Great content articles begin with a content audit
Have you been blogging for a year or more? Or have outdated website copy?
A content audit is very important to make sure that you always have fresh content, that it’s performing as well as it can and that you’re refreshing your SEO activities regularly.
Furthermore, your editorial planning will become a breeze and a content audit is well worth the time and effort.
What is a content audit?
A content audit is a structured process of reviewing your website’s content with the view of keeping a record of what you have live, how it can be improved and what function it serves. Broken down, that means going through every single blog post that you’ve ever published and keeping a record of it.
It helps you go through your existing content to see which pieces meet your marketing objectives and which don’t. It will also provide an opportunity to see what content is missing and any gaps that need to be filled. It will also help immediately identify the strengths, weaknesses and challenges in all the existing content.
Ideally, a content audit should be performed regularly, such as every six or twelve months, depending on how often you blog. Given that SEO best practices can change quite frequently, it also helps you to keep on top of them and position yourself well.
How to do a content audit
Firstly, start with a spreadsheet of all the posts ever published. The spreadsheet should contain title, topic, keyword, URL, external links, internal links, category, what type of content it is (eg evergreen, listicle, time sensitive etc) and include a section for actions required.
Although it depends on your business goals and marketing objectives, here are some basics to look for when conducting your content audit:
Benefits of a content audit
Having a content audit and being able to clear see what content you have, will be useful for getting the whole team on board and utilising the content. For example, if you have a series of blog posts that answer some of the most frequent questions that your sales people have to answer, you can save your employees time and resources. This is such a prevailing step because a lot of content gets lost and not used to its full potential. ‘SiriusDecisions estimates that 65 percent of B2B content ends up languishing unused.’
Taking inventory of your blog posts will also provide an opportunity for you to view potential curated posts. As I did in Best five copywriting posts of 2018, you can see your top performing posts and curate them into one post for the ease and benefit of your readers. Be sure to write original blurbs introducing each post, rather than cutting and pasting from the original posts, to avoid Google penalties.
Using Google Analytics and your website’s own data, compile a list of the top ten (or whatever number) best performing posts. Performance can be determined in alignment with your marketing and business objectives, eg are your performance metrics based on how many people read it? Or how many conversions (eg how many buy a product from your site)?
Analyse the top performing posts and work out why they performed so well. Did they receive better attention when it came to spreading the word? Did you write about something unusual and unique? Or was it directly written to what your audience really wanted to know? One of the keys to a great performing website is to repeat what is working well.
Similarly, you can identify which content can be repurposed easily. A lot of existing content is often ripe for repurposing, not just as content articles but other forms of content (such as downloadables, ebooks, videos etc).
Having this bird’s eye view of your content will supply an easy and thorough opportunity to create recommendations for powerful content going forward. Here are some examples of content recommendations that I posed when undertaking a recent client content audit:
Recommendations to capitalise on these posts include:
As a bonus, you might rediscover content that you had forgotten about. This forgotten content can be added to your social media strategy, outreach or PR campaigns.
Although it may fill you with dread and seem like it will take ages, the amount of effort and time you invest in doing a content audit each year will save you time in advance by making your content articles more useful, targeted and usable.
Here are some top audit tools to help with your blog audit.
My content writing strategy offers a thorough and actionable content audit as part of the package.
Free SEO writing course
Do you want to dive right in to effective SEO writing?
Sign up for my FREE three day SEO writing ecourse. Just by popping in your details, you'll be emailed three easy but potent lessons over three days on how to improve your content articles, blog posts and website copy with foolproof SEO writing tips and techniques.
The three lesson ecourse will teach you about:
And yes, it's completely free! But don't delay, it's only free for a limited time so it's best you take advantage of the offer ASAP.
In today's world, SEO writing has become such an integral aspect of modern marketing that the growth of businesses of all sorts (and all industries) depends on choosing SEO over other marketing strategies. Marketing is itself tough enough a task— digital marketing even more so. The complex nature of SEO can make it seem like the most gruesome method for marketing your business online. However, this doesn't have to be so, because when done right, there's no better strategy for growing your business organically.
Created by professional copywriter and experienced SEO writer, Vanessa Jones, this easy to follow SEO writing ecourse will have you uplevel your knowledge in just a few days.
How to write a great SEO article
Sure, you have to be creative when it comes to SEO article writing. But there are also also handy tricks and tips that you need to keep in mind when writing for SEO.
This SEO article will cover:
Put your readership (which is your target demographic) first. Write how they want to hear things and solve their problems. Straight up give them the information they need, that they are searching Google for and that will generally make their lives easier.
The guru of SEO, Neil Patel, says ‘Your content needs to accomplish two goals: first, appeal to the end-user (customers, clients, prospects, readers, etc.) and second, solve a particular problem.’
For example, you’ve most likely come to this content article because you’ve searched how to write a SEO article. And I’m spelling it out as best I can and lay out all the right information you need to write an epic post.
What I often do when writing an article or web copy that I want optimised, is to write it as natural and best fitting to the audience as possible. It’s only after I’ve written the article to the best of my ability do I insert keywords. I don’t include them arbitrarily but where they can sit naturally without damaging the flow of the writing. But don’t misunderstand me because with most content writing, the keyword will inform the topic that I write about, so it’s important to do your keyword research from the absolute beginning.
Title and headlines
You need to include your keyword in your page title and your heading, once only. These are two separate facets of your content writing. The page title forms one of your meta tags and your heading (or headline) is your <h1> or <h2> tags.
It’s often suggested to put your keyword towards the front of your headline but you still need it to be super catchy and natural sounding. How to write great headlines.
Use your SEO keywords in your body text. In the olden days of SEO (AKA ten years ago), keyword stuffing was a surefire way to make you rank better. These days you will stuff yourself up if you do so. Google will recognise when you are doing so and penalise you as such. Plus, your readers will just be left shaking their heads.
I can’t give you a magic number of times to use your keyword in one piece because I want you to focus on making the content article sounding natural and flowing. But if you’ve only included the keyword once in one thousand words and one semantic keyword, you might need to hire a SEO copywriter. Know any good ones? Kidding.
However, it’s purported that on page keyword usage is as important as 15.04 per cent of Google’s ranking algorithm. So that should give you an indication of the time and attention you should give just to your keywords alone.
It’s beneficial to include your keyword at the start of your article body. I aim for the first three words or the first sentence at best. Unless it sounds awkward and forced, then I forego it. Because great writing always comes first, right? ‘Quality has become the #1 ranking factor in Google, especially since the Google Panda and Penguin updates.’
Essentially, you need to write an entertaining and informative article. SEO writing is a little like juggling or doing a puzzle: each piece is as important as the other and they all need to fit together until it makes a whole picture.
In summary, here are the most important factors— or secrets— of SEO writing, particularly if you are new to it:
As part of your content writing strategy, you must have an editorial calendar so that you can plan out a year’s worth of content. Take a look here why it’s important to have a content writing strategy in place.
Download an editorial calendar template and plan your blog content out.
Not sure what you’re doing or too busy to plan? Book in for my content writing strategy now.
What are meta data descriptions and meta tags?
Meta tags and meta data descriptions are the summary of what your web page contains that is implemented at the backend of your website as part of your meta tags. This is the information that search engines (such as Google) uses to index your website and web pages and displays when someone searches for your keywords. You might also notice this information when you share it via your social channels, especially Facebook.
Meta tags consist of a title (page title), meta data description (a few sentences of description) and a slug (specific URL).
Although it can help with keyword searching (mainly in the title rather than description), it’s primary purpose is to encourage web searchers to click on the link and read your website.
They need to be cleverly crafted so that they appeal to both Google's robots and to human readers to improve your ranking/SERP.
Meta data descriptions are like a mini advert or sales tools. And it’s very short so it has to be super effective. Essentially, it has to contain the absolute perfect blend of sales copywriting and SEO text.
They are a vital part of your SEO strategy and plan. Perfecting meta data descriptions is a completely important part of your website's optimisation and it really does pay to get it right from the start.
A good meta data description could be the very reason someone clicks through to your website.
It is a unique blend of advertising and SEO and is one of the key factors in getting people to read your site. They really do need to be compelling and an accurate summary of the corresponding webpage. Each meta description needs to be unique and match the web page’s content. It's basically a summary of what the web page contains.
Neil Patel, who is considered one of the leading experts in SEO discusses why meta data description is so important.
Here are 33 examples of great meta data descriptions.
Here's exactly why you need a content writing strategy for your website
The purpose of a content strategy is to create thorough, enticing and meaningful content writing that draws in more website traffic and ultimately attracts the right kind of customer that sees you as the best choice when it comes to your industry.
Additionally, a content strategy will provide you with a sustainable way of creating and posting content without burning out.
‘Content strategy helps organizations provide the right content, to the right people, at the right times, for the right reasons,’ Content Marketing Institute.
Content writing and creation is still super important to your marketing and SERP results. ‘57% of marketers rated relevant content creation as being among their most effective SEO tactics.’ If you’re investing a lot of time into content creation, it absolutely pays to get it right from the start and have an overarching long term plan.
Here are five reasons why you need to invest in a content strategy.
You won’t have to spend ages wondering what topic to write about
How long does it take you to come up with the perfect blog post topic? Five minutes? An hour? Twenty days? It can be either of these and if your content plan requires you to put out a weekly post, that adds up to about fifty hours a year that you spend tossing up what to write about. That’s fifty hours of the year you could dedicate to client service, meeting new clients or giving keynote presentations or completing an extra project.
Content article topics will be crafted to speak to direct goals and audience
Don’t spend six months writing about irrelevant things that don’t do anything for your website traffic or boosting your SEO. Get it right from the start.
A content strategy will also help you avoid writing about the same category of topics over and over again, ensuring there is an even spread throughout the year, in alignment with your marketing objectives, world holidays and celebrations and any industry relevant events.
Plus, a content strategy will break it down and inform exactly what each post needs to entail, the title to use and any relevant key points to cover. Each post will be keyword matched, ensuring you’re putting your best SEO foot forward!
Your content articles will speak to each other
Content articles and blog posts will never be an afterthought and you can link each post to other relevant site content, build on from other topics and create a solid online asset for your business. Relevant categories (that again speak to your keywords) will be set up and ensure there is adequate content for each.
Consistency and reliability
Picture this: you have some spare time to work on marketing in February so you post a great blog post every week for four weeks. Then the leads start coming in, so you are swamped with client work and neglect the blog content for another six months. The leads and enquiries via your website start to go quieter so you hastily add other short and poorly written blog posts that aren’t really that relevant but you couldn’t come up with a right topic quickly.
Now picture this scenario:
Your content strategy tells you exactly what to write and when for the rest of the year, so you have dedicated half a day per week (or similar) to creating the right content and publishing a regular post. Your website always has an abundance of content that is regularly updated and the leads and enquiries are regularly coming in each week. Your SEO is not only steady but it is improving with the fresh, well thought out content.
And because the planning has been taken care of and you know what research has to be done and what resources are required, the blog posts are well written and helpful for your target audience.
Furthermore, you’ve had time to carefully plot out a marketing strategy to share the regular content which means it reaches more people and a wider audience. Before too long, you’ve developed a reputation for providing consistent and reliable information that attracts regular readers back to your site.
You’ll always be clear on your why
It’s not uncommon to get so wrapped up in your next bit of creative content that you completely dismiss why you are doing it. It’s only after you’ve posted a two thousand word article on the importance of the colour blue you realise that it has nothing to do with your business marketing objectives of getting more clients interested in taking out home loans.
You’ll waste valuable time and confuse your existing audience. A content plan will list your objectives and your “why” and help you always prioritise your clear message.
'The moment we stopped saying, “We’re pool builders,” and started saying, “We are the best teachers in the world about Fiberglass pools and we just happen to install them as well,”… that was one of the most prosperous days of our lives.' Case study.
Content articles are one of the most pivotal parts of not just your content marketing plan but your overall marketing plan. Statistics show that the more content your site has, the more Google will rank your page.
Content articles are not only important for your SEO but for your customers and sales as well. 82 per cent of customers have a more positive outlook on a company after reading custom content. And seventy per cent of people would prefer to learn about a company from content articles than adverts.
Is it shareable?
Would you personally share this content? Or would the leader of your organisation share it with their networks? This simple test is often a quick objective way to determine whether the content is of good quality.
SEO content articles
Is it search engine optimised? Use this Yoast plugin SEO checker tool to check if your content follows best practice and is web ready.
Call to action strength
Does it have a strong call to action? Relevant and well placed calls to action has been shown to increase revenue by a whopping 83 per cent. Here's how to write call to action.
Content writing keywords
Include your target keywords in your heading, subheadings, first paragraph and throughout the article. But avoid keyword stuffing. How many times should you write your keyword?
There's no hard and fast rule but try to include it multiple times in your content article. But this should never be at the sacrifice of brilliant copywriting. If it sounds unnatural, then it will hinder SEO performance and turn away your readers.
Are there clear takeaways and action steps that you offer your reader? What do you want your reader to do exactly? Spell it out.
Include some tangible information. That means including statistics, facts, research and links to sources. This will add to the content article’s credibility and help convince the reader when they come to the call to action. Never sacrifice brilliant writing. The average reader only spends 37 seconds reading an article or blog post (NewsCred Insights).
End and begin well
Top and tail your posts really well. Write a clear and informative introduction and a succinct paragraph at the end of the article that provides them information about with what to do next.
Heighten your assets
Make your content articles part of your assets.‘Ninety two per cent of marketers said their organization views content as a business asset.’ Ensure your content writing is of a high enough quality to add value to your asset pool.
You might like to read more about content writing.
Did you know that 44 per cent of companies outsource their writing? Take a moment to get a no obligation, easy copywriting quote today.
Not sure what topics to write about? Get a content strategy.
Although these Youtube videos aren't all directly related to copywriting, sometimes you need a little visual and audio inspo to get you motivated to achieve the marketing success in your business that you truly desire. This used to be a blog post of five inspiring videos but I have chosen to remove Tony Robbins due to his deplorable recent minimisation of the #MeToo movement and I don't want to support his work any longer.
SEO for beginners with Neil Patel
Neil Patel is one of the world’s leading experts on SEO and his friendly, unassuming vibe makes it easy to understand all things SEO. Here he explains some basic tips to keep up with algorithmic changes in 2018. I highly recommend giving over ten minutes to learn these SEO fundamentals. Don't forget that I have some SEO steps here too.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
If you’re interested in increasing income (who isn’t, right?) and improving work performance, there is a little timeless classic call Think and Grow Rich written by Napoleon Hill, first published in 1937. Thankfully, it can be found as the complete audio book (all ten hours of it) on Youtube, so it makes for great listening. Warning: there’s some parts that you might want to tune out of that may not align with today’s social values.
How to Write Copy That Turns Website Visitors into Customers by Marie Forleo
This is a very simple video on copywriting that provides one very clear tip which I abide by in all copywriting pursuits. It’s a short video, has a bit of waffle and is broken down quite simply for those who are new to marketing but the tip and concept is priceless. And it reminds us of that age old copywriting technique of eliciting empathy.
How To Price Design Services and Make More Money with Chris Do
I really like this video and I find it particularly educational for those who work in creative services and are unsure (or more specifically, undervaluing) their skills, expertise and talent. Chris Do’s straight talking logic is quite inspiring and he is very transparent and generous with this knowledge about value, worth and pricing strategies.
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The interesting evolution of copywriting. It's older than you think!
There is a certain level of peculiarity that comes with being a copywriter that goes beyond simply being a writer or working in marketing. Of course, I’m completely biased but it feels like a strange set of skills that I’ve stolen from history and that I’m disguising under new tech. Do you ever get that feeling about your job? I can imagine visual artists, doctors and yoga teachers might feel similar or at least understand what I’m getting at.
Advertising copywriting has existed since Babylonian times and the first printed material is said to have come into the world in 1477, promoting the sale of a prayer book.
The history of copywriting dates back to when the first printed papers were distributed on the street. The actual word “copywriting” means the act of writing words to sell products. The copywriter is the person who does this, often found in ad agencies or at home as a freelancer.
The job of a copywriter began by creating ads on a large poster made of paper with a feather dipped ink (how deliciously antiquated and time consuming). These posters were fixed to walls and poles in the bigger cities of Europe. Centuries ago there were no printing processes to make duplicates, so each page was painstakingly handcrafted. Creating such ads was more of an art and it sounds incredibly meditative to me.
Eventually, they evolved to printed pamphlets and brochures and became much smaller in size as printing in its new evolution was a complicated and lengthy process, so the smaller the item, the faster it was.
Once mass printing processes were perfected, around 1605, newspapers could be mass produced and hawked on street corners. The first English paper was produced in 1664, called the Oxford Gazette (now known as the London Gazette). It was when the larger format newspapers were published that advertisements began to appear on one full page or several ads were dispersed throughout the pages. What a glorious time that must have been for copywriters as there wasn’t quite the saturated market, you could have more effect on people and their purchasing or social decisions.
The beginning of freelancing
It has been suggested that the first person to work as an official independent copywriter was John Emory Powers (thanks dude). He lived from 1837 to 1919 and was the first person to have this job fulltime and instead of working for a newspaper, he worked for the popular department stores of Lord & Taylor and Wanamaker’s. These stores recognised the importance of creating excellent ads that would stand out in newspapers and magazines. He created six ads a week. I’d like that kind of work load!
He is deemed the ‘father of modern creative advertising’ by creating one of the most controversial ads of the era, in his signature straight talking style, that ended up selling out stock in a number of hours. Truth telling was his gimmick and it seemed to work!
‘Suddenly, everything I'd seen in direct mail and all the ads I'd seen made sense. Give people a reason why they should buy a product,' Clayton Makepeace.
The value of copywriting
The value of copywriting was finally recognised around the 1800s. The copywriter would make advertisements that would capture the attention of consumers. For the Wanamaker's store, they quickly doubled their yearly revenues.
Where advertising used to be more of a gamble and a risk taking venture from the thirties to the sixties, today it is one that is unavoidable and if you don’t include it in your marketing plan you are already behind your competitors. In 2017, there was a global advertising spend of approximately $688 billion (in AUD). That is off the charts!
‘The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time,’ Thomas Jefferson.
One of the most prominent and influential copywriters of the past century was Robert Collier, who started the direct mail phenomenon in the thirties, utilising emotional connecting and psychological techniques. He later became a bestselling and famous new age and self development author.
It wasn’t really until recently that training and education became formalised for copywriting, perhaps with exception of on the job training and mentoring.
Copywriting doesn’t last long
Copywriting is almost instantly obsolete, which is bizarre considering how much time, skill and sheer effort goes into it. It’s even more bizarre to think how influential that copywriting is. I could craft a content article or digital ad today that could affect hundreds of people enough to buy a product or a service that could change their life or, at the very, least change perspective on the way they had previously viewed something.
With real time feedback and digital analytics, copywriters and content marketers have instantaneous feedback and can tell whether the copy is working more than ever and campaign cycles are much quicker. So now we have to be faster and more accurate and create something that gets results within a 24-48 hour cycle. No pressure!
Today’s modern copywriter does more than simply write copy for newspaper or magazine ads. With ecommerce growing at a rate of at least seventeen per cent per year and content marketing becoming a universal marketing tactic employed by ninety per cent of businesses worldwide, a copywriter now has to be proficient in writing for the web with a sound knowledge of SEO best practices. Copywriters may also write copy for book jackets, food and product packaging, name floral bouquets (I actually did this once), write about technology trends in healthcare (done this too), write meta data descriptions for sunglasses (yes, tick this one off the list), write media releases about musicians and authors (uh huh…) and so it goes.
A worthy copywriter is also responsible for helping websites achieve good SEO rankings involving strategic placement of common keywords that consumers are likely to be searching for, in amongst web copy and content articles without making it seem awkward and unreadable and like it’s been written by a drunk robot.
Despite the medium and shelf life of copywriting changing, there are still some rock solid facets of copywriting that haven’t changed over its lifetime. They are:
The Australian copywriter’s focus has undeniably shifted considerably from print to the internet (it has had to!) over the past decade but one thing is unchanging in my self interested eyes… copywriting will continue to be one of the best ways to promote businesses, organisations, services and products and is truly an artform that every marketing strategy can reap benefits from.
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You probably have a website or blog and are wondering how to increase your followers or website traffic, as we've looked at here, your website is the hub of your communications.
My website is currently averaging around 12 000 views per month, which is exponentially growing each month. But it’s not just the amount of views and their growth that are important, it’s the good quality of leads– I get nearly 40% of my potential clients from organic searches who discover my website. And ZERO potential clients come to me before checking out my website.
Unfortunately, I lost most of my website data prior to September last year but I know it’s generously increased and my next six months will see a focus on increasing it even more. I’ll be sure to let you know the results.
Here are some of the basic strategies and fundamental ways that I increased my website traffic during 2017 that you can easily replicate.
I started answering questions on Quora, which is an online community where people answer one anothers’ questions on any topic.
Answering topic specific questions on Quora is fun, engaging and although it doesn't involve most of my direct corporate clientele (some copyediting quotes and potential leads have come from there, however) it has increased site views particularly to relevant blog posts. And as we are well versed by now, if more people visit your site, Google is going to recognise that it is a site of value.
I constantly and consistently proactively market myself on social media. Mainly because I really enjoy it. I will absolutely concede that my socials could be done better in terms of aesthetic and branding but I consistently have lots of high quality content to share that I create.
Social media brings in nearly 40 per cent of my traffic and nearly 80 per cent of that comes from Facebook (page and personal profile), followed by LinkedIn at 10.49 per cent.
I have nearly six hundred email subscribers that I send out a enews every few weeks, sometimes once a week when I have a special or discount or there has been an important social media announcement that I need to share. I am unsatisfied with this number of subscribers so will be devoting time in 2018 to increasing this number to at least 3000. I should probably take some of my own advice over at my increasing your enews subscribers.
Email marketing is still an effective way of bringing readers back to your blog or website as well as to creating and maintain a subscriber list. Having your own email marketing list is important because you can sell your products and services directly to your list. By using an auto responder or automated email marketing (which most platforms have), you can send emails to your list every time you post new content or have special offers or announcements.
If you want to sign up to my database, please do so here.
I hired a SEO consultant for some one on one training to amplify my site and increase leads a year ago. Within THREE DAYS (I am being literal and not exaggerating) my website ranked from second page to third place (in Australia) for some of my chosen keywords which included:
This was not magic, it did take a lot of work but the payoffs were more than worth it. During the past year, nearly 40 per cent of the people I have sent copywriting quotes to have found my website via Google.
Nearly 40 per cent of the people I have sent copywriting quotes to have found me via Google.
I wrote a lot of content in line with my SEO strategy. I have at least a hundred posts currently, which is easy for me to do as this is what I do for a living. My content articles are filled with practical information, advice and backed up by statistics, quotes and are linked to other resources. My aim is that anyone (even from a non marketing background) can read one of my articles and get genuine takeaways that they can do straight away that improves their marketing.
It’s important to me to have high quality posts that aren’t just regurgitating what other people have said.
I advertised in a business magazine in July and received no known leads from that and I was featured in a glossy magazine late last year, again no known leads. Whilst I do genuinely think traditional PR and media coverage is terrific for your brand and really useful for generating sales for a lot of businesses (industry dependent), it hasn’t proved fruitful in meeting my objectives this year.
If you want more website traffic, take a look at my content writing strategy.