Tag Archives: seo copywriter

What caught the Gloucestershire Copywriter’s eye this week?

I thought I’d try something completely different this week and flag up three things with writerly connections that caught my attention on radio and TV last week.

Jimmy PAge, LAdies of London and The Gervasutti Refuge

What caught the Gloucestershire Copywriter’s eye this week…

Page reminisces on Plant’s writing ability

Last Tuesday, Radio 4’s Front Row arts and culture magazine featured Kirsty Lang interviewing guitar icon Jimmy Page about the newly-remastered version of Led Zeppelin IV (the ‘untitled’ album) and the inclusion of a -previously unheard version of ‘Stairway to Heaven‘ recorded at LA’s Sunset Sound Studios. What was particularly interesting were Page’s reminiscences about the recording the original album version of ‘Stairway’ at Headley Grange in 1971 – and how Robert Plant wrote and recorded most of the lyrics in just a few hours. To quote Page:

…Robert was sort of sitting down against the wall and he was just sort of writing and writing and writing and he came up to sing at one point after we’d been working on it we’d got the whole of the structure and everyone’s remembering what parts to come in on … he comes in and starts singing and he’s got a major percentage of the lyrics already done at that point and it’s epic, the lyricism of that is epic. The moods that are created as it goes through are all coming to be and, as I say, Robert is just, he’s, he’s just independent of this, he’s, he’s just writing and writing and writing like it’s automatic writing at this point, he’s channeling, you know and he comes up and starts singing, cause he’s got a picture of it ’cause he’s listening to all the routining … it’s pretty inspired stuff…

As a professional writer who knows what it’s like to get in the zone with business copywriting, novel writing and even a bit of songwriting, I could relate to this. I just liked it, the story of how what is arguably the greatest rock song of all time was substantially written and recorded in two or three takes one afternoon.

From Headley Grange to London’s guilty pleasures

The week’s guilty pleasure came after reading a tabloid article about the ITV series Ladies of London. Although I can’t stand soaps, reality TV is another thing and I couldn’t resist a peek at one episode – and then another. There’s something worryingly compulsive about this hugely contrived fly-on-the-wall look into the lives of several British and American London socialites as they cat fight, quaff Champagne and do the rounds of London’s society events. As an SEO copywriter, I was particularly interested in one scene of Episode 1. That was when the oh-so-in-control (and very successful, with her upmarket Gift Library website) Caroline Stanbury’s marketing team announced that they hadn’t got the functionality to change any of their own keywords in the website copy. Oops! So rich, so cool but… such a schoolboy (or schoolgirl) online marketing error.

The ultimate copywriting refuge?

And then there was George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces on Channel 4 and his helicopter trip (helicopters: now that immediately caught my attention) to the amazing Gervasutti Refuge at 2833m in the Mont Blanc Massif. Constructed in 2011 to replace an earlier refuge, this ultra-modern, completely temporary, prefabricated pod by LEAPfactory offers sleeping accomodation for  12 people, broadband, solar power and the most amazing views imaginable over the Val Ferret’s Freboudze Glacier, in front of the east face of the Grandes Jorasses of the Mont Blanc range.

And what did I think? How that would make an amazing copywriter’s studio – if only one could keep one’s eyes on the work and not on the jaw-dropping scenery. Whistley Hill overlooking Charlton Kings is lovely, and inspirational, but the Gervasutti Refuge is something else again.

The newly-remastered Led Zeppelin IV, an episode of Ladies of London (well, maybe not) and a week in the Gervasutti Refuge with Mrs H. The climb out of the Val Ferret is a long, hard one if you don’t take the chopper, but surely a stairway to copywriter heaven.

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

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7 words that engage readers – a tip from the Gloucestershire Copywriter…

I was excited when NLP specialist Paul Goddard offered to share seven powerful words with us at Win-Biz Networking recently.

What Paul said resonated with me – I’ve been aware of this for a long time and regularly use these (and other) powerful words in my copywriting. Persuasive copy, containing powerful subliminal messages, needn’t be restricted to ‘high pressure’ American-style sales letters. Used judiciously, the seven ‘magic’ words have an important place in B2C and B2B copywriting – and the written communications we use every day at home or work.

So what are these amazing words?

  • Because
  • Now
  • Imagine
  • Please
  • Thank you
  • Control
  • The name of the person you are communicating with

seven words that will improve your writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s consider them one by one.

Because

Paul used the oft-quoted example of the 1970s research involving a photocopier queue, and how the researcher’s ability to jump the line increased markedly when they added ‘because I need to make copies’ to their request. This is sometimes referred to as ‘the photocopier effect‘.

The lesson? Whether in written or spoken communication, using because strengthens the persuasiveness of your case. It could be on your website homepage or your next email. Either way, used with subtlety, this is a powerful word.

Now

As every direct-response copywriter knows, now adds urgency and encourages action from the recipient of your message.

Try it – NOW!

Imagine

This, as John Lennon’s songwriting has proved for decade, is a wonderful tool for getting someone to think ahead and envisage a scene, a benefit or a feeling. By asking your reader to imagine something, you can put any idea into their head.

For instance, imagine a bear on a jet ski, or the time you’ll free up for other business tasks if you hire a professional to do your copywriting. (And please note how the latter example is so much more useful for your business than the first one!)

Got it? Great! Now imagine using this technique in future.

Please

Because basic courtesies still matter. You’d say please in conversation, so why on earth wouldn’t you do so when you write.

Please remember this next time you write.

Thank you

For the same reason as above. Thank you!

Control

Another subtle one to be used with discretion. We all like to feel in control, especially when we’re trying something new or being asked to make a commitment. That’s why, as writers, it makes sense to remind your reader that they are in control.

They will have control. And so will you.

Use their name

I don’t mean for every other word as is so beloved of sales people who are trying too hard. What I mean is the judicious use of someone’s name to personalise your communication. When Paul Goddard spoke to us he was using the example with reference to spoken communication, but the same applies to writing – by addressing a spec-approach to a named individual , rather than to Dear Sir/Madam, for example.

In copywriting, where you don’t know the names of all the people who are reading your brochure or website page, you achieve a similar effect by using ‘yo’u and ‘your’s in your copy. It ties in with the idea of writing as we speak, of communicating directly with the person who is reading your copy at that moment. As well as personalising your message, use of more ‘you’ than we, emphasises that your message is more about your reader than you. That’s important.

You will do this in your writing won’t you.

Start using these powerful words today

So there they are, seven powerful words that you can start using today to enhance your written and spoken communications and give you subtle control – that’s because they work.

It takes practice to deploy them effectively in your business writing. That’s why an experienced marketing, technical or SEO copywriter might be your new best friend. If you don’t have the time, special skills or inclination to write your own SEO copy, brochure content or client case studies, imagine  the benefit of some professional help.

If that’s the case for you, please contact me now. In any case, please leave a comment after this post and tell me which words you find most powerful when you communicate – and why.

Thank you!

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

An unashamed plug for the North Devon Animal Ambulance…

Pro Bono work is good. Writing for worthy charities is good. Writing for the North Devon Animal Ambulance (NDAA) is very good, not least because it allows me to flex my writing muscles in an area that’s very different from my usual marketing and technical copywriting beat here in Gloucestershire.

I’ve been writing for the NDAA animal ambulance service since 2007. They’re a great charity, hardworking and making a noticeable difference to the lives of wild and domestic animals in, not surprisingly,  North Devon. What I really like is that, although the NDAA is ostensibly an animal charity, almost every action they take has a bearing, either directly or indirectly, on people. Humans like you and me. That’s good too.

Over the years I’ve crafted press releases, edited a quarterly newsletter and written website and SEO copy for them. In fact, we’ve just finished working on the charity’s third generation website and it certainly shows the power of the Web to allow even a small, volunteer-only, local group to shine.

I say ‘We’ because the new site wouldn’t have been possible without the input of Barnstaple-based Matrix Print & Design and their website wizard Colin Munday of The Web Workshop (near Umberleigh). These are the guys who created the structure and the striking design that has already got people talking on North Devon street corners – and digging deeply into their pockets to help North Devon’s own animal charity..

As for my bit? Some 30 new pages of SEO copywriting on everything from animal rehoming to wildlife rescue in North Devon. And all written around a carefully researched pool of long-tail keywords and key-phrases to give the NDAA an even wider online search ‘net’ with which to hook new volunteers, donators and the much-needed legacy donations.

If you love animals, have an affinity for Devon and the South West, and want to do your bit then contact the NDAA. If you want sparkling copy, but haven’t got the time, specialist skills or the inclination to write it yourself… An unashamed plug for the North Devon ANimal Ambulance

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

Dru yoga comes to a copywriter’s rescue…

It’s been a week or so now since we did Airbuses and barking dogs. Forgive me for the longer than usual break, but two things have conspired to make blogging a mightier-than ever challenge. Life as a Cheltenham copywriter would have been a whole lot more difficult if it hadn’t been for the generous help of a neighbour who teaches Dru Yoga.

First, there’s been a very welcome rush of work requiring quotes – and writing! That’s a good problem. Spring is well and truly sprung and several projects that have been in the pipeline for a while have finally gone live. I’ve got SEO copywriting, client case studies, website product and category page writing and more on the go at the moment. All my favourite stuff. Lovely!

But circumstances have conspired to make looking after clients and getting work done harder than usual. Last week, some thieving toe-rags decided to vandalise (or try to steal) the copper wires in my telephone exchange here in Cheltenham. Nicking copper has to be the big growth industry around here – as elsewhere in the UK at the moment.  Anyway, the result was that several hundred Cheltenham properties have been phone-less since the middle of last week. That’s never happened before…

Combine the two events and you’ll understand why being a Cheltenham copywriter has been less than easy since 27/3/13. BT says the phone line will be fixed by tonight, but the day’s nearly over and it ain’t working yet.

The last couple of days have been made easier by the generosity of one of my neighbours, Dru Yoga practitioner Karan Walsh. Karan very kindly let me access her Wireless-Internet. It hasn’t been ideal, because I’ve had to work on the 15-inch screen confines of my laptop, but it’s been a whole load better than trying to work with an old dial-up connection as I did for the first few days… Thank you Karan.

‘Glacial’ is the word that comes to mind. How did we ever manage back in the old days?

So, by way of a thank you to Karan, here’s a link to her Dru Yoga in Cheltenham page on yogahub. She’s a great yoga instructor and passionate as anything about the Dru variety. If you’ve never tried yoga, give it a whirl (Mrs H did and loves it).

On the other hand, if you’re more interested in getting copywriting off your to-do list, please contact me. I’ll write while you go to Karan’s yoga class!

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

The atomic half-life of Web content

I’ve got a  special reason to celebrate this week. It’s my fiftieth blog post as a Gloucestershire copywriter! Thank you for dropping by.

It’s going to be a short and sweet one too. I was listening to social-media expert Jay Baer when he mentioned the idea of the atomic half-life of content – the length of time before the value or usefulness of online or offline content is reduced by half. It set me thinking…

As I understood what I heard, he made the interesting point that website and blog content has the longest half-life of all content. AdWords, for instance, has a very short half-life; stop paying and the value of your campaign drops to virtually nothing with immediate effect. I’ve also seen reference to Twitter tweets having a half-life of 30 minutes.

But blog or website content? Now that’s a different thing. Your investment in high-quality content is like buying an annuity for your organisation. As well as immediate benefit, great content goes on and on serving your prospects and customers for months and years after you (or your SEO copywriter) have created it.

Combine this with everything we know about Google’s ongoing algorithm updates and the increasing importance of meaningful content for Web searchers and there’s a powerful message. Well-written copy from an online content writer is a great investment that will serve you loyally today, tomorrow and way into the future. Think website pages, online articles, customer case studies and more. The potential is unlimited and unlike AdWords, each piece of content is an investment in the future worth of your online presence.

Do you have the time, the specialist SEO copywriting skills or even the inclination to create your own long-half-life content? Not everybody does. And besides, isn’t there something else you should be doing that will utilise your unique skills more effectively? While in the meantime, that vital copy still has to be dragged off your to-do list and put out online…

Just a thought…

 

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.

Helicopters, website navigation and SEO copywriting

I should have listened to the weather forecast this morning. But I didn’t, and halfway up the hill the drizzle was so dense that you could barely see across the valley. Then I heard the unmistakable sound of the helicopter through the gloom, a Sea King approaching slowly, just above the treeline, from over the village. For a moment I was back in the Rockies as Alpine’s Bell-212 approached our mountain eyrie… Then the yellow chopper circled slowly away over the escarpment and disappeared into the mist over the reservoir…

For the rest of my walk I thought about search engine optimisation. If we wanted to be found by a search and rescue helicopter we’d do all we could to make it easy: using hand signals, smoke flares or objects laid out on the ground. It should be the same with websites. Everyone knows the importance of keywords; but amazingly, as one of my SEO experts was saying just before I left the office, too many clients still don’t appreciate the importance of structuring their website (the hierarchy of pages, the site navigation and the consistent use of search terms) around identified search terms to lead humans and search engines to the content they want.

Too often, the site navigation is limited to ‘About Us’, ‘Services’ and similar terms that no one would ever search for. The clever people use a good SEO consultant to structure the site navigation around identified terms that searchers really use – then hire a skilled SEO copywriter to work their magic around ‘helicopter flight training’, ‘haulage contractors Cotswolds’ ‘copywriters in Gloucestershire’ or whatever’s appropriate.

It’s rather like standing in a big field, waving your arms at ‘Budgie’ and yelling ‘Come get me!’ We’d all do it if we really wanted to be found!