Keywords: Research vs Guesswork

Jelly Beans In Focus at 3/10 sec.

There are two main approaches to choosing the keywords that you use within your site:


You ask yourself, “what would I type into Google if I was looking for myself?” and write down everything you can think of. Job done?


You analyse competitors, take your ‘guesswork’ list and put it all into Google’s Keyword Tool. You make a giant list and then weed out the chaff. You think carefully about which words are relevant, which are worth fighting for, which are too competitive and which are essential to your business.

The Importance of Keyword Research

If you’re knocking together a site for your chess club or your sister’s Barbie archive, then feel free to use the guesswork approach to keywords. But if your site is for business, it’s worth being more scientific when choosing keywords. Researching keywords means checking which keywords are important – so your choices will be based on reality, rather than a hunch. Keyword research doesn’t take long, it doesn’t make you a spammer and it does make a great deal of sense for the average business.

Coming to terms with ‘content’

Common questions from the content creator

Not so long ago, I objected to the word ‘content’ when used to describe the words and pictures that populate websites. ‘Content’ seemed degrading, a lowly term for what might be carefully-crafted copy, perfectly-composed pictures or a web-cam wizard’s captivating video.

So ‘content’ doesn’t sound amazing. It’s a bit like calling the words between the covers of Don Quixote ‘filling’, or ‘text’.

But ‘content’ is what everyone calls content. The word works.

And now ‘content’ is increasingly discussed in a smarter way. We’re not just writing some stuff because there are pages to fill; we formulate content strategies to help us think bigger about what we’re doing. We think bigger and demonstrate a bigger intention. Copy is more than copy and that’s great for the web because it means copy and content can rise to their rightful place in the world of the web.

So I’ve come round to content.

Why I want to talk to your people

Conversation, NYC, 1970

Good copywriters will talk to you. They’ll ask you questions that will draw out useful information. They’ll be bloodhounds on the trail of wounded meat. They know what they’re after: the pieces of information that matter most to your clients. Once they’ve found it, the good copywriter retreats to his lair to write.

Great copywriters want to talk to your people. They know that you don’t know everything, so they want to talk to Jane in the stockroom, Greg in customer services and your most loyal customers. Great copywriters know that the best way to reveal the heart of your business – the heart that must be captured, contained and displayed on the web page – is to delve deep.

Piling spam upon spam: why unsubscribe confirmation emails are evil

Spam, Now with Real Bacon!

Picture this, if you will:

You are a busy person. You get too many emails. Loads of those emails are irrelevant, but you get them every month, like really shit clockwork. You’re clever, so you take the time to unsubscribe. It takes a few clicks, but it’s a good investment of your time. You’re all done and you feel happy: one less piece of junk mail and few less RSI-inducing clicks.


Disappointed that you’ve abandoned them, the automated marketing machine sends you a good-bye message. So the marketing spammers recognise your desire for less email, and send you one last email.

Why can’t they just let it go? And why do some unsubscribe options demand a password that you didn’t even know you had?

If people want to leave your unstoppable spam machine, just let them. And never darken their inbox again.

Clients: reveal your budget!

Hide & Seek

Clients should stop being coy with their budgets and put their cash on the table.

Here’s why:

Compare like with like

If you ask two or three different service providers to quote for a piece of work, they will all provide a quote that involves different levels of service, different features and different elements. The three quotes may vary wildly in cost, mainly because the three quotes include different amounts of value. The lowest quote probably offers the least features, while the highest quote includes more stuff – more benefits, more features.

If you want comparable quotes, be honest about your budget.

Get a quote that you can accept

Hiding your budget is not a clever tactic and provides no benefit. Reveal your budget and receive quotes you can work with. Why hide your budget if it means you receive unrealistic and unworkable proposals?

Procuring services is not like playing poker, so show them what you got.

This post was inspired by Alex Cowell’s piece on budgets at the Cubeworks blog.

How’s the daddy? Researching men’s mental health

Father and son

Totally off-topic: this blog post is about my soon-to-be-wife’s research project. I’m blogging about it because Megan needs to interview new fathers who have experienced some emotional or psychological difficulties after becoming a father.

This is an under-researched area, but it deserves attention. Not least because the mental well-being (or not) of fathers has a direct impact on the health and well-being of their children. So for the sake of families, children and mothers, it’s important to consider how becoming a father affects men.

If you are a father with your youngest or only child under 3, and feel that you have struggled in some way postnatally, please contact Megan. Here are a few details from Megan’s advert:

The one-off interview will last between 45 – 90 minutes and will be conducted in a private setting to ensure confidentiality

Your expenses will be repaid.

Don’t worry if you don’t know what to talk about – your interview will be guided by questions.

I am undertaking this research for my Clinical Psychology doctoral thesis based at the University of Surrey. This study has received a favourable ethical opinion from the University of Surrey’s Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences Ethics Committee.


Please contact Megan Earl-Gray

Tel: 07577 845361



WriteClub gets a logo

WriteClub now has a logo!

WriteClub has always been a loose connection of people, tumbled together with a light sprinkling of organisation, but the opportunity to have a logo and give our group an identity was warmly received.

WriteClub owes a massive thanks to Ayse Kongur, the graphic designer and WriteClub member who designed our lovely logo. Thanks Ayse! Ayse is a very experienced graphic designer who also travels widely, reporting on the graphic design industry and interviewing talented designers around the world.

Let’s chat about your projectContact us