Leveling up from publishing good copy to great copy boils down to three things: skills, process, and habits. If you are in the market for a digital marketing agency that places a high value on good copywriting for your website, social media marketing or other outbound communications, you are in the right place and we think you will appreciate this inside look at the process we use. And if you are a DIY small business owner looking for tips on upping your own writing game, we know you will find this informative.
Website design is often the entry point for our new customers. Their company needs a new or redesigned website and they have realized that engaging a professional website design agency to do the work will produce outcomes that are more desirable than if they were to try and “do the website” themselves (again). With that realization in hand, we are able to work collaboratively with our client to developing a strategy that informs the content that defines the design. With this as the process, copywriting is vital.
Let’s look at the 11 steps you can expect our content development team to take when working on your new website design, your social media marketing or your email marketing campaigns.
Be consistent with grammatical structure
The thing with grammar is, when it’s done correctly, nobody notices it, which means inconsistent grammar sticks out like a sore thumb.
Let’s check out this web copy: “Our services include wireframing, creating logos, to design websites”. It’s a hot mess. You have a present participle, a verb, a preposition. And even if you don’t remember those terms from high school English, you can tell something is off with the way that copy is written.
Instead, your bullet point should follow the same grammatical structure, like this: “Our services include wireframing, creating logos, designing websites”. See? Small tweaks, big improvement.
Use both active and passive voice
Use both active and passive voice. Let’s first do a quick recap of what those terms actually mean. Active voice is a sentence where the subject performs an action stated by the verb. For example, “The online entrepreneur bought accounting software”.
Passive voice is a sentence where the subject receives the action expressed by the verb. For example, “The accounting software was bought by the online entrepreneur”. Here’s an easy way to remember it: passive voice is indicated by the use of ‘to-be’ verbs, including is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been.
Now a lot of writing advice will tell you to stick to active voice. Consider whether or not that format fits with your intent and with your target audience’s goal. You may want to mix it up with the occasional passive voice to add rhythm, or to change the subject’s focus in your writing.
Surprise with occasional sentence fragments
Mix things up. Sentence fragments might not have a place in academic writing or school essays, but they are certainly useful in blog posts or web copy, because they quickly relay information in an impactful way.
Sentence fragments can be the difference between clunky web copy and copy that sells. Check out how Copyhackers uses two sentence fragments at the end of their copy. Sure, they could have said, “So you get results like more leads and paid conversions”, but that’s a mouthful. Instead, they broke the long sentence into fragments, which makes you hang on to every important keyword and guarantees their core message sticks out.
Specificity is the key to clear memorable writing. Specifics bring your products and services to life and fire up readers’ imaginations. Let’s look at an example: say you are scrolling through a freelance content writer’s website and see this headline: “I write effective blog posts”.
Pretty generic and snooze worthy, right? Instead, think about the age old writing advice: “Show, don’t tell”. So how can this content writer show the effectiveness of their blog posts? Maybe the headline could read, “I write blog posts that rank on Google in two weeks”. Then, they back that up with a testimonial or case study.
Get clear and concise
Here’s the thing: None of us are really Internet readers, we’re Internet browsers. In fact, 55 percent of readers spend fewer than 15 seconds active on any web page. So to encourage visitors to stay on your page as long as possible, you want to make your writing as user friendly as possible.
One easy way to accomplish this is by focusing on meaningful keywords. Here is an editing exercise for you: take one of your bulkier pieces of copy and bold the essential keywords; the ones that are really going to grip a casual web browser. Then, trim down the language around the bolded words with clarity in mind.
See if you can cut down the word count by 20 percent. Now that you have made your copy more concise, readers will follow to the end as those zooming down a water slide.
Gather fresh perspectives
Chances are, you have noticed that the first page of any Google search is flooded with copycat content that repeats the same points over and over again. So how do you beat this in your posts?
You start by sharing original insights. You could use journalism tools like HARO to call on for quotes from subject matter experts. Or, source for real stories in community groups. Your Facebook group is probably buzzing with fresh perspectives that will make your content stand out from the rest.
Use Google the right way
Research adds depth to your claims and proves the overall credibility of your post. To that end, use Google the right way. By simply adding quotation marks around your search keywords, you are more likely to find content that you would not have unearthed otherwise.
Explore “People also ask” and “Searches related” on Google
This tip is especially useful when you are outlining a post. Instead of relying on a random burst of inspiration, check out the ‘People also ask’ and ‘Searches related’ option on Google to find out what else users want to know. These two sections will help you determine the angle and main sections of your post.
Leave the introduction and conclusion for last
Once you have conducted research and poked around Google, you will have a rough idea of what your post is going to be about, specifically the main points that will shape the body of the post, which in turn informs the introduction and conclusion. So work on the body first. Once that is done, you will be able to find the most suitable hook for the intro and best call to action for your conclusion.
Imitate the best writers on the web
Fun fact, when NeoLAB surveyed 1,000 working professionals, they discovered that 95 percent of the respondents found it easier to remember things when they’ve written them down. Sure, this is a nod to note taking, but it also translates to your writing habits as well.
So pick your favorite piece by the writers you admire and hand write them. Yes, hand write them. The simple act of writing by hand helps you see that every word is put there for a reason. And as you progress, you’ll start to pay more attention to your word choice and writing style.
Keep a swipe file
Got writer’s block? Keep a swipe file. Everyone has an off day. When we find ourselves stuck, we go through excellent writing to get inspired. It starts by gathering interesting copy and content you’ve come across online and saving them in a swipe file.
Pro tip: Download Full Page Screen Capture. Whenever you come across a fantastic piece of copy, just click the extension on the top bar to take a full screenshot. Then, download it as a PDF or PNG image and save it to your folder.
If content writing still feels daunting, don’t worry. There are tools that have your back, so let’s walk through four of them right now:
An awesome AI powered writing assistant that checks your writing for errors like typos and punctuation as you go, and provides helpful recommendations. This is the essential sidekick for every professional writer.
Another popular writing tool among bloggers and professional writers. Hemingway highlights wordy sentences, passive voice, and unnecessary adverbs: three universal pet peeves among the grammarians out there.
A tool for writers who do substantial research. Its award winning features include the Outline View and Citation Cards. Plus, whenever you come across a noteworthy sentence, you can simply highlight the text and right click, ‘Save Text to Airstory’. It will automatically send to your document, no copy and paste required.
Lets you write in full screen mode with zero distraction. Ommwriter also comes with audio tracks that help you focus even better.
Remember, practice makes permanence. Leveling up from good content to great content one boils down to three things: skills, process, and habits. And that’s the core of the process we use to make your website’s copy professional and to make it relevant for search engine optimization at the same time.
Now, all that’s left is to take what you learned here and use it to engage a digital marketing agency to get it done for you. Put your ideas into action, develop a plan, get help executing and managing it, and keep pushing your company’s growth.
SafeHouse Web is a Silicon Valley digital marketing company in Hollister, California, that provides full-service digital marketing solutions. To learn more about our client-trusted digital marketing, website design and social media advertising services, contact us today or visit us at: www.safehouseweb.com.