Los Angeles Copywriter Shares 8 Tips

Los Angeles Freelance Copywriter’s Words to the Wise

Before we get into this blog post on copywriting tricks of the trade, I’d like to make a few points for those who may not be as familiar with professional copywriting. Often, startup entrepreneurs and small business owners fall into a dangerous trap of thinking that copy is just the words we need to fill in on our website or whatever the tactic of the month may be. Due to everything on their plates, they forget that clarity around why they even exist and how to properly communicate their value to their prospects are sales and success imperatives. Just as you wouldn’t hire a mumbling, meandering, monotone salesperson, you shouldn’t go to market without the aid of a professional copywriter at your service.

Another misconception is that copywriting is just about words, that what you need is a wordsmith. In my opinion, genuine copywriting has less to do with the actual words on the page than it does with determining the key concepts and ideas that will resonate with your targets. This is why the most highly paid and awarded talents on Madison Avenue are, first and foremost, the strategists. Then come the idea generators, and “writing” at this level includes the ability to conceptualize and think visually. After that, it’s those who can write on-brand, conversational copy across all media. Then, the media-specific specialists. Then, everybody else.

Watch your language!

All of that said, when it does come to the actual writing, you do need to keep things flavorful. But great copywriting is the art of balance: if you go overboard, you wind up with flowery, purple prose that may gild the lily but will fail to persuade or sell. But if you pay insufficient attention to the language tools and figures of speech that make reading or hearing something easy and enjoyable, you will lose attention, interest, excitement and, ultimately, readership.

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A whitepaper on copywriting by Los Angeles freelance copywriter Scott Silverman is available for free download in the marketing resources section of this website.

8 Copywriter’s Tools and Tricks of the Trade

1. Alliteration is something we all probably remember from a class or unit on poetry. It’s the repetition of the same sound, occurring at the beginning of the words. Sentences with similar sounds show smooth style… but be careful of overuse. Blatantly boring.
2. Allusion is a reference to something other than the subject matter, used to illuminate the topic at hand via a (hopefully) known commodity. For example, if we describe your company as the King Kong of widgets, we know you’re big in the industry (and perhaps a tad angry.)
3. Anaphora is the repetition of a series of words. A series of words establishes a rhythm. A series of words can increase drama and impact. A series of words can make for more engaging speeches and marketing collateral copywriting.
4. Antiphrasis is just another word for sarcasm; we say one thing but the intention is the opposite. I’m thrilled about my recent weight gain. Aren’t you impressed?
5. Euphemism is when we “soften” the potential harshness of something. A trouble-making toddler becomes high-strung and curious. A warehouse full of unsold goods becomes a sea of opportunities. As you can imagine, euphemism is popular in advertising, especially when you need to describe the “before state.” Your clients’ businesses aren’t tanking; they’re experiencing cash flow challenges.
6. Hyperbole is probably advertising’s most commonly used figure of speech as the exaggeration of things helps us get to a more concrete understanding of what is being communicated. Also, it intensifies the emotions and promises that speak to the buyer’s desires. But before you dismiss it, consider this: many of the most effective marketing communications throughout history were deeply rooted in hyperbole. Taking things to their logical extreme (often via metaphor), provides copywriters (and comedians and screenwriters) a useful device for making their points memorably.
7. Metaphor is a comparison. While with simile we use the words “like” or “as” to make a direct comparison, metaphor cuts out the middleman, as it were, and simply substitutes the reference for the original. Whereas Chevy used to be “Like a rock,” a simile, Prudential used to promise you your “Piece of the rock.” Nobody was hurting for rocks; they got the idea. Want to be a better copywriter or marketer? Work on your metaphors. Rock on!
8. Oxymoron is the use of two words that seem to not go together, sometimes by outright contradiction, other times simply by the clash in their worlds of reference. For the former, familiar example would be “mud baths” or “deafening silence.” For the latter, Pluto, before it lost its cred, used to be referred to as the “dwarf planet”. Often used for sardonic, humorous effect, other examples could include “airline food”, “tax advantage”, and “bipartisan cooperation”.

If you enjoyed this first list of 8 copywriter tips and tricks, please let me know. I’ll get to work on the next 8 for you pronto!

Web Copywriting With Personality

Why is personality so important to web copywriting?

Personality matters in web copywriting for the same reasons personality matters in sales… and pretty much everything else! Aside from boring your visitors to death, web copywriting that doesn’t connect you to your visitors isn’t worth much, is it? The problem, of course, is that there is already so much heavy-lifting to do on your website. We’re thinking about the architecture of your website and the user experience. We’re thinking about your fundamental marketing, and, if you’re me, we’re thinking about the entire business and its business development strategy. We’re thinking about how your web copy fits into your overall sales cycle. We’re thinking about SEO objectives. Now, how do we take all of that and give it a strong but empathetic human voice? Moreover, why should we even bother? And, dammit, Scott, why do we have to think about our brand? Isn’t it enough just to laundry list the features of our business and prattle on about how great we are? Um, no.

People buy from those they trust, respect and admire.

Whether serving as a brand strategist, a brand consultant, a copywriter or a company naming consultant, I face one fundamental challenge on every project. You’d think it would change from client to client or industry to industry, but it doesn’t. It’s, how am I going to connect you to the people that matter most to your business? While brand-savvy marketers know that simple statement opens up myriad, simultaneous inquiries and a scope of brand discovery few entrepreneurs and small businesses have planned for, let’s start with the basics.

People buy from those they trust, respect and admire. We agree on that, right? Good, but uh-oh. Here comes the rub. 99 times out of 100, your creative brief won’t spell out how to get to trust, respect and admiration. Your unique value props may provide a start, but they won’t get you to the T-R-A trifecta, either. Your whiteboard sessions where the team got together to list out all of your many features and benefits? A worthwhile endeavor, to be sure, but it provides no sure path to cultivating trust, respect and admiration. What we have, in most environments, are terrific supporting points, which is the equivalent of a great speech delivered by an egocentric, uncharismatic boor. (Be honest about your company’s personality. Put some adjectives on it. Now, send those adjectives off to a cocktail party or a picnic and ask yourself whether the guests enjoyed your company’s company.)

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Example of website copywriting with personality and humor; image from the Kalish & Sons’ website.

As a Los Angeles copywriter with over 20 years’ experience, I’d like to share 10 points with you on the uber-serious purpose of humorous, personality-infused web copy:

  1. You have somewhere between 3 and 7 seconds to show web visitors their time investment is going to be worthwhile. In other words, it’s show time!
  2. You will garner that attention more reliably by putting yourself in your targets’ shoes.
  3. When you put yourself in their shoes, you suddenly find they do not want to engage in a conversation with a cold, sterile enterprise. They want — all people want — to connect with something. Your business has a far greater chance of forging genuine human connections when the business itself is perceived as real and human.
  4. To be perceived as real and human, breathe life into your brand with web copywriting that pops with personality.
  5. If you can make them laugh, great! There are few things that can bring people together like a well-made joke and a shared laugh.
  6. If you can’t make them laugh, at least show them that your presentation to them mattered to you — prove that you were willing to invest in the sale, just as you are asking them to invest their time and attention.
  7. Instead of claiming to be a leader, demonstrate that leadership with a strong voice and an unapologetic Point of View.
  8. Instead of claiming success and experience, demonstrate that successful experience with web copy that telegraphs business maturity.
  9. In addition to arresting attention, you will also keep that attention, which leads to better traffic flows and increased dwell times… both of which lead to higher conversions.
  10. The big win:  by committing to website copywriting that has a distinct, tonally-appropriate personality you will achieve far more than greater credibility, greater engagement and greater sales. You will have set yourself apart from the competition (and competing demands on our time and attention) by providing a memorable experience, one that speaks volumes about the future value you have in store for them.
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Example of website copy subhead with brand-building personality; image from Texollini website.

Have fun with your web copy. It’s okay. Tell ’em Scott said so. Even in B2B.

If a business enjoys what it does, if it takes its work seriously but not itself, a funny thing happens. By expressing itself more freely, it more freely attracts others to it. This includes customers, of course, but also the kind of employees and strategic partners that will also lead to future growth.

So go ahead. Start that new website of yours with a strong concept that lets visitors know from the get-go they’re in for something special. Then, use headlines and subheads throughout that, yes, make the points they need to, but while simultaneously exuding human warmth, intelligence and wit. Throughout, try to balance your sale on the table with their needs to express their own vision and values.

In the hands of the right website copywriter, you’ll have more fun with your marketing. More importantly, your targets will have more fun with your marketing. You’ll make more connections. You’ll make more money.

You can view more examples of personality-infused website copywriting.

 

Website Copywriter: Tips for How to Hire

When you need to hire a website copywriter, here’s 8 things to keep in mind:

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Recent website copywriter sample for an amazing educational technology product, Lessoneer, by EdCaliber of Portland, Orgeon.

  1. Great web copy needs to expand upon and give fresh meaning to your Unique Value Propositions. If you aren’t beginning with a clean brief and a solid strategic center, work with a web copywriter who has the brand strategy and brand consulting experience to help you sharpen your marketing sword.
  2. Website content needs to do 3 things simultaneously. To be effective, your online copywriting needs to solidify your marketplace position in order to advance the sale. It needs to breathe energy and life into your brand, further setting you apart so that visitors are actually moved by the online experience. Lastly, it should work to increase your authority and, thereby, your SEO ranking.
  3. Attention, connection and differentiation are, in my experience, marketing’s Golden Triangle. But too often I see companies (at every size, believe it or not) who are all too eager to build a website when they really need to be thinking about building a stronger brand first. Your website is an outgrowth of your brand strategy, not the other way around. I often use humor and human warmth to set my clients’ websites apart. Would your company benefit from having a stronger, more polished voice? Yes, indeed-y. (Industry term for “you betcha.”)
  4. Experienced designers and developers know we must think through the “what to say” side of the equation prior to exploring “how to say it best.” If you are beginning with the visuals, you are not only barking up the wrong tree, you are leaving your web copywriter very little room to help you crack your sale.
  5. Talk to any veteran, multi-million-dollar-producing sales person and you’ll be receiving earfuls on the undeniable importance of bringing the right message to prospects. Should you wish your website to serve in any kind of sales capacity (either primary or support), forget about hiring a wordsmith. Hire a copywriter who can balance your brand objectives (differentiating, staking claim to a bold position, making you sound smart and engaging) with your fundamental marketing & sales objectives.
  6. Should your web copy be short or long? This depends upon your industry, your ideal customers and, of course, your objectives. For a page to have any authority at all with the SERP’s, you need about 300 words. Big brands can get away with less because their authority is derived from the brand itself. Of course, it’s true many people won’t read every word of your copy. People skim, especially with mobile’s insanely fast growth rate. Just be sure your killer copy’s still there, though, because if you can hook them with a funny headline or a clever and engaging subhead, you’ve gotta back it up with something. I know I’d much rather buy from a company who actually has something valuable to say. You?
  7. Specific industry experience in your field is far less critical than many think. The real experience you want in your website copywriter is in building brands, helping companies better understand their strategy for creating target connections.
  8. As with all of your hires, there’s just no substitute for intelligence & problem-solving, character and drive. Don’t get too lost in the marketing and web jargon.
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Website copywriter Scott Silverman converts features into easy-to-understand benefits for companies who insist on breaking through.

Most web copywriters define the role as word-provider. I think it’s about growing your business.

I hope these 8 points have given you some good things to think about. I know it’s not easy to find a website copywriter who shares your performance expectations. But if mastering your web content is important to achieving your business vision, I’m here to help in every way I can. You can see more Los Angeles website copywriter examples, but please feel free to gimme a shout at any time.

SEO Website Copywriter’s Checklist

An SEO Website Copywriter’s Checklist:

 Some questions to ask to make sure your website is search engine friendly.

  1. Did your SEO website copywriter create lots of great, unique content?
  2. Is it written in natural language or robot-ese?
  3. Are content and copy good enough so that it will be easy to gain lots of links?
  4. Site fundamentals: are you using a top level domain?
  5. Site fundamentals: are you using hyphens in your urls?
  6. Site fundamentals: are your urls too long?
  7. Site fundamentals: what is the site age and size; what is the current page rank?
  8. Page rank: is the site properly listed in DMOZ or Yahoo?
  9. Page rank: how long is the domain registered for, what is the page traffic, how long do visitors stay on the page?
  10. Freshness: how frequently are updates made, in what amount, are new links added?
  11. Keyword Research: have you combined the expected with unexpected and longtail keyword approaches?
  12. Keyword Selection: have you used Google’s keyword tools and checked search volume and competition for your keywords?
  13. Keyword Utilization: have you used your keyword in the url, the title tag, the description and keyword metatags?
  14. Keyword Placement: has your SEO website copywriter used the keyword in your H1, H2 and H3 and with appropriate density in the body text?
  15. Keyword Placement: has your SEO website copywriter paid attention to prominence, proximity, phrase order, use of the keyword in alt text, in links to site pages and in anchor text?
  16. Internal Links: are you linking internally using a hub and spoke strategy and making sure all links are valid?
  17. External Links: are you linking externally to no more than 100 sites, with keywords in your anchor text and maintaining consistent link stability?
  18. Backlinks: are you bearing in mind the overall quality and PR of the linkback sites? Are you increasing the amount of good backlinks gradually over time?
  19. Backlinks: are you guest blogging and posting on high PR sites to increase your own authority?
  20. Social Media: are you using social signals on your site to show the search engines that people find it timely and relevant, including the use of video?

Social Media for SEO

Social Media: a marketing approach in its own right, but also great for SEO

Social Media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and any new ones that might spring up later today) helps you accomplish several things for your website and your SEO efforts. Essentially, the social media serve the same purpose for which the search engines initially relied solely upon backlinks. How can you, if you’re a robot who can only think in the binary, determine the quality of a given website? You look to others. It’s almost Tom Sawyer-ian in its devilish genius. Make everybody else do the work!

Use the social media to affirm the quality of your website content

An active social media presence sends a powerful signal to the search engines. Firstly, the number of followers and likes is an overall indication of your site’s popularity. Secondly, when people share the content of your site via your link, obviously, all of those become backlinks, be they via Facebook, Twitter, etc. While we’re on the topic of social media for search optimization, also remember to utilize youtube and/or vimeo, and, if you can, include video on your site, as well. These days, the search engines love seeing video on your site, and it makes for excellent sharing on social media.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backlinks Are Reason To Get Juiced

Backlinks are reason to get juiced

Backlinks, also called linkbacks, are perhaps the most important, most challenging, most misunderstood aspects of SEO. When other sites point back to your site, the search engines take that as a sign of endorsement. Depending upon how much the engine likes them, some of that trust is conferred upon you. This is called the passing of link juice.

Backflips for backlinks: it’s not easy but it’s worth it

The easiest, most surefire way to start collecting backlinks is to make sure your site is listed on any site with which you have a pre-existing relationship. Think in terms of the chamber of commerce, industry associations, alumni associations and the sites of strategic partners. Next, to gain even more backlinks you may want to list your site on various directories. The thing to keep in mind here is that directories, spreading their juice to so many sites, aren’t going to be the end-all, be-all when it comes to showing the engines how well-respected you are. Now, think of all the social sites where your site can be featured – those are good. Now, think about spreading some content around the web, with all of that content linking back to your site. Good, good, good! Now, what about doing some guest blogging on some high PR blogs or sites where they allow “dofollow: links. The holy grail in backlinking? Manual creation of linkbacks. You find a site where you want to be included and you sell them on the idea of why they should link back to you. People used to trade backlinks, but, uh, does Google look in any way dumb to you? People used to buy links? Again, why not direct your resources to where they can actually do you some good?

When search engines evaluate backlinks, what are they analyzing?

Backlink assessments come in two categories. There’s your site and then there’s the referring page and site. Let’s tackle your site first. The search engines crawl your website frequently and try to gain an up-to-date view of it and its connectedness and respectability throughout the web. They are going to look at your total number of incoming links, the number of those links that are from high PR pages, any acceleration detected in your link popularity (not always a good thing), the anchor text used in the backlink, the age of the link and how frequently the anchor text is changed.

Now, let’s turn to all of your referring pages. They analyze those, too. Here, of course, it starts with the page rank of the incoming link, and higher is definitely better. But popularity of the page matters, too, and popularity and page rank don’t always mean the same thing. The number of outgoing links on the referrer page matters a great deal because to be listed as one of many potential sources of information is one thing but to be singled out has far greater value. Keyword density and the position of the link are also factored into the equation. The HTML title of the referring page and whether the theme is the same or different also matter. Ultimately, you want your backlinks to affirm the content authority you’ve already established in your SEO copywriting and web content development plan. Better content, more backlinks, higher page rank, higher search position, more traffic… greater opportunities to convert. But only if your quest for SEO and backlinks hasn’t interfered with your ability to produce engaging, benefit-rich website copy. Better website copy begets more backlinks.

 

 

 

External Links

External links honor the marketing principle of “What’s In It For Them?”

External links show how deeply connected you are to your subject matter, to resources , news and leaders in the field. They also show you are more concerned with getting your visitors to the information they seek, which renders you a helpful provider in their eyes and “not a bad Joe” to seek out should they wish to throw some money at you.

External links let you demonstrate how far you’re willing to take them to be of service

When the engines crawl and analyze your site’s external links, there are five key things you should bear in mind when developing your list or preparing for your SEO web copywriting. First and foremost, yes, you most certainly should be linking out. It may not be as important as it once was, but it is absolutely still a leading SEO priority. That said, the second thing you should bear in mind is that you really shouldn’t have more than 100 links out. If you’re sending them to that many other places, it kind of begs the question, is there anything valuable to be found at your site? Your outgoing link anchor text should be complete with relevant keywords, and your site should show link stability over time – if you thought it was valuable at one point to send them to the National Meteorological website, why are you suddenly changing your mind? Lastly, always make sure of the validity of your external links.

 

 

 

 

Internal Links

Wiki your website: internal links turn your website into a mini, hyper-focused internet

Internal links may seem counter-intuitive or even counterproductive at first. After you’ve gone to all the trouble to get them to your page, optimizing it for a keyword, developing great, unique content, etc., why would you send them elsewhere? By promoting the other content on your site, you show both visitors and the engines that your site is more than a one-trick pony. No, we say, when it comes to this subject or industry, welcome to a treasure trove! Of course, link juice is still passing, even internally, so hopefully one great page begets another. Suppose there are two very similar pages, both of them explaining how to calculate an element of tax law. One links to other pages that show how to calculate other required amounts, the other exists in isolation. Which page and site provide a more valuable experience? Which should come up first for the desperate tax filer? The additional upside is that lots of relevant content also yields longer dwell times, which will then also affirm your status in the eyes of the engines.

Internal links show you have lots to offer an information-seeker

By going broad while remaining well-ordered, you present yourself as more of a single source destination. No, you tell the engines, my users won’t have to build a never-ending trail from page to page across the world wide web. We’re going to give them more of what they may need, all in one place. The advice isn’t necessarily to develop more content (although that’s always good), it’s to take advantage of all of your other pages by directing people there. Hey, you were searching for apples. We’re going to wow you with apple information. Now, perhaps we can tell you a little about a) the nutritional properties of apples, b) our approach to apple farming, c) how to make a great apple pie or d) bananas?

Things to keep in mind when implementing internal linking

A center & spokes strategy tends to be a preferred method of organizing both your site and your internal links. This lets you create a “power page” wherein all tier or sub-category pages link back to a more definitive, umbrella page. Going back to our tax calculator example, the hub page could be a page devoted to easy and free online tax calculators. Each spoke page could then include an internal link back to that center. But whichever approach you use, just make sure you do, in fact, link to your internal pages and test to ensure all internal links are valid.

 

 

Keyword Placements: After You Choose Them, Place Your Words Wisely

The consummate SEO copywriter uses keyword placement for optimized search engine results

For your keyword placement to result in higher listings in the SERP’s, you need to know where exactly to put them. To begin, for best results you’re going to want to make sure you are using your keyword in your url. As mentioned previously, a keyword in your actual domain name can be beneficial but is in no way mandatory. You will also want to use your keyword in your title tag, and you also want to make sure the length of your title tag is somewhere between 10-40 characters. Of course, you’ll want your keywords to appear in your description and keyword meta tags.

Keyword placements: exactly where are the engines looking?

One of the most important things to get right with your keyword placements is to make sure you are using them in your headlines and subheads, known as your H1, H2 and H3 headings. These days, it’s really the first one, the H1, that matters the most. (You may wish to consider using variants and thematically similar terminology in the others.) Then, of course, you actually need to use them with some degree of density in the web copy that follows those headings. I think two or three mentions in a short paragraph is plenty. If you use less, you ran the risk of appearing that the paragraph isn’t really about what you promised in your header tags. If you use more, it’s going to appear to be keyword stuffed. Secret: the more content you have, the more keyword placements you get because the density math works in your favor!

Words have seasoning power: pepper, don’t pour!

Other things the engines can detect are: prominence, including the font size of the keyword, proximity, phrase order, use of the keyword in your alt text and in links to site pages. They also look to see if your so-called golden words also appear in your anchor text, a pretty good indication of whether your page is truly about what it claims to be about. Your SEO consultant, SEO web copywriter or SEO company should be able to advise you as to whether you are getting the maximum mileage out of your keyword placements.

For A Freelance Web Copywriter Keywords Are Key

For a freelance copywriter, keywords hold the keys to unlocking more organic search traffic

Keywords sit at the very heart of your SEO strategy. You can’t rank well for every word a user might type into their browser; you organize your goals and initiatives around the keywords you’ve determined will be most beneficial to your site and business. Of course, you’ll want to think about the obvious keywords, but the more obvious the keyword, the more chance there is serious competition for that keyword. So, to arrive at a good keyword strategy, you want to think about not only the words you’d love to own, but also about search volume, competition, searcher psychology and specificity. Also, it’s good to think in terms of one keyword per page of site copy. Most small businesses shouldn’t preoccupy themselves with a list of targeted keywords any longer than 10 or 12. Look to your SEO copywriter, whether freelance or in-house, for specific guidance based upon your unique business model, size, objectives, etc.

A keyword identification example in the case of an attorney

Suppose you are a lawyer in solo practice. Of course, you’d love to come up first whenever anyone, anywhere searches for an attorney or a lawyer. Well, it makes perfect sense to want that, and it certainly makes sense to telegraph to the engines that’s what your site is about. But when it comes to actually ranking higher and getting more traffic, you’d be wise to broaden your thinking. As quick examples: family law attorney, how much to write a will, inexpensive trust, lawyer near Beverly Hills, etc. The good news is there are many free tools online to help you identify potential keywords.

Where you or your SEO copywriting agency look to identify good keywords

Since you know your business or topic best, start by asking yourself which elements, products or services of your business are most likely to result in the best combination of high traffic with decreased keyword competition. Then, put yourself in the shoes of a prospect and ask, if he or she isn’t searching for me, what types of information might he or she be looking for? Then, I would take that initial brainstorm and couple it with what you can find by using sites such as Google’s keywords tools as part of their WebMaster toolkit and also offered in conjunction with AdWords. Did you know there are even sites that let you check up on your competitors’ keywords?  Again, your copywriter of SEO company should be able to point you in the right direction for good keyword selection.