When I learnt that I can generate income from website copywriting and make a living out of it, I developed a special liking to it! It did not take me too long to realize that it is a restrictive form of writing that follows high standards of scholarly work in order to rank high on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). And the ways in which one learns how to get a handle on website copywriting are determined by 3 factors:
- Social Publishing
- RESEARCHING CONTENT AND CONTEXT
Research is a fundamental and time-consuming part of the writing process because it helps writers develop their message. I know how writers openly joke about the “writing process,” because there isn’t any. But, research helps marketers find their message, voice and style of writing, depending on who they target their content to.
As a marketer, of course, you are not expected to write a novel or a short story on the level of John Grisham’s, but to sell a product or service to the right person and at the right time through purposeful content that helps a reader solve a problem, find a solution or capitalize on an opportunity.
To do so, one needs to understand the following about website copywriting:
The target audience or “buyer Persona.”
The buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about existing customers. Understanding them is no easy feat, but the way to go about it is to develop a set of questionnaires for your buyer persona or conduct one-on-one interviews with existing and random customers to simply unravel the challenges they go through and the obstacles they face in business and their daily lives. A marketer’s task is to then determine the trends and areas of commonalities and similarities arising from this study to leverage, influence, target and shape consumer preferences and decisions.
I remember in one of the interviews I conducted with a Scottish Tourist Agency, I was intrigued to know that they organise special tours around observing the migration of birds to a group of middle age citizens of affluent backgrounds. At that instant, I jumped to inform him that Jordan is witness to the largest migration of birds twice a year and from the widest variety. Wouldn’t it be interesting to cater for that audience to promote Jordan, for example?
The second important thing is to understand the different stages of the buying cycle.
The customer’s “buying cycle,” and user intent
I bet people in my generation, even older or younger go online to search for information. They search in their micro-moments of virtual wanting for relevant,useful and trustworthy information on what they want to buy, what they want to do, where they want to go and what they want to learn about to solve or frame a problem. By targeting content to those needs and aligning it with the three stages of the searcher’s intent;awareness, consideration and decision-making, the website copywriter will then be able to drive qualified leads to targeted websites.
In one of the functions I attended for an NGO working with children with Autism, I noticed that mothers were eager to know if their child really had Autism; some were confused, others were in denial, but a good example of content to satisfy their curiosity would be to list the possible symptoms of a child with autism. Educating your public persona and addressing their problems, needs, wants or fears is a good way of creating compelling content that resonates with them.
The product or the service
In an article I once read on the 5 basic content types customers need, the writer analogizes content to food! Rather unusual, isn’t it? Naturally, humans need a variety of food combinations to maintain a healthy lifestyle. These are: grains, fruits, vegetables, protein and dairy. A regular and balanced supply of all of the above ensures that one stays health and fit.
By contrast, in order for content marketers to stay relevant and useful, they need to provide readers with a regular and balanced diet of content that is comprised of: product/service information, customer FAQs, how-to’s, styling and customer rating reviews. In doing so, they will provide an all-around experience around a product or service that would make for a sizzling blog.
Optimisation is a loosely defined term in inbound marketing. It can mean many things to different people:blog optimisation, conversion rate optimisation, social media optimisation, keyword optimisation, message optimisation, mobile optimisation, and more. Generally, it is the practice of making things better across the different user touch points: search, content and display.
For search engines, it is the practice of providing the most relevant, useful and trustworthy answers for a searcher’s query. To uncover how website copywriters determine how content is deemed trustworthy by search engines, they conduct the following:
Keyword optimisation is the process of researching, analysing, choosing and placing the suitable keyword phrases in your copy for your audience. And, there are two types of optimisation that require time and persistence to achieve:
- On page optimisation
- Off page optimisation
As I noted earlier in my blog, the craft of website copywriting is a restricted form of writing because it binds a writer to the search queries of others online to guide his or her own writings. If you want to rank on the first page of Search Engines, you need to put yourself in the mindset of others as you market a product or service to them. To start,
- Mimic the search queries of others to determine which keywords people use when they want to solve or frame a problem relating to your industry. Take a look at the specialized term of “inbound marketing,” for example, which will not be used by teachers looking to market their school online. Instead, they would rather select keywords like “website copywriting” or “online marketing,” or “social media”- Terms they are already familiar with.
- Find the right keyword and assess the volume of searches for that keyword and gauge its ranking difficulty. A marketer should select keywords with high search volumes and low competition rates. Any keyword research tool can help you with this. Answerthepublic.com, for example, is a good keyword research tool to target an audience in the UK, or keywordtool.io for Arabic and multi lingual audiences.
- Use long tail keywords to target niche audiences like “beach dress for teenagers in Surrey” rather than the generalised keyword of “dress.” As with the law of supply and demand, keywords in high demand are more likely to be expensive and hard to rank. So, an alternate strategy would be to search for long tail keywords rather than short ones.
- Strategically position them throughout the copy such that search engine crawlers indexing your content can pick them up, bearing in mind the character threshold for each location (i.e., Title tags and meta descriptions should not contain more than 140 characters long and headlines 50–60 characters long).
- Heading and Subheadings
- Introductory Sentence
- Anchor text (text you hyper link to other related pages)
- Title tags and meta descriptions
Search engines crawlers are unable to understand images unless the writer specifies it to them. You can do so by providing a description of the photo in the file name and folder using previously identified keywords, together with a caption on the image.
Use internal and external links.
Content marketers need to verify the sources of information they obtain by referencing the source using a hyperlinked text. This will signal to your readers and search engines that your content is trustworthy.
The hyperlinked text could either link to an internal page within your website as a blog or a landing page, which you have previously created, or to an external and accredited source. Using hyperlinks and anchor text (keyword rich text) will give your website credibility and authoritative status, resulting in the successful optimisation of your off-page SEO efforts such as the creation of inbound links to your website.
There is a natural tendency among people to withhold information, to secretly monopolize it, never to share it if it proves valuable or useful. Without further ado, I can certainly relate to this mentality. Except, everything I learnt about publishing, in the context of inbound marketing, is exactly the opposite!
I learnt that marketers are key agents of social change acting as catalysts, together with market forces, between government, stakeholders, individuals and businesses. Hence, knowing on which social media platforms to find my consumers and when is vital to my marketing efforts. I also learnt that being on every medium, platform, list or directory providing relevant content is an asset not vulnerability. Evidently, it’s all about sharing and caring, nurturing and delighting using content that is in the right format and in the right design.
Online publishing is, hence, a tricky business. It involves a combination of elements working in tandem to support one goal. These include: design and quality content to ensure that a copy is clutter free and without errors and with plenty of white space to allow for easy reading. It can also involve tactical and technical knowledge to facilitate content consumption and optimization, all of which are skills that need to be found in a good content marketer.
In closing, I leave you with a line on the power of content from Verys of Game of Thrones in which he says that: “the contents of a man’s letters are far more valuable than the contents of his pocket.” That’s Google’s business model, according to Gina Trapani, and that’s content to ponder on for your next blog!
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