make it simple yet rich enough in data that you’ll be able to target your response, and always provide an alternative to simply saying “no” with a toll-free number, “like” option on Facebook, or other social media share prompt gabapentin generic. Forms in and of themselves can be foregrounded as a kind of call to action. If your end goal is to funnel leads into your customer relationship management (CRM) system, inviting people to fill out a form in order to receive a discount, get a free quote, or enter a contest becomes the central ask of the page. Bundling forms with enticing offers does two things: it incentivizes the form completion, and, by dint of having engaged users in an offline conversation, boosts conversion rates. You want to be in their inbox, knocking, in an active sales role rather than waiting for them to come to you.

Navigate Objections With Clear Communication

You are walking a tightrope between gathering useful information and seeming too acquisitive. Users are beginning to understand that if they are getting something for nothing (i.e. information or apps), then the data they give is a form of payment. They may be cheap with data until trust has been built, and you have shown your site and services to be indispensible. Grade your forms accordingly—the less information you demand up-front, the more likely people will be willing to offer it. Being perfectly clear about what happens when a user submits a form is also critical. A button that says “Click Here to Contact Us” is more trustworthy than one that says “Submit User Data.” Use friendly language and make your buttons look like buttons, placed where users expect to find them. If you are asking for data that may not seem strictly necessary to users, add a line explaining why you want it. For instance, if you are asking for birthdate, add a line telling users that your company sends out special offers for customers on their birthdays.

Reap What You Sow: Get Ready to Respond

Of course, once you have that precious form data, ensure that you have a solid offline team to respond personally and at lightning speed to the contact request. Your analytic data will tell you about user behavior (how often they have visited your site, duration of stay, etc.). Your responses should be tailored according to the quality of the prospect. Keep to these guidelines to build and make use of online forms that drive your business. Ensure that you have functionality and security, communicate clearly to users how to use forms and why you are gathering information, and make sure that forms are easily accessible, if not outright in-your-face. Finally, make sure that you are ready for the flow of information once you launch your forms, with a team of responders and a system to grade users into categories for customized responses. If you’d like to learn more about lead generation with a free consultation, fill out the form on this page to contact us today.

How to write good viral headlines

Hey You, Pay Attention!: How to Write a Headline That Really Packs a Punch

By | conversion optimization, copywriting, Inbound Marketing | No Comments

Ip Man, the legendary martial artist and teacher of Bruce Lee, said “Don’t recite mantra. Hit your target.”

A good web headline hits its target. Whether you call it conversion, click-through or meeting a goal, the target in writing a headline is the same: To appeal to a human being. Readers, being human, all want the same basic things — to avoid boredom, frustration, disappointment, embarrassment, and work. The good news for writers is that those things are never going to change. Here’s how you can make your web headlines stand out.

Always Remember: Your Reader is Powerful

Online readers are the most empowered readers around. They won’t tolerate their time being wasted. Since online content is usually free, readers have no reason to stay with content that isn’t giving them what they want, and fast. The moment they start to feel bored, confused, or annoyed, they can click away from you, possibly forever. That’s why it’s critical that you put yourself in the reader’s shoes when you are writing online content. This goes double for a headline, which is the first thing to be judged (and, if judged to be inferior, the only thing that your readers will see).

Know Your Audience and Write Accordingly

While there are some rules of thumb for writing headlines, first you have to know who your target reader is, and write to that person. Is he interested in fashion and celebrity gossip? Then your headlines can be light and slangy (“Brangelina Head Down Under for Epic Australian Circus”). Is she a no-nonsense professional in a serious field? Don’t annoy her by getting cute – stick with straightforward headlines (“Researchers Find Causal Link Between Caffeine Intake and Memory”). In general, it’s a good idea to keep the headlines as interesting as possible without sacrificing clarity and professionalism.

Methods for Crafting a Good Headline

Headline structures can vary greatly, and there is no magic formula for perfection beyond ensuring your spelling and grammar are correct. Here are just a few ideas for writing a headline that will capturing the hearts and minds of your readers, and get them clicking on your post.

1) Just Tell the Whole Story

Example: A Soldier Went Overseas to Fight, Never Dreaming he Would Adopt an Orphaned Girl

This type of headline is very effective. Its strength is in giving away the whole story up front. On a deep level, the reader will appreciate being trusted with it right out of the gate. You are showing confidence that this story is worth going deeper to get the details, and your reader will probably agree with you.

2) Move From General to Specific

Example: California Dreaming: How to Plan Your Perfect Napa Valley Vineyard Tour

This is a tried-and-tested classic headline structure.  Its beauty is that the first half can be pretty impressionistic, because the second half will drive the subject home. In this example, “California Dreaming” taps into the power of a highly recognizable phrase and song title. You draw the reader in and give them a hint – this will be something about California, and it will be something pleasant. The second half confirms this hint, giving the reader both a feeling of satisfaction and more specific information.

3) Paint with Words

Example: A Polar Bear in the Cathedral

This method is pretty tricky, so don’t try it at home unless you know that you can pull it off. It will only work if your reader is creative and not easily frightened. Also, you need strong words to work with. In this example, the writer was talking about a piece of music based on the composer’s visit to the Arctic, which premiered in a massive cathedral. Rather than write a headline about a “new choral work premiering this November” (boring), she grabbed her readers with the most powerful words at her disposal: polar bear and cathedral.

4) Lead with Love

Example:  Stylish Vancouver Oyster Bars you will Love

This is pretty straightforward. People are interested in the idea there is something out there that they might love. The industries of food, art and film criticism are  built on this fact. Love feels good, no matter what form it takes, and we all want a piece of it. Boldly make a claim that the readers will “love” something, and chances are they will investigate to find out if you’re right.

5) Cash in on Shock Value

Example: Small-Town Mayor Caught in Bizarre Love Triangle

Humans love to be shocked. If you have an article about anything shocking, make sure your headline conveys this up front.  Don’t bury shocking content deep in the piece – put in the front window. There’s a reason it’s called shock value – it’s valuable.

6) Make Time for a Rhyme

 Example: Flirty Shirtsleeves: A Gentleman’s Guide to Spring Fashion

Rhyming is powerful – witness centuries of poetry and decades of pop music, ad jingles and Dr. Seuss. Why? Because rhyme is extremely memorable, and it asserts a subconscious claim that whatever rhymes must be true. Tap into this power by including rhyme in the headline.

7) The Almighty List Post

Example: Nine Early Signs Your Date is a Dud

The strength of the list post – and the headline that announces it – is that nice, concrete number. The reader knows exactly how many fragments there will be to read, giving them a handle on how much attention will be expected of them. The very fact that they know the article’s length going in will often spur them to read – whether the list has four items or 78.

The ability to write a good headline for the web is critical. Unlike with print media, where the eye of the reader might scan down into the article and keep them reading, online headlines often appear all on their own. The reader must often decide purely from the headline alone whether to click through to the article. After you’ve nailed down your technique with a few of these structural ideas, put away the mantras and just hit your target. After all, they’re only human.