Entries from April 2014 ↓

Why Your Title Shouldn’t Summarise What You’re About to Say


There’s a whole world of difference between writing to pass on information and writing to sell.

When your emphasis is on information, whether a report, fictional story or newspaper article, your title gives a summary of what you’re writing about so the reader can weigh up whether they want to read it or not.

That’s not how sales writing works.

You don’t want the reader to take a look at your title and decide whether they want to read or not – you want them to read on.

Granted, you can’t force them to read, but you can encourage them.

How to write sales titles

In the world of sales writing your title is there to tease; it should evoke curiosity, it should fascinate, create controversy or urgency and hint at a mystery that can only be solved by reading on.

If your title tells them everything they need to know straight away, they’ll make a snap judgement on whether they need to read on or not without getting all the facts.

By teasing them and giving them a hint, you’re drawing them in to the copy where they get the full picture and your persuasive words can work their magic because it’s the body of your copy that will do the selling.

Using the power of sub headings

Sub headings help you structure your copy. They act as signposts to your reader, helping them pin point information, but they can also make great teaser-titles.

Let’s say you wanted to write a post about setting up a small business. You’d probably give it a title along the lines of “How to start a small business” or “First steps to setting up a business” or something like that.

But say you had 5 tips to offer budding entrepreneurs. Within your article you’ll probably reference them in a sub heading – “5 tips to getting started”. But why not use that as your headline?

“Follow These 5 Tips and Turn Your Hobby into a Business Success”


What to know more?

So will your readers.

Remember, your title is there to tempt the reader whereas the body of your writing is there to sell.


Author: Sally Ormond, Copywriter, cyclist and mum.

YouTube SEO: How to Boost Your YouTube Rankings

YouTUbe boost

With over 30 million visitors a day, YouTube is the second largest search engine. That’s why it makes sense to house your videos on the platform.

Millions of businesses are making the most of YouTube’s popularity by using it as a repository for their videos that they can then embed within their own website.

Not only do they benefit from YouTube’s search capabilities, but they can also use it to create a channel to which people can subscribe.

It sounds great, but its popularity also has drawbacks – namely competition for rankings and the need for an SEO strategy.

As with all content marketing strategies, every video you put out must be of a high quality and contain content that’s targeted to your audience. Then it comes down to good old-fashioned hard work to optimise your videos for maximum impact.

How to improve your YouTube rankings

1. Keywords

You can’t get away from them. Whatever form your online marketing takes, keywords will always have a part to play.

This isn’t a free ticket to keyword-stuff your videos, far from it, but it is important to make sure you use words that relate to your video’s content. A great tool to use for this is YouTube’s own keyword tool.

2. Video title

Just as with your articles and blog posts, your video title will have a big impact on your click rate.

Make sure it’s short, attention grabbing and uses one or two of your keywords. But you only have 120 characters to play with, so you may have to get creative (just so long as the title is relevant to the video’s content).

3. Description

Sadly, Google can’t watch your video so the only way it will know what it’s about is through your description. Again, use your keywords (sparingly) and, if it’s a long video, add a transcription to give your SEO a boost.

4. Tags

Video tags serve the same purpose as those you use for blog posts. They help YouTube understand what you’re video is about and, by using keywords (plus locations, categories etc.) they will boost it’s search-ability.

5. Links

Links back to your video are as important as links to your website. In the same way as they help your Google rankings, links back to your video will help its YouTube rankings.

6. Thumbnail

Not as obvious is attractiveness of your video’s thumbnail.

Find an image that will appeal to your audience to try and attract clicks.

How does YouTube ranking videos?

It’s also worth taking note of the factors that YouTube takes into account when it comes to rankings its videos:

  • How many views the video has
  • How long users spend watching the video
  • How many appearances it’s made on a user’s playlist
  • How many positive ratings and comments it’s received
  • How many subscribers your YouTube channel has
  • How many times the video’s been added as a favourite or to a playlist
  • How many times the video has been embedded on the web

Popularity appears to be a recurring factor, therefore it’s worth adding another factor to help you improve your rankings – social sharing. Getting your videos out on social media regularly will boost your audience and have a positive impact on your rankings.

Author: Sally Ormond, copywriter at Briar Copywriting Ltd and cyclist (not at the same time).

How to do Unoptimised SEO

Unoptimised SEO? Have you lost the plot?”

At times I think I have, but in this case, no, there really is such a thing as unoptimised SEO and it’s something you should be doing.

You’ve probably seen loads of posts announcing the death of SEO following the numerous Google algorithm changes, but I can confirm that SEO is alive and well, just not necessarily in the same form as it was.

SEO is alive; it’s just different

In the ‘bad old days’ SEO practices were focused on Google and manipulating its rankings.

Before you get on your high horse and say it wasn’t, it was. It was all about link building, link exchanging, manipulating page rank and keyword stuffing. The actual user or reader took a back seat.

Now, SEO is all about the reader and not focused on Google. Over optimisation, using the techniques above, lead to hefty penalties, so now you have to focus on unoptimisation.

But how do you do that?

Traditionally, SEO fell into 2 categories:

  • On site SEO – this is controlled by you, so it’s HTML coding, meta tags, keyword density, keyword placement etc.
  • Off site SEO – this relates to link building, link popularity and link authority

You can do as much on site SEO as you like (so long as it’s not hiding links, keyword repetition or duplicate content), but the off page stuff is a no-no.


Because off site SEO is seen as manipulating the search results, therefore the SEO industry is now redefining itself.

How to do unoptimised SEO

The easiest way to explain the technique is to tell you to focus all your efforts on your audience.

Create helpful, relevant content that’s easy to understand on a website that’s coded correctly with appropriate tags.

Then, rather than link building, you need to concentrate on link earning by sharing your knowledge, creating original material, being active on social media and offering your audience helpful content.

But it’s not enough to just churn out content you must also measure its effectiveness through:

  • Shares
  • Traffic generation
  • Conversion rate
  • Return on investment

The chances are, as Google continues to try to improve user experience, SEO techniques will change again, so it pays to keep up to date with what’s happening in the industry.

Today, your audience is everything. Your website and business is nothing without them, so it’s time to change your online marketing and SEO strategy to reflect that.


It’s Official – Big Words Make You Sound Stupid

This is something I’ve been harping on about for years. simple language

Writing – in every form, but especially copywriting – should always be written in its simplest form.

The assumption that big, complex words make you appear more intelligent and wise is false. They have the opposite effect and here’s academic proof.

The study, written by Daniel Oppenheimer (a psychologist at Princeton), took a handful of writing samples and used a thesaurus to replace each noun, verb and adjective with the longest synonym he could find. Then these highly complex versions were given to 71 Stanford undergraduates to evaluate the writing samples

Although in an academic setting, this kind of “writing by thesaurus” is rife in the business world where writers believe it makes them sound knowledgeable and important in the false belief that using simple language will make them sound lightweight or unimportant.

It’s a constant battle I have with some clients. They insist on using dreadful managerial speak, talking about incentivising, touching base, holistic cradle-to-grave approaches, core competencies and blue-sky thinking.

No, no, no.

Your readers want straightforward English that simply tells it as it is, a view backed up by Oppenheimer’s study*.

His experiments showed that people rated the intelligence of authors who wrote essays in simpler language, using an easy to read font, as higher than those who authored more complex works.

“It’s important to point out that this research is not about problems with using long words but about using long words needlessly,” said study author Daniel Oppenheimer.

“Anything that makes a text hard to read and understand, such as unnecessarily long words or complicated fonts, will lower readers’ evaluations of the text and its author.”

So please, when working with your copywriter, listen to what they are telling you and trust their judgement. They make their living writing and so understand what it takes to create something your customers will want to read and act on.

As Oppenheimer sums up: “One thing seems certain: write as simply and plainly as possible and it’s more likely you’ll be thought of as intelligent.”

Author: Sally Ormond.

*Follow this link for Oppenheimer’s full study: Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly.

Why Content, Social and SEO Marketing Should Be One Strategy

One strategy?

Surely they’re three different disciplines, aren’t they?

If you believe that, you may be experiencing issues with all three.

Taking content marketing first, how did you get started with that? I’m guessing it was a blog.

When you started out online, everyone and their dog were telling you that you had to have a blog. So, never one to turn down advice, you set one up and started churning out articles.

Probably, after a month or so of regular posting, you found your ideas drying up. Not only that, but you realised no one was really engaging with you. Perhaps one or two comments were posted and one or two people shared the odd post, but there certainly wasn’t the flood you’d expected. Demoralised, you gave up.

Sound familiar?

The mistake you made was viewing your content marketing, social and SEO strategies as three separate entities. They’re not. They must all work together if they are to survive.

Three cornered marketing

Have you noticed that old school SEO is no longer effective? Gone are the days when SEO companies could achieve fantastic rankings by building a few links here and there. Today, SEO is content driven. It’s all about feeding Google the high quality content it craves.

In the same way, your social media strategy is nothing without great content. If you don’t have anything to share people aren’t going to follow or engage with you.

Content, social and SEO strategy

Planning your content

With high quality content being the driving force behind your marketing strategy, it’s essential you plan what you’re writing carefully.

As with your web copy, brochures and other marketing materials it’s important you understand the audience you are reaching out to and, most importantly, what problem they want solving.

Only then can you be sure your content will resonate with them and lead to the sharing, engagement and traffic generation you want.

Of course, there are millions of blog posts published every day, so yours has to stand out.

A great way to make sure yours is head and shoulders above everyone else’s is to search the keywords you want to write about and see what your competitors are saying about the subject. Then all you have to do is write something that’s better than theirs.

But I’m not just talking about churning out a flurry of 500 word articles. You must produce linkable assets; content that people will see as authoritative work, that they’ll share and talk about.

A great way to do this is to create something longer than the average post that also cites other relevant work within your niche. Not only will this enhance your readers’ experience, it will also boost its chances of being shared.


Well, take a note of all the experts and external material you’ve cited and email them (or contact via social media) to tell they you’ve included them in your piece, asking them to share it with their audiences.

Once published you’ve also got to do some promotion. Share it with your social audience through all the channels you use. Plus, if you’re part of any forums or groups (such as LinkedIn groups), push it out to them too.

It’s not enough just to write something, publish it and hope for the best. Your three-pronged content marketing strategy is something that must be worked at. If you want people to read what you’re putting out make sure it’s written well, it’s relevant to your audience and that you’ve done everything you can to encourage people to share it.

Only then will you have a strategy that drives your business forward.

Author: Sally Ormond, Copywriter at Briar Copywriting Ltd.