A few months ago, I had a conversation about web content with a Manchester designer who wanted me to have a look at his draft of an article he was writing on brochure websites.
He knew what he wanted in there, but as a designer, not a copywriter, he wanted the web content improving.
It’s now hit number one Google search position for “brochure websites” AND brochure design commissions have leaped by 64%.
Bit of commercial maths for you:
Great design + great web content = fantastic outcomes.
So how did we do it?
Jim sent me several drafts and let me plug away at improving each.
Sort out the tone and register.
You know that moment when the bass and treble are perfectly aligned in music – where there’s perfect syncopation that allures you and engages?
You do, surely?
It’s the same with design and writing – that perfect tonal balance of visual and words to create great web content.
The whole tone and register of Jim’s draft didn’t match the tone of his website and other posts – which is very engaging, informal and informative. It had to tie in – so it didn’t sound atypical of Jim Adams’s approach and signature style.
I took out my red pen and set about assessing it to get that A*.
The tone and register were changed, it had to be, because they should be dictated to by the audience.
If I were to write a piece about the best denture fixings on the market, or options for paying for funerals, I’d adopt a different register.
The brochure website piece, its web content, though, had to closely match his style.
Bit of the Big I Am, I’ve taught English to A level since 1987 – what I don’t know about text structure and text organisation and cohesion isn’t worth knowing.
I recite paragraph rules in my sleep.
As well as tackling the tone, by reading his other blog posts, I had to get it organised.
- Sort out the paragraphs, make short paragraphs.
- Adopt the use of second person, You and Yours.
Second person voice is probably only used in marketing – how many literary texts can you think of where You is used as a voice?
I can’t think of any.
Can you? (See I used it there.)
Writers use first or third person – I or We, or He, She, They, It.
Web content needs second person, you understand now?
Keywords – use them but keep engaging.
There’s a bit of an argument about keywords amongst web types – it’s a bit like the PS4 / Xbox One debate amongst teenagers but with more nerdiness.
Jim knows his way round keywords, long tails, planning, just as I do, and he sent me what he wanted.
My job as a freelance writer (not a free writer) was to weave these in, seamlessly, without making the piece clunky and unengaging.
Keywords feed Google algorithms, but your writing has to nourish page visitors and not just the robots crawling over it in Webmaster tools when it’s fetched by Google (need to cut down seriously on my nerd pills).
- It had to engage customers.
- It had to convert customers.
- It had to fit in with the “feel” of the whole website: uncorporate, down to earth, but knowledgable.
My web content copy did just that.