Content SearchFest 2010 Session

Learn how to create content to drive search traffic . . . and, motivate visitors.


Heather Lloyd Martin – SuccessWorks

Stoney DeGeyter – Pole Position Marketing


Todd Mintz


John McPhee of Anvil Media, a Portland SEM agency

Session Details

Todd just introduced Stoney…there’s some confusion on which microphone to use at first, but looks like we’ve got it figured out now. And away we go…

Stoney’s presentation will focus on both content and the Princess Bride (with accents and everything). Good content is text + SEO = sales. As you write content, it must be done with keywords and SEO in mind. Rewriting and optimizing content is a must. If there isn’t any content on your site/page, it won’t rank. It’s that simple, sorry.

“Perfect content has to change.” It might be the layout, content, headlines or keywords, whatever it is, you’ll need to test your content to determine how the search engines react to it, with the end goal of ranking on the 1st page.

Don’t mask content, such as hidden text. You’lll lose credibility. Do publish negative reviews, to help establish credibility. You might want to be selective of which reviews, but be sure to provide a fair comparison.

Good content cannot be rushed. Use an experienced copywriter who understands SEO, it will make your life a lot easier when it’s time to launch your site. Make sure copywriter works in top keywords in all of the important page elements.

When writing new content, start with keyword research. Ask the following questions when doing kewyord research:

  • who is target audience, what are they looking for
  • what areas of interest am I focusing on

User intent is a big piece of the pie. Keywords don’t always mean what you think. The following phrases can mean two totally different things, you must understand intent and write your content accordingly. “cordless telephone headset?” and “cordless telephone headset” can mean two totally different things (see the “?” in the first).

Know who your visitors are…researchers, shoppers, buyers. Understanding the buying cycle is key, and you must provide specific content for each stage. Capturing users at each stage builds credibility and encourages trust.

When considering keywords, use a number of different modifiers and create content for each. For example: exotic widgets, vintage widgets & classic widgets all work together, however, quality widgets, discount widgets and red widgets don’t really fit together.

Ignore “old school” content. Keyword density isn’t the way it works anymore. It doesn’t matter how many keywords you use on the page, you must place keywords in the appropriate page elements. Write for your visitors!

They keywords you choose may not end up being the best fit. If you’re an agency, the client should play a role in this stage as they know their business and will have some insight as well. Keyword research is an ongoing tactic and should always be reviewed.

Write content that no one else has. Find niche areas of interest for easier ranking possibilities. The phrases will be easier to rank for due to less competition.

Write for your audience first. Content must be read naturally. If you read it, and it sounds awkward, then it is. Rewrite it now. It will turn visitors away. Need persuasive content for call to action follow through.

Don’t destroy the conversion process. Each page should direct users to the next course of action. Lead them to the sale/lead form. They want to get there, but it’s up to you and the content to direct them there. Engage them throughout the process

Sum Up:

  • No magical amount of text
  • Keep it brief and to the point
  • Use no more content than what is needed to convert visitors
  • Write for skimmers and scanners (paragraph headings, keyword rich links, bullet points & bolded text)
  • Use action words, calls to action & textual links
  • Keep content up-to-date, redirect deleted pages & re-purpose content for new mediums

Stoney’s phone went off to signal his time was up, and he was right on target. Nice job Stoney.

Todd now introduces Heather Lloyd Martin…

Heather states that she has been in SEO content since the very beginning and focuses on training, which she loves. We can tell Heather, great enthusisasm. Not to be outdone by Stoney’s Princess Bride-themed presentation, Heather went with The Family Guy – great choice.

What is content marketing?

  • articles, news releases, blogs, product pages, FAQs, white papers, Facebook pages & Twitter

Why do we care about “freakin sweet” content?

Finding the sweet spot of keyword research, quality content and quality incoming links is the sweet spot and holy grail of achieving rankings. We all want “control” of the rankings, so focusing on great content is when we can actually realize these results

Think like a newscaster. Figure out the following questions: who is target audience, typical reader, level of education, etc. You then need to write content geared towards the personas that you create.

You must show WIIFM (What’s In It For Me), or people will bail on your site. People are looking for reasons to leave or not to purchase anything from you, so don’t fall into that trap. Provide quality content that speaks to their needs.

Heather gave an example of what Quicken did on a landing page, which OK. Minimal copy, decent headlines, call to action and nice benefits. Now comparing to They did an excellent job by overcoming objections and security concerns. Used headlines and calls to action wisely. They spoke to issues that customers were concerned about, which most likely led to higher conversions.

Always be looking for new content opportunities. Use Google’s keyword tool to help with this. Identify keywords that have high search potential. Consider using Twitter for new content marketing ideas. It’s a good idea to search on Twitter to get ideas for what others are discussing. It helps keep you current about specific industries.

Know when you can break the rules. Heather is discussing the “old school” tactic of keyword density. Back in the day, you needed a 5.5% keyword density to rank on Alta Vista. It doesn’t matter today!

If you remember anything from this presentation/blog post, make your titles HOT. This is the low hanging fruit of SEO. The first opportunity for conversion starts at the SERPs. You must use compelling and informative headlines (title tag) to get folks to your site in the first place. You should always be testing title tags & meta tags.

Tips for strong headlines:

  • Write like a headline. Think clickability
  • Keep titles around 70 characters
  • Include main keywords in Title
  • Clearly explain what is on the landing page
  • Include benefit statements (free shipping)

Make old content new again. Search for your outdated content (i.e. press pages, conference/event pages, etc) and update it. Make it relevant or redirect it to appropriate pages. If you can’t easily update your content due to technical/site structure issues, create a blog, build articles or engage people on social media. These are great ways to help increase rankings, little by little.

Know the 5 W’s and 1 H of SEO Copywriting

  • WHO does the writing (new SEO copywriters need training)
  • WHAT pages need to be rewritten (create an editorial calendar)
  • WHERE does the budget/time come from (good writing costs time/money)
  • WHY don’t look at other opportunities (Twitter, blogs…)
  • WHEN are you uploading new pages (set deadlines)
  • HOW will you know if it works (conversion testing, traffic monitoring)

The final slide of Heather’s presentation is Stewie with arms raised in the air! Great presentation.


Q: What are the best ways for keyword research (i.e. focus groups)? Also, do you still get penalized for using too many keywords?

A: Stoney goes first: There are a lot of tools to use, which all have good data. Be comprehensive and use a number of tools. Google tools, WordTracker, WordStream, Keyword Discovery. Focus groups shouldn’t be sole point of keyword research, but could be used with other tools. In order to avoid penalties you must use natural copy and keyword overlap.

Q: Thoughts of the free Google keyword tool?

A: Stoney uses the tool, but this isn’t a keyword research track, so we didn’t delve into that. Heather prefers to use tools that are search engine neutral, then uses tools like WordStream, Keyword Discovery, etc.

Q: How do you motivate people to write content for SEO (if they are the only ones writing content)?

A: You must work to take little pieces and show them conversion rates. If your copy converts better, they may start to give you a little more leeway.

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