Posted at Feb 25, 2008 12:26:07 PM by Enid Glasgow | Share
There's this scene from a movie, and I can't bring myself to remember the title, but the plot had reached its climax and one of the actors turns to the other and begins to mouth something snarky, and almost immediately, that other actor interjects, "You better choose those next words carefully," he says, "because they just might be your last."
I'm pretty sure the scene fleshes out with the wrong words being said and a gunshot or two. The issue I'm stressing is that exact words—words that precisely relate a message, no filler, no fluff—separate books that are read from books that go unread; blogs that succeed from blogs that decay to inactivity. The right words are paramount to developing a readership and effective SEO.
The picking and choosing of words extends beyond strategizing for search engine ranking, they allow you to understand who you're writing for, what's going to grab their attention and ignite their curiosity until it becomes so paralyzing that the only means of extinguishing it is by clicking on your headline and soaking in your words.
I've composed a brief manifesto of sorts for the effective copywriter; a set of guidelines that you should actively practice until it becomes routine.
An effective copywriter…
• Knows how and when to use the results of keyword research to be perceived as an authority.
• Creates headlines that are unavoidable and seemingly the only clickable link on the page.
• Uses vibrant language in place of the bland, the overused, and the cliché.
• Filters out every tired metaphor and expression; they lost the power to their meaning a long time ago and fail to satisfy a reader's appetite for hearty, satisfying content.
An example I'd like to use is a bit extreme and wouldn't necessarily make for good copy, but it exercises a few of the above concepts, stripping a description of unnecessary language and keeping only what is necessary to convey meaning.
Among the rain/ and lights/ I saw the figure 5/ in gold/ on a red/ fire truck/ moving/ with weight and urgency/ tense/ unheeded/ to gong clangs/ siren howls/ and wheels rumbling/ through the dark city.
A lot of colorful imagery, right? This is a poem by William Carlos Williams titled 'The Great Figure'. He could have just said…
I saw a fire engine the other night. It was red and had the number '5' painted in gold on its side. It was going really fast and was really noisy, so I can only assume that there was a fire or some other emergency that demanded their presence.
But then the raw visuals of the original become diluted by all the unnecessary language of the latter. Instead of assembling content and headlines that force the reader to wade through thick, entangling filler, just to extract something of substance, cut out the fat and you will warrant an audience.
Keyword researching allows you to better understand who you are writing for and hone in to a niche. This, in turn, will increase your relevance, and decrease the likelihood of someone escaping the hypnotizing allure of your words.