What BrightonSEO 2017 told me about good copywriting

by ttucker23 on November 10, 2017

BrightonSEO VW van BrightonSEO for copywriters

 

I spent  two days at BrightonSEO this year. It was a blast, as always, and a great help in understanding how copywriting needs to shift with the demand of SEO.

I held a content marketing workshop on day one with some creative and inspiring people. On day two I attended some of the expert presentations that BrightonSEO has to offer.

Over the course of the two days I had discussions, answered questions, and generally got involved in conversations about the state of the SEO industry.

Here are some of the things that I picked up there, that will inform my work as a copywriter and content marketer.

Technical SEO is a massive deal

Christoph Cemper gave an excellent overview of how broken links can really harm your SEO. Fixing this issue led to over 500% increase in traffic to the website.

Action: Do a proper link audit. If you don’t have anyone on it, hire an agency or a freelance expert.

Update your top performing blog posts

Jo Turnball and Daniel Furch showed how updating your best content can lead to better SEO opportunities. This is not only a more efficient way to create content, but gives you better bang for your buck.

Action: Use your web analytics to find your best performing content, and re-publish it with updated material.

Make Mobile your number 1 priority for content

Duane Forrester of Yext gave us a massive wake up call on mobile. This will be the most important factor in Google’s index next year.

It’s also where your audience is spending most of its time. Stunning stat: Over 50% of our mobile time is spent on apps, not the web browser.

Action: Review your most important content from a mobile perspective. How does it look on mobile devices? Can readers read it/scan it well?

Audience engagement is getting more immersive

Jes Scholz of Ringier Emerging Markets showed us how audience engagement is on a journey. From photos, to video, to 360 video and now Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.

AR and VR is going to open up huge opportunities for marketers to engage in ever more powerful ways, with the launch of iPhone 8 / iPhone X and Samsung’s latest models fuelling progress.

Action: Experiment with AR and VR features in your content. Soak up what’s happening and consider what your brand can do with these new tools.

Google cares about quality content more than ever

Gary Illyes of Google told us that every update Google makes to its algorithms is about the quality of a site and its content. And there are 2 or 3 updates to Google a day.

This is a reminder that we should stay focused on the audience, and not Google. If it’s changing this quickly, we’re better off focusing on the end game – the value our content has for our audience.

We knew this, didn’t we? But still, it’s always worth reminding ourselves – the audience comes first.

Action: Make ‘content value for the audience’ a key factor in how you assess your content’s quality.

Summary

SEO is a fast changing sector, but the fundamentals remain.

I missed many of the other great presentations, but you can find most of them on the SiteVisibility website.

I’ll be running another content marketing course at BrightonSEO in April 2018, so let me know if you’re going.

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Copywriting apps

I run regular 2-day copywriting courses, and we cover a lot of ground in that time. But people often ask me: ‘How can I remember and implement all of this advice?’ So below I’ve listed three copywriting apps that have helped me, and many other writers, to avoid common mistakes and create consistently good copy.

The links below are to web apps, which are available online through your standard web browser. They’re all free, so check them out for yourself and see if they work for you (some ask for personal data before you can use them).

Please note – I don’t get any commercial benefit form you using these copywriting apps. These are objective and unbiassed recommendations.

1. Hemingway app

Hemingway copywriting app.

Use it: www.hemingwayapp.com

It’s easy to slip into bad copywriting style, such as:

  • Passive voice
  • Long complex sentences
  • Unnecessarily long words

Good writing style is a habit that’s formed with practice. The Hemingway app speeds up this process by showing where you might be going wrong.

Paste your copy into the app and it will highlight passages that have potential issues. It’s an awesome time-saver and a handy reminder of what to look out for in your copy.

2. Coschedule headline analyzer

Coschedule headline analyzer copywriting app.

Use it: coschedule.com/headline-analyzer

Headlines are essential. A good headline will turn a browser into a reader.

I’m a little wary of an algorithm telling me what works, but I find this tool gives you some useful feedback on how to improve what you’ve written, including:

  • Common words
  • Uncommon words
  • Power words
  • Emotional impact
  • SEO benefits

As with all copywriting apps, I wouldn’t slavishly follow every piece of advice it gives. Use it to get ideas for improving what you’ve written.

(Grammar hounds beware – they’ve misspelt the word ‘its’ on this website. I’ve forgiven them.)

3. Answer the public

Answer the public copywriting app.

Use it: http://answerthepublic.com

It’s tough to constantly think up new ideas for content. I love Answer the Public because it gives you plenty of inspiration.

The app draws on data from Google search suggestions and other keyword tools to give insights into what people are searching for. You can use this to create content based on search demand.

Enter your content topic into Answer the Public and you’ll get dozens of ideas for things to write about. And best of all, you know it will be interesting to an audience because they have searched for it.

Summary

These three tools are just the start. There are many more copywriting apps and web tools out there.

I’ll update this blog with more recommendations soon, but in the meantime if you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

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I’m a one-man band, a lone wolf, a high plains drifter.

Which is all just to say, I’m a busy freelancer.

I don’t have any staff, so every bit of work – I need to do it myself. There’s a long list of things that my work involves, but let’s just say that it goes from selling myself to doing the admin.

Ugh, the admin.

So… I’ve spent 8 years as a freelancer now, and I want to share some things that have helped me to become more productive and more efficient.

I wouldn’t say that I’m a freelance ninja just yet, but all this has helped me make a start. And stopped me going insane.

1. Book keeping

I still remember the days and nights I spent scrambling through 12 months’ worth of receipts and listing them in a spreadhsheet.

I’ll never get those hours back.

Fortunately a fellow freelancer showed me Receipt Bank.

Now I scan the receipts when I get them and Receipt Bank automatically uploads them into its online platform.

Cue a chorus singing ‘Hallelujah’ accompanied by visuals of unicorns dancing under rainbows.

At this time of writing Receipt Bank costs me £9.99 a month. That’s much less than I’d pay for a book keeper.

And it leaves me to do the work that I enjoy (hint – it’s not book keeping).

2. Invoicing

Another massive time-saver. If you send a lot of invoices, use Free Agent.

Don’t ask why, just do it.

Alright, here’s why. It makes the process of sending and tracking your income and outgoings so much easier.

It takes feeds from Receipt Bank (see above) so you get a real-time view of revenue, costs and profit.

3. Staying organised

Here’s where I get geeky.

I love tracking my time. I just do.

I realise that not everyone shares this passion, but there’s a few things that made a difference for me.

The Pomodoro technique

Such a simple idea, but such a life-changer in terms of getting work done and being focused. You can read all about the Pomodoro technique here, or read this brilliant book.

Essentially it’s about focusing on one thing in 25 minute blocks of time, without any interruptions and without straying from the task. Then take short breaks in between to re-evaluate your priorities.

Try it. You won’t look back.

To ensure I work strictly to the pomodoro technique I use the focus app on my MacBook Pro and iPhone, but there are plenty of alternatives out there.

Tracking work time

How much time are you spending on each project? What proportion of your working day do you spend on admin?

I was alarmed and intrigued by data that suggested that people spend up to 28% of their work time on email. And don’t get me started on social media.

I decided to consciously measure my time throughout the working day. I use a wonderful app called Office Time to do this.

There are a few key benefits to this:

1. I can see where I’m wasting my time.

What I found is that I can often spend too much time on the less useful stuff. The stuff that feels important but really isn’t.

Like reading emails. Or doing admin.

2. I can prioritise my most important work.

Thanks to the reporting tool on Office Time, I can now instantly see how my time prioritisation is going.

And it’s worked. After analysing my time I have now changed the way I work, and put more into my higher priority work.

Summary

So there it is. Three things I do that have made my freelancing career more productive.

I am a total geek about this stuff, so please let me know if you have any tips, recommended apps or general advice about organising your working life. Email me or leave them in the comments below, I’d love to hear them.

 

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