Back To Basics – SEO Content Writing

Say farewell to the days of keyword stuffing and to text that reads poorly.  2012 has been a year of cleaning up for Google.  In the wake of these updates, we find ourselves revisiting our SEO campaigns to make sure that our SEO content writing strategies we have in place for our clients don’t cause rankings to drop thus hurting opportunities for conversions.  Writing for SEO has become more about delivering a better user experience.

What keeps your visitors interested in you?  What keeps your visitors interested in your products? What keeps your visitors ON your website?

As most of my colleagues know, my writing for SEO was based on a love/hate relationship. I’ve had to make several adjustments that have taken many lessons and lots of practice.  With my new lessons and techniques in hand, I would like to share with you what new lessons I have learned throughout my time at Leverage Marketing.

For my writing to be successful, I have followed several tips. Most of these tips are basic SEO content techniques, but some are SEO content writing techniques that have been taken up a notch.

An Interested Reader – Doesn’t Read the Entire Page Content *GASP*

It’s the truth.  When writing for SEO, remember that your readers are only going to consume a short amount of information. When you land on a website that ranks well for the information you searched for, what is the first thing that grabs your attention? The content on the page or a call to action?  When you read the content, most of the time unless you are reading a book, you stop before you come to the middle of your screen.  If you don’t find what you are looking for above the fold, you have lost interest and have moved on to the next page or site in search for your 411. As a SEO content writer, your best and most important work should be above the fold. It is vital to your website and conversions that you get your point across quickly and efficiently.

Headings that Convert

Every company has unique selling points and benefits that differentiate themselves from the competition. Keeping a balance of your differences and benefits with focused keywords is key to capturing your audience’s eye with headings. I have learned that a general rule of thumb to follow is to include a major selling point or call to action in your H1, second major H2 and so on. Remember, your job as a SEO writer is to keep the visitor interested, and help them find what they need and get them to convert.

Call To Action

Make sure you remind the reader why they came to your page. Place call to actions more than once on your page, but make sure your call to actions are in alignment. We don’t want to confuse the audience by sending them mixed messages.

I haven’t the chance to use this technique in my own SEO writing, but I have read positive stories about the use of:

Bullet Points

I was thinking the same thing…how can bullet points help my SEO content writing be interesting and informative?  But after reading some of the benefits that bullet points bring to the table, it’s definitely worth a try.

Dylan Thomas of Search Engine Journal tells us “Like headings, bullet points offer dual incentives for your SEO. They break up the page and stand out from the rest of the text, which means they’ve got a better chance of being read.” He also goes on to say that the information listed in the bullet points can be prominently linked to relevant internal pages.

Each SEO campaign has different goals. But within these goals, still lies the goal to rank well, to increase traffic and to make a sale of some sort. If you use some of the SEO tips that I have provided, your goals can see improvements. If you use your keywords in interesting copy intended for the audience and not the search engines, you will see a difference in your websites results.


Congressional District Targeting

Election season is in full swing in preparation for November, and politicians are pulling out all of the stops. No matter what party line you may follow, we can all agree Americans are bombarded with campaign ads and political information. It may be hard for voters to distinguish which local candidates fall within their congressional districts and, as a result, deter voters from placing their ballots in the fall. Google is introducing a new geographical feature to help voters make their big decisions in the voting booths.

This geographical feature will do more than identify the red and blue states. Starting this month, Google is rolling out Congressional District Targeting for Google AdWords, enabling users to target their ads to specific Congressional districts as opposed to zip codes. Politicians will be able to spend their campaign dollars more wisely while serving ads to their voters in their respective districts. Long gone are the old methods of targeting entire zip codes.

Every ten years with new census information, the redistricting process takes place and creates new boundaries allowing for new voters. Many will take new shape as seen in the map below.congressional mapping in google

As shown by this map, districts can span across multiple zip codes therefore forcing the old zip code method to be obsolete. With Congressional District Targeting, candidates can easily enter their district number, create ads, precisely target their voters, and effectively spend ad dollars to gain their support. Google hopes to help all political campaigns take advantage of the web, and the Google tools they provide to run successful campaigns.

Google is also providing users with another tool for the elections. Their Four Screens to Victory politics and elections ads toolkit site also aims to help users effectively reach voters. On their web site Google says:

Voters use an average of 14.7 sources of information to help make their candidate selection and are connected to multiple devices throughout the day (Google/Shopper Sciences, 2011). Whether your goal is a seat on the town council, building up support for your chosen issue, or the White House, integrated marketing efforts must engage voters across four screens: television, computers, tablets and mobile phones.

Google believes that integration and precise targeting will be most effective for campaigners as well as voters. Voters will no longer have to deal with political ads that do not pertain to them, and will only be served ads that are relevant to them. Voters will receive less clutter, and will be able to access information on all devices they use.

Congressional District Targeting is another way Google hopes to build better relationships between users and advertisers.

Video Optimizing 101

With millions of users and viewers on YouTube DAILY, it’s no wonder why SEOs have increased their video optimization efforts. When video optimization was a “new” SEO tactic, it was very basic. Optimize the title, description and tags and you’re done. Now, it can be a lengthy process with a large focus on the content and how the videos interact and engage with viewers.

If you or your client has videos, don’t overlook optimization as not worth your time. Videos are a great way to drive traffic to your website and a great way to engage with people to build brand awareness. Videos are very popular and it’s for the same reason why a lot of people have watched a movie-version of a book.

So there are two things that come to mind when I think about video optimization:

  1. Ranking in natural search results

    Video rankings in natural search results

    Search Results in Google

  2. Ranking in YouTube

    Video search results in YouTube

    Search results in YouTube

Optimizing Videos to Appear in Natural Search Results:

In my experience, I have found this to be tricky to accomplish. I haven’t been able to discover an exact method to have videos appear in natural search results. However, here are a few tips that I’ve noticed help videos appear in search results:

  • Have a channel that is well established and engaging
    • This includes large number of views, followers, thumbs up or down, multiple videos (This is explained further down)
    • Long-tail keyword phrases in titles and description
      • I think this is key for videos to appear in search results. Videos that utilize very specific long-tail keyword phrases seem to appear much more easily than general searches (even for brand names)

Let’s take a look at a search for “Gabby Douglas” for example:Search for Gabby Douglas in Google

For a general search of “Gabby Douglas,” no video or video links appear.  Despite having several videos of her on YouTube, and especially with the Olympics going on right now, you expect that many videos of her gymnastics are being watched. So, I’d imagine videos on Gabby Douglas are engaging and popular, yet none show up in a general search.

However, once you search for “Gabby Douglas Floor Routine”… Voila! several videos appear. Once you search for a very specific phrase, more videos appear in the search results. Based on that, I can speculate that in order for your video to show up in search results (more easily), not only do you need a well-established and engaging channel; you need to be very strategic in how you title your videos.

Ranking in YouTube:

Recently, SEOmoz released a Whiteboard Friday on YouTube ranking factors. While his suggestions are almost synonymous to best SEO practices, there are a few ranking factors that are specific to YouTube. I also believe that Jeff McRitchie’s suggestions are overall good tips for video optimization to rank in both search results and YouTube. The take away from his Whiteboard is that your video needs great and creative content and it needs to be engaging. How many times have we heard this? Well, whether it applies to a web site, infographic, copy, and now videos, GREAT content and ENGAGING content is absolutely relevant for just about everything.

So let’s say you have the video, and its very interesting content and it could be a viral success, what now?

I’m going to break it down into two parts: 1) On-site video optimization and 2) Off-site video optimization.

Well as mentioned above, you have to be strategic in what keywords you use for the title, description, and video tags.

On-site Video Optimization:


Just like the title of a page, you don’t want to name your video “KEYWORD KEYWORD KEYWORD.” You want to be able to come up with a creative and relevant title that incorporates a keyword or two. I don’t know how many times I’ve stumbled upon a video that had an interesting title, but the video wasn’t great or relevant. (Or I get Rick Roll’d) Don’t make this mistake! It seems like this will affect how your video ranks. If viewers are only a few seconds into your video and exits, this could hurt your video and make it lose its visibility in the search results.


I’ve been guilty and have committed a SEO faux-pas, I’ve inserted a link back to the web site and that was it. I know, shame, but I happily report that I no longer am guilty of such a crime. However, do I think you should eliminate adding a link back to your web site all together? Absolutely not, but on the flip side, I do think it is important to actually accurately describe the video. Viewers will always appreciate descriptions (especially short ones) and if your video is engaging, they will be more likely to click-through to your website.

Now, Mr. McRitchie mentions of adding your own transcript, and if you have the time, I say do it. It certainly wouldn’t hurt and also viewers could “skim” through the video more quickly if they’re searching for something specific.

You’re able to add your own captions or transcript by going to your video manager, click on the specific video, edit, and then captions will appear at the top next to annotation.

Here’s what it should look like:Upload captions in YouTube video


It also looks like in YouTube, you have to be exact when it comes to what keywords you use or it doesn’t rank in YouTube search results. So, be exact and use keywords that are relevant to your video.

Off-site Video Optimization:

When I say “off-site video optimization,” I’m referring to what you should do after you have optimized the title, description and tags. Optimization shouldn’t stop there. With any great content, you have to share with the community and engage with your audience.


Ultimately, for your video to rank well, you have to a “good” video. What indicates to YouTube and the search engines that you have a “good” video? User engagement metrics such as the number of views, how long someone watches your video, thumbs up or thumbs down, commenting, sharing, etc. You want your video to be able to achieve all of those.


But how do people find your video if it’s brand new and has zero user engagement metrics? It’s up to you to share it. Put it on all your social networks, your blog, websites, share it with people you think will find your video interesting and helpful. If it’s a viral success, you’re almost guaranteed that your video will rank well.


A great way to build relationships with viewers is comments. It’s a very similar process in how you manage facebook comments, tweets, and Google+ comments. If there’s a question lingering or any sort of feedback, it’s always a great idea to respond. That’s an easy way of building a follower base is if you engage with your viewers and actually interact with them. It potentially could lead to a domino effect where one person shares your channel and video, and then share it with their friends, and so on and so forth.


Something that isn’t completely new but I think people overlook is the access to analytics for their videos. It’s the perfect way to see whether or not viewers are responding well to your videos; or if your videos are able to retain their attention.

You have access to a multitude of data to assist you. Probably one of the most useful reports is “audience retention.” You’re able to see at what point for each video a user exits. This is handy and will help you understand where you need to edit and how to not make the same mistakes in the future. All other reports are fairly self-explanatory.

So if you’re working on a campaign and have access to videos, don’t overlook video optimization as a tactic. And don’t forget these key tips:

  • Create a video that has great content, is creative, and interesting
  • Be very strategic for the title, description, and tags
  • If you have the time, add a transcript to your video
  • Don’t be shy, share your video with the whole world if you can
  • Engage and communicate with your viewers

If you have any questions about video optimization, feel free to comment below.

Offer Extensions and Communication Extensions

Offer Extensions and Communication Extensions are two of Google’s latest beta products to roll out this year. Google hopes to simplify the search experience for users as well as the advertisers that currently use Google AdWords.

Let’s go over what these extensions are and how they could potentially boost your business.

Offer Extensions

Offer Extensions is the latest feature which allows current advertisers to expand their existing ads in AdWords. In addition to the standard four line ads, Offer Extensions allow an additional line (60 characters) of text to advertise redeemable offers such as, coupons, discounts, rebates and more.  Google monitors the quality of your offer by requiring an expiration date and exclusivity. The offer must have a limited availability by having a set number of offers available or requiring redemption codes or coupons.

Example of Offer Extension:example of offer extension in Google AdWords

There are two types of Offer Extensions:

  1. Online redemption: If a user clicks the “View offer” link in an ad, they’re taken to an advertiser’s offer page (with offer redemption details) on their website. For example, if a user clicks an offer extension promoting 20% off green lava lamps, they’ll be taken to a page of the advertiser’s website featuring a redemption code or redemption option for 20% off green lava lamps.
  2. In-store redemption: Once a user has clicked the “View offer” link in an ad, they’ll be taken to a Google hosted landing page where they can view the offer and either print it or save it online (to their “My Offers” page at for in-store use.

Offers Extensions allow advertisers to engage their customers during their search process and provide relevant promotions targeted to the right customers. This feature is great for ecommerce clients that want to increase their sales and want to see direct results. Furthermore, the extension grants advertisers a way to track the performance of their promotions and their ROI by providing metrics such as the number of clicks, coupons downloaded and printed, etc.

Communication Extensions

The other extension that Google is offering is the Communication Extensions, which allows advertisers to gain information about potential leads. The extension provides an extra line where customers can input their telephone numbers or e-mail addresses to notify the business that they are interested. The business is able to customize the text ad and action message.

Examples of these action messages are: be contacted by this business, make an appointment, request a quote, request consultation, or get more info. Since the extension is still in the beta phase, advertisers have the opportunity to gain leads, raise ROI and enhance existing ads for free. If advertisers are unsatisfied or choose to end this feature they may contact their account manager and easily opt-out.

Google requires that advertisers link to their privacy policies so that the user’s private information collected through the Communication Extension will be protected. Google hopes to remain a credible source of information by protecting their users and providing the most relevant information.

Examples of Communication Extensions:example communication extensions in AdWords

Interested in any of these extensions? Contact your Leverage Marketing Account Rep. and get started today!

Before building the mobile version of your site, consider this:

People have access to mobile devices from virtually anywhere and shopping behavior is changing as well with the growing usage of smartphones and tablets. Studies and research have shown that consumers even prefer to use their smartphone/tablet at home, while watching TV instead of turning on their laptops or desktops. Many advertisers are only slowly adapting to this change by specifically targeting mobile users online. They are also often forgetting what happens after the consumer clicked on their online ad from their mobile device. Do they have a mobile-friendly site in place? What if the site doesn’t show up in the right format and the consumer leaves right away?

But before you begin to just blindly build out a mobile site for your business, you should be aware of two different ways to do so. You can either create a separate mobile website for your business or use a responsive design instead.

What is responsive design? Responsive design is an emerging trend among web developers which adapts to the device a consumer uses to view your website, whether it’s a tablet, smartphone or laptop. While a website built with responsive design automatically resizes for different devices, the advertiser still has to decide the content he wants to prioritize. Smartphone users might be more interested to find your contact information quickly, while tablet users just try to simplify their online purchases on the go or sitting at home on the couch. With responsive design you could focus on a click-to-call button for smartphone users, while the tablet site could prioritize the whole shopping experience, from selecting the product to an easy check-out process. If you wonder about the technical details to build a mobile-friendly site with responsive design, please read Google webmaster team’s blog post.

The illustration by Google below shows a quick overview and points out differences between the two approaches.

Google also helps you decide which mobile approach is best for your business with a few guidelines.

What you need to know, if you decide to use responsive design:

  • You don’t necessarily have to build a completely new site, if you want to use responsive design. A sophisticated web developer can implement the necessary changes and make adjustments. However, you should be aware of additional costs in terms of time and budget.
  • There will only be one URL for desktop, mobile and tablets for a site built with responsive design. If you built a separate mobile site, this site typically uses a different mobile URL. However, users should be taken there automatically if the desktop site has an auto redirect code enabled.
  • It is hard to determine what a responsive design for mobile costs as prices vary by developer and agency.

For additional information on how to build a mobile-friendly site, finding resources as well as testing the site, please get in touch.