Why Weak Content is Killing Your Business
If Your Content Isn’t Hard-Working, You're Missing out on Sales.
Content marketing can be a strong marketing tool for service businesses like law firms, insurance companies, salons, gyms, repair services, financial services, medical services, and more. That’s because people who are looking for your types of services often start with online research, using keywords and search engines like Google. Creating useful information on your website not only helps curious website visitors learn more about your business, but this kind of content also acts as a magnet for search engines. Search engines crawl content to identify and index your website, which means people can find you faster. According to Google, more than 60% of people looking for businesses and services start with online research using search engines. That means that if you’re trying to find new customers, the ones who have not yet decided which business to use, your rank on search engines, or SEO, will be critical.
But just creating any old content is not enough. To get the most attention, and to attract the most qualified prospects, your business must know how to create content, and how to optimize that content to make it searchable and easy to find. While powerful content can be one of the most effective ways to boost SEO, and weak content can kill your business.
Start by Identifying Real Needs
One of the best ways to attract qualified new prospects to your website is to offer them the kind of information you know they’re looking for. AKA, identify their needs. Think about what kind of information makes a difference to them when you’re talking to them face to face. What questions do they always ask you? What are their pain points? What do they fear? What kind of information makes them excited about you and your business?
For example, if you are a salon, you may get lots of questions about types of hair colors and new products on the market. These kinds of questions mean your clientele comes to you for trends and information. So, information about trendy beauty looks, which hair colors work best on which complexions and reviews of new beauty products will probably attract your most qualified prospects to your site.
However, if you’re a salon that is focused on wedding parties and excels in stylish new updos, it might make more sense for your website to be wedding-friendly, have lots of links to other people around town who offer wedding features, show lots of wedding hair ideas, and talk about determining budgets and timelines for doing hair for wedding parties.
Find the Best Keywords
Even if you already know the type of information you want to share, you may not know the words and phrases that people use when searching for that kind of information. That’s why you should spend time researching keywords and developing a keyword list that works for your business.
Keywords are the terms and phrases people use when they search for your type of product and services. For example, if you’re a law firm, you may be careful to use the proper legal terms. However, your clients and prospective clients are not attorneys, and they may be using different language or wording. More people use the keywords “divorce lawyers” vs. “divorce attorneys.” And a woman looking to figure out her rights for maternity leave is much more likely to search for “maternity leave” vs. “FMLA leave” or “employee rights.”
One way to help you determine which keywords are right for your business, log on to Google AdWords and act as if you are starting an AdWords campaign. That’s where you’ll find a keyword search tool that will allow you to enter keywords or phrases, and tell you how many people are using those keywords each month in your area.
There are many other free tools online that can also help you research keywords, including SpyFu.com, Ubersuggest, and SEMRush’s SEOMagic Tool. Play around with them to find the ones that work best for your needs. If you need more advice, feel free to contact us with your questions.
Write Compelling Titles, and Include Keywords
Your blog, page, or article title tells the reader what your content is about, but it also tells them what kind of content it is – legal, formal, young and hip, technical, trendy, or whatever. Your title should not only tell them what they’re going to read about, but it should also reveal hints about your style as a writer and as a company. For example, when Cup O Content writes content for our own website, we’re pretty casual and chatty. This style intentionally reflects who we are as a company. But when we write on behalf of financial firms or law offices, our writing styles (and headlines) are buttoned up and formal.
But formal headlines and titles don’t need to be boring. Here are a few examples of different title treatments. All contain the selected keywords, but the way they’re written creates very different expectations:
Keywords: Divorce, Pennsylvania
Six Divorce Tips for Pennsylvania
Six Divorce Mistakes You Won’t Want to Make in Pennsylvania
Keywords: Hair Color, Trends
Trends in Hair Color
Crazy Trends in Hair Color – Which one is Right for You?
Keywords: Younger Skin, Facial Peel
Get Younger-Looking Skin with Our Facial Peel
Do Facial Peels Really Give You Younger-Looking Skin? Our Experts Reveal the Truth.
If you have trouble coming up with ideas for creative headlines, try some of the free headline generator tools available online. We wrote the title of this very blog using one of our favorite online tools from Portent.com. We also like BuzzSumo’s headline analyzer tool. Not a fan of either of these? No worries. There are lots of free headline generators available at the click of a Google search button.
Share Your Secrets
One of the best ways to get people to read your content is to give them real value. Share your secrets - your REAL secrets. How many times have you created online content and avoided sharing any real information or advice because you are scared of “giving it away?”
Don’t worry. When you share the details on what to do and how to do it, you demonstrate your expertise. Don’t worry about giving them so much information they want to do it themselves – anyone can do it themselves if they really want to. And unless you really have re-invented the wheel in new and shocking ways, it’s very likely that they won't find the information and advice you’re offering in other places with a little online research.
Think of it this way - you’re not sharing secrets so that people can do it themselves. You’re sharing secrets to prove that you know what you’re doing. And when you share secrets about the real process behind your work and services, most prospective clients or customers will get a little overwhelmed, and will quickly remember why they want to hire someone else to do this for them.
While some of your visitors will be interested in DIY-ing it, most of your website visitors are more interested in finding out if you are an expert, and the details you share are the proof they need to believe that you really know what you’re doing.
Stay Away From Hard Sells
A previous client once reviewed our content, targeted to potential customers, and asked “Why in the world would you say, ‘We MIGHT be the right choice?' You have to say, ‘we ARE the right choice.’
We pushed back. After all, how many prospects want to reach out to a company that already assumes that they’re right for everyone? When you resort to hard-sell phrases, you’ve already told them that you’re the kind of company that will push your services, regardless of whether or not it’s a good fit.
Hard sells are a turnoff in person, but they’re especially unwelcome in early-stage content. As a service company, you’re looking to provide the right solution to the right customer at the right time. When creating content, avoid hard-sells - don’t pretend that you’re the right choice for everyone, and you’ll not only keep their interest longer, you’ll also increase trust and credibility.
Here are cringe-worthy phrases and practices to avoid;
The clear winner
You can’t afford not to use us
The right choice
(or, even worse) The only choice
The best in the business
Anything with multiple exclamation marks!!!
OR ANYTHING THAT IS ALL CAPPED
Not sure if your copy is too hard-sell? Shoot us an email, and we’ll give you our honest opinion.
But Don’t Skimp on the Calls-to-Action
While you don’t want to force-feed your prospects using hard-sell language, you do want to give them lots of opportunities to contact you. That means that you should think hard about your content, and embed calls to action into the content at the top of the page, several times in the middle of the page, and at the bottom of the page. When we add calls-to-action to our content, we do something like this…
If you’re not sure how to add calls-to-action to your content, email us now,
or give us a call at 717-553-3502 and we’ll explain it in more detail.
Don’t Be Afraid of Outbound Links
Many companies avoid outbound links. Outbound links are links that take you from one site onto another website. Most companies feel that, once you’ve finally convinced someone to spend time on your site, the last thing you want to do is give them a reason to exit.
However, when structured properly, outbound links can benefit you in a variety of ways.
Outbound links can provide additional facts, figures, or information to support your content
They can provide credibility
You can benefit from the halo effect – the reader groups you in with the site that you’ve linked out to
Search engines like outbound links. That means that by including outbound links, you’re increasing your website’s value to search engines, and helping them rank you higher in relevant searches.
But not all outbound links are helpful. Links can disappear. The site you link to may not enhance your business’s image or reputation. The information you link to may be incorrect. How do you ensure your outbound links are helpful, and not hurting you?
Make sure links are set up to open on a new page. That means your page will remain open in their browser, and it will be much easier to return to your site quickly
Only link to websites with excellent reputations. If you link to sites that change content often, are not well-maintained, or that do not provide solid content, you could suffer damage by association
Link to the primary information source. When citing a study or statistic, link to the original study. Do not link to a blog or an article that cites the statistic. Once you start adhering to this standard, you will be surprised how often blogs and articles, even articles from large, reputable publications, are incorrect or even fabricated. If you can’t track down the original source, and link to it, don’t include the information.
Link to sites that enhance your brand image. If you’re a law firm, the information on Buzzfeed is probably not in line with your brand and reputation. But if you’re a hip salon catering to 20-somethings, Buzzfeed might be a perfect fit. Think about your customers, and what they expect from you, and make the outbound links you use to complement and reinforce your core benefits.
Don’t go crazy with outbound links. When it comes to outbound links, a little goes a long way. Make sure that less than 1% of your content is connected to an outbound link for best readability, and to comply with search engine best practices.
And Make Sure it’s Easy to Skim With Lots of Subheads
A good set of subheads makes it easier for people to skim through your content. For example, even if you didn’t read this article in detail, you could get the gist of it with the headlines. That’s important for a few reasons.
Most people start by skimming online content. If you’ve been studying your website statistics, you see that people often spend only a few seconds on a page. They quickly skim it to see if it has the information they want.
Even people really interested in your content may prefer to skim. Online users aren’t known to be careful readers, so don’t structure your content in ways that demand full readership. Make sure your readers can get the main ideas quickly, while still providing details for those who want to dig deeper.
Subheads coded as <H2>-<H6> boost SEO. Search engines look for subheads coded with <H2>-<H6> tags. Search engines pay special attention to these kinds of subheads and give them more weight than text. That means that when you break up your text with properly coded subheads, you not only make it easier for a human to understand, you’re also making it easier for search engine crawlers to find and index your information, helping your rank higher in relevant searches.
Are you ready to hire experts to manage your content marketing? Contact us to schedule a free consultation to find out how you can improve your content and grow your business.
Want to read more blogs about digital strategy? Check out these Cup O Content articles.