kate-toon-serpask

Dido Grigorov: Welcome, everybody, to the first episode of SerpAsk for 20/20, we have a very special lady today, but first let me introduce myself, I’m Dido GrigorovHead of SEO at Serpact, I have 17 years in SEO and especially in technical SEO, semantic SEO, content optimization and strategies. And today, our special guest is a very, very interesting, very popular copywriting field lady. And her name is Kate Toon. She’s a writing entrepreneur, coach, speaker, author and podcaster. Yes, I know. I’m sure you know her from the podcast called “The Recipe for SEO Success” and the Clever Copywriting School. And she has more than 8000 small business owners grapple with the Google beast and write better content.

Kate runs Australia’s only dedicated annual copywriting conference COPYCON. 
She presents at events around the world and runs several hugely successful Facebook groups. Author of the popular business self-help book “Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur: How to succeed in business despite yourself“, Kate lives on the Central Coast of Sydney, where she loves wandering on the beach with her son and her CFO (Chief Furry Office-dog) Hello Kate!

Kate Toon: Hello, Dido. Well done for getting through my bio!

It’s a long one and I love the way you say the recipe for success. It’s so exotic to me!

Dido: Yes we are so proud of you and the audience there, even ourselves while we were guests of you. But we would like to give you the tribune now. In a few words, introduce yourself, please, and tell us more about your background. How did you start with SEO, with copywriting and why copywriting?

Kate Toon: Well, I worked for a long time in big advertising agencies like Ogilvy and several other ones as a producer, as a project manager. And then I moved into copywriting. And then a long time ago, before SEO was really a thing, I moved to SEO – technical SEO like you and, you know, working through all of it…

It was much easier then, but this is like 12 years ago. It was very easy. And I guess now I guess I’m known for copywriting because I come from a copywriting background. But like you, I teach technical SEO, the whole full strategy, holistic SEO with social media marketing and content marketing and copywriting, because I don’t think you can separate the things that you can’t. You can’t do great SEO copywriting without the technical stuff and the technical stuff is great. But if the copyright is bad, that’s not going to work too. So I now kind of teach all things and yes, I have the podcast and the courses and you guys, both you and the lovely Nikola have been on my podcast. And yeah, the copyright is just there’s a lot of things that it’s a lot, but it’s good fun and I’m enjoying it. So yeah.

Dido: Hopefully, yeah. And what about your conference, on when did you start organising things and how… Do you think the whole thing it’s very time consuming and it’s such a lot of work?

Kate Toon: I have a couple of memberships, paid memberships, and one of them is for copywriters and I have about three hundred or so copywriters there. And the company just started as a way for us to get together. Australia is very big. And so I do meet up in Melbourne or meet up in Perth, but people in Sydney can’t go to Perth because it takes like six hours to get to Perth. So we decided we’d have one event and it started just as a meet up and it turned into a conference. I’ve been running it for three years now. The next one is in 2021 and it’s pretty unheard of… Who’d have thought that many copywriters…?! But there are. But as you said, it’s a lot of work. Events are very hard, but it’s fun. And I’m a big believer that business should make money, give customers what they want, but also be enjoyable to use the business. And I enjoy it very much.

Dido: What is the format of the conference? Is it more Q&A or more presentational?

Kate Toon: We have a day of workshops, what we call a mastermind, which is a small group of about 30 people kind of doing a lot of coworking and getting up close and personal with speakers, and then we have the conference itself, and that’s a mix of presentations, panels, Q&A sessions, your average conference, but we like to make it a bit special. So we have massage therapists to massage people and have them come in the show. We’re having a hula hoop. You have hula hoops in Bulgaria? You know, it’s like a circular hoop and you wiggle around in it while having someone to teach you.

Everyone has a hula hoop. We have balloons. We have bean bags. It’s a lot of fun. So it’s serious business. But it’s also a good opportunity for the copywriters because, like, so people are often quite introverted, they’re quite shy, they work alone. And so it’s nice every once in a year to get together with other people like you and just let loose and go crazy.

Dido: Ok, now tell us a little bit more about the “The Recipe for SEO Success”. Actually, this is how we really understood. We heard about you and that podcast made you really, really popular around the world with all the interesting people there as participants and as your guests, special guests. So how did you come to the idea for this? Because it’s really interesting and it is not that usual boring podcast.

Kate Toon: Well, “The Recipe for success” starts with a cause. So I was teaching people in workshops in person, but what I found was when people went home, they just forgot everything. So then I turned it into an online course, which is now, as I said, over a thousand people have taken the big course at about nearly nine thousand now, have taken the smaller courses and honestly, the podcast started because SEO is huge and vast and you can be an expert in one particular area. But knowing everything about SEO, I think is very hard. When people call themselves an expert, I never do. Always learning. And also I have all these students who are constantly asking me questions.

And I was like, how do I keep myself up on all the latest trends? How do I know everything about SEO? It’s impossible. So I thought, why don’t I start a podcast and talk to really clever technical SEO people like you and social media people and e-commerce SEO experts etc. And get all their tips and advice, but also do it in a way that normal humans can understand. So the audience of my podcast is not really SEO consultants. It’s small business people. It’s mom and dad businesses. It’s a shop. I have a lot of consultants listening, but it’s trying to make SEO interesting and fun and easy. That’s the real challenge. And I, like you, I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts and it’s just like meh meh meh. So I wanted to get cool guests from people. I pick my guests very carefully.

Dido: Yes we can see! Thank you!

Kate Toon: So I probably get about 20 requests a week to come on the podcast. But I really want to pick people who care about education and helping people, not just about showing off and blowing their own trumpet. If that makes sense.

Dido: Yeah, and I think that’s one of the main principles of your podcast, is actually making the difficulties to look and seem far more interesting or compelling to the business owners so they can understand it a bit easier.

Kate Toon: Exactly.

Dido: Let’s get to our main topic for today, it’s copywriting!

Dido: So what do you think about the copyright in the beginning of 2020? How do you think the principles and the trends in copyright changed over the years up to now?

Kate Toon: Well, I think for offline media, it hasn’t changed the direct mail and ads and print ads, it’s the same tactics that have always worked. For online I think it’s just getting more sophisticated. So with the advent of the Bert algorithm update, Google is getting a lot better, understanding the words in between the words and some natural language. That’s huge because it means we don’t need to be shoving keywords in here and we never did. But it makes it a more compelling argument not to.

Obviously, we had Hummingbird a while ago, which is all around search for intents and understanding, not just what people are searching for, but why they are searching for it. And so for copywriters, it’s just glorious because it means we don’t need to write in this weird, staccato, artificial way we can write in a quite natural language. I mean, yes, there is still value in using keywords in certain places. People argue against this, but every result I’ve looked at shows that, yeah, you know, if you use the keyword here and use it, that there is a slight difference. But I think we’re just moving away from trying to please Google and just moving towards writing. Copy that humans want to read. And that’s brilliant. That’s what it should be known for.

Dido: Yeah, and this is actually a brilliant introduction to my next subtopic: “copywriting for users in 2020”. So let’s for a second forget that we have Google (sorry, Google), let’s forget about them. How would you define the copywriting for users? We don’t have search engines.

Kate Toon: Well, I don’t think we could ignore search engines, but I think the human condition is: we all have questions and we all want answers and we need to think about the people. I mean, we’re in business and we want people to buy things from us to buy our services. And that doesn’t always start the same way for every person. So some people know they have a problem, but they don’t know there’s a solution. Some people have a problem. They know there’s a solution, but they’re not sure which solution to choose. Some people realize there are three different solutions and they want to compare the three. And some people love this particular brand and they’re going to buy from them no matter what.

So one important part of copywriting is to understand where your customers are on that journey. It’s the funnel, top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, bottom оf the funnel. And the messages we give to people at those different levels have to be different. So people who have a problem, like why isn’t my website showing up on Google, they don’t know that they need a course or a SEO expert or a tool. They just need to understand what the problem means. Those people go: I need to hire a SEO consultant. The approach is going to be different. They’re going to be typing different things into the search engines. They want different information. Those people who want to compete, you guys with another fabulous Bulgarian SEO company, (I don’t think there is one) I’m going to double. What makes these guys better than these guys? I will prove I want testimonials.

Kate Toon: I want pricing. And those people who already know, like and trust you, they don’t need much from a copywriting point of view to push them to the point of purchase. They just need to understand what they’re going to get. They need some honesty, they need some transparency, and they need the price that they can afford. So really, understanding what your customers are in that journey is so important no matter what media or no matter what you’re doing offline or online. That’s particularly because we are reliant on search engines. We are, we are understanding what people are typing into Google. And I do think that’s changed.

And I don’t like, you know, with all talking to our devices, we’re going, who is the best? What is this? How do I ask questions and Ron Fishkin as we know, love and I think he said that Google has changed from a search engine into an answer engine. And we need to be aware of that from the copywriting point of view, because it changes the way that we write. Copy.

Dido: Yeah. Don’t you think that the people became more sensible to the format of the content? So for example, we did see just a small article or something that is not so comprehensive. Maybe they will be able to try to find another good answer. What do you think about this then? Do you think that the writers should think about the format of the content?

Kate Toon: Absolutely, I mean, I think a copywriter should think about usability, the usability of a website, how do you get to the content? How big are the buttons is there a good contrast? I think that’s important. But yes, absolutely, we’ve seen that longer copy generally gets more shares, more likes, more comments, more engagement, and whether that impacts ranking or not, that’s a different question. But yeah, exactly. If I ask a question and I go to a post and there’s one paragraph of copy or I go look at the next post and it’s got paragraphs and sub headers and links and quotes and video and graphics, which one I’m going to read.

You know, sometimes you need a quick answer. I love that. I remember asking I forgot his name, not John Mueller, the other guy from Google. How long does he need to be? And he always said in his material way, as long as it needs to be. So if you’re looking for a recipe on how to boil an egg, it needs to be one hundred words that if you’re looking for an answer on a complex question about a difficult issue, it needs to be long enough that you can explain it fully, provide proof, show your sources, show your expertise, and also give Google all that rich content to rank, so that one piece of content can rank for hundreds of different keywords and even keywords you haven’t used, synonyms and other phrases.

So yes, I am a fan of longer content, but I’m not a fan of overwriting. I think you know what I mean. The writing has to be good if you’ve only got five hundred words, whether content – write five hundred words. Don’t trying to stretch it out over a thousand pages with adjectives and city examples because people can see through that, you know, it may get Google to your door, but at the end of the day, customers can see through that much better than they used to be able to, just as you said.

Dido: Yeah. And another supporting question here: We are trying to educate our clients here that the formatting of content is something really, really important. What are your principles when it comes to format and do you recommend it? Because we know that the people here are sensitive, they’re exquisite. They would like to see really good formatted content because they can. But what is your opinion as a specialist?

Kate Toon: I’m obsessed with formatting, I love formatting, you know, I love larger headlines that really signposts that this is the title of the article. I like clear subheadings in a different colour so that if I scan it because people don’t read content online, they scan it. So they’re looking to sign posts. They’re looking for subheadings and bolding. They also need white space, white space between the copy, like a big lump of copy. It’s quite hard to digest if you break it up into shorter paragraphs. If you use bullet points and break up quotes and graphics, it’s just a more pleasant reading experience. Now, of course, with something like amp, amp will strip out all of that and you just get the plain text.

That works really well for news stories, for articles when you want a quick take out, but we don’t always want a quick take out. Sometimes we want a story, sometimes we want to be entertained. Sometimes we want the video. A great example of this I think is Brian Dean from The Backlinko does a beautiful job of creating really long form articles that are really well formatted that are a joy to read. It’s enjoyable reading them and he breaks them up with videos and quotes. So I think it’s just consider the user and consider the content. Not all content needs to be pretty. Some can be basic, but sometimes it really helps to have a nice image and a nice piece of white space and some nice colour.

Dido: Yeah, you mentioned something about Google AMP for the very first time today. What is your opinion about Google AMP? We see Google continues to develop it. It’s a really good platform, actually. And I really like the speed of opening the piece of content to the mobile phone. It’s amazing. Well, but what do you think about it and the representation of content with Google AMP? What’s your opinion? We have heard so many different rumors here and opinions: “No, we don’t like it.” “We hate it!”, “Never implement it!” etc. What do you think about it?

Kate Toon: Well, I, I mean, obviously we all want fast sites, and sites that load under three seconds, but sometimes that’s just not doable. For whatever reason, I think you should give people the option. It’s very rare that I read AMP. I like pictures and stuff, but sometimes if I’m reading a story and it’s especially new, I mean, I do think it suits news sites. It’s not so much for small businesses, for e-commerce… It suits sites that you’re trying to get the piece of information very quickly and you don’t need a pretty image and a rotating banner and a video and JavaScript and all that kind of stuff.

And so I’ve implemented it on my sites and I don’t think it’s going away. I don’t think it’s an alternative to improving a site speech. I think you need to improve your site speech. But I think especially “The New Yorker”, “The Sydney Morning Herald”, “The Guardian”, I read most of their articles. I read the AMP version because I don’t want to see the ads. That’s one thing, I don’t want to see all the flashing ads and the wiggling stuff. It’s distracting and I’m viewing it as mobile usage becomes more and more prevalent. I’d say 70% of my customers now are viewing my site on a mobile device. All the pretty pictures and stuff that just don’t work.

Kate Toon: I just want black text on a white background so I could read it because the sun’s shining on my phone. I’ve got two seconds to read this. I’m on the bus. That’s what I think AMP comes into its own. But I appreciate that some people don’t like it. It’s a Google idea. Some people just turn to not like Google, but yeah, I think it has its place.

Dido: Ok, let’s go to the other subtopic for today. It’s copywriting for SEO. Forget about the users and let’s think of a …

Kate Toon: NEVER! 😀

Dido: No, but let’s think about how to please Google Gods, how you say it. And I remember you asking for tools, how I make my keyword research principles I implement there. So what are the favorite tools of Kate Toon for copywriting for SEO?

Kate Toon: But we did a great upsurge on advanced keyword research on “The Recipe for SEO Success”. If you haven’t listened to the episode, I recommend you listen to that. But I particularly liked what you talked about was grouping the keywords by search for intent and also grouping them with like a kind of a hero keywords and then synonyms, which I think it’s really great approach. And that episode is one very popular episode. So listen to that. That’s my first one. And.

Dido: Оh Thank you!

Kate Toon: No! That’s good.

Kate Toon: Look, I don’t think you can ignore the big three, the Moz, the Ahrefs and the SEMRush, Serpstat I’m beginning to look at as well. And that’s improving a lot. And, you know, what I’ll generally do is I will do my keyword research. I’ll identify my focus keyword and my synonyms, and then I’ll put the tools away. I will put the tools away and I will try and write the most engaging, conversational, endearing piece of content I can create with conversion and all the things we’ve just talked about. And then I do still think there’s value in the seven spots, the seven spots. So, you know, you’ve got your focus keyword, in your url.

If that works, you’ve got it in your title tag at the beginning, possibly in your meta description. It’s not used for ranking, but your meta description is much better to be used as almost like a little mini advertisement for your content, like a two line ads. But if you can get your keyword in that great, that helps too. I use it, try and use it in my H1 tag, my main title, if that works. If not, I use it in my h2 title. So you’ve got your url, title tag, meta description. Page one, page two. You’re going to probably without even needing to use it in your first one hundred words, you’re going to use the image alt-tag, you’re going to use any image file name and then you’re going to use it in your internal links. Back to that page.

You’re going to wrap your legs around keywords after that. I don’t really care about my focus keyword because if I’m writing, it’s not about focus keywords. It’s about the focus of the content. If I know who my audience is, I understand the searcher intent. I understand their questions, their pain point and the problem. I’m going to naturally use relevant keywords without even trying. Now, lots of people say, OK, what research is dead? I don’t agree with that. I still think that can be a lot of value in looking at two different keywords and this one has a lot of traffic.

This one has a lot of traffic. But there are fewer people competing for this one than this one. So if I could pick one, I’m going to pick this one. And it may not be that I ignore the other one completely. I’ll still use that in the article. But I do think, especially from a small business point of view, from a business point of view, often the things we think people are searching for, that absolutely not what people are searching for at all. So I do think keyword research is essential, but I don’t think you should then try and hammer keywords into every bit of the copy. You should just write a great copy and Google follows humans.

Kate Toon: So I have written blog posts on my website that had no keyword research. There’s no focus keyword. I didn’t do any SEO on them and they’ve had one hundred and fifty thousand reads, not because it was SEO optimized, because it was a great read, it went viral, a bit of social media and then Google does start to rank it because the people are loving it. And yet people say that traffic isn’t a metric, social media isn’t a metric.

But I don’t know. Sometimes I think it probably is. You know, if you write if you’re a great writer and you write content that helps people, I think sometimes you can almost ignore SEO, not the technical stuff. And this is a really important thing to say. And I’m talking too much. But let me just say, SEO Copywriting cannot help a poorly coded site. So if your site is technically flawed, if it’s slow, if it’s not responsive, if you have a schema issues and other issues, you can’t outright that’s and that’s the biggest problem, because I think a lot of small businesses and business think, “oh, i’ll get SEO copywriter to help me.”

And it’s like – no no no your site takes twenty two seconds to load. That’s your problem. Fix that, then hire the writer. And so that’s a really important thing to say that a SEO copywriter isn’t going to solve all the problems.

Dido: Yeah. So what do you think about some people’s approach, this is kind of a more holistic approach, when they do make keyword research. They forget about keyword research with the tools, with the softwares. They’ll start researching and reading the results of Google. And after that, they will start collecting some phrases around their topics. Common phrases, cultural phrases.

Dido: This is a very favorite topic of Bill Slawski actually. So what do you think about this? Do you do it in your regular practice everyday?

Kate Toon: Look, I like to do a mix of things. I do think SEO is not black and white. It’s experimental. So I will do some posts that are fully keyword research that I have a clear keyword that I’m going for. I want to go to the other posts that have no keyword research and have just written to entertain the build authority, but I do think I love the tools, but there is nothing like going incognito, typing in some phrases and going down the rabbit hole, especially now with featured snippets and featured answers and FAQ schema, seeing the questions that people are asking and looking at the result that Google has chosen.

Kate Toon: Because often you see a question that was asked, someone’s asked and Google is ranked a piece of content for it. You look at the piece of content and it’s rubbish. But the point is that it’s all Google has. So that is then a challenge for you to write something better, to improve on it, to give a better answer. Often I click through on those questions and I’m like, this doesn’t even answer the question, but it’s all Google has right now.

Kate Toon: So I do think there’s value in going down the rabbit hole, as we would say in Australia, and seeing what people are asking, responding to those questions. And in truth, if you know your audience and my audience is very vocal about what they want, they tell me the articles that they want to read. They tell me the questions they have. And then regardless of Google and keyword tools, I know that I have a ready made audience where we’ve got nine thousand people in my Facebook group. If I write a piece of content, I know that nine thousand people are going to read it and that’s enough to know if anyone else reads it. That’s a bonus. So I do think there’s value in sometimes ignoring the tools. It’s all experiments we should play. I think we should play all the reports and the tools and the results will give us trends and ideas. But really only only we know by doing it. We only know by doing it, I guess.

Dido: Yeah. OK, so when Google fully rolled out the Bert algorithm many people started rumoring on Twitter.

Of course this is where the rumors are…

So they started talking about more conversational search where we were more conversational and social compared to the previous years.

So do things that we have to implement, for example, more questions into our sense of things, or maybe we have to implement them right into the copy of these topics after disappearance. What do you think about it?

Kate Toon: Well, I think the good writers, the people who understand SEO from a more holistic point of view have been doing this for years. And it didn’t take the Bert algorithm update for us to change the way we were writing. But still to this day, I will get SEO consultants sending me lists saying you need to use Dentists’ Sydney. You can’t even put the word in between them. He has to say Dentists’ Sydney. And I’m like: I can’t use that in real copy because that’s not how people talk.

That’s not how people write. It’s going to sound weird. And it has to be an exact match. So I’m really glad Bert was announced because I think that’s finally stopped people thinking you have to write in this weird Keywood way. Yeah, conversational topics have always been a thing. I just think Bert has made some people who were very attached to exact match keywords and keywords stuff and go – “OK, we’re dinosaurs, we need to get with the program”. But the main thing I think is if you write to your audience and you consider the problems and issues, none of these algorithm updates have any impact on you anyway.

You know, like obviously things like HTTPs did and mobile first did but things like copywriting and Bert and its subtle, it’s subtle changes, you know.

Kate Toon: And those people started bringing out checklists of “How to write for Bert!”. But there isn’t a way to write for Bert. You just write humans. Google’s just getting better and better at replicating the human experience. That’s what is trying to do. It wants to understand content the way that humans do.

So for me, it makes life a lot easier. So, yeah, but I do think you know, I think it’s again, Ron Fishkin, he did a study that says something like I think Eric Enge says it as well, the voice search queries and question based queries and now something like 20 percent of the search results will generate a featured answer or featured snippet. So it’s the who, what, when, how, why, where, the magic six.

So instead of in the olden days, we might have written a post like press releases the best way to write them, whereas now we would change that to “how do I write a press release?”. And that would be the title of our blog. It would be the title tag. It would be the H1.

Kate Toon: We would answer it with a 50 words paragraph, that snippet bite, that Google can just take and put it into the search engine results and then we would answer. So I do think you’ve made so many great points today about structure and formatting and questions. I do think it’s changing because if you do a voice search right now, Google will often only give you one result.

Kate Toon: They’re not giving us the choice that they used to. They’re picking the best answer. And so you need to be the best answer. That’s very important.

Dido: Ok, so since you’re still talking about copywriting for SEO, do you have a special recipe for featured snippets?

Kate Toon: Yes, I think the featured snippets you really need to understand, the questions are being asked, you need to use the question as the title tag. You need to use the question as the H1 you need to write a 50 word answer, short answer. You need to have an image near the answer of the contextual image that’s relevant to the question. So if the question is about polar bears, have a picture of a polar bear, don’t have a picture of a hedgehog. Yeah. Then you can go on and answer that question in more detail. But try to make Google’s life work with Google. Look, Google is not going anywhere. Changing the search and results pages day by day. We need to work with what they’re giving us. We need to remember as well that the organic results are still free, are still free. They’re trying to take away more and more.

I’m sorry, but I’m getting five ads now, five ads, then the local park with ads in it. So really, the organic results I’m getting, I’ve got three spots.

I mean, so getting the featured snippet, getting featured in position zero, being able to rank above all of that is vital. So yeah, I think title tag, H1, 50 words snippet and then a good quality article with, you know, well researched facts and figures and links to all sorts of sites. I think it is huge on trust. So if you’re writing an article about something medical, it can’t be written by Bob Jones. It needs to be written by Simon Mathews, Ph.D., head of medical at University of Bulgaria. And he has these credentials that’s going to help your featured snippet ranked number one as well. So it’s pretty common sense. Say, like, I don’t want to read an article about, you know, brain cancer written by some random person. I want to read an article about brain cancer written by an authoritative source. So I think it’s common sense.

Dido: Yes, absolutely. Another thing we’ve seen during our practice actually is when people come to us and they say: “I have a brilliant piece of copy.” and then you open the document, you see I see blocks of paragraphs without any headings, without any subtitles, without anything. So what do you think about this? And let’s put more emphasis here, why is this important? What is the quality photograph for you? How will you define the quality paragraph and a good subheading?

Kate Toon: I think you’ve got to remember that you’ve usually got about 20 seconds, 20 seconds, someone’s going to scan the article and leave. Yeah, no, that’s OK. If sometimes they get the answer they need and they remember your brand and they’re like, wow, that was great. I was going, I got my answer really quickly. So you should be able to read the headline and all the sub headers and understand the entire article. That’s a win. Yeah. Your 50 word answer. It’s almost like it’s almost like a tease. It’s like you give something quality. We don’t give everything away.

Don’t give everything away. So an example of a featured snippet that I have is how much should copyright charge? So if you type the question in Australia, if you type how much copyright is charged, my site ranks as the position zero. It gives some hourly rate, which is useful, but it doesn’t tell you everything. And so what hopefully people will do is go, well, that’s a pretty good answer. Google’s picked it up everyone. She’s the authority. I’m going to click through and read the rest because again, Ron Fishkin said that something like 60 percent of featured snippets…

Fifty percent of featured snippets don’t generate a click. And that’s terrible for business owners like we want people on our websites, we want people to convert.

o I think it’s an answer, but don’t give the entire answer, Cheese a little bit, show a little bit of goodness, but don’t give it all away.

I can see we’re getting questions from our listeners.

Dido: We will jump into them in seconds. But before jumping there, you mentioned something about converting. Do you know that I was asked several times, several days before the webinar secretly. But I will reveal the secret now for you. “Hey, ask her for what is a converted copy. How to write the piece of content that converts?”.

Kate Toon: Oh, gosh, it’s a big question, I think, in honesty. You have to really understand the pain point, the problem that you’re solving. So there’s a formula in copywriting. It’s called PAS – P – A – S problem – agitate – solution. So when someone hits your sales page or your landing page, you tell them what their problem is. So a classic example is, do you have itchy feet? Do you have itchy feet? And then you agitate that problem, you know, are you scratching all the time? If you feel uncomfortable, you can’t concentrate on work. You know, you’re going to lose your job. Your wife’s going to leave you. I’m joking, but you agitate the problem like that to one hundred percent. What’s the worst that could look like? You would present that and then you give a solution. So problem. Agitate. Solution. Solution is we have an itchy foot powder. It’s going to take away your itchiness. It’s going to change your life. That’s your opening paragraph. Then you move into talking about features, benefits and advantages. So itchy foot powder.

Kate Toon: The feature is: It comes in a 100 mg carton. Yeah, that’s not interesting. That’s just the feature. The benefit of that is you can pop it in your laptop bag and take it to work. The advantage of that is that no one will know that you’re using itchy feet powder at work because it’s so small and discrete. Yeah. So often people focus on the feature. They tell you how big something is or how small it is or what noise it makes. But they don’t focus on the benefit and they don’t really focus on the advantage.

Kate Toon: By the time someone hits your sales page, they want to buy, believe me, they want to buy. They are looking for permission to buy. They are looking for proof and purpose and trust. So when someone comes to buy my SEO course, they already know they’ve got the problem. They know they need to fix it. They’re now looking for me to tell them what it does, tell them why that’s good and tell them how it’s going to change their lives.

Kate Toon: I’m not selling an SEO Course, I’m selling more money. I’m saying you can get some stuff from Google, you can get more relevant traffic, you can get more conversions, you can get more money. And that means you will have to work so hard and you’re going to have a happier life. I’m selling not an SEO Course, I’m selling happy life. And I think that’s the disconnect the real people have. You have to make people see the potential, the vision, the end result. Does that make sense?

Dido: Yeah, absolutely. And we have also talked to so many people, here locally, when it comes to copywriting, and some people think that they like to follow the principle of a “oh I’ll add more photos in here”, or “I’ll add more videos”. Do you think we have to form a balance between the copy and the images and the videos or it’s all about the context. What do you think about that?

Kate Toon: Well, for years and years, people managed to sell things with words alone and no pictures, I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I do think video is very compelling. But at the end of the day, video is still writing. It’s still a copy. Someone writes that script and most people watch the video with the sound turned off. So most people are reading the subtitles. So it’s still about writing. I think images have always been great. They’re pretty. They augment the experience, especially combined physical. If it’s e commerce, if you want to feel like you’ve seen the thing, touch the thing, you need to know how big it is. I can’t go to the shop and touch it.

So make me feel like I have. But generally, you know, even though we don’t think we are, we do. We do with words. Words are everything we know. One of the few species on this planet that can communicate with language. It’s important visual cues are all very well and good. But I do think a lot of people say that communication is 90 percent of physical behavior and 10 percent what you say. So if you can incorporate video, video, been very big for me in terms of, you know, words are great. You can get one tone of voice, you can get my sense of humor. But seeing someone’s face connecting with them, looking them in their eyes, people want to buy from people. So if they can make a video, if you can show yourself, if you’re not hideously ugly and horribly boring, then try to use videos to sell your products as well, because it really obviously helps.

Dido: Ok, and if we summarize your great advice here, thank you for sharing your knowledge with us on the question, what is a perfectly optimized piece of content for some changes and people?

Kate Toon: Oh, my goodness, that’s such a good question. I think the perfect piece, the perfectly optimized piece of content is written by somebody that knows the audience back to front, it knows that pain point, it knows the desires, the preconceived beliefs, the fears, and it answers all of them. It reassures. It trusts, it entertains. It provides proof. And then it ticks all Googles boxes. It loads quickly. It looks great on a mobile. It’s easy to find. It’s formatted beautifully. It offers multiple ways to enjoy the content, video, photos, text, and it has a strong call to action. It finishes and asks you to take the next step in a way that you understand it has a big fat button, maybe several buttons that answers the question.

I want to …, I want to buy it now. I want to read more. I want to get this newsletter. I want to subscribe to the podcast. It finishes the story. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is I love Google, I love robots, I love AI. The people buy from people. So making a human connection is still number one for me. And Google’s getting better and better at it, but it’s not quite there yet. They are still robots. We’re still humans. We’re still winning.

Dido: Ok, thank you, Kate. So we have so many questions today. It was expected because copywriting is important for so many people and I would say for every website online. So let’s jump straight into the questions. And the first one is related to the publisher. So one of our visitors today and watchers would like to ask you if you have a new website. How many posts a week should we aim to write?

Kate Toon: So look, back in the day 10 years ago when I started publishing a blog post, it was a really quick route to SEO success. I don’t think that’s true anymore. I don’t think Google rewards consistency. I don’t think it rewards regularity. I think it rewards the best content. So it looks at how great the content is. So if you can write one thousand five hundred word blog posts that’s well-written, succinct and fabulous and you can do that every day. Sure. Do that. Be Neil Patel, pump out content every day. Most businesses can’t do that. And I would rather you did one great post a month than for a short three hundred word pointless post. They say that something like a new blog is published every two hundreds of a second. You have a full billion blog posts posted last year.

Kate Toon: Why is someone gonna read yours?! So maybe blogging is not the answer. Maybe what you do is you go out and you try and build a brand on social media so that people stop searching for what you do and they start searching for who you are. So I would say, look, if you’re a brand new site, you need to get about 20 to 30 blog posts on your site pretty quickly just to show, you know, what you’re talking about, just to show you’ve got skin in the game and an authority. After that I’m not that bothered about regularity, I’m bothered about quality over quantity and also think about maybe publishing blogs on other people’s sites. So you take that audience and make them your own. Guess posting. Yeah, people debate whether it’s good for backlinks, for what it is great is for building authority, building expertise and building trust. So maybe if I was to say a new business, get some fast blogs on there and then from then on to every one blog you post on your own site, post two on someone else’s as well, I’d say.

Dido: Yeah, OK. And the second question is, would you recommend us to achieve a high level of expertise in our content, to be written by a copywriter, someone from the business or both?
Kate Toon: So the way that I approach it and believe me, I’ve worked with every different type of industry, I’ve worked with doctors, I’ve worked with, you know, treaties and I’ve worked with builders and teachers and you name it, big brands, small brands.

Kate Toon: A copywriter is very good at getting the level of expertise they need out of the client, asking the right questions, getting the data and then turning it into content. So, yes, if your subject matter expert and you know a lot about your topic, by all means, write a bulleted list of things you want to say in the article. These are the points I want to make. Here are the facts I need to get across. Here is some jargon and vocabulary from my industry. Then hand it over to the experts and let them turn that into something well written for Google, for humans. So, for example, if you’re a WordPress developer, you may know everything about a particular plugin and why it’s great and what works.

Kate Toon: You may have awful grammar. You may have terrible writing skills, you might be boring as …, but you know your stuff. So let someone take all the knowledge out of your head and turn it into something digestible and fun. So it is both. It’s both together. You need the expert and then you need the expert that they’re experts of different things. So. Well, I will often do what I’m writing, blog posts, for example. I’ll get the client to do what I call a skeleton draft: the bones of the article, the bare bones – bullet, bullet, bullet. And then I go away and turn that into full sentences.Paragraphs, make it say, yeah!

Dido: OK. The next question is really quick actually for you. But I would really like to ask you, and now you are restricted to just one word, which is your favorite keyword tool?

Kate Toon: Oh, that’s so hard. I can’t pick one that. Okay, I’m not going to pick SEMrush or Ahrefs or any of those. My favorite for a long tail question based keywords is answer-the-public. You know answerthepublic.)com? So you put in your topic and it will give you all the questions asked about it. Do you know my favorite keyword research tool is, Dido?

Kate Toon: It’s Google.

I like going into Google, turning on incognito and just taunting my questions and or speaking to Siri or Hey Google. That’s what I like because that for me gives me the honest answer. It doesn’t give me stats and cost per click and traffic and difficulty rating. It shows me what real humans are typing in and the answers I guess. And then I could improve on.

Dido: Yes, actually, my favorite keyword tool is also Google. This is where you can get so many ideas for keywords and you have so many opportunities for extracting these kind knowledge from Google. So, yeah, Google is the best tool. The question now is, again, about this. So people started talking about images more and more starting right after the official article for best practices from Google. But we strongly believe that

Kate Toon: They say that an image speaks a thousand words. I think a strong image really is important in a lot of content that I look at that business owners don’t have an image at all. It’s just content. And I do think images draw the eye, know they stop the scroll. We’re all just trying to stop people scrolling and make people click. And the images are always going to be better at that than words unless it’s shocking click words. So images are superimposed in terms of optimizing them from a tech point of view. We know this. They need to be the right dimensions, they need to be the lowest size possible. You need to smash them all that stuff. We know that that’s SEO. From a copywriting point of view.

Remember that the image filename it’s a tiny factor. The image filename should be descriptive. Don’t be like, you know, SEO course 1, SEO course 2, SEO course 3. Try to explain what the images are. Remember that a lot of people who are sight impaired use image alt tags, image file names to show screen readers. So it’s a picture of a polar bear on an iceberg. The title needs to be polar bear or an iceberg. It needs to be that. And I would sacrifice Google optimization in terms of file name and alt tag for clarity and relevance. But I also think the placement of your image on the page, I do think that makes a difference.

So you don’t put the polar bear next to the paragraph about parrots for the polar bear, next to the paragraph about polar bears. And again, it sounds obvious, but you and I know that, but a lot of people don’t do what’s obvious. You know, they load a five thousand by five thousand pixel image into a page and then wonder why no one’s looking at a blog post. So I think with images, it’s pretty basic. I don’t think there’s anything particularly sexy or super clever to do. I think it’s the basics.

Dido: And one more related question I just put up for the sake of Shakespeare: to have or not to have a caption?

Kate Toon: I… look, I find captions ugly.

So I think they compromise the visual of the page. And I think I’d rather have a sub header than a caption, that’s me.

Dido: The other thing is that the caption is kind of really scary for some people because they will say “oh, but it’s totally visible. Why should I put the caption?!”

Kate Toon: I think the captions were invented or used more when you’re using news articles and using a photographer’s social graph and you have to credit it. So that’s great for crediting. And of course, we should always either buy images or credit images that have a Creative Commons license. Do not be screen grabbing images of Google. I’ve seen a few businesses go under by being sued by image owners. So I think captions are useful to say where you find the image if you have the rights for things like that. But I don’t I don’t see a huge SEO factor. And even if they are, it’s not a great user experience. I’d lose that little bit of SEO Sprinkel to have a nicer looking, more usable page.So compromise.

Dido: OK. And our last question, we have so many, but the time is restricted. You can also find Kate on Facebook. You can find her on her Recipe for SEO success. And you can go to CopyCon!

Kate Toon: Yes, come to Australia!

Dido: Ok, and the last question is, what about voice search? Do you think that voice search will change the copywriting principles and approaches, maybe strategies for writing?

Kate Toon: I mean, I think we’ve touched on it. I think voice search is very much linked to featured snippets and featured answers that they’re very similar and they often get confused. I think what voice search does is we’ve stopped saying things like “were pizza, Bulgaria, good”. You know, that’s how we used to search. We just put weird words into Google, whereas now we talk to Google like it’s a human. That’s why Bert it’s important, because we’ll say: “hey, Siri, hey, Google, where’s the best pizza in Bulgaria or where’s the best pizza in Sydney?” And then Google gives us an answer and often it will only give us one or two. So I guess these searches make SEO just ten times harder.

You need to be 10 times more relevant, your technical needs to be on point, you need to have authority and backlinks, your content needs to be engaging, at slightly load fast. It needs to look amazing. You need to answer questions quickly. Voice search is just going to separate the slow-goes from the amazing people. It’s going to really show up who is good at doing this stuff, not just the SEO, but website design copywriting, usability, because often Google will only give you one answer.

So how do you beat that one answer? You just have to really, really know the questions that are going to be asked and answered them and have an amazing site behind that as well.

Kate Toon: So it brings together all our disciplines, tech SEO, backlinks, keyword research, copywriting. It’s hard, man. It’s really, really hard.

Dido: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. So at the end of our webinars, we usually have a fun part and it’s an image. You have an alt tag. So we have a link here. You can open it. And I would like to ask our moderators to show that image to the audience.

Kate Toon: Oh, cool. It’s me. Hello. There we go.Now you have to put an alt tag. What is actually happening there? Can you give us more details?

That is me speaking at an event last week, wow, that’s crazy in Sydney, so if I was using that on my website, I would probably go with either I go with “Kate hyphen tune hyphen speaker” so that anyone who is looking for me to speak or I may be talk, rather than talking about who I am and talk about what I was speaking about. So maybe the speaker for… that was that event was about female entrepreneurs…. So maybe “female entrepreneurs speak up” or something like that and then hope that that would show up in the and the results. But more importantly than Google, I would just share the crap out of that on Instagram, Facebook, linkedIn, Twitter, everywhere. Pinterest, I’d share that photo, I’d get that ranking and Google, I’d get people seeing it. Because even if Google never finds it on social media, what does that say?

Hey, look, does Kate present with two other people, she must be good at what she’s talking about. Why would anyone else speak so that, as you said, we talked about earlier, an image speaks a thousand words. Forget the ald tag, forget the file name. That image is powerful because it tells a story. It says what I’m doing. And the people want to sit in an audience and talk about stuff.

Dido: Before going offline… Can you summarize your tips today in one, two, three, four, five for our audience?

Kate Toon: Gosh, OK,

  1.  understands your audience
  2. understand the questions that they’re asking and the pain points that they have
  3. acknowledged that great writing cannot cover up a bad technical SEO. We need to fix that first
  4. sometimes forget the tools and just go to Google and play and see what’s happening
  5. format your copy. Make it easy to read and enjoyable
  6. give people multiple ways to consume your copy, video, images, downloadable clips, content type seven experiment and final.
  7.  experiment and you know, play around, have some content, answers, questions, and have some content that lists posts. Have some content that’s conversion focus. There is no one size fits all because humans aren’t one size fits all and Google is just trying to replicate human behavior. And human behavior is pretty strange.

So be strange.I guess my final is #BeStrange.

There you go.

Dido: Ok, thank you for your valuable knowledge. Today you have shared some really great tips and tricks for us. I would say that this is our most comprehensive webinar when it comes to copyright. Thank you, everybody, for being with us today again. And thank you to our team for all the great work behind the curtains during the webinar. We will be expecting you next month. And very soon we will announce our next guest. I would like to say thanks to our sponsors. And meanwhile, don’t forget to follow us on YouTube. Don’t forget to follow Kate also and to watch and to listen to her podcast, especially for SEO, if you have the chance to go to CopyCon.

They know their stuff there, especially when it comes to writing, the great copywriting, the good piece of content for the website, the structure of the website. And of course, you will find a lot of useful knowledge and information on our YouTube channel. Thank you Kate so much again for joining us, for sharing your amazing knowledge. They will invite you as a guest definitely again.

Kate Toon: Thank you. I love you guys. I love your work. Thanks for these webinars. I think they’re pretty good. So thanks very much, guys.

Bye bye. Bye. See you.

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