Content marketing – Where do I place my quality content?

content marketing image of quality

Imagine the scenario: you’ve just completed an amazing article, you know in your own mind it will be well received, everything about this article is great – but you have nowhere to put it!

So where do I place this content refugee? Article directories, on my website, on an online newswire or do I find a great third party site? There is no one answer, but one thing is for sure: article directories are a no- no. Quality content should be positioned in such a place so you gain a readership, links, social media signals and a return on the time you invested in writing the article. Here is Buzzwords breakdown of the pros and cons of posting on each platform…

On my own website

If possible, always post your content on your own website. Not only does it create fresh content for your site (ideal for the post -Panda world) but it also creates those much sought-after links pointing back to your site. Links are not the only perk.  An increase in site traffic, social media shares and potential sales all make posting content on your site more attractive. If you decide to post content on your site, make sure you market the content in the right way. This means using social bookmarks, social networking, e-mail and word of mouth techniques (outreach) to maximise the reach of your content. Posting content on to your website is not always the best answer, however.  If you have produced content that could feature on sites with higher readerships, maybe you should start looking at third party sites.

Online newswires

Maybe not the cheapest method, but posting your content to online newswires is the least time-consuming. Online newswires such as PR Web are a great way to get your content “out there” and picked up by various news outlets or online magazines. For a modest charge, a newswire will post your content to hundreds of online news outlets who may (or may not) pick up on your content. Regardless of take-up rates, newswires provide great link juice.  You can also add anchor text links and an author ‘bio’ link.

Guest blog post

This method is probably the most time-consuming (and maybe the most difficult) –  but  it’s well worth the effort. Guest posts provide you with potentially priceless anchor text links and improve your link portfolio. Difficulties arise with guest posting when trying to source an appropriate site/blog to publish your content. When deciding on this, you need to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What is the Page and Domain Authority of the site on which you’re posting?
  • What is the Page Rank of the site?
  • How many RSS subscribers does this site have?
  • Does the site have a readership that shares content via social media regularly?

If the site ticks all the boxes, you are left with the task of persuading the site owner  to publish your content. This is the difficult part – often referred to as outreach.  It can be carried out through social media, e-mail, over the phone or any other means of communication. Remember, having your content published on one site with a high PR can be 100 times more powerful than  1000 low PR links.

Why article directories are a no-no

Article directories have steadily been downgraded in their link building importance by the search engines. They hold little weight and have been downgraded in the name of quality control.  Article directories are not monitored; they will publish almost anything; and you’ll probably have few readers.


The Advertising Copywriting Process

Last month Buzzwords came up with “The Advertising Copywriting Process” – it does what it says on the tin!

Infographic of the advertising  copywriting process

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Advertising Copywriter Re-launches ‘Creative Concepts’

When I set up Buzzwords in the 1980s, creative concepts were at the forefront of every advertising and marketing campaign in which I was involved.  Now, with the dominance of online communication, the opportunities to put ‘creative concepts’ into practice have all but disappeared.

launch of new advertising copywriting services

What I mean here is visually-related marketing ideas – linking a persuasive and benefit-led headline with a relevant and eye-catching visual.  By overlooking this potentially huge aspect of commercial creativity, online communication has lost something along the way.

The comeback of creative concepts is long overdue I say.  There’s already been a resurgence in transforming web pages into something more persuasive than mere information vehicles for SEO purposes.

What we’re seeing is a return to a direct response ‘sales letter’ copywriting approach.  With Google’s out and out drive for quality content, surely it’s inevitable that real creativity will return to the mix?

What we have at the moment is an undue emphasis on words for their own sake.  Having the right words in the right place are fine from an SEO viewpoint.  Whether this will thrill or persuade the end user to take action is another issue.

The satisfying (and therefore persuasive) harmony that a well-crafted concept creates in the mind of the reader is the ultimate ‘quality’ experience that Google hitherto has failed to articulate.

Keywords are currently king because they are the most easily measured element on a page for SEO purposes (the other main measurable element of course is the number and quality of inbound links that a web page and website has).

Measuring the effectiveness of a web page’s creativity and how ‘useful’ this is in satisfying a searcher’s need for information is probably not relevant.  However, if the notion of ‘quality’ is ever going to move forward, there will have to be some means of measuring the link between quality and creativity.

This could take the form of people ‘voting for’ or ‘re-Googling’ a page in such a way that it contributes towards the quality score within the total search engine algorithm.  There’s little doubt that ‘creative quality’ would make a page more ‘sticky’ and it would very likely reduce ‘bounce’ rates.

These factors are already part of Google’s criteria for ranking pages.  What is needed is a new way of assessing what is an exciting dimension in asserting a web page’s ‘value’.

As far as is practicable, I will certainly be advocating the creative concept approach for all Buzzwords’ clients.  The potential and significance of this simple yet powerful idea should not be overlooked.

It made the name of advertising in the 1980s as a quasi-cultural art form that paid huge commercial dividends.  This could easily be repeated profitably today.

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Is Advertising Still the Great Persuader?

advertising copywriter poster from the 70s

Back in the 70s, the advertising of Saatchi & Saatchi and a dozen other London advertising agencies ruled the marketing roost.

It was the age when ITV was the only commercial channel.  Ads shown in the prime-time Coronation Street slot, for instance, would be seen by millions.  Back then, TV advertising was powerful – and ad agencies were sexy.

Today, there are dozens of TV channels (and many more commercial radio stations).  Advertising budgets are spread much more thinly so the ads themselves rarely become part of the national consciousness in the way they once did.

With no Internet, newspapers had far higher circulations, so press advertising was much more influential.  They were the perfect medium for ‘direct response’ off-the-page mail order ads – and ‘corporate advertising’ was always a good way for a big company to reinforce its brand advertising activities on TV.

This was the golden era of mass persuasion.  Nowadays, marketing has taken on a far different persona.  Now, it’s more a case of ‘mass collusion’.  Audiences can no longer be targeted as passive recipients of mass marketing messages.  ‘Persuasion’ was hardly necessary back then.  Mass hysteria and/or hype ensured that stock would shift and bums would be placed on seats.

Persuasion is now a tad more difficult – and that’s not entirely due to economic recession.  Audiences are fragmented.  The Internet – and social media in particular – has empowered individuals and consumer groups.

Big companies nowadays are no longer the Great Persuaders.  They have to watch their step.  They know that one false move could bring a brand to its knees.  Reputation is everything.  Customer service and value is being carefully observed by the eyes of every mouse in every house that has a computer.

Back in the day, advertising was a powerful  force.  In some ways, it was an art form.  Interestingly, the art of persuasion is now in the hands of patrons whose powers of persuasion are rooted in an entirely different marketing culture.

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Top Ten Advertising Slogans of all time

The power of slogans is often overlooked when we think of advertising, it is only when we compile a list of famous slogans (like below) that we realise how impactful a great slogan can be.

Slogans can conjure up images of in our minds, influence us and even impact upon our every day language! So what makes a great slogan? Is it humour? Is the logo important? Should we keep it simple? Here is a list of what we think are the greatest slogans of all time! Feel free to share your top 10!

10. “Every little helps” – Tesco

Britain’s number one retailer came up with this genius slogan, it’s obviously been effective, Tesco is now the third-largest retailer in the world.

9. “The best a man can get” – Gillette

This famous line belongs to Gillette. Back in 2010 Gillette was obviously the not the best Tiger Woods could get, when they dropped his 20 million pound “best a man can get” endorsement.

8. “If Carlsberg did…” – Carlsberg

Carlsberg series of “If Carlsberg did…” adverts have become almost iconic, combining humour and laddish banter, to form a slogan worthy of a place in the top 10.

7. “It does exactly what it says on the tin” – Ronseal

“It does exactly what it says on the tin” was originally an advertising slogan used by Ronseal back in 1994, which has become a common idiomatic phrase in the British vocabulary to this day!

6. “It’s the real thing” – Coke

Need I explain, but this is obviously one of the most iconic slogans ever written. Coke came up with this slogan to fend off fierce rivals Pepsi.

5. “Keep calm and carry on” – British Government

advertising slogan

“Keep Calm and Carry On” was a propaganda poster produced by the British government in 1939 at the beginning of the Second World War, intended to raise the morale of the British public in the event of invasion. Seeing only limited distribution, it was little known. The poster was rediscovered in 2000 and has been re-issued by a number of private companies, and used as the decorative theme for a range of other products.

4. “Make Love not war” – Gershon Legman

advertising copywriter slogan

“Make love not war” is an anti-war slogan commonly associated with the American counterculture of the 1960s. It was used primarily by those who were opposed to the Vietnam War, but has been invoked in other anti-war contexts since. Gershon Legman claims to have discovered this famous slogan.

3. “Have a break have a Kit Kat” – Kit Kat

Since 1957, the slogan for the Kit Kat has been “Have a break… have a Kit Kat”.

2. “You either love it or hate it” – Marmite

My personal favourite, this slogan is almost bigger than the actual product now. Marmite realised there was a polarised opinion regarding their product, so in the 1990s came up with the love hate concept and still stand by this today, genius.

1. “Just do it” – Nike

Iconic, legendary, genius – these words cannot hope to sum up this slogan. According to Nike company lore, one of the most famous and easily recognised slogans in advertising history was coined at a 1988 meeting of Nike’s ad agency Wieden and Kennedy and a group of Nike employees. Dan Weiden, speaking admiringly of Nike’s can-do attitude, reportedly said, “You Nike guys, you just do it.” The rest, as they say, is (advertising) history.

Copywriting morphs into SEO Services!

seo morph to pr

Who would have thought just five years ago that SEO Services would  be a fully paid-up member of the copywriting fraternity.  And yet, Buzzwords now has a new website page of the same name which we’re promoting through Online PR (practise what you preach, eh!).

In many ways, it’s no surprise that SEO and copywriting have become such close  bedfellows.  If you look at the main elements of SEO that Google is rewarding in the wake of its many Panda Updates, you’ll see that the ‘quality content’ which is now top of the greasy SEO pole does in fact refer back to copywriting skills.

Quality content is essential to the various skill sets used in link building programmes.  I’m thinking here of Online PR, for instance, or Corporate Blogging, On-page SEO Copywriting and Article Marketing.

It’s fortunate that copywriting now forms the central essential skill required for basic SEO.  I’ve been writing offline press releases and articles for many years.  Not far behind is the time spent on website copywriting, blog writing and social media posts.

Clients sill think that SEO is a black art that requires an in-depth knowledge of HTML and other esoteric online tricks.  I’m not saying that a knowledge of this aspect of SEO inputs doesn’t help – it does.  Five years ago, I was so much in awe of  this type of geek-speak – I decided to take a course in  it!

As a website copywriter, I appreciated being able to go ‘behind the scenes’ as it were.  It allowed me to look web designers in the eye and – yo! – I could even join in their geeky conversations.  SEO is a similar discipline in so far as it demands enormous attention to detail.  Where it differs is in the sheer application that’s needed over many weeks to achieve a highly specific goal.  Applying On-page SEO is usually relatively quick.  Link building on the other hand calls for perseverance of a totally different order.

Writing high quality articles and guest blog posts calls for intellectual stamina that would exhaust many people – especially when they’re trying to combine this kind of SEO activity with other ‘day job’ activities! That’s why hiring professional copywriters (with enough insight into SEO to really make a difference) is now a sensible option, especially for owners of small to medium-size businesses who want real value for money that doesn’t involve being blinded by science.

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Four Simple Ways to Improve Your SERPs Rankings


Back in November 2011, Google unveiled the ‘Freshness Update’.  It affected around 35% of searches and was well documented across the web. The main purpose of this update was to encourage website owners to provide their users with fresh content which would in turn reward them with higher SERPs rankings.

Although the Freshness Update was well documented, many site owners were left with the question, how do I add ‘freshness’ to my site?  Below, you’ll find four straightforward ways to improve  your SERPs rankings and give your website the ‘freshness’ it deserves:

Step 1 – Blog

Blogging is vital to any SEO campaign.  If you don’t have a blog on your website, it’s certainly time you considered having one. Even before the Freshness Update, blogging was a vital element of SEO. Having a blog on your website provides a constant source of fresh content. Many companies dismiss the idea of a blog because they feel there is nothing to talk about in their industry.  This is not the case.  Every industry will have something to talk about.  It’s just a matter of being creative with your stories. Blogs can educate, promote and publicise.  Most  importantly, they provide fresh content that will improve search results.

 SERPS Ranking

Step 2 – Multi-media

Multi-media content on your site has been important for a long time now (Panda Update) and is a great way to add fresh content to your website. Google is striving to improve the user experience by rewarding content- rich sites. Videos are a great way to add fresh content, as are blog posts, infographics (Pinterest) and pictures. Remember,  if the content is fresh and entertaining, you will reap the rewards on the SERPs.


Step 3 – News

Many sites don’t give website owners the ability to add blogs or news content to their sites. This can be resolved with the help of online PR.  Using services such as Vocus and PR Newswire, you can send out monthly press releases (for a relatively small cost) to publicise your content in the online media, providing fresh and interesting stories linking  back to your website.


Step 4 – Canonical Tags

If you’re wondering what ‘Canonical Tags’ are, here’s an explanation from Google:

“A canonical link element is an HTML element that helps webmasters prevent duplicate content issues by specifying the ‘canonical’, or ‘preferred’, version of a web page as part of search engine optimization.”  (Google Webmaster, 2009)

Canonical tags are a great way to update existing quality content, instead of deleting the content and starting from scratch. Inserting canonical tags into new content will tell Search Engines that your content has been updated and is ready for indexing.

Hopefully, the  4 steps above will provide some ideas when it comes to fresh content  for your website. We’d love to know what  you think of the Freshness Update  – and any other thoughts you have on sourcing great content!


Content Marketing – How to Develop and Promote Great Content


We all know the past six months have seen a revolution in the SEO industry.   Quality content that is original and user friendly has now taken precedence over the old-fashioned and crude SEO methods. Content is still king, and needs to be integrated into your online strategy, sooner rather than later.

Have a content strategy

Google implemented these changes to promote original, quality content and the best way to do this is by providing information. The content produced should give solutions to your clients’ problems (even more significant when the Google semantic search is rolled out) and in time you will become a trusted source of knowledge within your industry.  In turn, this will build authority and spread the word of your business. If you are regarded as an authoritative source of information within your industry so will your products and services.

3 steps to developing your content

  • Market research and keyword research are vital
  • Identify the types of content, and where the content will be seen
  • Make sure you produce quality content

Promoting your content

Promoting your content is the most important aspect of content marketing. Producing high quality content with no audience is counter-productive  and ultimately goes against your long term goals (increasing your profits).

Social Media – Social media is a vital element of online publishing and promoting your much cherished content. The rewards of social success are huge, and here at Buzzwords we recommend the use of social bookmarking to really leverage the audience of your content.

Optimise – Link, link and link some more if you really want to see your content become visible to your target audience. Title, Alt, H1 and Meta tags are all still vital when optimising your content. URL structure is still highly regarded, so watch this when creating content.

E-mail- E-newsletters are a great source of content, but using E-mail marketing is also a great way to promote your content.

Guest Blogging – Guest Blogging is a great way to promote your content.  Submitting your content to someone else’s blog increases your exposure to new audiences and also provides you with much appreciated link juice.

So there you have it, a quick guide to developing and promoting great content. What do you think the future of content marketing is? How are you developing your content? Have any tips? Feel free to share them with us…

Copywriting Rates Video…

Take a closer look at the Copywriting Rates video below for an introduction to an ever-popular topic.  Call it what you will – copywriting rates, fees or charges – most copywriters will not give much away when it comes to how much they charge.  There’s nothing ‘cloak and dagger’ about this.  To find out more, click on the video for Mike Beeson’s take on the great Copywriting Rates conundrum.

“Copywriting Rates”

What are your thoughts regarding Copywriting Rates? I’d love to know…

Is Direct Mail On The Way Back?

Royal Mail lorry

Maybe it was the beautiful sunny morning – but the attractive four-part mail-shot I received today from Parcelforce set me thinking.  Is direct mail set for a comeback? 

When we’re talking about ‘integrated marketing’, there must surely be room for the old-fashioned mail-shot?  I say ‘old-fashioned’ because the world seems to assume that e-mail has taken over. 

E-mail is great when it’s done properly – a great opt-in list, good creative, persuasive offer and so on.  And yet: there’s something reassuring about opening an envelope (far more enticing than a mouse-click!); ‘feeling the width’ of the main sales leaflet; and then settling down with the letter. 

Ah – the letter!  Such a wonderful throwback to the days when people actually wrote to each other.  Don’t get me wrong.  I haven’t come over all sentimental, but an e-mailed ‘Hi Mike’ doesn’t hold a candle to the sweet formality of ‘Dear Mr Beeson’! 

The sequence of events that the contents of a mysteriously-headlined envelope triggers is nothing short of magical (maybe I AM getting sentimental?).  Look through the mini-brochure, marvel at the production values, the layout, design and copywriting!  

Pick up the letter – admire their opening sentence!  Wonder at the conciseness of it all.  Yes they CAN walk on water.  And they’re kind with it – or at least that’s the impression given by their offer of entering me into a prize draw! 

There’s no denying that plenty of thought has gone into this marketing gem.  Just think of all the stages it’s gone through:  marketing brainstorming, creative briefings, creative head-scratching, production, printing, mail-house, postman…

 The great thing about a mail-shot nowadays is that they aren’t competing with piles of other junk mail.  Maybe it’s to do with the cost of UK postage (which will increase by almost 50% on April 30th). 

It’s the price you have to pay for a solus doorstep position.  The curiosity value of a mail-shot cannot be discounted either.  Picture it when a mailing arrives in a small advertising or design agency.  Everyone crowds around, fascinated. 

In the background some old geezer gazes nostalgically into the middle distance, lamenting the passing of the Mad Men era, Thatcherism, free school milk – and postal strikes.  Yes, those were the days.  And direct mail may yet see a mini-comeback…  

If you’re wondering whether the Parcelforce mailer did the business with me, suffice it to say that even an offer of a free prize draw to win an iPad couldn’t sway me.  Not today anyway.  Maybe at some time in the future when I need a big box shifting, a little voice at the back of my mind may just remind me to call them!

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Google Semantic Search – The facts

Just as we thought we’d seen the back of Google’s endless updates, it was announced last week that they  were to carry out the most radical update of their system  ever.  It comes in the form of Google Semantic  Search, and unlike previous updates (Panda, Venice etc), Google have decided to add a human element, and give users the ability to ask questions – and actually receive an answer!

So what exactly is the Google Semantic Search Update?

In its most basic form, Google has combined semantic search with its tried and tested ‘keyword search’.  This means that when users type in a question, Google will try to answer that question, as opposed to the traditional keyword search where hundreds of results appear.

What affect will it have on SEO?

Google’s ‘traditional’ keyword system was very easy to manipulate.  This will not be the case when the semantic update is rolled out. With Semantic Search, marketers will have to figure out the actual meaning behind keywords, and tailor the content around the specific keyword.

Semantic search will place much more emphasis on keyword research, but it will reward those who put in the hard work and punish those who place keyword-rich, unintelligible content onto their sites simply to rank.

When will Google implement the semantic search?

Semantic search will gradually be rolled out over the next few months.   This will give users and businesses time to come to grips with the new system!

Why have Google decided to carry out this update?

Google has been forced into implementing semantic search to keep up with competitors such as Twitter, who provide real-time search results. Google is now aiming to provide users with real-time search results!

What action can I take?

It’s not  clear yet what effect semantic search will have on websites! The best advice given thus far is to make sure your website is actually answering the question your service is trying to solve! Making sure that your meta data and marketing strategy are optimised and prepared for this search revolution will not hurt either.

How do you think Google semantic search will affect your business? Do you think it will be a good thing for the SEO industry?  Does Google have too much power? I’d love to know…


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SEO Top of the Flops

Most people would assume being Number 1 on Google would generate more than its fair share of clicks – and they’d be right. Yet how many people can put a figure on it?

Does a top position generate 10, 20 or even 30 per cent more clicks than the page just one place below at Number 2? And what about those pages languishing at Number 6, 8 – or even Number 10?

Don’t forget: they’re all on Page 1 of Google. And this is where everyone wants to be. It’s seen as the pinnacle of SEO success. “We can get you on Page One of Google,” is the sales mantra of SEO salespeople everywhere.

Looking at research done over the past couple of years makes for interesting reading. It may come as a surprise to many people, but the rewards of top ranking are something similar to ‘winner takes all’.

A study by Optify, for instance, revealed that a Number 1 rank delivered a huge 36% of clicks. This plummeted to 12.5% for a Number 2 ranking – and by the time we reach Number 10 (still on Page 1 !), we’re down to a paltry 2.7%.

This miserable level of ‘clickability’ continues unabated throughout Page 2 of Google. And any pages beyond that are simply not at the races!

These results were echoed in a study by Neil Walker of SEO company Just Search Ltd. In this case, Position 1 snared 46% of organic click-throughs, while Position 2 managed 29%, with Position 3 coming in at 19%.

A similar study by Jonathan Allen at Chitika reported that the top spot garnered 34% of impressions, second position grabbed 17%; and third trailed with just 11%.

What all these studies highlight is the disproportionate number of clicks achieved by a Number 1 position. Relatively speaking, all other positions are also-rans.

If more people were aware of these figures, they may just down tools – or simply retire. Whilst it’s true that ‘a smaller percentage of something’ is better than nothing at all, the uphill struggle faced by everyone involved with SEO is mammoth and begs the question whether so much time, effort and money should be invested in it.

The likelihood of achieving top position is remote, especially for competitive keywords. And, of course, there can only be one Number 1! From a pure ‘return on investment’ viewpoint, more businesses should probably consider diverting some (or all!) of their SEO budget to other aspects of marketing where the chances of sales success will be slightly higher!

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Google Video on Common SEO Mistakes

SEO and the Page One Gold Rush

For an idiosyncratic take on SEO – and the value of a Page 1 ranking on Google – check out my latest exclusive article on

SEO and the Fool’s Gold Fantasy

In other words, all that glitters may not turn out to be gold!  A Google Page 1 ranking may be the ultimate SEO goal, and one which is hinted at by SEO companies across the world, but will it deliver the returns you expect? 

If your web page is top of the tree – then maybe it will.  Click through rates (CTRs) for a Number 1 web page are two or three times higher than second or third-placed pages (depending on whose research figures you use).  This tails off quite dramatically as you count down Page 1.  By the time you reach the results on Page 2, the commercial significance has dwindled to next to nothing.  Any pages beyond that are off the SEO radar.

Assuming that your page (somewhere on Page 1) attracts at least a few clicks, the next hurdle is whether the page will convert into an enquiry (or another desired course of action).  After that, we’re into the non-SEO world of inter-personal chemistry and marketing issues such as pricing, service and so on.

When SEO techniques have helped a page to rank highly, a company will feel its investment in SEO has paid off.  Whether someone who’s done a Google search will feel the same way is open to question.

It’s true that a Number 1 position implies that Google has used its not inconsiderable selection resources to choose that particular page.  Ergo: it should be ‘good’ i.e. with high quality content that is relevant to the keywords used in the search.

The problem arises when the powers of SEO have outstripped the logic of Google’s complex algorithms.  Has clever on-page SEO or link building distorted the result to such an extent that the Number 1 web page is in fact a disaster area?

One click will reveal all, of course.  Delivering on promises of quality content isn’t something that SEO companies shout about.  Nor is it something for which they have responsibility.  A major flaw of the whole ‘search’ concept  centres on whether the various criteria and variables that algorithms use add up to the ultimate real-life solution?  Or do they simply reflect the fact that clever SEO has distorted reality – and the page rankings that go with it?

To find out more, why not read the article:

SEO and the Fool’s Gold Fantasy

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Social Bookmarking sites, the unsung heroes of SEO

Last year Google rolled out the Panda Update which brought about some well documented changes to the way we conduct our SEO campaigns.  Most noticeable were the changes in link building strategy. Overnight, the high authority links provided by Article Marketing sites such as EzineArticles were wiped away, making way for a new breed of social link building techniques. As we all know, social bookmarking sites have been in existence for years, but many people are simply oblivious to the effects they can have on SEO and, in many cases, what they are.

So, what are Social Bookmarking sites?

Social bookmarking sites are easily confused with Social Networking sites; we can see the difference in the name, Social Bookmarking. These sites simply bookmark your content, and provide great back links to your content extremely quickly as well as increasing traffic.  Some of the most noticeable social bookmarking sites include Digg, Stumbleupon and Reddit.

Why should I use Social Bookmarking Sites?

  • Traffic – Social bookmarking has many benefits, but its most significant (and proven) benefit is the referral traffic generated by these links. I have recently started another blog, and started to experiment with social bookmarking sites to see the impact they would have on traffic. Below are stats for a new WordPress blog I started recently.  As you can see, week 11 is far and away the busiest week the new blog has seen. It is no coincidence that this is the first week I used social bookmarking, and in this period the readership increased by nearly 100%, all through referrals from social bookmarking sites!

  • Indexing – Social bookmarking sites are also a great way to index your content at a much faster rate. Search engines will crawl the content and links created by your social bookmarking activity, meaning pages will be indexed by search engines extremely quickly!
  • Back Links – The most obvious and greatest benefit to social bookmarking is the back links created. Back links created by social bookmarking sites are followed links.  They’re a great way to help your search engine rankings and boost traffic back to your domain!

Why has Social Bookmarking been over looked?

Social bookmarking sites have been confused by many as a Social Networks. Many people are unaware of the full potential of social bookmarking sites as a tool for SEO and Social Media. Social bookmarking can be used to increase the readership of your content, expose your content to a much wider audience, speed up the indexing process and improve your SEO through the back links created!

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The Shifting Sands of Website Copywriting

Sand dunes

Catch up on my recent SEO News article at

Website Copywriting, Keyword Shuffling and the Visible, Video Future

There’s no doubting that website copywriting – and the SEO that accompanies it – is an evolving, moveable feast!  Meta tags and keywords are still important features of SEO copywriting, but there’s been a recent shift of emphasis at Google towards the value of inbound links and link building.

As we all know, Google attributes ‘value’ to what it describes as high quality, ‘relevant’ links.  A web page that has attracted a string of links from highly regarded and ranked websites that are in a similar (or ‘relevant’) field to the site being linked to, has intrinsic value in Google’s eyes and will be more likely to satisfy the needs and expectations of those who are looking to match keywords and content through their online searches.

The SEO rewards now go to those sites with strong link profiles.  Achieving this has a lot to do with producing so-called ‘quality content’ to which people will want to link.  This now goes beyond keyword-relevant on-page content.  We’re talking about videos, photos, Powerpoints, original research and thought-leadership content! 

Alongside this are other off-page elements that will also generate links on the strength of their well-optimised quality content.  This includes things such as articles, news releases and blog posts, as well as new kids on the block from the social media world.

Nothing ever stands still in the dynamic world of SEO – as my article points out.  Google is committed to continually improving the search experience – as well as finding ways of responding to new arrivals which include its very own YouTube videos, social media and social bookmarking sites.  These are all factored into how web pages rank on the current results pages (SERPs).

Of course, Google has to stay one step ahead of the black-hat SEO brigade so they aren’t in a position to manipulate the results.  Nothing new there – but the whole SEO kaleidoscope is shifting all the while to create new patterns and ways of working for everyone in this crazy competitive business.

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Strategic Website Copywriting – Part 2

See my recent exclusive article on  …

 Strategic Website Copywriting – Feel Your Online Pulse (Part 2)

Website copywriting encompasses so many issues and skillsets nowadays.  Copywriters and clients alike need to appreciate that a new strategic approach is called for.  Being aware of what goes into creating an effective web page as far as SEO, usability and sales conversions are concerned will help when it comes to deciding on inputs and analysing outputs i.e. results and sales.

The volume and complexity of work involved – not only regarding what appears on the web page, but also with the various copywriting elements that are included in the link building process (articles, blog posts, news releases and so on); as well as the means of content delivery to various readerships on the web (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn); not forgetting social bookmarking sites such as Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit) – all adds up to a need to find ‘a man with a plan’! 

More specifically, this means finding a truly versatile copywriter, and a client who has the flexibility and courage to allow the copywriter or agency to get on with the job.  Clearly, website copywriting at this level is not a one-off job.  Ongoing involvement and development of both content and linking is a continual strategic process.

Much of this work is part of a wider search engine optimisation (SEO) agenda.  Keeping abreast of constant changes in Google’s algorithms must involve SEO professionals, but SEO copywriting skills must also be up-to-date in both technique and awareness of the latest requirements for the various copywriting skillsets.

High page rankings are crucial to the commercial success of websites.  The investment of up-to-date SEO knowledge and expertise in substantial chunks is the only way to achieve this success.  It’s certainly not a ‘quick fix’, and it certainly involves a lot of hard work and strategic focus. 

Only companies which adopt this approach can hope for a decent return on their online investment.  Sadly, there are many who still think that website copywriting is a single event, as opposed to an ongoing process.

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Strategic Website Copywriting – Part 1

See my latest exclusive article on …

Strategic Website Copywriting – Feel Your Online Pulse (Part 1)

Here’s a brief summary of what it’s about:

Website copywriting is part of a much wider online copywriting skillset – and yet its significance resides with the fact that every other online copywriting activity is designed to increase the number of links with the main website and improve its rankings on the search engine pages.  In other words, website copywriting is about much more that getting the keywords right and making sure that the ‘quality’ aspects go some way towards satisfying the requirements of Google’s Panda Update.  Given the number of copywriting inputs that are affected and influenced by website copywriting, webmasters should think seriously about adopting a more strategic approach to copywriting.  Certainly, experienced website copywriters themselves should adopt a more strategic stance, both in the way that online copywriting work is approached and also in the way they market themselves.

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How Important Is Website Copywriting?

Can anyone write website copy well?  Is website copywriting a mechanical process – and does it fall into the ‘content writing’ category on which little value is placed when putting together a website?

Could it be argued that every web page should be a ‘landing page’ and therefore each would benefit from the same skills that a direct response copywriter would bring to the table?  Likewise, is it the case that ‘quality content’ (as stipulated by Google’s Panda Update) is nothing without quality copywriting?

Some would say that content copywriters have a role to play – that they are relatively inexpensive and, so long as major keywords feature in all the right places in their text, then the SEO purpose has been served.  This may be acceptable if SEO is the ONLY function of the copy.  After all, online directories are seldom end destinations for serious readers.  On the other hand, would any copywriter with an ounce of professional pride want to put his or her name to a piece that is empty, meaningless, badly written and which flies in the face of accepted standards of literacy?

As a professional copywriter of many years standing, I could never consider writing anything that fell short of my own self-imposed standards of excellence.  My readers may not agree with everything I write, but at least they don’t have to struggle with bad syntax, spelling, grammar and other basics that we should all take for granted!

Unless the copywriter is writing in English as their second language, there really can be no excuse for turning out text that is an insult to all known norms of copywriting.  Any client who accepts copy of this standard from s0-called copywriters is doing everyone concerned a major disservice.  Even if the exercise is mainly for SEO purposes, it will reflect badly on the company for which it was written, no matter how big a contribution it makes to improving a web page’s ranking.

Many people criticise Google for the endless updates it makes to its algorithms, and its obsession with continually looking to improve the quality of the search experience for its users.  Personally, I feel strongly that applying strict quality criteria to reward or penalize online copy – and especially website copywriting – is the least we can expect in a civilised society where clear communication says it all.

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Copywriting Training Courses – Worth Considering?

I’ve written an article giving my eyrie’s-eye view of Copywriting Training Courses.  With so many courses out there, it’s probably wise to be circumspect about what’s on offer.

Do you go for ‘distance learning’ – or buy online modules? Do you opt for a mainstream training company who purport to be all things to all men?  Or do you go for something a little more bespoke, similar to the face-to-face training courses I’ll be running from time to time in 2012? 

The main point I make in my article is that training courses are only as good as the commitment a trainee brings to the table.  This, plus a modicum of suitability for the task in hand, together with an understanding that training comes with a responsibility to think first – and learn later!

A shortcoming of the ‘one size fits all’ group training offered by many training companies is the lack of individual focus on each delegate’s needs.  The barnstorming approach probably works well for so many other business areas, but copywriting has a creative element which can only work well when it’s combined with an understanding of the business context in which it will be placed.

I don’t want to sound too precious about this.  Copywriting has an important role to play in many marketing activities – and in certain areas, it can generate big financial returns for the companies concerned.  For the most part, however, the function of good copy is to steady the ship and work with other creative elements to create an enticing aura around a product or service. 

The copywriting training I do this year will emphasise the importance of CONTEXT and how this melds with CREATIVITY to result in work any copywriter would be proud of. 

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Buzzwords’ Copywriting Rates – 50% Off Until April 2012!

For all those people out there who think they can’t afford a top copywriter – here is a great opportunity!  Until April 2012, Buzzwords is offering all new clients an amazing discount of up to 50 per cent on typical copywriting rates.

For as little as £250 per day, companies of all types and sizes – including advertising, design, PR or digital agencies – can avail of the copywriting services of Mike Beeson.  That means you can finally get that website written, you can dip your toe into the waters of SEO copywriting, or maybe have those ads, brochures or case studies written to a standard you never thought was within your reach!

Of course, I exaggerate slightly – but, hey, isn’t that what copywriting is all about?!  To find out more, contact Mike Beeson today on 01565 654023 – or visit Buzzwords’ website at

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Website Copywriting – I Always Do It Backwards!

It may surprise you, but when I accept a new website copywriting project, I never start with the Home page.  In case you’re thinking this is eccentric – that the Home page is the most important on most websites, and certainly the most linked-to – just ponder for a second.

A website’s Home page usually sums up the whole business and provides links off to the other main aspects of the business.  And yet, how can a copywriter describe the true essence of a company without first knowing about the other corporate elements, the products and services?

The client will obviously know what these elements are.  Potential customers – and copywriters – on the other hand, definitely will not.  It therefore makes sense when writing websites to start with the main product pages and/or services – and maybe colour this with information from what will become the About Us page.  Only when these pages are complete does it make sense to embark on that all-important Home page!

This has to be one of the main benefits of hiring a website copywriter.  Bringing together the various strands of a business and organising the facts in a coherent and objective way will stand up to scrutiny by even the most critical potential customer.  Approaching the website copywriting in a way that at first seems illogical does in fact deliver a superior end result.

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Recruitment Copywriters: Who Needs Them?

With all the recruitment specialists around nowadays, who needs a recruitment copywriter? 

There are advertising agencies that specialise in recruitment; PR agencies that do the same.  And then of course there’s the ‘in-house’ option preferred by so many recruitment consultancies.

Ad agencies and PR consultancies will very likely have recruitment copywriting expertise in-house or, at the very least, a freelance copywriting option.  Recruitment consultancies, on the other hand, have both recruitment industry knowledge and an in-depth knowledge of their own business.

The problem is: so much rests on getting the copy right.  Recruitment ads need the right tone of voice, whilst websites, brochures and other forms of marketing collateral have a major responsibility to present clients in the most accurate way and attract candidates with the most appropriate qualifications, skills and experience.

A freelance recruitment copywriter is a specialist and will very likely produce far superior work to any of the other options mentioned.  Moreover, he or she will be more flexible and cost-effective than an agency.  There will of course be no contractual tie-ins and a recruitment consultancy will be free to bolt-on other services as and when required, thus making measurable longer-term savings.

Being a ‘people business’, there’s no doubt that representatives from various quarters across the recruitment industry will have their view.  When it comes to producing high quality, cost-effective  copy, however, taking the freelance recruitment copywriter route is really a no-brainer.

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Buzzwords is launching training courses for online copywriting in 2012

Take a look at this video by expert website copywriter Nick Usborne in which he confirms that the opportunities for online copywriters in 2012 are HUGE!

And if this encourages you to take things a step further, why not register your interest in Buzzwords’ training courses in online copywriting by clicking on the link!

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Become a Freelance Copywriter – and Forget About the Recession!

Today, the UK unemployment rate hit 2.62 million, a 17-year high! With the outlook so bleak, many people are looking for alternatives, but how many have considered becoming a copywriter?

Looking at these record unemployment rates – with another economic downturn just round the corner – you’d be forgiven for thinking that copywriters are feeling the pinch too. This is not the case – certainly not at Buzzwords! We’re busier than ever, and always on the lookout for new projects and ideas.

Imagine being a copywriter. Imagine bucking economic trends, working when you like and with whoever you like. Copywriting could provide you with a brighter future. All you need is a good level of writing skill, a reasonable ‘business head’ and a drive to succeed! In a matter of months, copywriting could become your new exciting career, putting you in control of your own destiny!

‘So how do I become a copywriter?’ I hear you ask. Well there’s nothing to stop you writing for anyone who’s willing to pay you. And you could start tomorrow morning. Unfortunately, that’s a bit hit and miss. A better approach by far is to invest some time and money in a copywriting training course.

This month, Buzzwords announced the launch of four all-new copywriting training courses which will go live in early-2012. Participants will have the opportunity to discover the insider secrets of copywriting from Mike Beeson. With over 20 years experience under his belt, Mike is sharing his huge body of copywriting knowledge with the world.

Mike has prepared a series of training courses tailored to the needs of each individual. More details will be announced in the New Year.
If you are struggling in the current job market, or you simply want a career change, copywriting is definitely worth considering. After all, writing for a living is great fun – and you can forget about the economy interfering with your life!

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30 Years In Copywriting – And FREE PR Too!

Buzzwords has been in the copywriting business for 30 years!  More accurately, that should read: ‘Mike Beeson has been a copywriter for 30 years’, although that doesn’t take into account the myriad other skills I’ve developed along the way.

Young Nicholas Beeson is also on the scene after graduating in marketing this year.  He’s quite an expert on social media and all things online, so he’s useful to have around – and good news for client services.  You may want to take a look at the Social Media Marketing page on Buzzwords’ main website.  Unlike so many other copywriting and PR agencies, we can actually walk-the-walk too!

There are so many strings to Buzzwords’ bow, I often surprise myself.  Having said that, 30 years is a long time in this business.  To celebrate Buzzwords’ achievement, we’re offering a FREE PRESS RELEASE to every new client.  We’ll write the release for you and distribute it to the relevant UK media.

To find out more, why not take a look at our latest press release:

‘Buzzwords celebrates 30 years in business with free PR for every new client’

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Copywriting Training Courses @ Buzzwords – Watch This Space!

There are plenty of good reasons why Buzzwords’ Copywriting Training Courses are just what you need!  I’ve listed three below – but there are plenty more…

  • Signing up for Buzzwords’ Copywriting Courses is a great way to get started as a freelance copywriter
  • Intensive Copywriting Training Courses can help SMEs save big money by enabling you to write professional-standard copy in-house
  • If you work in a big organisation, you’ll have more confidence when it comes to dealing with your advertising, PR or design agency.

Specially tailored copywriting courses will be available in three broad areas from this autumn: Copy for PR; Online Copy; and more ‘traditional’ forms of  copywriting.

To register your interest, contact Mike Beeson on 01565 654023 or e-mail

A NEW BOOK!!! If you’re thinking seriously about becoming a freelance copywriter some time soon – my copywriting colleague Len Smith has written a great new book packed with practical business tips on How To Be A Copywriter – Yours for only £7.77!

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SEO & YouTube Marketing: 6 Great Ways to Optimise Your YouTube Videos

By Nicholas Beeson, Marketing Associate, Buzzwords Manchester

Since Google acquired YouTube back in 2006, videos have begun to feature more prominently in searches. Combine this with Google’s latest Panda update where the addition of useful and attractive visual content is rewarded with higher SERPs page rankings, and we can see why videos have become so important.

Many of us forget that videos are found on the Internet just like websites – through search engines. (And YouTube is a search engine.) Just like websites – using search engine optimisation (SEO) – videos can be optimised to rank highly on YouTube’s search engine as well as on Google or Bing. The principles of optimising videos are not much different from the SEO optimisation processes applied to web pages, blogs and so on.

Here are 6 ways to optimise your YouTube videos so they rank highly:

1. Optimise your tags
YouTube calls keywords “tags”.  Tags are a great way to enable people to find your video. The tag field is the most important element of optimising your video. Add the appropriate “tags” and your video should be a hit!

2. Choose an appropriate title
Just like the ‘title’ meta tags used on web pages, YouTube also uses the keywords in the title of your video to match searches. You only get 100 characters to use, so make sure the title appeals to your target audience.

3. The video description is key
The ‘description’ of your video also gives you an opportunity to include keywords that viewers may be searching for. The description is very much like the SEO ‘description’ tag on your website pages, but remember: don’t keyword stuff, and keep it organic!

4. Linking
Just like other forms of SEO, inbound links are vital to improving your video’s ranking. The more websites you have linking to your video, the higher your rankings will be. Likewise, you can improve your video’s ranking by having it embedded on your web pages.

5. Comments and ratings
Encouraging viewers to comment and rate your video will also benefit the rankings of your video. The more comments you have and the more your content is shared, the higher your video will rank!

6. It’s a numbers game
Perhaps the most important factor in determining the search ranking of your video is the number of views it receives. More views equal higher rankings!

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Advertising Copywriting: Do Drugs Enhance the Creative Process?

I’ve been following a LinkedIn forum about whether drugs help give better results with advertising copywriting projects where ‘creativity’ is an important element.

The word ‘drugs’ was used loosely to include everything from heroin to alcohol, marijuana to coffee!  Amazingly, the discussion became totally bogged down in deciding whether coffee is a drug or not!

Because it alters one’s mental state, it could certainly be called a ‘drug’.  From a copywriting point of view, it’s a drug that can be used (or abused) without it totally impairing the creative process.

Of course, the question was whether drugs actually ENHANCE the creative process.  It’s arguable whether stimulating the central nervous system in the way coffee does is in any way beneficial. 

Conversely, the intense highs of heroin or LSD are virtually incapacitating from a creativity standpoint.  Alcohol in small doses leaves the user  in control but, as many people would testify, what we think is earth-shattering creativity – even under the mildest influence – usually turns out to be mediocre or pretentious stuff in the cold light of day! 

There’s no doubting that ‘drugs’ are useful in taking us away from the mind-numbing routines of everyday life.  So when it comes to wanting to look at life from a unique perspective, it’s hardly surprising that so-called creative types seek out the mental excitement of drugs.

That said, to be creative in a field such as advertising requires preparation, practice and discipline.  If this is occasionally overlaid with the mental changes experienced through alcohol, illicit drugs – or even coffee! – then at least the insights involved with adding another dimension to a creative solution are thoroughly grounded.

There are many people who would disagree with this.  Why upset the natural sharpness and clarity of the mind by introducing foreign substances, they would ask.

It’s all about personal preferences.  It’s also about vulnerability in the face of temptation, and whether one believes that indulging in ‘drugs’ of any type is worth the inevitable hangover. Creativity may get a shot in the arm, but at what long-term price?

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Sales Letter Copywriting – Effective In Splendid Isolation!

Mike Beeson, Sales Letter CopywriterAnyone remember the halcyon days of ‘direct response’? From somewhere in the depths of my memory, I recall that was in the 1970s and 80s! Sales letters were also having their glory days – long letters with ‘Johnson Boxes’, Reader’s Digest, Drayton Bird and whatever was on TV at the time!

Fast forward to 2011 and all of what was mainstream marketing-speak then would now be more at home in the advertising museum in Norfolk. And yet, I’ve had a gut feeling for long enough that the so-called ‘traditional’ marketing and copywriting skills would make a comeback. In truth, they probably never went away. Perhaps they’ve been lurking in the back room in some other guise. Online newsletters? US-style ‘killer’ e-mails? Or maybe website landing pages?

One thing I have been grateful for amid all the self-flagellation that went on behind closed doors in the 70s and 80s – the better to create ‘benefit-led headlines’ or creative concepts that perfectly married headlines and visuals – is being confident that everything involving online copywriting is something I’ve done before in the offline world of yore.

I’d go further. Some of the techniques of yesteryear are set to make a comeback. I would say this is true of something like sales letters for instance. There’s a new conventional wisdom focusing on digital marketing, social media and so on. New rules are evolving where once there were no rules at all. The web was once referred to as ‘the worldwide wild west’. Now, we have ‘website usability consultants’; research into where web visitors’ eyes alight, for how long and why; not to mention focus groups analysing web copywriting to death in search of a winning ‘third way’.

Can it really be that sales letters are dead, simply because conventional wisdom says so? Is this really true? It IS true that UK postage rates are extortionate. And it’s true too that there are so many other ‘instant’ marketing tools competing for our attention. What’s interesting, however, is that the very same conventional wisdom that seeks to consign sales letters to the rubbish heap of history has in fact (unwittingly) created a great opportunity to grab what – in old-currency parlance – would have been described as a ‘solus’ position.

No, that’s not some tantric sex technique, or even a singles dating website. What I’m saying is that when your sales letter arrives with its intended recipient, there are far fewer letters (if any) competing for his or her attention. Providing the proposition is attractive, the chances of converting have been multiplied exponentially!

If this strikes a cord, then the next step is to teach a whole new generation of copywriters about the tricks and techniques of sales letter copywriting. Not to mention the clever design layouts and typography that were obviously the forerunner of many online design techniques used nowadays.

The point of all this is to say that no technique is ever dead. And not even ’til the fat lady sings. Mixing marketing services that work has always been about opportunism. The concept of ‘integrated marketing’ has been around since Adam was a lad. Because we now have a whole new array of online media and techniques to choose from is no reason not to include traditional methods in today’s integrated marketing plans.

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Video for SEO – Get the Picture?

You may have noticed the increased numbers of videos ranking highly on Google search pages.  The obvious conclusion to draw from this is that videos are good SEO vehicles.

Nowadays, videos can be created and optimised quickly and easily.  The quality of what currently ranks highly isn’t always the best – but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing for those on a tight budget who want to achieve something extra with their SEO. 

Google’s recent Panda Update stressed the importance of improving the search engine experience.  This included creating pages that will deliver a more ‘complete’ search experience for users who are maybe looking for something more visual to back up the on-page text.  This could include things like PowerPoint presentations, screen-grabs, charts – and videos, among other things.

Research has shown that web pages featuring videos will consistently achieve higher organic rankings and click-through rates than those that don’t.  In a televisual age, the reasons for this are obvious.  Until recently – perhaps coinciding with the time when Google bought YouTube? – on-page SEO and search results were focused on keywords, written content and links.

This mindset still prevails in the way videos are ranked, with ‘information’ (and not high production values) being the predominant criterion.

From a SEO standpoint, videos can achieve massive exposure on YouTube and other video search engines.  Social media links are also achievable with a well-planned distribution strategy. 

If you’re looking to maximise returns on your video as a piece of ‘content’, it’s a straightforward process to transcribe from the visual content and distribute it with the text alongside.  This ‘belt and braces’ technique gives the best of both worlds – approachable, clickable user content on the one hand, plus indexable and optimised text in a PowerPoint, PDF, podcast or other format on the other.

The potential for videos as a SEO vehicle is massive.  First, consider the low cost of informational video production, then add the opportunities to re-format the content in ways that are search engine friendly.  Whichever way you look at it, videos are probably one of the most under-rated SEO tools around. 

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Twitter Is The New SEO Songbird

Download notes image for SEO songbird postThe humble tweet is now a force to be reckoned with in the world of SEO.  Or according to Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land it is!

Google and Bing now recognise Twitter as a conduit for delivering high quality content from recognised ‘authority’ sources.  Given the ubiquity of social media, this has to be a welcome development. 

As with other types of inbound links, tweets are given a leg up in the SEO stakes by ‘influential’ people tweeting about you or re-tweeting your content.  We’ll probably never know what constitutes ‘influential’, but it’s not difficult to make a few educated guesses.

SEO research has also revealed the not-so-surprising fact that ranking rewards come from an abundance of high quality tweets linking to your site.  From a purely practical viewpoint, bear in mind that your keyword-rich tweet-links will act very much like anchor tags on web pages.

If you’re looking to generate more link juice, make sure your content is good enough to share or re-tweet; make sure you attract a steady stream of new friends and followers; and use highly visible buttons to allow visitors to click your links.

Remember, however, that links from Twitter are ‘NoFollow’.  The river of tweets that go by every minute of every day make it impossible for search engines to monitor the minutiae of what’s going on.  Safe to say from case study research that it is the overall weight of public tweets that give Twitter links both their credence and their SEO ranking potential.

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(Download Notes image: Danilo Rizzuti /

SEO Copywriting and the Keyword Issue

Keyword image

At what stage should keywords come into the SEO copywriting equation? This is an issue that arises on a regular basis when I’m discussing the optimal approach to SEO copywriting for clients’ websites.

My common sense starting point on this is to work initially with the keywords that arise naturally as part of the client business. What a company does from day-to-day will obviously be reflected on its website.

Keywords are irrelevant, and to try to manipulate Google rankings by inserting ‘artificial’ keywords into the web copy seems to be self-defeating. At best, it will create copy that is wholly unnatural. At worst, the site will end up being marginalised not only in the SERPs, but also in the minds’ eyes of potential customers.

The other side of the debate goes something like this: shouldn’t we be looking at the full range of higher-traffic keywords that apply to a client’s business and then be writing the copy around those?

Yes, the rationale would seem to fit – on the face of it. Unfortunately, for the reasons already mentioned, there’s a massive risk that the web copy will end up describing something that bears no resemblance to the client’s daily business.

There is a certain validity in the logic but, in practical terms, it’s a misguided approach. Far better, I would say, to use the more spontaneous, ‘natural’ approach to keyword selection and then combine this with the possibilities that ‘keyword research’ throws up.

In this way, there will at least be some potentially useful keyword variants to consider that maybe weren’t initially obvious. And it does have the additional benefit of introducing a little intellectual rigour into a process that may otherwise be taken for granted.

That’s not to say ‘intellectualising’ the issue is necessarily a good thing. Gut reactions usually count for more when it comes to business. What it does mean, however, is that another dimension is brought to the table when it comes to considering all the keyword options for optimal SEO copywriting results.

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(Image: Danilo Rizzuti /

SEO Copywriting – In-house or Out-sourced?

'Dice' image

SEO and SEO copywriting techniques are close to the hearts of thousands – if not millions – of businesses out there. 

That’s because they are only too aware of the financial benefits of top rankings on Google – and the costs of outsourcing to SEO copywriters or an SEO agency.

I’ve touched on the issues covered by this in a new article at, entitled ‘SEO Copywriters and the SEO Gold Rush‘.

The problem is: there’s plenty of information on the web that tells us what we could and should be doing to maximise web page rankings.  Actually doing it and getting it right so you see measurable results is an altogether different proposition.

In so many ways, page rankings on Google seem to be achieved in an almost random way.  If this sounds confusing, that’s probably because Google prefers it that way.  If we could all predict what takes a page to a Number One ranking , the black-hat boys (and everyone else!) would have a field day! 

I’d even go so far as to say that there are some fairly arbitrary criteria that the search engine throws into the melting pot alongside the more predictable ingredients of quality links and clever on-page optimisation.

Given that SEO as we know it – on the other side of the fence from Google – can only deal with the realities of what is logical and measurable, it makes sense for business owners to invest in professional SEO services as provided by SEO agencies and SEO copywriters. 

It won’t bring guaranteed results.  Nor will it necessarily bring rapid results.  What it will do is bring a body of experience to the ever-changing challenges of SEO and SEO copywriting that will maximise the chances of SEO succeeding sooner rather than later.

The science of SEO is in many ways about second-guessing Google’s next move and eliminating certain variables through the application of scientific and mathematical analyses.  It’s not perfect, and it won’t supersede Google’s algorithms. 

It will, however, give you a better chance of achieving ranking success than your competitors who prefer the less expensive in-house option to outsourcing via SEO copywriters or an SEO agency.

View Buzzwords’ article at
SEO Copywriters and the SEO Gold Rush

(Image: jscreationzs /

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SEO Copywriting – Rank Yourself Stupid!

When it comes to toying with SEO copywriting techniques, what has the biggest and most immediate effect on rankings?

Is it the on-page stuff like meta tags and keyword placement in the body copy? Or should we be thinking about content-related things like blog posts, articles or landing-page-related news releases?

Of course, there are dozens of permutations on this theme. Will tweaking one aspect of a web page make a mega difference? And will a greater involvement in article submissions to a wider range of article directories really make a difference – especially in the light of Google’s Panda Update?

On the face of it, ‘links’ would seem to carry the most weight, and yet… that implies on-page SEO copywriting is dead in the water (which it clearly isn’t). Maybe it’s more about finessing on-page factors to their ultimate level and then backing it all up with longer-term ‘linking thinking’?

Your thoughts please?

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Copywriting Rates: They Don’t Make Sense!

'Help' image


Effective copywriting is about INTENSITY OF APPLICATION.



No copywriter ever sits down and writes at an even pace. And that’s where the notion of ‘copywriting rates’ is completely misleading.

We’re not talking about conveyor belts here where you switch on at 8am and the machine whirrs away until 1pm. Copywriting is primarily about inspiration – but that may take up only 5% of the entire project. There is of course ‘preparation’ (50%?). The other 45% is about making coffee, answering the phone, writing e-mails and fighting off a hundred other interruptions. To make the figure up to an illogical 200%, there’s the small business of ‘new business’, without which none of this would be relevant.

So: hourly rates (or even day rates) make no sense. They do of course give a ballpark figure about ‘expectations’ where price is concerned. However, in terms of the OUTPUT you can expect of a copywriter (both qualitatively and quantitatively), copywriting rates are totally meaningless.

Some of the best copy I’ve ever written was accomplished in no more than half-an-hour of dedicated, inspired passion for the subject in hand. (OK, I’ll admit it: sometimes it was just to get the work out of the way!)

The trick is simply to WRITE. You can edit the grammar and other details later – and maybe switch paragraphs around and add missing thought processes.

The essential thing is to transfer the essence of the copy and its framework from your head and onto the page. Once you’ve done that and it looks like it has legs, then you can start to refine your work and head for the final straight.

All of this has absolutely nothing to do with hourly rates – or even what the job is worth. If you’re thinking along these lines, you’ll never achieve anything that is worthwhile.

(And just for the record, the outline for this blog post took me just ten minutes to write. Copywriting rates? Who needs them?)

(Image: Simon Howden /

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Sales Letter Copywriting – It’s Due for a Comeback!

I’m a regular reader of Nick Usborne’s newsletters, blogs and articles. In one of Nick’s latest articles, he expounds on the agony of getting noticed amid the churn of messages on social media sites.

As we all know by now, B2B social media should be about targeting the right prospects. That’s fine… but: whatever happened to good old-fashioned direct mail where you wrote to a named prospect and could command ‘solus’ attention – so long as he or she opened the envelope and were interested in your proposition?

No need to compete with the millions of tweets and Facebook posts that create a river of information every minute of every day! And with fewer and fewer people using direct mail – what an opportunity this is!

E-mail marketing may be the next best thing, and it does of course have the benefit of clickable links to take the reader back to your website landing page, blog or whatever. The problem with e-mail is that it’s notoriously difficult to attract and keep your readers’ attention. How easy is it to simply delete that uninvited intrusion into your inbox.

Compare this with what is nowadays an intriguing interloper slipping into your daily mailbag or letterbox – the sales letter! And how much more welcome it is than those dreaded bills and statements. With the right message, a well-targeted mailer will be just as effective in 2011 as it always has been.

No-one is suggesting you should abandon social media. Far from it. It’s an amazingly powerful tool for spreading your message in realtime and/or virally. What I AM suggesting is re-introducing sales letter copywriting and direct mail to your marketing mix.

If you’ve forgotten how effective direct mail can be (or if you’ve never given it a try), why not compare it with the time-effectiveness of your social media activities? I’m confident you’ll be glad you did. I’m also confident that sales letter copywriting is due for a mighty big comeback!!!

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Financial Copywriting in the UK 2011

Given the UK media’s obsession with all things ‘financial’, it’s hardly surprising that financial copywriting is a highly prized skill.

Consider for a moment the sheer range of financial topics with which we are bombarded on a daily basis: the ‘footsie’ index; interest rates and the Bank of England; house prices; commodities such as petrol, food and gold; banking rip-offs; sovereign debt; China’s role as an economic powerhouse… The list is almost endless. And when someone like the BBC’s Robert Peston becomes a media star – then you know something’s afoot!

One thing is clear: this media onslaught has forced many financial institutions onto the back foot.  Ethics, morals and propriety are now peppering the usual condescension of mainstream financial marketing.  Now, we’re all witness to a certain awkwardness in treading the middle line in the face of justifiable criticism of the sector’s working practices by consumer groups, the media and – indirectly – by influential comparison websites.

Never before has financial copywriting and editorial been so important to the likes of banks, insurance companies and all the other finance-oriented outfits.  Being seen to be unexploitative and ‘on-message’ from a PR viewpoint has placed massive demands on in-house marketing departments.

The subtleties of the written word now go far beyond the platitudes of CRM.  Projecting confidence without patronising your audience is now an art form that only the best financial copywriters can master.

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Google’s Panda Update Gives New Pseudo-Spam Two Black Eyes!

It would seem that a big part of SEO involves second-guessing Google. With Panda Updates, Mayday Updates, algorithm changes, PageRank influences, Matt Cutts and Google’s blog, there’s a sackful of goodies for SEO types to play with.

The problem, of course, is that Google won’t broadcast their intended changes in advance, and it’s usually up to SEO professionals to apply retrospective analyses to SERPs results (ie. how web pages rank for certain keywords).

Armed with this data, it may be possible to come to conclusions about what’s changed with the new algorithms, which sites have been affected, and by how much.

There certainly seems to be a frenzy over Google’s February 2011 Panda Update.  The company’s blog confirmed that around 12% of sites in the US have been affected so far  – with another 2% to come if plans to target certain content re-cycling sites and article directories  come to fruition.

To be fair to Google, they have been explicit about this on their blog.  There’s nothing sinister or ‘Big Brother’ about what they’re doing.  As ever, their sole aim is to provide users with the best possible search experience.

A recent post on Google’s blog by their very own Amit Singhal informed us that the Panda ‘algorithmic improvement’ would soon be rolled out across all English-language Google users.

Given the inherent delays in the ‘search-cache-ranking’ process, Panda’s full impact has yet to be felt outside the US – and that includes the UK, my own country.

There is evidence that UK-based sites in the US have been affected already.  What isn’t clear at the time of writing (29 April, 2011) is the scale of changes that will eventually affect websites across the UK.

What IS clear, however, is that Panda echoes the Mayday Update in that rewarding quality content is a recurring theme.  Conversely, weak articles published with the sole intention of generating links, or recycled information that offers users nothing new or original, will both be downgraded.  What’s so surprising about all this is that it’s taken so long to happen.

It seems that this is like a new slice of ‘spam’.  Existing spam filters have done sterling work in stamping out old-style spam.  Now, Google has taken up the torch to eliminate sub-standard pseudo-spam content.

At a stroke, this will cut out massive swathes of dross from the Internet and add a fresh dimension to the search experience.  It will help to keep competitors like Bing at arm’s length and demonstrate that the Panda Update will be handing out a few black eyes to sites that have hitherto remained unscathed.

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Buzzwords’ new SEO Copywriting page…

There’s a new SEO Copywriting page on Buzzwords’ main website: (just add the ‘www’).

The previous content has been edited hard to take into account the recent changes to Google’s algorithms. As we all know, successful SEO Copywriting is now more about presenting high quality and original content with a certain clarity and fluency of writing style.

The whole idea of course is to provide visitors to your website with a more attractive and informative experience. The days of ‘keyword stuffing’ are long gone!

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Freelance Copywriting – How to Get Ahead (Part 5)

The 21st century route into copywriting requires little in the way of qualifications, or even – dare it be said – very much in the way of writing ability.

The negative result of this ease of entry into what once a respected profession has seen an explosion of self-styled copywriters who arrived as if out of nowhere to meet an insatiable need for online content.

As we all know, ‘content’ is basically basic information that’s arranged logically – web pages, articles, that sort of thing. The more traditional skills of copywriting such as advertising, direct response and sales letter writing demanded a persuasive writing technique.

In the case of advertising – and to a lesser extent with other collateral like brochures and mailers – it also placed an onus upon the copywriter to dream up relevant and creative visual concepts that allowed art directors to have a field day.

Online copywriting is predominantly a low-skill form of writing that can be handled relatively easily without too much writing talent, business experience or ad agency work-outs on creative concepts.

An exception to this is search engine optimisation (SEO) copywriting which has added a new level of expectation of a copywriter’s ability to write succinct, attractive copy that also scores with the search engines.

SEO copywriting aside, it’s good that clear, simple writing is still seen as important (it was ever thus!). In a society where the profusion of marketing messages is daunting, the new emphasis on laid-back clarity is encouraging – a factor given additional momentum by the power of social media.

So how easy is it to survive in a sea of ‘information writers’? Is this type of copywriting that much different to what’s gone before – and does it matter what labels are applied? If we’re all speaking and reading David Ogilvy’s lingua franca, surely everyone – including businesses – should be happy!

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Freelance Copywriting – How to Get Ahead (Part 4)

Marketing training is but one route into a copywriting career. The fact that it took me into an ad agency world was useful and relevant in the 1980s when freelance copywriters were a rare breed.

For reasons I’ve never fully understood, graduates in English featured frequently among my competitors in those days (and probably still do!). As the great David Ogilvy pointed out, however – and he was no intellectual slouch – a copywriter has to use the language of the people. To which I would add: ‘With a business slant if you want to keep your client’s smiling’.

A university education is of course priceless as a preparation for any walk of life, so I’m not decrying a degree in English as a route into any business-oriented career. On the other hand, so many of the ad agency people I’ve met over the years have had very little in the way of tertiary education – but it never held them back in what must be one of the most egalitarian occupations around!

(To be continued… )

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Freelance Copywriting – How to Get Ahead (Part 3)

In some ways, it was inevitable that the happy coincidence of formal marketing training and the zappy world of advertising created a personal ‘big bang’ that ultimately led to a career in copywriting.

In the beginning, my conception of marketing was all about why people ‘consumed’, research, psychology, accountancy, case studies and guru-worship.  Academics love gurus, thought leaders, didactic types who’ve immersed themselves in their subject to create that ineffable ‘crustiness’ you can sniff at twenty paces.

In subjects like marketing, this is offset by regular contact with ‘industry’ and the academic’s own consultancy clients.  The fact remains, however, that – almost by definition – they lack a certain ‘worldliness’ that can only come with the school of hard knocks, the ‘university of life’ and all those other chip-on-the-shoulder epithets that practical types love to lean on.

Nevertheless, ‘marketing’ proved to be a good introduction to at least some of the business insights needed to become an effective copywriter.  As an academic subject – and certainly in the day-to-day practise of copywriting – marketing doesn’t become involved with pricing and risk-taking.

This may come later, of course, in the tentative world of ‘brand management’ – which in turn precedes the commercial realities of profit and loss.  That’s not an apology for the shortcomings of the copywriting function – more a celebration of its freedom from the iron grip of economic reality.  In a unique way, copywriting exists in its own commercial warp, in the sunlit uplands of delusion, dreams – and dreaded deadlines!

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Freelance Copywriting – How to Get Ahead (Part 2)

When I said ‘business insights’ (in the previous post – Part 1), I was talking about a certain type of experience. Having a formal business training helps of course. As does a degree in subjects like economics or marketing.

‘Experience’, however, is all about real-life exposure to opinions and thought processes, to the tides of history, micro-economics, news stories, hard-luck and success stories… the list is endless.

In many ways, I’ve lived my life as an ‘accidental’ copywriter. Writing in its various forms was something in which I was always interested. Way back in the day, I fancied my chances as a novelist, but it soon became clear that I was much more interested in the world ‘out there’, as opposed to the worlds I could create inside my head.

Yes, I would’ve loved to be a features writer on a national newspaper or journal, but what editor in his or her right mind would entrust that enormous responsibility to an untried rookie! Maybe if I’d been a high-flying intellectual with lots of family contacts I could have broken into this highly competitive field.

As it happened, I knew a few people who’d made a very good living as marketing professionals in big companies as well as top advertising agencies. It seemed my life was mapped out already. No-one else in my family had gone into marketing. I doubt if any of them knew what marketing was. (In those days, I didn’t know much myself!) But marketing it was – although I still held a candle for the lifestyle of a struggling novelist, starving in my Paris garret!

(To be continued… )

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Freelance Copywriting – How to Get Ahead (Part 1)

Before I start this collection of valuable hints on how to get ahead as a freelance copywriter, allow me to introduce myself…

My name is Mike Beeson. I’m a freelance copywriter based near Manchester, a big city in the north-west of the UK that is probably most famous for its football team, Manchester United.

Yes, I’m mad about football – or ‘soccer’ as it’s known in the US – but I’m even more passionate about copywriting, PR, SEO and social media. Not that many people would guess. It’s a passion I keep well hidden (all the better to fool your competitors!).

After 30 years as a freelance copywriter, I now feel able to spill the beans – and not care overly whether the competition benefits from the tips I’m about to disgorge here!

You see, freelance copywriting is a way of life for me.  Yes, it’s a business.  It’s what delivers my enviable lifestyle in one of the best parts of the country.  Copywriting is also a  mindset, a sub-set of marketing that thrives on business insights that leave the competition standing.

It’s what you could call a ‘qualification’ – not a certificate or a membership accreditation, or even a peer-led group recognition thing!  Unlike many copywriters, I do have formal qualifications in marketing.  That is something that will help all those in the early stages of their copywriting career with the all-important issue of credibility.

(To be continued…)

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Social Media Marketing – Are We All Getting Too Excited?

Forget about the Jeremy Kyle (Jerry Springer in the US) band of losers who trip themselves up on Facebook about clandestine affairs that half the online world can witness.  

In the middle-class world of marketing, there are stirrings that respectable types are also about to end up face-down in the mire, trampled in the gold-rush into social media, dazzled by its claims to being a panacea for all business ills – and a substitute for real-world selling.

Check out my latest article: Social Media – A Middle-Class Sport for Losers?

The question is: are we heading down the same blind alley as the crash in the year 2000?  Are we too blind to see the emptiness of social media as a bankable marketing tool  that we’re in danger of aping the bankers who almost destroyed the capitalist system during the noughties?

In the light of what’s happened to the global economy in recent years, it’s probably wise to keep everything in perspective.  If social media and its benefits seems too good to be true – then, hey-ho, where’s it all heading?  Read my article to find out:

Social Media – A Middle-Class Sport for Losers?

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The Cloisters of a Copywriting Mind

As a professional copywriter working in splendid isolation, I have for long enough lived a cloistered existence. This rather unreal world is akin to living in a gilded cage – attractive in its protected way, but wanting in its lack of reality, reduced opportunity for spontaneous human interaction, and two-dimensional in its repetitiveness.

Some would say, count your blessings, be careful what you wish for – and keep looking over your shoulder for the unexpected tsunami of economic reality. Well, my friends, I’ve been looking. For sure, the tsunami’s shadow looms larger in winter. Whether this is connected to the SAD syndrome of being deprived of sunlight in north-west England, or whether life is naturally more optimistic in the summertime – who can tell.

Copywriting is of course connected to the commercial world, but mostly in a tenuous way. Unless the type of work one does is immediately accountable and measurable in sales figure terms – to wit, sales letter copywriting or off-the-page ‘direct response’ advertising – there is a severe disconnect between the harsh realities of entrepreneurial activity, or even the more languid and budgeted reality of the mega corporation.

When was the last time the average copywriter lost sleep about the effectiveness of his or her work in the open marketplace? I venture that this is one reason why the financial rewards aren’t especially brilliant. Like so many aspects of capitalism, ‘compensation’ is all to do with the risk-reward ratio. The amount of risk that a copywriter faces is almost nil.

It could be argued that copywriters’ reputations are built on achieving a certain level of success for clients. Writing memorable TV ads is a good example of how a clever concept can kick-start a brand. The fact remains, however, that a copywriter can justifiably bask in the reflected glory his ideas have created; but if the brand bombs out, nothing is lost.

In the world of marketing, it’s not copywriters’ heads that peek first over the parapet. In reality, they’ll be the ones strolling round the safety of the ‘cloisters’, musing unaccountably about how much their words are really worth.

(It struck me that this was very much a ‘Sunday’ posting. Let me know if you agree!)

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Free Articles on Copywriting, SEO and PR

Are you looking for free articles you can reprint on your website, in your newsletters, or just about anywhere else where your online readers will appreciate a quality article or two?

Buzzwords currently has 16 articles available, the latest of which focuses on the perennial issue of Copywriting Rates. You’ll find plenty about PR Packages, SEO Copywriting and Article Marketing too. As a freelance copywriter, I’m always looking for a new angle on hot potatoes! (Watch out for my latest article on Social Media which is due to appear any day now!!!)

All I ask in exchange for free access to these articles is that you include a link back to Buzzwords’ website, plus the other biographical details at the bottom of each article.

(Finding the page is easy. Just click on Buzzwords’ logo on the right, then click the ‘Articles’ tab.)

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Social Media and the Fear of Selling

I’ve just read a fascinating piece by direct response copywriter Daniel Levis. Part of the article outlines what a lot of people have long suspected – that social media is ultimately the perfect excuse for getting you off the hook of having to sell.

Make no mistake: fear of selling is alive and well.  Social media has looked like the perfect soft option for long enough, especially when the ‘gurus’ keep telling us that online interaction is good; ‘liking’ is good; and having an online forum where you can dismantle major brands is good. Yes, it’s true what you’ve heard… God is good and he’s living just a couple of keyboards away.

By empowering individuals at the expense of big business, social media has tamed the advertising lion. No longer do ads roar. Now, the lion explains, rather apologetically, that he’d like to eat you all up – but online etiquette forbids. So is it OK if he whispers?

Revisionist conventional wisdom in the world of social media tells us that quiet persuasion and understated information is the order of the day.  Companies who fail to heed this new order will have a rude awakening in the shape of falling sales and busted brands. 

By all means soften people up by using Facebook and Twitter to create a frenzy of interest around your brand, but never ever overstep the mark by doing something as vulgar as asking for the sale!  Direct marketing and telesales are the visible villains in this particular piece of the peace – as are forthright online messages that would love to close that sale, if only they were allowed to!

Social media generates masses of activity and information that is exchanged worldwide at the click of a mouse.  Engage your audience is the mantra – but make sure you’re targeting the right people.

Hang on a second!  Did someone say ‘targeting’?  Wash your mouth out and leave this temple at once.  The world of social media is no place for heretical thoughts that hark back to the old order.

This is the new régime where selling is outlawed on pain of attracting strange looks, frowns and a communal shaking of heads.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is passport control at the gates of sales hell! 

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Good Copywriting Cannot Be Taught – Discuss!

I was on a LinkedIn PR and Communications forum earlier where one of the discussions was about ‘Good copywriting – and how it should be taught’.

As a copywriter with aeons of experience, I accept that you can ‘teach’ anyone the principles of good writing. Whether anything ‘good’ comes out at the other end of the sausage machine is another story.

Similarly, a by-product of ‘education’ is discovering how to develop an argument using a certain form of words. The best way to present an effective argument is to make those words as coherent as possible – but will this lead to ‘good’ writing?

It depends in part on the awareness an individual has of the importance of fluent writing and well-organised ideas.  This needn’t necessarily mean that an attractive or persuasive writing style will result – but at least it stands a chance of being ‘fit for purpose’.

(I would venture that this is the qualitative difference between a truly professional copywriter and someone whose time is spent on more general marketing work.)

Achieving higher levels of copywriting skill also depends on having an appreciation of how business and economics work.  Because of the size of the task, this can only come with experience.

To talk about ‘good copywriting being taught’ is only to scratch the surface.  In most cases, it should be more a case of case of ‘what can I learn for myself’. 

Individual skills and ability, as well as a commitment to the cause are probably greater requirements in the creation of a well-rounded copywriter who can consistently produce ‘good copywriting’.

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