Simple definition… SEO writing is content that’s Search Engine Optimized.
Which basically means having the right format, and density of “keywords” or “keyword phrases” in your writing, so the search engines know how to index your pages.
When we get the SEO right, our web pages show up at the top of search results.
And that’s what we want, right?
Well, yes… and no.
Yes, we do want our content to be Search Engine Optimized, so it has the best chance of showing up at the top of search engines.
But the problem starts when we write content with SEO as the main, or only focus. It might get us to the top of the search engines, but here’s the caveat…
Search engines don’t buy anything! People do.
What good is having your content show up near the top of google, if no humans actually want to read it.
Always remember, people use search engines to look for a particular phrase because they want to know more about it, or because they want to buy what you’re selling.
If your content reads like it was written by a robot, for robots, then you can pat yourself on the back for getting to the top of google. And when you’re done patting yourself on the back, you can spend the rest of your day wondering why your bounce rate is north of 98%
That said… There is a balance between SEO content, and HUMAN optimized content.
And that’s what we’re going to look at right now. How SEO copywriting can destroy your content (and possibly ruin your brands reputation at the same time). And what we can do to avoid this mistake, while still ranking in the search engines…
There’s an old saying that goes… “The enemy of my enemy, is my friend”.
And when it comes to writing great sales copy this can be a very powerful thing for you to remember.
When writing copy, if you really want to rally the troops behind your cause, few things sell better than a little outrage at a common enemy.
If you and your target audience share resentment towards the same institution, corporation, or deity, then you’re already on the same side. And when you’re on the same side, it’s easy to get people to pay attention to you when you speak out against the enemy.
In religion, it’s the devil trying to get your soul…
In finance, it’s the big banks or the government that wants to steal your money…
In the health industry, it’s bogus medical claims from the other guys, or it’s big pharma and the FDA that’s corrupt, and they’re the ones who are keeping you fat and sick…
In many retail sectors it’s the big box stores, or Amazon that’s destroying the livelihood of small business…
By drawing on a common enemy, you create an emotional reaction in your reader. (the most likely emotion is “fear” or “outrage”).
And invoking emotion is the holy grail when it comes to copywriting.
What’s the fastest way to master copywriting… or anything, for that matter?
You could sign up for the courses online. You can read all the books. You can go to the seminars, drink protein shakes at the keyboard, or slaughter goats at the foot of a guru. And all are good, except maybe the goat bit.
One copywriting staple that belongs in almost every offer is the “guarantee” (I say “almost” every offer because some offers, like clearance sales, or going out of business sales, or private sales, might be “as is, as seen, no guarantee” offers)
But for the most part, if you plan on making a lot of sales, a solid guarantee is a must have to relieve the natural skepticism from consumers.
If a company is willing to guarantee their product, then it must be pretty good… right? And if you’re willing to refund my money then there’s no risk to making the purchase.
So a solid guarantee can remove some of the hesitation from the purchasing decision.
Of course, nearly every product has a guarantee or warranty of some kind. But not all guarantees are created equal.
For example, most products will at least have a generic guarantee that looks something like these…
– Try it risk-free for 30 days.
– If you’re not completely satisfied, we’ll give your money back.
– Simply return the product within 90 days for a full refund.
Now technically there’s nothing wrong with any of these guarantees. And while it’s true that all of them make the purchase seem less risky, and might instill a little more confidence in the product, the problem is they all look exactly the same as the guarantee everybody else (aka. your competition) is offering.
I’ve said it 1000 times before and I’ll say it again…
When selling through the written word many writers are tempted to only talk about everything that’s great with their product.
Which makes sense at one level, because if we only talk about the good stuff it will cause our reader to only think about the good stuff, and they’ll be more likely to want it… right?
At least that’s the theory… But the reality is quite different…
The truth is… People are skeptical of marketing and sales pitches in general. And everyone knows that even the best products aren’t perfect.
So when we only talk about the good stuff, there’s a little voice in the back of your readers mind (sometimes it’s a big voice in the front of their mind) that’s wondering “What’s the catch? There’s always a catch! Because if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true”.
That’s why when we dismiss or ignore objections, and try to hide all the flaws in our offer, many people become even more skeptical. And they start to think of all the things that could be wrong with your product, and all the reasons they shouldn’t buy what you’re selling.
It’s not that they don’t want to trust you. But they’ve been burned before, or they heard about someone else who got burned, and so they naturally resist being marketed and sold to.
If your product isn’t perfect, never believe for a second that if you only highlight the good qualities, that the bad qualities won’t be noticed.
Consumers are very sophisticated these days, and online shopping has made it relatively easy for them to comparison shop without having to leave their homes or visit multiple stores.
On top of that, some sites even have reviews of products that tell consumers what they can expect from a product and what makes one different from another.
Quite frankly, it’s a bit foolish and naive to think that in this day and age you’ll have a totally uninformed consumer show up at your store.
So what do we do about the natural skepticism of today’s consumer?
So in part 1 we touched on a few powerful ways you can improve the performance of your headlines. In this next short lesson we’re going to go over some common powerful headline formulas.
If you study a lot of winning sales copy you’ll probably recognize these formulas, and there’s a good reason they get used so often… Because they work!
Rather than having me go into a long introduction for this post (because if you read part 1 of this series then you’ve already been primed for what’s coming next), what do you say we just dive right in and get to the good stuff, OK?
1 – The Big Bold Benefit Headline puts your biggest, most compelling benefit right up front.
These headlines don’t beat around the bush, they get right to the point with a compelling benefit.
“Earn Up To $5,000 In 7 Days From The Comfort Of Your Home”
“Lose 17 Pounds in Just 2 Weeks Without Dieting Or Strenuous Exercise!”
“Clear Up Your Acne In Just 3 Days”
As you can see, this type of headline doesn’t try to swoon, persuade, or cajole you into anything. It simply presents a compelling offer. And if it’s something that interests you, then you’ll stop to see what it’s about.
2 – The News-Style Headline sounds like an editorial or a news story headline.
These headlines work great for advertorial style copy where the entire ad has the appearance of a news story.
To get the most impact from this style of headline it helps if you can tie it into some legitimate news that’s happening in the current news cycle. But if you can’t tie it into a news cycle it can still be made to look legit, for some powerful results.
Before we get started I just want to say for the record… I’ve never been a big fan of so called “power word” lists.
The main reason is because too many people read those lists, and then scattershot random power words throughout their writing. By the time they’re done they end up with content that might sound exciting… but has no substance.
It’s like filling your car with high octane fuel, and then driving really fast in a undisciplined direction. Eventually you run out of gas and end up in the middle of nowhere.
Personally, I prefer writing that has substance. Writing that leaves people better off for having read it.
Especially when we want people to take action from our words, having a deliberate direction is far more important than just moving fast.
So, with that as my disclaimer… I think most of us would still agree that some words have more emotional impact than others.
The goal of this post is to give you a few examples of words that can bring emotion and power to your writing.
Use them wisely, and you can embrace high impact fuel in your writing. Use them haphazardly, and I’ll call you a cab when you run out of gas…
OK, after that lengthy introduction, let’s just dive right in… Shall we…
To begin, let’s start with a couple broad based categories from some of the more powerful “Emotional Trigger” Words
So you want to be a better writer? I have three words for you. Keep. It. Simple.
Seriously, if you can do that you’ll be in better shape than 90% of the hacks out there.
Because when it comes to writing, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Cast your mind back to the most riveting book you ever read … Got it yet? How did it feel as you
turned those pages?
I’ll bet the prose flowed effortlessly. I’ll bet it whisked you away on a journey of the senses. And
I’ll also bet that you were barely even aware that you were reading a slab of text. Because your
imagination was on fire.
There’s no doubt that the best writers tend to have a unique flair. But even so, the art of writing a
great article (or short story) is, well, actually more of a science. And that means that – with a bit of
experimentation – anyone can master this valuable skill.
So slap on your goggles and have your test tubes at the ready. (Or something like that.) Today
we’re learning how to transform words into solid gold…
The year was 1994 and I had just walked away from the last official J-O-B that I would ever work at. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I knew that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life working for peanuts, just to make someone else rich.
On top of that, after 2 years in the army followed by 7 years working at that sawmill; My 30 year old self was all done taking orders from idiots.
So off I went, headstrong and unsure what the future would bring, but cocksure that I could do it better on my own.
I tried MLM for a while (because someone told it was an easy way to make big money, in a short amount of time). After a little more than a year, I was beginning to suspect that my MLM recruiter wasn’t completely honest about how easy it would be. So I started a small home improvement business.
After about 2 years on my own (the time it took for me to blow through most of my savings) I began to realize that I didn’t know diddly jack squat about running a business.
I was good at face-to-face selling, and a friend was taking care of the bookkeeping for me, but without a steady flow of customers my business was like a truck with no fuel.
That meant I had to get good at advertising and marketing, in a hurry. Otherwise I’d need to choose between finding another job… or getting really drunk and driving my car over a cliff. (and both of those options had about the same appeal to me)
So I started learning everything I could about advertising and marketing. And as I implemented what I learned, my phone started ringing more and more. Pretty soon I was flush with cash, and I was hiring my first few employees.
Now as powerful as all types of marketing can be, the one thing that that drove my fascination the most, was the magic I saw happening whenever I changed a few words in my sales copy. Simply changing a few words, or shuffling them around, often made the difference between a trickle of response, or a flood of leads pouring in.
And that was it… My love affair with words was born, and I began devouring everything I could find on the topic of copywriting. My girlfriend at the time told me I was becoming borderline obsessed, but she was too late… I had already crossed over that border.
Over the years, I owned and operated a few more small businesses. And I continued to learn and test different copywriting styles, until eventually I began writing and consulting for other business owners. And that brings us to today…
OK, I know that was a pretty long introduction. And I thank you for sticking with me this far. But I imagine you’d like me to just get on with the 4 Things I Wish I Knew, when I first started writing sales copy… Like I promised in the headline of this post?
Well OK then, here we go…
(note: I did not make any of these things up on my own. I learned these lessons over the years, and as I learned them my copy got better and better. These lessons may sound familiar or obvious to some of you, but based on a lot of the sales copy I see these days, there’s many people out there who still need to learn them)
When it comes to writing effective sales copy there’s a few fundamental rules that always need to be followed (like using a powerful headline, interesting lede, compelling offer with proof, a call to action, etc.)
But this post isn’t about any of those things. Instead, I’m going to point out some of the more subtle things you can do (and not do) to make your copy more impactful, and help you power-up your response rates.
The importance of using articles to help promote your website, cannot be overstated.
Not only can they add useful content to your online presence, which gives people a reason to visit your website, but articles can also promote you and your company as being a knowledgeable authority in your industry.
But, it’s not just about stuffing your site with articles for the sake of having a lot of content.
Cheap content might fill up your website, but if you become known for having a website full of useless garbage, it will do more harm than good to your company’s reputation.
On the other hand, a well written article will catch the eye and interest of your customers and keep them coming back for more. And they may even recommend your site to other people.
Here’s a couple basic tips to help you make your articles better…
Whether it’s an email, a sales page, a space ad… or whatever… Arguably, your headline is the most important part of any sales piece.
I say “arguably” the most important, because I’ve had a number of people try to debate me that the “offer”, or “the big idea”, or “closing / call to action” is the most important part of making a sales piece work.
And all those things are important. But if your headline doesn’t get the attention of your ideal audience and draw them into the message, then who’s gonna read the rest of your copy and see any of those other elements?
So for this article, we’re going to consider your headline as the most important… (we can debate about it later)
There are no absolute headline formulas that work everywhere (different offers call for different openings) but, certain types of headlines have proven to work very well over the years. By following the concepts (oh, let’s call them “formulas”) of the following headlines, you can give your message a winners edge when when it comes to starting the persuasion path for your readers to follow.
Welcome back, my friends… In this next installment on Powerful Written Persuasion Techniques we’re going to talk about two more concepts that can help take your sales copy to the next level…
1. The concept of using pre-suppositions and pre-framing in our copy
2. The idea of getting micro-commitments from our audience
So if you’re ready, let’s just dive right in… shall we?
Pre-suppositions and Pre-framing
For the sake of this post, we’re going to combine pre-suppositions and pre-framing together. And define it as “casually implying a statement as a given fact, so we can bypass our readers critical skepticism and have our message more readily accepted.”
OK, I admit that definition is a mouthful (even I couldn’t say it 5 times, real fast). So let’s break it down a little…