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May 30, 2010

An Informal Look at Writing Online Content

I get many questions about my job as a copywriter and SEO practitioner, and for the most part they follow a similar theme- ‘what do you do?’ and ‘could I do it?’ In an attempt to address these questions once and for all and possibly also give an insight into the life of an internet marketer I’ve put together an article: this article.

A large portion of my day is spent writing. From articles to press releases, website content to blogs: countless hours are spent staring at a blank page, frantically scrambling for inspiration or that perfectly sculpted sentence. The phrase ‘writer’s block’ is an often derided cliche, but there is no denying that sometimes you just can’t quite work out exactly what you’re trying to say, or even more infuriatingly, the best way to say it. Some will go for a walk to clear their mind, others to their cigarette packet or porcelain throne in an attempt to find clarity.

In the realm of content writing and SEO based copywriting in general there is a very simple reason why these personal catalysts are turned to with persistent regularity: it can be boring. There, I said it and to emphasise my conviction will say it again: Writing For Seo Purposes Can Be Boring. Now hopefully you’ll grant me enough time to justify this outburst before reporting me to the various authorities, oh, and please forgive my reliance on personal experience in portraying a more universal point.

I go into work every day knowing that I am required to write intelligently and enthusiastically on topics which I may have very limited previous knowledge of, and due to what I assume to be some sort of genetic defect: utterly love it. It is my love of writing that stops me from finding it boring. I am fully aware that the majority of people wouldn’t revel in this challenge, which is great for me as it reduces my competition. Consequently, the odds are that you’re reading this purely to find out a little more about writing on just one broad topic: and to make another assumption, I expect that your writing on this topic is to promote your own website. It is to you non-reveller, single broad topic focussed, committed website owner that I level my ‘it can be boring’ battle-cry as an explanation for your writer’s block and seek to show how you can get round it.

You have passion for your chosen topic, well, I sincerely hope you do (if you aren’t enthusiastic about your product/website/company/field of operation then it won’t be poorly written content that jeopardizes your company’s longevity and more importantly in this instance: my whole argument rests on it). It is this passion and the resulting knowledge you have amassed on the subject that is key to your success in writing copy, articles and press releases for your website. No amount of literary flair, cunning word play or EXCESSIVE USE OF formatting Tools is ever going to appeal to your target reader more than the sound advice and authoritative content that you, the expert on this subject are capable of providing. Equally important is the very fact that if you’re passionate about something then surely you aren’t going to find it boring.

Having established that you are more than qualified to advise others on your chosen subject and have enough interest in it to apply yourself to the time consuming task of writing accurately about it, all I can really do is give you a few pointers and tips on converting your knowledge into something which others can benefit from and in doing so raise the profile and credibility of your website. To avoid taking up too much of your time, I’ll keep it brief:

1. Provide Original Content.

Whether you’re writing the content for your homepage or an article explaining the finer points of your industry and associated benefits, you must ensure that what you’re saying isn’t said elsewhere. Inevitably there will be others who have said something vaguely similar, but focus upon being better and different. You will get no credit from search engines for duplicating someone else’s work and gain no customers by rehashing a competitor’s article.

2. Research Tone and Style.

We all write differently depending on the context. A blog on celebrity gossip will read very differently to a governmental department’s homepage and the way you construct a text message to a friend will differ to the structure of an email you send to a business associate. It’s well worth researching the homepage content of similar websites when writing your own in order to judge which style you find most effective, relevant and credible. It is more than likely that the style you find most suitable will be the style your prospective visitors will find most suitable: so copy it (NOT THE CONTENT…just the tone and
style). Once you’ve established this starting point then write in a way you find comfortable but adhering loosely to the tone you’ve chosen to emulate. The words should come naturally, don’t worry if it doesn’t sound quite right you can always come back and edit the text.

3. Double Check Grammar and Spelling.

Having spent hours crafting your text, there is nothing more irritating than publishing the piece to discover an abundance of easily avoided errors. Get others to read your copy with a critical eye before making it live, they may well spot something you’ve missed. Having taken onboard any amendments: read it again…and again before committing it to the archives of internet history.

4. Enjoy It.

I know, I know…easier said than done, but if you care about the subject matter and the benefits the content will have for your business then I’m sure you won’t find it that hard.

This post was supposed to be brief but I got a little carried away, I just hope it provided a little guidance to those hovering on the precipice of a first foray into writing online content. If you republish this, then please include the resource box- a vast number of my more conventional and less formal articles have been ‘stolen’ in the past and put on websites in the guise of original content.

Written by Jamie Rock Lyons of Web Vitality SEO in conjunction with OfficeYoo Office Supplies and DHFS Debt Help