When you were busy reading Chaucer in pursuit of your undergrad English degree, you probably weren’t thinking much about search engine optimization for internet copywriting. Pages and webpages are entirely different worlds, demanding entirely different words, and transitioning from journaling and thesis–writing to blogging or copywriting demands a marked shift in approach. Flowery prose should be trimmed to concision, complex ideas distilled into catchy, powerful punchlines. It’s a brave, new world out there.
Lucky for you, online or not, good writing is good writing. Check out these quotes from superstar marketers and writers who know how to compel with their storytelling for internet copywriting—be it analog or otherwise.
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” —Peter Drucker
There are a lot of big dogs out there on the web, fighting it out for the top spot in your search results and on your Facebook newsfeed. You might not have the name recognition, the manpower or the budget to smack them off the front page in one go, but what you do have (read: should have) is the advantage of specificity. Your product or service is designed to fit your target customer like a well–tailored suit, so your internet copywriting should match: snug, personal, and fitted like a pair of well–written mittens. Don’t write for just anybody—write for your people. They’re special, and so are you.
“I don’t know the rules of grammar…If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.” —David Ogilvy
Ogilvy’s name stands for iconic advertising powerhouse for a reason: his values hold water to this day. His emphasis on research, simplicity, and creativity with a purpose are timeless. When he first marketed home appliances to everyday couples, he knew a natural approach to language was superior to “impressing” with overwritten mumbo jumbo. The same goes for internet copywriting: avoid technical jargon and alienating, corporate style. Go for approachable over academic, personal over professional. You know your audience best, so talk their talk. Leave the ten–cent words for the dictionaries and the valedictorians.
“Good prose should be transparent, like a windowpane.” —George Orwell
If he were working in the digital age (God forbid; the poor man would have a heart attack), Orwell would’ve written “Good SEO should be transparent, like a windowpane, or a holographic government surveillance wall.” SEO design should be fully integrated into your content; unheard and unseen, woven naturally into the fabric of the copy surrounding it. Cramming keyword after keyword into your text is a great way to ensure your audience will find you generic and robotic. A great sentence, like a well–optimized site, should provide information in as fluent and elegant a way as possible. Sure, go to town optimizing your copy for search, but your users should be none the wiser. Think of it as eSEOpionage. Be a SEOcret agent. We digress.
“If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.” —Ernest Hemingway
Welcome to the Information Age, where it’s very difficult to lie to people and get away with it. Your customers are savvy, mature, and discerning. Think of social media as a tribal community of quality hunters in touch–friendly gloves. They will compare, review–binge, read and reread before purchasing your product. Corporate declarations mean nothing in the face of a rising tide of user reviews that prefer authenticity to austerity. Be creative, but be accurate. Your target customer knows when something’s too good to be true—and if you screw them over, you can bet their next tweet will have your name on it.
“Reading is more important than writing.” —Roberto Bolano
With all the competition out there, it’s easy to forget that the Internet is the biggest collaborative project in the history of forever, including the pyramids, Friends, and that Roman coliseum diorama you made with your parents in the fourth grade. There’s a near–infinite pool of creativity to pull from out there, so soak it all in. Explore your competition, and explore beyond. Peek into other industries, read every ounce of coverage on your product or service, troll through social media—be a voracious consumer of the brilliance that builds the world wide web. Take all that genius and adapt it to your audience. Get inspired today, and inspire somebody else tomorrow—we’re all in this together, after all.
“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people” —Leo Burnett
This one speaks for itself. Question everything. Dig until you hit water, then dig deeper. Go forth and wonder.