August 21, 2014

Creating Win-Win Content: A Two-Part Guide to a Flawless Content Strategy

Part one: Pleasing the Google Search Gods

It seems like the internet provides an endless supply of information on how to write content to help you reach more people. It can be overwhelming and time-consuming. How are you supposed to figure out what’s important and what’s not? In the end, there’s only two components that you should be focused on when creating content.

The first thing is conquering keywords. And that’s what this first post is about.

The algorithms Google uses to index websites and determine their authority on the web can be used in your favor. In this two-part post, I’ll explain all the basics you need to know to maximize your reach on the internet.

Get inside the head of your ideal customer.

What are they searching for?

identifyingkeywordsWell to find the answer to that, you have to ask a different question.

What questions are they looking to answer when they’re searching in Google?

If you’re a pediatric doctor in Timbuktu, it’s pretty reasonable to assume that “Pediatricians in Timbuktu” is a good start. That example translates perfectly for any business. Yes, it’s that simple.

So what questions do you think your prospects will ask Google, to which you are the best answer? Share in the comments below, to help yourself and others!

Still not sure where to start? Switch up your perspective. Next time you look to the internet for something, watch the way you behave as a customer searching for an answer. When you stop thinking like a marketer and start thinking like a customer, you’ll be able to more clearly predict your prospect’s searches, and therefore, find the right keywords.

Create a list of all best keywords and phrases.

Now we know that customer’s searches are simply their questions. Using keywords is how successful companies anticipate them!

To determine what keywords work best, you can use a keyword research tool. Google has Adwords, that despite rumors of it disappearing remains widely used. There are also paid options such as Wordtracker.

Tools like these allow you to enter in a group of keywords and see how much search traffic they get. From there, create a list of the ones with the highest search volume, but the lowest competition. Viola!

You can then use those keywords to search in Google for their top matches. Type one into Google, and look at the first few pages. You can see how many times the specific keyword is used on the page, so you know how many times to include it. This will also give you a good idea of whether or not you’ve found truly relevant keywords. If you type in a keyword and it comes up with sites offering something entirely different, you know you need to change direction.

Tip: Google provides suggestions in the search bar based on what you’ve typed so far, and what shows up are the most popular searches. Not only can you use these to strengthen your keywords, but you can get valuable insights and ideas to write content around!

If there are no strong keywords that speak to a post topic that you think will be helpful for your readers, keep it! You may not get organic search traffic, but they’ll be good for sharing on social media.

Optimize for those keywords, by placing them neatly and strategically around your site.

Let me start by saying, keywords must be placed around the site in good taste. “Keyword stuffing” is not only frowned upon by Google, who will “punish” you by ranking your site lower, but if you do it at the expense of a grammatically correct sentence, most people will think your site looks sloppy and leave. It’s just not a good idea.

keywordresearchfilterUse metadata and schema.

  • Metadata tells search engines what the page is about. This is where you need to put your keywords. If you’re using WordPress, we recommend using All in One SEO Pack.
  • Schema was rolled out in August by Google, and it’s designed to make your content more SEO friendly. It’s a great update, because Bing and Yahoo have agreed to use it as well! And I know if you’re like me, somewhere you wondered in the back of your mind if you should be optimizing for those search engines too. Now you can put your mind to rest!

Here’s a guide to All in One SEO Pack:

1: Title Section

  • This section is just as important as the headline. It is the keyword-rich title that shows up for your page in search results.
  • Has to be less than 70 characters.
  • We suggest adding your biggest keyword here, where it’s most important.

2: Description

  • This is what appears on search engine results pages (SERPS) under the title.
  • Has to be less than 160 characters.
  • We recommend adding two or three keywords or phrases to this section that are consistent with the title.

3: Keywords

  • Whatever keywords you specifically used on that page, enter them here.
  • With the recent update to Google’s algorithms, they probably don’t put too much weight on these anymore, but fill in the form anyway. It’s never a bad idea.

Optimizing the headline and body


  • This draws readers in when they get to your site and begin to read. You can add one or two keywords/phrases for consistency.
  • You want it to be a slightly shorter, reader-friendly version of the search engine friendly title and description.
  • Make sure to use the same few keywords throughout to get the best results!

Body of post (500-700 words)

  • Under 500 words Google doesn’t pay much attention, so make sure your posts are always longer, but not longer than…
  • 700 words, or you may have too much information to keep your reader’s attention.

But there are exceptions!

For example, I average around 1500 words per post. But, I’m going into great depth and detail creating how-to action guides. For this post, I decided to split it into two parts to make sure I add in enough detail for my readers, but that it isn’t so long that it creates information overload.

  • For posts 700-2,000 words, break up into parts or pages, and
  • For posts 2,000-5,000 words Google is now looking at in depth content, and taking this into account when determining authority.

With these changes, older articles don’t get moved to a deeper search result page with time. As long as they are in depth and still relevant, or “evergreen”, they will keep their rank. We’ll get into this more in part two.

Just remember…working with Google is like working with a client or customer – with specific needs and processes – you’re on the same team. Work together for ultimate success.

journalSo, get started today! Your action steps:

  1. Make sure your site’s architecture is going to support your content.
  2. Use WordTracker or AdWords to determine the best keywords for your site.
  3. Optimize for them, and watch the results in analytics! You can always adjust your keywords later.


Think Email Marketing is Dead? Then You Better Resurrect it Fast!

With so many ways to reach potential clients on the internet, it’s difficult to figure out the most effective and efficient way to reach them. How do you get through the noise? Blogs, Social Media and all forms of content marketing are efficient at building your relationship with potential clients. So how do you not only stay top of mind but deepen the relationship to convert them to buyers?

Email Marketing

Email-MarketingSocial Media has not eliminated the need for email marketing. It has increased it.

3 Reasons to Consider Email Marketing

1. It is cost-effective. Email services such as Aweber and MailChimp make managing your campaigns easy and fast and you can start for less than $20.00 per month. Using a quality service also helps your emails get delivered. That’s not to say that they won’t end up in some of your readers SPAM folders but you have a better chance of getting through with a professional email service provider.

2. With strong, quality content, email is more powerful than Social Media. People are allowing you into their inbox which makes it much more personal. Email allows you to deepen your relationship with the people in your audience.

3. Email readers are more responsive because they have a tighter connection with you…so they buy more stuff.

“Your email marketing campaigns should be a part of a holistic approach to educate your contacts.”


Your Getting Started Action Plan

email subscribersGet subscribers – obviously the first thing you need, right? Here’s how you grow your email list:

  1. Don’t hide your subscribe (opt-in) box. Put it front and center. A great example is Derek Halpern at Have it in your blog sidebar, your about page, your contact page, and at the end of every blog post. Include a “learn more” link that goes to a separate landing page . On this page give them more information about what they can expect as well as details of your privacy policy. Be sure to have the opt-in form here, too.
  2. Offer an incentive to sign up. Thanks to spammers, people are not always willing to give you their email address. You newsletter might be free but people are still paying with their email address. So give them a high value incentive. Offer them a quality free report or eCourse when they opt-in.
  3. Ask your followers to sign up. Periodically post links to your opt-in page in social media. At the end of your blog posts include an opt-in form and invite readers to fill it out. Keep your eyes open, where else could you invite people to opt-in?
  4. If you have people you know will want to subscribe, you can add them to your email service. Create a message that will be sent with the opt-in message that explains what you are doing and asks their permission to add them to your list. Be sure to include the wonderful benefits they will receive such as never missing your pearls of wisdom and updates to the free eCourse you have created for them. Don’t sell in this message. Provide lots of value.
  5. Follow the setup guides provided by your email service. Be sure to personalize your messages wherever possible. For example, once someone opts in to receive your newsletter they generally receive a confirmation email. Add a special welcome message and let them know where they can find all the goodies your site has to offer.
  6. Be sure your unsubscribe process is super easy. If you are using a quality email service then they will provide this at the end of each email (as required by the CAN-SPAM act). This is about more than just letting people opt-out. It’s shows your professionalism and your commitment to serving them.
  7. And last but definitely not least – Whatever you do, do not send email from your email client, i.e. Outlook or Gmail. Even if you use the bcc feature (blind carbon copy) you will still look unprofessional. Not to mention cheap. Also, be sure your from email is a person’s name and not “no-reply”. I don’t recommend info@ either. People respond to people.

What to do when your list is closer to 1 than 10,000.

user friendlyWhen you first start your list will have 2 people on it. You and your Mom. Don’t worry, it will grow, just follow the suggestions above. While you’re working your way to 10,000 readers and the Blogging Rockstar Hall of Fame treat your readers as if you only have eyes for them. As if they are your best client. Your best friend. A new lover.

Well, maybe not a new lover but I think you get the point. Focus on the connection with your subscriber and give them value. Give them quality content and you will get more subscriber action. Share information they need in a way they can hear it. Don’t lecture. Inform. Share a cartoon, share event photos, showcase your products – tantalize your subscriber’s taste buds.

How do you get subscribers to read your stuff?

reading emailOne of the biggest challenges for email marketers is getting people to open, and read, the email. Yes, they opted in because they want your stuff. Yes, it’s going right into their inbox. With tons of other stuff clamoring for their attention. Here are some ideas to make sure your emails are the ones they open:

  • Provide a quality ezine – good information and visually engaging. Do this right and they will not only read your emails, they’ll be waiting for them.
  • Provide news and updates that really matter to them. Can you scoop other services with news your readers really need to know? Can you get information to them in a timely fashion so they can take action ahead of their competition? What can you send them to make you invaluable to them?
  • Provide and upgrade notices so they have the up-to-the-minute information they need.
  • Send them something they will reply to. Ask them for feedback or to fill out a survey. Surveys are great but I find I often get more response if I let them take the lead. Try both and see what your readers prefer.
  • And don’t forget to sell stuff. I know “sell” is a dirty word but you know what happens if you don’t do it. Yep, no sales, no business. Bad stuff happens. You have something of value that your readers need. So tell ‘em about it! But don’t expect them to just buy it. Human nature doesn’t work that way. Make the buying process easy and intuitive.

Writing Your Email

keyboard1. Have a cup of coffee or maybe a beer with your reader.

Write your email in a conversational tone. Think about what makes you want to talk to someone. Don’t be too informal but you aren’t writing an old fashioned business letter, either. People want to feel like they’re having a cup of coffee with their friends. If your audience is predominantly male, maybe picture yourself having a beer with them.

Give your readers a reason to reply. I touched on this before but it bears repeating. Get them to take an action. Ask them their opinion or if there is anything they need. Remember, you want them to feel like this email was sent to them and only them.

2. Your Subject Line

Make sure your subject line is well thought out and straightforward. This is really a headline, so treat it like one.

Don’t let “free” take your email to the spam folder. There is some evidence that email clients no longer automatically mark these emails as spam but it’s not conclusive. Better to be safe than sorry, as Mom used to say!

3. Your Message

Use a brief, personal greeting.

Lead off the body of your email with killer headline copy or a lead in sentence. Use a mini-version of your complete message in the 1st paragraph and then expand in the following paragraphs.

Be sure to close with a call to action. Let your reader know what to do next. How do they put your ideas into action? How do they get more information? How do they buy your product or sign up for your training?

Use a signature just like you would on any email. People want to read stuff from other people, not businesses. Don’t assume people know who the message is from.

Monitor and Measure

blue-business-graphOnce you’ve laid the foundation of your email marketing system, you need to monitor the results and measure the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Your email service provider should provide a reporting system. Here are the metrics I recommend you watch:

  • Bounce rate
  • Delivery rate
  • List growth rate
  • Click through rate
  • Email sharing
  • Conversion rate
  • Revenue per email sent – if appropriate
  • Open rate
  • Unsubscribe rate

Now get going!

Take ActionYou have all the basics you need in this article. Use it as a blueprint. But once you’ve finished it, you won’t really be finished. Sorry. There’s always more to learn, especially since technology is ever changing. You will learn more about email marketing and perfect your skills as you go. So if you are waiting until you learn everything there is to know about email marketing before you get started, well you’ll never get started, will you? It’s time to dive in. You can do it! And you’ll find the rewards well worth the effort.

Speaking of Action - About now, you’re probably thinking, “Hey, this sounds really great! If I only had the time.” Or you might be thinking, “Terrific, marketing stuff that keeps me from doing the stuff I really want to do.” If that’s you, then check out my Email Marketing Services

How are you using email marketing? And if you aren’t, why not? 

And don’t forget…

you can opt-in to receive my goodies here:

Please don’t worry – I promise I will never sell, give away, fold, spindle or mutilate your information!



P.S. You can read more articles in my Need to Know Series here.

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Product Launch Support Services from Sandra Pearson at eProVA

ePro Virtual Assistance announced their successful completion of the Product Launch Support Specialist Certification at VAClassroom.

Sandra Pearson, founder of ePro Virtual Assistance, announced that they have successfully completed the one-of-a-kind VAClassroom Product Launch Support Specialist Course designed to equip Virtual Assistants and Online Professionals with the skills to launch all types of products on the web.

It is no secret that the world has been going through tough economic times over the last few years in what has been called the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. At the same time, entrepreneurship has grown, and new and existing businesses have started launching all types of digital products online. As Social Media gains more and more prominence, entrepreneurs have discovered the value of building a following and are now seeing the Internet as the easiest, most cost-effective and robust channel for their product launches. The challenge is that there are so many important aspects to successfully launching a product online, and many businesses fail because they do not have a workable system for facilitating their product launches. Consequently there is a desperate need for a “product launch support specialist” to help manage a business’s pre-launch, launch and post-launch activities. That is why ePro Virtual Assistance is excited to be adding Product Launch Support skills to their business, having gained cutting-edge knowledge, tools and tactics that enable them to fully coordinate and implement their clients’ online product launches from start to finish.

In VAClassroom’s Product Launch Support Specialist Program, the ePro Virtual Assistance Team was taught the building blocks of a powerful online product launch, including how to conduct a product feasibility assessment and how to build an effective product launch strategy and action plan. They also learned the steps to creating a product launch success sequence, including mind-mapping tasks in the pre-launch, launch and follow-up phases, and recruiting and managing a product launch dream team. In addition, they received training in developing squeeze pages, free offers and video for the pre-launch phase and learned how to leverage blogs and Social Media to build buzz and anticipation, ultimately building a timeline of activities for a launch. Furthermore, they learned content syndication and product launch socialization strategies to build a targeted audience, as well as strategies for evaluating results to prepare for the next launch. Most importantly, with innovative product launch support skills and tools, ePro Virtual Assistance is now better equipped to provide the most relevant services to their clients to help them effectively promote and launch all types of products on the web.

ePro Virtual Assistance is a full service Virtual Assistance firm specializing in Web 2.0 services for Internet Marketers. Having received the Product Launch Support Specialist Certification, they are pleased to add cutting-edge Product Launch Support services and tools to their business. This certification also entitles them to ongoing training as technology develops so they will continue to offer quality up-to-date Product Launch Support skills to their clients.

For more information, visit:

ePro Virtual Assistance

Media Contact: Sandra Pearson – [email protected]

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