If Julia McCoy could offer one piece of advice to businesses and their marketing teams, it’s to stop focusing on keywords and linking – and start focusing on high-quality content.

“Our blogs have seen immense ranking returns, and we never focus on a keyword!” the founder and CEO of Express Writers says. “Our focus in our blogs and online content is much more research and quality based.”

In addition, you’d be wise to include high-quality links as citations to articles and blogs that are posted online and to stay up to date on Google’s algorithm updates.

We recently checked in with Julia to pick her brain about blogging dos and don’ts and developing your brand story, and to hear which companies are doing it all right.

Tell us about Express Writers … what services do you offer? Who should be using them?

Express Writers is a comprehensive copywriting solution. We have more than 60 qualified writers and staff editors. We have Content Strategists who we have trained to do content auditing and curation; we have social media managers to manage and write great social content; and we have editors and content managers to manage blog posting after our writers create blogs for ongoing full blog management. We offer expert levels of copywriting (legal, technical, etc.) as well as more general web content writing. Our team writes blogs, web pages, e-books, social media, product descriptions, sales pages, landing pages, etc.; and our marketing writers even create infographics and brochures. We service all kinds of clientele worldwide, from a small business owner to a six-figure-revenue marketing agency.

What sets you apart from other content writing services in the market?

Our level of quality and the drive we have to maintain it. We don’t automate our writing process, and we are continually researching, strategizing and building to grow our team and writing services bigger, better and stronger. For example, we just recently added content curation and auditing to our suite of writing services, after taking three months to research, plan templates and find the best software and then train some of our best writers in these new services.

What do you think are some outdated ideas about copywriting and web marketing that business owners need to ditch?

1. They don’t need it/they can do it on their own. Many business owners are still thinking along these lines. They think they can write their own web content, or a relative can. Web content needs to be rich, well-researched and formatted properly – none of which you know instinctively! A web content writer is your best investment if you want to be successful with your web content in rankings and engagement.

2. It should be focused on keywords. Instead, focus on your topic and the time and research that you put into it. Place keywords in naturally as you write. This is a much more successful approach instead of the outdated approach of writing for keywords.

What are you biggest blogging Dos and Don’ts?

Do’s – Optimize your post in the backend of WordPress. Our Staff Editors are trained in this. You can have a well-written blog; but if you copy it in a new post and publish without filling your SEO plugin (the most common one is by Yoast), you won’t get indexed as quickly or as well.

Don’ts – Write short pieces all the time just to get content out. Spend more time (and maybe post less frequently) and come up with a long, well-researched piece. Aim for more than 1,000 words, and schedule a 2,000-3,000 word “monster blog” post at least once a month. Studies are showing that longer content does better with Google (pieces that average 2,500 words).

Why is it important for businesses to develop a brand story?

When you have a brand story – that answer you can give when everyone says, “Tell us about your company” – you have an opportunity to be inspirational, to rise above everyone in your niche or your industry. You can show people that your business has a heart, and is a living, breathing thing.

My brand story revolves around how I founded my company, which is very inspirational to a lot of listeners. I “failed” to get my “success.” I failed one career, only to find my passion and success in another: business and content writing (I dropped out of medical school to follow a passion, was completely self-taught, and simply loved to write). Now, I hire people with a like-minded passion.

How can they share this story with voice? What should they avoid when it comes to offering more personality to their brand?

Only share as you feel led to do so. Don’t be repetitious. I tell the story on my company website’s About page, and only share when I’m asked. Otherwise, it’s Express Writers – Quality Content, All The Time. Build a great slogan and rely on your company name, reputation and slogan to do the talking – and when you’re asked for more, share it.

What are some best practices for SEO marketing? What do we need to know heading into 2015?

SEO revolves around content. Your blog, website content and social media are all built on content. The quality, freshness and even length of your content can decide your rankings and social engagement. I’ve made some predictions for 2015 here.

I think content will even increase in popularity – and necessity – in 2015. Mobile users will definitely increase, and content that is optimized for mobile will be important. Being on social media and maintaining an effective content strategy on all platforms, especially Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, will be essential for all businesses. Being smarter at e-mail marketing, using new and better tools out there, and making sure your local SEO presence is optimized if you’re local will also be essential. Using effective content curation and audit tools to maintain and discover great content will be another important part of the content puzzle for 2015.

What advice do you have for writing engaging, shareable content?

Invest in a content writer! No seriously, that’s my best advice. Your success in content depends on how accurately it is written, and also how well it is researched and written. If you don’t have the time or expertise to make that happen, pass it to someone who does; and with a small investment, save your time and focus on being the most successful you can be.

What brands do you think have really nailed content marketing? What can we learn from them?

Moz. What can I say? This SEO company is in my industry, and I follow them daily. Their blog, video marketing, and overall content marketing strategy is just nailing it. If you haven’t watched a whiteboard Friday, you’re missing out. They’re so creative. Plus, their guest bloggers pose some of the biggest questions in their industry.

Lessons to learn from this company: creating a network of excellent guest bloggers and maintaining a constant flow of content from them can be successful; and putting out consistent, high-quality, branded video marketing can be even more successful to your overall content marketing.

Chipotle. This local/organic Mexican food eatery is doing something pretty awesome and innovative with their content. An author approached them recently and asked them to consider putting down stories on their food bags and cups; and not only did Chipotle agree, but now they are also sponsoring a contest for best stories to publish on what would otherwise be trash. This is content marketing geared to inspire the nation. They’re going places.

Lessons to learn from this company: Be innovative with your content. Don’t be afraid to deviate from the norm. You might just become inspirational.

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