Understand Outbound Links—And Why You Need Them

Understand Outbound Links - Concept Image

Do you Understand Outbound Links–and Do You Use Them?

Do you put outbound links in your blog articles or other pages? That is, do you put links that point to a website other than your own? Maybe you do. Maybe you just say “meh.” Maybe you don’t because you don’t want to risks sending your visitors to another site. If you’re new to blogging, you may not understand outbound links or why you might (or might not) use them.

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The Power of Internal Linking for SEO

Build the Power of Internal Linking for SEO.

Even if you don’t have a grand SEO strategy, you can pump it up by leveraging internal linking for SEO and a positive user experience (UX). A good internal linking strategy will make your website more successful–without spending lots of time or money. Let’s dive into what internal links are and how you can make to most of them.

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Primer: Write Great Subheads for Better Online Performance

You’ve spent hours crafting just the right headline for your blog article and you’re getting lots of hits. Congratulations! But don’t pat yourself on the back just yet. First ask: Are readers staying on the page or bouncing off? Are the converting? If not, ask if you know how to write great subheads that increase webpage performance.

I mention this because studies about attention spans and scanning give clues about how important subheads are to fight low attention span:

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Expert Copywriting Tips for Your Audience and SEO

I’ve been a marketer and B2B writer for longer than I care to admit. One thing is for sure: bad copywriting won’t get you anywhere, ever. Expert copywriting is the #1 success factor for blog articles and other content. Given Google’s current algorithm, which focuses on high quality writing, it doesn’t make any sense to write with SEO as the top priority. Sure, it counts. But it doesn’t help you gain credibility, subscribers, or shares.

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The Most Essential Tips for Planning an Ebook

The most essential tips for planning an ebook: Computer monitor filled with books

If you’re a content marketer, ebooks are a hot commodity. Their potential for high-conversion rates makes them valuable assets for lead generation, but starting one can seem overwhelming. If you’re planning an e-book for your next content marketing campaign, here are tips on the what, why, and how of ebook writing.

What is an Ebook?

First, let’s define what an ebook IS NOT. These days, marketers use the term ebook very loosely, which is unfortunate because it devalues the true nature and value of the ebook as a well-written, substantive educational document. It’s not a short-lived blog post, an opinion piece, or an ad. While ebooks may resemble white papers, they are distinct differences. Ebooks are usually shorter (a minimum of 3-5 pages), have quick takeaways, and feature visual pizazz. They read more like a user-friendly book, rather than a hard-nosed report.

Now, let’s define what an ebook IS. An ebook is a branded, long-form content asset that should reflect your expertise on a topic and provide solid value for the reader. Ebooks are a favorite asset for content marketers because they typically generate highly qualified leads—especially those in the mid to late stage of the marketing funnel. Further, ebooks have legs. Often published in PDF form, they are easily sharable, increasing the likelihood of introducing other prospects to your brand.

Find out more about writing white papers and using them as a lead generation tool.

Identify your audience to determine your topic.

Pick a Topic – Step 1: Identify a narrowly defined audience.

Image: Man shooting arrow at  trget: Define your audience to kind a killer topic for your ebook
Define your audience to find a killer topic for your ebook

When planning an ebook, it makes no sense to choose a topic before selecting a narrowly defined audience. For example, you might be targeting a senior-level decision-maker in the financial software sector, with ompany revenues of $50-100 million.

Once you have determined who you are writing for, your task is to identify a very specific question they want the answer to—written at the right knowledge level, using language that is accessible to them, and creating a tone that suits both them and your brand.

If you don’t already have a buyer persona for your target audience, here’s how to create a buyer persona, along with an easy-to-follow template.

Pick a Topic – Step 2: Leverage your expertise.

When planning an ebook, remember that you want to be perceived as authoritative, plus you want to be original. Pick a topic that matches your area of expertise, preferably a subject that is not already well-covered, or one where you can provide a unique viewpoint. If you’re stuck, you can get ideas from industry websites, articles from expert bloggers, your own high-performing blogs, and your sales team. You can also type a relevant keyword or phrase into a search engine and see what comes up on the results pages. Your topic should be narrowly defined, with one core idea that is supported by all the other elements.

Do the research to support your topic with hard facts.

Visualizations of statistics: Ebooks require reliable evidence to build credibility.
Ebooks require reliable evidence to build credibility

An ebook is not a blog article, an editorial, or a promotional piece. It doesn’t have to be stuffy, but you need to provide reliable facts that your audience can trust. People are counting on you to be clear and correct, so this is no time to cut corners.

It’s important to use recent, verifiable data from well-known sources (making sure to cite the source). If you get facts from a second-hand article (“According to Study X…”), go back to the original source to verify the statistic. The author of the article you are reading may not have bothered. As you’re gathering facts, stay focused, and don’t go down the rabbit hole to explore tangents.

Here’s an article that gives some great tips on doing online research.

Writing your ebook using a planning process.

Scrabble tray with "organize:" Plan your ebook to be on target, thorough, and efficient.
Plan your ebook to be on target, thorough and efficient.
  1. Write the title: The title has to get attention—without too much hype. It should also clearly and honestly state what the ebook is about. Your title is the core topic upon which every element in the ebook is based. You can brainstorm titles at any point during the creation process.
  2. Primary subheads: Your main subtopics should be directly related to the core topic so that you deliver what the reader expects. The subheads form the framework of your ebook’s story, similar to chapters in a printed book. Put them in a sensible, logical order.
  3. Secondary subheads: Each secondary subhead supports the primary subhead it’s under. Be careful that the secondary subheads directly relate to that section or the reader will become confused. Again, put these subheads in a logical order. Plow ahead to the next steps before filling in all the sections.
  4. Transitions: Transitions from one section to the next enhance the overall flow, adding to the reader’s comprehension. Write smooth transitions from subhead to subhead. If the transition is extremely hard to write, it may be that something is out of place and you need to reorder your sections.
  5. Initial research: Steps 1-4 above represent the ebook’s outline, which is your point of departure. Now you have a clear picture, or a roadmap–but haven’t yet written the full-blown content. This is a good time to do your initial research, selecting evidence that your premises are correct (and sometimes finding out that your argument is flawed and requires rethinking). Your findings may also provide interesting insights that shift your perspective.
  6. Filling It Out: This is where you put your head down and fill in all the elements of your outline, making smart use of your research points. You’ll be doing multiple drafts, so don’t get too hung up on specific words the first time around—you’ll have a chance in subsequent revisions. Continue to check that the ebook has good flow and sufficient real-world data.
  7. Formatting: Big blocks of copy are hard to read and understand. This is one reason to break the ebook into subheads. Aim for short paragraphs and easy-to-read sentences. Also add eye-candy, such as bullet points and lists, images, pull-quotes, and other ways to draw interest and rest the reader’s eyes.
  8. Interactivity: While an ebook isn’t necessarily interactive, it’s good to go that route for several reasons. First, digital navigation, bookmarks, and hyperlinks make it easier for readers to find the specific information they need without endless scrolling. It also makes it possible for search engines to index the content.
  9. SEO: I always say that you should write for people first, not search engines. Nonetheless, SEO is necessary for getting found online, increasing traffic, and generating leads. I’ll leave the topic of SEO for another time. I just wanted to point out that I don’t focus on SEO until the end.
  10. Edit: Here, you want to be merciless. Cut out all the fat—it’s not a contest to see how long your ebook can be. It’s more important to be concise to make it worth the reader’s time.
  11. Proofing: I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. Too many typos, grammar problems, and awkward sentences can blow it. Poor proofing can lead to your company looking unprofessional and prone to making mistakes. Grammar checkers are good, but they don’t catch everything. Make sure to scour your ebook for typos, with several people reviewing it if possible before publication.

As in all content, readability is a primary consideration. Learn the 5 Most Important Rules for Readability.

Build your pipeline with high-quality ebooks

Build a Sales Pipeline

Ebooks aren’t the easiest type of content to write and produce, but they are one of the best ways to get high quality leads into the sales pipeline. Baking ebooks into your content marketing strategy is a smart move. When planning your ebook, ensure that you have expertise in the topic, B2B writing talent, and top-notch creative skills. Boston-based Westebbe Marketing has the experience to make sure your ebook meets your audience’s needs. Contact Boston-based Westebbe Marketing.

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