How to Write for the Web Part 3: User-centric Style 

content marketing strategyIn our How to Write for the Web series, we’ve covered the importance of planning in Keyword and Competition Research, and the importance of crafting a compelling title in The Power of the Title. So now that you have a solid content concept and a title, it’s time write your content.

If you’re going to write an engaging piece of content and stand a chance of nudging your potential customer towards a conversion, it’s got to be built around your user; their needs, wants and behavior. So when writing content, you must understand four things:

There’s MASSES of competition out there. Everybody wants a content marketing strategy or a Facebook page or a blog, so the amount of content generated on a daily basis makes the entire broadcasting history of CNN look like a Tweet. This isn’t a bad thing because it would suggest that there’s a real demand there, but what it does mean is that your potential customers have more to choose from. So you need to work harder to convert those that find you.

People are busy and don’t have time. We’re all living busier lives these days. We have more choice of things to do and less time to do it. When we get some spare time, we can watch a video on YouTube or Vimeo; check Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn; catch up on emails; watch an episode on Netflicks or Tivo; play around in an app. You see, you’re not just competing with other articles; you’re competing with the rest of the internet for a slice of someone’s scarce free time. So you’ve got to treat every single one of your readers with absolute respect because they’re giving up everything else to spend time with you.

People don’t care about you. They care about them. So if you spend all your time banging on about how fantastic you are, you won’t make many friends. Whereas if you spend your time genuinely adding value, educating, entertaining and meeting their needs, you’ll earn the trust needed to form a relationship and make a sale.

People Don’t Read. Despite what content marketers across the globe would have you believe, users don’t actually read… much. We’re all far too busy these days, so most people don’t make it to the end of the article1. Some people even tweet articles having only read the title and first paragraph. 

The above points are all things that are out of your control. You can’t change any of it, but it completely changes the way you design and write content. 

What you can do, is use the above to understand the user so that you can create valuable content that meets your business needs, while embracing the user's behavior.

Here are a few techniques to use and skills you can develop that will give your content a better stab at success:

Tell a Story Through Your Headlines

Your headers and sub headers aren’t just important for SEO purposes, they allow your users to scan your blog or article and pick out the main points without having to spend four days reading every word. 

Use Lists
Bullet points and numbered lists help users digest content because they:

  • Make it easy to scan
  • Are quicker to read
  • Look more presentable

If you have a few points to make, always split them up into bullet points and do your reader a favor of helping them take on board your content.

Be Concise 
Why take four sentences to say something that can be said in one? Why use 16 words if you can use 8? By being concise, we make our content less daunting, easier to take in and accessible.

Use the Pyramid Style
Put your conclusion first, then work through your supporting information. A user should be able to tell if they’re in the right place after reading the first few words of your content, then read on if they want more. 

This is the pyramid style of writing that newspaper journalists use and it can be applied to writing for the web so that we help those that are busy understand the general point of our article without having to read the entire thing.

Understanding Users
By understanding your potential customers, you can create content that embraces how they behave online. If you can meet their needs through providing value with your content, then by respecting their time and helping them digest your it quickly and easily, you’ll begin to shape a positive relationship that could lead to sales and conversions. 

Let’s Get to Work

You now have all you need to start creating, original, attractive and compelling content that embraces your user’s natural online behavior. If you do your keyword and competition research, create an engaging title, and write for your user, you’ll be reaping the real rewards of content marketing in no time.


Thursday, July 31, 2014 6:56:00 PM Categories: content development inbound marketing

The Secret Google Analytics Feature That Will Change Your Life Forever  

I’m going to let you in on the single most helpful and immensely useful, but hidden secret in the whole of Google Analytics. There’s no cheats or workarounds involved here, you don’t need to make any adjustments to your tracking code and you don’t need special admin privileges to take advantage.

Have you ever been pondering over your traffic timeline and seen unusual spikes or out of the ordinary traffic? Or have you ever wondered whether those posters you put up, the ad you created or campaign you launched had any noticeable effect on your website traffic? Well, now you can see all of this at a glance by using Google Analytics annotations.

What are Google Analytics annotations?

Annotations in Google Analytics are little notes that you can place across your timeline to monitor or remind yourself of, well, whatever you want! You can use them to keep on top of your marketing activity, online and offline, and monitor what effect it has on your web traffic at a glance. You could note:

  • Product launches
  • Big website changes (or new website launch)
  • Newsletter and email news shots
  • Marketing campaign launches
  • Server downtime
  • Or anything else you feel is important

Then, you’ll quickly be able to see the overall and broad effects that your activity has on your traffic. Plus, annotations stick around, so in six months time when you’ve moved on to future projects, you’ll still have a reminder in your annotations. This is handy for retrospective analysis and completely eradicates those “Hmm, I wonder what that spike was” moments.

How Do You Use Annotations?

Getting started using Google Analytics annotations is simple and, once you do start, you won’t be able to stop. It’s that addictive!

So here’s a step-by-step guide on how to start using annotations:

Step 1. Log in to Google Analytics and head to the Audience – Overview screen.

Google Analytics annotations









Step 2. You see that little, sneaky arrow hiding in plain site? Click that.

Voila. This will open the annotation editor.







Step 3: From here, you can click on ‘+ Create new annotation'.







Step 4. Select the date of your event, newsletter mailout, campaign launch or whatever you want to make a note of.








Step 5. Add your note. You only get 160 characters here, so pretend you’re jotting a tweet.








Step 6. Select whether you’d like it to be a shared or private note.








What’s a shared or private note?

Glad you asked.

A shared note means that anyone with an analytics log in for the site in question can see the note. A private note is only visible to the person that creates it (or the email address currently logged in). So if you only have one email address and one log in for your Google Analytics account that lots of people use, be careful of noting sensitive information. Consider creating a separate log in1 for each person that needs access.

Click Save. Now you’ll be able to see your annotation on the axis of your timeline and your annotations underneath:

Bonus Tip: If a campaign or a specific marketing activity is particularly important, you can favorite it by clicking the little star next to the date:

This allows you to keep track of major marketing initiatives and groups them in the ‘Starred’ tab:

Hopefully, in the future, Google will introduce the facility to create groups of annotations. This way, you could group all of the ‘email’ related annotations together and access them through the same tabs at the top.

Let’s Get to Work

So, now that you know the most useful trick in Google Analytics, it’s time to get to work and use it. Don’t be left in the dark any longer, keep track of your marketing activity and see the effect it has on your web traffic at a glance with annotations.

Believe it or not, few people are aware of this hidden gem, so whether you choose to keep it a secret or share it with your followers is entirely up to you.

There are some sharing buttons below, if you’re tempted.


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Posted by Thursday, July 31, 2014 6:29:00 PM Categories: blogging content development inbound marketing online marketing social media

Part II - The Importance of a Gripping Title 

writing for the web

How to Write for the Web Part 2: The Power of the Title

Last time, we covered how to plan relevant and unique content by doing your keyword and competition research. In Part 2 of our How to Write for the Web series, we'll start putting pen to paper. And where better to start than with the single most important element of your entire content: the title. 

With a deluge of content out there in the vast ether of the Internet, your title is pretty much the only thing you have in order to attract attention to your content. Think about how often your title is seen in comparison to the rest of your content. Potential users will see your title:

  • On social media news feed
  • In their RSS reader
  • In their email inbox
  • On the thousands of content curation websites like Reddit1
  • On Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS)
  • In online newspaper features like Paper.li2
  • On your blogroll

Whereas, user’s will typically only see your actual content:

  •     On your website...


With so many opportunities to attract visitors through crafting a compelling title, it’s not too difficult to see how title writing has become an art form in its own right.

To get you started on becoming a title writing artist yourself, here's a run down of some of the techniques you can use to create titles that people can’t resist clicking:


Be punchy: A decision on whether to read your article will be made after reading the first few words of your title. So get straight to the point early:

Example: Facebook Collapses Overnight 


Use urgency: You can even combine being punchy with a sense of urgency to create something that just begs to be clicked: 

Example: Facebook Collapses Overnight: Were You Affected?


Create wonder: If you leave the reader hanging in the title, you can create a sense of wonder that can intrigue users:

Example: Be More Productive With This Simple Tip


Lists: People love lists. It’s as simple as that. A list shows the reader that your content is easy to scan, quick to read and there’s more than one point to it:

Example: 6 Reasons Why Web Design Beats Artworking


Lists that solve problems work well:

Example: 4 Ways to Master LinkedIn


Lists that solve problems and show a direct benefit work even better:

Example: 4 Ways to Master LinkedIn and Get Hired

Bonus: Don’t overdo it with lists. 50 Ways to Create a Cool Facebook Profile Image sounds like a long and arduous task to read. We tend to not go into double digits with lists.


Double positives: You can include two solutions or two benefits together to create an irresistible temptation:

Example: How to Double Your Server Speed and Reduce Site Down Time 


Controversy: Everybody loves a bit of controversy. By being controversial, you not only attract both the people who agree and disagree with your point, but you might stimulate debate on your website, creating further engagement and a conversation with potential customers. 

Example: Why Social Media Marketing Is Dead


Controversy combined with a list is so engaging, it’s almost unfair:

Example: 5 Reasons Why Social Media Marketing Is Dead


Controversy combined with a list and a double positive and creating wonder should be illegal!

Example: 5 Reasons Why Social Media Marketing Is Dead and What’s Next


Write Your Title First 

Write your title straight after doing your keyword and competition research. Write it before writing anything else. Do this and you’ll have something specific to work toward. It will keep you on track and focused throughout the creation process and provide guidance that’ll keep you on point throughout, creating precise and unwavering content and add real value to the reader.

So, play around with some of the above techniques to create your article’s anchor and practice creating titles that are gripping and action inspiring. If you have some other interesting tips, share it with us in the comments below.

Part 3: User-centric Style

In Part 3, we’ll look at how to write, structure and design content that meets user needs and stands the best chance of meeting your content marketing goals.




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Posted by Power Site Thursday, July 24, 2014 4:36:00 PM

Writing for the Web 

Part 1: Keyword Research and Competition

writing for the web

We’ve put together a great three-part guide to help you make the most out of your content and social media efforts.

Over the next three posts, we’ll show you how you can increase the engagement and shareability of your content through understanding the basics of keyword research, your competition and user psychology.

During the course of the series, we’ll cover:

  • Keyword and competition research
  • Powerful headlines and titles
  • User-centric style and user behavior 



Before you write a single line, it's important to know whether what you’re planning on writing will benefit your target market and if there’s an existing (or growing) demand for your subject matter. 

Find this out by doing your keyword research.  This shows you what users are searching for on the search engines or on social media.

Do Your Keyword Research

A study1 found that 80% of website traffic can come from organic searches. With those kinds of stats, it’s hard not to recommend starting the planning of your content with keyword research.

For keyword research, you can use tools such as:

  • Google Keyword Planner2  This is a free tool from Google that let’s you enter a search term and find out how many searches per month the term receives. You can use this for free by signing up to Google Webmaster Tools3

  • Market Samurai4  This takes the keyword planner to the next level by giving you further data on competition, other keyword ideas and their commercial value.
  • Google Trends5. This is a great tool that lets you see the popularity of search terms over time, so that you can get an overview of whether you’re covering a subject rising or falling in demand.
  • Hootsuite6. This is a social media marketing tool that lets you manage all of your social networking accounts in one place. You can monitor hash tag activity and follow searches too, which gives you an idea of how frequently your search term or topic is being used or searched for on social media.
  • You can also manually search for your search terms on your social network of choice in order to check the level of content and engagement around your chosen topic.

Keyword research is a great place to start in order to formulate your concepts and ideas into the beginning of something practical and will help form the foundations of your content.

Competition Analysis

The last thing to consider before putting pen to paper (or finger to key) is whether you’re content concept or idea is original. We can check the originality of our content by checking on any potential competition on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

If you aren’t using software like Market Samurai, the best way to get an idea of the level of competition around your topic is to simply search for it yourself using your newfound keywords.

Search for your title ideas on Google, Bing and Yahoo and check the results on the first page for a glimpse at your competition. Has anybody else written anything similar (or the same)? If so, ask yourself a few questions:


  • Is your concept better?
  • Can you beat it?


If the answer to any of those is no, ask:

  • Do you have something to add?
  • Have they missed something?


If you can answer yes to any of the above questions, you’ve got yourself a place to start.


The Importance of Keyword and Competition Research

Without keyword research, your website, blog or article will have a hard time finding traffic. If you know what people are searching for, you've got a solid foundation on which to build your content.   

And if you're not aware of your competition, you run the risk or regurgitating or even plagiarizing content. This will not only damage your reputation, but will also add to the deluge of sub-standard content online. 

Part 2: The Power of the Title

Next week, well start getting into writing the actual article and look at the single most important aspect of any piece of content: the title. 








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Posted by Tuesday, July 22, 2014 4:46:00 PM Categories: blogging content development SEO

The BIG Mistake Web Designers Make and How to Fix It 

web designer mistakes

When creating websites, many designers completely forget to ask themselves some of the most important questions:

  • What is this website here to do?
  • Why does this page exist?
  • What, specifically, do we want the user to do here? 

By reminding yourself of your objectives throughout the design process, you can avoid adding useless noise and clutter, and instead focus on increasing leads and conversions.


It’s Easy to Forget

Some websites tend to exist without a real purpose and perform poorly. This doesn’t happen by design, it happens because people lose sight of what’s important. They forget their objectives. For example:

  • Designers are told to design, 
  • Developers are told to develop, 
  • Bloggers are told to blog, 
  • The SEO team are told to do SEO

Site or page objectives should be at the heart of a site’s design. But, with staff focusing on their day job, sometimes the over-arching goal can become buried underneath the virtual pile of work on a designer’s desk. Or sometimes, the quest for aesthetics and the practicalities of functionality can cloud an objective and force it to take a back seat.


Where’s Your Banana?

In his book The Big Red Fez, Seth Godin mentions that internet users are like monkeys (but, sometimes, not quite as cute). Your call to action (CTA), or your objective, is the banana. All the monkey is interested in is the banana. So, if you hide the banana at the foot of the page, make it small and blue, what chance does the monkey have of finding it? 

But, if you make the banana BIG, clear and obvious, you stand a much better chance.


How to Meet Objectives Consistently

Whatever your single, specific objective is for each page, this is where your design efforts should start and end. Take whatever it is that you want the user to do, your objective, and make it stupidly simple accomplish. 

Here’s some ideas on how you might do that:

  • Want users to sign up to email notifications? Put it front and center.
  • Want your blog post to be shared? Put the important stuff in the first paragraph.
  • Want to increase sales? Stick your most popular product on your Home page. 
  • Want your ‘Enquiries’ menu option clicked more? Put it top of the list.
How to Fix Objective Oversights

Remind yourself of your objective constantly when making design decisions. One of the ways to do this is to use a little mind trick in order to get your objectives buried in your brain. Create a trigger that reminds you to check whether your design meets your objectives.

Remember our monkey and its banana? Good. Now, close your eyes (after you’ve read this sentence) and just imagine that banana sitting right next to the Save button in your software. (And open.) Now, every time you reach for the Save button, imagine that banana.

Let it remind you to put the banana front and center. Let it urge you to make your objective obvious to the user and easy to accomplish. Then, take a quick glance at your work and ask yourself whether everything you’ve just done is designed to meet your single objective for that page, site, tool or whatever it is you’re working on. 

If you imagine the banana next to the save button often enough, it will become the trigger for checking your design against your objective every time you save your work.


Don’t Make the Same Mistakes

Now that you know the secret as to why there’s so many terrible websites out there, don’t go making the same mistakes.

  • Stick to a single objective
  • Make it easy to accomplish
  • Keep reminding yourself of your objective during the design
  • Remember the monkey and its banana

Follow those steps and you’ll be ditching the clutter and rubbish and consistently designing focused, optimised websites that generate more leads and conversions.

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Posted by Monday, July 21, 2014 2:47:00 PM Categories: web design website
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