Posts tagged content writing
4 Best Practices For User Testing Your Website

So you've built out a new website or landing page, and you're excited to show it to the world. Your colleagues, friends, and family think that your new creation is awesome - and you're feeling pretty good about yourself. You're thinking that you might be ready to launch..

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DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER WITHOUT USER TESTING!

Here at Delegator, we preach the gospel of thorough and unbiased user testing. In fact, we have distilled our approach to using a singular partner (most of the time) that we really enjoy working with, because they have a great platform: UserTesting.com.

Simply signing up for their service, however, isn't enough to get you the actionable data you need to properly optimize your new site.

Here are four best practices that will allow you to user test efficiently and effectively:

Get involved in, first hand, user testing videos AND analysis sessions:

User testing is one of the most important pre-launch protocols.  If you are a decision maker, there is no substitute for first hand consumption of user testing content.  If you pass the task off through multiple degrees of separation, you are opening yourself up to multiple layers of bias. Instead, consume the user tests first hand to see for yourself EXACTLY how people interact with your site.

Do not make definitive conclusions based on just a couple of user tests:

Although you may feel that a random user test is providing you with a goldmine of actionable data, temper your eagerness to make changes with the understanding that one or two tests are not statistically significant relative to hundreds of site visitors.  If multiple users tests start revealing similar faults or potential enhancements, AND your team agrees with said faults, you should probably feel safe making that change.

Find the right balance between instruction specificity and freedom:

Unless you want your user tester to be floundering around the site with no clear direction, be specific in dictating to the tester who they are, and what their goal is.  Don't, however, instruct them on every step they need to take to reach the goal.  You want your user tester to best emulate your actual customers.  You, unfortunately, won't be able to instruct each customer on how to use your website step by step, so take that into account during your UserTesting.com session setup.

Use the convenient annotations feature of UserTesting.com for efficient & effective sharing:

You'll want to share the user testing intel with your team members.  Since the tests are delivered in the form of a narrated video and can often be quite long, take a pass through the videos and annotate the important revelations.  This way, other team members can quickly scan the video and watch the important parts where your tester might be stumbling, or (hopefully) completing tasks with ease.

Delegator is an official partner of UserTesting.com and can help you set your account up,  work through your testing, and analyze the tests to form actionable recommendations.  Contact us here if you would like to learn more!

Delegator.com’s New Years Resolutions! (This time we’re really going to do it!)

1. This year, I will stop focusing on the numbers on the scale. I will stop focusing on keywords only when I write SEO content.

2. This year, I will do something active and physical every day. I will regularly add to and refresh the content of my site.

3. This year, I am finally going to get organized - my house, my office, and my life. I am finally going to start utilizing Google Analytics - to track and analyze my traffic, my users, and my conversion statistics.

4. This year, I will quit smoking once and for all. I will stop using Flash to create large or important sections of my website.

5. This year, I’m going to put myself out there and try to meet some new people. I’m going to kick my AdWords campaign into high gear, try some email marketing, and optimize my site every chance I get.

6. This year, I am going to start saving money. I am going to let professionals actively manage my AdWords account, and stop over-paying for keywords that are too competitive or that aren’t going to get me the customers I’m looking for.

7. This year, I am going to be on time wherever I go. I will use Google Calendars to give me reminders about important dates, deadlines and meetings.

8. This year, I am going to learn something new. I am going to try a different online marketing tactic to see if I can improve my results.

9. This year, I am going to indulge my artistic side. I’m going to create banners for my site and start using Display Networks to attract and re-target users.

10. This year, I am going to give some time or money to charity (This is one that should stay on the list). Check out Causeway.org if you need some ideas in the Chattanooga area!

The Top Ten Ways to Optimize Your Wordpress Blog and Make It More Powerful than Ever - Part II

Welcome back campers to the exciting conclusion of our two part mini-series on juicing up your Wordpress blog. Hopefully you've had enough time to lay the groundwork with our last round of suggestions - now it's time to blow the roof off. Enjoy!

6. SEO Packs

Okay, most of the things on this list are good for any blog anywhere. But Wordpress has a few major advantages when it comes to SEO. One of the best is the All In One SEO Pack, a nifty plug-in that allows you to create meta data at the same time you write and post your blog entry (and you don’t have to mess with code at all). There’s a whole world of great plug-ins at Wordpress - take the time to dig through them and find the ones that are the best for you. (Hint: The ones that are the best for you are the ones that make running the blog easier and more efficient!).

7. Posting Regularity

Self-explanatory, but here we go for the back of the class - if you don’t post with regularity your readers will not keep coming back to see what you have to say. Even if no one is commenting, no one seems to be reading and you feel like you’re talking to a brick wall, post with regularity! It’s vital to your success. New folks won’t want to read through a blog started in 2010 that has four posts.

8. Posting Volume

Regularity is the most important thing, but volume is essential as well. Once a month is fine if that’s the best you can do, but the most successful and popular blogs post daily - usually many times a day. Do your best to write as much as you can. Remember, it’s okay to be a little bit unfiltered, or even occasionally wrong on a point of fact - your community will correct you, and a blog is a living document. You can always correct the record.

9. Comments

We’ve touched on comments earlier in the post, but they’re so, so important to your success. Allow them, and read them, and post and promote them if they’re worthy. When you listen to your readers they tend to listen to you, stay engaged, and keep your blog on their roster of daily reading. Yes, sometimes comments can get annoying. But they're an excellent way to engage.

10. Blog to Blog Partnerships

This is a fun and productive way of keeping up your volume and regularity, gain access to new and larger communities of readers, and of course make friends. When you can have online conversations with other blogs, go back and forth and mix and mingle your content, you spread your message. Go forth and befriend.

And now, go forth and conquer. Huzzah!

The Top Ten Ways to Optimize Your Wordpress Blog and Make It More Powerful Than Ever - Part I

1. Top Ten Lists

You see what we did there? Top ten lists are enduringly popular. They present a lot of information in quick, easy to read bits, they give the reader a reason to keep reading, they show off expertise and a depth of knowledge, and they create arguments. And that’s what blogging is all about. Not many people know this, but the Ten Commandments are considered to be the very first blog post.

2. Infographics

In an increasingly visual society infographics are a fantastic way to draw the eye, impart information, and get your blog linked. A lot. Make it good, make it useful, make it colorful (literally and figuratively) and put it out there to get noticed.

3. Keyword-Rich, Compelling, Unique Headlines

This is an SEO recommendation combined with an interest-grabbing tactic. Most people read blogs in compressions (think Google Reader, RSS, etc.) and the headline is often the only chance you have to get them to read what you wrote. Moreover, headlines are a great way to get the attention of the google-bots crawling the internet looking for relevant, useful content. Make your headlines attention grabbers, but also fill them with keywords. For instance, “Optimize Wordpress Blog.” See what we did there?

4. Unique Content

For SEO purposes this is absolutely essential. Never take content from another source and present it as your own (unless you’re quoting), and don’t repeat yourself. The bots don’t like it. And you won’t like the bots when they’re angry. Besides, who wants to spend their time reading an un-orginal blog?

5. Reader Participation

Blogs need communities of readers to really thrive. And the best way to build that community is to engage with them. That doesn’t just mean good content, headlines and graphics. That means literally inviting them in, listening to their thoughts and airing their opinions. Keep and cultivate a vibrant comments section (don’t let it get abusive), post reader polls, ask questions, and post worthy thoughts on your main pages as blogs. Involve your readers and they’ll keep you in their life.

Check back in with us in the next few weeks, when we'll reveal the rest of the top 10 list. We want to give you some time to start working on the first five. See you then!

Top Six Ways to Write More, Yes Even More Content

Okay, so you’ve spent months writing content for your new site. You’ve written about every little detail of every product or service you offer, filled in every bit of background information you can think of, and generally driven yourself crazy trying to fill as many pages as you can. But you’re still not quite where you want to be; you need more content. How do you do it? How do you dig down deep and come up with meaningful, useful content when you feel like you’re at the end of your rope? Let this long-time content writer show you the way with my personal Top Six content fixes.

1. Top Five, Top Ten, Top 15, even Top 27 Lists

One of the easiest and most fun ways to bulk up your on-page content is what you’re reading right now - a top (whatever number you choose) list. Come up with something that’s interesting to your readers, and then rank or list them - there’s nothing more compelling to a reader than a numbered list with a juicy headline. Just look at the magazine stands during football or Oscar season and you’ll see what we mean. Because lists are so popular with readers, they are excellent link bait. If you’ve got a great list with a compelling title, you’re sure to generate some interest from other sites and aggregators.

2. Q&A’s

Post question and answer interviews on your site. Talk to the people who started your business, the movers and shakers in your particular sphere of influence, or people who produce the things you sell (if you’re an e-retailer). If you run an appliance business, for example, you might want to send a few emails to the designers and manufacturers of the things you sell and then publish the resulting interview on your site. Make sure these are informative, interesting, and relevant to your site.

3. Transcripts

Transcripts of speeches, videos, or promotional material are a great way to add content to any site. If you work in the real estate business, a transcript from a realtor’s speech or promotional video is a great way to get keyword-rich text on your site. Just make sure the transcript mentions keywords you’re interested in ranking for on Google, Yahoo and Bing (and that you have the rights to publish the material!)

4. FAQ’s

The Frequently Asked Questions section is a great place to serve the readers and the search engines in equal measure. You can create an FAQ on any of your landing pages by collecting real questions from readers/buyers/users, as well as some of your own, to create compelling and helpful content. Make sure to mention the keywords you want to invest in by name, and make sure the answers to the questions are honest, helpful, and easy to understand. Some of the most popular search queries are in the form of questions. How many times have you typed in “How do I...” or “How to...” into a search bar? With well written and thoughtful FAQs, you can make it easier for these users to find your site. FAQs benefit all three parties involved in SEO - the search engines, the users, and you.

5. Compare and Contrast

This is when you take the product you sell, or a particular feature of your site, and compare it to a similar product or feature somewhere else (in a favorable light, of course). You might compare the quality of your product to that of another, or the advances your product has made in reference to an older or more well known model. Just make sure you pick products, services or specialties that make you look better than your competitors, and that the content is sharp and informative.

6. Product Reviews

Similar to Compare and Contrast, except you don’t give your competition any exposure and you get more control over your message. There are plenty of companies who will do independent reviews like this (Delegator is one of them) and still work in plenty of SEO-goodness with keyword-rich content. On page reviews are also a proven reader and link magnet, with users of all stripes wanting to get a little inside information when it comes to buying your product or service. Product Reviews are where you can sell your products, utilize SEO and provide a great service for your customers all at the same time.

These are just my proven techniques. If you know any other great strategies for writing more and more content, let us know in the comments! No matter what strategies you use, just remember that Black Hat SEO is never worth it. Do things the right way, and always create unique, keyword-driven content. You don't want to be on notice, do you?

Longtail Geo-Targeting Your Content and Keywords or, Why It’s Good to Be “Chattanooga SEO Experts” instead of “SEO Experts.”

Many of our clients came to us at first because they had become frustrated trying to do their own SEO copywriting. The big terms they wanted to rank for, like “personal injury lawyer” or “office furniture” just weren’t seeing much traction on the Google results page, no matter how hard they tried and no matter how much content they wrote. They came to Delegator wanting to know why - and, if we were so smart, how could we fix it? For a large percentage of these clients, the answer was very simple. They were going after keywords that were much too competitive for their budget. For instance, the term “personal injury lawyer” gets 368,000 searches per month and a competition ranking of “High,” according to Google, which has over 12 million indexed pages for that single term. For small to medium sized law firms that can be a tall mountain to climb with a limited budget. In cases like this we often recommend that our clients employ geo-targeted long tail keywords. Which is a fancy way of saying, “Put the name of your city, state or region in front of the term you want to rank for.”

Geo Targeting Keywords

“Personal injury lawyer” then becomes “Tennessee personal injury lawyer.” The second term, as you might imagine, gets fewer searches per month than the first (1,600). However, because there are fewer searches, and often less competition, there is more opportunity for small to mid-sized businesses and firms. Yes, you will be fishing in a smaller pond with less fish - but because you won’t be competing with 12 million other fisherman, you’ll be more likely to bring in a great catch.

But that’s not the only advantage of geo-targeted long tails. Not only is there less competition, the people who are performing searches for your new keyword are more likely to click and convert. Why? Because the use of a longer, more specific keyword has filtered your results. Instead of getting calls from Montana and Ottawa, where you might not be willing or able to do business, you’re only going to get hits from local, interested searchers who have self-selected for their viability and availability as clients.

Less work and administrative headaches, more interested and viable searchers, and a higher ranking--that’s the beauty of a geo-targeted longtail keyword. You can trust us - we’re “Chattanooga SEO Experts!”

Content, Content, Content

In our initial meetings with clients, one of the questions we hear the most is “How much content do I need?” Businesses want their websites and products and services to be picked up by search engines like Google and Yahoo! and Bing, and they know that content is the best and most practical way to do that organically. So the natural question becomes, how much is enough? But first, a caveat: Volume is not the only consideration when you’re talking about adding articles and information to your site. If that were so, it would be easy for big companies to dominate the market. What Delegator offers is high-quality, well researched and relevant content. We take the time to learn about your business or your site, and what we write is tailored specifically to your needs and the needs of your customers. It’s not good enough to merely rank high; the written content on your site must be valuable to visitors.

The easy answer to “How much?” is, snappily, “However much it takes to get you the ranking you want.” Because the number of words needed to get ranked is different for every website, client and keyword, it’s impossible for us to say exactly how much you need to push your website to the very top of the rankings. For some sites, getting to the number one ranking might be a pipe dream anyway, as harsh as that sounds. So the easy answer is “However much it takes,” but the responsible answer is “Wait and see.”

Google and Search Engine Optimization

For every client who orders content from us, we always recommend starting with a base of content, rather than an arbitrary large amount. For most search engines, unique keyword-targeted content isn’t taken seriously unless it’s at least 500 words long per page. That’s the minimum amount per page, or per topic or per product, that we recommend content-wise. For most clients, we advise going over that minimum; we’ve found that starting with between 1,000 and 2,000 words is a good base layer. After that we watch for the search engine positions of the optimized keywords to change. Soon, the search engines pick up the content and decide how they’ll rank it. For some, that means a meteoric rise into the top ten, or the first page. For others, it means that the content ranks in double digits for the first time (meaning it’s in the first ten pages). Either way, that’s the information that really tells us how much content you’re going to need.

So the easy answer is “However much it takes.” The responsible answer is “Wait and see.” But the correct answer usually is “A lot.” After the initial content tells us exactly where a site and its content ranks in the eyes of search engines, we recommend aggressive doses of content to get them where they need to be. For some clients we’ve written over 100,000 words on various products and product pages. For others, the “base” content was enough. But in general, if you’re really serious about getting ranked as high as possible, you’ve got to load your plate with keyword-rich unique content that draws eyeballs, dollars, and clicks. If this long-term (and sometimes large investment) option isn’t for you, then a good alternative is AdWords. AdWords, is Google’s pay-per-click advertising platform, and it provides an easier way to get traffic to your site in the short to medium term.

Unlike Google AdWords, which is paid advertising, content writing is a long term investment in your website. The fruits of the investment are higher organic rankings and greater organic growth. Your readers will have more information at their fingertips to help them make decisions and clarify issues, and search engines will know who you are. Adding quality content adds value, and in the eyes of search engines, prestige, which can translate into a higher ranking.

If your website needs quality, relevant content, please contact us or visit our SEO page for more information.

The World Series of E-Commerce

Well, it’s October, and that means the baseball playoffs are at the forefront of many people’s minds. To pay homage to one of our favorite sports, we decided to create a hypothetical starting lineup of Delegator’s services.

Starting Lineup, Part I

Yes, it may seem like a stretch, but we’ve noticed some patterns in the course of our work that (loosely) resemble the starting nine in a baseball lineup. In this post, I’ll introduce the first half of our services lineup. If we ever make it to the World Series of E-Commerce, these would be our go-to players:

  1. Google Analytics
    • Any team needs a reliable leadoff hitter, and Google Analytics is the consummate leadoff service. It gets the ball rolling for everything else on your website. Without this crucial data collection in place, you will be formulating your marketing goals and objectives blindly. Google Analytics gives a sleek, user-friendly framework to tell you who is coming to your site, how they get there, and what they do once they are there.
  2. SEO (site review)
    • After Analytics is in place and collecting data, we like to proceed with our #2 hitter, an SEO review of the website. This background review will, like Analytics, give us the information we need to take action on a poorly optimized site. The process includes analysis of the site structure, design, and keyword optimization, among other things. And in line with a typical 2-hole hitter, it isn’t the flashiest service, but it lays an important foundation for the heavy hitters to deliver.
  3. Power Hitters

  4. Content Writing
    • Now we’re starting to get to the heart of the lineup. Content, written for search engines and site users, unique, and keyword-targeted, is a cornerstone of Delegator’s business and fit for the #3 spot on our card. You’ll want your third hitter to be versatile - able to hit the game-winning home run or just a sacrifice fly when necessary. SEO copy can create large gains in organic rankings and boost your traffic or just convince that one extra person to buy your product with a persuasive tagline or call-to-action.
  5. Google AdWords
    • Google AdWords, along with other pay-per-click advertising, finds its way into the Cleanup spot of the order. AdWords can drive the most immediate and targeted traffic and conversions to your website. To contend for a title in baseball, you need the power that comes with a cleanup bat (just ask the Mets). And to become a force in the online marketplace, it is imperative to be competitive in paid search. This just so happens to be a core Delegator service - we were the first company certified by Google in our state.
  6. Social Media
    • In the constantly morphing e-marketplace, social media engagement is becoming increasingly important as a supplement to the traditionally dominant search platform. In other words, you can’t score enough runs with SEO and AdWords alone. You need a #5 hitter (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) that can pick up a few runs here and there. A solid and diversified social media strategy can be the difference between an average team, and a championship contender.

Part II of this post will introduce the rest of our lineup and our pitching staff, so stay tuned. If you’re interested in learning more about any of the aforementioned services, you can always contact the blog or simply subscribe to our feed.

Selling out of Both Sides of Your Mouth: Consumers and Search Engines

“Create content primarily for your users, not search engines”

-Google’s SEO Starter Guide

Too often in recent years, SEO writing has been focused exclusively on search engines and search engines alone. People have tried strange tricks like pasting lists of keywords in white text on white background, hiding content, and even writing incoherent keyword-stuffed gibberish to get picked up by search engines.

In the end, it never works, for two reasons:

1) Google is smarter than you are. 2) Search engines aren’t the only ones reading your stuff; it has to be written for humans too.

Users and Search Engines

The biggest secret in the SEO world is that you have to write for users. It’s great to get on the first page of Google searches that feature your keywords, but if your site doesn’t drive clicks and conversions through relevant, accurate content, you might as well still be on the third page.

The best SEO writing is the kind where users never guess they’re reading something that’s been optimized. Where they never realize a certain word is coming up an awful lot - something like 3% of the time!

Google’s own documents make it clear that unique, creative, focused content is more important to their search engine than any other factor. Delegator is all about servicing both of your needs; the need to be creative, unique and useful, and the need to get ranked, get clicked on, and get paid. Our precision SEO work makes us a great option for getting your website where it needs to be, but it’s our clear, effective content that really sets us apart. Read more about our content writing services.