SEO Copywriting And The Authentic Voice
In my very first blog post for Interact Media, I chose the topic “Finding your Voice”. It wasn’t bad, but looking back, I think it was just too short. It was sort of an introduction more than anything. So, I’d like to revisit the topic of voice in blogging.
A s a copywriter, voice is one of the essential elements of your work. Your voice can be the trigger, the persuader, the thing that keeps readers on the page. It can help you rank, it can help you sell. It can be the deciding factor for whether someone subscribes to your blog or joins your fan page. It’s important.
Voice roughly equals personality. You’ve read many things online, right? You know personality when you read it. Does it attract you? Of course it does. It’s like the difference between reading a technical manual (a thousand times, ugh) and reading a novel, a diary, a journal entry.
I, like many SEO writers, initially had a hard time adjusting to the idea of letting personality show through. But now that it’s accepted and even encouraged in SEO writing, I cannot be stopped.
But what is voice, exactly? And how can you express it in your blog?
Readers hear your voice in the words you use and the way you use them. The idioms and the expressions, the tone and the style of your writing tell people volumes about you, sometimes without you even knowing. Don’t be afraid—this is generally a good thing when it comes to SEO copywriting.
Back in the day, supplying SEO copy with an authentic voice was not emphasized. Those doing it were usually successful by accident. Today, voice is taking center stage in content marketing. With that in mind, here are some tips for finding and expressing your voice in your SEO copywriting:
1. Don't Think about It
Try this exercise: Just start writing about a topic, not thinking about sentence structure or flow or even the quality of the content. Give yourself 5 minutes or so and don’t edit. Then read it to see if it sounds like you. It should. If it doesn’t, you’re probably subconsciously thinking about it too much. Have someone else read it to judge if it sounds like your personality is showing through.
2. Write Like you Talk
Once you’ve established that you can write with your authentic voice, determine if your writing sounds like you do when you talk. Assuming you don’t swear a whole lot or use poor grammar, writing as you speak is a fabulous way to infuse your writing with “voice”. Try this: Once you’ve written about your topic, start talking about it, preferably in conversation with someone else. Borrow some of the words and phrases that you use in speech for your writing.
3. Stick with what you Know
When bloggers start trying to write about topics that seem popular or hot at the moment, but about which they know very little, the voice tends to go away. This is a trap that’s easy to fall into, especially when we are doing SEO copy for clients in order to pay the bills. The best subject matter comes from subjects near and dear to our hearts, or at least interesting to us. The good news here is that blogging lends a good opportunity to use our techniques on even those topics that don’t interest us.
4. Throw out your Old English Book
But save the chapter on grammar! (good grammar is always in style) What I mean is, try to suppress the urge to stifle your personality as you were probably taught to do in school. Many an English teacher over the years has unwittingly stifled creativity because he or she strongly emphasized the mechanics of writing, without also emphasizing that you can write mechanically well AND be interesting. So, don’t be afraid to unlearn and relearn.
Finding your voice is all about being real. Your voice is your way of conversing with your audience. After all, content marketing is all about building relationships, and there’s no better way to do that than through conversation.