It’s easy to do. We’ve all done it. We write up a web page at the last minute. We even use our handy dandy WordPress installation to do it. At the time you are thinking, “Hey, I have to get this page up and running because I’ve linked to it from my most recent article. I’ll come back to it this afternoon and add images, video, and make this page pop!”
What happens? After the launch, the article, the podcast.. whatever it is that was linking to that page.. you sit back and relax and, well, never get back to update that page.
Ok, so maybe you are hyper-organized (to an OCD level). Maybe you are the type that tracks what you do and mark off your checklist and task lists. Even with that level of impressive organization, I still have to ask you, as this article suggests: “How Is Your Copy Working For You?”
The scenario above is about “getting it done.” There is so much more to web life than just getting it done. There is also the aspect of getting it done right and ensuring that it is working for you.
Your Copy. Your Message.
Generally, when we think “copy,” we are thinking ad copy and your ability to attract your audience. However, if we broaden this to your message and the content of your message no matter what venue or social media platform, then there is more that we need to discuss!
It is important to figure out your message. Figure out your 15-second elevator pitch. You don’t want to sound “canned,” but also, you need to have something other than “um” to say when someone asks what you do.
The following is an example of my 15-second elevator pitch for me, as a musician (Deborah E). I have to give credit where credit is due. It wasn’t written by me, per se, but by a group of helpful musician friends. Here it is:
Deborah E is a smooth and sultry summer night on Bourbon Street… Classy with a dash of sass… Proof that the jazz greats have not been sacrificed to processed pop.
See how that gives you info, as well as a feeling, as well as a sense of what is represented when you think, “Deborah E?” In the same way, you need to figure out how to describe yourself, your brand, your company. You want to have it be about the length of a tweet.
On to the Page Messaging
You will want to have your messaging down (defined and practiced) for your brand, but also you need to develop a messaging for each page. In other words, the description. This will be the content that displays in the search engines (and social media sites).
[clickToTweet tweet=”Come up with something creative that lets the visitor know how the content will benefit him or her. ” quote=”You don’t want all of your pages to have the same description. Come up with something creative that lets the visitor know what it is that that page is all about and how the content will benefit him or her.”]
If you need to break up the project, write a few descriptions (i.e. ten pages) and then take a break. Come back to the project fresh and pick up ten more pages. Continue doing that until you have finished your site. Don’t forget to reward yourself when you have finished your site. You could also hire someone to do it for you. Fiverr is a place where you may find some copywriters. It is best if you find someone based on a referral from one of their past clients.
Many times it is easy for us to remember to write a description (i.e. excerpt) for a blog post, but we forget to cover our blog pages. Those content pieces need our attention as well! That is why we keep emphasizing the pages of your site, in this article.
Check Your Copy
Remember that social sharing sites and search engines will grab whatever they want to grab if you don’t designate the proper preview information for them. The preview information includes elements like the title, description, and image. We have already talked about page descriptions, but your preview also includes the title and image.
Let’s use Facebook as an example. You can run the test right now, for yourself:
- Pick an article that you want to test (it doesn’t have to be your own article). Copy the link/URL.
- Visit the Facebook Debugger.
- Enter/paste the URL that you copied in step 1 when asked for that URL. Then, click “Debug.”
After you click the debug button, you will be presented with a Facebook report, letting you know what it is that Facebook sees, at that link. The critical part, as it relates to Facebook, is near the bottom of the report and shows the ‘og’ (stands for open graph) tags. If there are any errors, you will see it in that spot, where error messages like “image not found” will display.
Fortunately, if you find that there is a problem with your article or page, you can ask Facebook to perform a new “scrape.” What does that mean? Facebook will remove what it has on record for that URL (er, the cache) and it will be replaced with a fresh “scrape” of that URL. Obviously, you would want to correct any errors and then come back to the debugger and follow the steps above to ask it to re-scrape (“fetch a new scrape”).
If you are still on the debugging page, you can click the button (as shown above) while you are on the page.
Test, Test, Test Again
I know, we said that already, right? Use tools like the Facebook Debugger, but don’t let that replace an actual real test. Test the process of sharing the page (or blog post) to social media sites. You don’t have to click the “submit” button to actually share. The test will still work because it allows you to preview what would be shared. This process allows you to see if there is anything that is awry with a) content on your site; b) tags on your site; c) sharing functionality (i.e. plugins).
Sidebar: There is an interesting WordPress plugin called “G+ Interactive Posts Plugin.” This shouldn’t be used in place of the advice above or in place of a properly configured sharing system, but for those who want to be able to create interactive alternative G+ posts from within the WordPress post listing, it is a fun little plugin. You will want to follow the instructions for installation and setup very carefully (or have someone set it up for you).
Before we close, just a couple bonus tips for you. We talked about Facebook and how to reset the Facebook cache (on the debugging tool page). However, what do you do about Google+ and LinkedIn? There are tricky solutions.
Google+ relies on the caching directives of your page. Many themes allow you to set that cache limit within the WordPress dashboard, even on the post or page, in some cases. You want to set it for a short time period so that Google+ will re-fetch new information.
For LinkedIn, change the URL. I don’t mean actually change it, I mean add some benign code at the end of the link. For example, add a “?1” at the very end of the URL. The question mark tells LinkedIn that there is a variable. In this case the variable is “1.” However, it is harmless because you are not telling LinkedIn to do anything with it. Instead, it forces LinkedIn to re-fetch the URL that precedes that “?1” and now you have fetched new information and updated the title, description, image that is cached.
There you have it. Develop your brand messaging and your individual page descriptions. Then, ensure that this information is properly relaying to the social sharing sites, as well as search engines. After all, you want to put your best foot forward, right?
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