Anchor Text Best Practices for SEO

Anchor Text Best Practices for SEO

What Are the Anchor Text Best Practices You Need to Implement to Increase Your SERPs?

Before we dive into the most effective and efficient anchor text best practices we should cover the basics, aka — what is exactly is that “anchor text” you see quoted everywhere.

What is Anchor Text

Anchor Text is the text that’s is displayed as the “title” of a hyperlink. When you’re browsing pretty much any kind of article or online publication, you’ll have noticed that every hyperlink in the body of the article features a clickable piece of text. This is called “Anchor Text”.

what is anchor text

screenshot courtesy of Copyhackers

How Can You Insert Anchor Text

Inserting Anchor Text in the content of a web page is very easy, all you need is some very basic HTML skills:

 Example Anchor Text

But most modern Content Management Systems (CMS) today allow for a simple highlight of the desired anchor text and then entering the destination URL in the hyperlink option.

That will about cover all the Anchor Text 101. Let’s move on to the interesting part.

How Have The Best Anchor Text Practices Evolved Over the Years

Over the years and over the several Google algorithm updates, the objective with anchor text has changed quite a bit.

In the beginning of time, or rather the internet, all you needed to do was to enter an exact match of the targeted keyword as the anchor text of your hyperlink and you were golden — all the SEO juice you needed right there, simple as that.

But, as people started overusing this technique, which resulted in keyword stuffing and unnatural content that diminished the user experience due to poor reading flow, Google decided it was high time this practice were not effective anymore and not only that but it  could bring down the SERPs and the general SEO status of the whole website.

Google started promoting different types of anchor text like long tail, partial match, and branded anchor text.

Types of Anchor Text

Before we go any further we better cover the different types of anchor text that are out there:

Exact-match

An anchor text is an “exact-match” when it’s essentially the very same keyword that is being targeted. For example, let’s say that we have a blog post about “horse racing” and the anchor text of the hyperlink that links to that blog post is also “horse racing” — that’s an exact match anchor text example.

Partial-match

As the name suggests, in this case, we don’t have a piece of text that letter-for-letter mirrors the keyword for which we want to rank, rather a slight variation of said keyword that partially matches the original one.

Branded

Branded anchor text means that the hyperlink uses the name of the brand. For example “Apple” linking to a page of Apple’s website about iPhone 7.

White Noise

This is another common example of anchor text — “click here”, “Link”, “Here”, etc. are all various examples of “white noise” or “generic” anchor text

Link

You can also have the link being displayed as the anchor text itself.

Anchor Text Best Practices for Successful SEO

We already mentioned that for a long time, keyword-rich anchor text was the practice that was undertaken by most marketers. If you wanted to rank, all you had to do was to pick the keywords that you were targeting and just use them for every link you were building.

Let’s assume you had a website “www.easypaleorecipes.com” — your anchor text would like:

  • Easy Paleo Recipes
  • Paleo Recipes
  • Recipes for Paleo

Google now doesn’t favorite this kind of behavior and demoted the value of exact-match anchor text.

That being said, let’s not get all hasty and absolute and eradicate all exact match and keyword-focused anchor text.

The important thing to keep in mind is how much. Keyword-based anchor text is always important but should be kept to a minimum. You don’t want to overdo it and build all your links around the same phrase(s). It’s all about the quantity and the variation.

Let’s take another example as the oh-so-popular Paleo Diet power phrase has been used to death.

Let’s say that Moz has created an insightful infographic about on-site SEO ranking factors to go along their new long-form guide. The hyperlink on the infographic could feature the anchor text in any of the following ways:

  • The definite on-site ranking factors by Moz SEO. (Branded)
  • A Moz Exclusive:  How to add on-site SEO value to your website (long tail)
  • Everything you needed to know about SEO on-site optimization, click here (white noise)

All three options are perfectly viable and should be used in different occasions. The anchor text of a backlink sometimes defines the very value of the backlink itself. Furthermore, Google favors “diversified anchor text backlink portfolios”.

Let’s explain this with an example and let’s start with what not to do.

This is a screenshot of Majestic’s online site explorer — an excellent app for improving your backlinking strategy. By the way, check the anchor text on this hyperlink, it’s a long tail, non-branded, relevant phrase.

But let’s go back to what you should avoid:

anchor text practices to avoid

The domain in question is www.2toms.com and it’s a website about Paleo Diet Recipes (who would have thought). Majestic provides an analysis of the backlinks’ anchor text. As you can see in total over 60% is a branded anchor text using variations of the URL itself. This is a non-diversified anchor text backlink portfolio and a practice that you should avoid.

Let’s take a look at an anchor text practice you should follow:

moz diversified anchor text backlinks portfolio

This is the analysis of the anchor text used to link back to Moz’s most comprehensive guide on SEO for beginners.

As you can see here the anchor text backlinks portfolio is much more diversified and the branded anchor text or exact match is kept to a minimum.

Google’s Penguin update back in 2012 started penalizing sites with large percentages of exact match anchor text.

Should You Use Exact Match Anchor Text?

Exact match anchor text should be used sparingly and just make a very small percentage of your backlink portfolio. The rest of your backlinks portfolio should consist of other combinations such as long tail, partial match, white noise, and branded anchor text.

Anchor Text Best Practices Roundup

As mentioned earlier, opt for combinations of anchor text strategies and don’t rely on a single method or variation.

  • Partial-match and/or long-tailed anchor text: both these types include a partial match or the keyword or phrase you are targeting and trying to rank for, rather than the exact phrase
  • White-noise anchor text: pepper your backlinks portfolio with white noise anchor text whenever you can. Phrases like “click here”, “Link”, “Learn More” are some popular options you can use. White noise anchor text will reduce the percentage of branded and exact match cases and help you diversify your backlinks. Try to keep these words though in close proximity to the keywords and phrases you’re trying to rank for
  • Stay specific: this is a good advice to keep in mind for all your SEO efforts — try to stay specific, don’t use more words than you absolutely have to describe your the objective
  • Be relevant: again, another SEO golden rule — always be relevant. The landing page should be as relevant as possible to your anchor text. Use close variations, partial match phrases, and contextual succinct keywords
  • Don’t forget the keyword density: we said it earlier but we need to say it again — keep the anchor text keyword density to a minimum (in the range of 3%). Google’s Penguin update considers keyword stuffing unnatural and reduces the SEO value of the backlinks at hand. You can find more about keyword density and Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency here.

An SEO-friendly anchor text strategy is the combination of all of the above. In the end, think about this: what’s the most natural way to describe your page/post through the backlink’s title?


Additional Reading on Anchor Text Best Practices:

Anchor Text by Moz

Anchor Text Basics by Wordstream

How to Optimise Anchor Text by SEMrush

A Data-Driven Guide to Anchor Text by Ahrefs

Microcopy: How the Smallest of Words Have the Biggest of Impact

Microcopy: How the Smallest of Words Have the Biggest of Impact

Microcopy: Little Things Matter The Most

Great things come in small packages, they say, and your website copy is no exception.

Well-executed ‘microcopy’, as it’s called, is the modern content marketer’s embodiment of David (your words) versus Goliath (the safely guarded behavior of your potential customers), battling it out right on your webpage.

 

 

But what is microcopy?

Have you ever noticed the smallest fragments of text that are inconspicuously embedded into the main content of a website?

Things like short, encouraging phrases in opt-in forms, cleverly crafted thank you messages after a successful action, or even a witty 404 error message? The copywriter’s details, these carefully written messages live between the lines with the express purpose of influencing readers.

And don’t let the small size throw you off; even though these bits of text may look like tiny droplets in the content ocean, their conversion power is so dense and concentrated that often become worth more than the entire page they’re on.

 

 

What it lacks in size, it requires in craftsmanship

To a newcomer, throwing some catchy phrases here and there throughout the content may sound like an easy task, but writing perfect microcopy is a rather daunting challenge.

Microcopy creates the illusion that there’s a real human behind the page, someone to take care of your needs, dispel your confusion and guide you to the end of the road.

 

 

If you want to generate leads & conversions, microcopy is your ally

Microcopy is inextricably bound with the user experience. It enables users to have a seamless and intuitive interaction with your website. A small tweak in the right place can affect and even completely change the tone of the whole page – that’s powerful!

It only takes a couple of quirky and spiffy copy snippets to bring corporate B2B prose into the realm of warm and relatable, or – moving in the other direction – to put more authority and weight behind content that would otherwise feel more casual.

 

 

How to harness the power of microcopy to your advantage

Microcopy shapes and defines the UX of your website.

A great 404 page can transform a problem into bonus points for your brand image.

The right word on an opt-in form can be the difference between its success and failure.

microcopymicrocopy

Just one line of text will provide the reassurance the user needs to finalize their registration.

The right call-to-action can lead to selling out, rather than shuttering the doors.

microcopy 3

By changing the CTA microcopy, this website experienced a 31.54% conversion rate increase

Utilize intentional fractions of text wisely to eliminate uncertainty and provide reassurance in key flow points of your website.

Sparing and intentional implementation of microcopy that accurately reflects the brand voice you want to portray – and the emotions you wish a reader to feel – is a nuanced tool that copywriters spend a lifetime perfecting.

microcopy 4

Once they do, however, it’s the definition of marketing magic.

How to Create a Survey for your Website Fast & Easy with Responster

How to Create a Survey for your Website Fast & Easy with Responster

Feedback, Surveys and User Testimonials

Wherever you look, whatever you read (hell even here on this blog), you’ll always read and hear things like: “Content is king”, “You have to create valuable content”, “you have to create value for your audience/customers” and so on.

That’s all good and true but it’s half the equation; actually I wouldn’t dare say half, it’s less than that and let me explain why.

“Create and share valuable content for your audience”: how do you know what’s of value to your audience? How do you know what they need, what they want to hear? How can you be certain that the article you are writing and getting ready to publish will resonate with your audience, be helpful to them and an interesting read?

Before I’ll answer that let me state that we can never be 100% certain that the next piece of content we throw out there will be of any use to anyone, BUT we sure can minimize the margin of irrelevance and uselessness through: researchsurveys and user feedback.

 

The Modern Consumer

Forget all about the consumer of old, the one who got fed ads during prime time TV and radio. That consumer doesn’t exist.

There is a new, evolved and improved version. The modern consumer is smart, fast, tech savvy, active and wants to be heard!

People want to be part of the brand, they want to be considered important and now due to the technology advancements, the consumer has the power not the other way around.

Every person with a smartphone at hand has the power to make or break a brand.

Social media, blogs, websites, forums, online communities…these are some of the channels any of us can use to speak our voice, state our opinions on brands, products and services.

Businesses never held their audience higher than today. It’s the ultimate judgement for all brands.

Every bad or good experience between a person and a brand has the potential to become live to everyone, be published and exist eternally on the web. Internet is the absolute democracy of things and this is where it shines.

No one can stop a user from expressing their opinion and describing their experiences. And don’t forget, this will be permanently available to anyone as if it’s written in stone.

So, brands are aware of this situation and respect and fear the all powerful consumer, that’s why they spend a significant amount of money and time into researching what their audience wants.

And we should do the same.

User feedback is a paramount aspect of any successful user interacting business.

So in order for me to stop blubbering, let’s proceed to how you can create surveys fast and easy with a little tool called Responster.

 

Responster

As I was looking for a great and easy to use survey tool for my website, I stumbled upon Responster after the recommendation of Brandon who is the Chief Customer Happiness Wizard over at the Responster team.

“Surveys made easy” is one of their taglines, and boy oh boy did they manage to truly elevate the creation of any survey into an enjoyable, fast and easy experience even for the non tech-savvy people out there.

In less than 1 minute you can have your survey up and running ready to go live on your website.

Let me take you through every step I took to create a simple survey about the user’s experience after reading an article on this blog.

By visiting their homepage, you can easily register within a few seconds:

 

how to create a survey

 

how to create a survey responster

 

After confirming your email, you’ll end up here at your dashboard where you can create your first survey:

how to create a survey

 

Let’s start by clicking “Create new Survey”. At the next screen you are prompted to enter a title, a description and select the survey language through the dropdown list:

how to create a survey

 

Then you can click “Create your new survey” to proceed to the next step. There are four main elements at the top of the screen: “Start Page”, “Question”, “Summary Screen” and “End Page”.

You can drag and drop any of the aforementioned elements into the main body of the page to construct your own survey the way you want. Note that the “Summary Screen” element is available only in the Plus (paid) version:

how to create a survey

 

You should obviously start with a “Start Page” element. Drag and drop it in the main body and you get a result like this:

how to create a survey

 

At the first field you can upload your own logo for branding purposes (as you can see, I have upload my new awesome logo, yay me!).

Enter a CTA title and a short description referring to the contents of your survey. The user should know what to expect, what the survey is about.

Are you running a survey about the whole website? A certain part of it? Maybe a new feature you recently added? Let your users know.

At the next step you should start stacking up your questions:

how to create a survey

 

As you can see, there is a great pool of options here. I opted for four questions in total with a combination of: “Smileys”, “Thumbs”, “Multiple Choice” and “Long Text”.

Obviously you should select the options you think are suitable for the questions you want to ask.

My first question was a “Multiple Choice” one:

how to create a survey

 

The second one was a “Smileys” one:

 

how to create a survey

Admit it, that looks awesome doesn’t it? You can change the number of the smileys through the green wrench icon at the top right of the page.

The next question is a “Thumbs” one:

how to create a survey

 

For the last question I opted for a “Long Text” so that the users may write their ideas however they want. Since it’s a writing question, I opted for the question not to be mandatory for the successful completion of the survey.

Again you can change this feature through the green wrench icon at the top right:

how to create a survey

 

For the last part of your survey you should include a thank you note through the “End Page” element:

how to create a survey 12

 

As a cherry on top you can add a background to your survey simply by selecting one of the available ones or uploading your own:

how to create a survey 14

 

Doesn’t it look amazing?

After everything is set and done, it’s time to share your survey or embed it on your website.

Responster offers some neat features like social media integration, embed options and direct weblinks:

how to create a survey

 


 

So, with Responster I managed to create a survey fast, easy without the need to read some online manual or watch an instructional video (which unfortunately I can’t really put myself through..like ever…).

The result is amazing, beautiful and the whole experience is well constructed and thought of.

Certainly the Responster team must have made some in depth QA and UX testing.

I wonder how…. (hint: read this article).

I can’t recommend Responster enough. Use their application for your business and utilize the collected feedback to improve your services and products.

Would you care to to take my survey?

How to Do Keyword Research & Find a Niche

How to Do Keyword Research & Find a Niche

a Niche, a Keyword and Google Adwords Keyword Planner

The online world moves, functions and operates based on words…keywords!

Maybe in the future this will change and the way the internet works shifts towards another model, but for now and definitely for the foreseeable future, keywords rule the day!

Finding the right niche and performing a proper keyword research is one of the most important (if not the most important) skills for anyone who creates online content.

While no one denies that focusing on creating value is absolutely necessary, unfortunately that alone is not gonna cut it.

Even if your content is top notch, you won’t reach a large audience just by creating good material and expecting people to come by and subscribe.

Keyword research helps you actively target people who are already looking for your content.

The internet consists of keywords: hundreds of thousands, which means that you have to define where you stand, aka find your niche.

Keyword research and finding a niche; both are interconnected and inextricably bound to one another.

To write an article or content in general, you need to have your niche figured out. To create a website or any kind of online business, again: you need to have your niche figured out.

To find a suitable niche, you need to do keyword research.

For your content to achieve its maximum effective reach, your niche, the proper keywords and your writing must come together to distill the raw material and transform it into a new and polished version which will be eagerly consumed, both by the internet and your audience.

How to Do Keyword Research

In this post, I go over my approach on doing keyword research, whether that’s for a new article, a new website or just simply brainstorming ideas.

While there are many tools out there (paid and free) to help you with your keyword research, I have always used Google Adwords Keyword Planner.

In my humble marketer’s opinion, Google’s solution is enough and more than adequate for anyone, be that a beginner or an experienced power user.

Plus saving on some expense is never a bad thing, right?

So, after you sign in to your Google account, you are presented with the following screen:

Google Keyword Planner

(ignore the red warning about my account being inactive – It’s a new account I created for the purposes of this post, it doesn’t affect the tool’s functionality)

Select the first option as indicated on the screenshot: “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category”.

Google Keyword Planner step 2

In the first field, enter the desired keyword(s) separated by comma. Leave the rest of the fields blank and change the location or the language options in case you want to search within a more specific demographic.

Once you are done, click the “Get Ideas” button.

Google Keyword Planner Step 3

Ok, this is where all the magic happens. At the top field, you may enter the preferred keyword and search for a combination or a phrase you like. All the results are displayed in a table and the 2 columns you are interested in are: “Avg. monthly searches” and “Competition“.

As a general rule, you want to find keywords that have tens of thousands of monthly searches and low competition but this is not necessary every single time.

Let’s assume that I am interested in creating an affiliate marketing website about headphones (as in the example above). The keyword “headphones” has 368,000 monthly searches which is extremely high, but the competition for the keyword is “High” too. This means that there is a lot of content available for headphones and the market is kinda saturated. It will take you longer and it will be harder to rank for this keyword.

Now, there are two ways you can tackle this issue:

On the one hand you may try to break into this saturated niche. Do so if you are convinced that you have genuine value to add to the subject or have something unique and new to offer.

On the other hand, you may consider specializing more, becoming more specific, going for a micro-niche instead.

A micro-niche is a narrower niche within the original:

headphones 1 headphones 2 headphones 3 headphones 4 headphones 5 headphones 6 headphones 7 headphones 8

With a little sorting through the results, I could get those low/medium competition keywords with enough thousand searches that could turn them into profitable micro-niche ideas.

All these keywords could be micro-niches. They belong to the wider keyword family of “Headphones” but they can easily stand on their own.

The good thing about micro-niches is that you can rank faster and easier. Take “best over ear headphones” for example. It has low competition and a nice almost-15k searches!

With quality, keyword targeted content, you could rank for it in the top 3 Google results much easier than going after “Headphones”.

Hint: Keep in mind that becoming an authority source for a keyword, allows you to rank other keywords easier later on.

So, if I have managed to rank a website for “best over ear headphones” as the number #1 for this micro niche, I could then easily start focusing on other keywords like “earphone” and start ranking for them as well. It will be easier because I would already be an authority for a keyword and my site would get an added SEO value.

All this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go after large keywords. Actually, if your objective is to monetize a website with PPC ads like Adsense, then you need to go after large keywords, you need the traffic and a micro niche won’t benefit you much.

If, on the other hand, you want to create an affiliate marketing website, then a micro niche could be much better.

Conversions aren’t based on quantity – like in ppc ads – but on quality and engaging content.

Micro niches are also suggested for new users who want to wet their feet first in the keyword ranking war before moving into more complex scenarios.

How to Utilize Keyword Research for Content Creation

What about content creation? How can you utilize keyword research for writing a blog post or an article?

Let’s take the aforementioned example with “Headphones” and assume you want to write an article about headphones.

Since you are familiar with basic on-site SEO (check these two articles for a complete guide on how Google ranks your website: Part 1, Part 2) and you have performed a keyword research for “Headphones” you are good to go, SEO-wise at least.

You are writing an article about headphones, so your main keyword is “Headphones”. This should be part of your title.

Your Heading 1 should not contain the word “Headphones”. Instead go for another high ranking keyword. “Wireless Headphones” is number #2 with just over 300,000 searches. It’s ideal for you heading 1.

For your headings 2 and 3 utilize the next highest ranking keywords (obviously if they are relevant). For example: “noise cancelling headphones” which has 90,500 monthly searches is a potential good fit.

Your meta description should incorporate “Headphones” and some other, lighter weight keywords.

And don’t forget to enrich your keyword targeting with some tags.

In the end you’ll have an article that hits the spot for:

Headphones: 368,000 searches

Wireless headphones: 301,000 searches

noise cancelling headphones: 90,500 searches

That makes us: 759,000 searches combined. This is without adding the extra keywords in: meta description, headings 2 & 3, article content and tags!

You could even potentially target as much as 1,000,000 searches altogether with a single article.

Conclusion

Google Adwords Keyword Planner is your friend. use it whenever you want to find out about potential keywords, get an idea about the ever changing trends out there, or even just for research purposes.

Obviously doing the proper keyword research alone isn’t enough. Your content has to be original and to add value to the selected niche. Google is extremely smart and can identify which content is useful and which is not; and guess what happens to the useless content….

So all in all, if you create interesting and valuable content along with some effective keyword research you are on the right track.


Have you found this article to be helpful in any way? Do you disagree with any statement made? Maybe you want to add something; if so please feel free to post a comment and I’ll get back to you asap.


Additional Resources

How to Create Content That Generates 100,000 Visitors Per Month From Search – RankXL

How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginner’s Guide – Hubspot

How to Find $100/Day Keywords with No Competition – RankXL

How to Choose a Profitable Niche – Copyblogger

How to Find a Niche for Affiliate Marketing – Quicksprout

How to Find Content Topics That Score Big Using Keyword Research – Copyblogger

Keyword Research Can Help You Make Money – Copyblogger

21 Copywriting Hacks To Grow Your Brand, Even If You Suck At Writing

21 Copywriting Hacks To Grow Your Brand, Even If You Suck At Writing

 

What you will look like after reading this article.

You, after reading this article.

At 17 years old, all of my friends had just started their first jobs taking orders at McDonald’s, stocking grocery store shelves, and, well, stocking more grocery store shelves.

Being the arrogant teenager that I was, I went looking for ways to make money without subjecting myself to a typical first job, something I deemed soul-crushing and beneath me (based on absolutely no measurable merits of my own, mind you).

I eventually found myself down the ‘Make money online’ rabbit hole, and landed on a site called Wealthy Affiliate.

As I read down the homepage, I navigated through a well-crafted sales letter.

By the time I hit the end of it, I was hooked.

I signed up.  This site had promised to teach me how to make money online as an affiliate marketer and I gladly handed over a none-too-small-for-a-17-year-old sum of money.

 

Little did I know it at the time, but I had weaved my way through masterfully crafted copy that had transformed me from curious researcher to enthusiastic buyer in just a couple of laptop screens worth of text.

 

As fate would have it, I was never destined to become a “wealthy affiliate.”

But – by no small factor of irony – that first step into entrepreneurship lead me to a curiosity in copywriting, which in turn lead to supporting myself through college as a freelance writer, which in turn landed me where I am now:  Writing my butt off every day from the cozy offices of a Stockholm tech startup.

 

Words have been good to me, and they can be good to you too.

 

Even as new media trends and the platforms to support them pop up every day, mastering the written word is still valuable no matter your industry, company size, personal goals, or job description.

 

So, regardless of your current writing skills, here are 21 copywriting hacks that will without fail take your persuasive writing game to the next level:

 

#1) Tailor tone to your audience:

Even good writing can completely miss its mark if the ‘tone’ of a piece doesn’t match with its readers.  Whenever you create any piece of communications, from a sales letter, to a blog post, to an email, to even a tweet, make sure that the way you’re writing makes sense for your audience.  Don’t write in an overly energetic, cheeky tone if your audience will view it as cocky or off-putting.  If that’s what they respond to, however, then full speed ahead.

 

#2) Tailor that vocab, too:

Just like with your tone, the vocabulary you use needs to be understood by your audience.

As an example:  Let’s say you own an app that helps people find nearby Pizza shops and want to send out an email about your latest update.

Using abbreviations like UX, SaaS, etc. might make sense if your audience consisted of other tech startups and developers, but communicating with everyday users would be better serviced by writing out and explaining any words they might not be familiar with – or leaving them out altogether.

 

#3) Strategize your tone of voice:

Just as you adjust your tone of voice for your audience, you need to think about how all of your communications can be made to sound like they’re coming from the same person or brand.

Consider repeating phrases and topics across your various web and social media channels so that someone who finds your twitter account can immediately identify they’ve reached the same company who sent them an email earlier that day.

 

#4) Hit the relevant buttons:

If it wasn’t abundantly clear yet, knowing your audience inside and out is super important!  When writing copy, you want to hit on the types of emotions or triggers that are most likely to resonate with your audience.

For example, this Helpscout post on marketing to audiences who are generally thrifty and reserved in their spending, recommends copy focus more on the utility of a product, rather than the pleasure or emotional satisfaction it will bring (which are effective triggers for audiences with more of a propensity to spend).

 

#5) Drop the adjectives:

One mistake that a lot of people make when crafting their own copy is to get too detailed with describing one thing.  When writing your copy, especially in a promotional or sales piece, excessive descriptors can actually weaken your message.

Take a look at this headline for example:

“Who else wants to learn how to create stunning, fantastic, killer webpages in the shortest amount of time possible?”

It’s just so damn cheesey.  But headlines like this get used all the time.

‘Stunning’ is an alright word, because it’s not overused yet, and it also has a real meaning with regards to website building (stunning is essentially a stand-in for “good looking”) but tacking on more general adjectives with no specific relevance to the issue at hand just sounds silly.

 

#5.5) As an aside, the headline lacks specificity, another tenant of good copywriting.  If I were rewriting the above headline for a client, I would boil it down to something like:

 

“Learn how to create stunning webpages in 7 minutes or less!”

 

One relevant adjective, specific promised result, good to go.

 

#6) Say no to adverbs:

Adverbs are words like ‘very’ and ‘extremely’, which are meant to increase the impact of an adjective.  Unfortunately for amateur copywriters, they just give readers extra words to read and don’t offer additional value.

Instead of adding an adverb, think of better verb that combines the adverb with your original verb.  Here’s an example of how that works.

Instead of saying “she walked slowly to her bed”, just say “she shuffled to her bed.”  There, now you’ve encapsulated slowly walking in a single word that paints a more specific picture in the reader’s mind.

In some cases, using adverbs can make readers think you’re downright stupid, something you definitely don’t want when trying to establish authority or convince someone to become a customer.

Example:  “Our product is extremely unique!”

By definition, something is either unique (completely different from all others), or it is not; there is no such thing as “very unique” or “extremely unique” in proper English.

 

#7) Learn to reframe value into more digestible terms:

Sometimes, especially when asking someone to pay for something, reframing the cost of your product can be extremely powerful.

If you’ve got a piece of software that costs $35 per month, here’s how you might reframe a line in your sales copy:

Instead of

 

“Get your complete customer service solution with Acme Helpdesk, for only $35 per month!”

 

try something like

 

“Get your complete customer service solution with Acme Helpdesk, for less than the cost of your daily coffee.”

 

The coffee example is a bit overused these days, but think of expenses in your readers’ lives you might be able to use to break down and justify your cost.

 

#8) Make your prospects convince themselves to buy:

One of the most eye-opening pieces of copywriting advice I ever got comes from Drew Eric Whitman’s book Cashvertising, and it’s called the ‘foot in the door’ principle.

The concept is intuitive and simple, and states that getting a prospect to agree to a smaller action, or agree with you on something small, helps build trust and makes them more likely to agree to a larger action.

There are a number of ways to illustrate this concept, but it is the reason you see every blog asking for your email address for a free guide or incentive before they try and sell you their $100 product.

It’s the basic premise behind the entire ‘free trial’ model.

It’s the reason people go buy/download an artist’s entire album after hearing one song on the radio, and not the other way around (‘I liked that song of Ed Sheeran’s, therefore maybe I should check out his full album, etc.’).

It’s the reason it works to ask someone first to place a free yard sign in their yard supporting a political candidate, and then later asking that person to donate to the candidate’s campaign after they’ve already shown they support him or her through the smaller yard sign action.

Think of small, easy to agree with questions you can ask in your copy.  One great way to do this is to have checkboxes in your sales letters that can be clicked when a prospect is mentally nodding along with what you’re saying.

 

#9) Become a Factbacker:

See how I’ve linked to a book in my explanation of number 8?  You’ll also notice that I reference and link to a Copyblogger article in my explanation of number 10.

These are both examples of being a ‘factbacker’.  Alright, alright, I made up the word factbacker, but let’s just go with it for now.

Becoming a factbacker means backing up your claims and writing with specific facts, references, and studies that add weight and authority to what you’re saying.

Taking the extra time to back up your ideas with the work of others – or in some cases find out that your own preconceptions might actully be wrong – can help your perceived authority and trust in a subject.

 

#10) Coin phrases:

What the heck is a “Factbacker?”  You didn’t know one minute ago, but you’ll probably remember it from now on.  You’ll probably also remember where you learned it.

Copyblogger wrote a post on making up words in your own content – something they show Shakespeare did with a ridiculous frequency.  In it, they explore some techniques, and note that it can help aid in slowing a reader down and getting them to pay attention and take in your copy.

Think about how you normally read:  Once you hit a word you don’t know, you probably pause for a second to try and figure it out, or maybe even look it up, right?

 

#11) Get spacey with your formatting:

I’ve broken my own rule a couple of times in this post, but in general you never want more than two to three lines in any one block of text when writing online.

Learning to break up your online writing for readability will be a conscious effort at first – we’re all taught to write in beefy paragraphs in school – but will become second nature after a couple of weeks or months of regular blogging or copywriting.

Doing this helps give the impression of a quicker read, as well, and makes it easier for readers to make their way down a page without losing their place.

 

#12) Write what you know:

To put it nicely, readers can tell when you have no freaking clue what you’re talking about.

Make sure you do your research before you start in on writing any kind of communication.  Not only does this help it sound authoritative and genuine, but it can help you from rambling on.

For this post, for example, I spent a couple of hours researching and outlining my points before I actually started filling in the details.

 

#13) Know more (to facilitate #12):

If #12 is true, then the only way to write more is to… *drumroll please*… know more!

The best copywriters constantly read and practice their craft.  When it comes to getting together specific pieces for clients, I regularly put more time into the research and reading to learn about a topic than the actual writing itself.

 

#14) Abuse the mirror neurons

Researchers have found both human beings and other animals experience the same brain patterns of neuron firing when they’re watching someone else perform an action as they would if they were doing the action themselves.

Copywriters can take advantage of this phenomenon by painting pictures with stories in their copy.  Leading into a written piece with a story of success or laden with a certain emotion can help put your readers in exactly the mental state you want them to be in.

Perfecting this takes time, but just keeping it in mind as you practice writing more and more will help the skill naturally develop – I promise!

 

#15) Make it shiny:

People love feeling like they’re in on something new and exclusive, and in most cases the value of your product is that it brings something new to a certain market.

Play up that aspect in your copy.  In startups, where services are often up against industry giants but with some new or additional features, the “differentiating features” are what you want to play up.

 

#16) Hit ‘em with the life-changing benefits:

This piece of advice has been written in countless copywriting, and usually appears as “Write about benefits, not features.”

I intentionally wrote it differently here because I didn’t want readers to think “Oh, I know that one already!” and skip over it, because it is so important.

When you are writing about your product, your product doesn’t matter.  Now read that again.

All that matters is the benefits your customer will get, and how their life will be positively affected.

 

Don’t write:

 

“The Hoover 3000 has new turbo suction technology!”

 

Instead try:

 

“The Hoover 3000 will leave your carpets as clean as the day you moved in!”

 

Not only does the second headline focus on a benefit the buyer will get, instead of the feature that leads to that benefit, it also references a specific event (the day they moved into their new house/apartment).

 

#17) Lead with a related narrative:

The awesome startup team over at Groove published this guest post that showed story driven introductions to their posts increased average reading time by over 300%.

Stories, in addition to triggering that mirror neuron phenomenon we talked about earlier, can serve as a much more interesting intro for getting people hooked than if you jumped right into the facts and figures (your factbacking, remember?).

Consider a short narrative that sets up what you want to talk about and captures reader curiosity before they hit the meat of your blog post/sales letter/email.

 

#18) Seal the deal in the post-script:

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Have you ever noticed how online sales letters often have one, two, or even three P.S. sections after the ‘ask’ (where a reader is asked to pay or take some desired action)?

This is because prospects sometimes like to skip around copy, or may need some extra convincing after they’ve been shown your offer.

Have some strong points to reiterate in new ways near the end of your copy, as a way of summarizing and making one last strong push to take action.

 

#19) Grammar is good, but sales are gooder:

In most cases, you want your grammar to be perfect and allude to some sort of writing prowess.

That said, sometimes proper comma usage or phrasing can slow down the flow of reading, or might not even make that much sense for the tone of voice that works for your audience.

Your spelling should always be on-point, but grammar and sentence structure is a bit more variable depending on what you know about your audience.

 

#20) Murder your babies.  No, wait, that’s not the phrase!

‘Kill your darlings’ is the slightly less gruesome colloquialism I was looking for.

Killing your darlings means not getting too tied to any word, phrase, sentence, or paragraph, so that you can’t cut it out if, upon revision, you find it doesn’t quite fit or add value to the rest of your piece.

Another phrase that speaks to the same idea is “no one knows what ended up on the cutting room floor.”

It means that while you may mourn the loss of a super-cool line you liked but had to cut out for the sake of clarity, your readers will never know that something else was originally included in your copy, so they’ll never miss it.

 

#21) Be happy, dammit:

Copywriting, like most things, is directly reflective of the effort you put into it, and it’s easier to put effort into things you enjoy.

Understandably, if you don’t like writing or aren’t confident in your abilities, this can be difficult.

My quick suggestions for having more fun while you write:

 

  • Write in bursts; a cycle of 25 minutes of keyboard hammering followed by a 5 minute break works well for me.
  • Reframe your thinking by having goals for your writing, and celebrate when you reach them.  Get your first 500 word article published?  Buy yourself a sweet treat!  Get a customer from your first sales letter?  BREAK OUT THE TEQUILA, BABY.
  • Play your favorite genre of non-vocal music while you write.  Having a nice, non-distracting beat in the background helps me with my typing flow.
  • Just write.  Don’t worry about editing during your first run through, just let your fingers fly and enjoy your own outpouring of creativity; you can go back and apply these 21 tips your copy later.

 

Well, I think that just about does it for today – even us copywriters are entitled to a break every few thousands words!

 

What should you do now?

 

1. Leave a comment below with a favorite writing tip of your own, or ask a writing for business question you’ve been dying to know the answer to!

 

2. Check out The Responster Blog, where I write posts like this 3x per week for entrepreneurs and startups.

 

To your success,

Brandon Landis

 

———

Brandon is the Chief Customer Success Wizard for Responster, the simple feedback tool for businesses.