Category Archives: Web Content

3 Warning Signs That Make Your Website Look Like a Scam

3 Warning Signs That Make Your Website Look Like a Scam

If you follow literary or science fiction news, you may have heard of the recent unveiling of the Albee Agency scam. In brief, a supposed literary publicity agency was caught with a whole page of faked testimonials – leading writers to discover their extremely tenuous credentials and creating suspicion that the agency as a whole was a complete scam.

It’s always a delight to see a scammer caught in the act, particularly early on in the scam so as few people as possible are taken in by the ruse. With the Albee Agency, the slew of faked testimonials was an obvious giant red flag for the company’s legitimacy. But as Victoria Strauss, blogger for Writer Beware, noted, there were actually three elements of the site that pinged her scam detector: lack of credentials, lack of specificity, and the big one – faked testimonials.

It’s worth noting that the Albee Agency website has a crisp, professional-looking design. Where’d they get caught? Their website content. So before you get too wrapped up in the schadenfreude, you might want to review your own company’s website to see whether you’ve made any of these three mistakes that might make your customers think you’re peddling a scam:

1. Lack of credentials. The Albee Agency claims to have been in business since 2005 – a pretty decent lifespan for a PR & social media marketing company. However, when you dig into their brand, you’ll note that their domain was registered in July 2012, their blog dates back to September 2012, their Facebook profile debuted on Sept. 13, 2012, and their Twitter account was only set up in August 2012. There’s no evidence for their claimed history, and plenty of evidence that they are a brand-new business.

While the other evidence makes it clear that the Albee Agency’s start date is a bunch of bunk, there are legitimate reasons for an online presence that’s more youthful than the business itself. Your company may have started out offline-only, or you may have gone through a major reboot or rebrand that necessitated all new web accounts and addresses. But if that’s the case, it’s important to give your customers proof of your history. And if you’re just starting out, don’t fake a history you don’t have! Being a startup won’t prevent you from gaining business success; being a fraud almost certainly will.

2. Lack of specificity. Who is the staff at the Albee Agency? What is their background or experience? Why should you trust them to promote your book? What, in fact, will they actually do for you? There’s nothing to go on at the Albee Agency website that would answer any of these questions. They claim to have worked with over 10,000 authors, and to have had clients appear on or in Good Morning America, Family Circle, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal, and yet there’s not a single link to a specific story or author.

What’s the lesson here? If you’ve done great work and you know you’ve got a great staff, toot your own horn! Show off a picture of your staff hard at work. Stock your portfolio with examples of your best projects. Let each staff member write a blog post about their history and what they do for your clients. Be specific throughout – give your prospects a clear picture of exactly what you can do for them.

3. Faked testimonials. Now, I know you would never actually fake your testimonials. After all, if you’re doing great work, you don’t have to. But are you presenting your testimonials in a way that makes them seem less-than-convincing? Whenever possible, use full, real names for your customer testimonials, and don’t try to edit them into a perfect quote – leave them exactly as you received them. If you have them, photos of the customers who gave the testimonials can go a long way toward showing prospects that you are the real deal.

It’s a good idea to have a customer or friend review your website from time to time, to get that outside perspective. You know you do great work, so make sure your presence on the internet echoes the values and value you’re offering your clients. And if you find yourself getting stuck on what to say, drop me a line at shelby@sbscopywriting.com. I’m happy to help.

How to Write Etsy Product Descriptions That Will Attract More Sales

Just about everyone with a passion for handcrafted goods and one-of-a-kind finds is familiar with Etsy. For buyers, the massive indie marketplace represents a nearly limitless opportunity to find products to suit every taste. For sellers, the chance to get your wares in front of an appropriate audience of potential buyers is huge – but it also means that the competition is intense.

Luckily, Etsy shop descriptions, about pages, and item descriptions are all indexed by Google, so well-written and properly optimized item descriptions can go a long way toward boosting your shop’s views – and sales. So how do you figure out which keywords to use and how to write your item descriptions? It’s all about understanding your target market.

Think of Etsy like a matchmaking site for crafters and buyers. Because it offers such a large marketplace, it’s important to think about your customers in terms of niches and subcategories. Some people are on there looking for fun, geeky science stuff; some people are looking for vintage bridal accessories; some people are looking for classic nursery décor; some people are looking for useful organizers for the home. You just have to get inside their heads and think about what they’ll be searching for.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you make hair accessories. A super-broad term like that gives over 95 million results on Google, and over six hundred thousand on Etsy. So you have to narrow your terms. Think about adjectives that describe your hair accessories, or the people that would wear them: vintage, playful, colorful, bright, glam, dramatic, classic. Think of materials you used in the creation of your hair accessories: plastic, lace, ribbon, sequins, bows, glitter, gemstones, wire. Think of occasions or events where a customer might want to wear your hair accessories: weddings, parties, clubbing, Easter, brunch, Kentucky Derby. Once you’ve done this quick exercise, you should have a list of keywords that describes your item much more clearly, which will help you write great titles and item descriptions.

You started your shop because you were passionate and excited about the things you were making. Now you just have to make it easy to find your items, so that people who will be excited to own your crafts can find them.

Need help coming up with good keywords and descriptions for your Etsy shop? I’m happy to help out by writing custom item descriptions to help bring more customers to your shop!

How Zombie Content Keeps Your Blog Alive

You’ve seen them, shuffling across television screens and groaning in the pages of teen romance best-sellers… the walking dead… the formerly alive… zombies! They’re everywhere! And while hordes of undead monsters generally spell bad things for the neighborhood, having some zombie content on your blog is a great way to keep your site alive.

Now, I don’t literally mean content that tries to gnaw on your readers’ brains (although I suppose that would be a great metaphor for blog posts and articles that are so thought-provoking they just can’t be forgotten…). I’m talking about content that just Will. Not. Die. Some call it epic shit. Journalists used to refer to it as “evergreen” – material that’s always relevant, as opposed to topical material that’s a big hit today and is a moldy oldie tomorrow. Zombie content is the older material on your site — pages, news clippings, articles, blog posts — that continues to draw new visitors to your site month after month.

Bloggers often focus on writing topical posts, in the hopes that they will bring in new readers who are searching for trending topics. And certainly, that should be a part of your strategy – you don’t want a blog that’s completely irrelevant to, or unaware of, what’s going on in the world today. But the problem with only writing topical posts is that they quickly become old news. How often are you going to get people finding your blog by searching for information about the 2004 Olympics, or about Britney Spears shaving her head?

Characters in a zombie movie almost never know what it is that’s causing the dead to stalk the living. Is it a plague? Is it some kind of advanced bio-terrorism? Zombie content is equally mysterious. You can make guesses as to how it came about or how to create more of it, but there’s no surefire recipe for creating content with an unnaturally long lifespan. You’ll just know it when you see the results. When all is said and done, visitors are the only true arbiter of what content will be valuable for the long haul.

So if you want to create zombie posts that keep on going, bringing new life – and new readers – to your blog, you’ll have to put out a lot of BRAINS … er, thought-provoking material. Answer your readers’ Big Questions. Tell them how your product saves them time. Show how your service helps them make more money. Find out what they’re searching for (do your keyword and keyphrase research!), and give it to them.

One last cautionary note about your zombie content – even a really well-made zombie can’t last forever. So don’t just put out a bunch of great stuff and rest on your laurels. Keep the great content coming on a regular basis, and you’ll find yourself carried to success on the shoulders of a horde of undead posts.

Six smart sources for killer blog ideas that are hiding in plain view

The business of blog content and SEO copywriting is all about getting customers to come to you – drawing them into your website with killer content based around topics they’re already searching for. The key, of course, is knowing what they’re searching for in the first place.

We all struggle to come up with these great ideas. When you’re creating new content every day, or even every week, it’s easy for your creative well to run dry. Luckily, I’ve found a great place – a place you’re already familiar with, and may already visit daily – to come up with an endless supply of blog post ideas that are tailor-made for compelling SEO content.

That place is LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is perfect as a source of blog content ideas. It’s the premier social site for businesses and professionals, giving you a window onto what people in the business world are thinking about, discussing, and searching for.

Here are six ways to use LinkedIn for blog post ideas your audience is searching for right now:

    1. Home page: LinkedIn Today articles. At the top of your home page, you’ll see a selection of news and articles from around the web that LinkedIn thinks you might be interested in. Browse through a couple, and you’re sure to find something that catches your eye and gives you something to write about.
    2. Home page: Links and comments from your connections. The majority of the LinkedIn homepage is taken up by updates from your connections. These can be links or updates they’ve posted, new connections, actions they’ve taken on the site, or profile changes. This section is a goldmine! It tells you exactly what your prospects and connections are thinking about right now. Check your home page daily for blog post ideas that will resonate with the topics your customers are currently searching for.
    3. Your profile: Skills you’ve listed. The skills section of your profile tells LinkedIn what search terms you want to make sure your profile shows up for. If your prospects are finding you on LinkedIn with those terms, make sure that they can find your blog with the same terms in a search engine. Each skill should provide you with content ideas for one or more blog posts. Use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise.
    4. Your profile: Recommendations you’ve received. When people leave a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile, they’re telling the world what they value about your product or service. Make sure your blog content reflects these valuable attributes as well. Did a recommendation compliment the ease of working with you? Write a blog post about how your unique process makes hiring you a breeze.
    5. LinkedIn Answers: Questions your prospects and competitors are asking. You may already know that LinkedIn Answers is a good place to establish yourself as an expert, by offering up great answers to other professionals’ questions. But what you may have missed is its value as a source of blog post ideas that have a guaranteed audience. Make sure your blog offers comprehensive answers for the questions people are asking – both those in your industry, being asked by your competitors, and those being asked by your customers and prospects.
    6. LinkedIn Groups: Discussion history. In the same way that LinkedIn Answers tells you what people are asking about, the discussion history for your LinkedIn groups tells you what people have been talking about. Take a look at discussions in your groups that have received the most replies to get a sense of the hot topics in a given area. And remember, the more groups you belong to, the more blog content ideas you’ll have access to.

With content that changes on a daily basis and an ever-expanding network of professionals, LinkedIn is the ultimate source for getting blog post ideas your customers will love.

The 4 people who shouldn’t be blogging

I’ve talked before about the importance of a business blog, and how businesses of all sizes can use blog posts to demonstrate their value and pull customers to their website. And if you’ve spent any time lately on marketing blogs or websites, you’ve almost certainly seen the proclamation that “Content is king!”

I firmly believe that every business can benefit from a blog. But that doesn’t mean everyone is cut out to be a blogger. Here are five people who shouldn’t be in charge of your company blog. If you recognize yourself (or your blog) on the list, it might be time to get help!

The spammer – Often spotted popping up in LinkedIn groups, The Spammer is the blogger that everyone loves to hate. They start discussion after discussion with nothing more than a link to their latest blog, regardless of how relevant it might be to the group or whether anyone has expressed interest in reading what they’ve posted. Spammers can also be seen joining online forums in order to broadcast their posts to the world, without bothering to provide value or get to know the community. Repent your spammy ways! If you recognize yourself in this description, remember that the goal of building a business blog is to get organic search results by creating great content – not to fool uninterested people into increasing your pageviews.

The TMI guy – A little personality isn’t a bad thing, but for the most part a business blog should stay focused on business topics. After all, it’s really part of an ongoing conversation between you and your customers. The TMI guy, on the other hand, writes about anything and everything on his blog. Personal anecdotes, political rants, holiday recipes – it’s all there, mixed in with the legitimate business topics. Keep it “need to know”! Focus your blog on providing valuable information your clients need to know, and let your brand identity shine through the writing style and (very!) occasional non-business posts.

The plagiarist – Creating great content is hard work, and it takes time. But stealing great content is a lot faster and easier. Plagiarists like to hide behind the label of “content curator”, intimating that all they’re doing is helping people find the good stuff. But posting the good stuff without crediting your sources is outright stealing, and a blog with nothing but links and other peoples’ content – even if you’ve credited your sources properly – doesn’t do you much good when it comes to SEO and impressing your customers. Time to get original! If you’re struggling to write content that offers real value, you can always hire a copywriter to write your blog. No one said you have to be an expert at everything, just at doing what you do best.

The “just because” blogger – The “just because” blogger writes blog posts the way you don a lime-green reindeer sweater your Aunt Millie knitted you – half-heartedly and out of a sense of obligation. Nearly every business can benefit from a blog, but if all you know is that you “should” be blogging, you probably don’t have a very coherent strategy in place for what to write about. As a result, your company blog is a confusing mix of lackluster posts, without any kind of theme or focus to keep readers interested. Get a plan in place! Your business blog is a part of your overall marketing strategy. You should have an editorial calendar and a content plan in place to help you figure out what to write about when, so you can create great content without feeling like you’re coming up with ideas on the spot.

Do you want to defend your blogging style? Leave a note in the comments about the great things you’re doing with your company blog! And if you need help creating individual posts or an overall business blogging strategy, get in touch! I’d love to help get your business blog off the ground.

Should your company have a business blog or an email newsletter?

Think of your company’s email newsletter as a nice frosty glass of delicious craft beer. It’s quick, it’s refreshing, and you can enjoy it at home as easily as you can at a bar or restaurant or friend’s house.

Your company blog, on the other hand, is more like a gourmet pizza (and if you’re in the St. Louis area, that pizza should come from the wood-fired ovens at Peel in Edwardsville) – it’s best when it’s fresh and hot and right from the source.

Beer and pizza. They’re both great on their own, but they’re so much better together. Your company blog and email newsletter should complement each other the same way. One pulls prospects to your site, the other keeps them engaged in an ongoing relationship.

A business blog is a great way to draw search engine traffic to your site. It gives you a platform to address your customers’ questions, discuss the features and benefits of your products, and position your company as a knowledge leader in the industry.

Even better, your blog will build a backlog of valuable information that new prospects will be able to locate through keyword searches for years to come. Once they’ve landed on your site, you can entice them to sign up for your newsletter with an offer of a free white paper, special report, or informational autoresponder series.

An email newsletter, on the other hand, helps you to keep your existing customers engaged. You want your blog and website to offer valuable content that inspires prospects to sign up and get more from you. The company newsletter should provide more great content in a quick, informative burst that reminds customers of why they like and trust you.

Most customers don’t make business blogs a regular part of their reading material. Take advantage of that and get most of your newsletter content from the material you’ve already created, drawing customers back to your website and making the process of newsletter creation a lot less taxing. You can include special offers and sales in your newsletter, but remember to keep the focus on giving your customers content, not getting their money.

If you need more convincing that a company blog is a great way to give your customers what they want while generating valuable search engine traffic, check out my free report, Blogging for Business: 9 Great Ways to Capture and Keep Customers with a Company Blog.

Is your company’s “About Us” page suffering from TMI?

TMI – Too Much Information. It happens when a colleague tells you all about her gallbladder operation while you’re trying to enjoy your lunch, or when a friend recounts his most recent basketball game in such excruciating detail that the retelling takes as long as the original match did. No one likes being subject to tons of information that isn’t relevant to their life or interests. So why do so many companies fill their “About Us” page with paragraphs full of details that their customers couldn’t care less about?

The “About” page is one of the most-visited pages on any company’s website, and visitors often head there as soon as they hit the home page. Customers want to know more about the company they are considering doing business with. This is especially true for service providers and businesses operating in the financial or technology sectors. People want to know that they’re giving their money to someone with credentials and experience they can trust.

Unfortunately, too many business owners see the “About Us” page as a excuse to talk about themselves, and end up going on endlessly about their path to entrepreneurship, or every last aspect of the company’s history, or overly-detailed biographies of employees that most customers will never interact with.

Your customers don’t care about any of that. They care about themselves. How does your history or experience benefit them? Why are you positioned to offer them exceptional value? What does your company offer that your competitors don’? How do they know your employees are the best in the industry?

When you’re creating the copy for your “About Us” page, think about the goals you laid out for the rest of the site copy. Does the “About” page support those goals? Does it reassure prospective customers that they can be confident in doing business with you? Does it offer them a clear next step once they’ve finished reading the page? If not, it’s time to revamp the copywriting – this time with customer needs, and not company details, as the focus.

And if you’re not sure whether your “About Us” page needs a revamp, send me an email at shelby@sbscopywriting.com for a free About page analysis.