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About a decade ago I lucked into a job as a technology journalist. I had no journalism experience / qualifications, but I could string a sentence together and was madly passionate about ‘the internet’. Still am, for that matter.
I had to learn on the job: it was very much a case of in-at-the-deep end. I remember doing a lot of reading to understand how users read online, and how best to write. A lot of the standards set by the likes of Jakob Nielsen still apply today.
Nowadays writing is a part of what I do, but it isn’t my whole job. But I still manage writers on a daily basis and wanted to share some of the rules for web writing that I’ve embraced, adapted or created.
Before we begin I should point out that Yossarian remains my foremost literary hero and rules are always there to be broken. These 23 ‘rules’ are just guidelines that you can adopt if you see fit. They work for me.
This week on Start Me Up we speak to Martin Harrison, CEO of Copify.
Whatever kind of marketing you are involved in, there's almost always a need for quality, relevant copy. Copify is attempting to take the hard work out of sourcing freelance copy at short notice.
Copy, copy, copy. Not a Labour Party election slogan but an ode to the all important words that help elevate your website above the masses and improve on-page engagement and conversion.
Website copy plays a crucial role in informing your visitors, presenting your values and directing people to take actions, not to mention giving a boost to your SEO efforts.
But what is good copy? Is it copy that raises your search engine visibility? Or words that extol your virtues as the next laureate?
In my latest attempt to open myself to professional and personal slaughter, this blog explores the qualities of good web copy, linking to useful articles written by respected copywriters. I don't claim it to be definitive but the intention is to open a discussion about what good copy really is.
Mnemonics implies that two of three fundamental principles of memory are association and imagination. This post may be re-wording some things that people know, but I personally find it’s always easier to recall quirky pointers when working, rather than trawling my brain for dull information.
I’m quite a fan of Family Guy, I’ve no shame in admitting it. I also quite like search, although it’s not always as amusing and sometimes less socially acceptable to say so.
So, in a moment of madness, and I realise that I might be pushing things a little bit here, I’ve taken the time to slam the two together and tried to use a few episode titles to demonstrate how to produce great SEO-ready content.
The actual episodes might be different from the points I’m making, but hopefully the association will stick between the two. So, whenever you’re watching Peter Griffin’s antics on TV, you’ll suddenly begin thinking of SERPs...
If sorting out the corporate website is your ambition for 2010, it can be pretty difficult to know where to start and what to prioritise. After all, you’re bound to have a budget to stick to. So where should you start?
It’s 7.30am on day two of Nielsen’s Usability Week in Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas and let’s just say I’m pleased they’re pumping pure oxygen into the casinos...
Online copywriting can make all the difference between a website that engages and converts, and one that stagnates.
Words communicate to your visitors and influence actions (both positively and negatively). Furthermore, good copy is, as far as the search engines are concerned, the food of the Gods. Words are to Google what oxygen is to you and me.
So I thought I’d try to nail an A-to-Z of online copywriting. As ever, these recommendations are guidelines, rather than firm rules. They're broadly applicable to web copywriters and bloggers, as well as journalists who have their work published online. I hope it makes for a handy bookmark-friendly checklist...
Twitter autoresponders are used to automatically send a direct message to new followers. All too often they are lame, and perceived as spammy.
Auto messages are problematic, not least because even when they include elements of the ‘personal’ (“how can I help you today?” / “tell me more about yourself”) they’re clearly robotic. And people don’t respond to robots, they respond to people. This is 'social' media after all.
I don’t use them, nor have we configured our Econsultancy Twitter account to send automated messages, but we’ve been wondering whether they can be used in a positive way. As such I have been doing a little research in this area. And I'd love to hear your feedback...
Unarguably, paid search is still one of the most effective methods for online marketers seeking to drive great results. Despite the buzz currently surrounding flashy new ideas such as social media, pay-per-click continues to remain a solid foundation for any serious advertising campaign, especially given its flexibility of set-up speed, measurement, tracking, optimisation and responsiveness.
Nick Usborne has been a copywriter for thirty years, and worked on direct mail campaigns before moving exclusively online in 1997. He has just written a guide to optimising online sales by writing better copy.
He believes that this is an area where many e-commerce sites have plenty of room for improvement. In his new e-book, he talks about how websites could use proven sales copywriting techniques to improve their conversion rates.
I've been speaking to Nick about why he feels that some sites need better copy, and the challenges of online copywriting...
No one can deny the phenomenal rise of Twitter over the past few months. But with a massive 750% growth rate within 12 months and hundreds of tweets every second, it means there is an awful lot of ‘noise’ being channelled through the medium.
So how can you make yourself heard through all this activity? What will make you stand out from everyone else? Although there’s no definitive rule, we’ve come up with ten tips to guide you in the right direction.
Recently, an underground rethinking of blogging practice began to hit the headlines; that of Slow Blogging. In a nutshell, this is where blog-posts are generated over a length of time with the aim to display a deep knowledge of the subject matter, rather than churning out quick content at a regular pace.
Displaying a thorough understanding of their services, products and industry can be highly beneficial to the promotional and marketing activities of many businesses, but at what speed should we really be blogging?