Tuesday 17 March 2015

A copywriter's top five tips for SEO friendly copy

     When I started working on websites the majority of jobs were simple proofreading tasks, looking at webpages and checking for spelling errors – not any more. Nowadays my clients know that they need SEO friendly copy for their webpages to help them gain that all-important search engine ranking, preferably on page one and preferably near the top. However, the world of search engine ranking can seem a bit cloak and dagger, with rules changing and sneaky tactics quickly penalised.
I am always trying to improve my own website

      Copy needs to stay fresh and certain unwritten rules have to be followed to ensure that your website won’t slip away onto page 55 of a search engine result where nobody will ever find it. This is when a few simple steps can make all the difference to how your website performs, so here are my top five tips I’ve learnt along the way.

  • Tip 1: Unique content. Just like universities run plagiarism software to check that students aren’t copying work, search engines know if your website is a carbon copy of a similar page elsewhere. This is why simply copying and pasting a press release on your ‘news’ page just won’t cut the mustard. High quality copy will incorporate essential keywords naturally as well as retain the readership to improve click through to other parts of the same website. Copy needs to be relevant, on brand, and updated regularly for maximum impact on search engine results. 
    A copywriter's toolkit
  • Tip 2: Choose your keywords wisely. Select only a few relevant keywords for each page and be certain to use them strategically, preferably in the heading as well as in the body copy, but don’t be too repetitious as it can actually leave you lower down the ranking. Always be sure that they make sense as well, there is no point shoving in keywords to help your search engine ranking if it’ll reduce your click through rate because it’s irrelevant in context. 
  • Tip 3: Pay attention to your title tags, meta tags and picture tags/titles. Different websites work in different ways but all of these need to complement the keywords (or even include the keywords where possible). It can seem a boring and thankless task but search engines look at an entire website – even the bits you ignore or can’t ‘see’ – so make sure every bit is as relevant as possible. 
  • Tip 4: Include links in your copy and make sure that other sites link back to you too. Again, don’t stick links in for the sake of it but if you reference another company or a person pop an embedded link to their website into your copy and make sure you let them know. Hopefully they will then return the favour by sharing a link to the article on their website or social media. You should also link back to your own website wherever it’s suitable, it keeps the bounce rate low and visitor interest sustained.
  •  Tip 5: Use social media. Don’t dismiss social media as something errant kids at bus stops use, everybody is using it and that includes your clients. Sign up to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc and use them to your advantage. Create ‘how to’ videos for YouTube and share them to your Facebook followers, or run competitions via Twitter to encourage your customers to engage and promote your brand. And let’s not forget that customers love to air their grievances on social media, so if you’re not there monitoring what’s being said then the search engines will undoubtedly be doing it for you and bringing it up in their results for everyone else to see!  
    I share my blog on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

     So there you have it, five simple SEO friendly ways to keep the search engines happy. Big businesses spend thousands (or even millions) a year to promote their websites, but it’s little tips like this that can help boost your profile, and all without spending any pennies at all.

All blog content and photos are Copyright of Charisse Sayers Proofreader & Copywriter www.charisse-sayers.com I welcome all feedback and would love to know your thoughts so please get in touch, comment, share, like and generally get involved!

Friday 13 March 2015

How I made my own Harry Potter and Ron Weasley inspired matching jumpers

     Let’s face it, I love Harry Potter, I’ve name dropped the series more than once in my blogs, I’ve visited the Studio Tour twice, and it was only a matter of time before it permeated my sewing too. Now I already own a full blown Ravenclaw outfit complete with hooded cloak (it was a gift, don’t ask). 
Me in full garb at the Studio Tour

     This means that I didn’t need to make any of that, instead I turned to one of the sweetest bits in the book series, and that’s when Harry has his first ever nice Christmas. As we all know the Dursleys were all horrid to Harry, so his first Christmas at Hogwarts was probably the first one in his life he actually enjoyed, and all with his best friend Ron Weasley by his side.
The nasty little Dursleys

     A particularly poignant nod to Harry’s past unhappiness is his surprise at actually receiving any presents, and the best of these – invisibility cloak withstanding, because nothing can top that – was the homemade jumper from Molly Weasley.
Invisibility cloak when it malfunctioned
     This wasn’t something she’d chucked into her shopping basket on a trip to the local wizarding supermarket (‘Wandsrose’?), this was a jumper she’d spent time lovingly hand knitting for Harry, the boy whose own guardians basically ignored him. 
     Ron is embarrassed by his mother’s knitted creations but Harry appreciates the gift because it’s made with love, which means it shows that somebody cares for him. Having never known a loving family of his own, to be included in the jumper gang of his best friend’s family must have really meant something to him.
One of my favourite bits of the Studio Tour
     The image of Ron and Harry sat in the Gryffindor common room scoffing chocolates in front of a roaring fire, all snuggled up in their matching jumpers is one of my favourites from the first book, and I’m sure I’m not the first person who’s wanted their own knitted initial jumper after either reading the book or seeing the film, there was one problem however: I cannot knit. 
Cosy Gryffindor common room
     If I were on a sinking ship and the only way to survive was to knit a lifeboat then I’m afraid I’d be left in the water simply clutching my knitting needles and a ball of wool looking utterly confused. Trust me when I say that I have honestly, truly tried before too. Unlike sewing there’s no real margin for error – I can’t just patch something up later because if I make a mistake the whole thing might unravel! Plus, I don’t have the concentration or patience for it, it’s officially a lost cause. So instead I had to find a way to use my sewing skills to make my own Harry Potter inspired jumper. This is where the wonderful world of appliqué came in handy.
  • First I had to find some wobbly knitted jumpers that had that hand knitted look, with a nice thick marl effect wool. Luckily, I didn’t have to go far, Primark had some in stock for only around £12 each so that was lucky. I chose blue for me as I’m a Ravenclaw, and burgundy for my other half as he’s a Gryffindor (if you’ve not been sorted yet go on Pottermore and get sorted into your official house ASAP!). 
  • Next I went to Hobbycraft and found some large sheets of good quality felt, I was worried that too thin or cheap felt might disintegrate in the washing machine so it was worth paying a little extra to find a thicker felt.
  • Now to make the letter templates was very easy, I made the letters big and bold to get as much out of each piece of felt as I could. However, the felt colours that most closely matching each jumper meant that I ended up switching around who had which jumper, so mine was now the burgundy jumper with the dark pink felt. 
  • I decided to hand stitch the letters on as my little craft sewing machine had been on the blink for a bit and I thought the thick wool might cause it to have a temper tantrum so instead I carefully did a neat backstitch all round the edge of each letter and down the centre as well. To help the letters stay in position while I stitched I used a little fabric glue underneath to hold the letters flat, which was a great help.
    All the best families have matching Harry Potter inspired jumpers
     And there you have it, two Harry Potter inspired jumpers without any knitting in sight! I’m happy to report they’ve been through the washing machine a few times and the felt hasn’t budged at all so that’s brilliant as it was my main concern. It was really quite easy to do, and is one of those tribute projects that Harry Potter fans get straight away and everyone else just thinks my partner and I are edging slightly closer to becoming a parody of a 1970s sitcom. Mind you, I haven’t yet gone as far as making one for the dog though – I’m still working on that.

All blog content and photos are Copyright of Charisse Sayers Proofreader & Copywriter www.charisse-sayers.com I welcome all feedback and would love to know your thoughts so please get in touch, comment, share, like and generally get involved!

How I made a Care Bear toddler dress

     Growing up in the 1980s it’s fair to say that I developed a love of Care Bears that has probably never truly left me, which is why I was excited to find this vintage Care Bear fabric on eBay.
Everyone likes Care Bears

     There was just enough to make a matching pair of dresses for two adorable little toddlers that I know, but I had to be super thrifty with how I cut all the pieces out. I also wanted to try and match up the front and back fabric so that the pattern would look continuous despite the side seams so careful planning was crucial.
     To make the pattern I adjusted the ‘Ahoy’ top pattern, simply making the skirt longer so that it was closer to a dress than a top. I also bought some plain white cotton to line the dress as I knew that it would make the Care Bear fabric stand out more with a stronger white background.
     It was constructed much like the green dress I’d made before so that it was fully lined, concealing all the raw edges:

  • Once all the fabric was cut I attached the front fabric with the front lining along the top edge (right side to right side), and then the same again with the back pieces of fabric. 
  • Then I attached the front and back pieces together by sewing the side seams – lining to lining and facing fabric to facing fabric. 
  • Now the tricky bit – I turned the dress in on itself and sewed the bottom hem together (ride side to right side) leaving a gap to pull all the dress back through once sewing was completed, before top stitching to close the gap and give a neat finish. 
  • Next I top stitched along the entire neckline and around the shoulder straps.
  • Finally I hand stitched on buttons and made buttonholes, which can be time consuming when your sewing machine doesn’t have a buttonhole stitching function!

     I was really happy with the result, I feel I’ve definitely got the knack for this type of garment and it’s a design that can be scaled up as the children grow so it’s a good one to master. 
Care Bear toddler dress
The back (and a little Care Bear friend)

Care Bear toddler dress
Front of the dress

     I did spend a little extra on the top stitching on this project as my friend that I gifted one of the dresses to is super creative and exceptionally skilled at sewing - she even studied fashion design at college and university - so I knew that she’d spot my amateur errors right away! However, even if she did spot any mistakes she’s not mentioned it, probably because we’ve been Care Bear buddies for as long as either of us can remember, and no amount of dodgy hems could change that.

All blog content and photos are Copyright of Charisse Sayers Proofreader & Copywriter www.charisse-sayers.com I welcome all feedback and would love to know your thoughts so please get in touch, comment, share, like and generally get involved!