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Some common grammatical errors and how to avoid them

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 SEO copywriting

What do you think is common in blogging and good copy writing? It is the conversational style that appears in both blog and a well written copy. Since the conversational writing style is a personalized form, there have been relaxations regarding strict grammatical rules for communicating effectively. Often you find sentences ending with prepositions, a technical word would dangle at the end or even abbreviations are used in the place of em dash. All this is basically incorporated to get the feel of talking into the content.

But this informal style of writing doesn’t give you the authority to mess up with all the grammatical rules. You need to avoid mistakes that would affect your credibility. Even though it is true that the message that has to be conveyed is more important, some people are very particular about the grammar and they simply would not subscribe or link to your blog if it lacks authenticity.

Using ‘you’re’ instead of ‘your’: This is a common mistake that most copy writers commit. You can easily avoid this error if you simply take a second and think about what you are trying to convey. Basically ‘your’ is a possessive pronoun which is used to indicate some possessions. For e.g.: your blog, your website. Whereas ‘you’re’ is the contraction for ‘you are’ as in ‘you’re writing a blog for many reasons’.

Messing up ‘it’s’ with ‘its’: It is yet another common confusion among the copywriters who use it’s in the place of its. This can also be avoided by thinking through what you are trying to say. ‘It’s’ is a contracted version of ‘it is’ or ‘it has’; like ‘It’s easy to avoid spelling mistakes’. On the other hand, ‘its’ is a possessive pronoun as in ‘The company is losing its identity’. There is actually a golden rule of thumb; if you have doubtful about using ‘its’, just repeat your sentence out loud using ‘it is’ instead. If that sounds senseless, then ‘its’ is the right word.

‘There’ v/s ‘their’: This mistake happens occasionally to everyone often as a complete typo. The only way to prevent it is by looking for the error during proofreading. ‘There’ is used as a reference to a place (She wants to go there) or as a pronoun (There is no money). Whereas ‘their’ is a plural possessive pronoun.  For e.g.: It is their house. If you want to get rid of the confusion, ask yourself if you are talking about more than one person and something that they possess. If yes, then you need to use ‘their’.

Confusing ‘affect’ with ‘effect’: Even the grammar experts would pause while before using affect and effect at the right place. As with any other grammatical errors, you just need to take a second and understand the whole sentence before using the words. Basically ‘affect’ is a verb and ‘effect’ is a noun. For e.g.: ‘Your spendthrift nature will affect your wealth’ and ‘Your character will have an effect on your child’. The confusion can be clarified by putting ‘the’ in front of the prospect word. It has to be noted that ‘the’ will not come in front of a verb. So it won’t come in front of affect.

How to write attention grabbing headlines for enhancing your content

Saturday, August 28th, 2010 SEO copywriting

Readers are busy and they don’t have time to read one lengthy article or even a small paragraph. So what essentially have to catch their eyes would be the headlines. We have been hearing a lot about the importance of headlines and how it has to be crisp and short. Ultimately your target would be to stop the readers in the track, hold their attention and finally persuade them to buy your product.

If you want to increase your sales, you must understand the magic behind magnetic headlines that pull readers in. The power of the headlines and content should be such that a casual browser should turn into an avid reader and eventually a buyer of your product or service.

Headline should be relevant and straight forward
Gone are the days of catchy headlines written in flowery language.  Readers just don’t have time to go through the whole article to find out what it is all about. They don’t want you to beat around the bush. Be straight forward and convey the element of the content in headline itself. People who read the content would also like to know if the subject is relevant for them. Hence it is important to include relevant words and phrases in your headline than jargons or catchy phrases.  To be precise, the headline should be clear not clever. Make sure to include specific keywords into your headline which convey the message instantly.

Magic of ‘how to” headlines
Ever wondered why the ‘how to’ headlines are always a success? The basic reason is that people are in constant search for advice or tips in everything that they do. So when you are offering some tips like, ‘how to find reliable auto transport companies?’ people would surely want to know the easy steps. Moreover such headlines are extremely relevant by nature. But you have to careful and wise in putting the ‘how to’ headlines only for relevant contents.
The easy way to coin a ‘how to’ headline is by thinking about the crux of the content, prominent problem or solution that readers would seek and make that the basic of your headline. If you are successful in doing this, readers would surely go through the whole content.

Offer a solution or advice
Once you have established the problem or situation in the ‘how to’ headline, your work doesn’t end here. What the reader wants would be a solution or advice for his problem. So provide a delightful result along with addressing the problem. For example, ‘how to avoid moving scams for a hassle free move’. Keep in mind that even though your ultimate aim would be to sell your product or service, what the reader expects is a beneficial outcome. Before you frame the headline, ask yourself what would prompt the reader to go for that particular content.

Spice up keywords with adjectives
A little flavor can be added to the headline by putting in some compelling words. You can use adjectives for this purpose. By using such appealing words, you are intensifying the promise of the desired results. If your headline says,’ 5 easy steps to start a bus charter service’, ‘easy’ is the word that makes the keyword more powerful and attainable.

Finally, you need to sharpen your skills and improvise the already written headline. But make sure that you don’t overdo the improvisation. Just be casual in reading it again and again until you feel that it conveys what you have in mind.

Want to know how do search engines work?

Thursday, August 19th, 2010 Promotion

Webber (2000) defines a search engine as a ‘searchable catalogue, database or directory of websites’, of a reasonably large size.

There is a myth that when you type in some keywords to search on a particular thing, search engine goes out into the web and looks for matching pages to return. But this is not the case. Search engines continuously crawl web downloading millions of pages everyday to place in their own custom databases. So when a person types in certain keywords at search box, search engine return pages that have been indexed on the database. This is the reason when a person gets different results for a query at different search engines. However, search engine falls into two distinct categories:

  1. Crawler based search engines
  2. Human powered directories

For example, Yahoo! Started as human powered directory, but after working with partners like Inktomi, Alta vista and Google, Yahoo! Launched its own crawler based search engine to compete with Google directly. Google is not a human powered directory but crawler based that relies on technology to build its database. The term search engine is used generically for all search engines on the web. Though we use spiders/robots to build indexes, all search engines collect different information in different ways. The algorithm (the computer program which ranks search results) that each major search engines uses for ranking purpose is different for each specific service.

As home page is considered important for search engine spider, content and relevancy is also important. The content on the site page has greater relevancy factor for a specific term than a competitor’s home page, content rich site page is the one that search engine will return for keyword search. Internal pages of a website can attract more traffic to a site than a home page, as they have more relevant content, whereas a home page is normally very general. However, there are certain search engines that do not crawl deeply into a big site with many pages, so it is important to make most relevant site pages available to search engines.

Search engines in their research use different, or various terms for particular components, but we can use basic terms. Crawler based search engine can be broken down into following components:

➢     Crawler

➢     Indexer

➢     Query Handler

Browsers like internet explorer or Firefox, sends HTTP requests, to retrieve web pages to download and show them on your computer monitor. Crawler downloads the data to a client

•                  Crawler retrieves URL

•                  Crawler always connects to remote server where the page is hosted

•                  Crawler issues a request to retrieve the page and its textual content.

•                  Crawler scans the link the page contains for further crawling.

A crawler downloads only textual data; it is able to jump from one page to another through the links it has scanned at rapid speeds. If you notice, major search engines can now download millions of pages every day. You may think that crawlers work is simple, but in essence this is what it is doing. If you have seen log files of a site, you will see names like Yahoo Slurp or Google bot, these are names of spiders for Yahoo and Google.

Just imagine what will happen when Googlebot, visits a website?

  1. Make sure there is <title> tag on the webpage as it is very important piece of information an organization which is used to feed search engine spider.
  2. Next the actual text from the page is stripped out of HTML code and a note is made as to where it has to appear on the page.
  3. Some search engines that use information in <meta> tags, the keyword and description are extracted.
  4. Then spider pulls out hyperlinks and divides them into two categories: that which belongs to the site (internal links) and those which do not belong to the site, such as external links.
  5. Generally external links are used in “crawl control” where they wait in queue for future crawling.
  6. Each page that is downloaded from the site is added in the page repository and given an ID number.

All this information is now stored in search engine’s database. Search engines now know what the title and keywords are, how many internal and external links are there in the site.

Link analysis is considered an important factor which is taken into account when ranking pages following a query. It also makes sense to identify sites offering complementary services that are also likely to be of interest to your site user. Reciprocal linking can increase traffic and revenue generation.

But reciprocal arrangements have to be entered into with caution since many search engines will downgrade the value of such pages. Also, search engines like Google can easily find out link exchanges between whole networks of sites, so if you are developing various websites and interlinking them simply because you would have heard that Google likes links ad will increase your rankings-chances are you will be doing more harm than good. Rankings will suffer but you might end up being banned from Google’s index altogether-and no site can afford that to happen.

Link analysis module looks at the surrounding connectivity of the page, i.e. which pages link to you and which pages do you link to.  This is very important to search engines and works on citation analysis. For example-if many pages point back to an organization’s site, then it is likely that their page may be an authority on a given subject. This process is referred as ‘hubs’ and ‘authorities. Hubs are sites that point to others and authorities are pages they point to.

Here are certain factors that determine ranking:

•                  Link popularity

•                  Keyword weight

•                  How old is domain

•                  How much long it has been in database

•                  How fresh is the content on the website?

But now factors have changed as algorithms have become more sophisticated. Now search engines determine relevancy between a search query and keywords within a phrase than simply considering keyword weight. Now Google considers more than 100 factors in its algorithm to determine rankings. Nowadays Google’s ranking algorithm gives more weight age to the age of web sites and the pages within them, as they want to give fresh and up to date content to searchers. Google’s algorithm gives importance to those websites or blogs where page content is updated, new pages are added and how many new links point to your website etc. But do remember Google will keep changing its ranking algorithm time to time and so what scores a top 10 result today may not do so tomorrow. That’s why you should monitor for changes.

Query interface is where the whole thing has to come together. The average query length at a search engine interface is two to three words. From these two to three words search engine has to decide from billions of pages it has in its database which ones to return. This is where organizations have to think and optimize the web pages. If a website has to be in top 20, it needs to have pages that will target around these three words that the surfer issues on any given subject and organizations should have link popularity to go with it if they are to be successful. However you will not receive success based on increasing the number of links to a site, it is more important about the quality of links received. It looks at words contained within the text of that link too. If they match in certain way then Google will consider the link more favorable which in turn will give an added boost to the rankings.



The basics of SEO copy writing

Saturday, July 24th, 2010 copywriting, SEO copywriting

Copywriting for SEO is indeed a skill. It is something that most of the copy writers learn over time by time doing it. The SEO copy writers have to be in constant vigil looking out what the competitors are doing. This can be effectively done by reading up on how to write copy for websites, blogs, press releases and articles.

So what exactly is SEO copywriting? It is basically the art and science of combining three elements namely the valuable content, readability and structure and formatting.

The need of valuable content

Content is the king in search engine optimization copywriting. Hence it is important to provide reader with quality content that affords them the provision to learn, experience or clarify a product, service, position or opinion. There are certain factors that determine the value in your content like the level of details, a snapshot of the content, reader perspective, usability and specific calls to action.

The content is not merely that has to be read and thrown out of mind. It must provide the reader with something that they can make use of when required. The overall reader experience can be calculated by the variety of different levels of knowledge and proficiency with the topic. Here you need to concentrate on defining and organizing the thoughts that comes in. start with putting everything in a nutshell with the 5 Ws and 1 H ( who, what, where, when, why and how). Later you can elaborate each detail in a step by step basis.

The significance of readability

There is no room to play with jargons and flowery language in SEO copywriting. Reader must essentially understand what you are talking about without pondering over for so long. The golden rule of thumb here is that you must write for the reader first. Then the second and third priority should be given to the search engines.

The benefits of structure and formatting

Even though there are no hard and fast rules for getting the best results in search engine copywriting, a well structured and formatted content would surely hold the attention. These days, the search engines have become smarter in assessing the value of content. But there are indeed a variety of distinguishable factors that determines the quality of good content. A little care is all you need to invest in structuring and formatting.

Pop up form of online advertising is getting sidelined as video ads and social media ads are emerging

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 content

Next time when you’re working on the internet and suddenly notice a pop up window and click on the ‘close’ icon, keep in mind that nearly 5 lakhs have been spent to make that pop up ad to grab a few seconds of your attention. But the sad fact is your indifferent attitude is making this type of advertisement extinct. Whenever we think about pop up ads your first reaction would be of annoyance. Internet users think why companies spend so much money when there’s hardly anyone who looks at these ads, when there are other mediums to advertise their products.

But now advertisers have come up with a new way of advertising – pop-under ads. Ads are displayed in a new browser window which uploads behind the current browser window. But acceptance of these ads is still arguable. Pop up industry is gradually decreasing in size as most internet blockers are coming up with built-in pop up blockers. Pop-ups are getting outdated and a new trend is emerging in digital advertising like video contents, pre-polls, skins with product placement and social media enabled ad units.

Video ads are the ‘in thing’ as it is value for money for advertisers and eye catching among internet users.

Though pop-up ads are a thing of the past but however there are a few in the industry who believe that job of pop up is still unfinished as they still attract user attention. Pop up ads cannot be ignored as they appear in front of the content you wish to browse. They open up in a new window and and they appear on the screen till you do not close it which will increase the presence.

How effective is a pop up ad depends on several factors. The ad is interesting it will create an impact among internet users. For example, if you notice a holiday pop up ad, offering a four day five night vacation you will get attracted to it. If a business user sees a pop-up on mobile phones which has a stock indices sites, it would be a disaster. But the same ad would be effective if it is placed on social network sites which are used by teenagers. So the most important thing to remember while placing ad is where and how you place your ads.  So, pop up ads are here to stay for some more time. But many advertisers in India feel that pop up ads will become extinct, rather than a bright prospect.

Writing for the web

Monday, February 15th, 2010 creative writing
Web writing comes with a purpose. It can be either marketing or propagating ideas. Be it whatever, your aim would be to make the readers read your content. By taking care of a few things, you can make your contents attractive.

Keep your words simple and concise

The basic characteristic of web writing is its simplicity. Unlike any other media, the web is known for its fast pace and purpose orientation. In web writing, the words are usually meant to sell. So if you want the readers to read the content and achieve the purpose, your words should be simple and easy to understand. Jargons and pompous words would irritate the readers. We know it very well that people are not going to open a dictionary and search the meaning of each flowery word. So keep the words simple and easy to comprehend.

Understand your readers

As in any other media, a clear understanding of the readers is needed in web writing too. Unless you know your readers, you can’t influence them. Your words should be aimed at the readers or potential customers i.e. if you are selling something. Moreover, you cannot just keep on writing about a thing. Your sentences should be properly aimed so that it gives a solution or answer to what the readers are seeking.

Utilize the possibilities

There are many benefits in web writing than traditional writing methods. Hyperlinks (the links that lead you from one page to other) are the main attractive feature of web writing. Since you can give more information using hyperlinks, you must make proper use of it. But remember not to over crowd hyperlinks in a single page.

Make it easy to read

While the readers read your content, they must get a clear understanding of the topic. For achieving this, try to incorporate minimum words that would make the reading easy. It would be good if you can separate each topic using sub heads. Illustrations to an extent would be interesting. But never confuse the readers with so many graphics and pictures. Always remember that writing provides more authenticity than illustrations.

Last but not the least, your expressions and sentence formation should also be given proper consideration. You don’t want to create a negative impression by making spelling or grammatical errors in your content. It would be better to do a thorough spell/ grammar check before submitting your content. And never be rude to your readers or impose any idea on them forcibly. Try influencing not imposing.

Rewrite and review your content

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010 creative writing

Writing content is just one part of the many things you need to do when you write copies. I have seen many people don’t even read what they have written. Is it because the contents are so bad or just lazy to review what they wrote before posting it in a blog or website. So what happens when you don’t read your content before posting them.
There are many problems when you don’t read your post / review before posting

1. Spelling mistakes: Its common to make spelling mistakes especially if you are a writing fast and if you don’t review your content you might post something that is full of mistakes.
2. I have personally had this problem when I use word it automatically corrects my spelling and sometimes the auto spell checker will correct the words into a different word that I don’t want it to be there. This is another problem; I hope you don’t want your content to look crazy when one word is substituted by a completely different word that is not supposed to be there.
3. Writing fast is not always the best you will lose your creativity and the content will sound too simple but if you read it again and fix stuff you will be able to include stuff that are much more creative.
4. You can miss punctuations when you write fast if you review then you can rewrite the document with proper punctuations.
5. Some sentences can be longer than you expected if you read your content you might break down content into different parts suitable for the article.
6. Check to see if your content has a proper mood set into it.
7. If you review your content you can narrow down the message you are willing to convey in a shorter way. Remember people don’t have 10 hours to read your content. It’s important you impress people in fraction of seconds so that they can continue reading and like your content.

10 Tips for writing a Blog

Monday, December 21st, 2009 copywriting
Two important tips for writing a Blog are compelling content and frequent updates. Below are a few ideas that you can use while writing a blog.

1. Lists:
People love to read about list, just any kind of list as it can increase traffic of your blog. Some examples are Top 10 lists, 3 reasons I love something etc. Start your heading from number.

2. How to
To accomplish a task many people would like to find easy-to-follow instructions. For example: How to avoid getting bitten by a mosquito etc.

3. Write about Reviews:
Write a review about anything on your blog. Some of the suggestions are:

  • Products
  • Websites
  • Books
  • Movies
  • Music
  • Hotels
Try to share your experience and thoughts.

4. Photo:
Try to post a photo based on your topic.

5. Tips:
Write about tips so that readers can achieve something faster or cheaper way.

6. Recommendations:
Try to share your recommendations about the websites, books, movies or other favorite topic on your blog.

7. Contests:
Blog contetsts can increase traffic in your blog and enable visitors to leave comments.

8. Videos:
Put a video from YouTube or one of your own, or host a video blog.

9. Guest Posts:
Ask other bloggers or experts in a field related to your blog topic to write a guest post.

10. Polls:
Register with a site like PollDaddy.com then publish a poll related to your blog topic in one of your blog posts.

Copyblogger on how to make money with free stuff

Monday, December 14th, 2009 copywriting

Copyblogger has an interesting article on how to make things work when you offer free stuff. Offer free stuff on your website is a great promotion method. It gives people a reason to visit your website and also a reason to repeat visiting your site.
We at Search Engine Genie provide more than 100 free web tools which can be used for search engine optimization and other online activities.
Checkout the article from copyblogger here: http://www.copyblogger.com/make-money-with-free/
Its a great article for starters who want to learn the art of promoting your content or free stuff online. Also the article talks about how to transfer your free stuff to paid ones and make money out of it. Subscriptions are a great way to make money with your content.
Branding has been in existence now and forever. The better you brand yourself more people will read your stuff. Especially in SEO copywriting there are few readers. To make them read your stuff you need to provide contents that really improves their social values as well as help them in their day to day life.

Do you need to know the dictionary to write best copies

Monday, December 14th, 2009 SEO copywriting

Well I am just using slang here. Obviously we don’t need to know the full dictionary to become a great copywriter. But there has been some misconception that the more words you know and the more different types of synonyms you use better copywriter you are. Well I wouldn’t disagree with that more. I feel most of the time people like to read what they speak. When I go through a website and if its using too much advanced words that are not used in standard speaking language I will not waste too much time there. It’s simply because I don’t want to go to a website that has too much complicated words which I need to refer a dictionary to understand.

Research has determined the average time a person spends on a new website he visits is just 20 seconds. So you just have 20 seconds of time to keep your visitors to your website. If you are using high words and if the person finds it difficult to understand your copy then you are doomed. You will loose a lot of potential visitors / buyers. So I recommend don’t spend too much time on reading dictionary and identifying new words. If you know some words make sure you use it the best way possible. Make sure you use good grammar. Grammar plays an important role when it comes to quality of a webpage / web copy.