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Category Archives: Your website

Do sales and marketing work together in your business?

Marketing’s role is to draw more leads into your firm, and the Sales team needs to convert those leads into business. Sounds straightforward, so working together should be no problem, right?

Watch our video and see if this strikes a chord…..

A joined up approach that uses valuable content every step of the way is far more effective. Talk to us about the way we help businesses unify their sales and marketing.

How to write really bad content

be impressive like a marble statue

Content, content, content. We’re swimming in the stuff, and yet we’re still being told to create more, more, and still more.

The web is awash with shoddy stuff. Thoughtless filler copy, words without meaning, copy without substance.
If you don’t want yours to join the tide of second rate content flotsam, then slow down, and take a deep breath. Our not entirely serious guide to how to get content wrong will help you make sure yours is top quality.

Be impressive. You know what’s really impressive? Long words, that’s what. And industry jargon. They show you’re terribly clever. Fill your content with words that show how much more you know than other people, and they will admire you. No matter if they don’t understand it. Don’t bother to explain it. If your readers can’t keep up, that’s their lookout. You are impressive, like an awesome marble statue, and that’s what counts.

However, if you want content that engages potential clients, you might want to try writing as though you’re talking to them. Talking in a helpful way, using words to connect with readers, not to distance them.

Key words are everything. All you’ve got to do is repeat your KEYWORD a lot, and Bob’s your uncle. KEYWORDS are the holy grail. KEYWORDS are king, queen and the rest of the royal family. SEO is all about repetition, say KEYWORD enough times in your copy and you will rise to the top of the KEYWORD pile and everyone will KEYWORD find your KEYWORD site and KEYWORD love you forever. KEYWORD. KEYWORD. KEYWORD.

Of course, that’s not the case. Knowing the search terms your clients are using will help you shape your copy, and you do want to use them, especially in titles and headers, but not at the expense of writing something useful and making good sense. Google’s not dumb. You won’t get points for ramming repeated phrases into your content.

Be vague. Who needs a point? You write for the love of it and carry your audience with you. You have a lovely turn of phrase, and readers delight in the clever way you string together words and sentences with such charming ease. What was I on about? No matter, you’re here, on my website, reading my copy, and I’m entertaining you. Lovely lovely me.

Or not. If you’re not being useful, people won’t stick around. Write copy with a point, and stick to it.

Be very serious at all times. Business is important. Your business is uber important. Your content should be heavyweight. It’s wearing a tie and very neatly polished shoes. Lecturing is good. Imagine you’re standing behind a lecturn and addressing the nation with some really serious news. That will strike the right note. There’s no place for light heartedness, and certainly no room for jokes. Don’t crack a smile. Stop sniggering at the back.

We say, relax a bit. A little humour will get you a long way. Everyone likes to smile, so don’t be afraid to have fun with your content.

Design is unnecessary frippery. Your content speaks for itself. A great big slab of unbroken text is just what your readers want. Pictures are for primary school kids, white space is wasted space. Fill all the available area with your wonderful words. A good look to aim for is an old fashioned encyclopedia page. Readers just love to roll their sleeves up and get stuck into heavyweight content like that.

Or maybe not. Make your content easy to read, choose images that lift the text, let the words breathe, scaffold your content with helpful headers that let readers scan and guide them through to the end. Yada, yada, yada. You know what works for you.

But if you need help creating valuable content, then get in touch.

On your mark, get set, GO!

win with content marketing

You know you need to produce first class content to market your business, but how do you set yourself up for gold medal winning success?

Just like an athlete, you need to plan, prepare and train. Putting together the right content mix for your business needs inspiration and dedication, not to mention, stamina. Here’s our quick guide to creating content that wins.

1. On your marks…

Preparation is key. Before you step out onto the track with your new content, make sure you know what you’re trying to achieve. Do the thinking and planning, and don’t rush this stage.

Key to the preparation phase is research, talking, and listening.

Ask yourself: am I clear what my business is all about? Do I know what I want to sell, and who I want to buy it? Can I sum up my niche in a sentence?

If you can describe your dream clients in detail – you know the questions they are asking, and the content you can create to supply the answers – then it sounds like you’re ready to………

2. Get set…

Get your platform right. You’ll need a solid web platform for all your valuable content.

Marketing with content puts a lot pressure on your website. An athlete wouldn’t attempt a marathon in a pair of tired old trainers, and you shouldn’t try to market your business with a website that isn’t properly designed for the job.

For starters you need an integrated blog, and a sound content management system, all wrapped up in beautiful user friendly design. Once yours is finely tuned, and you’re proud to send people heading its way, then it’s time to …

3. GO!

Start sharing all that lovely valuable content. Get it up on your website, blog regularly, distribute it via social media, label it for search engines, take it wider, share it with the world on other websites.

You’re developing powerful networks but don’t forget the human touch. You may be sending your content far and wide, but it’s still you that people need to connect with. Building trust is one of the most powerful things you can do with your content, so make sure there’s a real sense of you at the heart of all you create.

4…and keep going

Measure, refine, learn….and continue. Marketing with content is definitely a marathon not a sprint, and it’s consistency that will bring you success. Keep at it. Turn out even when you don’t feel like it. Deepen the value over time. Make it a habit – be valuable for life.

Think like a champion – believe in yourself, take action, put in the hard work, continue, have patience, deliver results, listen, learn, hold the faith – and just like a gold medal winning athlete, success will come.

Good luck!

Is your website too pushy?

Creating the right content is crucial, but so is presenting it in the right way. We say, give it freely to build trust. If you don’t, your website will feel like this.

If you like this, you might also like Does Your Website Say the Right Things?

Is your website self-obsessed?

dinner party

Ever sat next to someone at a dinner party who talks about themselves non stop, and doesn’t ask you any questions at all? Or been cornered by a party guest who gives you their whole life history without pausing for breath?

Being talked at, rather than listened to, is a sure fire way to make people seek solace elsewhere. And this same self obsession affects websites too. If your website is all ‘me, me, me’ you can guarantee people will be slipping off to refill their glasses, probably never to return.

5 traits of dinner party bores to avoid with your website

1. The waffler. They’re talking, but you don’t actually know what they’re saying. Perhaps they’re trying to impress you, but all it’s doing is making you assess the quickest route to to door. Make sure your site is easy to understand, written in the language your clients use.
2. The show off. Jacinta got 6 A starred A levels, Tarquin is really terribly accomplished on the mandolin, and Geoffrey’s being knighted. By all means, be proud of all your business has achieved, but a little humility doesn’t go amiss.
3. The terribly shy tongue tied one. Opposite to the show off, but sometimes just as trying. Your website needs to have something to say, a clear message that potential clients can relate to.
4. The monotone drone. Everything they say is tinged with grey. It’s not that the words are inherently dull, but the delivery makes you want to put your head on the table and weep or sleep. Make sure your content is presented in an engaging way. Changes in pace, variations in tone – how you say it is as important as what you’re saying.
5. The flibbertigibbet. One second they’re talking about house prices, then it’s Kate’s diminishing figure, then it’s ooh have you caught up with the Wire and isn’t coriander a vastly underrated herb? Quite frankly, you can’t keep up, so you switch off. Don’t make the same mistake with your website, keep it focused so that people keep listening.

Is your website friendly or off putting? A broad mix of engaging content that shows you’re listening, as well as broadcasting, is the best way of keeping your audience interested. If you need help creating the kind of content that people will want to spend time with, then get in touch. There’s also lots of information on creating engaging websites in Valuable Content Marketing, able to pre-order on Amazon.

You might also like:
Five ways to get your business voice right
Five ways to make your home page a hit

Does your website say the right things?

Potential clients arrive at your website with questions, and you’ve got a very short time to show them that you have the answers.

Many businesses make the mistake of assuming all visitors will want is to check out your history, and see what kind of people you are. Underline your heritage, show your human side by slapping up a bit of company news and Bob’s your uncle.

If that’s your approach, then think again.

If you don’t understand your clients’ particular needs, and create content that addresses their questions, then your website very probably feels like this one….

You might also like Is Your Website Too Pushy?

It’s not you, it’s me

it's not you, it's me.

It’s a terrible break up line, and a bad premise for a website, yet it’s a mistake that many businesses make with their web marketing. Creating a site that focuses on your business, rather than your customer’s concerns won’t win you many fans.

If you think of your website as an online brochure, a place to promote your services and list your achievements, then it’s unlikely to bring you many leads. It’s a sad fact of life that people don’t really care about your business. What they care about is what your business can do for them. How can you help them?

But surely, you might say, my company website has to be about my company? And you’d be right, in a way. It’s a matter of reframing what you do, and seeing it through the eyes of potential clients. It means putting everything you’re writing through a customer reality check.

Does your customer care that your business was established in 1853, and that you have delightful waterside offices, or do they want to see that you understand the issues they’re facing, and that you have the answers?

This is where valuable content comes in. By creating a lot of helpful content that directly addresses the issues your clients are wrestling with you can show rather than tell that your business can help. Building a bank of genuinely useful stuff, and having it upfront on your website home page is a great way of letting potential clients know they’ve come to the right place. A blog, where you share what you know and give away knowledge for free, speaks far more loudly of a generous approach than any number of awards.

There is a place for your business history and heritage on your website – by all means include it in your About Us section – but make sure it’s outweighed 10, 20, or even 100 to one, by pieces of content that are really valuable to your clients.

How to make your website all about your client, not you.

Valuable checklist – does your website include?
A blog which you update regularly.

Quick win articles – top tips – how-to guides offering useful advice that will help your clients right now.

A longer piece of content – a white paper or e- book -something to satisfy people looking for more depth and detail.

Video – not everyone likes to read, so getting your content into video format increases its accessibility. (NB the video has to be useful. Not you standing in front of your office saying ‘Established in 1853….’)

Case studies – more show, not tell, of the way you help your clients.

If you need help with creating a website that’s all about your clients, or with content creation for your current site, get in touch.

You might also like:

How great content gets you found
Know your audience
Creating case studies that sell

“We also go to Antarctica” – or why you need more valuable content on your website

alps in summertime. image for 'why you need more valuable content.'

Scene 1. A woman enters travel agency.

Woman: Hello, I’m thinking of going on a walking trip to the Alps.
Travel agent: I see madam, we’re excellent at walking trips to the Alps.
Woman: That’s good. Can you tell me a bit more?
Travel agent: We’re excellent at walking trips to the Alps. We also organise walking trips to Corsica, the Pyrenees and Majorca.
Woman: Nice, but I’m interested in the Alps.
Travel Agent: We’re excellent at walking trips to the Alps. We also go to Antarctica.
Woman: Goodbye.

Scene 2. A woman enters travel agency

Woman: Hello, I’m thinking of going on a walking trip to the Alps.
Travel agent: I can help you with that, we organise walking trips to the Alps.
Woman.: That’s good. Can you tell me a bit more?
Travel agent: When were you thinking of going?
Woman: I’m not sure.
Travel agent. This guide to the best times to travel might help you decide. Take it, it’s free.
Woman: Thanks. Summertime probably. My partner is very interested in Alpine plant life.
Travel agent: This might help, it’s our guide to the Flora and Fauna of the Alps. We’ve highlighted the best walks, and put in the details of the places you can stay on the way.
Woman: Thanks. But to be honest, I’m not that interested in the flowers. Is there anything else for me to do while he’s hunting Edelweiss? Something a bit more exciting?
Travel agent: Try this video ‘Ten amazing Alps experiences.’ We made it last year on one of our adventure trips. It’s pretty awesome. Especially the paragliding bit. Amazing views.’
Woman: Thank you, you’ve been really helpful. I’ll get back to you.

Okay, so that’s all pretty unrealistic, but you get the idea. Your website is the travel agency. It’s no good having lots and lots of destinations on offer, if you can’t demonstrate that you know the places inside out. Huge websites with multiple service pages that say ‘we’re excellent at this,’ but which don’t offer further routes to explore won’t engage people.
You need the kind of helpful content your clients are looking for to show that you know your stuff. The right content will keep them interested, help them make a choice, and trust you. And that’s the bottom line. ‘We also go to Antarctica’ will leave you out in the cold.

If you want help creating the right content for your website, call me on 07985 015300.

How to write content so that search engines will find you, and people will like you

search engines and people love your content

The rush to make the most of SEO has led to a plethora of not so great websites, and a few good jokes.

Have you heard the one about the SEO expert who walks into the bar, public house, pubs, bars, public houses, Irish pub, liquor house, drinks, beer, ale, wine, wines………?

Stuffing your web copy with key words might fool a search engine into ranking you highly (although Google has wised up and won’t rate you if you look like a key word stuffing spammer), but it won’t make a reader stick around for long. No one likes copy that doesn’t make sense. Writing becomes meaningless when it’s overloaded with phrases that add nothing to the flow of an argument, so squeezing in as many keywords as possible won’t win you any friends. The key to pleasing search engines and people is to create well targeted valuable content, written in a natural and engaging tone of voice.

1. Start with people, not Google.

A keyword search can help you plan your article, but your first point of reference should always be your clients and customers, as your aim is to create content that’s genuinely useful to them. Google can help you do this, by showing you the terms that people are searching for in the wider world – throwing up some related search terms that you hadn’t thought of, maybe offering a sideways route into your subject that you didn’t initially think of – but it can’t replace the real people that you deal with, and that you build your business around.

2. Keep your article focused on the issue.

You’ve defined the problem that your clients want help with, and you’ve checked with Google that there’s an interested wider market searching for material on your subject, so write that article succinctly. Both readers and SEO bots like content that sticks to the point. You don’t need to hammer home all the key word search terms, but do use them as a framework for whatever it is you’re writing. Use your keyword research to keep you on a tight rein. Don’t wander off!

3. Be natural.

Write as if you were talking to someone sitting next to you. When it comes to putting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, write for a real person. Keep the real person in mind, not a SEO bot. Your SEO keyword research has framed your thinking and planning, but it shouldn’t influence the phrases you use, or the tone of voice you adopt. If you’re writing helpful content that answers a genuine need, it will please everyone.

4. Use your keyword in the title.

Headlines need to grab attention, they have to cut through an awful lot of chatter on Twitter and all the other places you’ll be publicising your blog. Make it easy for people to find you by crafting the search term they’ll be using into your title. For example, if you were writing about the benefits of reclaimed flooring, say so upfront. SEO bots search for relevant titles, so your article will be found and ranked if it’s called – ‘How reclaimed flooring cuts renovation costs’ – but not if it’s called ‘Flooring it – a guide to cost cutting.’ If you keep the title short, you can give yourself room to add some funny/punny words around it to give it a lift on social networking sites, but make it easy for people to see exactly how relevant it is to their query by giving it a clear title upfront. Don’t be too clever.

5. Use keywords in sub headings.

Web readers skim read, so guide them through your writing with sub headings to keep them on track, and show them what’s coming up next. Tying the headings to keywords helps Google see that your article is relevant, in the same way that it reassures readers that your article is targeting the promised issue.

6. Keep producing relevant helpful content.

One well written, targeted and engaging article is great for customers and your website’s ranking. Ten is good, a hundred is even better. Adding more and more pages of genuinely useful content will make your site more attractive to your customers, and it will help your site get found by more people. The thing that will help search engines find you, and will make people like you, is quality content that serves a real purpose. Both Google, and your customer, want you to help them. At heart, it’s as simple as that.

As Adrian Knight, SEO expert at Digital Websites UK says,

“Google’s mission is to serve the highest quality and relevant material to its searches. Help them to do this by producing high quality, valuable content created with the user in mind, and you will do well.”

Related posts

The Seven Deadly Word Sins
Writing for websites
6 ways to get your business voice right

Reflect and learn from the highs and lows

iceberg

In the rush to get things finished off this time of year it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.

Reviewing what’s working best in your business is important, so if you can spare some time to look back and reflect on your successes and the things that haven’t gone to plan, it will stand you in good stead for starting 2012 with renewed energy and purpose.

Jot some ideas down – the act of writing will help you think. And to get you started, here’s a very rough list of the highs and lows of the Valuable Content year – and the lessons we’ve learnt.

Highs

Getting your message straight is the single most important thing you can do. This year we’ve developed and refined a process that helps businesses see their services from their customers point of view. Translating this message into compelling content has created the basis for some great websites that are bringing in new business for our clients.

We’re going to push this service more in 2012.

Getting a book deal. It’s a big pressure, but we know it’s going to be worth it. Writing the book on Valuable Content Marketing will raise our profile, and the process of writing will really sharpen our thinking.

We’re going to publish the book in 2012.

Getting to grips with the importance of design. Of course we knew design was important, but we’re completely converted to the crucial part design functionality plays in making your content accessible.

We’re going to to build our connections with great designers, so we can offer the very best websites for our clients.

Blogging works
. It’s been lovely to see some of our new converts to creating valuable content really getting to grips with it and pulling in leads for their business. Writing is a confidence thing, and it’s been really rewarding to see happy people making it work.

We’re going to keep spreading the message in 2012, and making it as easy as possible for our clients to keep writing for their businesses.

Lows

Most of the projects we’ve worked on this year have run smoothly, but of course working life isn’t all plain sailing. Where it hasn’t worked so well, it’s been partly because clients haven’t been completely sure about the purpose and benefits of our approach. Maybe we didn’t make our processes clear enough, perhaps they just didn’t like the idea. We know ‘help, don’t sell works’ but maybe it’s a leap of faith too far for some. Our approach demands some serious thinking and information gathering from our clients. If you don’t commit to the whole process, we won’t be able to help you.

We’re going to make sure we’re getting our message across clearly. We’re going to make sure top people are engaged in the process before we start. We’ll choose the right people to work with us in 2012

What’s on your list? What have you learnt? We’d love to know.

Oh, and a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!