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Your company is blogging on a regular basis.

Your site has all the social media bells and whistles.

But sadly, your SEO content could still be pretty useless.

I was thinking about this after I watched ThinkGeek’s Useless Box Kit video. The video shows a black box with a switch on top. Once the switch is flipped, the top opens and a lever turns the switch off.

The box looks cool. But it doesn’t really do anything.

The video reminded me about all the companies that suffer from useless SEO content. These companies may have a lot of site content – but the content doesn’t really do anything. If anything, it hurts conversions.

Here are the most common issues I see:

Reader overload: Instead of following a conversion focus, some companies throw everything they can on a single page. White papers? Sure. Product images? You bet. The latest 20 videos? Why not?

Sound familiar? If this sounds like your company’s site, you’re causing reader overload and probably tanking your conversion rates. According to Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, reducing choices is the key to success.  If you showcase the main conversion goal for the page – and make it easy for people to take action – your conversion rates will be much higher.

Poor keyphrase choices:  Yes, keyphrases still matter.  But unfortunately some companies forgo keyphrase research. Or they do the research, but make bad decisions. For example, some B2B keyphrase choices have a B2C application. If you optimize for the wrong terms, your target customer won’t be able to find you in a Google search.

If your copy isn’t positioning – or converting – the way you’d like, it could be because your keyphrases don’t accurately reflect your product or service. Your best bet is to review your keyphrases (bring in a consultant if necessary,) and see if you’re missing any opportunities. You’ll want to use those keyphrases in your content and Titles, so choosing the right ones are crucial.

Titles that tank: During a search, your first opportunity for conversion doesn’t happen on your site. It actually happens on the search engine results page (SERP.) Remember, your listing is competing against nine others on the page. If your Title doesn’t immediately grab your target customer, you may be missing conversions.

It’s important to know how to write a Title that serves two masters: Google and your target reader. Yes, you’ll want to include keyphrases.  But you’ll also want to determine how your Title can differentiate your listing and pop off the page. Can you add a benefit statement? Can you play with the Title format? Review what your competitors are doing and see how you can do it even better.

A glut of features – but no benefit statements: It’s great that you have a 30,000 square foot warehouse and your salespeople have an average of fifteen years in the industry. But guess what? Your reader doesn’t care. What she does care about is what’s in it for her. And you can only accomplish that by using benefit statements that are laser-focused on your customer persona.

Many B2B sites are extremely feature-rich, but they don’t share why those features are important.  Always tie your features back to benefit statements, and think about how you really help your clients/customers. It’s one thing to sell yellow hard hats. It’s another to share how your brand won’t slip, pull hair, or cause headaches. See the difference?

Poor, undifferentiated content: Does your content sound exactly the same as competing sites? In the wise words of Dr. Seuss, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” That means using a voice that clicks with your reader, showcases your benefits and approaches your product or service in a different way.

Does that sound risky? Sure. Being different always is. But your customers will appreciate the difference. Instead of reading the “same ole, same ole” on your site, they’ll be presented with the information they need in a fresh and interesting way. For instance, Basecamp does a fantastic job with how they discuss project management software. Their site’s tone and feel is approachable and friendly.  Plus, they’ve served over 285,000 customers. You can’t argue with that number – they’re obviously doing something right.

Lumping your verticals together into one persona: If your company sells to different vertical markets, that means every vertical needs its own persona. If you try to create a “global” approach that speaks to all markets, your content won’t have the power (or persuasiveness) you want. What’s important to construction project managers will be different than the priorities of an oil and gas CTO.

Instead, create customer persona documents for every vertical. What are the similarities and differences between your personas? What are the objections, by vertical, you’ll need to overcome in your content? What benefits are the most important? You may also want to experiment with the content tone and feel. You may find that a less formal tone may resonate better with certain target audiences.

Saving your site from useless box kit syndrome may take some time, training (such as SEO content creation training) and internal discussions. However, once you make some smart changes, you’ll be able to transform your “useless” site into a site that Google – and your customers – love.  And that’s a wonderful thing.

Want to see the video for the Useless Box Kit? You can check it out here.

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Heather Lloyd-Martin

About Heather Lloyd-Martin

Described as a fast-talking, fiery redhead, Heather Lloyd-Martin is a 20-year marketing veteran, a recognized author and considered the pioneer of SEO copywriting. Recognized worldwide as a first-generation search marketing expert, her life is split between watching the search engines dance and pinpointing the exact direct response copywriting strategies that make people buy.

Career highlights include:

  • Profiled in the book Online Marketing Heroes as the pioneer of SEO copywriting.
  • Mentioned as a must-follow online marketing genius in the book The Complete Social Media Community Manager’s Guide: Essential Tools and Tactics for Business Success.
  • Past-chair of the Direct Marketing Association’s Search Engine Marketing Council.
  • Developer of the SEO Copywriting Certification program, the only industry-endorsed training program teaching SEO Copywriting best practices.
  • Voted one of 2012′s Top Women in SEO, and nominated again in 2013.
  • Advisory board member of SEMpdx, and serves on the board of American Writers and Artists, Inc.
  • Quoted and cited in many publications, including The Huffington Post, Target Marketing Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine and others.

Presenting at industry events is one of Heather’s passions, and she’s frequently crossing time zones en-route to her next speaking gig. You can see her speaking at Darden School of Business, Search Engine Strategies, SMX, Small Business Marketing Unleashed, PubCon and a host of other events. In her spare time, she enjoys crazy-making travel, grueling workouts, Starbucks extra-hot soy lattes and hanging out with her husband, two dogs and one cat in West Linn, OR.

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