Search engines: how you have murdered the art of copywriting

At one time, advertising copywriters were almost the most important people in the ad business. Today, copywriting is offered as a side dish on most VAs‘ admin menus. Professional freelance copywriters today are lucky to get paid the same daily rate their colleagues got back in the 1980s.

Rolls Royce advert

Probably the most famous advertising headline ever, written by the legendary David Ogilvy – yet Google would turn its nose up at it.

What has happened? Search engines have happened, that’s what. Consumers no longer read advertisements; they tap in keywords. It doesn’t take talent to write keywords; it just takes a little skill in basic arithmetic.

Copywriting? Whassat?

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How to write great content that Google will love

If you want some quick, valuable advice on how to write good content that appeals both to your readers AND the mighty Google, this guest article by my US colleague,
Bob Bly, is truly brilliant. Thanks for sharing your advice with us, Bob! 

I’ve read that Google changes its search algorithm hundreds of times a year, as incredible as that sounds. As of late, they’ve made the search engine “fussier” about the content it ranks highly. Specifically, Google is rejecting crappy articles stuffed with keywords and written by content mills. (Thank yoooo, Google: this is music to my ears. Sz.)

So how do you write content that both Google and your readers will value?

There are 4 levels of writing how-to material, and the key is to write at the higher levels.

Level 1 is to merely write information or facts, not ideas or actionable strategies.

For instance, if you are writing a report on how to build web sites, and you begin by telling the reader there are a billion pages on the web, that’s interesting – but it’s not really that helpful.

Level 2 is “what to do” writing. It tells the reader what to do, but not how to do it.

An example is a real estate article that told landlords to evict problem tenants, but didn’t tell how to go about it.

Level 3 is where most good content writing should be – “how to” writing.

You not only tell the reader what to do, but also how to do it. In the real estate example, the article might tell the reader the 5 points that must be included in an eviction letter.

Level 4 is what content writers call “done for you.”

The writing not only tells the reader what and how to do something, but actually does it for them. Again in the real estate example, the article could include a sample eviction letter that the reader can just copy and send to his tenant.

Readers and Google like solid level 3 writing, and if you can provide level 4 content, so much the better. Google may also rank level 1 and level 2 articles high if they are accurate and well written … but these are less valuable to your human readers.

Tip: when writing instructional material, ask yourself about every paragraph, “Am I telling the reader how to do something? Or am I just telling them what to do?” Make sure both objectives, not just the latter, are accomplished by your copy.

You can find Bob Bly in River Vale, New Jersey, USA –

More on getting Google to love your content:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

photo credit: Cea. via photo pin cc