Entries from August 2011 ↓

Using QR Codes as Part Of Your Marketing Strategy

A few months back I wrote a post about QR Codes and how they can help you market your business.

But before you dive in and get yourself one of these snazzy little boxes, you must make sure you think carefully about how you and your customers will use it.

You should also ask yourself how tech-savvy your customers are.

If you suddenly adopt the QR Code as a means of accessing special offers or how to sign up to your newsletter you could be seriously limiting your market reach.

A lot of your customers won’t know what one of these strange little boxes is yet alone what it’s for. They may not even be interested in scanning it (even if they knew how) so make sure you offer other was of signing up too.

A few things to remember

1. Educate

If you’re going to use a QR Code tell people what it is, what they need to do and how to read it. Plus tell them it will take them to a great offer, your mobile site or a sign up form so they know what to expect when they get there.

2. Give them a helping hand

Not everyone with a smartphone will have a QR Code reading app.

Let them know they need an app, where to get one from and, perhaps, suggest some that you know work.

3. What do you want them to do?

Once you’ve educated your customers, shown there where to get their app and what to do with it, give some thought about what you want them to do.

The landing page that the QR Code takes them to has to do something so make sure it has a strong call to action.

4. Make it easy to read

Your QR Code has to be flat and uncreased to scan properly. So placing it on a t-shirt may look cool but it won’t work.

Have you started using QR Codes yet?

Leave a comment and let us know how you’re using your QR Code.

  • Do you have a novel way of displaying it?
  • Where does it take your customers?
  • Has it been well received and well used?

It would be really interesting to hear some of your success or horror stories.

The Importance of Off Screen SEO

When you think search engine optimisation, what is the first thing that pops into your head?

  • Keywords
  • SEO copywriting
  • Title tags
  • Headings and subheadings

Yes, they are all very important SEO factors but for the on screen part of your strategy.  There’s a whole lot more that has to go on behind the scenes.

Off screen SEO is a vital part of your SEO strategy and has to work in conjunction with your on screen antics.

What are the off screen factors?

When thinking off screen you are looking at things such as:


This has to be built by someone who knows what they are doing. A well designed structure and easily crawled and navigable site will do wonders for your SEO.


These are vitally important. Every inbound link you get is like a vote for your website. And the more votes you get, the more Google will love you.

You can generate links from blogs, article marketing and directory submissions (e.g. DMOZ.org). But don’t just gather links from high ranking sites. Although a link from a site with a PR of 4 or higher is worth a lot, you need to mix in some lower ranked sites too.

The most effective inbound links are those where you have used your targeted keywords within the anchor text link. So, for example, if I wanted to generate a link back to my main website (Briar Copywriting) I would use an anchor text link similar to this:

Copywriting, and especially the art of SEO copywriting, is essential to not only attract visitors to your website but also to generate and maintain great rankings within the search engines.”

Just remember that link building is something that should be done constantly.

Social media

You may have noticed that Google is using social media results in its SERPs these days. But more than that, social media activity will help you develop online communities. These people will talk about you and promote you to others and so drive more traffic to your website.

This is also the same for forums. Taking part in discussions will not only generate links to your website but it will get your name known.

For more information about SEO, take a look at Google’s own SEO starter guide for invaluable hints and tips on how to create an online presence that really works.

The Cost of NOT Proofreading

It’s amazing where inspiration can strike for blog posts.

This one came about after a visit to the opticians. I dread going mainly because I have a tendency to faint but on this occasion not only did I not faint, I also came away with a blog post.

Whilst sitting in the big black chair, breathing deeply and praying that I wouldn’t pass out, my optician was making conversation and asked what I did.

After explaining I was a freelance copywriter and worked with computers most of the day (hence the need for an eye check) he told me about a proofreading blunder he’d read about.

Earlier this year a story appeared in the Daily Mail with the headline:

Pasta Cookbook pulped over ‘freshly ground black people’ misprint

In a nutshell, an Australian publisher published a cookbook with a blaring mistake – namely a recipe using ‘freshly ground black people’ rather than ‘freshly ground black pepper’.


In fact it turned out to be a very expensive ooops because 7,000 books had to be reprinted costing Penguin a massive 20,000 Australian Dollars.

To add insult to injury, Penguin Australia’s head of publishing, Bob Sessions, said during an interview:

“We’re mortified that this has become an issue of any kind and why anyone would be offended, we don’t know.  We’ve said to bookstores that if anyone is small-minded enough to complain about this … silly mistake, we will happily replace (the book) for them.’

Well Bob, I would suggest at 20,000 Australian Dollars it was rather a huge mistake.

How to proofread effectively

Let’s get one thing clear – proofreaders are human and humans do make mistakes. No one is perfect but there are a few things you can do to make sure your writing is as perfect as possible so you can avoid embarrassing episodes like this one.

1. A second pair of eyes

In an ideal world if you wrote an article you would get someone else to proof it for you. A fresh set of eyes will pick up on errors you don’t see.

2. Time

If you don’t have the luxury of a proofreader the next best thing is to give yourself time between completing the piece of work and proofreading it.  If possible leave it for a minimum 24 – 48 hours before returning to it.

3. Quiet

Make sure you have peace and quiet when proofing. If you work in a large office you will easily become distracted and miss things. Find a quiet room where you can shut yourself away.

4. Print out

It is much easier to read from a piece of paper than a screen. Print out the document you need to check and go through it slowly line by line.

5. Go backwards

Once you’ve checked through your document a couple of times, read it backwards. Trust me, reading it backwards will make you more aware of the words you’ve used and will flag up any that are spelt incorrectly or are just plain wrong.

6. Read out loud

Proofreading isn’t just about spelling and grammar. It’s also about making sure the piece flows and has rhythm. Reading it out loud will flag up any areas that don’t flow and will show if you’ve overused words or terms.

7. Don’t rush it

Your reputation relies on the quality of your work so don’t rush it. The article, blog post, web copy or brochure that you’ve written has to be perfect to keep your customers happy.

Proofreading has to be one of the dullest jobs there is but it is also one of the most important. If you don’t want to make headlines like this one, make sure you take your time and proofread every piece of work within an inch of its life.

How do you proofread?

Do you have any unusual techniques that you find really work?

If so leave a comment below, I’d love to hear about them.

What is PR?

What do you think of when you think PR?

  • Air kissing
  • Extremely expensive magazine/newspaper columns
  • Glossy magazine adverts…

Believe it or not, PR doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact sometimes it won’t even touch it.

Being in the know

A lot of your PR can cost you virtually nothing. All you need it a bit of time to get to know people and build a few relationships.

Let’s look at press first. There’s bound to be an industry magazine you can contact or perhaps your networking group has a magazine or e-newsletter. Either way they are a great source of free PR.

Get in touch with the editor and find out what they’re looking for. If you have a great story (and we all love real life stories), pick up the phone and have a chat with them – tell them what you have to say. If they like it, write it down and send it in. But make sure it’s ready to go (without any typos etc) because if they can just cut, paste and print they are more likely to use it.

Being seen

Getting in front of people is another great way to boost your exposure.

Whether it’s having a stand at an exhibition (yes that will have a cost attached to it), giving a talk at an event (that won’t), chairing a committee or attending events, you will gain great exposure and meet interesting and potentially useful people.

In other words, get out there and network.

Being bold online

You don’t have to be seen in the flesh to gain great PR.

Social networking is everywhere – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, not to mention all the online forums.

Get out there, start interacting and offering advice.

Of course you can also blog. Having a blog that concentrates on your expertise (I’m a copywriter and marketer so that’s what this blog is all about) enables you to write posts that help people and that will position yourself as an expert in your field.

Be yourself

Everything you do (within reason) can be used to further your PR.

If you do daft things for charity, publicise it.

If you’re launching a new look website, tell people

If you’ve moved premises, shout about it.

If you’re taking on new staff, tell the world.

Basically anything you do that is newsworthy can be turned into a press release.

So you see, PR doesn’t have to cost the earth. Virtually everything you do has an element of PR in it, you just have to learn how to leverage it.

What do you do to help your PR? Leave a comment below and share your best piece of free PR or any other PR tips you find that work for you.

Keeping Up With Google

It’s very true when people say nothing in life ever stays the same.

If you’re into internet marketing you will definitely appreciate that. Google is constantly changing its algorithms. One minute your website could be riding high, the next it could be sinking fast.

But Google doesn’t do it just to be difficult. As a search engine, Google’s number one priority is its users. The constant changes occur to improve the quality of its search results. This is what Google said about the latest change:

The “Panda” algorithm change has improved rankings for a large number of high-quality websites, so most of you reading have nothing to be concerned about. However, for the sites that may have been affected by Panda we wanted to provide additional guidance on how Google searches for high-quality site. Think about…

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it shallower in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  • Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopaedia or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  • Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
  • Would users complain when they see pages from this site?”

(Source: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/05/more-guidance-on-building-high-quality.html)

In essence, if you focus on publishing high quality content that your readers will want to read and share, you should be OK.

7 Pillars of good websites

To sum up what Google are talking about, here are 7 tips to help you enjoy some great rankings:

  1. Make sure your website’s content is aimed at your reader at all times (not the search engines)
  2. Your content must focus on quality not quantity
  3. The links to your site must be quality links
  4. Keep it social – although there is no direct evidence as to how this will help your rankings, Google is now providing real-time social sharing in its search results
  5. Don’t duplicate content across websites as Google will only show the most relevant and original content
  6. Don’t overdose on advertisements on your website
  7. Make sure your title tags and META descriptions tell Google what your site is about (and make them meaningful and not just stuffed with your keywords)

So there you go – make sure you write for your reader and not the search engines.

I think I’ll give Google the last word:

 “Our advice for publishers continues to be to focus on delivering the best possible user experience on your websites and not to focus too much on what they think are Google’s current ranking algorithms or signals”

 Sally Ormond – copywriter, blogger and social media addict who’s rather partial to toffee