In the age of “fake news” and the rising chasm of trust between the public and the media, there is a shift taking place.
It’s a copywriting evolution that business owners MUST be aware of to stay relevant.
Content creation has become more regulated, not only by internet users who are savvier than they were even five years ago, but also by the algorithms major search engines like Google and Yahoo use to rank pages.
Readers want information gleaned from the internet to be proven, from a trusted source, and relevant to their lives. Search engine companies have responded to weed out the chaff, bringing as much quality content to search query results as possible.
THE OLD WAY: Before Google’s algorithm adjustments, content was churned out by forms, producing simplistic articles loaded with ads.
THE NEW WAY: Readers don’t have patience for that anymore, and quality demands are higher than ever before. This is good news for business owners and copywriters. While it takes more time to craft quality content, doing so helps repair the gap between readers and media outlets.
It does, however, mean keeping up with copywriting trends on two fronts: page rankings and reader demand.
Copywriting with a Purpose
The content on your business website is, first and foremost, a conversation with your target audience. The point is to open a dialogue with your readers. In doing so, you’re building a relationship with your readers, one where they perceive value from your content.
The more they talk to you, and about you to others, the greater authenticity your brand has for search engine rankings.
So how do you make sure your web copy, or social media posts, or other contact with readers reaches them?
By knowing how copywriting is evolving, adapting your methods and output, and emphasizing quality over quantity.
Some New Stats
Surprisingly, interest in longer posts is growing. For a while, the advice was to keep posts between 300-800 words, or you risked fatiguing readers. But current wisdom ranks posts with more than 2,000 words higher, and posts with 500 words or less garnered only 13% interest. Additionally, search engines prefer longer content, with posts of 2,450 words returning the best engagement, and in terms of social media, 2,500 word length blog posts are the most shared.
Because of this long-form popularity of blog posts, formatting matters more.
- Readers will pick up a headline and click the link, and then skim the headers for the most pertinent parts of the article. Attention spans have been cut in half between 2007 and now, giving content creators only eight seconds to capture their readers.
- Short paragraphs get read more than long ones. More than 4 or 5 sentences, the pace bogs down.
- Bullet points outlining key information keep the reader moving from fact to fact, and even if each point contains a short description, it’s less cumbersome than burying the info in long paragraphs.
- Make the most relevant information stand out. Readers can always go back and read every word, or they can zoom in on what about the article matters most to them.
It’s not just about posting something consistently. When you post can make or break your content’s engagement. While most content is posted during the workweek, it is most shared on social media over the weekend when readers catch up on what they missed.
- 17% of posts are published Tuesday through Thursday, while 16% hits Monday, and 15% lands on Friday. Only 5% hits on the weekend.
- Sharing sees 13% engagement on Tuesday through Thursday, and drops to 12% on Monday and Friday. But Saturday gets the highest share rate at 20%, and Sunday is a modest 15%.
What does this mean for your posting schedule? If you want to stay top of mind, you need to post consistently during the week and on weekends so as not to get lost in the shuffle.
Overall Tips for Copywriting Success
Grab with the headline. Address the reader directly, use numbers if you can, and offer an answer rather than a question. “5 Ways to Increase Your Website’s Traffic” gets more attention than “Ways to Increase Traffic to Your Website.” But that second one will still do better than “Increase Website Traffic” or “Need to Increase Website Traffic?”
Be ruthless with your words. You have eight seconds to keep the reader’s attention, so make your copy as clean as possible. If it takes too long to get to your point, you’ll lose them. Longer posts are fabulous, but padding less information with more words drags the posts down.
Grammar matters, but conversational tone matters more. You’re looking to make a connection, and sometimes, proper grammar gets in the way. Write the way people speak. Everyday language also connects you to a wider audience. Sometimes, breaking grammatical rules has more punch than adhering to them. Stay coherent, but also interesting.
Emotion and empathy help. You’re trying to connect. People are emotional creatures, and if you can tap into strong feelings, readers will care more about what they’re reading. Sometimes that’s hard. While a photographer can appeal to the bonds of family and love in their copy, and landscaper may have to get more creative. It’s still possible, like tapping into a homeowner’s sense of pride for their yard.
Yes, your font matters. If your links to other pages don’t stand out, people won’t know there’s more information to be had. If reading your articles strain the eyes, it won’t be worth it to keep going. Font also helps you set yourself above those spammy articles full of ads readers can now identify on sight. Don’t be that guy.
Tell a story. Your brand’s story is a cornerstone of your business, and one of your most powerful tools in all your marketing efforts. We’ve written numerous articles on the art of storytelling in marketing, and how much impact stories have with readers.
Plot out your posts. Putting your main points in a ranked list of importance can help keep readers going to the end. If you put the meat up front, they’ll find the article more valuable, and are more likely to read all the way through. Do not save the best for last.
Images snag people’s attention. We’re a visual people, especially in the age of the internet. Big blocks of text unbroken by formatting or interesting visuals are not as classy or as elegant as a well-formatted post with photos included. Finding the right ones can enhance the words in a way not much else can, and can improve your rankings.
Our preferences for how we interact online are forever changing. The things that snagged our attention a year ago, three years ago, five years ago, are not what catches our eye today. People are inundated with marketing messages far more now than we ever have been, and we’re much better at spotting time-wasting content. That’s why our attention spans are eight seconds. Readers can spot boring, crappy, or sales-pitchy content from a mile away, and we hoard our time like the precious commodity it is. But if your content can get through readers’ ever-strengthening filters, you might just find that the loyalty of those who read your copy is easier to win. By making your copywriting the gem readers want to find, they’ll stick around to read what you have to say, and your business will be all the better for it.