New Copywriting Rules In The Age of the Internet
Times have changed, and whether you embrace it with a passion or cringe at its quirkiness, it is, indeed, here to stay for a while and it’s something that cannot be ignored–at least in the world of copywriting for the internet.
Life before the world wide web had strict rules for writing. Emphasis was placed on finding your own voice, persuasive rhetoric, keeping things short and concise, and knowing your audience. In some cases, where website owners do not care if they are well placed in Google results, these traditional writing standards and styles may still apply. These are the loyalists at work, and more often than not, their work is not seen on the internet because no one can find them. On the upside, for talented writers, they can find a more appreciative audience in books.
Many of those old writing rules, while logical and even desirable, have gone out the window. Out with the old and in with the new, they say!
A Balancing Act Between Human and Robot
In the Age of the Internet, “know your audience” becomes, “know your audiences” because you not only have your primary target audience to think about but now, you have SEO and the big G to take into consideration. Although God would be easier to write for, in this case, G stands for Google but he IS watching you, too. This doesn’t mean you have to be a sell out, rather, if you could master some sort of balancing act between writing for humans and writing for Google and other search engines, that is the way to go.
Google is not a human being with feelings. We hear that Google abides to the tenet, “Don’t be evil” but let’s face it, a complex algorithm doesn’t know what evil means so if Google is evil, there it is, and who’s going to do anything about their evilness? Google has their own set of writing rules, but they aren’t published anywhere so what are website owners to do when writing copy? From our observations as SEO specialists, here are some suggestions as they relate to copywriting for the internet:
- Google is an Avid Reader – So yes, you do have your main target audience to write to but Google is reading your website text, blog or article and you need to address this situation if you’d like to be rated well by the almighty robot.
- Simple, Starving to be Complex – While in the real world, good writing calls for “keep it simple, stupid!” that is not necessarily the case when writing for the internet. Long, drawn out and convoluted can sometimes be beneficial. Why? Because Google loves it, that’s why. There doesn’t need to be a logical reason behind this. This is simply the Google way.
- Department of Redundancy Department – If you’ve been paying attention, I’ve repeated myself in this article (already!). This is for a couple of reasons. So often, people do not pay attention and miss your point. We can say something again in hopes for them to catch it the second or perhaps third time around. More importantly, it’s more words! Giant word sandwiches feed the big G, and he is hungry–and when his belly is full, he is happy and might like your website better.
- Be a Jerk – Since when in real life are you given license to be a jerk? We love the internet, don’t you? That being said, you do not need to be unkind, inconsiderate or nasty to anyone. What we mean here is that when you write something provocative, brazen and perhaps self-important (or say something that rubs some people the wrong way), people lash out and comment to rebut, to agree or to rant! Guess who likes lots of comments? G does.
- The Slideshow Method – If you were to write a Pulitzer Prize-winning book for outstanding literature, your novel would most likely not have bulleted points. However, when writing articles for blogs and stories that you’d like to be well positioned on search engines, it will help tremendously to have organized ideas that are either numbered or lettered or even bulleted, just like in slideshows!
- Active Voice Schmactive Voice – It’s a well known style with many writers to take more of an active voice, and I’ve read articles that recommend writing in an active voice for internet articles, but frankly, I don’t believe it matters. Write the way you like, provided that you use proper grammar and you are relatively understandable. Using a variety of adjectives doesn’t hurt, either.
- Give Me Headers – Using headers above paragraphs is another tasty treat for Google because it seems to clarify ideas, in its opinion, I suppose. Make sure to bold the headers, then proceed to expound on that theme…in a lengthy manner.
A last note: These suggested rules can change at the blink of an eye because that’s how Google rolls. One day a Google writing law works, another day it’s illegal and your website is penalized. Oh well, that’s life on the internet. We simply need to regularly pay attention to Google’s mood, then react accordingly.