At school my favourite subject was English - I remember putting way too much effort into my short stories compared to the rest of my work. I used to enjoy art as well and combined the two by also illustrating every story I wrote. In fact, when I recently discovered my old history books, at the back of the garage, it was obvious that I'd spent more time drawing pictures of Anne Boleyn's six-fingered hand than actually demonstrating what I'd learnt.

I used to continue this at home by illustrating comic books and writing more stories. I sort of still do by continuing to write this blog! I think that part of this is my drive to try to create more content than I consume. But with so many distractions around it's not an easy thing to do. I'm by no means the best writer, or even a very good one, but I do enjoy the evolution from writing for school to writing for business. With the former, I used to finish an assignment and hand it in. Whereas with blogging, I find I can create something and iterate on it with a goal of always improving.

But writing content for the web is HARD. Just because you work in PR, once wrote a book or even have your own blog it doesn't mean you can write web content. I became so bogged down with it during a recent website rebuild project that we decided to brief and outsource it to copywriters. So, here are a few pointers, which I always try to stick by, when writing for the web:
  1. Don't start by thinking about what you want to say but what people want to know. You need to decide immediately on your target audience and identify their pain points.
  2. Think about the purpose of your website/blog and the page you're writing for. Is there something you can offer different to your competition (i.e. some relatable examples?)
  3. Stick to your brand guidelines. Every large business should have a style guide which needs to be adhered to for a consistent tone of voice. It may take longer at first, but writing in different styles (personal/professional) will eventually become easier. 
  4. List and include your keywords. Before writing anything compile a list of prioritised keywords to ensure your content is found. There are lots of different ways of doing this and using social media to 'listen' to your audience in advance is an important one. 
  5. Make your writing visual. People read very differently online. It's important to ensure that you break up sections with sub-headings and lists to avoid reader fatigue. 
  6. Ensure that your content helps visitors through the conversion funnel. Anything you write should engage and involve your readers. This is especially true in blog posts where you want to present an interesting idea and spark debate. 
  7. Edit and proofread and have someone else read your draft. My wife is my long suffering sub-editor! You should also be clear about what you want the reader to do once they've read the article and link to relevant content elsewhere within your site. 
  8. Make sure your article is easily summed up for social sharing. If you focus on keeping your content focused and about one subject this should be much easier.
So it's time for me to publish this post and ensure I've done a decent job of summarising it's content for Twitter and LinkedIn. 

Now I've put myself out there by documenting my process let the stream of social media comments on how badly written this post is begin!
Any business, whether they have an active presence or not, needs to pay close attention to their online reputation management (ORM).

It's very likely people may seek out your reputation before making, buying or entering into contracts with you. If there’s no information online about your business, then whilst this may not be damaging in itself, your brand may not be getting the same coverage as competitors.

But it's not just a case of setting up some social media monitoring, or increasing your focus on public relations. Your brand is constantly being talked about either on review sites, on social media or by getting media coverage.

So what do you do if your online brand reputation suddenly decreases with negative news articles appearing as the top Google results?

Google’s ‘Top Stories’ feature means that if your company are in the news (by high traffic sites news specific sites such as BBC) this is prioritised at the top of any search for your brand for a maximum of 5 days.

There are things that can be done to decrease the prominence of these results and affect the top five listings in Google. Especially as they receive about two-thirds of all clicks from users.
Here are some very quick wins to ensure your own content is ranking well which don't require any additional external spend:
  • All website blog posts and news releases should contain images, which Google likes, to ensure content is ranked well
  • Adding referral links to other pages on your website from your news releases increases your Google ranking - it does not like dead-end pages
  • Where possible, ensure that you are the first to publish any news stories to achieve a better  ranking
  • Track all live mentions on social media, via Google Alerts and a media monitoring tool (i.e. Brand Watch) to tackle any media issues
  • Post content on more contentious subjects and speed up the publication of certain high-ranking news article topics
  • Upskill those publishing content using online tools to do extensive keyword research and web specific writing using tools like Keywords everywhere, Headlines analyzer and Hemingway app to ensure content is ranked better by Google
  • Deliver training on updating LinkedIn profiles to educate the business on optimising their personal profiles
  • For crisis control you can create bespoke webpages which clearly state the issue, are transparent and can provide up-to-date information about the actions being taken
Of course, your social media presence is very important and you should optimise your profiles and ensure you are posting regularly at the very least.

If budget isn't an issue you can undertake Pay Per Click (PPC) activity via Google AdWords to further control what appears at the top of Google searches and relegate the problematic ‘Top stories’ section.

Many B2C brands do this and essentially bid for their own brand name as it also allows them to have sub-links to key parts of their website. Keyword research will show your most searched for terms and the cost per click (CPC) in order to rank first. This CPC is determined by other companies bidding for the same/similar terms and search volumes.

Of course, an essential element of a successful ORM strategy is measuring success. Therefore you'll need to track and report on:
  • Key web influencers which could potentially be targeted to run content with as identified by Brand Grader
  • How paid and organic activity has affected brand sentiment (positively or negatively)
  • If your website traffic has increased meaning more users are visiting for news updates rather than third parties
  • How many clicks you have received on your ads as a percentage of searches (which previously would have gone to third parties)
  • Social media complaint increase or decrease
The key thing to remember is that your brand is being talked about and it's up to you to ensure that these mentions are truthful and positive!
Next PostNewer Posts Previous PostOlder Posts Home