Entries from February 2010 ↓

Don’t Let SEO Ruin Your Copy

SEO is king

Search engine optimisation – everyone knows the phrase, most people know what it is, some people think they know how to do it.

But only a few can do SEO.

By ‘do SEO’ I mean perform the miracle that is SEO copywriting. It is probably one of the hardest disciplines to master as you are effectively writing for two different audiences at the same time.


In the green corner we have your customers – real life, living and breathing people who you’ve got to convince if you want them to buy your product.

And in the red corner, the search engines – mystical algorithms you have to convince that your website is relevant to the search terms your customers are using.

What SEO is really all about?

In a previous post I looked at what SEO is really all about and that why keyword density is a thing of the past.

We’ve all seen dreadful copy on websites that is stuffed with keywords. The result is something that looks nasty, reads terribly and that won’t sell anything.

There are some people out there who maintain you can’t have well written, readable SEO copy.

Why not?

Copy that is written naturally and that engages with your customers is going to contain your keywords. But not so many that it renders the whole website unreadable. They will be present in sufficient numbers to help your organic rankings and provide relevant, interesting copy for your readers.

The truth is that SEO and great copy go hand in hand – don’t let anyone else try to tell you otherwise.

I stumbled upon this video which makes this point perfectly. It was put together by Ian Lurie of Conversation Marketing. It’s well worth watching so sit back, grab a cuppa and be enlightened.

10 Ways to Create Great META Descriptions

Another important aspect of SEO copywriting is creating a relevant and compelling META description.

Your META description is the text that appears in the search engine results under the page title as shown here:

meta desc

If you don’t have one in the coding of your website, Google will take a snippet from your page copy. The problem with that is that it may not be relevant and probably won’t convey the message you want to get across to your reader.

Your META description is what will differentiate you from your competitors. It is an opportunity to stand out from the crowd and attract the ‘click’ to your site.

To help you make the most of your META description, I’ve put together a list of 10 ways to create a great one:

  1. Unique – remember Google lists pages not websites so make sure each page of your website has a unique META description.
  2. Complement the page title – whatever you write for your page title, your META description should complement it. After all, if your page title tells your reader one thing and the description another, they won’t click on your link.
  3. Complete sentences – it is important that your description is meaningful so make sure you use full sentences.
  4. Stand out – this is your chance to make your site stand out from your competitors. Don’t just follow what everyone has written, make your mark.
  5. Product names – if you have product name that is well known get it in your description. Show people exactly what you sell.
  6. Offers – if you have an offer such as free p+p, make sure it goes into your description.
  7. 160 characters – Google only shows approximately 160 characters in the META description so make sure you stick to the limit. You can use the run off to your advantage though if you can engineer your description so the … appear at a point that will make your reader click the link to read more.
  8. Factual – make sure what you tell people in your description comes across as factual as this carries weight.
  9. CTA – if you can, get a call to action into your description to get your reader to take immediate action by clicking on your link.
  10. Don’t copy your page title – try to use different a different word order to that in your page title. By all means use your keywords but add modifiers so your reader isn’t reading the same information twice.

If you are unsure how to use the META description, a good SEO copywriter will be able to help you.

Remember this may be the first contact you’ll have with a reader. It may only be 160 characters long, but everyone is important and should be made to count.

Page Titles and SEO

Does your SEO copywriter know how to write great page titles?


SEO copywriting isn’t about keyword density. In fact if that is a  phrase your copywriter refers to run away from them as fast as you can.

Today, you should concentrate on writing content that is natural, relevant and interesting. If you follow those rules, it will automatically contain a good number of keywords, naturally.

It is more important to ensure your keywords appear in your headings and page titles.

How to write great page titles


From this screen shot you can see the blue headings for each result. These are the page titles.

As you can see, what you put in your page title is going to have an effect on the positioning of your site within the search engine results.

A mistake often made with websites is that the home page’s page title is exactly that ‘Home’ – what’s the use of that? It tells Google nothing about your website and it certainly wouldn’t inspire a prospective reader to click on it to find out more.

Readers will use your page title as a reference to the relevancy of your site in relation to what they are searching for.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your page titles:

  1. Clear language – By all means use your keywords in your page title but don’t stuff it. A clear statement  utilising your key words is ideal.
  2. Keep it short – Google only shows about 65 characters for page titles to don’t it longer than that.
  3. Make it relevant – rather than just listing words, make a statement, ask a question, evoke an emotional response or make a promise (just make sure you can keep it once they’ve clicked through to your site).
  4. Place your keywords wisely – It’s best to have your keywords at the start of your page title.
  5. Brand aware – If you can, it’s a good idea to get your brand name into your page title.

One last thing to remember – Google ranks pages not websites. What I mean by that is that Google lists each page of your website. Therefore you have an opportunity to rank different pages within your site for different keywords.

Bearing this in mind, make each page title different. Target different keywords on different pages to optimise your chances of being ranked well for a number of different words and phrases.

Copywriting is far more than just on page website copy. An SEO copywriter will be aware of how to write great page titles and META descriptions as well as how to write compelling and relevant copy.

Should You Out Source Your Blogging?

Blogging for business

Now there’s a question for you.

Undoubtedly blogging is one of the most valuable marketing tools available to today’s online marketers.


Because it gives you a platform on which to market your products and services under the radar of your reader. What that means is that you can blog about your services without overtly trying to sell them to the reader. You can write ‘How to’ articles or give out top tips.

Basically, blogging allows you to:

  • raise awareness of your product/service
  • build relationships of trust with your readers
  • raise your profile as an expert in your particular field
  • build back links to your website
  • drive targeted traffic to your website

Blogging does all that?

Of course it does. Take this blog for example. If you look back through the archives you’ll find posts covering just about every aspect of copywriting and marketing you can think of (although I bet you’ll all be rushing now to tell me that I’ve missed something out). Therefore readers of my blog know what type of information they will find.

Displaying my knowledge shows that I am an expert in my field. It shows that I know what I’m talking about so when they are looking for a freelance copywriter, they know I can do what I say I can do – get them results.

When writing my posts I use anchor text, such as copywriting services, to link back to my website building good back links that Google loves.

And because my posts are all related to copywriting, the visitors I get are looking for copywriting information which means I am generating targeted traffic.

DIY vs. out sourcing

I am often asked by small businesses whether I’ll blog for them. My answer is normally no.

OK, it looks as though I’m shooting myself in the foot with that but if you think about it for a moment you’ll see my reasoning.

As I’ve already mentioned, when you blog you are building a relationship with your readers. If you are a small business (1-5 staff) your clients will probably deal with you directly. Therefore if they read your blog posts they’ll assume it is your voice they are ‘hearing’. The more they read the more they’ll think they are building a relationship with you. So what happens when they meet you? If you don’t write your own posts it will be like meeting someone else.

Apart from the odd guest blog, I write all my own posts. I enjoy engaging with my readers and when they meet me, they know it is my expertise that I have been passing on rather than someone else’s.

But if you are a large company outsourcing could be ideal for you. In this case, there isn’t necessarily a single voice that needs to be heard. You’ll have your own brand image, tone and voice so as long as they are adhered to, outsourcing is perfectly acceptable.

Of course, you may have staff members that blog for you which is great. They are at the forefront of your business and can react quickly to customer needs. The important thing to remember is that they must comply to your company’s image.

So there you have it. Blogging is a fantastic way of raising your profile, building your reputation and driving traffic to your main ‘money’ site. What’s more, it’s a relatively cheap way of marketing.

If you aren’t already blogging give it a try – you won’t get results immediately but, but stick with it and you may be surprised at what happens.

10 Words That Will Make People Open Your Email

Email marketing is fast becoming the new black. It’s been around for a while but companies are now beginning to understand the potential it has.

In the past your mailings involved folding copious numbers of letters, sticking them in envelopes and slapping on stamps – today you simply spend a bit of time crafting your email and pressing send.

But how do you stop your email going directly into the delete file?

It’s all in the opening

The first thing your recipient will see is the sender’s name and subject line. So how do you make sure you pique his curiosity sufficiently to click on your email and open it?

Take Henry here for instance. He’s been tasked to come up with an email that will knock his customer’s socks off.  geek

He works for a washing power factory. His company has come up with a new detergent that will banish every stain known to man. To help him out, I have emailed him 10 little words that should him create something amazing.


Sender: sally@briarcopywriting.com

Subject: At last, the words you need to succeed

Hi Henry,

I thought you might find this list of words useful when putting together your sales email today. As a copywriter I find them invaluable when creating email campaigns for my clients. Try them out and see how you get on.

  1. Advice – this indicates you’ll be sharing something really useful “Advice for getting your whites white”
  2. Why – this indicates they’ll learn something new “Why stains will be a thing of the past”
  3. At last – this indicates that it’s finally here “At last a washing powder you can trust”
  4. Introducing – this gives you the opportunity to use your product name or company name “Introducing Magic White”
  5. How to – everyone loves to learn things “How to get whites white first time”
  6. How – very similar to the previous one but allows a more subtle introduction “How you can banish stains forever”
  7. Announcing – this can be used as an effective teaser because you don’t have to include your products name “Announcing the latest laundry technology”
  8. Which – this will get their interest because they’ll want to know if there is something new they need to know “Which powder banishes stains every time?”
  9. New – This is an old one but a good one because everyone loves something that’s new “New advanced formula that banishes stains”
  10. Now – this is one of the most powerful three letter words used by copywriters “Now you too can have whiter whites”

I’m sure you can come up with some better lines than the ones I’ve written above – they are just there to illustrate how the words work.

The other thing to remember is to keep your subject line to 40 characters or less so it doesn’t get truncated.

Remember Henry, the subject line is all that stands between your email and the delete file. It should be short, directed at your reader and instantly attention grabbing.

These 10 little words are tried and tested and get results again and again. Give them a go and let me know how you get on.

Warm regards,


Freelance copywriter


Related posts:

Boost your email open rate

Email your way to success

Email marketing – when’s the best time to send

Work you way towards the perfect email body

Email marketing – why it doesn’t always work

Is email marketing right for you?