Today’s copywriter is more than a mere “wordsmith.”
If that’s how you think of yourself, you’ll be stuck in Junior Copywriter ad agency purgatory for eternity.
Think back to recess in third grade, when you kept getting stuck on the see-saw with the fat kid at the other end. All the cool kids were playing kickball. And there you were, waiting for the inevitable bounce.
By investing your time in understanding five key areas, you’ll be able to exponentially improve your ability to create effective content. And that, my friends, is what it takes to bounce the fat kid off the see-saw and start playing a much cooler game.
You don’t have to be the 500-pound gorilla — you just have to think like one.
1. Real-time search
With Twitter and Facebook having made deals with Google and Bing to make content available for search, copywriters working in the online space cannot ignore the importance of real-time search. Every social media portal and social bookmarking site is now a place for content to be found online.
If you can’t sit down and have a coherent client conversation that includes real-time search, the fat kid is going to send you flying.
Copywriting 3.0 Tip: Take the time to understand real-time search. Learn the sites indexed, the type of content indexed from each site, and where people go to find real-time search results.
2. Article marketing and repurposing content
Article marketing is no longer about just building backlinks.
Instead, it’s about breadcrumbs. The more you leave around the web, the more likely you are to have people follow those breadcrumbs to where you’d like them to go.
If you’re not in tune with the latest in article marketing and how to repurpose online content for maximum visibility, you’re missing a key conversation that you should be having with your clients. It’s no longer about just having a blog — it’s about where those posts go after they’ve been launched on your blog. Facebook, Twitter, Posterous, eZines — there’s a world out there just waiting for your content.
Copywriting 3.0 Tip: Read up on anchor text, SEO keyword research, and make sure that any online destination for which you write understands how an SEO strategy affects the success of their online goals.
Fat kids don’t like breadcrumbs — they like donuts. Help your clients stay light and nimble by introducing the breadcumb strategy. Which leads us to our next point. . . .
3. SEO-savvy copywriting
When’s the last time you sat down with an SEO firm to chat about how you can make their job easier?
I work with multiple firms and pick their brains on a regular basis. If you’re writing online content willy-nilly and with no regard to an SEO strategy, why on earth are you writing?
Granted, some sites are purpose-driven and others have built-in audiences. But by and large, you’re going to be working with clients who want new prospective business to land on their sites.
If you don’t understand the latest in how search engines read words or the basics of keyword frequency, keyword ratio to content length (to avoid keyword stuffing or even under use), and placement on the page, the writer who took the time to learn is going to make you look old school.
And of course, you should be using Scribe (I recently reviewed it here).
4. Blogging: Where SEO and social media collide
Search engines lurv “dynamic content.”
In lay terms, that’s a consistent stream of fresh content instead of a collection of static pages that never change. It shows the search engines that a website is consistently updating and is therefore more “relevant.”
That’s why everyone’s got a blog these days. It’s also where SEO and social media collide.
A blog is the ideal place to help a client execute a keyword strategy, increase traffic, and be seen as an authority in the space they want to dominate. Show your clients you understand how blogging fits into a sound SEO strategy, and is a facet of not only their social media strategy but an overall marketing plan.
Creating online content is about more than tweeting a blog post or putting a link on a Facebook fan page. It’s understanding how the words you use and where you use them affect your business goals.
5. What mobile means
With 42.4 million iPhones on the market (as of January 2010), you can’t argue that mobile content isn’t relevant.
The fat kid on the see-saw has been content with churning out old-school SEO copy. And that’s all fine and dandy. But he doesn’t know diddly about mobile content.
Screens are smaller, attention spans are shorter. If you can’t write something that can be read at a stoplight (not that this blogger reads and drives . . . oh, no . . .), you need to rethink your skill set.
With DVRs and online news distribution, we don’t watch commercials or read ads. So where are businesses supposed to go? They go mobile.
Smart businesses are developing mobile versions of their corporate websites. You need to know how to write for them as well as the ad networks that operate in the mobile arena.
You also need to start surfing more on a mobile device. See what annoys you about content not formatted for mobile, and who does a great job. Check out Whole Foods Market on your smart phone.
Bang-up job, I say. Straight on.
The bottom line is this: copywriting has gone high-tech. If you’re not up to speed with the changing landscape, you’ll keep getting stuck on the see-saw with the fat kid instead of in the killer game of kickball with the cool kids.
Do your homework, stay on the pulse of how social media and SEO are changing the way businesses communicate. And never forget: you’re never too old to learn something new.
About the author: Erika Napoletano is an online strategist based in Denver, Colorado. As the Head Redhead at Redhead Writing, she serves up sound yet snark-laden advice on social media, SEO copywriting, and business strategies.