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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. Today we discuss the optimal presentation of content on your “traditional” website…. C opywriting, basic content presentation, and SEO.

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slide1

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

today we discuss the optimal presentation of content on your traditional website

Today we discuss the optimal presentation of content on your “traditional” website…

Copywriting, basic content presentation, and SEO

2

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

what we are doing today 5 steps
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

major reason people go to your website

Major reason people go to your website…

Complete a task

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

6 key truths about the internet
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

major reason people go to your website1

Major reason people go to your website…

Complete a task

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

the golden rule

The Golden Rule…

5 seconds to connect

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

website is a series of online magazines

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

web content editor and friends http www bobjohnsonblog com web content editors
Web content editor and friends…http://www.bobjohnsonblog.com/web-content-editors/

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

not a place for great literature moby dick on the web
“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people\'s hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”

I must go to sea when:

– I\'m depressed or melancholy

– I stop in front of coffin warehouses

– I follow funerals

– I have a powerful urge to knock people\'s hats off

Continue the adventure here.

Thanks to Kathy Henning, Communications Specialist, Seattle Pacific University

Not a place for great literature…Moby Dick on the web

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

step 1 web readers are scan readers

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

not so engaging on this page http www cofc edu about index php
Not so engaging on this page…http://www.cofc.edu/about/index.php

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

no unbroken text blocks here http www cofc edu academics index php
No unbroken text blocks here…http://www.cofc.edu/academics/index.php

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

easy to scan annual giving report https apps carleton edu giving report 2010
Easy to scan annual giving report…https://apps.carleton.edu/giving/report/2010/

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

easy to scan for brand message http www smith edu about whyissmith php
Easy to scan for brand message…http://www.smith.edu/about_whyissmith.php

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

easy to scan for top tasks
Easy to scan for top tasks…

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

web readers scan for care words

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

carewords for exec mba prospects unc kenan flagler business school
Words people cared about…Top 25%

Advance your career

Balancing work, home, and school

Career advancement

Cost

Best school possible

Prestigious, well-recognized degree

Words that didn’t rank high…Low 25%

Accessible faculty

Experience of faculty

Corporate sponsorship

Shaping leaders

Class diversity (industry or experience)

Format of program

Carewords for Exec MBA prospectsUNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

carewords shape top content http www kenan flagler unc edu programs emba index cfm
Carewords shape top content…http://www.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/programs/emba/index.cfm

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

h eading meets link expectations http www kenan flagler unc edu programs emba advance balance cfm
Heading meets link expectations…http://www.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/programs/emba/advance/balance.cfm

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

step 2 write like a direct marketer on your website

Step 2…Write like a direct marketer on your website

Brief…

Clear…

Compelling and Persuasive

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

avoid old style marketing copy
“Rolls-Royce has an obsession with quality appreciated by discerning customers”

Rolls-Royce campaign before David Ogilvy

Sounds like…

“Committed to academic excellence”

“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock”

Rolls-Royce campaign after David Ogilvy

Sounds like…

The real world

Must be true

Avoid old-style marketing copy…

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

can t make claims like this anymore names changed to protect the guilty
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

direct marketing style helps people scan
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

direct marketing style helps people connect
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

marketing style that works http www wm edu about index php
Marketing style that works…http://www.wm.edu/about/index.php

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

high visibility action steps http www waldenu edu tuition and financial aid htm
High visibility action steps…http://www.waldenu.edu/Tuition-and-Financial-Aid.htm

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

words increase action http dustincurtis com you should follow me on twitter html
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

the web is an informal place so make things as personal as possible

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

you friendly transfer credit page http degreecompletion stedwards edu x157 xml
“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

step 3 major print p ublications as pdfs or flip tech challenge natural law

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

the big three mistakes

The “Big Three” mistakes…

Alumni magazines…

Annual reports…

Admissions viewbooks

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

the pdf format doesn t work well
The PDF format doesn’t work well…

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

an example of getting it right http magazine uchicago edu
An example of getting it right…http://magazine.uchicago.edu/

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

every university can do it http alfredmagazine alfred edu http magazine biola edu
Every university can do it…http://alfredmagazine.alfred.edu/... http://magazine.biola.edu/

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

resist calls to flip technology http issuu com umson docs university of maryland nursing
Resist calls to “flip” technology…http://issuu.com/umson/docs/university_of_maryland_nursing

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

step 4 putting content on the page

Step 4…Putting content on the page

Contrast…

Font type and size…

Scrolling

Links

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

special attention to the first sentence in a paragraph

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

strong first sentence stands out http clas uiowa edu students handbook restart
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

black text on white still works best

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

serif or sans serif

Serif or sans serif?

Sans serif is easier to read quickly…

Verdana, Arial, Calibri are popular sans serif fonts

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

font size

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

or let readers pick their font size http www4 esu edu admissions index cfm
Or let readers pick their font size…http://www4.esu.edu/admissions/index.cfm

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

scroll or don t scroll http www useit com alertbox scrolling attention html

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

writing links that work http bit ly 2dxrht
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

after content block call to action link http www susqu edu admissions default asp
After content block, call to action link…http://www.susqu.edu/admissions/default.asp

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

easy to scan links within a paragraph http www usfca edu about why
Easy to scan links within a paragraph…http://www.usfca.edu/about/why/

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

step 5 writing for search engine visibility

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

important google change in 2011
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

23 high quality questions to ask http bit ly k2uuzx
23 “high quality” questions to ask…http://bit.ly/k2uUZX

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

especially for web editors
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

key metrics for quality content
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

find the top landing pages
Find the “Top Landing Pages”…

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

4 simple steps to success
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

write for the person visiting the site not for search engines

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

don t stuff keywords

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

tips for success http bit ly ayzqph
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

try this to help with keywords http freekeywords wordtracker com
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

results for online mba degree
Results for “Online MBA degree”…

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

an online mba program http www worldcampus psu edu imba shtml
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

change headlines on press releases http news bbc co uk 1 hi entertainment 4879230 stm
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

in summary
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

highlighting the carewords path http w ww gerrymcgovern com nt class web writing htm
Highlighting the “Carewords” path…http://www.gerrymcgovern.com/nt/class/web-writing.htm

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

writing right on my blog http www bobjohnsonblog com writing right for the web
“Writing Right” on my blog…http://www.bobjohnsonblog.com/writing-right-for-the-web/

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

u sability test results http www useit com papers webwriting
Usability test results…http://www.useit.com/papers/webwriting/

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

b ooks to keep moving forward
Books to keep moving forward…

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

slide73

Thank You!Bob Johnson, Ph.D.PresidentBob Johnson Consulting, LLC226 Chauncey CourtMarshall, MI 49068 248.766.6425 [email protected] Carewords Research for Online Marketing Success: http://www.bobjohnsonconsulting.com/customercarewords.html

Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

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