November 30, 2009

How Not to Say No to a Client

“Well, I don’t know as I want a lawyer to tell me what I cannot do. I hire him to tell how to do what I want to do.”
—J. P. Morgan (attributed)

SEO, copywriting, and web design are all service businesses. Nobody has ever hired me to tell them what they ought to want to do; I get hired to do what they’ve decided they want to do. And clients are experts at whatever it is they’ve been doing; if I do SEO for a clothing retailer, it’s a safe bet that he knows more about clothes than I do.

At the same time, I probably spend more time reading SEOMoz, running Rank Checker, or swiping from Info Marketing Blog than they do. Since clients write the checks, they call the shots—here are a few ways I’ve found to make sure that this works out well for both sides.

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October 1, 2009

The Four Rules of SEO and Writing Calls to Action

90% of your site’s success is determined by two things:

The first thing a visitor reads—the headline.

The last thing a visitor reads—the call to action.

Which might be why search engines treat these pieces of text as significant: it’s not that they tel you what a site is about, but that they’re the part of a page writers can least afford to write badly. That’s not a disadvantage. Your call to action can bring in more users and conversions, if you follow the rules.

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September 11, 2009

The Typo Test: Do Typos Ruin Online Copy? I’m Going to Find Out

There are two Typo Instincts.

On the one hand: Who cares about a single typo? If someone can’t spell (or run spellcheck), does that really mean they can’t do their job?

On the other hand: Who wants to work with someone who can’t even bother double-checking their first impressions?

I don’t know for sure if typos ruin online sales pitches, but I have a theory, and I’m going to test it.

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September 10, 2009

How to Write a Top-N List (If You Must)

Paul Graham has some not-especially-kind things to say about the list of n things. Read his essay, and the next time you encounter a top-n list, you’ll have a bad taste in your mouth.

But it’s been a few days since that article came out, and if you read it then, you’ve noticed by now—for a “degenerate case of essay,” they’re pretty popular among readers and writers.

They’re popular because they work. And here’s how to make them work best. Read the rest of this entry »

September 1, 2009

The Copy Quotient

Here’s how you know whether or not to fire your copywriter, in five simple steps:

  1. Use rank checker to find out where you rank for a particular keyword on Google (for best results, you should be in the top ten.
  2. Find out how much monthly traffic that keyword gets, using Google’s keyword tool.
  3. Multiply that by the percentage of users who click on a search result of that ranking.
  4. Find out how many visitors you get from that keyword (if you’re not using Google Analytics for this, you’re probably doing it wrong).
  5. Now, divide #4 by #3. If the result is less than one, your headlines aren’t doing their job. Consider drastic action.

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