December 14, 2012
• People search for different reasons – for background information on a topic, or to select and purchase a product or book a service. Therefore, your landing pages may need to address more than one potential audience. Drawing people into your site with good content may cause them to return when decision time comes.
• For example, in a bed and breakfast context, posting interesting and engaging local activities and attractions may cause website visitors to keep you firmly in mind when they are coming your way… Similarly, if you are a local plumber with some great DIY tips on your site, you might get a call next time there is a quote required for a big job.
Part of the secret of generating good web copy is identifying what people are looking for online that relates to what you do. Gaining qualified traffic can be as simple as finding an information void and writing to fulfill an obvious need.
Topic Research for Landing Pages
Inspiration can sometimes be elusive, but here are three easy ways to determine some good landing page topics:
1. Expertise: Pick two or three aspects of your business that you enjoy the most and are most knowledgeable about. Define a short list of relevant keywords about each. Search for those on the AdWords keyword tool and scan through the list of phrases that are being researched on Google. Look for those with: How, Why, What, When, and Where, then search phrases with good search volumes in your region/country.
2. FAQ: Think back to questions that you are most frequently asked, and retrieve any you’ve written thorough answers for. Turn those into comprehensive page coverage of the topic.
3. Problem Solving: I often turn a client’s trouble-shooting or tech support request into an article. For example, tackling a new hacking threat, or an SEO project, can often lead to new information and discoveries that can be shared…
A landing page does not have to be sales pitch. Often the harder the sell, the more resistance there is to it. Sometimes, its better to create a good first impression by giving freely of your knowledge and experience. That gives you credibility, and demonstrates your expertise and professionalism. It shows you are generous rather than greedy, a giver rather than a taker.
Many of your readers may never have the need or wherewithal to partake of your products and services. However, if your brand is projected positively and consistently, word-of-mouth referrals will follow as readership increases.
How Many Words is Enough?
Most designers and branding experts think less is more when it comes to web page copy. I know that getting top rankings for a content-deficient page on your website is not going to be that easy, unless you are writing about a topic with no prior coverage…
Explaining a topic clearly and authoritatively, and being perceived as an expert by search engines and readers alike, cannot be done “above the fold.”
There was a time when a 250-word article could grab top rankings. In the new normal, that is rarely ever going to happen! Instead, proper coverage of a topic might well require an introduction or outline, a logical progression through topic sections, some options, recommendations and a summary… That could well encompass more than 1,000 words – which is my personal minimum on any topics I choose to cover thoroughly.
The Copywriting Process
The thoughtful copywriter might treat this as a storyboard exercise. The first step is usually a written outline of headings, arranged in a logical order, scribbled on a notepad, perhaps with some cryptic notes. I often have several sets of notes on different topics fermenting away on my desk. Once one has fleshed itself out sufficiently, I will write those headings into a WordPress post draft. I then go through, and make additional explanatory notes in each section, gradually filling in the blank spots within the copy.
It may take me several days to complete a 1,500-word article, because I find letting the subconscious work on it delivers better dividends than trying to rush the creative process. Of course, I don’t always have deadlines to meet.
Copywriting and SEO
In terms of search relevancy, its clear that Google places far more weight on the page copy than ever before. The days when titles and descriptions carried the day are gone. Titles are reduced to a brief headline plus branding, Descriptions are demoted to a sales pitch.
Therefore, page headings are now more important than ever, and inclusion of your primary keywords / phrases within headings and body text are vital.
Writers should ensure the primary keyword phrase that encapsulates the essence of the page is represented in an H1 heading. Ensure the secondary / tertiary keyword phrases are represented in H2 / H3 heading/s. In addition, allow those keyword phrases to be placed naturally within the body text if appropriate.
Using a mortgage broker as an analogy, try to include;
• Variations; mortgages, mortgagee, mortgaged etc
• Related words; account, manager, bank, loans, broker, lending, lending, interest, repayment etc
• Synonyms of primary keywords; loan agreement, homeowners loan, contract, debt etc
Don’t lace the content with lethal doses of these. Just sprinkle them judiciously, like raisins in an Easter bun…
Latent Semantic Indexing
This is sometimes referred to as addressing “LSI” or latent semantic indexing opportunities. The goal is to give Google additional positive clues as to the guts of the content, its intent and purpose.
The variations, related words and synonyms increase the probability that a page will appear relevant to the primary keyword search phrase that the page is intended to target.
Website Content Authority
This is an area not broadly discussed, but one that potentially offers benefits to a copywriter’s authorship credibility, provenance, copyright and ownership. It’s a way of applying personal branding to your content creations.
Google+ has a (somewhat awkward) process that allows you to link your written content in multiple external website accounts to your Google+ account, clearly identifying you (the writer) as the author in search engine results pages. For example;
• On multiple websites you own and write for
• Other sites for which you provide guest posts or exclusive articles
• Plus Facebook, Twitter etc
Adding a list of your relevant e-mail accounts and contribution websites to your Google public profile does this. You may also list your about us page/s.
On the websites that you own and write for, you can also include your official Google authorship credentials, these are then added as micro data in post code on the site. If you operate a WordPress website, there are several plugins (e.g. Google+ Authorship) that take care of inserting the correct code in the right places.
In this day and age, content provenance grows more and more important, so protecting yours by every means possible makes good sense.
The folks at Gravatar.com have another way to brand your content. Quote: “Your Gravatar is an image that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things like comment or post on a blog. Avatars help identify your posts on blogs and web forums, so why not on any site?”
• You can set up multiple e-mails – one per website – with a personal or logo image per e-mail address
• Works with WordPress User account to display your image anywhere that address is used
• Works with e-mail address to display that image on any WordPress publishing platform or Gravatar-supporting website
Quote: “Setting up Gravatars on your site is easy; you don’t even need an account! Plugins are available for leading blog software and content management systems.”
Content Excerpt Distribution & Promotion
When you write copy on a topic of relevance, ensuring it gets read requires the broadest distribution. You may have followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media networks. To steadily build traffic, you need to maximize the leverage you have on social networks.
Commonsense dictates that automation is more productive than repetition of effort in distribution! On a WordPress CMS platform, automation of content distribution is readily possible.
Enter Network Publisher from LinksAlpha.com. These guys have a process that allows you to tie together all websites you publish from, and all networks you want to publish to. An account on LinksAlpha allows you to specify your websites, and connect to your accounts on an array of leading social media networks.
• You then specify which websites publish content to which social networks
• On each of your WordPress websites, you install the Network Publisher plugin. This publishes new post excerpts to your LinksAlpha account. In turn, your LinksAlpha account pushes those excerpts to the specified social networks.
• The result is that by publishing a post on any of your websites, excerpts with links back to the source then appear on all of your social network accounts.
That’s a lot more efficient than manually updating multiple social media accounts!
Ben Kemp, a search engine optimization consultant since 1997, is a specialist in website redesign, and a veteran of 25-plus years of experience in the IT industry.