Stravinsky and writing SEO copy

Please bear with me on this one. Most of my posts here are practical or seek to answer questions that have come up when I’m talking to clients, prospects or colleagues. This one is a little more, shall I say, theoretical – about the nature and process of writing. Triggered by a Tweet by fellow SEO copywriter michellereno that asked what inspires (copy)writers to write. I believe she has also posted a blog entry. I’m not sure inspiration is really at the core of my writing – see the third paragraph on this page of my personal blog. And here’s...

I’m passionate about avoiding cliches

Great copy – whether it’s optimized or non-optimized – shouldn’t follow fashion mindlessly. Over the past week, I’ve received eight pieces of marketing telling me the company is ‘passionate’ about whatever they do – a company that sells outdoor equipment is ‘Passionate about the outdoors’, a financial services company was ‘passionate about saving me money’ and blah and blah. Someone on a quiz programme was ‘passionate about cooking’. The word is getting almost meaningless. It’s certainly languishing in cliche-land. You mustn’t just say what you think is fashionable – you’ll get swallowed in so many similar propositions (oops, I almost...

Six points to judge effective Web site copy

When I’m asked to assess copy on a client’s Web site, here are some of the most important things I look for: 1. Does it read well? Obvious, but vital, when so much content is patently rubbish! 2. Does it accurately reflect the client’s products, services and strategy? 3. Are the benefits clearly expressed? Or, more fundamentally, do I understand what the site is about? 4. Is there enough copy for SEO purposes? 200-300 words on a page is a sensible amount. 5. Does the copy support the site’s SEO strategy? Has it been constructed to give leverage to the...

Build a better mousetrap and the whole world will beat a path to your door

I bet you’re already groaning at the naivety of Emerson’s words. Back when I was foetus copywriter, it was one of the great un-truisms of the industry. Of course you need to let the world know about about their wonderful new mousetrap, that goes without saying, doesn’t it? So why do so many companies (even large ones) invest so heavily in their better mousetrap and keep schtum about it? I’m talking, of course, about the money poured into Web sites, corporate identity and so on. Yet somehow at the same time, omitting to plan for a realistic budget for promoting...

‘Being a good author is a disappearing act’

Crime writer Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing… is subtitled ‘Being a good author is a disappearing act’. Read the piece. It’s good. Not good in detail about marketing writing (SEO copywriting, direct marketing or any of those things I do), but the thrust of Leonard’s article is absolutely spot on. Why? Because 95% or more of the time the material I write for clients has no writer’s voice, and 100% of that material does not have my voice. At its best, copywriting is ego-less, transparent and doesn’t draw attention to itself – it will draw attention to the product,...