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					     Writing Right for the Web:
Engaging Visitors and Improving Search
Engine Visibility on Traditional Websites

    University of Nebraska - Lincoln
             August 10, 2011



               Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   1
 Today we discuss the optimal
presentation of content on your
    “traditional” website…

Copywriting, basic content
 presentation, and SEO
           Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   2
What we are doing today… 5 steps

 Content… essential to scan quickly
 – Examples of easy-to-scan pages
 Writing like a direct marketer
 Web-friendly online publications
 Displaying content on the page
 Better search engine visibility

                Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   3
Major reason people go to your
          website…


    Complete a task

          Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   4
6 key truths about the Internet…

People are impatient
People are impatient
People are impatient
People are impatient
People are impatient
People are impatient

              Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   5
Major reason people go to your
          website…


     Complete a task

          Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   6
  The Golden Rule…


5 seconds to connect

      Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   7
            Website is…
    A series of online magazines

Admissions, alumni, athletics, friends, donors…
    Content, style, frequency will differ…
        As it does for print magazines

                 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   8
 Web content editor and friends…
  http://www.bobjohnsonblog.com/web-content-editors/


                             Web Content Editor


Editors for audience sections                         Writers for audience sections


        Copy editor                                        Reporting Correspondents


   Production specialists                                    Publication designer


  Editorial advisory board



                             Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC                              9
Not a place for great literature…
            Moby Dick on the web
“Whenever I find myself                     I must go to sea when:
growing grim about the mouth;
whenever it is a damp, drizzly               – I'm depressed or
November in my soul;                           melancholy
whenever I find myself                       – I stop in front of coffin
involuntarily pausing before
coffin warehouses, and                         warehouses
bringing up the rear of every                – I follow funerals
funeral I meet; and especially
whenever my hypos get such                   – I have a powerful urge
an upper hand of me, that it                   to knock people's hats
requires a strong moral                        off
principle to prevent me from                Continue the adventure
deliberately stepping into the
street, and methodically                    here.
knocking people's hats off-
then, I account it high time to              – Thanks to Kathy Henning,
                                               Communications Specialist,
get to sea as soon as I can.”                  Seattle Pacific University

                        Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC                         10
           Step 1…
  Web readers are scan readers
If people can’t scan your pages, people won’t
            read your content…
       Eliminate dense blocks of text…
Change big paragraphs to small paragraphs,
        add subheads & bullet points

                Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   11
Not so engaging on this page…
    http://www.cofc.edu/about/index.php




              Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   12
No unbroken text blocks here…
   http://www.cofc.edu/academics/index.php




               Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   13
Too much content here…
 http://www.suny.edu/sunynews/




         Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   14
New, improved version…
 http://www.suny.edu/sunynews/




         Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   15
Easy to scan blog-style news stories…
           http://www.tamus.edu/




               Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   16
Easy to scan annual giving report…
  https://apps.carleton.edu/giving/report/2010/




                 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC      17
Easy to scan for brand message…
 http://www.smith.edu/about_whyissmith.php




               Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   18
Easy to scan for top tasks…




         Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   19
Web readers scan for “care” words…

Words that get attention & engage the visitor…
 Write from the viewpoint of your audience…
 What are the “Carewords” that get attention?


                Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   20
Carewords for Exec MBA prospects
        UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

 Words people cared                   Words that didn’t rank
 about…Top 25%                        high…Low 25%
 – Advance your career                 – Accessible faculty
 – Balancing work, home,               – Experience of faculty
   and school                          – Corporate sponsorship
 – Career advancement                  – Shaping leaders
 – Cost                                – Class diversity
 – Best school possible                  (industry or
 – Prestigious, well-                    experience)
   recognized degree                   – Format of program

                  Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC                21
   Carewords shape top content…
http://www.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/programs/emba/index.cfm




                     Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC      22
Heading meets link expectations…
                   http://www.kenan-
 flagler.unc.edu/programs/emba/advance/balance.cfm




                  Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC        23
              Step 2…
Write like a direct marketer on your
               website
                Brief…
                Clear…
       Compelling and Persuasive

             Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   24
Avoid old-style marketing copy…
“Rolls-Royce has an                  “At 60 miles an hour
obsession with quality               the loudest noise in
appreciated by                       this new Rolls-Royce
discerning customers”                comes from the
– Rolls-Royce campaign               electric clock”
  before David Ogilvy                 – Rolls-Royce campaign
                                        after David Ogilvy
Sounds like…                         Sounds like…
– “Committed to                       – The real world
  academic excellence”                – Must be true

                 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC                25
Can’t make claims like this anymore…
         (Names changed to protect the guilty)

  “For more than 60 years, XYZ University has
  maintained a prestigious reputation for the
  quality of its engineering program. Today, the
  WXYZ University engineering degree remains
  the “gold standard” of excellence in engineering
  education. Students graduating with our degree
  will enter the marketplace armed with skills that
  are backed by the XYZ University heritage of
  unmatched quality in the academic preparation
  of engineering professionals.”

                    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC       26
Direct marketing style helps people
              scan…
 Short sentences… 5 to 10 words
 Short paragraphs… 50 words or less
 – One sentence paragraph is OK
 Sub-heads…
 – Active words, not labels
 – Flow from the primary page heading
 Bullet points
                 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   27
Direct marketing style helps people
            connect…
 Newspaper copy words…
 – “walk”… not “ambulate”
 – “confuse”… not “discombobulate”
 – “beat around the bush”… not “prevaricate”
 – “view”… not “purview”
 Personal language style
 – “You” and “your” are great web writing words
 Visible prompts to take an action
                 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC      28
Marketing style that works…
   http://www.wm.edu/about/index.php




            Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   29
      High visibility action steps…
http://www.waldenu.edu/Tuition-and-Financial-Aid.htm




                   Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   30
Repeat the call to action…
    http://www.mbaregis.com/




          Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   31
          Words increase action…
http://dustincurtis.com/you_should_follow_me_on_twitter.html

                                          I'm on Twitter… 4.7%
                                          Follow me on
                                          Twitter... 7.31%
                                          You should follow me
                                          on Twitter... 10.09%
                                          You should follow me
                                          on Twitter here...
                                          12.81%
                      Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC            32
The web is an informal place, so make
  things as personal as possible…

            The “you” word is fine…
  Include a name for phone & email contact…
  Use a name at the end of an auto response


                Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   33
“You”-friendly transfer credit page…
   http://degreecompletion.stedwards.edu/x157.xml

                                      Write like this…
                                       – “Request a transcript
                                         from each college
                                         you’ve attended.”
                                      16 times…
                                       – Use of “you” or “your”
                                         on this page
                                      Abolish…
                                       – “The student must…”
                                         language


                  Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC                     34
              Step 3…
Major print publications as PDFs or
“flip tech” challenge natural law…

   If you can read the text, you can’t see the
                    photos
If you can see the photos, you can’t read the
                      text

                Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   35
The “Big Three” mistakes…


     Alumni magazines…
       Annual reports…
    Admissions viewbooks

        Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   36
The PDF format doesn’t work well…




            Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   37
An example of getting it right…
    http://magazine.uchicago.edu/




            Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   38
       Every university can do it…
http://alfredmagazine.alfred.edu/... http://magazine.biola.edu/




                      Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC          39
   Resist calls to “flip” technology…
http://issuu.com/umson/docs/university_of_maryland_nursing




                     Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC        40
          Step 4…
Putting content on the page

           Contrast…
      Font type and size…
            Scrolling
              Links

         Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   41
    Special attention to the first
    sentence in a paragraph…

    The first sentence can stand alone…
Craft the first sentence to capture attention…
      One sentence paragraph is OK…
    Keep paragraphs to 50 words or less

                Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   42
Strong first sentence stands out…
  http://clas.uiowa.edu/students/handbook/restart



                                      “ReStart is the
                                      academic forgiveness
                                      policy of the College
                                      of Liberal Arts and
                                      Sciences.”




                  Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC          43
Black text on white still works best…


Black text on white (or very light) background is
                    best…
     Avoid low contrast between text and
 background whatever the color combination
                 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   44
          Serif or sans serif?


   Sans serif is easier to read quickly…
Verdana, Arial, Calibri are popular sans serif
                   fonts


                Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   45
                 Font size?


10 point or 12 point… Don’t make people squint
 Fonts are different at same sizes… (Verdana)
      Fonts are different at same sizes (Arial)
       Fonts are different at same sizes (Calibri)


                  Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   46
Or let readers pick their font size…
  http://www4.esu.edu/admissions/index.cfm




                Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   47
           Scroll or don’t scroll?
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/scrolling-attention.html



OK to scroll when content of continuing interest
                is unfolding…
 When topics change, might be time for a new
                     page

                    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC     48
       Writing links that work…
                 http://bit.ly/2dxRHt

Place the link at the point of action…
– Often at the end of a paragraph
– Sometimes at an item within the paragraph itself
Make the link obvious…
– Underline the link like this
– Use blue as the color
Make sure link expectations are met
– A list of academic majors
– Not text about the majors

                   Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   49
After content block, call to action link…
      http://www.susqu.edu/admissions/default.asp




                    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC     50
Easy to scan links within a paragraph…
         http://www.usfca.edu/about/why/




                 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   51
             Step 5…
Writing for search engine visibility

 The most important element is relevant
   content that people want to find…
 “Organic search”… fix your website first


              Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   52
Important Google change in 2011…
 “Panda” raised the value of web content
 editors everywhere…
 For example…
 – “Removing low quality pages, merging or
   improving the content of individual shallow
   pages into more useful pages, or moving low
   quality pages to a different domain could
   eventually help the rankings of your higher-
   quality content.” (http://bit.ly/k2uUZX)

                 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC      53
23 “high quality” questions to ask…
           http://bit.ly/k2uUZX




             Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   54
   Especially for web editors…
“Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or
factual errors?”
“Was the article edited well, or does it appear
sloppy or hastily produced?”
“Does this article provide a complete or
comprehensive description of the topic?”
“Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or
otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?”
“Would users complain when they see pages
from this site?”
                 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC      55
Key metrics for “quality” content…
SEO specialists are watching two
measures of “quality” content…
 – Time spent on website pages by individual
   visitors
 – Number of pages visited on a site
Recommendation for high education sites:
 – Check & compare “bounce rate” from entry
   page to academic program content


                Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC    56
Find the “Top Landing Pages”…




          Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   57
   4 simple steps to success…
“Eternal” SEO success points:
– Good title tags on your pages
– Good body copy
– Great content
– No barriers on your website to block the
  search
    No broken links
    Links lead to the expected content
     – Danny Sullivan, editor, SearchEngineLand.com


                  Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC         58
 Write for the person visiting the site,
      not for search engines…

  Use keyword words that real people use…
Add content carewords that people want to read



                Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   59
        Don’t “stuff” keywords…


The page title and description, primary headline,
      one subhead, twice in the text…
  More and the page won’t seem well written


                  Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   60
             Tips for success…
                  http://bit.ly/ayzqPH

Title tag:
– 8 to 10 words – 50 to 80 characters
– Main key word at or close to the start
Different title tag on every page
– If not, Google may think content is the same
Meta tag:
– Write for the person visiting the page, not for search
Primary heading (H1)… one per page
– Write a “carewords” headline for the visitor first
– Then try to work in a primary keyword
                    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC            61
Try this to help with keywords…
  http://freekeywords.wordtracker.com/
                                 Check these results:
                                  – Distance Learning
                                       5,630
                                  – Online degrees
                                       2,471
                                  – Online accredited
                                    degrees
                                       1,404
                                  – Online college
                                    degrees
                                       1,097

             Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC                62
Results for “Online MBA degree”…




           Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   63
  An “Online MBA program”…
http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/iMBA.shtml
                                  Title tag
                                   – “Penn State – Online
                                     MBA degree program”
                                  Page heading
                                   – “Penn State’s Online
                                     MBA”
                                  First sub-head
                                   – “The Penn State iMBA”
                                  First sentence
                                   – “Penn State’s online
                                     MBA degre…”

              Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC                   64
Change headlines on press releases…
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4879230.stm

                                       Print version
                                        – “Tulsa star: The life and
                                          career of a much-loved
                                          1960s singer.”
                                       Website version…
                                        – "Obituary: Gene Pitney.“
                                                 Steve Lohr, "This Boring
                                                 Headline is Written for
                                                 Google," The NY Times


                   Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC                         65
Keywords with Google…
    http://bit.ly/dAdAD4




       Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   66
             In summary…
             5 second scan rule…
        Write in direct marketing style…
        Use words people care about…
      Limit PDFs and “flip” technology…
Write for people… search engines will find you


                Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   67
The Yahoo! Style Guide…
  http://styleguide.yahoo.com/writing




           Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   68
Highlighting the “Carewords” path…
 http://www.gerrymcgovern.com/nt/class/web-writing.htm




                    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC          69
    “Writing Right” on my blog…
http://www.bobjohnsonblog.com/writing-right-for-the-web/




                    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC        70
 Usability test results…
http://www.useit.com/papers/webwriting/




            Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   71
Books to keep moving forward…




          Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC   72
                  Thank You!

                Bob Johnson, Ph.D.
                           President
                Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
                     226 Chauncey Court
                      Marshall, MI 49068
                        248.766.6425
                 bob@bobjohnsonconsulting.com
Customer Carewords Research for Online Marketing Success:
    http://www.bobjohnsonconsulting.com/customercarewords.html

                        Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC              73

				
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