Tag Archives: seo copy

A plan after Growing Gloucestershire 2013… then it changes

I had a plan and it was a good one. After attending the impressive Growing Gloucestershire 2013 conference I’d sit down and write a load of blogs that had come to me during the presentations. Each would be brief but powerful and I’d have them all done within 24 hours. Then real life intervened.

Loads of new clients

A new client (there seem to have been quite a few of you recently – thank you!) urgently needed conventional and online press release writing for their client. How could I resist, it was for the architectural sector and I love writing for building design and construction related services. Then Mrs H took us off for a couple of days in Wales (only just though) – strictly no work allowed. Then long-standing client Energist needed a load of emails and postcard copy, plus a reworked website page on the run in to new Part L Building Regulations. And in the middle of all this I lost a couple of days through post-concussion syndrome. Copywriter: 6-feet tall; low office ceiling beam: 5-foot nine inches. Moment’s attention lapse. Ouch!

Catching up after Growing Gloucestershire 2013

So here I am nearly two weeks later, having just caught up with my post-Growing Gloucestershire LinkedIn contacts, celebrating the completion of a stunning 26-page aerospace-defence brochure, recovering from a sore head and I’m still buzzing with the excitement of the conference at The University of Gloucestershire’s Park campus.

For this Cheltenham copywriter, the two high points were Dame Fiona Reynolds’ comment about how the National Trust (NT) handled rebranding and brand language on her watch. I asked whether brand language work had gone alongside the visual branding work. She assured me that it had, and told me how she had banned the use of jargon, insisted on the use of we and us and emphasised the use of ‘our’ when talking with members and prospective members of the charity. What about the use of ‘You’ – after all, this is one of the biggest differences one can make when talking with readers in print. But no, and for a very good reason.

Brand language at the National Trust – ‘we, us and our’

The whole NT rebranding was about a shared brand experience (have you noticed how National Trust restorations are now much more open to visitors?). In order to get that openness across in their brand language, this particular communication challenge used ‘we, us and our’ to emphasise that the new charity was a shared resource.  I get that in this particular case, but there’s still a hugely important role for more-you-than-we in most business communication –as I showed my recent client to his delight in the aforementioned aerospace brochure copywriting. More on that in a future post.

The importance of grammar, spelling and proofreading

My second highpoint at Growing Gloucestershire was a point made by the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Fiona Spencer in a presentation on 10 Top Marketing Tips. Given that a lot of her content was high-level marketing stuff, I was thrilled to discover that Tip 10 was the importance of proofreading and Fiona’s assertion that spelling and grammar still matter. That’s a big +1 to that. As I am forever telling anyone who will listen, you’ve got to be aware of the dangers of the hidden assassins (the gunshot that kills before you hear its sound) in your copywriting. Particularly online where the subtlest annoyance can send a visitor off to another part of the InterWeb before you know it. That’s where a skilled copyeditor and proofreader can transform your draft writing.

Bye, bye sore head…

So there you have it. A few thoughts inspired by Growing Gloucestershire and only two weeks late – for very good reasons. Watch this space for more… And, by the way, my head’s a lot better thank you. Which is why I can write this instead of curling grumpily in a corner while the room spins uncontrollably and bad elves hammer 6-inch nails into my skull as they seemed to be doing last Friday.

Good job too. There’s a load more copywriting on its way in the shape of client case studies and website/SEO copy, Write on Al!

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.

Lord Leveson’s lesson for Cheltenham copywriters (and anyone who writes)

It was interesting to read the recent article in The Independent about content in the Leveson Report that appears to breaks a basic rule of journalism – that you always check your sources and don’t cut and paste. In the article, the UK daily claims that the judge warned about how inaccuracy in newspapers ‘caused significant concern’ – and then used incorrect facts about The Independent in his document.

In reality, it was probably a minor oversight. I doubt you’ll find a copywriter who’d put their hand up and say it couldn’t possibly happen to them. But as professional copywriters in Cheltenham, or anywhere else, we have a responsibility to take all reasonable measures to prevent this. And it isn’t hard…

Copywriters regularly use the Internet as one of their reference sources. We combine that information with our own knowledge, the results of fact-finding interviews, client-supplied source material and information from other sources. Then we create original content to do a communication job.

Use of the internet comes into its own when writing original SEO copy for landing pages, online articles and even blog posts. Why wouldn’t we, with Google at our fingertips? It’s not so much what we use, but how we use it that matters. And how thoroughly we check the information we find. This can often be validated against what we already know, or by cross-checking with other sources. As The Independent pointed out, ‘journalism students are taught at college that when researching on the Internet, they should not assume that the first site they come to is reliable’…

Of course, intelligent assessment of the quality and reliability of a chosen reference site also helps. BBC website: good. Badly written Johnny nobody’s site? Possibly not so good. With care, and alertness to the risks and hazards, the end result should be accurate content. But let’s never say never, because, just as I’d challenge you to show me a published document without a typo, accidents can happen to the best of us. As the Leveson Report reportedly confirms…

Which brings me back to cutting and pasting and the trouble that thoughtless use of Control-C and Control-P can cause. As a professional writer, I won’t cut and paste content from online sources into anything I write (I’m not including properly attributed quotes here, but general information that I might glean online while I’m researching content). I’ve found this to be a good discipline.

If anything, it’s harder and more time consuming to stitch together other people’s pasted words and writing styles than to read what they have to say and synthesise original content. (That said, I regularly have to edit copy drafted ‘by committee’. The ability to turn several people’s different styles into one consistent text is a fundamental editing and rewriting skill. Interested? Please contact me.)

Instead, I’ll do my research and immerse myself in a subject, then write an original piece based on what I’ve learned. By the time I’ve integrated this with existing source material supplied by my client, or my own knowledge, I can be sure the piece is original – and that it has my mark on it, not someone else’s.

Novice copywriters or those who churn out quick, cheap and dirty content for ‘copy mills’ may think this naïve and over-complicated – and that anything goes when you are throwing copy together for SEO purposes. I disagree, which is why I’ve always taken a pride in making sure that every SEO article or page that I write is a properly researched, structured and written piece of copy. It may cost a bit more, but that’s a small price for a client to pay for the knowledge that their content won’t get them into trouble when the plagiarism police come around. If you commission copy, especially web copy, please bear this in mind if you ever feel tempted by SEO articles or pages at silly, low prices. How do you think the copy mills can churn out 500 to 700 words for a few pounds without resorting to cut and pasting or copy spinning? But that’s another story…

On the subject of policing cut and pasted copy, and as a final check that nothing’s crept through by accident, there are always online services such as Copyscape, Plagium, FairShare and CopyGator. They are potentially useful to those seeking to identify plagiarism of their content – and copywriters wanting to avoid the embarrassment of unintentional infringement.

In the case of the Leveson Report and The Independent‘s article, I suspect that a tiny mistake was made in good faith and slipped through the editorial process on a massive document. I’m sure no-one set out to blatantly cut and paste content. And that’s the approach any writer should take – whether you’re a teenager writing this week’s homework, a freelance SEO copywriter, or a senior judge tasked with the most important review the UK press has probably ever seen.

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.

Copywriting, like helicopters, can be cost-effectively repurposed

lamalandingWould you like to fly with us?’ asked the orange suited pilot in heavily accented English as the cloud cleared over Bergun and we finished our morning coffee and Birchermüesli high in Switzerland’s Albula valley. I’d never flown in a helicopter, let alone a working Aerospatiale Lama like the one that was being used for helilogging that October in the late 1980s.

For a moment I imagined every fiery exploding chopper I’d ever seen in Bond movies, and how there was no way my travel insurance would cover me if worst came to worst. Then I said yes, and spent the next few days in the left-hand seat of HB-XND as we flew timber from the forested God da Speschas to the road head at Latsch. It was an experience that fired my passion for the ‘angry palm trees’ and led me to various helicopter-related writing in the years ahead: a technical communications project on safe boarding procedures for light helicopters; a helicopter-centred novel; and SEO website copy for a helicopter business since becoming one of the copywriters in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

llamacockpit

Those autumn days in Graubünden remain among my treasured memories from dozens of walking trips in Switzerland. Now, when I can’t be in my favourite alpine republic, I follow Swiss life, language and culture through radio, reading and the online SF1 Videoportal. Imagine my surprise then, when, more than 20 years after my Swiss heli adventure,  I spotted HB-XND in new (Air Zermatt instead of Air Grischa) colours during an episode of Die Bergretter, a Swiss documentary series about helicopter rescue in Canton Wallis.

And the connection with copywriting? Often with copy, rewriting saves money. Just as that Aerospatiale Lama was refurbished and reliveried for a second productive life with Air Zermatt, so tired written content can be renewed and repurposed. Okay, nothing’s as perfect as ‘from scratch’  copy, but when budgets are tight, editing and rewriting existing copy can prove an attractive, cost-effective option.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just pulling copy from an old brochure and putting it online. Different media and applications require different copywriting skills and approaches.  That’s where a skilled copywriter can help. And how, just as HB-XND got a second life, it’s possible to re-use and reinvigorate old copy or rough drafts.

lama2

 

Aerospatiale Lama HB-XND flies on, doing sterling service. And with a little bit of professional input, so can your old copy – at a fraction of the cost of new  ‘from-scratch’ copywriting.

 

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.

Cheltenham copywriters write poetry too

 

 

 

And now for something completely different.

I was rummaging through my digital files and came across a poem that I wrote over a decade ago, years before I was one of the copywriters in Cheltenham. It reminded me that a bit of unashamed creative expression can be very good for us. It makes a refreshing change from firmly focused commercial or technical writing (I was working for a Bristol technical publications firm when I penned the poem that follows).

Reading ‘C’ ‘ for the first time in so long, I was reassured by how it still felt as fresh as it had when I first wrote it. So here, for the first time on the Interweb, it is:

C

Where are you going today?
Climbing through the dawn’s first glow
While we still sleep on earth below
You’re brighter than the sparkling pearls
Of airfield dew that fall
From rushing wings
You’re gone; you’re on your way

Leave breaking dawn; embrace the day
Outshine the sun
And show the sky, so easily
What beauty truly means
‘fore making happy love with clouds
That can never match your charms

Bright the winter sky may be
But I would say
If silky clouds could only see, or know
How fortunate they are
To spend their days with you, their friend
Above the fields and seas

All things must end, not least today
As evening comes, and you return
To land as twilight fights in vain
The fall of night’s soft cloak
Upon the shoulders of the day
Still you shine on and I, like clouds
Get joy from simply sharing space with you.

© 2001 Al Hidden

 

So there you go. A tiny insight into another side of this Gloucestershire copywriter. And now back to the newsletter content that I’m just finalising, the 35 pages of new SEO copy I’m crafting for an animal charity, and the case study I’ve got to complete for another client.

From the wistful contemplation of aviation and clouds to the gritty realities of client case studies in a paragraph… Versatility. One of my strong points. Probably a good thing too, because Andrew Motion will hardly be quaking in his boots at my poetic efforts.

Never mind. I’m pleased with it – even after all those years it still says what I set out to say in 2001. What do you think?

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.