When creating website content, it can feel like there’s a laundry list of factors to consider. Outside of the usual best practices for writing, writing for websites has its own set of standards, which take things like mobile users and SEO into consideration. Included in this is original content – but why?
Google’s goal is to provide users with the best answer to their question. If you were searching and came up with the same answer over, and over, and over again in your search, would you find that as valuable as if your search brought up several different answers to choose from?
For this reason, Google filters search results so that only the original source is listed. You may also hear this referred to as a penalization, but in reality, it just means that if your site contains content that is the same as or very similar to another source, also known as duplicate content.
Google filters duplicate content out of searches in favor of the original source. It’s certainly not a slap on the wrist; it’s just an attempt to show the most relevant answer to the query, improving user experience. While it’s not an outright penalization, having duplicate content still may impact your site ranking, which, of course, isn’t favorable.
When it comes to website design, you’ve probably heard that, “all the important stuff should be before the scroll!”
But not any longer!
The prevalence of mobile devices has changed the way we use websites. Who among us hasn’t gotten cramps in our thumbs from too much texting, gaming, or simple scrolling on our phone? Because we’ve all become accustomed to mobile device views, big changes are happening in website design.
YouTube: Yes, YouTube is a social media destination. It also is the second-largest search engine on the Internet after Google. Plus Google owns YouTube. YouTube needs to be integrated into a website’s content as well as developing a YouTube channel for the business. For example please visit http://www.youtube.com/AnimalMedicalHosp to see a hospital’s YouTube page in action. Or click go here http://www.animalmedical.net/veterinary-services/acupuncture.html to view how a YouTube channel is embedded into a website. Some key facts about YouTube to know are:
Founded: February 2005
- 3rd Most Viewed Website
- Every day 4 billion videos are viewed
- 800 million active users a month
- 700 YouTube videos shared on Twitter per minute
Many times at Beyond Indigo we talk to people who are moderately to extremely overwhelmed with their marketing Journey. For most veterinary hospitals they do not even know where to start, what to do or how much time it is going to take. I don’t blame people for being overwhelmed. There is significant amount work, time and knowledge involved in a marketing program. If you are on the overwhelmed train, here are some points to consider that I have gleaned from 1000‘s of veterinarians about why planning for this Marketing Journey can be so overwhelming. Maybe you can relate to some of them.
Overwhelmed Issue Number One: Since most veterinarians and their staff have had to conduct very little marketing until recently, there is a steep learning curve to get up to speed. Most veterinarians still tend to be between 1996 and 1999 in their online marketing initiatives. Hospitals still try to build websites themselves, have servers located in their physical buildings and are struggling weather to use Yellow Pages or not. The problem is how to quickly learn 15 to 17 years of knowledge in a short period of time? Where to start?
Overwhelmed Issue Number Two: Who in the heck does the marketing program? Many hospitals are trying to tackle it completely by themselves and noticing it causes a juggling problem. Multiple people are tapped to do different aspects of the marketing program but nobody really is in charge. Then the message from the hospital is not consistent either in tone or timing. Or the marketing program goes really great until a new problem or focus comes into play and it is forgotten for awhile. This causes gaps with building and growing relationships which is the primary function of online marketing today. The problem is how to have the staffing resources and time to keep the marketing program ongoing.
Writing for Facebook and Twitter is not the same as writing for your website or blog. If you are using the same writing style in all places you may notice that your engagement rates are not where you had hoped they would be. That’s because you’re not talking to people in the appropriate voice for the channel that you’re using.
Writing for Facebook
Facebook no longer imposes a character limit on their status updates, at least not one that anyone is ever likely to hit, but that doesn’t mean you should start using your status updates as your new blog space. The most engaging Facebook posts are under 80 characters – that’s even shorter than uber-limited 140-characters that Twitter allows you! Does this mean you have to keep your posts to 80 characters or less? No, of course not. But it does serve as a reminder as to what people are looking for on Facebook.
First and foremost, people are looking for “you” on Facebook. They want to know that the pages they’re interacting with are run by real people with real personalities. Work hard to avoid being overly stuffy or formal. Facebook is a fun, informal, and conversational platform, and that’s how people expect you to act. That’s not to say you should be unprofessional, but it is possible to be professional and fun at the same time.
So what should you be writing on Facebook? A good start is asking questions to spark dialogue. Posts that contain questions generate twice as many comments as posts that do not.
Along the same lines as question posts are Fill in the Blanks. Both types of updates are asking your followers to provide information. The first is by directly asking for it. The second is more playful. You might post, “I can’t believe my dog ate my ______” and then sit back and see what your fans come up with.
When creating a standard status update it’s best to keep it to no more than 4 lines, and 1-2 is better. People will be seeing your updates in the news feed on their home pages more often than they’ll see them on your Timeline. It’s helpful to keep them short enough that people will be able to see the entire update without having to click the “more” link to reveal the whole thing.
Be sure to stay positive whenever possible as well. Phrase your updates in a way that will make them “like”-able. There is no dislike button yet, so even if people agree with what you’re saying, they will likely not intereact with the post if it is written in a more negative tone.
Finally, keep in mind that not all of your content needs to be unique. Include links to photos, articles, and videos that your fans might want to share with their friends. If you see a photo or video that you think is funny, or an article that you think is interesting, chances are your fans will feel the same way about it. Share it on your page and give them the chance to do the same.
Writing for Twitter
Twitter has become the place for sharing links to great content. But, what you share on Twitter is not just about the value of the content that you’re sharing, but whether or not your tweets are getting noticed in the first place. So what gets a tweet noticed? A really great headline.
There is an old rule about headlines called the 80/20 rule. This rule says that 8 out of 10 people will read a headline, but only 2 out of 10 will actually go on to read the content that the headline is describing. This rule applies to traditional headline environments like newspapers, magazines, and web pages. Once you move to email inboxes and Twitter feeds, the numbers get even worse due to the amount of competing headlines and the nature of the environment.
So how do you make sure your headlines are getting noticed and your content is getting clicked on? A good way to make sure your headlines offer a compelling reward to those who click them is by using the 4U approach which is taught in the American Writers & Artists accelerated copywriting program.
- Be USEFUL to the reader
- Provide the reader with a sense of URGENCY
- Convey the idea that the content is UNIQUE
- Do the above in an ULTRA-SPECIFIC way
It’s also important to ensure that your headlines are as short as possible. This is not only because of Twitter’s 140-character limit, but also because you want to leave room for people to retweet your content with their own comments.
To learn more come to our webinar Social Media Content IS Different: What to Know.
If you’re thinking about starting a blog for your veterinary practice, you may be wondering, “What should I write about?” Well, your high school English teacher was right. Write what you know.
Almost anything that affects your practice can be turned into a blog post. Unlike an article or pamphlet, blogs are intended to be immediate and casual. Strive for an informal, newsy tone.
For starters, try these:
Information about pet health. How to brush a dog’s teeth, how to give a cat a pill. Any general pet health information you routinely give clients can make a great blog post.
Current events or issues affecting pets in your area. Has a pet food recall affected your area? A local tick infestation? A heat wave that could pose a danger to unprotected pets? Blogging timely issues like these help get information to your clients (and potential clients) quickly. Over time, they’ll think of your site as a place to look for answers to timely issues.
Questions from clients or readers. “Mailbag” blog posts are always popular. You probably get asked dozens of questions each day about common pet health issues. Select a few of general interest and answer them in a blog post. Better still, ask readers to submit their questions by email or give them to your receptionist. Of course, you’ll only answer those where you’re comfortable giving general information.
Changes in your practice – Get a new dental laser machine? Show it off. Just finished remodeling your boarding area? Pictures please. We all like to hear what’s new. It’s fine to be excited to let everyone know what’s happening at your practice. The key is to keep the tone light rather than like a press release.
Local events you’re sponsoring or participating in. Will you have a table at Homecoming Days? Helping with a food drive for a local shelter? Let people know about the event in your blog so they can participate. Don’t forget to do a follow-up post with photos of the event.
Write about what others are writing. One of the great things about blogs is that you aren’t limited to your own content, but can comment on news, articles, videos and other blog posts. Give your take on a local news story affecting pets, share a useful (or funny) pet video, bring an article you read to your client’s attention or even comment on another blog post. Just be sure to give credit and a link to the original work.