One of the first things that a client will ask is if I can write content that is “search engine friendly”, or if I can”write for SEO”. Obviously it is important that your website content is optimised for search results, but this is not nearly enough. SEO-friendly content will ensure that Google or Bing pick up your website in search results, and hopefully direct users to the relevant pages. The robots want to know how relevant your content is to a particular search term or phrase, and that is their purpose. For your website to speak to humans however, you need to think beyond SEO.
What you need from a human perspective is what I call “HMO”, or “Heart & Mind Optimisation”. If your website is optimised for hearts and minds, then your users will be able to make choices and decisions about your business, your brand and yourself, based on what your website says (and what it looks like). These choices and decisions start right from the moment that they carry out their search and are presented with the first page of results. The thought process might go something like this:
- Do these search results seem relevant?
- Which seems most relevant?
- Out of those results that seem to be most relevant, which brand am I familiar with?
- If I’m not familiar with any of the results, or do not want to choose a familiar brand, which page title and text do I like best?
- Which website address or brand do I feel drawn to?
1-4 above are mostly about SEO – how the copy on your site is reflected in the search results, and how relevant the search result and the title text seem to the search engine and the user.
Number 5 however, is where HMO starts to affect user decisions. Which website address or brand jumps out at them as the one to go to? This is where your domain name and brand play an important part in attracting users to your site. What I want to look at in this article however, is the page content on your site, as this is where it is absolutely vital to create “heart and mind” connections with your users.
Writing For Your Home Page
Your home page is often the first page that people will come to on your site, so it needs to be the stickiest. I’m going to use the main page of my own website at Toccaweb as my example here (killing two birds with one stone – writing a blog and improving my main page!) My homepage on Toccaweb is essentially a menu, as it has been created using a Metro template. Once people hit the homepage however, they tend to go straight to “About”, so that is my key page on the site. I opened the About page initially with the following text:
“My name is Rebecca Oliver, I am a UK-based freelance copywriter and project manager who specialises in helping start-ups, small businesses and sole traders with their websites. I work with a pool of talented UK-based freelancers to build new sites, create content for websites, create branding and logos, write marketing and communications materials and distribute press releases. Contact me to find out how I can get your website working for you.”
This paragraph is OK from an SEO point of view – it contains words and phrases that people are likely to search under such as “content for websites” and “freelance copywriter UK”. It is also clear for the reader who I am targeting and what I am offering, and it has a call to action at the end. What it lacks however, is some HMO, and any differentiation from my competitors. So I need to add some “power words”, or words that catch the eye and trigger a response in the user. My kids use something similar at school, they have “wow words”, which they use in literacy to expand their vocabulary and make their writing more unique.
The easiest way to add some power words is by identifying weak ones. My first weak word is “helping”. This is an odd one, as everyone needs help at some point and to be able to offer help is obviously a good thing. But “help” is not a power word. Let’s try changing that for something more dynamic (replacement copy is in italics) –
“My name is Rebecca Oliver, I am a UK-based freelance copywriter and project manager who specialises in enabling start-ups, small businesses and sole traders to grow by creating powerful content for their websites.”
Better? I think so. My next weak word is in the second line, where I have described working with a “pool” of freelancers. This just sounds a bit wet. A bit wishy-washy. “Pool” looks and sounds weird. So what about:
“I work with a network of talented UK-based freelancers to build new sites, create content for websites…”
A network sounds much more dynamic than a pool. Who wants to thrash around in a pool of freelancers? Not me!
Then I have a list of things I do:
“…to build new sites, fix old ones, create content, create branding and logos, write marketing and communications materials and distribute press releases.”
Power words here include “build”, “fix” and “create”, but I repeat create. “Write” and “distribute” are not power words. I need a couple of sexier verbs there. otherwise the reader is just going to go and find another website of a copywriter who also writes and distributes press releases. What power words can I use there to convey the uniqueness of what I can do? What about:
“to build new sites, fix old ones, create content, develop branding and logos, transform marketing and communications materials and craft effective press releases.”
Writing a Call to Action
Finally, my call to action. This is one of the hardest bits to write, as it comes at the end, you’re running out of steam, and the temptation is to do what I have done and just put “contact me” or something equally inane. Clearly I want people to contact me, but as a CTA it’s a bit of a blunt tool. Imagine I’m talking to you in a room, telling you about what I do, then all of a sudden yell “CONTACT ME” and walk off – is that a positive end to a conversation? No. So, instead of “Contact me to find out how I can get your website working for you” I could try:
“I would love to hear about your copywriting or website requirements. Get in touch.”
“Love” is an obvious power word, but is easily over-used, as is “passionate” (more on over-used power-words in a later post). However in this case I’m going to give it a whirl, as it is true (I really do love to talk about other people’s businesses and websites) and I want to give my first paragraph on this key page some real impact. I’ve also said that I want to hear about your requirements, because that is more appealing than saying I want to talk about them – I need my clients to do the talking at early stages. I’m here to listen. So is “get in touch” better than “contact me”? I like it as it uses the word “touch” – touching people (in the nicest possible way) is what effective communication is all about, hence my brand name Toccaweb; the verb toccare is Italian for “touch”. It certainly sounds more natural anyway.
So – my new About page opening copy reads:
“My name is Rebecca Oliver, I am a UK-based freelance copywriter and project manager who specialises in enabling start-ups, small businesses and sole traders to grow by creating powerful content for their websites. I work with a network of talented UK-based freelancers to build new sites, fix old ones, create content, develop branding and logos, transform marketing and communications materials and craft effective press releases. I would love to hear about your copywriting or website requirements. Get in touch.”
Hopefully this resonates more deeply with people than version 1. It contains power words, it conveys what I do, and for whom, and it is optimised for hearts and minds as well as for search engines. In my next blogs I am going to explore power words in more detail, so if you want to find out more about how certain words can optimise your site content for hearts and minds, stay in touch.