Tamsin Constable

Stuff this!

Stuff this!

The fattest, juiciest, sweetest cherry in terms of marketing these days is to rank on the first page of Google results.

When people key in a search phrase, Google sends its clever little ‘spiders’ or ‘bots’ out to check out the relevant websites and dish them up on-screen for you. It bases some (but not all) of this process on how much the site matches the key phrases we all type in so rashly.

The impact of this on companies and organisations (and individuals, for that matter) is that it’s worth trying to publish content that is ‘search engine optimised’ (SEO). That is, to put words and phrases on your website that make Google notice you. The more valuable Google thinks your website is to the person doing the search, the more likely you are to appear on the first page of the search results. Most people give more credibility (= sales, persuasion, authority) to these pages. Page-one ranking is a massive prize.

And it’s one I’m increasingly called upon to help with, as people want ‘optimised copy’. The skill here is to write in a way that takes SEO into account without  sacrificing high-quality writing.

I’ve just done an analysis on the search term ‘copywriter Leeds’, for example. (About 13 people a day do that search).

My website doesn’t appear on Google’s first page, basically because this blog isn’t optimised for the phrase. But if I were to add the key phrase ‘copywriter Leeds’  lots of times, Google might start to love me more, and then when people need a copywriter in Leeds, they might find me.

But wait! See what just happened? The phrase ‘copywriter Leeds’ is what most people would type into the search engine. But when I wrote it properly, as part of this article, I must write ‘copywriter in Leeds’.

My problem is that what we type into the search box is not always grammatically correct.

Does Google differentiate? For very broad searches, it doesn’t make much difference. The top-ranking sites are such heavy-weights that nothing will knock them, certainly not a diddy little rogue apostrophe. So ‘kids shoes’ and ‘kids’ shoes’ is fine either way, at least in terms of the first page of search results.

But if you poke down deeper in a niche, you start getting very different results. The grammatically incorrect phrase ‘kids plastic beach shoes’ coughs up very different results to the grammatically sound ‘kids’ plastic beach shoes’.

I cannot write content that is grammatically incorrect, even if that’s what most people are searching for. My credibility would crash.  The good news is that Google is trying to get the balance right and places increasing value on other factors, such as what other people think of you (how many people link back to your page or domain, for example), and that boils down to quality content. It out-wits sites with bot-snaring stuffing.

In the meantime, however, SEO still has clout. So if you want a copywriter Leeds or if you are looking for copywriter Leeds and you can’t find a copywriter Leeds, please get in touch, as I am a copywriter Leeds and therefore your will be able to find a copywriter Leeds to meet all your needs for a copywriter Leeds.

Signed, copywriter Leeds.

(Nope. Still not ranking. More stuffing please!)

Soldiers die: tell it as it is?

Here’s an example of how the BBC has recently tweaked its style in favour of plain English. In the past, when they announced the death of service personnel, they used to finish the news item with: ‘Their next of kin have been informed.’

These days, it’s: ‘Their families have been told.’ We’re hearing it quite regularly.

It’s still passive. The active (which would include the ‘doer’, would be something like, ‘The Government has told their families.’)

So why do they use the passive? My hunch is that the perceived formality of the passive couches news of soldiers’ deaths in language that helps mask over the true horror. Other words  include phrases such as ‘duty’, ‘sacrifice’,  ‘ultimate price’, ‘pride’ and ‘service to the country’. All good, spine-straightening, lip-stiffening war talk.

And it makes the news item so much more palatable.