How to Write Copy Like Google

Image of Google Logo on a Wall

Have you ever wondered who writes copy for Google … who puts together the words on the landing pages or in the video scripts for products like Gmail, Google+, Analytics, or Nexus?

Of course you don’t (unless you’re a copywriter). Because it doesn’t matter. You just want the product.

Now.

But why is that? Why does it seem that Google’s copy is so good, that their products are so hard to resist?

Well, it’s less about the writer — and all about the audience. Or, to be clear, what their writers know about the audience.

See, Google knows their audience.

Let’s look at a few products to explore what I mean.

Google knows their products can satisfy their audience

Think about Search. Most of the world uses Google to search the Internet. And, for the most part, people don’t bat an eye at the results. Google delivers useful results fast … which is what people want.

Think about Gmail. Fast, and near-limitless amounts of storage, which means you can archive instead of delete, and the search function makes it super simple to find old emails.

Think about Wallet. There is zero advantage to allowing Google to hold your credit and debit cards except for convenience and coolness …

And think about Google+. Big G eyed all of the mistakes Facebook and Twitter have made through the years, and created a superior product that attracts a very different audience — who so far seem very satisfied.

Google knows their audience.

Google hits the right emotions

Google’s taking it up a notch with their line of Nexus products. Take the 10 for instance …

Nobody needs a Nexus 10. Nobody needs to search Chrome in HD. Nobody needs instant access to facts like the weight of the earth. Nobody needs to surf the web at four times faster than normal WiFi. And most people (save a few professionals) don’t need to record HD videos in full 1080p.

But wouldn’t it be ridiculously cool?

What Nexus promises is a gateway to a never-ending world of movies, TV shows, books, songs, facts, games, maps, and magazines.

With the Nexus, Google strokes the prospect’s ego and vanity. In other words, it offers you the chance to know, see, and hear anything. And it offers you the chance to be the first on the inside — and not on the outside (which we all hate).

The copywriter’s most important task

The beautiful thing about an ultra desirable product is that all the copywriter needs to do is show up. Describe the product clearly, spell out the call to action, and get out of the way.

When you know your audience — and create products they desperately want — the selling part gets a whole lot easier.

Which leaves us with the moral of this post: when you spend ninety percent of your time researching the customer, the remaining ten percent (the writing) almost falls in your lap.

About the author

Demian Farnworth


Demian Farnworth is Copyblogger Media's Chief Copywriter. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

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Comments

  1. I’d better start researching my customers a little more!

  2. Many people wonder how they can write for their customer. They get lost and wonder who is my audience? I did the same thing until I simply pictured my audience in my head. I actually saw a mom with kids, in a minivan, brown hair, sitting for maybe 30 minutes to work online while her youngest napped.

    I pictured her whole existence, her days and how she feels. Then copy gets a lot easier because you then know what she needs and wants.

    ~Allie

    • That’s the way to do it, Allie!

    • Allie, that’s an awesome idea!! I was just reading another Copyblogger post and the person being interviewed stated that he pictures who his audience is but you go a step further and that has helped me to dig a little deeper and envision that person. I know who my audience is but to actually picture this woman makes writing to her a lot easier. Thanks!

  3. When you’ve got a great product, it makes it more difficult to fail at describing it (but not impossible). Of course, to get that great product your company has to synthesize the expectations of the marketplace into a solution which is the hard part.

  4. Google’s customers come in all shapes, sizes and mindsets. Tapping into the core of such great diversity of age, culture and desire means promoting coolness and convenience to early-adopters. It’s building the sense of belonging to the ultimate in-crowd, same as it was back in high school for most of us. But now it’s a global, virtual in-crowd. Maybe someday it will be inter-galactic… who knows?

  5. Definitely useful advice! It’s a must you research and get to know as much as you can if you expect to succeed in business.

  6. Rightly said. One must research his customers and know more about them as to how the given product can solve their needs and who know it better than Google :)

  7. Yep. It’s amazing how little attention is paid to the audience in most writing. . . . Good article.

  8. You said a lot in a very short post. And I couldn’t agree more as I’ve found this to be true in my own work. :)

  9. So nicely put. Knowing your customer is precisely the key to successful marketing and branding.

  10. I finally found the posts I’ve always wanted.

    I always explain to blogger that it’s not about a catchy headline, or staring with a bang, or the call to action those are conversion tricks. Trust in the other hand is built by giving people what they want and what they would like to have in the future. when you listen to people ( surveys, studies..) you only get 50% of the big idea. So try to be innovative and Provide people with things nobody can or do it better.

  11. I was a bit let down by this article.

    I saw the killer headline last night right as I was going to bed. I clicked it, loaded the page, and left it for the morning. After my cup of coffee, I sat down to give it a read.

    This article is not about copywriting. It’s about product design and creation. Important as all hell, but as a professional copywriter – I don’t design products. I write copy that sells them.

    I expect more out of CopyBlogger.

  12. I find their (Google’s) copy is always so simple and to the point. So many people over-think copy and add fluff that is completely unnecessary. I think school taught us that. Minimum length for papers and reports? I mean in real life does anyone like long reports or a lot of copy? I think not!
    I like the philosophy of KISS G. Keep it simple silly goose.

    Jephrey

  13. What a brilliant analogy. Additionally, Google offers an ease of use that many writers would do well to follow: write for clarity!

  14. Google is a terrible example. They are horrible at product design, and they are not especially good at communicating, IMHO.

    They do excel at giving away really complicated stuff for free: spam-free email, free VOIP, free calendaring, etc. And what do they get in return for this free stuff? Our personal profile, of course.

    Contrary to what you’ve said in this piece, Google + is a horrible implementation, and not an improvement over Twitter and Facebook, so please don’t say it’s a “…superior product…”. Google Buzz was lousy too.

    I agree, it’s essential to know your audience when communicating to them. But let’s stop talking about how great Google is. Because they’re not. They simply have more moolah than God.

  15. You are right. The beautiful part of the job of a copywriting is that he has to describe the product. But it is also the most difficult aspect of a copywriter’s job. While most of the copywriters just describe the products and their benefits, only a few are really able to use the powerful words in their copies.

  16. Google has some of the worst copywriters at all. They are unable to describe AdWords in a way that you can easily open an account. Everything is super complicated. If Google invested some money in really good copywriters it could make much more money.

    • Is that a joke, Peter?

      • Like you, I completed AWAI’s Accelerated Copywriting Course and the Master’s Copywriting Program. I am thankful to Katie and Michael for those excellent programs. However, I also wrote a lot of years as editor at a tabloid with 10 million readers a day and some magazines with high distribution. Then I studied direct marketing and write today sales copy for the highly competitive financial market. And believe me. If I guided my readers in such a complicated way as companies like Google do I wouldn’t be a copywriter anymore. And I repeat it: Most companies would be much more successful if they employed really good copywriters.

        • Peter, I understand where you are coming from, but I’d argue that companies would be much more successful if they created products their audience actually/desperately wanted. I know it’s not true, but it’s insane to think that Google could be any more successful … they don’t need really good copywriters. And Adwords is one of the reasons Google has over $50 billion in CASH on hand, which is why I thought you were joking.

          • Too many people and companies invest money in Google AdWords and lose money. They lose money because they don’t understand Google AdWords. There is a growing number of AdWords consultants. Their job is to explain clients what Google doesn’t explain in an understandable way.

  17. You’re absolutely right! Google’s products are very appealing because they are what every one wants

  18. Reading this article, make me think copywriter’s role is same as the technical writer’s.

  19. This is an incredible post. I wonder if the real copywriters of Google ever appeared somewhere.

  20. Awesome post. I just wrote a copy on how important audience research was for success of any business, especially a start-up. Knowing what people want and search for is the gateway to success online.

  21. This is a nice reminder to always put your audience first…

  22. I agree with Peter’s comments. Google has good products but really doesn’t do a good job of explaining how they work.

    I wouldn’t say they had some of the worst copywriters of all, but for such a big organisation I know they could and should be doing much better. I certainly wouldn’t hold them up as a shining example of good copywriting. Personally, I think Amazon do an amazing job when it comes to copy – it’s simple, clear and converts.

  23. Great point. Sort of like the big game hunter thinking like a lion? :-)

  24. Archan Mehta :

    Writing good copy has to do with smart work. It just does not automatically fall into your lap, but thanks for the post anyway. I really enjoyed reading it. Cheers.

  25. I totally agree with you on all points. People do not want to wait for anything these days and Google is doing a good job at trying to read their minds. If you do not know your audience, then how well do you truly know what you are selling. Cater to your readers, draw them in with visuals and be different.