Meaghan

  • How to Write SEO-Friendly Content that Gets Results

    Earlier in 2019, I was certified as an Expert SEO Content Writer. I already had a lot of knowledge on how to write SEO-friendly content, but everything I knew was learned from my own research and real-world experience.

    Today I want to talk to you about some SEO (Search Engine Optimization) basics:

    • Why SEO helps to attract new customers
    • What are keywords and how do you find the right ones for your website
    • Other tips I’ve learned over more than nine years as an online writer about how to write SEO-friendly content

    I also talked a little about this topic on The B2B Mix Show Podcast. Give it a listen to learn more about working with a freelance writer.

    What is SEO, and why do you need it?

    First of all, let’s establish what SEO is. I’m sure you’ve heard about it on commercials and in conversations with other website owners. You know that you need it, but what is SEO?

    SEO or Search Engine Optimization is an online practice to improve your rankings on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Most conversations, including this one, revolve around Google since 92% of the world uses it.

    HubSpot reports that 75% of people don’t go beyond page one of the search results. Doing what you can to rank higher is critical to your success in generating leads on the Internet.

    What are keywords, and how do you find them?

    Keywords or keyword strings are words or phrases that site owners incorporate into their web copy. These are the words or phrases that your ideal customer is searching online.

    You may be saying to yourself, “That’s great and all, but how do I identify which keywords to use?” I have some suggestions and tools that will help.

    Find valuable keywords by thinking about the common questions or issues your buyer is facing.

    I’ll take an example from the health and wellness space, specifically for a diabetes health coach like my client Melissa Slemp. Using UberSuggest.com, I searched “weight gain and diabetes.”

    Screenshot of Keyword Overview from UberSuggest.com

    Search Volume tells me how many people are searching the term “weight gain and diabetes.” I can see the SEO Difficulty is easy with a score of 10. This is decent, but when I scroll down below the graph, there’s a list of related keywords and I see a better option.

    I see that “weight gain from diabetes” is a more common search term with 1,300 queries a month. The difficulty is a bit higher at 28, but it’s still shown as easy to rank.

    I also see a question listed, “can weight gain cause diabetes?” This is perfect to use as a primary keyword and a blog title. You could also incorporate the other two search terms as secondary keywords.

    From a quick search, I now have a title and three keywords I can target in a blog post. A few other sites you can use to gather information on search terms and what your audience is looking for are:

    • Google Trends
    • Kwfinder.com
    • Squirrely plug-in for WordPress
    • Pinterest

    Stop now and plug a common phrase or question from your industry into UberSuggest.com and use the steps above to find a keyword or two you can target in your next blog post or long-form article.

    Got it? Okay, then let’s move on.

    How to use keywords in your blog – 8 Tips to write SEO-friendly content

    Historically, SEO writers have had a bad reputation for trying to game the system (i.e., Google) and stuff articles with keywords and irrelevant links to increase their rankings. Google quickly caught on, and if you try the keyword stuffing technique today, you’re bound to do more damage than good on your website. It’s an awful practice that doesn’t help the user or you.

    The practice of SEO writing today is reliant on several best practices, most importantly, answering a question and providing helpful content for the reader. For more info here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when writing your next SEO-friendly blog:

    • Use your primary keyword in the title and a few of your subheaders or H2s.
    • Incorporate your keywords into an H3 subheader before the final paragraph. I usually write it as part of a call to action. Following the example of the above, it would be something like “Contact me to discuss natural options when it comes to weight gain from diabetes.”
    • Include the keyword and variations of it in the body of your article. If you’re stumped on related terms and you didn’t find enough from UberSuggest, hop over to Google. Plug your keyword in and scroll to the bottom of the page to see “Searches related to ____.”
    • Research the competition. Plug your keyword into Google and see what others have written on the topic. Try to find ways that you can add to the conversation and not regurgitate what someone else has already said. You want to uplevel the competition on your keywords.
    • Link to credible sources. Find statistics or other information from trustworthy sites that you can incorporate into your blog post. Using credible outside links notifies Google that your website is likely reliable since you’ve done your research.
    • Link to other articles within your site. Find words or phrases within your article that you can link to other content or pages on your website. A good example of this practice is above where I linked “SEO writing” to my copywriting service page.
    • Tell a story while thinking about your search terms. When you’re writing, keep your keywords top of mind, but don’t let them control everything that you write. You need to be cautious not to overdo it and end up with a keyword-stuffed article. Aim to keep the use of your primary keyword under 3% of your document, and your secondary keywords under 2%.
    • Use SEO to guide your content strategy. Create a plan for the next few months of content by theming your content based around keywords. When your keywords and blog topics are already planned out, it makes it easier when you sit down to write. Start with the basic topics and drill down into specifics – then you’re able to link back to the foundational articles in future content.

    Get results from your SEO content!

    If you consistently follow the tips and suggestions I’ve outlined above, you’ll eventually see results. SEO is not an overnight fix to instantly bring tons of traffic to your website. It’s a strategy that takes time and effort. 

    Contact me for a free consultation if you need help with strategizing or creating new content.

  • 5 Ways to Market Your Local, Small Business on a Budget

    The idea of marketing is a daunting task to many. Something you may have little time for, and even less of a budget. But it doesn’t have to take endless hours, and you don’t need thousands of dollars to build the online presence for your local, small business. The suggestions below require a small time investment, but little to no monetary expense.

    1. Create a Website

    According to Inc. Magazine, 60% of small businesses with 1-5 employees don’t have an online presence. Don’t let that statistic include you! If you have a Facebook page for your yoga business, great. But that’s not enough.
Facebook goes down sometimes, and there are a number of adults who chose to veer clear of social media.

    Creating a website for your business will cost money, but it will also help new clients to discover you and is worth the investment. 

    2. Publish Blog Posts

    Consistently posting to a blog can assist in increasing your page rank on search engines and it humanizes your brand. Each time you publish a piece of content, Google comes back to index your website.

    Using your blog to communicate discounts with customers is one thing, telling your brand’s story is another. Publishing regular blog posts will encourage your audience to visit your site giving you another opportunity to connect with them and take one step closer to converting them into a client.

    As a private yoga teacher, you could break down the anatomy of asanas in a weekly column, post recipes related to Ayurvedic spices, or discuss the metaphysical benefits of energy healing. You should post about whatever it is that differentiates you from other yoga teachers. What else do you know that many yogis have an interest in?

    Take a similar approach to your industry by answering your buyers’ questions and sharing content that will interest them. 

    3. Host a Twitter Chat

    Conducting a Twitter chat can be a very productive way of marketing your business and reaching a new audience. Involving a partner or an influencer from your industry with a substantial Twitter following is even better. Here’s a 6-step plan to launching your first Twitter chat.

    1. Find a partner/influencer in your industry.
    2. Decide on a topic that you can conduct your Twitter chat around and create an event-specific hashtag. Be creative and try to make it on the brief so it doesn’t take up many characters when people respond.
    3. Promote your Twitter Chat! Start early on this and include any involved parties requesting that they join in sharing the event.
      {This handy infographic on using Canva to create images will come in handy here.}
    4. Generate five questions you can ask attendees.
    5. Provide the questions to the involved parties before the Twitter chat so they can prepare their responses in advance. Doing so will allow them to interact with other attendees more because they won’t have to spend time crunching their responses down to 140 characters.
    6. Launch your Twitter chat at the scheduled time and be sure to engage with attendees.

    4. Guest Post

    Writing for other businesses’ sites will allow you to reach a new audience. Search out companies that attract similar clients, but are not competitive with your business. When pitching an idea on your proposed post consider the problems that your products or services address.

    An insurance company could look for local organizations to partner with on a guest post. Do your research and approach non-competitive, industry-related businesses. You can even offer a trade, where they guest post to your site too.

    5. Video



    Live video is an inexpensive way to get your face in front of customers. It doesn’t require much to air a video. Decide on the platform you’d like to use (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), come up with a topic and maybe a general outline of what you’ll say, and go live! People don’t expect videos that were published in real time to be edited.

    Here are five ideas of videos you can create at your business:

    1. Offer a behind the scenes look at the production.
    2. Show the product in use.
    3. Answer FAQ’s.
    4. Interview a customer on their experience.
    5. Interview an employee about their job.

    Sharing videos is a great way to get yourself and your brand in front of customers, invite shares, and create an awareness of your brand.

    There are a number of other budget-friendly marketing strategies you can employ as a small business. I hope that the ideas listed above provide some guidance and initiate the next step in your social selling efforts.

     

    Are you ready to start marketing your small business but aren’t sure where to start? Contact me and let’s build a strategy to generate more sales for your company!

     

  • Recommended Social Media Management Tools from a Seasoned Social Media Manager

    Nearly half of small businesses are spending about six hours a week on social media. That’s almost a whole day of business! Social media management tools can help to make you more productive and effective during the time spent on social media.

    Below is a comprehensive list of the tools I have worked with or am currently using to schedule content for myself and my clients. Many are accessible on mobile, and some are accessible on both mobile and desktop. Take it from a pro – it’s always nice to have your social media management tools right on your phone for easy access on the go!

    Top Social Media Management Tools to Make Your Content Creation Tasks Easier

    Social Media Management Platforms

    Deciding on a social media management platform is like picking what type of ice cream you want at the local creamery. They’re all generally the same (frozen milk and sugar), but with slightly different ingredients based on your preferences.

    [bctt tweet=”Deciding on a #socialmedia management platform is like picking what type of ice cream 🍨 you want at the local creamery. It’s hard!” username=”meaghanmae”]

    Hootsuite – With the free option of Hootsuite you can connect three social media accounts and schedule up to 30 messages. If you’re scheduling posts once a week or more frequently the free one may be enough, otherwise they have a paid plan that can handle more.

    HubSpot – HubSpot is excellent for larger companies looking for a full-blown CRM (customer relationship management) system. You can do social listening, schedule content, and analyze your efforts based on campaigns within the platform.

    Planoly– I recently started to use this, and I’m so glad I did! The drag and drop feature and grid view make it incredibly simple to plan your Instagram content. It even lets you know how many hashtags you have space left for with the Instagram mandated maximum of 30.

    Buffer – If you’re a fan of drag and drop, this is the social media manager for you. At the time of this blog post, it’s one of the few platforms that offer drag and drop to reschedule content.

    CoSchedule – Businesses with an active blog will like CoSchedule. It integrates with WordPress, and you can see social messages and blog posts in a single calendar for easier planning. Scheduling additional social messages for each blog is convenient too with your related images readily available.

    Image Creators/Editors

    Whether you’re creating the perfect Instagram post, the featured image for your next blog post, or thumbnail for your upcoming viral video, you’ll likely want a tool – especially if you’re going to add any text.

    Canva – I wrote in-depth about Canva and how to use it in 2016. It’s one of my top two tools I recommend to clients if they want to DIY their social media and blog/website images.
    steps-to-creating-canva

    izkiz Cam – This is my favorite Instagram image editor. Created by a popular Instagrammer with nearly 3 million followers, this app is $1.99. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for something to make your photos brighter and more vibrant.

    Analysis/Maintenance Tools

    A big part of your social media marketing strategy should include analyzing your content to identify what works and what doesn’t. Accurately measuring your results from social will help you to generate top-performing posts as you move forward. Don’t guesstimate like this guy.

    Most social media management platforms and social networks include analysis features within them, but if you’re looking for something more check out this list.

    Google Analytics – Get an overall look at which social media platforms are performing best in bringing visitors back to your website with Google Analytics. You’ll also be able to see which formats are resonating the most with each social networks’ users.

    InsTrack – Many Instagram users’ “strategy” to get followers is to follow and then unfollow as soon as the other account reciprocates. How this is still happening is beyond me! It’s incredibly disingenuine and a waste of time. To whittle these people out of your account, you can download InsTrack or a similar app to your smartphone that identifies who has unfollowed you.

    ManageFlitter – The same follow and unfollow tactic from Instagram happens on Twitter too. Clean up who you’re following with ManageFlitter.

    Hashtagify – Track hashtag popularity and find new ones using hashtagify.me.

    Google Sheets – Google Sheets can’t do any analysis for you (unless you’re kind of an Excel wizard), but it’s a convenient way to track your social media engagement and to plan future content.

    Employee Advocacy Platforms

    Enterprise companies looking to grow their brand’s reach online can mobilize their employees to share content. As Forbes reported, “brand messages shared by employees on social media earn 561 percent more reach than the same messages shared by the brand’s social media channels.”

    Executing an effective employee advocacy program necessitates a software that is simple to use for employees. The process of sharing your content needs to be as easy as possible. These are two of the tools I’ve used in the past – both as a user and in managing the platform.

    GaggleAMP – In addition to engaging your employees in sharing, GaggleAMP makes it easy to include your other brand advocates (possibly your customers) in sharing useful content.
    Everyone Social – The user has the option to create their own streams of content in Everyone Social. Similar to the feeds your business creates on company news, or other industry related content that your buyers will find helpful, they can add publications or hashtags that populate relevant content.

    [bctt tweet=”Not sure which tools you should be using to help with #socialmedia #marketing? Check out this list! ” username=”meaghanmae”]

    Where to Find OPC

    Your social media plan should include a mix of (OPC) other peoples content and your own. Many social media managers, myself included, recommend an 80 to 20 ratio. 80 percent being OPC and 20 percent being content from your website or other online channels. Here’s a list of the places you can look to find relevant content to share with your audience:

    1. BuzzSumo
    2. Google Advanced Search
    3. Anders Pink
    4. Feedly
    5. Relevant, Non-competing Industry Magazines and Blogs

    Understand that these are just the tools that I use. There may be better options out there; new apps are coming out all the time. Agorapulse and Edgar, for example, are two commonly recommended paid tools I hear from my peers.

    So what’s your flavor? Are there any tools I missed that you recommend to others? Are you going to try any of these out?  Let me know in the comments below.

     

    Reach out to me for a free 20-minute exploration call if you’re still struggling to get a grasp on managing your social media. I offer management services and training to help you grow brand visibility using social media.

  • How to Write Engaging Content that Makes Your Brand Unforgettable

    Whenever you sit down to start writing a blog post, what’s the first thought that comes to your mind? Hopefully, it’s not, ugh, I have to write another blog post (but if it is, get in touch with me – my writing services may be just what you need). In the sea of content that’s available on the web today, a top objective should be to write engaging content that is unforgettable.

    How to Write Engaging Content

    Today’s readers are inundated by online content. Brands must be creating memorable material that helps the brand to not only stand out but also to connect with your reader and make them want to return to your website.

    [bctt tweet=”Publishing unforgettable #content leads to a memorable brand.” username=”@meaghanmae”]

    Here are five aspects of a memorable blog post to help your brand connect with prospects, i.e., your readers. Include a mix of these in your content.

    1. Tell a story.
    2. Teach the reader something new.
    3. Present a thought-provoking idea.
    4. Agree with the reader.
    5. Make them laugh.

    [bctt tweet=”What should you include in your #content to make it memorable? Find out in this blog post by @meaghanmae. #branding” via=”no”]

    Tell a Story

    As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” If you can make the reader feel an emotion, you’re golden. They may not remember each of the five statistics you included, but they’ll remember the story and the emotions they felt.

    “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

    Incorporating storytelling into your content will have the most impact.

    In the book The Storytelling Edge, the content strategy masterminds behind Contently.com point out, “When we hear a story, the neural activity increases fivefold.” It’s easier to remember data points when they’re tied to a narrative, so try to weave a personal experience or fictional tale into your content.

    Teach

    Educate your reader. If your business has employees, involve them in creating content. If they’re not interested in writing or recording a video, you can always interview them and share their expertise that way.

    Position your brand as a knowledgeable resource by sharing helpful, expert level advice around your target customers’ pain points. You might even earn your website a few bookmarks from readers.

    Shock

    A quick way to be memorable is to do something crazy! Think about all of the viral videos you see. You remember and maybe even share them because they’re out of the norm. Apply this same principle to your content and present a new way of thinking for your reader to consider.

    Agree

    Share something that gets the reader nodding in agreement. Everything that you share doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. Agreeing with your reader allows them to relate to you and your personal brand. It builds a sense of connection. You want them to think, “This is my kind of person!”

    Make Them Laugh

    Comedian Mike Albanese says, “Funny content is more likely to be recalled than content that has no humor, and that is the point of most marketing and content!” 

    Write engaging content by infusing humor into your writing – if you’re funny! Comedy is not something that you can force, and readers will be able to tell if you’re faking it.

    If your content is usually pretty dry, try self-deprecating humor. It allows people to relate to you and see a human side that they may not recognize in clear-cut content.

    Amplifying Your Engaging Content

    Creating your unforgettable content isn’t the end of the line. It needs to be shareable too. Your amplification strategy should include paid advertising, especially if you’re not a well-known company that people are searching out for information.

    What do you include in your content to help build your brand and add a sense of community? Let me know in the comments below.

    free-def-guide-facebook-pages (1)

    If you’re sharing your content on a Facebook Page, are you getting the number of views that you want? If not, download my free eBook to ensure you’re doing everything you can to get more organic engagement.

     

  • Video and the Future of Content Marketing

    What can you expect for the future of content marketing? It has certainly evolved in format since it first started with John Deere’s magazine The Furrow in 1895, but the purpose is still the same – build trust with your consumers.

    In addition to one-page leaflets, we now have branded magazines, blogs, podcasts, social media posts, and videos too.

    People watch 85 percent of Facebook videos without sound. They’re still interested in reading (and value their silent time), but visuals are a nice addition. The two complement each other quite well.

    Imagine watching an hour-long video on how to create a successful content strategy – no thanks! Wouldn’t you rather have a 10,000-word blog or eBook you can quickly come back to and reference? I would take notes the entire time if I watched a video or listened to a podcast that long. Give me the blog, please!

    Video Will Bolster The Future of Content Marketing

    As a proponent for the written word, I truly believe that video will not eliminate written communications. According to new research from Clutch, “33 percent of B2B audiences read blogs or articles about business-related topics.” People are sharing blogs with others because they think it will be useful and it’s helping to generate leads.

    [bctt tweet=”#Video won’t eliminate written #content, but there is value in using video to reach more people.” username=”meaghanmae”]

    B2B marketers using blogs get 67percent more leads than those that don’t. Social Media Examiner even reported that more than half of marketers believe that “original written content” is the most important type over images, videos, and infographics. However, I know the value of using video to reach people. Look at the facts, and you’ll agree.

    Types of Video to Use in Your Content Marketing Strategy

    Now that you understand why you need to create videos for your brand, let’s take a look at how to get started. The first question you likely have is what you should create videos about? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

    1. Create explanatory videos about your product or service.
    2. Answer FAQs. Almost half of businesses surveyed by HubSpot claim that video helps them lower the number of support queries they receive.
    3. Short teaser clips within your article of a few of the main points can encourage the viewer to read more. 80 percent of marketers say video increases the amount of time a viewer stays on their website.
      [bctt tweet=”#Video increases the amount of time a viewer stays on your website. #marketing” username=”meaghanmae”]
    4. Repurpose your current content. Identify content (blogs, eBooks, white papers) that have performed well in the past and add more mileage to the idea you’ve already developed with a video. It will also help with SEO (search engine optimization) of that topic on your website.
    5. Share “behind the scenes.” Give your prospects and customers a taste of what life is like in your business. Share clips from around the office that show the company culture, host interviews with employees or customers, explain how to make the product, or crowdsource questions to answer on a video.

    Tips and Best Practices for Video Marketing

    Recording and sharing video doesn’t have to be difficult. All you need is your smartphone and an idea. Remember these tips and best practices as you develop your video strategy.

    1. Short, two-minute-long videos get the most engagement (This does NOT apply to live video, see number two).
    2. Go live. At Social Media Day Jacksonville 2018, live video expert Luria Petrucci said to aim for a minimum of 20 minutes when using live video to get the most engagement.
      [bctt tweet=”To get the most engagement from your #livevideo, @luriapetrucci says to aim for a minimum of 20 minutes. #contentmarketing #videotip” username=”meaghanmae”]
    3. Create a series. In her book, Vlog Like a Boss: How to Kill It Online with Video Blogging, Amy Landino suggests creating a video series. It gives you an idea for the next video to make and builds a sense of anticipation among your audience.
    4. Share on Instagram or Facebook Stories.
    5. Upload videos directly to Facebook, don’t share YouTube links. Native videos get a ten times higher reach.
    6. Engage with viewers. 

    Are you among the 81 percent of businesses that use video in your marketing? If not, it’s time to get started. Grab your smartphone, develop a strategy or outline for your first branded video, and hit record!

    free-def-guide-facebook-pages (1)