Free Web Page Advertising: Why Ignore What’s Free?


Content writers have it tough these days. There’s so much content. How do you get read? You get read by “selling” your stories, and getting free Web page advertising from Google and the other search engines.

I’ve been writing copy for over 30 years. Therefore I tend to look at everything in terms of advertising not only because that’s what I do, but also because it makes writing easier. Writing’s the art of communication. These days, when there’s more “communication” than any person could read in a thousand lifetimes, you need to sell everything you write.

Selling starts with your audience.

Who are they? What do they respond to? Why? What’s the story? Storytelling’s the big new thing in content creation; it’s hardly new, however. Copywriters — PR spin doctors and PR people in general — have always spun a sliver of news into a story. Often they do without the sliver, and just plain lie.

Britain’s tabloid press are past masters at this. 80% of the “news” comes from press releases; journalists spin. Watch the TV news: it’s news as entertainment. It’s almost impossible to sort the real from the nonsense these days. (Journalists get spun too, as well as spinning — viz this.)

Pay attention to your free Google advertising

It’s understandable therefore that in the battle for attention, content writers don’t pay as much attention as they should to the free advertising Google gives to Web pages. (I admit that Google’s capricious about this.)

Yes, Google gives you free advertising — via pages’ meta data. (Maybe, if you’re lucky and the wind’s in the right direction.) All your website pages (Google ranks pages, rather than sites) have meta data. Search engine bots scoop up the meta data, and display it to searchers. So, if you’re not paying attention to your page title, page description and keywords, you’re ignoring your chances to advertise for free, plus a major source of traffic.

As Search Engine Watch says:

At this point you may be thinking, “But we’re talking about Google organic. Aren’t ads for AdWords?” Technically the answer here is “yes”, but thinking of your web page titles and descriptions in terms of ad copy is a useful way to really understand what they are and what they can do for you.

I’ve been nagging clients for years about meta data as advertising snippets. It just takes a minute or two to create proper page titles and descriptions. Why miss out on free Web page advertising?

Yet, they do. My writing students forget the meta data advertising freebies too, so I nag them as well.

Are you ignoring free Web page advertising? Stop doing that. Search engines can’t read, or take action, so you’ll always write for readers… but don’t forget the gold hiding in your webpages’ source code.

Web Content Meta Data: Search Engines Are Dumb

Search engines are dumb — they’re scripts. Yes, the scripts are written by very smart people, but the scripts themselves can’t think.

A webpage’s meta data: the Title, Description and Keyword tags, govern what a search engine “thinks” about a webpage, and determine how it will be indexed. Therefore, they’re important.

When I’m teaching Web writing, I get all excited about meta data, because it’s something you can control. Write a webpage, and write the tags. Or write the tags FIRST, and then write the page.

I’m fond of the Description tag; it’s a free Google ad.

This article, How the Meta Description Tag Affects Google Rankings | StepForth Web Marketing Inc., gives an excellent overview of the Description tag:

“The clearer your Meta Description describes the content and purpose of a given page, the better chance you have of keeping a searcher on your page when they get to it. Now based on what I believe above, if the searcher stays on the page instead of going back to Google immediately (or quickly) your site’s page will have a better chance of at least maintaining the ranking it has or improving it.”

Write the meta data first

Web content, just for the sake of content, is useless. Before you write any content therefore, think about WHY you’re creating the content. What goals do you hope to achieve? Write down your goals for the content.

When I create Web content for a client, we discuss what the clients wants. The answer to: “What response do you want?” is vital. I write down whatever the client says, and try to boil it down into a sentence. I write the sentence on a sticky note, so that I can see it while I write.

Once you know what you want to achieve, work out how you’ll achieve it. Content doesn’t exist in isolation. You need an integrated campaign. Once you’ve planned that, and are ready to write your webpages, write the meta data for each page FIRST.

Each Page Description is an outline for that page.

Another tip: keep records, and track your content. Remember the Three Month Rule.

Search engines are dumb. Be smart, and pay attention to the meta data.