An Inside Look at Our Blog Editing Process

We think this is a great hairstyle for an editor.

Each month, our in-house team of writers and editors creates thousands of  business blogs for  SMBs nationwide. In addition to business blogs, we also create guest posts, website copy, interactive social media content, and custom projects.

While our production volume is very high and our turnaround times fast, our clients tell us that our work is better researched, of a higher quality, and more grammatically sound than the work of other freelance writers and services they have contracted with in the past.

So how do we consistently generate the kind of high-quality content that SEO and internet marketing firms are looking for? Aside from sentence-level changes, grammar, and spelling, the experienced editors at Student Experts look for the following when editing blog content:

1. Readability

When reviewing a business blog, our editors might ask, “Is it clear, cohesive, and fun to read?” Successful blogs will start off with an engaging statistic, or a journalistic lede that hooks readers right away. Here’s a quick comparison of a boring and a fun introduction for an optician’s blog about eye diseases:

    • Boring: “Many people are nearsighted and need to wear glasses.”
    • Engaging: “According to the American Optometric Association, more than a quarter of the United States population suffers from myopia, or nearsightedness.”

Not only is the second example more interesting, but it adds the clout of a respected industry organization and an authoritative outbound link to the blog. From the introduction, editors will ensure that the blog flows into a well-organized body, broken up into logical bullets, lists, or subheadings for easy consumption. As an example, you’ll notice that this blog offers a very readable layout. It starts with a direct introduction, then is followed by a numbered list of parallel points and a brief conclusion.

2. Links and Anchor Text

Building up SEO authority by linking out from your blog posts to authoritative third-party sites is one of the main benefits of business blogging. That’s why our editors check outbound blog links for domain authority, quality, and relevance. Ultimately, we strive to link to content that is appropriate to the client and that readers will find useful. Editors also pay special attention to the link anchor text used throughout blog posts. We vary anchor text between posts, using business- and location-based keywords whenever possible. For example, in a blog post for an HVAC company about repairing home heating systems in time for winter, we would use anchor text such as “Fall heating tune-up” or “heating system maintenance.” The HVAC business may also focus on keywords for its air conditioning and duct cleaning services, but since those services are not relevant to this particular blog post, we would not use those phrases in the link anchor text.

3. Client Parameters

We use a streamlined content management system to keep client’s keyword strategies and special requests up-to-date and organized.  An editor will check all blog content against a client’s parameters to be sure the writing is furthering that client’s marketing goals.  Maybe a business always wants to use a trackable toll-free number in the call-to-action? Or, perhaps a client has discontinued a product and no longer wants to mention it in their content. Our CMS, combined with our editorial quality assurance, keeps clients happy and greatly reduces the need for revisions.

This is just a quick snap-shot of our writing and editing process.  Get in touch with us today to learn more about how Student Experts delivers high-quality, white-labeled content to internet marketing and SEO firms.

 

Photo credit: Evil Erin

5 Blogging Tips Straight From The Student Experts’ Style Guide

blog writing tipsWhen new writers and editors begin work at Student Experts, reading and absorbing the Style Guide is the first item on their training agenda. This 56 page document is an evolving tome that covers every step of our writing and editing process.

The Style Guide includes resources on SEO, linking to authoritative sources, conducting online research, and editing for grammar and syntax.

If you’re looking for a few blogging best practices, then review five of our Style Guide writing tips below:

1. Craft A Snappy Intro
Like a good lede in a news story, open each blog with a clear and informative introduction. Other than the blog headline, the first two sentences are your best chance to grab the reader’s attention and keep them hooked. Instead of starting a dental blog with “Many people have gum disease,” incorporate a statistic for a more active and engaging first sentence, such as, “More than 80 percent of American adults have a form of gum disease.”

2. Make It Scannable
When searching for information online, most people have a limited attention span. Use lists, bullet points, sub-headlines, and short paragraphs to make your blog scannable and reader-friendly. A series of brief, topical paragraphs or bullet points is more inviting to a reader than a block of uninterrupted text.

3. Create A Clear Structure
To maintain a coherent structure after the blog introduction, tell readers precisely what you’re about to tell them. For example, “Below we’ll review the main benefits of air duct cleaning.” Include an introductory sentence before lists or bullet points, describing the list and why it’s important to readers. Throughout list headings or subheadings, use parallel verb tenses and similar parts of speech. The numbered list in this blog post is an example of parallel construction.

4.  Use Active, Positive Language
Front-load your sentences and stick with active (not passive) constructions. Put the most important information at the beginning of a sentence so that even scanning readers will see and absorb the main points. Keep your subjects and verbs close together and stick with basic verb forms such as infinitives, imperatives, the simple present, simple past, and future tense.  Maintain a positive tone by avoiding words such as don’t, can’t, shouldn’t and not.

5. Form Simple Sentences and Paragraphs
Think Ernest Hemingway and not Marcel Proust. Keep sentences short and focused on one idea. Each new paragraph should focus on a single topic, with the most important point mentioned early in the first sentence of the paragraph. If a reader scans the blog introduction, first sentence of each paragraph, and your conclusion, they should get the point.

Student Experts creates custom content that internet marketing and SEO firms can white-label and deliver to their SMB clients. Stay tuned to our blog for more writing, editing, and content marketing tips. Learn more about our services or set up a free content trial to get a taste of our truly high-quality content!

Photo credit: ItDan

Writing For Your Audience: A Simple Exercise

Your readership can flourish or flounder based on how well you “speak” to your audience with online content.  Here’s an exercise to discover how people write within your industry and learn what gets your target audience engaged.Writing For Your Audience

1) Visit three thought leaders’ websites in your niche.  The idea is to find out how thought-leaders in your industry are already connecting with the audience. Make sure the websites you check have consistent blog and social media content with signs of engagement, such as comments, retweets and shares.

2) Spend 10 minutes looking at each author. Review each author’s recent blog posts, tweets, and other social media posts.  Take note of their writing style. Is it informal and conversational or more formal and businesslike? How lengthy are their blog posts?  You should see a pattern developing about the kind of writing that works in your industry.

3) Evaluate your natural writing style. Everyone has a natural tone or voice when they write. Gauge whether your style is  similar to what you’re seeing online in your industry.  If not,  you may want to consider adapting to the tone and style of the conversation.

If you do try this exercise, please share what you learned in the comments section below.

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Your Clients Do Not Know How To Write

Business Content Creation Isn't Always EasyAs an internet marketer, how often do you find that your clients have the tools to build consistent content but that they rarely do?

If your client’s blog and online content are underwhelming or non-existent, then it’s clear that simply having content creation tools available is not enough.

Why Your Clients Have Content Woes 

Nearly all SMBs lack the ability to write engaging content on a regular basis.  They do not write content because of one or all of the following challenges:

  •   They lack basic knowledge of online marketing
  •   They do not have writing experience
  •   There is no time to take away from operational activities

If your client’s last blog post was from June 1st….2009, or their business Facebook page is dominated by photos of the owner’s dog, yet they’re a dental office, then they need to find a better content solution.

What To Do About Content Creation

There are two ways to handle a client’s content problem:

1) Educate them. At a minimum, you can provide your clients with a blog writing resource that helps them understand the importance of consistent on-site content.  Direct them to free tools to manage social content if they want to create it themselves or do not have the budget to outsource.  Maybe lead a work-shop that educates SMBs on using an editorial calendar for WordPress blogs.  Encouragement and education will prove effective for motivated SMBs.

2) Provide Content. To ensure that your clients maintain a competitive online presence, deliver blogs, articles and other content to your clients as a service offering.  If you don’t have the resources to do this copy writing in-house, then you can outsource content creation to a trusted partner.

Offering your clients a comprehensive online marketing strategy is a good bet.  Regular content in the form of blogs and social updates are an important piece of that strategy.  As an agency, the more diverse your offering is, the more likely everyone involved comes out a winner.

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Surviving in A Post-Penguin SEO Universe

Google Penguin Update

There was a time when building links anywhere and by any means—via social profiles, page footers, directories, anything you could get your hands on—was an effective linking strategy. With Google’s Penguin and Panda updates, this is no longer the case.

The Penguin updates penalize and de-index web spam such as linking schemes, low quality content, keyword stuffing, cloaking, and deliberate duplicate content. With Penguin, Google also purged its index of free directory submission web sites. As of May 2012, it is estimated that about 50 percent of the free directory submission web sites are no longer found in Google results.

Panda reportedly affected the rankings of almost 12 percent of all search results. This update negatively affected the rankings of scrapers and copyright infringers, as well as sites with large amounts of advertising. News websites, social media websites, and those sites with minimal ads, lots of organic links, and plenty of original content may have seen their search results improve as a result of Panda.

The Rising Importance of Content

Those of us in the SEO and online marketing industries should take note: Excessive usage of the old tactics can actually drive your rankings downward. What does help SEO ranking is high quality, original content. Posting articles, guest posts, and blogs on websites now has a huge impact on search rankings. When you’re ready to put together a content strategy, you will likely come across two types of content services that supply written content for SEO and internet marketing firms and their clients.

1. Content Brokers

This type of company takes orders for articles and puts a request out to their network of freelance writers. They usually assign to whoever is available at the lowest bid and bow out of the equation. This leaves the client to handle any editing and revisions directly with the writer. Usually, the content these writers produce is unsupervised and the client is ultimately responsible for the final product. This approach can be time consuming for SEO managers, who don’t normally have the time to monitor article quality since they are focused on other aspects of SEO for their clients. Although the SEO or internet marketing firm may save money on the articles themselves, the ultimate quality (which Google is looking for) may not be there.

2. Supervised Content Specialists

The second type of content company uses internal writers and editors and supervises the writing process. Usually, a topics creator, editor, and project manager are involved in addition to the writer. Writers employed by the content company will specialize in a few key subjects or industries, in order to provide well-researched, expert content in that area. A supervised process means that all content is edited for quality, plagiarism, and keyword usage before being delivered to the client. With a supervised writing service, the client is assured that they will receive quality content without lifting a finger. The cost is slightly higher, but the final product is far more professional than brokered content.

To keep up with Google’s quality-focused updates, you may find content creation is becoming an integral part of your SEO and internet marketing solutions. Student Experts offers a private label approach to content creation that ultimately results in better blogs and guests posts that your clients will love. When you’re ready to start delivering a content solution to your clients, consider partnering with us. We can get you started today with a free content trial (no strings attached!) to see if we are a good fit for your needs.

Photo credit: CarbonNYC

Why Engage In A Free Content Trial?

As Google continues to update its algorithms, “Quality Content” is becoming vital to SEO and internet marketing success. That’s why Student Experts offers a free content trial for firms looking to provide their clients with custom blogs and quality guest posts.

When creating a new business partnership, it’s important for both parties to be sure of the fit. If you’re an internet marketer or SEO sourcing content for your clients, there’s no better way to make a decision, then to engage in a free trial period. Below we’ll share the three reasons why we feel it’s important to offer a free content trial:

1. Get A Taste of the Content

Would you recommend a restaurant to a friend without eating there first?  Similarly, the content you provide to your clients is a representation of your firm and ultimately, a representation of your client’s brand. The best way to find out if a blogging service is going to meet yours (and your client’s) high expectations, is to get a taste for free. A free content trial can give you a sense of the turnaround time and quality level. With a free trial, you’ll know if the writing has that  je ne sais quoi you’ve been looking for.

2. Zero Risk and Zero Setup

SEOs and internet marketers are increasingly expected to do more with less resources. With a free content trial, you can get the client blogs or guest blogs that you need quickly, at no cost and with zero long-term commitment.  You’ll only need to invest a few short minutes to share the scope of your content needs with your free trial provider. Leading content providers will have streamlined processes in place for collecting information, writing, editing, and delivering your trial content within days. This makes the entire process quick and hassle-free.

3. Test out the Relationship

During a free content trial, both the SEO or internet marekting firm and the content provider should be looking for mutual benefits and longterm potential. This is often an overlooked courtesy. A free content trial is a great opportunity for SEOs to ask questions about how the content provider can grow with their business and remain flexible to meet their changing needs.  With no money exchanged nor time wasted, if the fit is not there for either party, then it’s easy to shake hands and walk away.

How does your company handle writing quality blog posts and guest blogs for clients? At Student Experts we specialize in producing white-label content for internet marketing and SEO firms. Get started with a free content trial today, and see if we’re the right fit for you!

Photo Credit:  Stefan Baudy

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60 Business Blog Headlines for Inspiration

business bloggingWhether you write blogs yourself or work in conjunction with an internet marketing firm or content creation service, headlines are a vital component of the overall blog strategy.

Headlines have a big impact on search-ability and should include keywords representing your business products, services, and locations whenever possible. Blog headlines that communicate relevancy with keywords and phrases let visitors know they are “in the right place” to get the information they were searching for online.

There are a lot of websites out there with advice about effective headline writing and with sample headlines that you can adapt for your own business blogs.  However, not many sites go the extra mile and fill in the blanks with real sample headlines for all kinds of industries.

Looking at a list of blank blog headline templates is one thing, but seeing how those headlines might be used by home repair businesses, retail businesses, and even highly regulated businesses, like law offices or medical practices, can really inspire some quality business blog posts.

So here’s our list of 20 killer business blog headlines, diced 60 different ways:

1. Who Can Benefit from _____?
Who Can Benefit from Tire Rotation? (Automotive Repair)
Who Can Benefit from Life Insurance? (Insurance Agent)
Who Can Benefit from Window Replacement? (Window Installation Company)

2. Questions to Ask Your _____ (When) _____
Questions to Ask Your Hair Stylist When Getting A New Color (Hair Salon)
Questions to Ask Your Orthopedic Surgeon Prior to Knee Surgery (Orthopedic Surgeon)
Questions to Ask Your Limo Rental Company Before Your Wedding (Limousine Rentals)

3. 3 _____ Risks of _____
3 Financial Risks of Selling Your Home Yourself (Real Estate Agent)
3 Health Risks of A Sedentary Lifestyle (Fitness Club)
3 Security Risks of an Unprotected Home (Alarm Security Company)

 4. What’s (_____ )? A Quick Introductory Guide
What’s An Annuity? A Quick Introductory Guide (Financial Planner)
What’s A Slip and Fall Settlement? A Quick Introductory Guide (Personal Injury Lawyer)
What’s A Diamond Cut? A Quick Introductory Guide (Jeweler)

5. Top Qualities To Look For in _____
Top Qualities to Look For In an Assisted Living Community (Assisted Living)
Top Qualities to Look for In a Chicago Dog Walker (Pet Sitting Business)
Top Qualities to Look For in a New Home Theater System (Audio Visual Company)

6. Best Practices for _____
Best Practices for Keeping Your Pet Healthy (Veterinarian)
Best Practices for Creating A Monthly Budget (Credit Union)
Best Practices for Improving Your Golf Swing (Golf Club)

7. Comparing _____ and _____ (Optional: How to Know Which is Right for You)
Comparing Front-loading and Top Loading Washers and Dryers (Appliance Retailer)
Comparing Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: How to Know Which is Right for You (Bankruptcy Lawyer)
Comparing Botox and Juvederm: How to Know Which is Right for You (Cosmetic Spa)

8. _____: What it Means for _____
Health Care Reform: What it Means for Employers (Insurance Agent)
The Energy Tax Credit And What it Means for Home Upgrades  (Home Repair)
A Criminal Record: What it Means for Repeat Offenders in Georgia (Criminal Defense Attorney)

9. _____: A Buyer’s Guide
Certified Pre-Owned Hondas: A Buyer’s Guide (Car Dealer)
Tankless Water Heaters: A Buyer’s Guide (Plumber)
Hardwood Floors: A Buyer’s Guide (Flooring Showroom)

10. Celebrity Trends in _____
Celebrity Trends in Engagement Rings (Jeweler)
Celebrity Trends in Men’s Hair Styles (Hair Salon)
Celebrity Trends in Interior Design (Furniture Store)

11. Debunking Common Myths About _____
Debunking Common Myths About Acne (Dermatologist)
Debunking Common Myths About Child Custody in California (Family Law)
Debunking Common Myths About Retirement (Financial Planner)

12. The Future of _____
The Future of Emergency Care (Urgent Care Center)
The Future of Home Solar Power (Solar Power Installation Company)
The Future of San Jose Real Estate (Realty Company)

13. 4 Signs You Should _____
4 Signs You Should Consult a Divorce Attorney (Divorce Attorney)
4 Signs You Should Seek Varicose Vein Treatment (Cosmetic Laser Center)
4 Signs You Should Get a Home Energy Evaluation (Heating and Cooling Company)

14. A Behind the Scenes Look at _____
A Behind the Scenes Look at A Skylight Installation (Home Repair Company)
A Behind the Scenes Look at Our Kitchen During the Lunch Rush (Restaurant)
A Behind the Scenes Look at Our Hiring Process (Day Care Center or Private School)

15. Common _____ Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Common Rug Care Mistakes and How to Avoid Them (Rug Cleaning Company)
Common Tax Mistakes and How to Avoid Them (Accountant)
Common Pawn Shop Mistakes and How to Avoid Them (Pawn Brokers)

16. A Roundup Of Links About _____
A Roundup of Links about Choosing a Mattress (Furniture or Mattress store)
A Roundup Of Links About Diabetic Foot Care (Podiatrist)
A Roundup of Links About Green Pest Control (Exterminator)

17. The Expert Guide to _____
The Expert Guide to Eating Wings (Sports Bar)
The Expert Guide to Event Planning (Tent Rental Company or Caterer)
The Expert Guide to Out of State Moves (Moving and Storage Company)

18. How to Finance _____
How to Finance Your Loved One’s Funeral (Funeral Home)
How to Finance A Cosmetic Surgery Procedure (Plastic Surgeon)
How to Finance A New Roof (Roofing Company)

19. The Science Behind _____
The Science Behind Invisalign Tooth Straightening (Orthodontics)
The Science Behind The Perfect Cupcake (Bakery)
The Science Behind Emergency Defibrillation (Urgent Care Center)

20. What to Expect During _____
What to Expect During Your Custom Closet Installation (Closet Store)
What to Expect After Your Breast Augmentation Procedure (Plastic Surgeon)
What to Expect During a Personal Training Session (Fitness Club)

We hope this list illustrates how it is possible to come up with tons of dynamic headlines for just about any industry. Don’t see your industry represented here or think your business is too difficult to blog for? Leave us a comment below about what you do, and we’ll tailor some headlines just for you!

Photo credit: Laineys Repertoire

3 Reasons Why Every SMB Website Needs A Blog

blog writingThink a regular business website is good enough for a small or medium-sized business (SMB) to succeed online? Think again.

According to HubSpot, a company blog attracts 55 percent more visitors, 97 percent more inbound links, and generates 434 percent more indexed pages than a static website.

If these stats alone don’t convince you to consider blogging as part of an overall online marketing strategy, then check out the three main benefits of business blogging below:

1. Build SEO

A business blog combined with a keyword strategy is an excellent way to build SEO. Using keyword-based anchor text, linking back to your a main website, and linking out to authoritative sources will all contribute to improved search results. Blog writing is also a great way to mention long tail keywords that may be tough to incorporate naturally into regular website copy.  If a business blog’s content is high-quality and engaging, then other websites and blogs may even create valuable back links to it.

2. Establish Thought Leadership

Business blogs and guest posts are great places to feature recent research and newsworthy items in a client’s industry.  An expert content creation service will know the go-to resources for news and research in industries ranging from dentistry to automotive. When  blog posts and guest posts include timely statistics and news it will impress visitors to your client’s blog (potential customers) and help that client to establish thought leadership within their industry.

3. Promote Conversions

Every blog post can have a call-to-action and a link pointing back to a relevant product page or other high-conversion page on your client’s website. The call-to-action can be overt, such as “Call today to find out more,” or more subtle, for example, “Contact your expert plumber for more information.” You can even incorporate google analytics and a trackable toll-free phone number to measure the success of different combinations of calls-to-action and content.

If you’d like to provide blog content to your SEO and internet marketing clients, then consider partnering with Student Experts. We produce thousands of SEO-optimized blog posts and guest post each month across more than 30 industries. Find out how to get started with our free content trial today.

Photo Credit: jmoneyyyyyyy (T-shirt available for sale at Raygunsite.com.)