Hiring writers to help generate SEO friendly content

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Does it make sense to hire writers for your online business or website? I’ve started to have a lot of success with outsourced writers – but only when I know the topics that I want them to cover, and also when I train them up on basic content guidelines and SEO. Additionally, I believe that a single person should be your editor so that you can keep the right tone and brand – I never publish anything without carefully reading it and editing it for clarity, SEO and brand.

Training someone on basic SEO shouldn’t be too hard, as long as they are competent and open to learning. Below is an email I shared with a new writer on how they should approach SEO.

My email to an outsourced writer explaining basic SEO tactics

When we write a piece for SEO purposes, our goal is to win search volume on the “focus” keyword/phrase, plus get some related search volume for longer-tail keywords as well. I like this overview, and will expound more below: https://www.reliablesoft.net/on-page-seo/

We need to be pretty calculating with the keyword phrases and terms that we use. Their position in the piece, plus the percent that we use them in the piece matter.

A) In terms of positioning the focus words in the piece, we need to have the header/title use the exact keyword phrase. We should have the exact keyword phrase used once in the first paragraph, ideally in the first or second sentence. This not only lets Google know that we are focusing on this term, it also lets people who’ve just made a search see the result near the top, so they know they’ve come to the right place.

We also must use the phrase, or some version of the phrase, in the sub-titles, at least a couple of times. And we’ll want to “naturally” sprinkle the keyword phrase, and variants of it, in the piece through the paragraph/body text.

B) The frequency that we use the terms is called “keyword density.” We want the term in there enough so that Google realizes what we are focusing on, but not so much that it thinks we are creating spam content. And we don’t want to be unnatural; our writing needs to keep the reader engaged. Sometimes this is easy, other times it requires some real editing. The easiest way to check the density is with this free tool:

https://www.seoreviewtools.com/keyword-density-checker/?text-input

An aspect of density that some people forget is that the phrase density matters as well; it’s not just the single words, but also the combination of words that mattes.

The tool above will help you understand when you’ve gone too far, but the general rough rule is that we want between 1 and 2% of all of the words in the text to be the keyword, and we don’t want more than 2% of the words to be any particular phrase.

B2) Synonyms are not a bad idea either – this can help catch other, related searches, plus make the piece less robotic. For example, I’ll use the term “startup” “early-stage company” “VC funded company” etc to mix it up and not just say “startup” over an over.

C) I’d also like you to visit google and search for the term that we are trying to win. Google will suggest other searches – if these seem relevant, than we want to have a “section” on them. Many of these will be questions, and we’ll want to have a subtitle that asks the question, and a paragraph below that answers it.

D) Please also visit the top couple of search results to see what those people have written on. We may find ideas in there that will help us with what we want to talk about.

E) It’s not a bad idea to have a link or two out to a related topic that is on an “authority” site – ideally a news article or university research piece. This may not be easy, so don’t bend over backwards to do it. It’s got to be “natural” enough to be helpful for a reader who clicks out.

Most importantly, we want to write great content that is interesting to read and answers the question(s) that the visitor has!!

Creating a private Twitter list

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Private Twitter lists are a great way to keep up to date on a group of companies, competitors, thought leaders, journalists, etc. – without anyone knowing who you are following.

Why create a private Twitter list?

Twitter lists are like a modern RSS feed – you can passively watch a lot of different companies/people and know about interesting news, trends, etc – without having to actively do any real work.

Keeping the Twitter list private means that the people you follow, and competitors, won’t know who you are following. This helps if you are following a list of customers and you don’t want your competitors to know. Or if you put a lot of time into creating a Twitter list that give you some kind of a competitive advantage and you don’t want someone else to benefit from you work.

I found that it’s not easy to find information on how to create a private Twitter list – not really sure why, as it’s very easy.

How do you create a private Twitter list?

  1. Click on your face in the top right 
  2. Click “lists”
  3. Click “create a new” list to the right
  4. Name the Twitter list it
  5. Make sure you select the “private” option
  6. Add people to the list, and there you go!

How do you make an existing Twitter list private?

If you already have a Twitter list and want to convert it from public, where anyone can see it, to Private, where only you can access the list, all you have to do is:

  1. Click on your face in the top right (see the image above)
  2. Click “Lists”
  3. Choose the list, from you lists in the middle
  4. On the left, click “edit”
  5. Choose “Private”, then save list

Done!

ForUsAll recent press

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I’ve been really busy recently, so haven’t been posting much recently. (I did manage to make my vegetarian mexican casserole again this weekend though!)

The good news is that ForUsAll is experiencing some great momentum, and with it, some great press. Here are some of the press pieces that I’m particularly proud of:

ForUsAll in Techcrunch: This technology publication covered ForUsAll’s achievement of an important milestone – $100 million in assets under management. Quoting from the article, “The company has managed to attract a customer base among small and medium-sized businesses precisely because it offers lower cost advisory services with higher engagement rates for employees, according to chief executive and founder, Shin Inoue.”

PlanSponsor: Small- and Midsize-Plan Issues: A plan sponsor finds new provider options. I’m pretty proud of this one, as it is an interview with a non-profit ForUsAll client, Baltimore Curriculum Project. This client talks to PlanSponsor about their decision to work with ForUsAll:

Besides the participant improvements, Scott is pleased because ForUsAll handles enrollment and payroll deductions, as well as Form 5500 reporting. “Previously, I had to enter everything in payroll by hand. Now, after an employee’s one-year eligibility period is up, I get an email that [he] is participating and that the deferral will be deducted from his pay. ForUsAll runs payroll reports and automatically debits deferrals,” she says.

InvestmentNews: Young retirement robo ForUsAll scoring high employee participation rates. InvestmentNews reporter mentions how ForUsAll has reached $100 million in assets under management, and then mentions some of the reasons for our recent growth.

ForUsAll, a budding retirement robo-adviser launched by three former Financial Engines employees, is having more success convincing plan participants to save for their futures than the industry as a whole…

In addition to convincing participants to save for their own retirements, the San Francisco-based firm appears to be presenting an effective argument to attract clients, as it grew assets on its platform to $100 million from $5 million at the start of 2016.

As a reminder, I run marketing for ForUsAll. We are a technology enabled small and mid-sized retirement plan advisor. This means that we help SMBs improve their 401(k) plans by bringing them a suite of technology and our founders’ experience managing billions of 401(k) assets for Fortune 500 companies. This market is highly fragmented, with a number of 401(k) providers duking it out for market share. We help business owners and HR leaders find the right retirement provider, fund lineup, lower fees, and add on a technology stack that helps reduce their administrative workload and fiduciary responsibilities.

ForUsAll

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I’m excited to announce that I recently joined ForUsAll! ForUsAll is focused on making 401(k) retirement plans available to small and mid-sized businesses. This is a market ripe for innovation. If a SMB does offer their employees a 401(k) plan, they end up paying high fees, dealing with administration headaches and often get less than ideal employee participation rates.

ForUsAll is trying to change all of that using design and technology innovation. The founders come from a deep 401(k) lineage, having helped build Financial Engines – a major player in the Fortune 500 retirement benefit space. My role is to lead our nascent marketing team and I get to partner closely with our rapidly growing sales team. One of the things that most excited me about joining ForUsAll was getting to work with another fast paced sales team – I really enjoyed working with sales at Sunrun, and this is a tremendous opportunity to help shape an awesome sales and marketing organization. I’m also proud to say that we have recently announced our Series A venture capital raise, which you can read about here.

I hope that I’ll have time to blog more about the strategies and tactics that I’m using at ForUsAll. One of my initial goals has been to generate content for the company, so I’ve been writing and editing a ton. This means that I’m back in the groove of writing – awesome! But it also means that I’m busy writing like crazy for my day job, which may make it harder to produce content for this blog.

Now that I’ve left ForUsAll, I’ve put together some “industry insider” reviews of fintech 401(k) companies. You can read a Guideline 401(k) review here, and a ForUsAll 401(k) review here, and a Human Interest 401(k) review here.

Using older blog posts as lead generation engines

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Hubspot published a brilliant article on using old blog posts to drive leads. I’ve used this tactic as a one off, in particular at OfficeDrop, but the idea of doing it as an optimization strategy is great.

Basically, your old blog posts are likely driving leads. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Figure out which ones are the real drivers, in terms of traffic and lead gen.
  2. Seek to update the ones driving conversion to get more traffic and improve conversion.
  3. Improve the conversion rate on the ones driving traffic, but with few leads.
  4. I’d add a backlink strategy to push juice from posts that Google likes and point them to pages on your site where you are building authority.

It’s a great post and excellent strategy. Old blog posts are not sacred; in fact Google loves updated content. And you social media followers probably will too.

Evolution of MVP

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I came across this cute, but powerful, image on the evolution of an MVP. Not every great product happens like this, even if it’s done via a minimum viable product, but still, this is a powerful image. mvp evolutionI tried to figure out where this image came from to link back to it, but couldn’t.

Recent LTV post by David Skok

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I had the pleasure of being a board observer to a company that had David Skok on the board. He is a pretty amazing operator turned VC, and his most recent post on LTV is just great.

For some reason, a lot of entrepreneurs forget to use gross margin when calculating long term value of a customer. David’s formula is pretty clear on how to use churn rate, gross margin and of course revenue to calculate LTV. Check it out!

Ogilvy on direct response advertising

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Ogilvy, the master of direct response (DR) advertising, speaks about why data should drive advertising. I think this is pretty obvious today for online marketing, but as as larger companies work to pull in offline advertising into the online world (in particular, social) his words still ring true.

Google, Facebook and Mobile

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Facebook is allowing Google to index some user profiles for mobile searches. Check out the piece on MediaPost.

Other interesting tidbit from the article:

“Facebook accounted for a 17.5% share of worldwide mobile ad spend in 2014, sliding to 17.4% in 2015, per eMarketer. Google’s worldwide mobile ad market share in 2014 was 38.4%, falling to 33.7%, a higher percentage than Facebook.”

Two great pieces that I’ve read recently

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I’ve come across two pieces that really resonate with my current marketing efforts.

Customer Journey Analytics

The first is on customer journey analytics – this is the first time I’ve heard this term, but considering the fact that I’m currently working with analytics as it relates to my customer’s journey, I guess it shouldn’t be!

Basically, with enough data, you can plot a customer’s journey from awareness -> consideration -> purchase -> retention -> loyalty/referring.

I’ve been mapping this journey and looking for particular instances where the metrics can be improved. It’s kind of like funnel optimization, but has a lot of interaction/touch point strategy as well as remarketing/information architecture.

This piece highlights the interaction between campaign sequencing, customer lifecycle and ad purchasing (which the author refers to as marketing timing).

Facebook Growing Ad Revenue like Crazy

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it’s either validating or scary to see that I’m not the only person investing in and seeing success with Facebook advertising.

Validating because I’ve tried a few times and this is the first time it’s working really well. So good for me, since I’m not failing where others are succeeding.

Scary because I wonder if this means that ad pricing will go up. I guess it’s a race between demand and additional Facebook usage?