Whether you own a business blog or you’re a ghost blogger doing the dirty deed for a paying customer, odds are you have found yourself sitting in front of your computer thinking, “How in the hell am I going to write another post about [insert your relevant keyword here]?!”
Let’s face it, sometimes the well just runs dry. And since the majority of my business is blogging in the name of other people — as you might imagine — I’ve hit this wall often.
So what can you do to keep going? If it’s your blog, you can’t just walk away, as much as you might feel like it. The benefits of regular blogging are just too many.
And if you’re a ghost blogger, you can’t just email your client and say, “Sorry, Bub, I can’t think of anything to write about.” That’s what they’re paying you for.
So how do you write about the same phrases over and over and over and over without getting completely stale — much less not getting dinged for duplicate content? There’s no easy answer. BUT, I do have a few pointers that come directly from personal experience.
First things first. There comes a time when sitting at your computer becomes counterproductive. You know, when you sit and stare until your eyes feel as if they’re bleeding. Let’s be frank — at this point all you’re doing is wasting time. And time is money and all that jazz…
Do yourself a favor, close that laptop and do something else. It could be business related. Or better yet, take the rest of the day off. After all, we small business owners don’t get many of those, right? Even our days off are usually filled with…well, writing.
Give your brain a little time to relax. I know it seems simple enough, but how hard is this to do? Extremely. In fact, even on my supposed days off, I have trouble not sitting and staring at the TV while my brain is thinking up blog post ideas.
So perhaps the whole walk away idea isn’t the best, but it can’t hurt. Maybe take it up a notch and go take a yoga class. You know, quiet your mind and stuff.
I know exactly what you’re thinking right now. You’re thinking, “Hey Chris, thanks for nothing.” Because the advice I’ve given so far really doesn’t solve anything. Sure it may offer temporary relief, but it only does so by circumventing the problem.
And you’re right, sort of. Yes, even if you take the day off, you’re still going to be sitting at your computer the following day trying to think up an idea for your next business blog posting. But I’d argue that you’d be doing it with a clearer head.
Either way, you still need a way to generate some new ideas. Bear with me, I’m working on it. Here’s what I’m going to do. I want to take a look at a company I provide ghost business blogging for. Names and keywords will be changed in order to protect the innocent, so to speak.
I’m going to give you their primary keywords, and them I’m going to list out some of the titles I have used for their blogs. Look closely and let’s see what I’ve done. Ready?
My Mini Business Blogging Case Study
Let’s call the company “Texas Roof Repair.” Their primary keywords are:
Roof repair contractors
The rules: One of the keywords has to appear in each blog title.
Not a whole lot to work with, right? All the keywords are practically identical. Yet I have created well over 100 blog posts for them based on the keywords. Let’s take a look at the titles of some of them:
4 Roof Repair Myths Exposed—Ah the old “myths about your keyword” article. I promise you—you can find myths about your keywords easily enough. Just look at the facts about your service or product and twist it into how someone could misunderstand it.
How Do Different Roof Repair Methods Work?—Pick a few of the services you offer and explain them. Nice and straight forward. Although, I wouldn’t use ALL of them in one post. Save some for later.
5 Reasons You May Need to Call a Roof Repair Contractor—There’s always a reason to acquire a product or service. Get creative and you can come up with 100 of them. Divide that by 5 and you have 20 posts.
Roof Repair to Prevent Mold Growth—Hone in on one benefit of your product and explain it in detail. I look at this almost as ad copy. Although, technically I view all business blogging as a form of ad copy.
Why You Should Hire a Professional for Roof Repair—If your business offers a service, you can always benefit from explaining why someone should hire you or another professional to perform the function instead of doing it themselves. Think about it: if you’re a financial advisor, people can benefit from hiring you instead of losing their money investing themselves. If you’re a plumber, people can benefit from hiring you do a job in 20 minutes that will not only take them 4 hours, but also be really freaking disgusting.
Roof Repair—It’s Not Something to Take Lightly—This is one of those “oh if you don’t purchase this then DOOM AND GLOOM” sorts. Hey, it works for some people.
How to Determine if a Roof Repair Contractor is Legitimate or Not—You can write this one a million different ways. But bottom line, you’re explaining how to find a good service provider by highlighting all the things you do right.
Need a Reason to Get Roof Repair? Here’s a Great One—Again, focus on one reason rather than many.
What Happens if You Don’t Get Roof Repair?—Spin it on them. Instead of saying why they need your service or product, explain to them what happens if they don’t purchase it. Go worst case scenario here.
An In Depth Analysis of Roofing Repairs—This is another way to describe all the methods and facets of your service. Except this one is written more like an official report.
Pros and Cons of Roof Repairs—Don’t be afraid to admit some of the downsides to your service. However, turn them into positives along the way with the Pros. Example:
Con: It costs more to hire a professional.
Pro: It keeps you from having to take a day off to try and fix it yourself.
The Truth about Roofing Repair—Similar to the Myths one. Kind of an exposé sort of deal. I have fun with these types.
Signs That Should Leave You Searching for Roof Repairs—Again, why might someone need your product or service?
What Roofing Repair Contractors Can Offer You—Highlight the benefits that result from having a professional do the job for you.
Let’s Stop There
Look, I could go on all day. There are 14 of like a million. But the bottom line is this: there’s always another way to look at a topic. You just have to get creative and approach it from a different angle. Do you ever touch on an idea you explained before? Of course you do. It happens all the time. You just try to add a little something different each time. And space out similar ideas so that they aren’t still fresh on readers’ minds.
Still stuck? Take one of my ideas, mix it up again and insert your keywords. It will work!
But what about when you exhaust all the ideas I presented in my mini case study? Good question. Remember how I said I have a million more title ideas but I don’t have time or space to put them all here? Follow me on Twitter (Chris_HELP) and once this post goes live I’ll start tweeting out new versions of titles for the same keywords.
Hope that helps and I look forward to hearing from you guys!
Do you ever wonder why some traffic makes you money and other traffic doesn’t? The answer is so obvious that it’s a proverb: Not all traffic is created equal.
Let’s take that old saying apart to see if it can deliver a return on investment for you. Let’s look into why some traffic makes money and everything else is a waste of server resources.
By the end of this brief guide you will know how to tease short- and long-term sales prospects out of your traffic reports. You’ll have a better idea of what your prime visitors are thinking, a better shot at converting them, a better map for finding more visitors just like them.
Understand The Searcher’s Needs
It’s no wonder that referral traffic from a celebrity site doesn’t want to fill out an auto-loan application. Similarly, I’m not surprised that someone searching “buy pink sandals” spends money on pink sandals.
It’s often easy to forget that there is actually a person sitting on the other side of the screen as you look at your analytics. When you’re thumbing through your keywords, take a deep dive into what that person wants to accomplish.
I know that sometimes search queries can be incoherent (take, for example, “apple mesh cats”) but what the person needs is often pretty clear. If you dig through your keywords you’ll probably find that most of them have some sort of consumer intent attached to them.
Two Key Types of Consumer Intent
Consumer intent can be the backbone of conversion. If you look at the big picture, people searching online are trying to do one of two things.
They either want to be entertained or they want to solve a current or future problem. Sure there are outliers, but these are the main two.
So, if our goal is to increase sales, we want to take a good look at problem-solvers because they’re the ones spending money.
Those Solving Current Problems
In your keyword report, find words that point to different stages of awareness of a problem. Now, awareness is a whole different topic, but suffice it to say that people searching for “buy” or “review” are very likely to be spending money in the near future.
These visitors have a current problem, understand the problem and are ready to solve it.
Get these people to your sales page in the fewest possible steps. Identify where they’re coming from, and find keywords with similar intent.
Then there are those who are just researching a product, service or industry, and they come from all over the place. They may come in with on your branded keywords or from long-tail terms. They’re the ones you want to cultivate as future buyers.
These people aren’t ready to commit, so an order page is not relevant to them. Ideally, you want to drive these visitors to a page that educates them about their problem and, incidentally, which shows them how your product solves said problem.
If you’re smart, you will persuade the researchers to accept a special offer in return for their E-mail address. That’s how you get a more captive audience, one that you can further educate about the problem and your solution.
Don’t Overlook Consumer Intent
Sure, consumer intent sounds like commonsense. It is. That’s why even seasoned pros need to be reminded not to take it for granted. Forget the audience, forget the business.
Nothing converts better than an intimate knowledge of your audience’s motivation. The traffic you understand is far more valuable than any other traffic. Look at your keywords. Learn from them what your potential buyers need at this instant. Educate researchers, and close with buyers.
Like you, I've invested a lot of money in my education. And the investment has paid itself many times.
However, it's also cost me money. Why? Because I've found the 'gurus' don't always teach what works. Or they reveal only a fraction of how to apply a strategy. So I made a commitment that I'd never assume anything, ever again. I'd test the idea for myself…and then let the results speak on their own merit.
The up-sell mistake that cost McDonald's millions
As you may know, up-selling is a quick, easy and free way to bump your average dollar sale by between 15% to 25%. McDonald's added hundreds of millions in profit by asking customers “Would you like fries with that?” However, they cost themselves way more in lost sales—and you are too if you're making this critical up-sell mistake. That's because asking an up-sell question is only half the formula. The other half is how you ask it.
Instead of McDonald's staff asking their famous question, they'd have made more money asking “Fries with that?”…and raising the pitch of their voice towards the end. Why? Because this keeps the customer in right brain, emotional buying mode. By asking “Would you like fries with that?” the customer enters left brain analysing mode, and is more likely to say “no.”
3 magic words that double sales
Did you know you can double sales by greeting customers with three magic words? It's true. Say to people “I trust you are well today” and, on average, 16% purchase. Ask customers “How are you?” and 33% purchase on average. That's over double the sales!
Why does this work? Commitment and consistency. If we state that we're feeling good, and have committed to that, there's less excuse to say “no” to a request. That's why you must make your customers feel good.
Write clearer, sharper sales copy instantly
As you may know, the copywriting experts tell you to “write as you speak.” So your sales copy is conversational, and it flows. But if you're not experienced, it's tough to write as you speak because it's not how you were taught in school.
Here's a better way: use the 'follow the thread' trick. What's the 'follow the thread' trick? I just used it! Can you see what I did? If not, here it is again: the secret to writing better, clearer copy is to pick up a keyword from the last sentence and carry it through to the next. By picking up the keyword and carrying it through, readers can follow what you're saying.
The truth behind goal setting
Ever set goals? Sure you have. So you know that writing down your goals is extremely important. And you know that almost every self help guru says to write down your goal. But have they ever told you why? If your experience is like mine, you've been told, “writing it down makes it appear real to your mind”…or “it commands the Universe to give what you ask for,” and so on.
I don't like answers like that. So I went out and researched the truth for myself. Writing down goals works because it stimulates your brain's electrical charges to fire 420% faster. The secret lies in the reticular activating system (RAS).
The RAS is why you buy a new car… and then see other people driving the same model wherever you go. The RAS is also the mechanism that lets you spot new money making opportunities… leverage business relationships in new ways…and create new ideas to grow your business. Activation of the RAS requires high states of brain activity… and writing the goal induces these higher states. This is why you can't just imagine your goal in your mind. You need to write it down, over and over again. Doing so makes your brain go into overdrive and seek out ways to make it reality.
The following is a guest post written by Tim Gray, a content strategist for Blue Fountain Media.
One of the greatest joys of running a business online is the ability to measure results. Yet the very metrics that are supposed to help define the success or failure of your Web efforts are often poorly understood.
The most famous part of Google’s ranking algorithm, PageRank, has been confusing website owners for years. By itself it can’t do very much. But it can be useful if you understand how it works and recognize its many limitations.
However, even Google suggests you’re better off not focusing on it too much. Here are five reasons why (below I’ll tell you what you should focus on instead):
1. A high PageRank does not mean your website will rank high in Google’s search results. That’s because PageRank, which lists scores ranging from zero to 10 and can be viewed when you download it as part of the Google Toolbar, is only one of 200 factors that determine your ranking. Pouring time and money into trying to change this number won’t tell you how your website is performing, and higher scores often lead businesses into a false sense of complacency. It’s an easy metric to focus on, but that doesn’t mean it’s useful for you as a site owner. PageRank is based primarily on quality and quantity of the number of outside Web pages that link to your site, and over the years Google has adjusted the importance of the metric by improving the overall system.
2. A higher PageRank will not increase traffic to your site. PageRank has nothing to do with traffic. Consider that 94.75% of all search result clicks occur on the first page of Google, and that websites experience a 143% increase in traffic when going from spot #11 (page two) to #10 (page one). Simply put, if PageRank can’t move you up the ranking ladder to the first page, it’s not going to increase traffic either. A more valuable approach is to optimize your website for keywords that are valuable to your business.
3. Google only updates PageRank a few times a year. The same business owners expending great effort expecting immediate PageRank results, often fall into the trap of adjusting and tweaking their efforts when they don’t see any movement on their PageRank. What they don’t realize is Google doesn’t change these numbers often. In fact, in 2010 the company went a full nine months before adjusting PageRank. In the end, it’s another time-suck that leads you further away from your true goals.
4. Your publicly available PageRank figure is not the same number Google’s algorithm uses for ranking. The real number is a secret. Google uses a completely different, nonpublic database, whose values (fractional numbers rather than a zero to 10 scale) are updated continuously. Now, you must be wondering why anyone ever thought PageRank was meaningful and manageable in the first place.
5. Focusing on your PageRank will distract you from the metrics that really matter. Why bother with a metric that is at best three steps removed from your actual goals, when you could instead directly measure (on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis) the results you hope to achieve?
Instead of focusing on moving your PageRank from 4 to 7, try using these metrics to increase your chances of online success:
Conversion rate: Use Google Analytics to measure your conversion rate (percentage of unique visitors who complete a “goal” such as a purchase or submission of a Web form). As a result, you’ll gain a better understanding of how many visitors are coming to your site, and then taking the next step to interact with your business.
Bounce rate: This is the percentage of visitors who leave your site without clicking any links. Google Analytics can track this, too, so you can figure out where on your site this happens the most and why.
Click-through rate (CTR): The higher the CTR the better your pages are performing. A low CTR means that no matter how well your site is ranking, users aren’t clicking through to it. This may indicate that they don’t think your site will meet their needs, or that some other site looks like a better option. One way to improve your CTR is to look at your site’s titles and snippets in Google’s search results: Make sure they accurately represent the content of each URL and determine if they give searchers a reason to click on them.
Another way to boost CTR is to use A/B split testing. Choose two different versions of the same webpage and split the available traffic evenly between them. Study the different types of activity that occurs on each page to determine which is more effective in helping meet your goals. For example, if visitors to page A perform a desired action more often than visitors to Page B, than you know which design is more effective.