Entireweb Newsletter   *   February 6, 2007   *   ISSUE #307

How SEO research leads you to more effective sales copy

While just about everyone agrees that informed key phrase selection is at the core of effective SEO (search engine optimization), many are surprised to find out that the self-same information also guides them to writing more effective sales copy.

How does researching key phrases help the quality of your sales copy? Because, by selecting the correct key phrases and building your copy around them, you'll be answering the questions that are being asked by your potential customers.

To understand what I mean, think of why people use search engines in the first place - they're looking for information and/or considering buying something. Every search has, at its core, a request or a question.

Connecting to your audience

Great sales copy connects with the reader. It has to. It doesn't shout. It doesn't try to haul the reader round 180 degrees to a completely different viewpoint - it'll lose them somewhere on the way. Instead, it has real empathy.

By following the discipline of building your copy around appropriate key phrases, you can ensure your Web site content dovetails perfectly with people's expectations and really answers their questions.

If you're selling holidays in Italy, for example, and someone types 'weekends in Venice' into Google, your optimized copy about weekends in Venice would almost certainly appeal more to your visitor than general copy selling weekends in Italy or about cruises that take in Venice.

And if it appeals more, you're likely to sell more.

As an aside, it's hardly surprising that most sites find they get better conversions from Organic optimization than from buying clicks from an online advertising system such as Google Adwords. Unless you're very disciplined in matching the key phrases you're buying, your ad text and your target pages, you're almost certainly going to end up with a looser fit between the searcher's needs and the site content you're offering them.

How do your customers really think?

As a writer, I find key phrases are a fantastic guide to how customers actually think. For example, when was the last time you used the word 'cheap' in copy? It's one of these abhorrent words that we must never use - corporate guidelines inevitably insist on 'cost-effective' or 'good value' or something; most copywriting gurus habitually warn us away from such words.

The problem is, for most of us, that's how our customers think. Real people seldom use 'good value' or 'high value' or 'competitively priced'. Time after time, our research shows people looking for 'cheap' and 'low price'. Again, while you may argue that this may show people just looking for a bargain, I'd say it's part of a larger and more important picture.

Key phrase research shows what kind of language is appropriate to our customers. If people are really looking for 'low-cost flights' - and they may be, given the number of times the phrase is used in the media - then we know that we can safely use that phrase in our communications. If people aren't using it, then let's use the expression they identify with.

If you sell large clothing, for example, you may habitually describe your clothing as 'outsize'. I'd bet many more searches use the word 'large' or 'big'. Use your industry jargon, and you may be running the risk of alienating your customers.

Are you up to using everyday language?

The lesson we've learned time after time is that people really do use simple everyday language - and that goes for B2B as well as B2C transactions. And, to appeal to them, we should use simple everyday language, too.

But before you embrace a term like 'cheap car hire', make sure 'cheap' fits with your business and your business planning. Are you really happy to be seen as 'cheap'? Are you ready to fight tooth and claw with your market's most ruthless price-cutters? Do you even want customers who are looking for the cheapest?

You must be really clear why you're choosing each and every key phrase and its implications for your business. And writing powerful copy without some of the familiar props of the copywriter's trade is a challenge in itself. But that's another piece entirely.

Applying key phrase research can so easily give you an unfair advantage. Make sure you seize the opportunity with both hands.

David Rosam is Head of SEO Copywriting at Web Positioning Centre and specialises in Internet marketing strategy and optimized copywriting. His blog is Dangerous Thinking and covers SEO Copywriting, SEO and Marketing.

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