Not just well-written copy that grabs the attention of potential customers, but also captures your brand tone of voice, really honing in on exactly who you are. And also tells a compelling, thought-provoking, memorable story, convincing customers why they need to use your products and services. On top of this, it should create a sense of urgency to ensure they follow the call to action.
Sounds easy, right?
Oh, and we missed the fact that with web copy, such as blogs, websites, and Google Ads, you’ll also need thoroughly researched, high-ranking keywords. Even web images should incorporate keywords. Phew. We’re discombobulated just reading this.
The writing part just got a little more challenging than you may have first thought, however, there are organisations you can turn to for help. Not-so-subtle-hint: our company is pretty top-notch!
If you’re up to the challenge, we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 valuable copywriting tips, that will see you write right.
Or rather, count your words. Depending on your medium, there will be a maximum length that you’ll want to stay within. Social media copy is usually kept short and sweet, with different platforms each having varying character limits.
Facebook allows up to 63,206 characters, but it is rare that anyone will read a post that length unless it is completely compelling. Instagram allows up to 2,200 characters and Twitter, only 280 characters.
Blog posts can vary in length, however, for best practice SEO, you’ll want long-form content. What you’re writing about is key to understanding how much to write. Check out this blog that details how long your blog articles should be with word counts for every industry if you want more traffic from Google.
The key takeaway is that for superior SEO, the length of your blog is only important when you pair it with high-quality, thoroughly researched content. Remember, your goal for your blog might not always be to get more traffic. Shorter form content can also get you more engagement.
Here’s a list of the ideal length, depending on your objectives for the blog:
Engagement: around 300 words
Social shares: around 500 words
Organic website traffic: around 1,250 words
Google traffic: 1,500+ words (with the highest-ranking blogs confirmed as 2,450 words)
Before we start with our brief overview of how to use keywords, you’ll need to first know the keywords you want to work with.
There are a number of keyword tools out there, both free and paid for. Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner seems like a good option for those trying to rank in Google specifically. For more detailed reporting on keywords and their rankings, use Semrush, Ubersuggest or Ahrefs.
Aim to use keywords that are balanced between the monthly search numbers and traffic. You’ll want to stay away from any that don’t receive many searches or much traffic, but also have to be careful to not choose ones that are too highly searched or high traffic, as you may not rank up against competitors. Or not yet anyway.
Use your keyword tool to find the right long-tail keywords. These are keyword phrases rather than just a word or two and they dominate the traffic received through searches.
Long-tail keywords help newer brands and businesses to easily rank for certain phrases. When you become a more authoritative site, you can rank for shorter, more searched phrases.
So if you’re an agency offering marketing services, you’ll need to look for keyword phrases that your audience is likely to search, as ‘marketing agency’ isn’t likely to get you much traffic. In South Africa, the keyword ‘marketing agency’ has a high volume of 27,100k searches, which sounds great, but actually makes it more difficult for you to rank.
Keyword difficulty (KD) is a metric that measures how easy a keyword ranks in search engines. When you use the keyword tools we mentioned in the ‘Your words count’ section, you’ll see a KD score of between 1-100 for the keywords you search. The lower the score, the easier it’ll be to rank at the top of the search engine results for the target keyword. In the case of ‘marketing agency’, this keyword sits at a whopping 40KD.
However, focusing on your niche or USP with ‘marketing agency mossel bay’, although having a lower search volume, will more likely see you appearing higher in the search results and offers a specified search-buy funnel. In other words, long-tail keywords are far more valuable for businesses that want to rank organically in searches.
So where should you use keywords? There are a number of areas of your webpage and blogs where you should be using keywords.
Of course, the nature of long-tail keywords means that they’re, well, long. So they don’t always flow with your copy. You must carefully consider where to place them within your content so that they read naturally.
Tip 1: keyword-stuffing is a bad thing! These days, Search Engines pick up on webspamming with repetitive keywords on a site, and they actively penalise those sites, resulting in lower ranking within search results. Rather provide valuable educational content that resonates with your target audience. Let me repeat that valuable educational content. And one more time valuable educational… oh wait a minute. Let’s avoid a penalty!
Tip 2: Be careful to ensure your Google search featured snippet isn’t so informative, that searchers have no need to then click on your site. These are called zero-click search results and you can read more about how to avoid them in our blog.
Remember, best-practice SEO should also include backlinks and keeping people around on your page with calls to action and lead magnets. There is far more to the subject of SEO and you can read more ways to double organic search traffic in our last blog.
You’ll need content to write about. Blogging, for the sake of blogging, without focusing on the quality of the content, your target audience, and what they want to read about, is not necessarily going to help your SEO. In fact, writing poor-quality content can really hinder your business.
Rather spend time on each blog when you have the time. Research the questions your customers are asking, and answer them. And when you’re more pressed for time, look at old content and freshen it up a bit. Google will pick up on fresh content, but that isn’t limited to completely new blogs. Old blogs, with added new content, will also be a big help for SEO.
To help you plan your blogs to make sure you get the right message to the right customer at the right time, you’ll need a content strategy. This will ensure that your content creation process is organised, with a schedule of when and where you post content.
With consistent posting, comes loyalty. If your customers know to expect a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly post from you, full of quality content, then they are more likely to become faithful customers. Speaking of consistency…
If you’re not sure of your brand voice, it’s necessary to define this before you set about copywriting for any aspect of your business.
Think about your target customers, and how you want them to feel about your business. The answer to this will be the base of your tone of voice. Do you want them to describe you as friendly? educated? trustworthy? and/or reliable? Whether you write funny, earnest, instructional, or satirical copy all comes down to your target audience.
Once you have this defined, make sure that each person involved in any aspect of writing for the business clearly understands your tone of voice. External copywriters are usually very familiar with brand guides and appreciate the necessity of sticking to your identified ways of communicating to your customers.
We talked about the limits for social media posts above. Just remember, that with pretty much every social media post, shorter is better and more engaging. So try to think about how to get across what you want to say, in as few words as possible.
With all forms of content, short paragraphs and short sentences are proven to be more likely to be read than long paragraphs and sentences. Try and aim for a maximum of three to four succinct, clear sentences per paragraph. Short paragraphs improve the readability of your content and keep your customers around to read it.
With long content, such as blogs and web pages, it’s important to remember to include subheadings, call-outs, and graphics such as photos and illustrations. This will increase the chances of your content getting shared.
A great tip is to consider the readability of your writing for all reading levels. Well-read customers will still respond better to concise copy written at a 6th or 7th-grade level. This will ensure that your writing is simple enough so that readers can absorb the information quickly, without excluding audience members who may not have strong reading skills.
Embrace the space… keep reviewing what you write as you work to see where you can break up your copy to show off more space. This looks neater and enables readers to skim through the parts that might not be so important for them, to find the sections they’re really interested in.
Before you feel offended and think “but I want readers to read all of it” – think about all the blogs you’ve ever read. Did you honestly read every single word? Rather give your customers what they want, and make it as easy as possible for them to get the best experience from your content.
Grammar and spelling are just as crucial, if not more important, than your tone of voice. Mistakes can really lower your credibility and lose you customers. When readers see spelling or grammar mistakes on your website or in your social media copy, it makes them question the value or quality of your brand.
A Grammarly poll revealed that more than 93% of social followers think that correct spelling is important or very important when shopping. Even more revealing was that poor communication is estimated to cost US businesses as much as $1.2 trillion every year.
If you don’t have a proofreader on staff, you can use simple and free tools such as Grammarly, to check your work before you post it.
A really great way to engage your customer is through storytelling. This is harder in long-form content like blogs, but is really useful for social media and other short-form content. Depending on your product or service and target market, think about a compelling story that will resonate with your customers.
Customers love knowing about real people and real situations, so seize opportunities to use it in your copy. Relatable content will engage customers and generate leads. Also, think about the language you use, and make sure it is natural and casual, if it fits with your audience.
Instagram is inherently image-based, however, carousels are becoming very popular ways of incorporating narrative to tell a story. With up to 10 photos or videos allowed in one Instagram post, there’s a lot of image space to play with to add copy into.
These carousels are fantastic for your stats since each swipe counts as an engagement. Also remember, Instagram shows more love to the posts users engage with. On top of that, viewers are more inclined to comment and save carousels, than individual photos or videos.
To help your bounce rate, make sure the copy is clear, explanatory, and ultimately useful for your customers. Avoid jargon and euphemisms, or anything that might not be immediately understood by your target audience. Go back to read the ‘short and sweet’ section to make sure your long-form content is well-structured.
You can also introduce UX microcopy to your site. This copy can be really useful for both your customer journey and your conversions. Look for places on your website where your customer might need a little more instruction and introduce UX microcopy.
Don’t beat yourself up too much if all of the above is a little overwhelming. Our copywriters have spent years honing their craft and written communication is certainly not easy for everyone. If you’re not up to the challenge, chat with us about your copywriting needs.
Esther’s passion for writing can be traced back to her primary school years, when she designed a poetry book and then persuaded her school to publish it. She now has over 20yrs of experience in copywriting, and 10yrs in social media management. Esther left the cooler Scottish climate in 2011, to follow her other passion… sharks. In 2015, she founded a shark and ocean conservation initiative called Keep Fin Alive.