SEO and content writing tips: Week ending April 22, 2014

Just like this squirrel steals bird seed, you can steal your competitors’ links!

This week, check out the SEO audit information under our “SEO for beginners” section, so you know how to check your site for proper optimization techniques, what needs to be implemented or changed, and how it’s done.

For the advanced SEO crowd, you’ll find new actions, a deeper dive into Google+ SEO and how to steal competitor links!

Hop to it, crew, and get crankin’ on that SEO and writing goodness!

Search engine news

Dave Neal writes Will Google Reward Secure Websites With Better Search Rankings? for Search Engine Watch.

Mitch Joel writes Google’s Third Wave Of Innovation for Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Blog & Podcast.

Barry Schwartz writes 70% Said Google’s Penguin 2.1 Update Hurt Them for Search Engine Roundtable.

Frederic Lardinois writes Google’s New Street View Image Recognition Algorithm Can Beat Most CAPTCHAs for TechCrunch.

Content writing tips

Marianne Richmond writes How to Emotionally Move your Readers for The Write Practice.

Sally Ormond writes What is Customer Engagement and How Do You Get It? for Freelance Copywriter’s Blog.

Karon Thackston writes Web Page Review: Lack of Information Causes Concerns for Marketing Words Blog.

Ankit Oberoi writes Using Neuroscience to Design a Better Blog for KISSmetrics.

James Chartrand writes The Bad Writing Advice that Kills Your Success for Men With Pens.

Sally Ormond writes How to Create an Irresistable Offer for Freelance Copywriter’s Blog.

Level343 Team writes Writing Guest Blogs that Dominate for Organic SEO Copywriting | Level343.

Heather Lloyd-Martin writes The lazy person’s guide to writing great copy – fast! for SEO Copywriting.

Mark Schaefer writes The cure for Bloggus Interruptus for {grow}.

Henneke writes A Simple Trick to Turn Features Into Benefits (and Seduce Readers to Buy!) for Enchanting Marketing.

Promote your content

Jaime Tardy writes 4 Ways to Maximize Your Network With Social Media for Social Media Examiner.

Richard Millington writes The Holy Grail Of Building Communities: Developing A Strong Sense of Community for Moz.

Monica Wright writes Why You Suddenly Lost All Those Google+ Followers for Marketing Land.

Neil Patel writes How to Dramatically Improve Your Google Authorship for KISSmetrics.

Bas van den Beld writes Choosing a Social Media Platform: How to Find the Most Effective for State of Digital.

Michael Stelzner writes LinkedIn Publishing Platform: What Marketers Need to Know for Social Media Examiner.

Ann Smarty writes 4 Must-Use Tools to Curate Your Twitter Testimonials for Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog.

Inspiration for writers

Jeff Goins writes Your Calling Doesn’t Always Look Like You Think It Should for Goins, Writer.

Jeff Goins writes On Chasing a Dream While Honoring Your Commitments for Goins, Writer.

Mark Schaefer writes An inspiring entrepreneurial journey with @JoePulizzi for {grow}.

Help for freelance writers

Dianna Huff writes For Freelancers: Stay Motivated by Adding Resistance for

Mike Bailey writes Beyond Engagement: Advantages of Employee Advocacy for Social Media Today.

Tracy Mallette writes Experts share top tips for freelance writing success for SEO Copywriting.

Advanced SEO writing strategies

Ron Garrett writes Search Marketers Need to Evolve: Google is Rewarding Marketing Strategists for Moz.

@danbri writes Announcing Actions for schema.

Brian Jensen writes Google+: Looking Behind the Scenes of Profiles and Posts for SEER Interactive.

Matt Beswick writes How to Find Your Competitors Best Content (and Steal their Links) for State of Digital.

Rand Fishkin writes 6 Changes We Always Thought Google Would Make to SEO that They Haven’t Yet – Whiteboard Friday for Moz.

Jennifer Slegg writes Matt Cutts on How Google Handles 404 & 410 Status Codes for Search Engine Watch.

Murray Newlands writes Uncover Google Not Provided Data: An Interview with Chris Adams for Search Engine Journal.

SEO for beginners

Amanda Disilvestro writes How to Audit Your Website Content for SEO for Content Marketing Institute.

Brynna Baldauf writes How Often Should I Get an SEO Audit? by Vertical Measures for Vertical Measures.

Harriet Cummings writes iAcquire Co-CEO Talks Google Authorship for Distilled.

Razvan Gavrilas writes From Link Building to Link Earning: 3 Ways to Transition for Search Engine Watch.

Content marketing tips


SEO and content writing tips: Week ending March 4, 2014

There are a lot of posts about reach this week.

Want more Facebook likes? More Twitter followers? Want your content found by more relevant readers? Of course you do!

Read on to find out how to get more, more, more out of social media – and for a bunch of other helpful info, too!

Content writing tips

Sally Ormond writes How Long Should a Blog Post Be? for Freelance Copywriter’s Blog.

Henneke Duistermaat writes  for Boost Blog Traffic.

Melissa Fach writes Write Better with These Tips! for CopyPressed.

Julia McCoy writes Creating Contagious Content for Social Media Today.

Henneke Duistermaat (again!) writes The secret ingredient for successful small business blogging for {grow}.

Ian McCaig writes Now! Now! Now! Five quick ways to create consumer urgency for Econsultancy.

Kevin Carlton writes How to craft bullet points like a superstar copywriter for Write Online.

Danny Goodwin writes How to Write Brilliant Headlines for SEO, Social & Your Readers for SEO Copywriting.

Promote your content

Christopher Ratcliff writes How Primark achieved 1.7m Facebook Likes in just six months for Econsultancy.

Stuart Davidson writes 5 Ways to Grow Your Twitter Reach for Social Media Examiner.


Corey Eridon writes Facebook’s Latest News Feed Algorithm Update Rewards Brand Tagging for HubSpot.

Irfan Ahmad writes Dull Businesses and Exciting Social Media for Social Media Today.

Emeric Ernoult writes Guide to Facebook Reach: What Marketers Need to Know for Social Media Examiner.

Inspiration for writers

Heather Lloyd-Martin writes If you’re so smart, why do you feel so insecure? for SEO Copywriting.

Joanna Penn writes What Is Your Definition Of Success? How Do You Measure It? for The Creative Penn.

Carlos Cooper writes How Pre-Made Book Covers Inspire My Writing for The Write Practice.

In-house writing tips

Henneke Duistermaat writes 6 Tips for Wooing Customers with an Enchanting Business Blog for KISSmetrics.

Help for freelance writers

Tom Chalmers writes  for Write to Done.

Mike Sansone writes Entrepreneur’s Guide to Keeping Customers Buying In-Store And Online for ConverStations.

Joanna Penn’s back on the list with Author Entrepreneur: Eight Essentials to Make Writing Pay the Bills for The Creative Penn.

Writing tips for beginners

Liz Bureman writes Why Grammar, Spelling, and Usage Matter for The Write Practice.

Advanced SEO writing strategies

Eric Enge writes Google Semantic Search | Book Review for Social Media Today.

Kumail Hemani writes 19 technical SEO considerations you should look at today for Econsultancy.

SEO for beginners

Adam Stetzer writes Attention Small Business Owners: SEO Demands Your Involvement for Search Engine Watch.

Aleh Barysevich writes Five SEO Steps to Take Before Redesigning Your Site for MarketingProfs.

Content marketing tips

jackforde writes 7 MORE Ways to Thank Your Customers Like You Mean It for The Copywriter’s Roundtable.

David Zaleski writes Content marketing lessons from Hollywood for iMedia Connection.

Aleyda Solis writes 3 Steps to Identify Blog Topics that are Relevant to Your Audience for Moz.

David Gould writes Help Before You Sell: Prioritizing Customer Needs Is Good Business for Vertical Measures.

Danielle Bachini writes Why Google Authorship Is Worth Signing Up For for Brick Marketing.

Andy Crestodina writes 7 Ways to Respond to Plagiarism as the Content Creator for Content Marketing Institute.

Amy C. Teeple writes Content marketing: Madonna or Cyndi Lauper? for SEO Copywriting.


SEO and content writing tips: Week ending Feb. 11, 2014

Is longer better when it comes to blog posts?

Long-form blog posts, some of us may remember these as “regular articles,” versus short blog posts. Which is better? When do you write longer posts? When do you write shorter posts?

Short blog posts used to be all the rage. Everyone who was anyone was telling you to write short posts. Beware the dreaded TL;DR!! (Who actually says that anyway? Sorry if you do – but you probably don’t.)

Anyway, there are other great tips in here, but a bunch of the content I found this week discussed blog length.


Content writing tips

Julia McCoy writes Longer Is Better for Blog Content: Truth Or Myth? for Social Media Today. (Also overachievers)

Clay Morgan writes The Changing Face of Long-Form Content for Spin Sucks.

Melissa Fach writes 6 Ways to Be Better Than Your Competitor at Content Marketing for CopyPress.

Susan Johnston writes Do Writers Really Have to Learn All That (Yucky) Grammar? for The Urban Muse.

Henneke Duistermaat writes How to Write Zesty Soundbites (and Make Your Blog Posts Memorable) for Enchanting Marketing.

Promote your content

Paula Allen writes How to Stand Out in the Upcoming Content Marketing Glut for Bruce Clay.

Sometimes shorter is better – in blog posts and recreation.

Andrea Vahl writes  for Social Media Examiner.

Ezra Chasser writes Beginner’s Guide to Hashtags, Mentions, and Replies for Social Media Today.

Mila Araujo writes A plan to earn your way into the hearts of Internet influencers for {grow}.

Michael Stelzner writes Engagement: How to Create a Loyal Audience That Loves You for Social Media Examiner. (That’s twice in this list – overachievers!)

Inspiration for writers

David Meerman Scott writes The default position for Web Ink Now.

James Chartrand writes Do you believe in ‘never give up’? for Men with Pens.

In-house writing tips

Nathan Rossiter writes Keep your Guest Blogging Organized with This Spreadsheet for Daily SEO Tip.

Greg Jarboe writes Managing Your Digital Marketing Team: How To Avoid Getting it Wrong for ReelSEO.

Help for freelance writers

Heather Lloyd-Martin writes Freelance writers: How to tame the client from hell for SEO Copywriting.

Writing tips for beginners

Amanda Gallucci writes 75 Content Starters for Any Industry for Moz.

Advanced SEO writing strategies

Shawn Rosko writes Important SEO Factors For 2014 for overit.

Barry Schwartz writes Google Sends Manual Actions For Rich Snippet Spam & Spammy Structured Markup for Search Engine Roundtable.

Jennifer Slegg writes Google Starts Penalizing Sites for Rich Snippet Spam for Search Engine Watch.

Cyrus Shepard posts The Death of Keyword Ranking Reports? 10 Superior SEO Stats – Whiteboard Friday for Moz.

Chelsea Adams writes 11 Technical SEO Elements to Help Your Site Win a SERP Rank Gold Medal for Bruce Clay.

Bill Slawski writes How Google Uses Taxonomic Classifications to Better Understand the Meanings of Words on Pages for SEO by the Sea.

SEO for beginners

Rachel Sprung writes How to Do Keyword Research: A Beginner’s Guide for HubSpot.

Gini Dietrich writes Write for Humans and Robots for Best Search Results for SEO Copywriting.

P.S.: I hope you like the new format! Let me know what you think!

Top photo thanks to Carolyn Williams (Stunt Jump)

Bottom photo thanks to Mike LaCon (Jumping!)

(Note: Neither photo, nor jump, is better than the other.) 🙂

Can’t get enough SEO and content writing news? Sign up for the SEO Copywriting Buzz newsletter – right now – before you miss something!


An Education in Content Writing From Songs

Tell me what it takes to let you go.

Tell me how the pain’s supposed to go.  And tell me how it is that you can sleep, in the night, without thinkin’ you lost everything that was good in your life to the toss of the dice

Tell me what it takes to let you go.  Steven Tyler, AeroSmith

Tell me what it takes to write perfect content.

Great content is music to the eyes and ears of the reader.

Great content sucks them into every syllable and consonant you create.

So before you wave bye bye to your writing career, here are some tips that will compel the reader on an emotional level and connect them with your content.

I picked Steven Tyler because not only is he an iconic figure, but because the words that he penned (one time on a wall of his studio) are some of the best content writing this world has ever seen.

#1-Emotion is the Currency of Content

Music speaks to each of us differently, a right note at the right time psychologically in our lives can impact us forever.

That is still content.

Something that impacts a person emotionally can be considered as content on some levels.

One way that you can induce an emotional appeal is to bring something relevant to the reader. Something they understand, or something they’re facing at that moment.

Take a look:

When you can bring something real to life and make it relevant to the reader, then the emotional configuration is complete.

Steven Tyler brings this to the table in every song he writes for Aerosmith.

Something emotional.

What does it take to let YOU go? I’ve tried this, tried that, but nothing seems to work.

We can all relate to this story because life has happened, things have transpired, and more than likely the person we thought we were in love with has left.

We understand his feeling.

That is the message that you want to convey to your audience.

It’s your feelings transferred and directed to the audience that brings an emotional appeal that you desire.

Some Examples of Emotional Writing Titles

  • How To Save Your Blog From Dying
  • What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do In Blogging
  • When Is The Right Time To Bring In Advertisers

The psychological impact of the titles are always going to be a great way to suck people in from various locations online.

Using the 5 W’s is a great way to create an emotional reaction from the reader off-site.  This will lure them in to the rest of the article.  The 5 W’s are “Who, What, When, Where, & Why.”

Starting your titles with these words creates a question in the mind of the reader and will make them want to know more about the article you are proposing to them.

However, and you already know this, you can’t just waste your time thinking about that perfect title, but also need to devote your resources and knowledge to the article itself.

Why It’s Wrong To Just Create Awesome Titles

Got a great title?


Now show me a great article behind that title.

There’s nothing less appealing to a reader than to be drawn in by the title/image and then be let down inside the body of the article.

This is a perfect way to lose trust and authority and blog readers.

Don’t just stop at title writing, build your article with the emotion it needs to sustain the reader within every paragraph.

#2-Write To One Person

content writing tipsWhen you write generally, a shotgun marketing approach, your target market is very broad and wide.

Someone said General knowledge is 3 miles wide and 3 inches deep, but specific knowledge is 3 inches wide and 3 miles deep.

Focus on an audience of one.

This is another point I would like to bring out from Mr. Tyler.

He speaks to one person. It’s a conversation, and it’s meaningful.

When you can bring your blog writing to pinpoint the one, then you have mastered the art of personalization in your writing.

Everything starts with one.

When you write, write to one person because if you can impact that one person you will see your content become amplified on a level that you have never seen before.

It’s impact amplification because you have connected with one.

Since the age of marketing, we have slowly moved away from person to person sales.  From the markets of old where a handshake was used to the creation of the printing press where we made our first step away from personal selling, to now, where we fight for the attention of the consumer, we have moved quite  distance from human to human correspondence.

Stop marketing to the masses in your writing. To think big you must start with understanding what that one reader needs from you to be successful.

#3-Tell The Story

Once you have learned the emotional approach and have nailed down the targeting processes of shooting at that one person in your writing, all that is left is to tell the story.

Storytelling is an art form.

Storytelling compels and connects the reader to the actions that you would like them to do on your site.

If you are just starting out in your blog, you must remember that even a perfect story may not create action the very first time.

Storytelling in your writing is playing the long game because once you capture the attention of the reader and you have them coming back every week, you will slowly start to see them move towards what you want to do.

How do you tell a story in this industry?

This is one of the biggest questions people ask of me.

They can’t connect the dots and remember that telling a story usually requires them to uncover who they are and let the curtain down and show some mistakes.

Of course not every story has to have your mistakes on display, but I have learned that when you can be totally transparent with people, the story becomes stronger.

Here’s a story I told on Google+ the other day and it basically shared with the public how I could scream like a girl.

A story can speak volumes to your readers and bring your articles back to their former glory.

Capturing the essence of the story in content writing is a great way to build authority in your blog.

Final Thought

I love music, and almost every song has some meaning to me because music is intimate to me.

Create something that is just that with your readers and they will keep coming back again and again.

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Wade Harman

Head Honcho at Cornerstone Marketing

I am a digital strategist and content writing consultant that focuses your marketing on a psychology strategy. I am a Star Wars fanatic, musician, and I love to blog! My goal is to help people see the simple side of their marketing by doing what already comes natural to them. Be themselves. Feel free to let me help your business with a content marketing strategy which places your content on high profile sites around the web!

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How Long Does It Take to Produce Good Content Writing?

You’re sitting around the conference table at your company’s quarterly planning meeting. The goal is to set up your inbound marketing content plan for the next few months. The discussion is going fairly smoothly, and then someone asks, “Well, how long is that going to take?”

Writer: <shrugs> “It depends.”

Manager: “Of course, but we can estimate, say, X hours, right?”

Writer: “Sure, we should be able to do that.”

Manager: “Should?”

Big Boss: “Wait, how many hours? For a [blog post, ebook, whitepaper, etc.]?”

Manager: “Yes.”

Big Boss: “Why does it take that long?”

Writer: “I mean, it could take longer.”

Big Boss: “What?!”

Manager: <slams head against desk repeatedly>

How long it takes to produce good content writing is one of those questions that plagues just about everyone working in content marketing. Whether you’re a writer, a manager, or even the owner of a company or agency, if you’ve implemented a content marketing plan, you’ve likely experienced a conversation like the one above.

So why is our titular question so difficult to answer?

Firstly, it’s tough to figure out how long “good” content writing takes, because “good” is not the same for everyone. Yes, there are objectively “good” pieces of content writing, but I guarantee that within your team there will be differences of opinion on what is good enough. More on this later.

Secondly, one of the many delightful things about writers (and I say this with a healthy dose of self-deprecation) is that we can often be a little vague about time frames. I like to think of us as “delightfully frustrating” in that regard.

Thirdly—and most importantly—when it comes to content marketing, we’re not actually talking about just writing.

The Many Steps Of Good Content Writing

There are a number of additional steps to producing good content, whether it’s a blog post, website copy, a content offer, or anything else you’re writing for the web. Unfortunately, those steps tend to get rolled in under “writing” when we budget or track time for a project, leading to confusion and disarray.

In the next few sections of this post, we’ll lay out all the different pieces that go into producing good content writing.

1. Topic and Keyword Research

Research is one of those annoying things that you have to include in every step of your inbound process in order to be really, truly successful. Before you start any type of content writing, you need to have a handle on:

  • Which buyer persona(s) you are writing for
  • Which stage of the buyer’s journey those personas are experiencing
  • What your target search keywords are

If you’re working from a fully established content plan, these three items should already have been determined by previous keyword research and content mapping. However, you should always be checking and re-checking that plan against current data to determine if the content and keywords are still relevant to your buyer personas.

The other part of this step is actually researching the topic you’re going to be writing about. Sometimes, content writers are experts in the field they’re writing about. Often, they’re not. Either way, there likely will be some research involved in producing a piece of good content writing on that topic. It could be looking up statistics, getting data from other reliable sources, or even just reading other pieces of content on that subject to get an idea of what’s out there and what you can offer that is different.

The moral of the story here is that no one in content marketing sits down and writes a 1,000-word post on any topic without doing some preparation—and that preparation takes time. So unless you have time-traveling sorcerers on your staff, budget for that step.

2. Actual Content Writing

For their 2015 State of Inbound report, HubSpot surveyed 4,000 marketers and salespeople on a number of different marketing topics, one of which was how long it takes them to write a 500-world blog post. This is what they found:

“According to our research, in every region of the world, most marketers spend 1-2 hours writing a 500-word blog post… In North America: The largest number of marketers (38%) spend 1-2 hours writing a typical blog post. In the same region, 29% of marketers spend 2-3 hours writing a blog post, 29% spend 4+ hours per post, and only 8% spend less than an hour per post.”

You could interpret those results as marketing writers throwing up a big ol’ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ to the question of timing. I mean, you’re looking at basically a three-way division between 1-2 hours, 2-3 hours, and 3-4 hours for a 500-word blog post. But there is a lesson to be learned here, and that lesson is: take as much time as you need and no more than that.

Yeah, I know that’s not an actual time frame. But good content writing is an art, and as such it’s very difficult to quantify how much work should go into it.

It’s a good idea, as a writer, to set yourself a time limit and try to keep to it as best you can. That way, you won’t waste time doubting yourself or rephrasing the closing sentence 4 million times (that’s what editors are for). However, be honest with yourself—and your managers or clients or whomever you’re accountable to—about how long it will take to do the writing and do it right.

3. Proofing and Editing

To my fellow writers out there: the last step in your writing process should be re-reading and editing the content yourself. Always. Do not send a draft to your manager, do not pass go, do not collect $200 until you’ve proofread your copy for spelling and grammatical errors. You probably won’t get them all, but for the love of all things good and fluffy, try.

Once you’ve finished your edits you can pass the draft along to whomever will be reviewing and editing it for you. Yes, you always need to have at least one other person read your copy before it’s published. There will likely be more than one person who needs to approve before content can be pushed out, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

To the marketing managers, directors, business owners, and everyone else reading this: we are all human and mistakes happen. This is why spell check was invented, but it doesn’t mean that little errors won’t sneak through sometimes. If it’s a common occurrence, then you may need to have a discussion about your editing process, but don’t freak out the first time you see the wrong “there” used in a piece of content.

There are a ton of tools out there to help with that, too, but that’s a whole other blog post.

4. Optimizing for Search

This step and the previous one are sometimes flipped, depending on your writing process, but it’s a necessary step no matter where you put it.

Writers should be optimizing as they draft a piece of content—fitting the targeted keyword and variations of it naturally into the writing, headers, subheads, etc. But once the writing is completed, the content needs to be fully optimized. This means tweaking your titles for search engines (title tags), adding alt-text to images (or adding images in the first place), specifying your meta descriptions, adding internal and external links, choosing categories and tags (if we’re talking about a blog post), and just going over the content again to ensure that you’ve done everything you can to put this content in front of the right sets of eyes.

This, also, takes a little bit of time.

5. Revisions

A writer’s favorite part of the writing process, letting other people read your hard work and tell you what you did wrong.

I joke, but seriously, revisions are an important part of creating good content writing, and an unavoidable part of any publishing process. You’ll note that this step is titled “Revisions” in the plural form, because there will be more than one. Expect it, prepare for it, and budget time for it. Do not have an internal due date for a blog draft the same day you plan to publish it. For more on how to plan and schedule your content, check out my colleague Dave’s post on content calendars.

Setting Standards for Good Content Writing

Remember up top where I said “good” is subjective and “more on this later”? It is now later, so let’s discuss.

One of the first steps in your content marketing plan should be setting standards for everything you publish. That helps you avoid at least some of the inevitable waffling about word choice and other stylistic updates when you’ve been through five rounds of revisions on one blog post and are closing in on the publication deadline.

Some writers (yours truly included) can and will revise a piece of writing until the end of time if you let them. We are our own worst critics. Some CEOs and business owners will fuss and fuss over marketing content because this brand is their pride and joy and they want to express it in the most perfect way possible.

And that’s OK! It’s more than OK, actually, it’s great. That kind of passion is what makes this work worthwhile at the end of the day.

However, if you have a set of objective standards that every piece of content has to meet in order to be “good enough” for publication, those situations can be resolved quickly and easily. You can determine if the edits you’re fighting over are worth the additional time, or if you should stop worrying and move on to the next project.

So no, I can’t give you a straight answer for how long it takes to write a blog post or how many hours you should spend on that content offer. What I can tell you, is that producing good content writing is a process that requires communication, time management, and hard work. If you remember these steps and do everything you can to make that process run smoothly, you might be able to avoid that whole slamming your head into the desk thing. Where content writing is concerned, at least.


8 Online Tools for More Creative and Productive Content Writing

The following is a guest post by Antonio Tooley. Antonio is a“Creative” and “productive” are sometimes mutually exclusive concepts when it comes to content writing. These tools can help you with your content writing. hopeless optimist who enjoys basking in the world’s brightest colors. He loves biking to distant places and occasionally he gets lost. When not doing that he’s blogging and teaching ESL. He will be happy to meet you on and .

“Creative” and “productive” are sometimes mutually exclusive concepts when it comes to content writers. The creative process cannot be hurried or forced, and content writing usually follows a set schedule. What happens is that either content writers get writer’s block, or they put it off as long as they could. It is all about being in the zone, you see, and sometimes the zone goes on vacation. With that, here are eight online tools that can help you become more creative, as well as productive, when you need to be.

1. GroupMap

Many content writers form part of a marketing team. They get their direction from the content director, who in turn, gets input from the analytics group. GroupMap is a great way to keep everyone in the loop and on track in real time. It is primarily an educational tool intended for flipped classrooms, so it uses many graphics, but it works perfectly well for content writers as well. You can try it free for 14 days with limited features, after which you pay $8 a month for a personal account.

Stream of consciousness thinking is perhaps not the best way to create web content. However, if you have OCD, sometimes the best way to be productive is to just forge right ahead. Ilys is an online tool that keeps you from constantly looking over what you’ve already written, and wasting your time in editing and refining. It is weird, but it is strangely exciting as well. You never know what you’re going to get until you’re done.

If you can’t seem to get started, this online resource can give you a bit of a push. This tool provides you with writing prompts that can give you ideas for a starting line, even titles. Some of the prompts include “Would you work for someone who stresses you out even if the money was good?” and “Are you afraid of death?” There is no registration or fee to use. Just click away until you find something you like and run with it.

4. Edugeeksclub

Sometimes, you write something that makes you go “meh”. The topic is good, your research is spot on, but you feel there is something missing. You can collaborate with professional writers and editors from Edugeeksclub to get some ideas and polish your content. You can get them to edit and proofread your work for less than $6 a page, or you can ask them to rewrite your content in a more engaging manner, and it will only cost you $19.99 a page. You can use the work as a template for future articles.

5. Coffitivity

Contrary to popular belief, not all writers work well in a vacuum. Too much quiet can be unnerving. According to research, a little distraction can be good for your imagination. The site provides background sounds from cafes and restaurants, where many content writers get their best work done. The online and mobile app versions are free with three audio options, but if you want to pretend you’re in Paris, Brazil or even Texas, you can get those for $9 a year.

6. OmmWriter

OmmWriter also works along the same rationale: that a little distraction, but not too much, is good for writing productivity. This downloadable app comes with a distraction-free interface with one of its seven backgrounds to suit your mood; audio tracks that help you concentrate; and keystrokes sounds that tell you how productive you are. It is not free to download, but you can pay whatever you like as long as it is more than $5.11. The background music alone is worth the price.

If you need your mom to tell you to keep going, but your mom ain’t around, Toggl can be a good replacement. This time-tracking app can tell you exactly how much time you’re wasting on your Facebook page. It shames you into managing your time better. The free version is good for up to five people if you’re part of a team, and you can set up projects that will keep track of everybody’s time wherever they are. You can pay $5 a month for the Pro version if you need to track billable hours, but otherwise there is really no need. The free version is fully functional, just like your mom.

An even better way to keep you away from time-wasting websites is with StayFocusd. It lets you in some sites, but only for a little while, and then it blocks you. Once you set it, you will have to jump through hoops to change the settings, so it really is easier to just keep working. You get to choose the sites to block, but you can’t tell it how long you want “play time”. It is a Chrome extension, so if you prefer Firefox, you’re out of luck.

These tools and websites are all useful in one way or the other to help you become more productive, and creativity becomes easier to achieve. Whether you use them or not is your choice, but it does not hurt to try them out. You may be surprised at what will work for you.

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SEO and content writing tips: Week ending March 18, 2014

Even this cat was hit by Panda!

We’ve got a bunch of SEO info for ya this week, so I broke out a new “search engine news” section for ya – right there at the top.

Google seems to be backtracking on some of it’s changes. The high volume of Panda penalties has caused Google to soften the algorithm – and another Panda pare-down is coming.

The search engine also seeks a solution to the “not provided” conundrum.

There’s also a lot of help for freelancers this week that touch on pay, dealing with clients and more.

Read up on the latest Google news, writing tips and more from the content experts.

Search engine news

Danny Sullivan writes Google Reviewing “Not Provided,” Withholding Keywords From Organic But Not Paid Search Clicks for Search Engine Land.

Bas van den Beld writes Danny Sullivan: You’d Think Everyone in the World was Hit by Panda for State of Digital.

Barry Schwartz writes Google’s Matt Cutts: New Softer Panda Update Coming Soon for Search Engine Roundtable.

Larry Kim writes Keyword Not Provided: Is a Solution Coming Soon? for WordStream.

Ginny Marvin writes Advertisers Brace As Google Revisits “Not Provided” Policy To Show Keywords For Ad But Not Organic Clicks for Marketing Land.

Content writing tips

Jackforde writes Short Words, Big Power for The Copywriter’s Roundtable.

David Meerman Scott writes It’s not about how you sell. It’s about how I buy. for Web Ink Now.

Jean Dion writes How Much Should Grammar Matter to Bloggers? for Search Engine Journal.

Amy C. Teeple writes Are your complimentary services free? Understanding word choice for SEO Copywriting.

Promote your content

Carrie Morgan writes 5-Step Strategy To Improve Your Facebook Engagement & Growth for Convince & Convert.

Cindy King writes 10 Social Media Tips From the Pros for Social Media Examiner.

Kelly Cooper writes Facebook Brand Updates Take Another Hit, Can You Recover? for Social Fresh.

Jerry Low writes Which Social Media Headlines Work Best for Search Engine People.

Isra Garcia writes How to Create Human Relations with your Online Community for Social Media Today.

Stephanie Sammons writes How to Benefit from the LinkedIn Publishing Platform for Social Media Examiner.

Dan Sullivan writes Dark Data and Measuring Invisible Impact in Your Facebook Community for Social Media Today.

Inspiration for writers

Joe Bunting writes 23 Essential Quotes from Ernest Hemingway About Writing for The Write Practice.

In-house writing tips

Ben Davis writes Employee engagement is as vital as customer experience for Econsultancy.

Jon Michail writes Empower Your Employees to Become Brand Ambassadors for Social Media Today.

Help for freelance writers

Bob Bly writes Why does everyone think writers shouldn’t be paid? for Bob Bly Copywriter.

Jason Spooner writes THREE CLIENTS YOU NEVER WANT TO WORK WITH for Social Media Explorer.

Heather Lloyd-Martin writes Diversify or die for SEO Copywriting.

jackforde writes How Much Money Do You (Deserve To) Make? for The Copywriter’s Roundtable.

WGH Cameron writes The Truth: What a Client Really Wants from You for Men With Pens.

Peter Da Vanzo writes Handling Objections from SEO Clients for SEO Book.

Advanced SEO writing strategies

Peter van der Graaf writes Rule the SERPs: Become an Expert for Search Engine Watch.

Lauren Grabowski writes Inside SEER: A Guide to Link Prospecting for SEER Interactive.

Rand Fishkin writes Keyword Targeting, Density, and Cannibalization – Whiteboard Friday for Moz.

Barry Schwartz also writes I Got In A Fight With My AdWords Rep & Google Dropped My Organic Rankings for Search Engine Roundtable.

Kristine Schachinger writes SEO Website Audits: Everything You Need to Know for Search Engine Watch.

SEO for beginners

Miriam Ellis writes Troubleshooting Local Ranking Failures: A Beginner’s Guide for Moz.

Amanda DiSilvestro writes A Beginner’s Guide to the Name Anchor Tag for ISOOSI Blog.

Rachel Sprung writes Answers to 18 SEO Questions You Were Too Afraid to Ask for HubSpot.

Anton Koekemoer writes 13 basic SEO terms everyone should know about for memeburn.

Content marketing tips

Mike Sansone writes Your Content and Calls-to-Action are Part of Your Digital Inventory for ConverStations.


SEO and content writing tips: Week ending Feb. 18, 2014

collecting fish

You don’t have to slog through content curation!

It’s like the Twilight Zone around here! This week, we’ve got some posts about content curation.  Curation within curation … whoa.

Anyway, if you’re curating content, you’ll find ways to speed and spiff it up within the posts below!

There’s also a heavy focus on using the customers’ perspectives when creating content, as well as a lot of other must-read articles.


Content writing tips

Sally Ormond writes How to Write Copy People Will Read for Freelance Copywriter’s Blog.

Vinita Zutshi writes Scene Stealers: Write a Love Story for Write to Done.

Melissa Fach writes 11 Things to Ask Your Clients for Content Ideation for CopyPress.

John Hall writes Why Ghostwriting Thought Leadership Content Doesn’t Work for HubSpot.

Jackforde (hey, it’s one word on the site) writes A Surprising Storytelling Secret for The Copywriter’s Roundtable.

Amy C. Teeple writes Baby, it’s cold outside … or is it? for SEO Copywriting.

Henneke Duistermaat writes How to Create a Dynamic Voice and Add Personality to Your Writing for Enchanting Marketing.

Promote your content

John Corcoran writes How to Craft Tweetable Quotes That Spread Your Content like Wildfire for Boost Blog Traffic.

Lior Degani writes 5 Ways to Combine Twitter Scheduling With Real Time Activities for Social Media Explorer.

Joe Pulizzi writes Why Getting Recognition for Your Content Marketing Is so Critical for Content Marketing Institute.

Alicia Rades writes How to Write Powerful Headlines that Will Conquer Social Media for Social Media Today.

Tom Pick writes How to Promote Blog Posts: 200+ Ideas from Eight Experts for Webbiquity.

Inspiration for writers

Jeff Goins writes The Most Important Part of the Creative Life for Goins, Writer.

Joanna Penn writes A Brain Scientist’s Take on Bad Reviews for The Creative Penn.

Patrick Ross writes Envy, Narcissism, Depression and Creativity for The Artist’s Road.

Becca Puglisi writes Purging Your Writing Fear for The Write Practice.

Leanne Regalla writes Become A Successful Writer Despite Your Friends And Family for Write to Done.

In-house writing tips

Cas McCullough writes How to Speed Up Your Content Curation Process for Social Media Examiner.

KISSmetrics posts How to Learn from Your eCommerce Customers in Real-Time.

Andrew Girdwood writes Friday Commentary: Boutique or Broad? Finding your perfect agency partner for State of Digital.

Heather Lloyd-Martin writes What Girls can teach you about your soul-crushing corporate job for SEO Copywriting.

Help for freelance writers

Bob Bly writes The awful truth about cold calling on his site.

Joanna Penn writes Creative Entrepreneur: The Tools I Use In My Creative Business for The Creative Penn.

Writing tips for beginners

Erik Deckers writes Your Headlines Suck. Here’s What You Can Do About It for Convince & Convert.

John Souza writes No Really! What Is Internet Blogging? #Blogging for Social Media Impact.

Advanced SEO writing strategies

Warren Lee writes Prioritizing SEO Strategies In 2014: Where To Focus for Search Engine Land.

Your beloved Tracy Mallette 🙂 writes AJ Kohn talks Hummingbird, social, authority, writing and MUCH more! for SEO Copywriting.

SEO for beginners

Content marketing tips


10 Web Content Writing Tips to Boost Blog Readership

I don’t read my friend’s blog. It’s not that he doesn’t produce interesting, useful, truly valuable content. It’s not that he forgets to share his posts on social media, or even that he doesn’t use engaging titles. He does all of that.

I don’t read my friend’s blog because just looking at a post gives me anxiety. Every page feels daunting, like a challenge to overcome.

As a web content writer, one of the biggest and most frequent mistakes I see is also one of the easiest to remedy: formatting for readability.

Why Formatting is So Important

It’s common knowledge that people read differently on the web. Consider your own browsing habits. You click a headline that sounds enticing, scan the post for the specific information you’re interested in, then look for bite-sized takeaways.

You don’t bother reading long blocks of text to isolate the most relevant details, and you don’t like having to search an entire page to locate a particular element.

The posts you prefer to read are formatted to provide you with the most important information as quickly and easily as possible. Your readers expect the same thing.

It makes no difference how interesting your content is. If it’s not formatted for readability, your audience will not read it.

10 Web Content Writing Tips to Boost Readership

So how can you format your content to optimize readability for the web? Keep the following elements in mind as you upload your next blog post.

1. Keep Paragraphs Short and Sweet

Seriously. This might be the most important tip I have to offer. If you take only one thing away from this post take this: paragraphs on the web should be no more than four lines.

2. Size Up Your Font

Tiny fonts not only look old-school, they also immediately make your piece less readable. We spend enough time squinting at our computer screens. Don’t make your users struggle to read your content. Use at least a 14pt text; and don’t be afraid to go even bigger.

3. Use Descriptive Subheads

What is this paragraph about? I’ll be more likely to read it if I know right off the bat. Wherever you can, include descriptive subheads that act as titles for each section. This lets you coax readers through the post from beginning to end.

4. Plan for Mobile

If you think a paragraph looks dense on your laptop monitor, just imagine how it will look compressed for a mobile device. If you have a responsive website, test how it’ll display in a preview by dragging the right side of your browser toward the left to mimic the stacking effect of responsive design.

5. Use Bulleted or Numbered Lists

Don’t be afraid to go ham with bulleted or numbered lists: nothing makes content more easily digestible. Use these for the most important facts or takeaways, just be sure to frame them with descriptive content to give context to “skimmers.”

6. Break Up Your Content with Images

Like descriptive subheads, images are a great way to break up a post into distinct sections. They also make your content appear less daunting at first glance because there are fewer solid blocks of text.

7. Take Advantage of White Space

Give your content room to breathe. Include space above your sub headers and below each paragraph. Consider the spacious feel of Medium’s platform to really appreciate the value of white space.

8. Start With the Most Important Information

Putting your most important information first is essential. This is an old journalist’s trick that’s incredibly relevant on the web, where attention spans are shorter than ever. Don’t make users dig around to find what’s promised in the headline.

9. Consider Jump Links

Got a ton of content on one page? Consider jump links, which let users click a link to “jump” to another section on the page. This is a great tool for organizing resource pages like our always-up-to-date guide to social media images sizes.

10. Bold or Highlight the Most Important Text

Finally, think back to your school days. Highlighting the main points in bold makes it easy for users to identify key takeaways at a glance.

The truth is, you can’t change the way people read on the web. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your content will be the exception. It won’t.

What you can do is adapt the formatting of your content to your readers’ habits to make it as painless (and perhaps even… fun!) as possible to absorb your message. Because sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

By: Amahl Majack