- Advertising is still central for many news businesses. But they need to get out of the “race to bottom” dynamic of bad content, bad advertisers, and bad ads. Quality journalism businesses need to either take responsibility for their own high-quality advertisers and ads, or work with partners who do. There is no excuse for crappy network-served teeth whitening come-ons and one weird trick ads served against high quality content. Disastrous.
- Subscriptions: Many consumers pay money for things they value much of the time. If they’re unwilling to pay for a news product, it begs the question, are they really valuing it?
- A paid tier on top of free, ad-supported content. This goes after the high-end news junkies reading the likes of Bloomberg & Reuters. It will work for more and more new outlets. Again, value equals people paying money for something.
- Bits are increasingly abundant, and human presence is becoming scarce. So charge for that scarcity, and use bits to drive demand for human presence.
- Tina Brown was right but too early with Talk. News is a key source of material for books, TV, and film—which happen also to be growth businesses.
- This is a GIGANTIC opportunity especially for investigative journalism. Match people with interest in a topic to the reporters on the ground telling the stories. Click = vote = $. (Helpful hint: Start today with Crowdtilt. Easy-as-pie.)
- Easy to get started now (checkout Coinbase). As the consumer use of Bitcoin scales up for transactions, it becomes easy to ask for small amounts of money on a per-story or per-view basis with low or no fees. (A lot more of my thinking on the subject of Bitcoin here.)
- Today the examples are Pro Publica and First Look Media, tomorrow the could be many more examples. There is around $300 billion per year in philanthropic activity in the U.S. alone. It’s WAY underutilized in the news business.
28 February 2014
From the Andreessen Horowitz blog:
06 February 2014
Repacking the 'suitcase' sentence … or:
How to convey a lot of information in a single sentence, without frustrating your readers, or causing their eyes to pop out of their heads and wave madly on their stalks
Roy Peter Clark, the highly regarded writing coach at the Poynter Institute, criticized the New York Times for the lead paragraph of a controversial news story published Feb. 3 on the Times’ blog. And rightfully so. It’s a dreadful sentence, even for the Times.
Here it is, and this was the Times’ second version of the lead:
The former Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge in the scandal now swirling around Gov. Christie of New Jersey said on Friday that “evidence exists” the governor knew about the lane closings when they were happening.
This is an example of what’s known in the news biz as a “suitcase lead.” Clark describes it better than I can:
If all the news doesn’t quite fit, you just sit on it until it closes.
To demonstrate that it is possible to include a lot of information in a lead while also crafting a clear sentence, Clark proposed reframing the Times lead as a question/answer lead:
When did N.J. Gov. Chris Christie learn about the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that created traffic chaos and a swirling political scandal? In a new development, the official who oversaw those closures says that the governor knew about them as they were happening. He says that “evidence exists” that this is true.
Not bad, and certainly a major improvement. But let me propose another solution: a cumulative sentence. That is, a sentence that makes a clear initial statement, then adds additional information in easy-to-read clauses governed by commas.
Evidence exists that Gov. Christie knew about lane closings on the George Washington Bridge as they happened, says the former Port Authority official who oversaw the closings, which sparked a scandal that could derail the New Jersey governor’s anticipated candidacy for the White House.
The Port Authority official responsible for closing two toll lanes on the George Washington Bridge said Friday “evidence exists” New Jersey Gov. Christie knew about the closures as they triggered a morning rush-hour traffic jam near Fort Lee, leading to a political scandal that could derail the GOP front-runner’s potential bid for the White House.
Perfect? Probably not. But at least each sentence flows in one direction, guiding readers from one point to the next in a logical sequence, rather than forcing readers to retrace their steps to figure out what the hell they just read.
Each of my examples recasts the original Times lead as a cumulative sentence, the type advocated by Iowa State scholar Brooks Landon in his book, “Building Great Sentences: How to Write the Kind of Sentences You Love to Read,” which you really should read if you haven’t already, and, if you have read it, you should read it again.
Great sentences are usually long sentences, Landon says, in that they provide more information than do short sentences, and do so elegantly and efficiently, if properly crafted and controlled. There’s no better way to accomplish this than with a cumulative sentence.
I think of these sentences as “cascading sentences,” because they give the reader a sense of kayaking along the rapids of a river, easily stepping down from one level, to the next, to the next, for as long as the writer wants to sustain the sentence.
Short leads aren’t necessarily better leads. The ideal lead summarizes the story in a way that informs the reader, and coddles the reader, and encourages the reader to continue.
A cumulative sentence can handle each task well. And it is fairly easy to build.
You start with a simple declarative sentence. Then you add information with commas and clauses. You really do build the sentence from the ground up.
Hemingway is often praised or criticized for writing short, terse, tough-guy sentences. But the truth is that he used cumulative sentences about as often as short ones. Here’s one from a Nick Adams short story, “Cross Country Snow”:
George was coming down in the telemark position, kneeling, one leg forward and bent, the other trailing, his sticks hanging like some insect’s thin legs, kicking up puffs of snow, and finally the whole kneeling, trailing figure coming around in a beautiful right curve, crouching, the legs shot forward and back, the body leaning out against the swing, the sticks accenting the curve like points of light all in a cloud of snow.
Faulkner frequently used the cumulative sentence as well, as in this example from “As I Lay Dying”:
I would think how words go straight up in a thin line, quick and harmless, and how terribly doing goes along the earth, clinging to it, so that after a while the two lines are too far apart for the same person to straddle from one to the other; and that sin and love and fear are just sounds that people who never sinned nor loved nor feared have for what they never had and cannot have until they forget the words.
And James Joyce, from “Finnegan’s Wake”:
Here, and it goes on to appear now, she comes, a peacefugle, a parody's bird, a peri potmother, a pringlpik in the ilandiskippy, with peewee and powwows in beggybaggy on her bickybacky and a flick flask fleckflinging its pixylighting pacts' huemeramybows, picking here, pecking there, pussypussy plunderpussy.
And Walt Whitman, from “Song of Myself”:
One world is aware, and by the far the largest to me, and that is myself, and whether I come to my own today or in ten thousand or ten million years, I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness, I can wait.
And Kurt Vonnegut, in his essay “I Love You, Madame Librarian”:
And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.
And Ernie Pyle, in a 1943 news story from the frontlines of World War II in Northern Tunesia:
In their eyes as they pass is not hatred, not excitement, not despair, not the tonic of their victory - there is just the simple expression of being here as though they had been here doing this forever, and nothing else.
Here's one from a true master of the cumulative sentence, gonzo journalist Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, in his factual novel, “Hell’s Angels”:
Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!
OK, you get the idea. Start with a simple, declarative sentence, and then build upon it with modifying clauses, refining the original image until you nail it.
Hey, it works, especially when you are forced to convey a lot of information quickly and efficiently, and you want to make life easier for your readers, or at least keep them from giving up and turning the page.
05 February 2014
27 January 2014
03 January 2014
When a press release, blog post, or article is indexed by Google and shows up in search results, the maximum character count runs between 65 and 80 characters (including spaces) before being cut off. Some rich snippets might show more, some less.
Always plan for the low end, just in case. The actual length is determined by pixel size and total width, rather than a specific character count. (Newspaper headline writers quickly learn that the lowercase letters f, i, j, l, r, and t take up less space than other letters, especially m and w.)
Write headlines that work in both the long and the short versions. A study showed that 80 percent of press release headlines were too long. Avoid making this common mistake.
05 December 2013
19 November 2013
Making it easy for Google and other search engines to find and rank your company’s business-to-business web pages used to be all about what we now call “black hat” techniques: stuffing, stacking, misdirecting, cloaking, swapping, baiting-and-switching, and all sorts of other nefarious tactics.Google has gone a long way toward changing that in the last two years. Three significant updates – known as Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird – to Google’s search algorithm are eliminating these tactics, and punishing them. If you use these techniques, Google may sentence your web site to its version of the Phantom Zone.
When Google users enter their search terms, they want Google to point to the pages that best meet their needs. Google’s updates are making it easier for Google to do just that, by finding and ranking web pages based on how well they meet the needs of the Google user.
There are six simple things anyone can do to help Google find our B2B web pages and treat them fairly. Keep in mind, Google sees only text. It is blind to everything else. So we’ve got to create text that Google’s web-bots can easily recognize, quickly analyze and accurate rank.
Identify your keywords
We need to decide exactly what our web page is about. What is the subject of the page? Do we want to answer a question, solve a problem, or just to provide information our customers are likely to seek for online? (For example, this post is designed to answer the question: “What can I do to get Google to pay attention to my B2B web content?”)
Once that is settled, we have another question to ask: If prospects or customers are looking for a page like ours, what are the search terms they are most likely to use? What you need is what we call a “keyword,” which can be a single word like “widgets” or a short phrase like “widgets for oil producers” or “how to use a widget.”
You can start by brainstorming with your marketing, sales and PR teams. If you need help, there are plenty of online tools, like Google’s Keyword Tool. If you want to get serious, put together a focus group of prospects and customers to do their own brainstorming, or take an online poll, or (if you have a strong Facebook or Twitter following) try crowdsourcing.
Do your best to narrow down your choices to just a primary keyword (or key phrase). If you have runner-ups, you can always work them into your post’s body text. But it is important to agree upon a primary keyword as the foundation for creating a web page that Google will love. For the purposes of this page, I’ve narrowed my keywords down to this phrase: “SEO for B2B.”
According to my research using Google’s Keyword Tool, Google users rarely enter this search phrase. So why use it? Because anyone who does use that search phrase is likely to be someone who is really interested in this information. Also, there’s very little competition for that phrase, so I have a better chance of ranking high on a search results page.
Include your keyword in your page’s web address
Also known as the URL, the web address is the page’s unique identifier. For example, the URL for this page is http://rustycawley.typepad.com/realityincopywriting/2013/11/seo-for-b2b.html. Note that I included my key phrase for this page as a suffix to my site’s main URL. This will encourage Google to point users to my page if they enter “SEO for B2B” as a search term.
To add your keyword to your page’s URL in a content management system like Wordpress or Typepad, just use the keywords as your post title before you save the post for the first time. Once you have save the page and created the URL, you can enter the actual title of your post and save it without altering the URL. If you have questions, check with your webmaster.
Include your keyword in your post title
A copywriter has two jobs when it comes to a post title. First, work in the keyword to get Google’s attention. Second, write an eye-catching title that piques the interest of prospects and customers, and causes them to click on the Google link. Remember the 3-30-3 Rule. We have three seconds to get attention; if we can get the web readers’ attention, we earn about 30 seconds of their time; if we can keep their interest for 30 seconds, we can earn another three minutes or more. This process starts with working the keyword into the title, and encouraging Google to flag it for the client’s prospects to find. Google is more than just a search engine; it is a form of social proof. When a web page appears at or near the top of a search, Google is essentially recommending the page to the user. It’s a form of “word of mouth,” and that makes it a powerful tool for marketing and sales.
You may notice that my headline uses “Google” instead of the keywords “SEO” or “search engine optimization.” That’s because in general my customers and prospects are not familiar with those keywords. But they know Google, and I’m counting on Google to recognize that went I say “Google” in this context, I mean “SEO.” It’s a small risk, but there’s little point in attracting Google’s attention but missing the audience’s attention. I will keep an eye on my Google Analytics. If I see Google is bypassing this page, I’ll change the title to one that Google likes better.
Work your keyword into your post's text
But do it judiciously and logically. If you use the keyword too many times, Google will think you are stuffing your text, and will downgrade your page. A good rule of thumb is to include your keyword in the first paragraph, and again in the second or third paragraph. After that, use your exact keyword sparingly, about once every 200 words or so. Feel free to use synonyms, or phrase variations, or even some of the runner-up keywords that came out of your research. Once you get past the title and the first couple of paragraphs, focus your efforts on creating a useful, informative, entertaining web page that your customers will enjoy and share. That’s the kind of page that Google is looking to recommend.
Include your keyword in your page’s meta description
Of the six simple things we can do, this is the one that requires a little understanding about how web pages are built. The content management systems that create web pages – like Wordpress and Typepad – are designed to include a brief, 160-word description of each page. This is essentially an executive summary designed for Google’s benefit. It is one more way that Google finds and ranks pages.
This is usually an easy process. You may be able to take the first two or three paragraphs of your text, and boil them down to 160 words or fewer. Assuming your are in Wordpress, go to your dashboard, then go to “posts,” then go to the post you are writing. Scroll down to the metadata form, and drop in your summary, and save it. If you can’t find the metadata form, ask your webmaster to add the form to your dashboard. If you are using another system, talk to your webmaster about establishing a process for adding a description to every future post.
Here is the meta description I added to this post:
Are Google and other search engines ignoring your online business-to-business content? Here are six simple things you can do right now to improve the SEO – search engine optimization – for your B2B web pages. Anyone can do this. You don’t need to be a web geek.Add your keyword and your runner-ups as your page’s meta tags
In the metadata form, you will find a form for adding individual keywords as “tags” to help Google and other search engines find your page. Just create a list, separating each keyword or phrase with a comma, copy it, and paste it into the form, then save it. You can add, subtract or alter this list as needed. Don’t get carried away. Focus on the keywords that are most important.
Here are my tags for this page: SEO for B2B, SEO copywriting for B2B companies, B2B, business to business, SEO, search engine optimization, B2B SEO, B2B copywriting, SEO copywriting, B2B-SEO copywriting, B2B copy, SEO copy, B2B content
If you really want to improve your page’s SEO, ask your really good customers or friends to create links to your page. They can do this via their hub sites, or on Facebook, or through re-tweets, or by recommending your page on Reddit, or by adding links to any other online medium.
Ask your webmaster to include sharing tools to every post on your B2B web site. Sharing tools allow readers to easily create links to your post via social media. The easier it is to share your post, the more likely readers are to do it.
All of this is very, very important to improve your SEO for your B2B content. For Google, a link is a vote. It tells Google that others consider your page to be an authoritative source of valuable information about a specific subject.
Links make it easier for Google to rank your page highly.
Which reminds me
If you found this page useful, please share it with your friends or peers. You can use the sharing tools on this page, or you can add a link to your home page.
Many thanks for your consideration.
06 November 2013
28 October 2013
From the Harvard Business Review:
If strong emotional activation is the key to viral success, how can brands best craft highly emotional messages with their content.
First, think carefully about how your company, product or service is related to a topic or topics that taps into deep-seated human emotions within your target demographic.
The goal is to find the link to an issue that plagues your consumers and relates directly or even tangentially to your brand or product. At the same time, you must make sure that the topic you choose also positively reflects the position of your brand. Using the example of the Dove Face Sketch campaign mentioned above, it is clear that its viral success was the result of its ability to tap into a deep emotional reaction to commonly felt feelings of inadequacy and low self esteem. Dove created a positive emotional reaction by creating solidarity through their campaign. Their content delivered the message “Many women don’t see themselves for how pretty they really are — let’s change that.” Dove’s content engaged strong emotions – even difficult emotions – but managed to win by presenting a more important overarching idea.
23 October 2013
"Your Twitter bio should position you as an expert in your field who serves a specific audience," states Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself and Me 2.0.
"The objective is to position your personal brand so you're using the right keywords and clearly showing what your focus is so people read it and know exactly what you do and whom you serve."
As well as widening your appeal for potential followers, Schawbel suggests this tactic may help your future job prospects.
"I did a study with American Express and we found that 65% of managers are looking to hire and promote subject matter experts. The problem is that most people position themselves as generalists or 'Jacks-of-all-trades,' and that won't work in this economy," he says.
14 October 2013
Why is online video so important for content marketing? Here's a video that outlines what the research says
Here's short video showcasing new data from Pew Research that emphasizes the rising importance of online video:
11 October 2013
The Content Marketing Institute issued its 2014 report on content marketing among business-to-business companies; here's 10 interesting things the report has to say
03 October 2013
From Jason Williams at the Inbound Marketing Blog:
SEO’s from around the world are dissecting and testing the new search algorithm on test sites to check for anything that could concern clients. But since being released over a month ago with little to no impact on the search engine optimization community, it is likely that there is nothing to worry about.
One thing we’ve always recommended to our clients is to always be asking and answering your client’s questions within your site. As search queries get more complicated and algorithms have the ability to find more complex results, answering the questions your clients are asking can only help you in the future. Here’s what I’m talking about…
- Create a list the top 10 questions your clients are asking you or about your industry
- Create new pages on your site centered around those questions and great answer
Answering your clients’ questions helps them solve a problem and can ultimately make you an authority on a topic or subject. When they are ready to buy your product or service, they want to buy from a trusted authority. It appears that Google’s Hummingbird algorithm may just give an advantage in search results to the people that answer the common questions for their clients. As for now, Hummingbird appears to be as sweet as it sounds.
02 October 2013
26 September 2013
From Jayson DeMers at the Search Engine Journal:
Not long ago, you could publish a couple 500-word blog posts per week and gain measurable traffic and authority with Google. While short articles do still have value, there’s definitely a trend within Google toward favoring longer content.
In the future, I expect that articles will need to be a minimum of 1,000 words in length to rank well in Google, and better yet if they’re over 2,000 words. Google’s new in-depth article section is a good indicator of where things are going. According to Google, “Users often turn to Google to answer a quick question, but research suggests that up to 10% of users’ daily information needs involve learning about a broad topic.”
25 September 2013
Social media requires a significant investment to start and sustain. That includes internal costs (resourcing, training) and often external costs (marketing to consumers, prizes for your communities and even a consultant or two).
But the attitude that you can easily create a social media strategy for an organization with more than $10 million in turnover in a half-day workshop is ludicrous. Sure, it's doable for a tiny nonprofit, but not for a large brand in need of a strategy that will reach across many marketing channels for a vast range of products.
Similarly, the idea that no one department can own social media is nearsighted. Yes, you have a PR department that manages media inquiries, but does the PR department actually provide quotes to the media or complete interviews? Generally, no. The job of the PR department is to facilitate connections and liaise with a range of internal departments.
While some group has to own and be responsible for social media, that doesn't mean that a small, defined group controls the purview of social media.
24 September 2013
While sports teams, news outlets, car companies, universities, non-profits and the entertainment industry dominate the top 200 business pages on Google+, a growing number of B2B technology companies have embraced Google+ as well.
As with any top consumer brand, consistent engagement is crucial to success. B2B technology brands are developing relationships with prospects just like on any other social platform. In the world of optimizing customer experience across the B2B sales cycle, Google+ for businesses offers B2B marketers an opportunity to connect with buyers in a meaningful way and provide relevant information.
Thought leaders and subject matter experts increasingly serve as trusted sources to help business buyers determine the best solution to solve a business need. Knowledge and expertise combined with social media have trumped the peer influencers of the traditional buyer, giving rise to the “B2B Social Buyer”.
Let’s take a look at some well-known B2B technology brands taking advantage of this new type of buyer who sources information and networks on Google+
19 September 2013
Advice from Remington Begg at Hubspot:
Too often, marketers go "straight for the throat." Typically, they only include CTA's (calls-to-action) that are for prospects that are ready to buy now (i.e. “Buy Now,” “Request a Consultation,” or "Call Today"). By modifying your website to have a balance of content, CTAs, and lead generation opportunities for every step of the buying cycle, you will find a huge increase in engagement and conversions on your site.
Inbound marketers often refer to the steps of the buying cycle as:Top of the Funnel, or TOFU Middle of the Funnel, or MOFU Bottom of the Funnel, or BOFU.
When talking to new clients we like to describe each of these buying cycles as Learners (TOFU), Shoppers (MOFU), and Buyers (BOFU). Call them whatever makes the most sense to you.
- An example of a Learner or (TOFU) prospect is someone searching Google for "best midsize family car."
- An example of a Shopper or (MOFU) prospect is someone searching Google for "crossover SUV reviews."
Think about what content you've created on your website that helps the "Learner" learn about why there is a need for your product or service. Think about what pain points it addresses. Now, think about opportunities to nurture your prospect to the Shopper stage, and then the Buyer stage, and then rinse and repeat for each of your services. Each step of the way there are opportunities to convert leads, with tools from the inbound content toolbox: ebooks, whitepapers, webinars -- you name it.
- An example of a Buyer or (BOFU) prospect is someone searching Google for "Ford Edge for sale."
17 September 2013
From Ohad Frankfurt at Social Media Today:
Recently I had the pleasure to spend almost a month in Berlin with my entire team over at Swayy, we wanted to post photos from our trip in a way that will help us tell our story in the form of a photo album, so what we did was create a hashtag: “#SwayyingBerlin” - and add it to each photo we upload. That way our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter followers could see a photo album of our trip once they clicked or searched for that hashtag.
12 September 2013
A Kindle book doesn’t have to be mega-long. 10,000 words is a good length; some books are even shorter.
Writing a book is like creating a series of blog posts around one theme. Each blog post becomes a chapter that builds on the previous chapter.
I can’t tell you that writing your first book is easy, but with some help just about any good content creator can do it. Here are my 7 most useful tips:
- Write for one reader. When you know your ideal reader, you know how much she already knows. You can avoid boring her with obvious information; you can use a dash of the humor she appreciates; and you can provide exactly the information she’s looking for.
- Choose a topic you know well. Having to do research will considerably slow you down.
- Outline your book. I used old-fashioned index cards on which I wrote down the What, Why, and How for each chapter. It helped me stay on track.
- Use a straightforward headline for the title, like 7 Days to Reaching a [Specific Goal]. My book describes a simple 6-step process for writing web copy.
- Write the book’s sales page before you start writing. It helps you remember exactly what benefits you want to deliver to your readers.
- Find a few friendly readers who match your ideal reader profile and give them your first draft. Not only will they help make your book better, it will also boost your confidence.
- Find a writing buddy or a coach. Writing a book can feel scary, terrifying even. Talking to someone who understands will help you overcome fear.