How to stay true to your brand voice while giving the Google Gods what they need.
I think we might be giving the Google a bit of a bad rap. Sometimes, I think there’s a bit of a feeling that Googley rules exist to make us confused, confounded, and to suck the creativity out of our blogs, our writing, our voice.
I like to think of Google as a benevolent God (or Goddess – full respect to your belief system).
I imagine the all-powerful-being sitting somewhere in ‘The Cloud’ doing what they can to help while fully expecting us to first help ourselves.
And it’s helpful to remember when you’re trying to play the SEO game that Google is on your side, and also on your readers’ side. It’s just trying to ensure it consistently delivers the best possible value to the people that use it.
So, how do you write meaningful, juicy, educational and entertaining copy for your websites and blogs while still loading your content up with SEO keywords like guacamole on nachos? (Hint: use the SEO as a relish, not the main meal!)
Firstly, let’s define the difference between Copywriting and Content Writing.
Copy and content writing (sometimes) have different objectives.
1. Content informs. The purpose of writing content is to deliver information, connect with the reader, get them to consider something, or entertain them. Content marketing is the delivery of informative, entertaining, relevant information (for example, by blogging) to your reader.
2. Copy demands. Copy builds a bridge between the reader (potential client, customer, or advocate) and the service provider (you!) by showcasing the benefits and explaining how your product or service will solve their problem. Good copywriting isn’t just a fluffy story, it raises your brand chops, makes the reader feel something about you, and encourages them to realise they NEED THE THING! It sells.
Lastly, and maybe somewhat most importantly, copywriting is content but content is not copywriting. Anyone can create content. And it doesn’t need to be a written blog! Videos, podcasts, infographics, a rebus of emojis – that’s all content. Copy is a painstakingly hand-picked bouquet of words that intend to make the reader take an action.
Secondly, let’s go over a little bit about what SEO in copywriting means:
SEO copywriting focuses on ensuring that keywords and keyword phrases are included in your content so that search engines will index your site based on those words or terms. For example, if a user wants information about organic skincare made in Australia they will most likely type the phrase ‘Australian Made Organic Skincare’ into the search engine. The search engine will then search the internet for the phrase and websites including the phrase will show up in the results. Somewhere. The trick is to show up somewhere in the first couple of pages of the results. Not page 435 where organic skincare websites go to die compost.
The aim is to incorporate your SEO keywords naturally into your content, so it doesn’t sound like you’re creating copy simply to include some keyword terms.
You’ve probably come across a few websites that sound a bit odd. You may have even found them on Page 1 of your search. Their copy reads a bit like this:
‘Best marketing agency in Sydney because we are the best marketing agency in Sydney with the best agency of marketing professionals in Sydney and our clients say we’re the best agency for marketing in Sydney.’ *
* Not an actual example. Though it could be.
And you click away. Because although that website might live on Page 1 of your search, it doesn’t say anything.
All the SEO keywords in the world stuffed into your copy doesn’t give you a brand voice. And a brand voice inspires trust, likeability, entertainment, and builds connections between your words and your clients’ little loving hearts. The kind of connections that sees that person return to your brand again and again, not only to buy, but to recommend to all their friends.
Brand voice turns curious readers into clients and customers, and loyal clients and customers into brand (and blog!) advocates.
Wouldn’t it be fabulous if you could meld both the SEO keyword magic and the brand voice alchemy into one conversion tool? You can! Simply ensure your keyword phrases and terms are written naturally in your content so the Google Deities can find the phrases while your copy reads as unaffectedly as possible. Your readers want high quality, conversational, professional, polished, engaging copy. Google wants to know what you want to rank for so it can help you be found. You can hit both nails on their heads with some careful writing.
Engaging content rules over an SEO keyword any day of the week.
Plus, like a little power packed bonus of incentive, high quality content means visitors return to your site again and again – meaning you reap the full benefits of your optimisation efforts. It also means your readers are more likely to share your good stuff – meaning a growth in audience, more visitors, Google respect, and better rankings. It’s like a little circle of optimised fantastic wordy life that keeps feeding itself. Although it’s sometimes not as simple as we’d like it to be, making a habit of thinking of your SEO keyword terms while writing will minimise the unnatural sound of phrases being forced into your content. In short; you’ll get better at it.
As bloggers and writers, we’re good at creating all the content. Although incorporating SEO keywords into your copy isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of your optimisation strategy, as Jim says, it’s one part of the puzzle you can implement with little to no idea of the backend/ techie part of your site. Fortunately for us, it happens to be part of something we’re already in love with – the writing process.
If we can add a brand voice to our writing, the kind that has our loyal readers recognising us from our ‘tone’ immediately, we’re winning.
If I say ‘brand voice’ and you think ‘marketing buzzword’ I encourage you (strongly, and with wide, earnest eyes) to think again.
If you’re reinventing the brand wheel every time you decide to write a social media post, or your Home page reads differently to your About page, and then again from your blogs. If you stare at a white screen and that blinking cursor seems to get bigger with every passing second, like it’s blinking pointedly at you or if you find that your loyal readers describe your blog and your brand as offering something you don’t quite agree with – you might want to work on your brand voice.
Your brand voice snags your reader right in the belly and makes them realise they’re finally in the right place reading the right words. Try to think of your brand voice belonging to an actual human. If your brand voice was a woman at a picnic, what would she say? What topics would she choose to introduce into the conversation? How would she laugh? What would she think is important? What would make her voice surge up with emotion? What would be the topics she respectfully declines to comment on? Who is she?
Then, consider that if she was at that picnic and she didn’t have all the glorious visuals to help you recognise her; there was no branded tee shirt with your logo and she wasn’t dressed in your branding colours, would she be recognisable as your brand without the visual cues?
The secret to exquisitely branded copy is consistency in the words, recognisable without the clues from stunning visuals. Because when it comes down to it, you will first find a loyal reader with SEO, woo them with the beauty of images, but it’s your message that will make them fall in love with you.
Eloquent brand voice will position you as the authority for your industry, easily identifiable in your zone of genius.
Here’s something I really want to reiterate.
Your brand voice is yours.
It’s not an echo of someone else’s. You don’t need to sound like the most successful person in your industry. Then, you’re just an echo, not a voice at all.
Don’t ‘borrow’ someone else’s taglines, or heck – their whole Home page copy. Don’t be too scared to communicate with your people in the way you would if they were standing right in front of you (just with better spelling and pretty pictures). Developing a brand voice requires a stepping away from the little mouse inside you that’s insidiously trying to convince to fit in, mould your actions, words, businesses, brands, blogs so that other people will think nice things about it. And, as we who’ve spent a bit of time on the internet lately already knows – there’ll always be someone who doesn’t like us.
And to be honest, you should only care about your ideal client.
Do they get you, think of you first, love your online style? That’s all that matters. Everyone else can go get… lunch.
They can Google where.
If you don’t have a Word Bank that can be utilised every time you write branded content – now’s the time to start creating one.