SEO Copywriting: What I Learned at Corporate that Small Biz Can Use

people working at computersFresh off a long stint at a nationwide ecommerce company, I thought I’d share the insights into SEO copywriting and search engine optimization I gained.  The team included five crack SEO professionals who were always attending the top conferences, but more, watching the results of their strategies on a daily, even hourly basis through their analytics programs.  While there, I kept eyes and ears wide open. Here are 5 insights everyone can use:

  1. Pages with lots of photos and little text may benefit from fully written footers  that include 500 – 600 words of sales copywriting.  Why? Where once website footers were filled with links to interior pages, copyright information, graphics and addresses, now some large ecommerce sites are choosing to create keyword opportunities embedded in text describing the page’s contents.

This change came about after Google stopped depending on “meta descriptions” (the way you or your developer described each page in your “back end” or website platform).  Instead, Google and other search engines scan the entire page, looking for matches to their search queries.  They grab the key phrase and 165 characters from the beginning of the sentence it lives until the 165 characters run out. Rather than seeing a site owners orchestrated description of the page, Google puts that “snippet” up in the search engine results.

A heavy text footer still exists in the background, not really intended for people to read.  As such, it’s often in small text, darker gray on a light gray background or dark blue on a baby blue background. It’s also below the fold, ensuring that most miss it.

The keys to writing a good footer include making the text very relevant to the what’s offered on the page, using keywords sparingly and including sales propositions like, “Informed Web Content’s blog writing services include free graphics and linking.”  The key phrase is “blog writing services” and the sales message is “free graphics and linking.” One fifth of the footer should include sentences like this, while the other four-fifths contain general information about your business, products or services that doesn’t include your key phrases or sales propositions. Finally, the whole thing should cohere like a nice, ninth-grade essay.  Include a few links to interior category, product and service pages, but no more than 5.

Find an example here by scrolling to the bottom of Enhancing Romancing’s home page.

 2.    With Facebook selling all of its user information to Microsoft and not Google, it’s possible that Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, could be up and coming as the go-to search engine in the coming decade.  This should be fun to watch!  More importantly, it’s time to follow Bing’s webmaster tools blog as well as their ranking strategies more closely.

 3.  Popular keyword phrases get more attention to a blog post than the most cleverly worded title with no keyword phrase. Chances are, your blog is not going to go viral no matter how much of a poet you are. Your blog post titles must groove from topics most often searched. That said, blog posts can and should feature your long-tail keywords.

EX:  for a veterinary blog post, the misguided poet says:  “Bunnies Beleaguered by the Side Effects of Love.” The smart SEO Copywriter says, “Venereal Disease in Rabbits: 3 Clear Symptoms.” Ah, sigh . . . writers regret the dropping popularity of the lovely turn of phrase.

4.  Facebook isn’t “converting” enough at this point to warrant a big effort or financial outlays. Even though people may like posts in the thousands, not too many go on to buy. Generally, they opt in to be a “fan,” for the free offer or discount and then hide the subsequent posts or just ignore them. In fact, Facebook visitors become “post blind” to entreaties from companies, scanning for messages from friends.

That said, the great holy grail of Facebook is not to win likes, but to get “shares,” where people put your post on their newsfeed. That post goes on to all of their friends, multiplying your brand’s reach.  But we all knew this . . .

 5.  Corporate SEO copywriting is drastically curtailed by legal, leaving the exciting business copywriting in the hands of medium sized and small businesses. In fact, because smaller businesses aren’t the litigation target the large ones are, they can often create more interesting, exciting web content than the dry, stick-to-the-rules big corporations can.  Especially in the case of local business, the internet marketing advantage often goes to David rather than Goliath. In fact, because the world seems to be getting bigger, ironically, many consumers want to find a face, a personality to connect with when seeking products and services.  A blog is perfect place to display your personality, unique products and services and dedication to customer service. Small businesses can and should take advantage of this corporate Achilles heel!

Because corporations are always sending their staff to expensive conferences,  in house SEO teams may seem to have the inside track. Keep in mind, however, point 5 above. Smaller and medium sized business have much more flexibility to create personality-infused blog posts that gain attention.  Whether large or small,  businesses that have managed to keep search engine results rankings above the fold always have useful, relevant and recent web content. What are some of the differences you’ve seen in corporate vs. small business SEO copywriting?                

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