Google Tips for Top Website Content

Don’t re-invent the wheel when it comes your website content. Just follow Google’s tips to improve your website ranking.

Originalcontent is key

Google and other search engines will actually lower your website rank if your content is auto-generated, sends visitors to affiliate websites, or uses free, duplicate content that appears on sites across the Web.

Your content needs to be fresh, original, and give real value to your site visitors.  Consider adding these content types to make your website’s content original and helpful to customers:

  • How-to advice – Offering free, how-to tips will establish your company as expert in your field and build trust with current and prospective customers.
  • Customer testimonials – There’s nothing better than having someone else tell your prospective customers how great your company is.  But beware. Don’t be tempted to fluff up your site with fake testimonials. Use real words from real people and watch your sales curve go up.
  • Add a newsletter – Offer a free subscription to a company newsletter that features company news, customer incentives, product coupons — whatever content will keep your customer’s happy and build a long-term relationship with them.
  • Buying tips – Give your customers the inside track of what features would work best for them for a particular product.  For example, if you’re selling cameras, offer tips on how to match a camera’s features to your customer’s photography style.  Product reviews and product comparisons are also great content to add to your site.

The right keywords make all the difference

Before writing your content, take time to research what keywords or keyword phrases will attract the most visitors from natural search queries.  Google and many other companies offer free keyword tools for this purpose. By refining your keyword selections, and using them appropriately in your content, you’ll see your page rank improve.

Ginny Bayes is managing partner of Local Content Now, a Denver-based firm which provides original content to television stations, businesses, and advertising agencies. For more information visit: Local Content Now. Local Content Now is the content development arm of Harvest Moon Publishing.

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The True Cost of Social Media – Measuring Opportunity Cost

If you’re a business owner who earns $70,000 a year,
your time on social media may be costing $21,000 annually

Is your business on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn?  Do you spend a fair amount of time updating your posts and pages to inform and connect with customers?  Then it may be time to assess how much participating in social media is costing your business and whether it’s a good use of your time.

Social Media is Free, Isn’t It?

If you’ve hired a social media professional  to handle your business’s presence on the most popular sites, you know the hard costs of promoting your products and services, or establishing your brand and expertise, online.

But what if you handle social media yourself?  Most small business owners and entrepreneurs do, but that doesn’t mean social media is free.

Social Media’s Opportunity Cost to Your Business

Remember when your economics professor covered the concept of opportunity cost? Everything we do has a cost, even social media. One way to determine that cost is to access what your potential earnings would be if you used the time you invest in social media to focus on activities that will drive revenue for your business.

Ironing Shirts and Opportunity Cost

The best way I ever heard opportunity cost defined was listening to two business associates argue about whether or not they should iron their own dress shirts or send them out to the laundry.  One guy insisted that ironing his shirts himself was well worth his time, since he liked the way they felt when he wore them much better than the stiffer laundry-ironed variety.

But his peer asked him a few simple questions:  1) How much does the laundry charge to iron one shirt? Answer:  $3.00 per shirt.  2) How much do you earn per hour?  Answer:  $43.00 per hour. 3) How many shirts can you iron in an hour?  Answer:  3.

Doing the math, it was costing the guy who ironed his own shirts $14.33 per shirt based on the fact that he could be spending his time – and valuable time at that – doing other things.  If he’d sent his shirts out to the laundry, three shirts would cost him $9; but doing them himself cost him $43 – almost 500% more.

Evaluating the Cost and Worth of Social Media for Your Business

So what does all this mean for your business?  Using a simple method of assigning value just for argument’s sake, and leaving out the varied nuances and complexities of undefined ROI and brand value social media brings to your company, let’s see how much it costs a small business owner or entrepreneur to handle their own social media.

Assumptions: Business Owner A earns a net income of $40,000; Business Owner B, $70,000; Entrepreneur A, $100,000; Entrepreneur B, $120,000.  If they each work 50 hours per week, their hourly wages roughly come to $15, $27, $39, and $47 respectively.

The following chart estimates the opportunity cost each of them invest if they devote one, two, or three hours a day to social media.

An Hour a Day of Social Media Can Cost $12,267 Every Year

As you can see, investing only one hour a day toward social media can have real costs:

Business Owner A – $4,176
Business Owner B – $7,047
Entrepreneur A – $10,179
Entrepreneur B – $12,267

Three Hours a Day of Social Media Can Cost $36,801 Every Year

Business Owner A – $12,528
Business Owner B – $21,141
Entrepreneur A – $30,537
Entrepreneur B – $36,801

Making Social Media Profitable for your Company

That’s a lot of money.  So what are your options? The reality is that for entrepreneurs and small business owners, it’s hard to equate opportunity cost with checks you mail to vendors.  If you’re determined to handle your social media marketing yourself, there are things you can do to make your time worthwhile:

  • Limit your social media time to one hour or less per day
  • Schedule your tweets in advance using apps such as Tweetdeck, HootSuite, or Twuffer
  • Set specific goals for your social media presence and make sure your updates and tweets match those goals
  • Limit the time you spend looking at non-business related social media material
  • Sign up for an app which automatically sends a direct message to your followers and/or automatically follows back whoever follows you
  • Break your Twitter followers into usable lists, i.e. SEO, website design, social media, human resources, angel investors, etc.  That way you can scroll through a topic-specific list of tweets instead of hundreds that may be of no interest to you.
  • Take advantage of top sites which follow the important events happening in business, social media, tech, and the world instead of trying to keep track yourself.  I recommend Mashable, Alltop, Huffington Post, and your favorite newspapers and magazines.

If these tips don’t redirect your focus from social media to generating revenue, it may be time to hire a social media professional to take care of your online presence for you.  Only you can decide what your time is worth and how best to spend it for your company.

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Local Content Now Becomes Division of Harvest Moon Publishing

DENVER – Harvest Moon Publishing announced today that Local Content Now, a Denver-based content development and marketing firm, will become its content development division effective May 23, 2011.

Local Content Now has existed as a sister company to Harvest Moon Publishing since its launch in 2007, but will now operate within the corporate structure of Harvest Moon.

According to Ginny Bayes, Harvest Moon CEO, “Local Content Now has always been the content development arm of our firm, but existed as a separate, sister company.  This change will allow us to streamline our operations and broaden our content marketing reach.”

“The expertise that Local Content Now’s writers and editors  offer clients will now be a permanent asset Harvest Moon can use to enhance the content development, organic SEO, page rank, and quality scores of our clients’ websites,” Bayes continued.

Nora Gray, Harvest Moon Publishing’s content director, will oversee all of the new division’s activities.

About Harvest Moon Publishing:  Harvest Moon, founded in 1997,  creates unique websites and print magazines for the broadcast industry. For more information , call 303-777-2965 – http://www.harvestmoonpublishing.tv.

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Website Content – What Sets You Apart from Your Competitors?

When it comes to marketing your business, what sets you apart from your competitors? That’s the first question you should ask yourself when writing content for your website. What is your number one selling point — or benefit to potential customers — that will instantly set you apart from the crowd?

Focus on Your Main Benefit to Customers

When it comes to making an impact with your site visitors, it’s essential to tell them quickly and concisely what you can do for them.  To decide what that is, ask yourself these questions:

  • How will my product or service make my customers’ lives better?
  • How is my product or service different from my competitors?
  • What benefit will using my product or service give my customers?

From your answers, you’ll probably find the key benefit to tell your customer about in your website headlines, pages, and content.

For example, if you sell affordable socks, your headline could read:
Affordable socks for any wardrobe or weather

If you sell high quality socks meant for cold weather, your headline could read:
-The warmest, highest quality socks can now be yours

If you sell socks handmade in your community, your headline could read:
-Locally made socks to warm your feet and your soul

Think From Your Customer’s Perspective

Just be sure when you’re writing for potential customers that you think as they think.  Many marketing programs fail at the outset because marketing directors design campaigns and write Web content to appeal to themselves or their boss, and not to their audience.

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Writing Content – Who Are You Selling To?

Before you write content for your website or ad campaign, it’s vital to know who you are writing for.  Every company and every product has a most likely audience.  Some audiences include a wide range of people, others a narrow segment of a specific industry.  Whatever the case may be for your company, here are some important considerations about your audience that can help shape your copy.

Website content: How old is your audience?

To whittle down who you are talking to, start with an age group.  If you’re selling to a younger demographic, contemporary slang can enhance your website’s appeal. But try using the same technique with an older group, and you’ll lose your audience quickly.  To determine how old your audience is, review your sales and new clients over the past year — that should give you a ballpark age range to aim your content toward.

Website content: What gender is your audience?

I once designed an ad campaign for urban lofts which were close to Coors Field, Denver’s baseball stadium, and all the pubs and nightlife spots surrounding the ballpark.  Even though it was a real estate campaign and classified ads in the real estate section might have worked, I ran in the ads in the sports section of the local newspaper.  The response was tremendous and the loft project quickly sold out.  Why? Because my research indicated that the most likely prospect to buy one of these lofts would be a male sports fan — the very people reading the sports section of the newspaper.

That’s an example of using information about your prospects’ gender that can make a significant difference in attracting and keeping website visitors. If I’d been marketing a new line of kitchen wares, a section of the newspaper better read by women would have done the trick.

Website content: How educated in your audience?

This is an important component to your website content.  A good rule of thumb is to write using a vocabulary at the high school level which will be acceptable to almost anybody visiting your site.  If you have a more upscale audience, use a college-level vocabulary.  But always bear in mind these words of wisdom from William Strunk Jr. in his must-have book “The Elements of Style”:

Avoid fancy words. Avoid the elaborate, the pretentious, the coy, and the cute. Don’t be tempted by a twenty-dollar word when there is a ten-center handy, ready and able.”

Follow these three simple tips, and you’ll be well on your way to writing content that will be both familiar and appealing to your website audience.

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Top 15 List of Misspelled Words

We’ve all done it. One minute you’re typing away with a new idea for a blog, tweet, or website page when your brain freezes like you took too big a gulp of a 7-11 Slurpee and you can’t remember how to spell the simplest word.

The more you try to spell it correctly, the weirder it looks.  So you look away from the screen and imagine your third grade classroom when the word first appeared on the chalkboard behind your teacher’s head. Nope… that doesn’t help.

Calendar or calender?

You type more slowly, now having lost your train of thought completely.  Calendar?  Does it really end with “dar?”  Hmmm….. “Der?”  Is it “der?”

Welcome to the world wide Web of spelling.  Sadly, spelling errors on websites, blogs, and tweets are a widespread problem.  Sometimes there’s just not enough time to proofread before you publish your pages.

The Top 15

Although there are hundreds of misspelled words floating around cyberspace on a regular basis, here’s a top fifteen list of commonly used words for businesses.  Remember these and you’ll be on your way to better spelling.

  1. calendar – often misspelled ending with “er”
  2. acceptable – commonly misspelled as “acceptible”
  3. category – only one “a” in this word — note the middle “e”
  4. equipment – often incorrectly spelled as “equiptment”
  5. it’s – only use this as a contraction of “it is”
  6. occasionally – more than occasionally misspelled
  7. occurrence – this word has many occurrences of incorrect spellings
  8. questionnaire – two n’s in this word
  9. separate – keep two a’s in the middle
  10. believe – no really, believe it
  11. schedule – begins like “school”
  12. you’re / your – just remember “you’re” is a contraction for  “you are”
  13. their / they’re – “they’re” is simply a contraction of “they are”
  14. receive – the old “i before e except after c” rule
  15. judgement – don’t forget both e’s
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How many words should content articles have?

So you’ve embarked on the task of writing original, vital, refreshing, awe-inspiring content for your website. That’s great! But here’s a question:  how many words should each of your content articles have?

Keep content articles short and to the point

This is a question some SEO experts have never contemplated, but there is an answer; or a couple of answers.  Generally speaking, keep your content to a single page with a word count between 250 to 300 words.

A single page because readers don’t want to click through multiple pages to get the gist of what you’re talking about; 250 to 300 words because this works best to optimize your content for natural search.

Add visual breaks to your content

It’s also a good idea to to visually break up your content with subheadings to ensure readers can scan your information quickly. If the information in the subheading is what they’re looking for, they’ll scan/read the information in the paragraph below it.

Keep it short and sweet

Be sure to make your sentences and paragraphs short and sweet.  Think newspaper journalism style rather than the gargantuan-paragraphed thesis papers you wrote in college.

Short sentences make for a quick read.

Long, meandering sentences which try to squeeze too much information onto a website page to impress readers can be difficult to decipher, confusing to comprehend, and take too long to digest.

See?

Granted, depending on your subject many readers will be willing to delve more deeply into longer content. Best practice is to know what your audience is looking for and write concisely and to the point.

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